Monday, June 9, 2008

Challenge for Creationists

Dear readers:

I know I have been slow to update, but Summer courses have been really tough at my college, so I have not had much time to write. I saw an interesting post over at Internet Infidels Debate Forum, I am going to repost it and allow creationists to respond:

"I would like to see what evidence the Creationists have to support their view of the origin of life, the variety of life and also an explanation of how "micro-evolution" is prevented from going any further when it gets close to being "macro-evolution".I ask that posters cite their sources and use clear and concise language and not arbitrary terms like "Kind".Also for those of you who believe in "The Flood" I would like to know how land animals got back to places like Australia, which are separated from the Eurasian landmass (where the Ark supposedly was) by seas/oceans. I'd like to see your evidence and not just wild guesses.The reason for this challenge is that I see lots of attacks on Evolution etc, but no evidence to back up Creationist claims. I thought it would be fun to turn the tables for once.Anyone up for the challenge?"

10 comments:

Created Rationalist said...

Interesting blog, it looks like a place for a creationist to look at the other side. I made a similar statement on my blog.

Blaidd Drwg said...

Predictions for your "Challenge":

It will be ignored
Any responses will be in the form of: "Read the Bible", links to the Disco 'tute, already oft-debunked claims, or shrill condemnations to the 'bad place'.

Unfortunately, in this field of debate there tend to be 2 'kinds' (irony intentional) of people: Those who are vehement creationists and cannot/will not be swayed by logic and reason, and those who grasp Science, and are almost as firm in their position. There appear to be an astonisingly small number of 'fence-sitters' who can be moved to one side or the other by debate.

Having said that, it is still vital to debate the creationists, point out the flaws in their positions, and broadcast their falehoods - it is also vital to expose pseudoscientists and to point out any errors made by scientists, (and the corrections therin)

Pvblivs said...

     Although I think that macro-evolution is a plausible story, unlike creationism, I do not think it qualifies as a theory. Its predictions are vague. Essentially, we are limited to "If an environment hostile to existing organisms is created, there will come to be organisms that are suited to the environment." "Things fall down" is not a gravitational theory. It is a direct observation. A gravitational theory predicts, given initial conditions, how far an object will have fallen at a given time.
     Evolution is not falsifiable (as near as I can determine.) Whenever I see anyone claim "X would falsify evolution," "X" is something that could be reconciled with evolution and also something experiementally verified not to occur in advance. An example of this is "bunnies at the time of dinosaurs." It is easy to recognize that small mammals could have evolved into such specialized niches during the time of dinosaurs and expanded into other niches once the dinosaurs were gone.

hexidecima said...

I'm curious what "logic and reason" can be offered to dissuade any one familiar with evolutionary theory and exactly what is "wrong" with them being firm about their position?

Robby said...

I am a creationist, and I will attempt to respond to your posting.

First, I will point out that you have raised numerous issues. You ask Creationists to provide 1) support for their view of the origin of life; 2) support for their view of the variety of life; 3) an explanation of how "micro-evolution" is prevented from going going any further when it gets close to being "macro-evolution"; 4) citations of sources; and 5) concise language. Moreover, you ask questions about animal movement after "the Flood."

I should point out that I am not surprised no one has attempted a response. I suspect you are asking for too much at once. I am willing to take up one of your points. I will respond to your request for 3) an explanation of how "micro-evolution" is prevented from going going any further when it gets close to being "macro-evolution."

It seems to me that your statement is founded on the premise that there are demonstrable examples in which so-called micro-evolution has "gotten close" to macro-evolution. Perhaps this is so. But you have asked for citation of sources and for concise language. However, you have based your own challenge on a premise for which you provide no substantiation. If you can provide such documentation, perhaps we can take the discussion forward.

AIGBusted said...

