REPLY #5b TO|
"EVOLUTION VS. CREATIONISM"
Boldfaced statements are parts of the original essay (or a subsequent reply) to which the respondent has directed his comments.
Italicized/emphasized comments prefaced by (R) are those of the respondent and are presented unedited.
My replies appear under the respondent's comments in blue text and are prefaced by my initials (MB).
This is the second of a four-part reply. Select the "Go to next reply" link at the end of each part to read the next part of the reply.
(R) There are facts supporting creation: creation predicts gaps and gaps exist. What is the response of the evolutionary community?
(MB) This was first introduced in Morris' infamous "15 Predictions" table. In fact, the truth of the matter is just the reverse: Evolution predicts the gaps will exist in the fossil record while Creationism predicts that there will be no gaps. How can Creationism predict gaps in the fossil record when one of its primary tenets is that all "kinds" were created in one event and that no change has occurred since then? Creationism should predict that all fossil remains would show the
same creatures that we find currently inhabiting the Earth -- and this is exactly what is *not* found!
(R) This demonstrates that evolution is more of a world-view than a scientific theory. A scientific theory is falsifiable, but evolution doesn't seem to be.
(MB) That's another of Morris' logic barbarisms. Any theory that makes predictions is falsifiable because those predictions can be shown to be false. If the prediction is false, then the theory that produced it must also have at least one flaw. Strangely enough, this issue is one where Creationists try to argue both sides of the question. Morris (also Gish and Wysong) all try to argue that evolution is not science because it is not falsifiable. Then, they later go on to claim that
the theory is falsified because it makes false predictions. They further try to claim that evolution is also guilty of not making the kinds of predictions it ought to make. Now, it takes little effort to see that these are mutually-exclusive arguments, yet all three are made and "justified" by their proponents.
(R) The gaps in the fossil record demonstrate evolution could not occur as evolutionists supposed it had. Do we then question evolution? No! We develop punctuated equilibrium ideas to skirt around the fossil problem.
(MB) I was once a supporter of Darwinian gradualism until Gould/Eldridge changed my mind with their theory. The debate still goes on, of course, but the salient point is that nobody on either side of that debate questions whether or not evolution itself actually occurs. The question is on one point of *how* it occurs. Creationists see the debate on the details and mistakenly transfer it to the whole of the larger theory.
Another point here is that Darwin himself only speculated on the details of *how* evolution occurs. He was visionary enough to understand that he didn't have all the answers and that science would continue to progress and uncover new evidence after he was gone. The fact that some of his speculations have been replaced by better ideas is no argument against evolution.
(R) Evolution is sacrosanct and untouchable, just as the creationist holds to the Bible as the source of ultimate authority. You should never against accuse creationists along these lines: to do so would be hypocritical.
(MB) It would be if that charge was true. Nothing in science is "untouchable". The entirety of science is open to debate and revision in response to new evidence and argument. The same can most certainly *not* be said for religion. If you're looking for hypocrisy, you're looking in entirely the wrong direction.
Duane T. Gish, vice-president of the ICR, has focused upon the fossil record to make his attacks against evolution. His one major work was published in 1979 and has been thoroughly refuted.
(R) His major work pointed out that there are gaps in the fossil record.
(MB) Indeed, it does. Gish is one of the few Creationists who has some idea of what he's talking about. Unfortunately, he is also one of the worst at mangling evidence, misquoting arguments, and twisting logic to suit his own ends.
Gish writes: "It is true that according to evolutionary geology only a tiny fraction of all plants and animals that have ever existed would have been preserved as fossils. It is also true that we have as yet uncovered only a small fraction of the fossils that are entombed in the rocks." But, then he goes on to lambaste the fossil record for not showing a complete lineage of the evolution of all species. Which way does he want it?
Yet he continues to tour the country making speeches to whoever wishes to listen to him keep putting out the same tired trash. This is why so many old Creationist garbage myths are still being bandied about.
(R) Here we see the vitriol and insults I referred to. Rather than admitting that Dr. Gish has done a service to science by pointing out and publicizing these gaps, while also pointing out their disagreement over what they mean, he is vilified for producing "tired trash" and "old . . . garbage." Earlier you had accused creationists of this tactic: the pot calls the kettle black once again.
(MB) Gish certainly has no intention of providing any "service to science" and any disagreement that he proffers is his and his alone. His intent is to demolish any notion that the fossil record supports evolution in any way. Why else would his book be entitled, "Evolution? The Fossils Say 'No!'"? Gish commits at least six violations of scholastic integrity:
1) He overlooks the fact that there are independent reasons for the fact that the fossil record is incomplete and that it is not a perfect record of the history of life on this planet.
2) He constructs implausible demands about what sorts of evolutionary modifications should be witnessed in the fossil record and then complains when they are not found.
3) He invents ideas of what transitional forms should look like and then "proves" his argument by showing that they don't exist.
4) He ignores explanations given by evolutionary theorists about how the transitions occurred and then claims that evolution has "no answers" for his questions.
5) He arbitrarily classifies transitional forms as belonging either to the earlier or later taxonomic class and then complains that they don't exist.
6) He finds scientists who disagree about details, and misquotes them to make it appear that they are questioning larger fundamental points.
This is the sort of thing that Creationists wish to uphold as valid argument against evolution?
(R) It is my observation that when one side in a debate starts to lose they resort to insults. The losers are bothered that their opponents are gaining the upper hand, so resort to epithets and derogation, rather than addressing the issues in the debate, or having the honesty to admit they are losing.
