Friday, August 29, 2008

Do Something Good!

Go to "Big Think", watch a video, and vote for it. Every time you do, Pfizer will donate one dollar to a "Donors Choose" Public School Project.

Science Education is deteriorating in America, and this is something cool you can do to help.

ID Misconceptions

Someone on the WWGHA forum posted the following:

"Almost every discussion involving evolution that I'm privy to, there are misconceptions about evolution that come up. Heck, I'm sure I've probably said things that misrepresent or misunderstand evolution, just by virtue of the fact I'm not an evolutionary biologist.Out of interest, I wonder if there are similar problems with people's understandings of various forms of creationism and of Intelligent Design.Does anyone here know of common misconceptions about creationism and/or ID that wrongly influence people's attitudes to them?"

My Response:
A common misconception about ID concerns "irreducible complexity". A lot of people think that the only way an IC system could evolve is by all parts being produced at once. In fact, a lot of people think that this is Michael Behe's position, when it is not: he has admitted that IC systems could evolve in a step by step manner. He simple argues, from his own incredulity, that it is "improbable".

Thursday, August 28, 2008

One Year Anniversery!!

I just remembered that I have now been blogging for just over one full year now. I've managed to go from only few visits a day to hundreds of visits everyday. I have made well over 200 posts.

In celebration, here are some of my earliest posts, which you may or may not have read:

AaronRa: The Twelfth Foundational Falsehood of Creationism

This is a really great video explaining why creationism isn't science:

This is totally off subject, but scientists are planning on creating a "mini big bang" next month. Really cool stuff.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

A Creationist Conference

Over at the EvolutionBlog, Jason Rosenhouse has written two posts about his attendence to a creation science seminar:

Part I

Part II

Here are some interesting things he notes:

Creationists tend to fancy themselves as science-savy when they are anything but.

Most creationists are not dogmatic idiots, but simply people who misunderstand science. Of course, the leaders of creationism, the ones who give the talks and write the books, usually are charlatans; Yet the ones who follow all this nonsense simply do not understand science.

One creationist gave a talk about how the Creation "Model" was highly incomplete and unevidenced. I was surprised that there are creationists who will actually acknowledge such. Apparently, the guy giving this talk wrapped things up by saying that Christian Apologists don't need to focus on empirical evidence so much as talking about spiritual things.

With that last observation, it should be very clear to anyone who does not already know this that: Creationism is ultimately an emotionally inspired belief. This is why the battle against creationism will not be won simply by evidence. It is, of course, always a good idea to talk about the nature of science and the evidence for evolution, and to recommend helpful books and websites. That may go a long way in convincing those who have an open mind.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Evolution Education

Reading this NY Times article about evolution education really disenheartened me.


"Animals do adapt to their environments, Ms. Yancey tells her students, but evolution alone can hardly account for the appearance of wholly different life forms. She leaves it up to them to draw their own conclusions. But when pressed, she tells them, 'I think God did it.'

Mr. Campbell was well aware of her opinion. 'I don’t think we have this great massive change over time where we go from fish to amphibians, from monkeys to man,' she once told him. 'We see lizards with different-shaped tails, we don’t see blizzards — the lizard bird.'

With some approximation of courtesy, Mr. Campbell reminded her that only a tiny fraction of organisms that ever lived had been preserved in fossils. Even so, he informed his own students, scientists have discovered thousands of fossils that provide evidence of one species transitioning into another — including feathered dinosaurs."

As the article rightly implies, this resistance to science is the direct result of religious ignorance gone runamuk.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Tom Willis' "Final Solution" for Evolution

Tom Willis, one of the kooks at 'Creation Science Association for Mid America' has written a very nasty and wicked article in which he suggest the following possible solutions to the "evolutionist problem":

"Labor camps. Their fellow believers were high on these. But, my position would be that most of them have lived their lives at, or near the public trough. So, after their own beliefs, their life should continue only as long as they can support themselves in the camps.

