Monday, November 5, 2007

The Debate Part 3

Well, here it is, Part 3 of the Debate. Dave has presented his evidence for creationism, which I am refuting. He makes a few blunders that I have already corrected him prior to the debate, and I pointed them out here. He presents abiogenesis as the unanswerable question for evolution, but doesn't present any positive evidence for supernatural creation.

Hi Dave!

I see you started off by saying that the battle is not about “’creationist evidence’ versus ‘evolutionist evidence’”. I disagree strongly. It is not just a matter of interpreting evidence, but about seeing who gives the most coherent, logical view of the evidence. Creationists simply cannot account for the things I mentioned when I presented my evidence, yet evolution can. So, without any more chit chat, I am going to get straight to my rebuttal.

Evidence 1
The Origin of Life

As I stated before we had this debate, abiogenesis really isn’t part of evolution. Yes, students are sometimes informed about thoughts on the origin of life in the classroom, but nevertheless, it is not part of the theory of evolution. The fact is, it does not matter to the theory of evolution if God created the first cell, if alien life seeded it, or if life always existed, as Panspermists think. Now, I don’t buy into any of those ideas, but they are there. Evolution is not baseless without abiogenesis, just as astronomy is not baseless without knowing the origin of stars, and just as quantum physics is not baseless, despite the fact that the causes of quantum events are sometimes unknown.

Now, one thing that we need to address is your assumption about the minimal genome of bacteria having something to do with abiogenesis. It does not. Here is why: No one believes that a modern bacteria floated together in the primordial soup. It is highly unlikely that there was a “jump” from nonlife to life. Indeed, something forming as complex as a bacterium is so unlikely as to be impossible. But you are making the same mistake as Michael Behe. You’re assuming that this is the minimal complexity required to achieve life (like irreducible complexity). I cannot live without my brain, heart, and lungs, but of course there are many simpler organisms that don’t have any of these structures (bacteria, jellyfish, fungi, to name a few).

Looking for clues to the origin of life, what we should look for is two things:

Self Replication
Variance in the “Offspring”

If something can form naturally that can replicate itself, and the offspring vary, it can evolve, possibly into life. Now, what is the real minimum for something like this? Two Hundred and Eighteen Nucleitides. No, I’m not joking. It is called Spiegelman’s monster:

People have also suggested that life may not have started organically, since clay can also replicate itself. But a problem with this theory is that it requires a “takeover” by organic materials, and basically no one knows how this is possible.

Something else of interest is that while scientists have not successfully created a cell, they have managed to make a virus from scratch:

It is also known that some diseases are caused by protein fragments that can replicate:—pfo072704.php

Basically, how life came about is unknown, but it is reasonable to think that some sort of replicator formed in the primordial soup and evolved into life.

There were a number of remarks you made that I strongly disagree with, but they were based on primarily your “world view” and not science. I admit I don’t know exactly how life got started, but I think we should keep trying to understand. By the way, do you have any positive evidence that God made it?

Evidence 2
The Fossil Record

First you tote out a long list of “living fossils”. You forgot to mention that dragon flies were giant during the age of dinosaurs, and that the modern Coelacanth has “new internal structures”

It stuns that you would bring up the coelacanth, as I specifically remember correcting you on that point before.

Now, would a living fossil be a problem for the theory of evolution? No. Stasis is a well documented fact in the fossil record. Species often “don’t like to change”. We often see sudden appearances, and this is explained by Punctuated Equilibrium:

“Not only does the fossil record fail to reveal successive chains of evolutionary progression,”

No, I already gave you several. Mammal to Reptile transition is well documented, as previously stated. Now, if you believe the fossil record is supposed to reveal finely graded chains of evolutionary progess, despite the fact that relatively few organisms fossilize, despite the fact the geologic forces can destroy rock (and the fossils in them), and despite that traditional gradualism isn’t really accepted so much (see the Punc Equ link above), my question is, why? Also, if the fossil record is so perfect, you must explain the absence of homonid (human) fossils from almost all of the geologic column. Out of 4.5 billion years of rock, only the final 5 million have anything resembling a human being. If creationism was true, all you would need to do is find a human skeleton, or something left by a human being (for instance a tool) in or before the age of the dinosaurs. Find a mammal in Cambrian or Precambrian rock, that’d show us!!

The order of the fossil record, as I have argued before, is an embarassment to creationists. For more on living fossils:

Evidence 3
Flood Myths

One thing I have to notice about these flood myths is that across the board, the only thing all of them share is the fact that once upon a time a lot of people died in a big flood but a few lived (some of the myths don’t even mention it as global). However, I think that perhaps many of them were derived from the same source, and perhaps some details were left out of the story, as I shall explain.

One thing we need to realize is that the flood is impossible historically. If you read the genealogy in genesis, you can calculate that the flood began 1,656 years after the beginning of the world. Now, in the Biblical Year 3155, the temple was built (although Josephus recorded it as 3102). Now, the biblical year 3155 corresponds with the year 1000 B.C. Using that, we can trace when the flood happened by our mainstream timeline:

Bible Year: 1656-——————3155
B.C. Year: 2501-——————1000

Now, what could we possibly do to disprove this? Well, if we found cultures that existed before and after 2500 B.C., we can know that there was no global flood. We can know this because Noah and his family would have belonged to a single culture, and cultures springing back up using the same traditions they had before, with the exact same language, would be impossible. So do we have this? Yes. The Egyptians kept a calendar that began in 4236 B.C., and they kept track of the year since then. So apparently, the Egyptians weren’t affected by the global flood! Assyria wasn’t either, and neither was China or Sumer.

(My original article contains the links:

Another reason that this isn’t historically possible is the pyramids. The Great Pyramid was built around 2550 B.C. (see link below). If the flood occured after it was built, then the problem arises of how it survived? This great flood carved out the grand canyon, but didn’t destroy the pyramids? If the flood occured before the pyramids were built, it couldn’t have been long before (we’ve already looked at the dates). Would there be enough time for 4 couples to produce the entire Egyptian civilization to build these things?


On a final note, do the flood myth memes share a common ancestor? I believe so. Robert G. Ingersoll hypothesized that the flood legend originated from a story about how the earth began(See pages 57-58 in the link). The Babylonian creation myth tells of 8 people coming out of the waters and starting humanity. The story of the world’s birth became the story of the world’s rebirth.

Here are some questions I pose for you about the flood:

If you were to take two of each kind, what would you do with colonial animals like ants and termites?

Why doesn’t mitochondrial DNA show that our population dwindled down to a few people several thousand years ago?

How do you explain Plate Tectonics (The current creationist model would boil the ocean off)?

Why do strata date to different ages?

Thanks, You ‘have the floor’ again Dave.

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