(MB) That certainly happens, but that is not the case here, nor in any debate where one's case can be successfully made by going with the facts. Unpleasant facts are not "insults". Science has no fear that evolution will be overturned by Creationism. The concern is that unknowing individuals will buy into the clever-sounding sales pitch of the Creationists and not avail themselves of the opportunity to gain real knowledge by studying science. Our educational system has enough
problems without attempting to confuse science with religion. The Supreme Court agrees. See "Edwards v. Aguilard, 1987".
Creationists live in rickety glass houses. They demand to have their ideas viewed as "science" while refusing to subject them to the same level of evidence and proof that they demand for real science. They plead for "equal time" while advancing an agenda of having evolution removed entirely from school curricula. They call for "open and honest examination of the issues" while couching their own arguments in unseemly levels of misinformation,
logical barbarism, and outright deceit. They are also not lily-white when it comes to insult and vitriol. I've been engaging in these debates for some two decades now and have been on the receiving end of vast amounts of ugly threats and mindless bile. I couldn't tell you how many times I've been told to "go rot in hell" or have been threatened with "God's judgment". Sometimes their arguments end that way. Other times they begin in that manner. I wonder if they ever stop to consider how foolish some
of that sounds to somebody who doesn't subscribe to their religion or its beliefs?
Constructive argument sticks to the facts. On this question, however, the facts all line up on one side. In most debates, those on the losing side would have conceded long ago and the point would now be moot. Creationists are different, however. This is because their cause really has little to do with facts. They may couch their arguments in scientific language, but that doesn't make their case any more valid. What's really sad is that they've
never understood that evolution has nothing whatsoever to do with promoting or denigrating religion. Creationists, however, are too busy grasping at straws. They argue both that "evolution is a religion" and "evolution is anti-religion" and do so with equal fervor. They say that evolution both is and is not falsifiable. They denigrate an ever-changing science for being "inflexible" while branding as "heretics" or "blasphemers" those who question the Creationists' religion. In the end, the story of the
little boy who cried "Wolf!" comes inevitably to mind.
Now, let's get back to the issue at hand...
By definition, a "missing link" cannot currently exist. What you are speaking of (I assume) is a transitional form -- an example of an intermediate species in the evolutionary lineage between two other, more widely separated, species.
(R) This is a very important statement: "by definition a missing link cannot exist." Why stop there? Be honest and state "by definition evolution has occurred, and all we are looking for today is how."
(MB) You are talking apples and oranges here. A "missing link" is something that connects a preceding and succeeding link in a historical or physical chain. It shouldn't take much thought to see why there can't logically be any "missing links" existing today. All historical "missing links" must exist in the past.
(R) Missing links can currently exist because there are gaps in the fossil records, gaps to which you have admitted and which current evolutionary thinking has taken into account. This is evidence of how, once one accepts that evolution is a fact, in spite of serious problems with it, these problems tend to vanish into definitional thin air.
(MB) This is not what Creationists are trying to claim when it comes to their argument against speciation. They try to claim that we should see species existing today that are clearly some intermediate form between a past species and a future one. In this respect, they are correct because evolution is an ongoing process. However, it is impossible to identify which current species will be tomorrow's "missing links" or "transitional forms" because it is impossible to predict the
future course of mutations in those species. The Creationists demand that we be able to do so, however. This only demonstrates an insufficient knowledge of genetics.
Let's consider the modern horse, Equus. We have a complete fossil record of the evolution of the horse spanning some 54 million years beginning with Hyracotherium and progressing through over 20 different species to today's Equus. All of the intermediate species are transitional forms, yet, to the Creationist, they "don't exist". Clearly, they are wrong.
(R) How do we know that this chronology is correct? Suppose that all different kinds of horses existed at creation, and that many of the less hardy ones went extinct.
(MB) That supposition does not agree with the fossil record. That record clearly shows the lineage I have mentioned and does not show Equus to be the surviving species out of a number of species which were all contemporaneous.
(R) ...the dates of these fossils found in the southern hemisphere have exhibited more of a reverse chronology, with one-toed "horses" becoming three-toed as time passes.. That would seem to throw this example of a clear evolutionary time sequence into some question.
(MB) It would -- if that example was correct. It can't be correct since there are no three-toed descendants of Hyracotherium alive today -- nor have any existed since the beginning of the Pliocene era.
(R) I have also read that modern horse equivalents have been found in the same fossil strata as eohippus. That invalidates the whole sequence, doesn't it?
(MB) Again, it would -- if it was true. Unfortunately, this is derived from something originally published in the Creation Research Quarterly nearly 20 years ago (and quoted by Gish) in a feeble attempt to brush aside the strength of the fossil record of the modern horse.
(R) Based on these problems, it really isn't worth addressing this issue further, but even if the sequence was valid, we have no fossils of transitional forms between the different stages in this "evolution" sequence, nor do we see this sequence connected by transitional forms to other forms of life that presumably preceded it.
(MB) This is exactly the type of argument that I have been attributing to Creationists (Gish, in particular) all along. First, the attempt to dismiss the point. Next, an invalid assumption followed by an expected conclusion. Then, refusal to accept anything as being a transitional form and a demand that more of them must exist or the whole idea is wrong. Finally, a demand that one evolutionary sequence be tied to something outside of its scope. Roll it and pat it and mark it with
a "B"...Voila! Evolution is disproved!
(R) I am amazed that this example is used to prove that evolution is a fact!
(MB) Of course you are! The stronger the evidence, the more summarily it is dismissed.
Piltdown man is one of many deliberate hoaxes that have been perpetrated for various reasons throughout history. To try to use a hoax to dispute evolution is fruitless.
(R) Absolutely not. It was not an evolutionist who perpetrated this hoax, as I recall, but it was evolutionists who quickly fell for it.
(MB) ...and who exposed it a hoax almost immediately upon examination of the evidence -- just as we should expect from proper investigation of the available data. It caused great excitement because of the implications if it had been true. That should hardly be surprising.
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