Require them to wear placards around their neck, or perhaps large medallions which prominently announce "Warning: Evolutionist! Mentally Incompetent - Potentially Dangerous." I consider this option too dangerous.

Since evolutionists are liars and most do not really believe evolution we could employ truth serum or water-boarding to obtain confessions of evolution rejection. But, this should, at most, result in parole, because, like Muslims, evolutionist religion permits them to lie if there is any benefit to them.

An Evolutionist Colony in Antarctica could be a promising option. Of course inspections would be required to prevent too much progress. They might invent gunpowder. A colony on Mars would prevent gunpowder from harming anyone but their own kind, in the unlikely event they turned out to be intelligent enough to invent it.

All options should include 24-hour sound system playing Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, and Sam Harris reading Darwin's Origin of Species, or the preservation of Favored Races by Means of Natural Selection. Of course some will consider this cruel & unusual, especially since they will undoubtedly have that treatment for eternity."


One of the "Answers in Genesis" books was advertised at the bottom of the article. I would strongly suggest that creationists distance themselves from this man and his organization. Surely most creationists are not this wicked. I strongly encourage creationists to consider this man's words before they once again claim that evolution is responsible for the horrors of the holocaust or the systematic slaughtering of dissenters carried out by communist regimes.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Icons of Creationism

I just read the latest eSkeptic and its article about the famed Icon of NeoCreationism, the bacterial flagellum. Apparently, the drawings that Behe and others have been showing is only an artist's depiction. In fact, even the black and white photographs shown on the PBS Documentary of the Dover Trial are composite images: That is, many photographs were taken and a smooth sort of "average" of them was depicted. In reality, the flagellum looks nothing like this. It looks like uneven globs of protein molecules. In essence, the flagellum has been made to look much more like a symmetrical and beautifully crafted molecular "machine" than it really is. Of course, creationists will retort that despite the glossy images, their main point is unchanged and the flagella is irreducibly complex**.

But they did not accept this answer when it came to "Haeckel's embryos"; and the author of the article did not fail to notice the irony. When scientists pointed out that vertebrate embryos are still very similar in their early stages, and that the genes controlling development are highly similar across these species, it fell on deaf ears.

Please, creationists, give us just a little consistency.

** By the way, the flagellum is "irreducibly complex" but not unevolvable:

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Evolution of the Genetic Code

Youtube User CDK007 has made another awesome video about the origin and evolution of the genetic code. I learned so much from it. In essence:

We start off with protocells (fatty spheres) which house strands of RNA.

These strands of RNA evolve into enzymes, capable of catalyzing (making easy) the formation of lipids, peptides, and so on.

Some of these ribozymes require short 2-3 amino acid peptides in order to function.

Ribozymes which manufacture these amino acids are known to exist; And of course a protocell which could perform this function would be at a huge advantage. This, of course, means that we are a step closer to protein formation!

Although CDK doesn't mention it in his video, scientists have directly observed a ribozyme evolving into DNA.

It is looking more and more like abiogenesis is not the huge deal creationists have made of it.

Monday, August 18, 2008

What Should We Do About Creationism?

PZ Myers was interviewed about Ray Comfort a few weeks ago on WDAY radio. PZ brought up the fact that many people are unknowledgable enough to believe what folks like Ray say, and therefore people who know something about evolution need to take time to have a "point and laugh" session in which we expose how crazy people like Ray Ray and Quirky Kirk Cameron really are.

Contrast this with Richard Dawkins' and Stephen Jay Gould's view that creationists should not be given attention because it merely gives their views credence. It allows them to say that there is a "controversey" going on and makes outsiders think that there must be something to the creationists' views.

We need to strike a balance between these two views. Creationists like Dembski and Behe should be ignored for the most part because their arguments (Excluding CSI and Irreducible Complexity) are sometimes so technical that regular creationists will not use, much less understand, their arguments. For example, the central thesis of Michael Behe's last book was that two protein protein binding sites were required in the evolution of certain molecular "machines" and therefore we must invoke design. In hindsight, there was no point in anyone rebutting this argument because no creationist besides Behe is using it! If anything, all the reviews of Behe's book probably drove his sales up.