Robby,

We have observed new species evolve:
http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/faq-speciation.html

We have observed new molecular machinery evolve:
http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2004-02/uom-eci021904.php

We have observed rapid evolution in Island Lizards (And these evolved a new gut structure):
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080417112433.htm

Macroevolution, by the way, simply means evolution into a new species. So we have seen macroevolution. However, creationists usually like to define it as being evolution "into another kind" (Whatever that is).

So I am wondering, what limit is there that stops evolution, and what evidence is there of that limit? Are there any genes that cannot be changed? What evidence is there for that?

JoyfulWretch said...

AIGBusted, thanks for pointing to specific examples.

The first two examples (http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/faq-speciation.html and http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2004-02/uom-eci021904.php ) were interesting, though I confess that some of the genetics discussion was more technical than I can deal with. Perhaps you will find my inability to address the technical issues surrounding bacteria reason enough to ignore my whole response. However, in spite of my limitations, I think that my reply still has merit.

I found fascinating the article “Lizards Undergo Rapid Evolution” (http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080417112433.htm). Essentially, this described how, in the context of their new environment, the lizards developed cecal valves in their stomachs. Yet I find this problematic as an example in support of macro-evolution. There was no explanation as to the mechanism that brought about the change. Did the valves develop from gradual changes occurring in cells within the lizards’ guts? If that is the claim, then are there examples of adult lizards that have valves in various stages of development? Or is the claim that all the lizards that have the valves have them in a fully functioning form? My impression from the article is that this is the case. Are we to believe that all the intermediary stages arose and died off within 30-40 years? Or are we to believe that a lizard embryo could spontaneously generate an unprecedented, fully-formed structure in the lining of its gut? This sounds like creation of genetic information out of nothing. To my thinking, the gaps in the explanation of this phenomenon are too wide to be filled adequately by simply inserting evolution. The valves are there, but how they got there seems up for grabs.

In any case, I question whether the lizard example (or any of the examples given in the first two articles) fulfills the criterion of our discussion and “gets close” to macro-evolution. It does point to the fact that small changes are possible. However, these examples fail to demonstrate that these small changes have “gotten close” to anything like the large-scale changes which evolutionary theory claims are the origin of every variation in the life forms on earth. In order for examples of small-scale adaptation to “get close” to showing macro-evolution, they would need to demonstrate a series of changes that track the transformation of a life form across the kinds of radical thresholds claimed by evolutionary theory. If indeed evolution is the fundamental process that has given us every living thing on earth throughout it long history, then it seems reasonable to expect to see evidence proportional to this claim among either the dead or the living.

All this brings us back to the original issue: what keeps “micro-evolution” from ultimately becoming “macro-evolution”? The discussion so far has, to my thinking, not shown that micro-evolution has demonstrably “gotten close” to macro-evolution. But, theoretically, I can still attempt to address the original issue. First, I will say that I consider “micro-evolution” an unfortunate choice of terms. For example, as in the case of the lizards, we might call this micro-evolution in the sense that it represents a small change. But using the term “evolution” at all introduces unproven assumptions about what has occurred. It implicitly, and without clear evidence, links what has occurred in the lizard to the claims that are made on a grander scale for the theory of macro-evolution. Hence, I would prefer to rephrase the question: “What keeps the small changes that occur in life forms from ultimately becoming ‘macro-evolution’”?

If we do not assume an undemonstrated link between what occurs in these “small changes” and the large-scale transformations called for by macro-evolutionary theory, the question itself becomes suspect. In its present form, the question attempts to place the burden of proof on those who would disprove such a connection. Essentially, the question argues, “There is nothing to show x does not ultimately extrapolate into y.” However, it has not been shown that x (the small changes of so-called “micro-evolution) is of the same nature as y (macro-evolution) in the first place.