But what about the young earthers? Their claims are widely believed perhaps because most people don't know how to counter their claims. Combine this with the fact that many evolutionists like myself are easily frustrated with them, and can even sound condescending at times.

I think three steps need to be taken to combat this problem:

1. Discuss the arguments creationists have without being condescending, and rebutt them in a friendly and easy-to-understand manner.

2. Explain the very simple yet profound predictions that evolutionary theory makes, and how they are confirmed. For example, if scientists predicted that a "missing link" between fish and amphibians would be found somewhere between the rocks fish first appear in and the rocks that amphibians first appear in. Sure enough, a beautiful transitional fossil was found: Tiktaalik. Point out that the first amphibians looked very much like fish, just what we would expect if they had evolved!! And that is not the only fossil bridging the fish-to-amphibian gap either. Acanthostega, for instance, had lungs and gills. The Devonian Times lists many other such transitional fossils.

3. Realize that creationists hold onto their beliefs for emotional reasons, not scientific ones. A good way to combat this is for atheists to speak up: Talk about the cruelty and absurdity of hell. Mention the fact that even if the wonderful "design" of the world is improbable, God would have to be even more complex and therefore more improbable. You can have religion without creationism, but you can't have creationism without religion.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Twenty Reasons, Part 5

In case you missed the last post in this series, I have been sorting through Ken Ham's 'Twenty Reasons' why the bible and Evolution are not compatible.

There are only five reasons left, and none of them seem to me to be groundshaking or worth discussion. Here is a link to Ham's article, and here is a link to the AiC article.

To recapitulate, Genesis could be taken as a metaphor, yet we have some problems: Why does it say that birds were created before land animals, or that the sun was created after the earth? When a soul is given to the Adam, what happens to the other human beings? Do they stay soulless or do they all die out? After the "Fall", are those humans given souls, or do they go extinct? Is it even possible to have a large brain as Homo Erectus did, create cave paintings and such, and make stone tools without having a 'soul'?

Friday, August 15, 2008

Review - "The Goldilocks Enigma" by Paul Davies

In the 1960's theoretical physicist Brandon Carter calculated that many of our laws of physics must be tuned to a very precise value, a "Goldilocks" value (not too hot and not too cold) in order for life (as we know it) to exist. One example of this is the fact that human beings could not exist if gravity were stronger or weaker by one part in many billions. The big question is: If the odds against our existence were only one out of many billions, why is it that we are here?

Some think that this is an excellent indication that a God lurks behind the laws of physics and fine tuned them especially for us. Yet would that not require a God at least as fine tuned as the laws are? Others, most notably Astronomer Martin Rees, believe that the Goldilocks enigma may be solved by a vast number of parallel universes, one of which hits the cosmic jackpot and is able to give rise to life. Davies rejects this explanation because he believes that of all the life inhabiting universes, most or all would eventually create many simulated universes, leading to the conclusion that most universes are fake, and finally to the conviction that our universe probably is too. Having rejected the possibility of accepting our universe as a fluke, made by the hand of a God, or one of many other universes, Davies longs for a more sensible solution. He believes that one day both physics and mathematics will be unified, and we will realize that our Universe is essentially a very rational place. It will turn out that human beings are only able to emerge in a rational universe like our own, and that a rational universe would be highly likely to give birth to something like ourselves. He even toys with the notion that future events may influence the past: Minds being able to shape the Universe as rational.

No doubt these are very difficult ideas to understand. Nevertheless, I applaud Davies for presenting such refreshing alternative explanations, and for searching for an explanation which is neither supernatural nor nihilistic. Overall, this is a thought provoking read from a very independent thinker.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Evolution Survey

Michael Shermer and the Skeptic Society have put up a website with a survey about evolution:

I encourage everyone to fill it out, as it only takes a few minutes and will help Skeptics and Scientists to communicate evolution more convincingly and concisely to the public.