For whatever it’s worth, I’ll step back from the argument for a moment to describe my own position a bit more. I am, as I said, a creationist. And I believe the Bible to be the word of God. I am a skeptic when it comes to evolution. But I am also a skeptic when it comes to the too confident claims of creationists who believe they can neatly mesh science with Genesis. Personally, my theism and my faith in Scripture does not depend on how old the earth is or on whether or not life in its present form arose through evolutionary processes. I sense that in many discussions of creation and evolution, the real issue, on both sides, is not the origin of the species but the validity of Christianity. And, I would argue, both sides misunderstand Christianity’s foundations.

AIGBusted said...

Robby,

You're essentially saying that I haven't proven "microevolution" adds up to "macroevolution". That doesn't make any sense, because you are basically saying that small changes can't add up to become large changes. Evolutionary Theory (aka Common Descent) is a predictive science that has been proven right many times:

http://aigbusted.com/Predictions.php

There are also a lot of fossils that demonstrate gradual change over time:
http://aigbusted.com/Fossil_Transitions.php

There really is no gap to be bridged between micro and macro evolution. We have seen new species, and even definitional traits of species completely change. (One of the definitive traits of E. Coli is the inability to digest Citrate, but E. Coli have been evolved in the laboratory that can digest it).

JoyfulWretch said...

Actually, I am not saying that you haven’t proven “microevolution” adds up to “macroevolution.” Nor am I saying that small changes can’t add up to large changes. I am saying that your original question assumes an undemonstrated link between the nature of what happens in so-called microevolution and what evolutionary theory seems to claim occurs in macroevolution.

Let us dwell on lizard guts. If we take the article at face value, the previously observed generations of the lizard did not have the cecal valves. The later generations on the new island did have them. My question here is how did they get there? I am not satisfied with the explanation, “They evolved.” What does that mean? In other words, what is the process that is responsible for the appearance of the valves in the lizards’ guts? And is this process capable of producing the kinds of massive changes necessary to bring about the changes claimed in your examples at http://aigbusted.com/Fossil_Transitions.php?

You also state that your examples at http://aigbusted.com/Fossil_Transitions.php demonstrate “gradual change over time.” This phrase appears to me to be a mystification that obscures the obvious difficulties with these examples. For example, it is easy enough to place Acanthostega and Tiktaalik next to each other on a diagram, talk about their similarities, and gloss over the obvious disparities. Even for a non-specialist like myself, there seems to be a wide gulf between a fin and a bony foot.

In your last paragraph, you say, “There is really no gap to be bridged between micro and macro evolution. We have seen new species, and even definitional traits of species completely change.” Your example for this is E. Coli that can digest Citrate. Again, you seem to be claiming that what we see happening in such contemporary changes is indeed the same process that is responsible for the kind of massive changes illustrated on the charts at http://aigbusted.com/Fossil_Transitions.php. But I see nothing in the contemporary examples you have cited that demonstrates the origination of new complex structures by a process that you have described as requiring “gradual change over time.”

AIGBusted said...

"My question here is how did they get there? I am not satisfied with the explanation, “They evolved.” What does that mean? In other words, what is the process that is responsible for the appearance of the valves in the lizards’ guts? And is this process capable of producing the kinds of massive changes necessary to bring about the changes claimed in your examples at..."

A definition of evolution can be found here:
http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/evolution-definition.html

"You also state that your examples at http://aigbusted.com/Fossil_Transitions.php demonstrate “gradual change over time.” This phrase appears to me to be a mystification that obscures the obvious difficulties with these examples. For example, it is easy enough to place Acanthostega and Tiktaalik next to each other on a diagram, talk about their similarities, and gloss over the obvious disparities. Even for a non-specialist like myself, there seems to be a wide gulf between a fin and a bony foot."

Tiktaalik and Acanthostega both have a transitional structure between hands and fins. Look closely.

"I see nothing in the contemporary examples you have cited that demonstrates the origination of new complex structures by a process that you have described as requiring 'gradual change over time.'"

By gradual it is meant that population change usually happens one or two genetic mutations at a time. I think you have taken up enough of my time. Goodbye.
AigB