Here are two of the essay questions and my answers:

To the best of your understanding, and in your own words, please explain what “evolution” means.

"Evolution", when spelled with a lowercase 'e', refers to a change in the gene pool over time. Evolution, when spelled with a capital 'E', refers to the scientific theory that all life on earth is descended from a common ancestor.

If you accept the theory of evolution, please explain in your own words why; or if you do not accept the theory of evolution, please explain in your own words why not.

I accept the theory of evolution because of a convergence of evidence which leads to the conclusion that all living things share a common ancestor and that changes in the gene pool have happened and are happening. Charles Darwin predicted that since we are anatomically most similar to the great apes of Africa, it was most likely that we evolved in Africa, and therefore intermediate fossils (between a small brained knuckle walking ape and homo sapiens) would be found in Africa. Sure enough, this prediction has been proven true. Another evidence for the theory of evolution is the fact that human beings develop a hairy coat called the lanugo when they are in the womb. This suggests that our development was modified (sloppily) from a prior form (a hairier ape than Homo Sapiens).

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

AiG Busted - Master Debunker

Over at the WWGHA Science Forums, a Moderator has been posting some stuff from creationist "journals" for me to debunk. Let's see how I did:

Why Abiogenesis is Impossible By Jerry Bergman

"If naturalistic molecules-to-human-life evolution were true, multibillions of links are required to bridge modern humans with the chemicals that once existed in the hypothetical “primitive soup”. This putative soup, assumed by many scientists to have given birth to life over 3.5 billion years ago, was located in the ocean or mud puddles. Others argue that the origin of life could not have been in the sea but rather must have occurred in clay on dry land. Still others conclude that abiogenesis was more likely to have occurred in hot vents. It is widely recognized that major scientific problems exist with all naturalistic origin of life scenarios. This is made clear in the conclusions of many leading origin-of-life researchers. A major aspect of the abiogenesis question is “What is the minimum number of parts necessary for an autotrophic free living organism to live, and could these parts assemble by naturalistic means?” Research shows that at the lowest level this number is in the multimillions, producing an irreducible level of complexity that cannot be bridged by any known natural means."

My Response:

This is ridiculous. We need fossil "missing links" of molecules that lead to life? Those would surely not be preserved. Secondly, what about the virus? I would argue that it is a living transitional between life and nonlife, because it has some characteristics of life (a genetic code, the ability to reproduce) but cannot reproduce outside of the cell.

Secondly, this organism does not have to come together all at once, not by a long shot. Current theories of abiogenesis posit that a simple replicating molecule was formed, and then through mutation and selection evolved into life. Such replicators have been produced in the laboratory.

Thirdly, the first replicator need not be autotrophic. It need only be something that can stay around long enough to make a few copies of itself. Besides, evidence indicates that the ocean was a several percent solution of organic materials. The first organisms would have almost certainly fed off of that, and would therefore not have to eat other organisms or produce their own food from sunlight as organisms do now.
For more, please see:

A Mechanism for Accelarated Radioactive Decay


Kaluza-Klein theory, originally proposed in 1921 to 1926, has been described as a miraculous synthesis of Einstein’s gravitation theory with Maxwell’s equations of electricity and magnetism. In an approach which anticipated modern string theory, Kaluza and Klein added a fifth dimension of space to the three familiar spatial dimensions and one time dimension. The extension of Einstein’s theory to this fifth dimension then led naturally to Maxwell’s equations. The theory also naturally leads to a relation between the constant G of Newton’s law of gravitation and the fine structure constant a = e2/hc. This relation depends on the circumference of the compactified fifth dimension, so that variation in this circumference over the history of the universe could be viewed as variation in physical constants, such as the fine structure constant. If, during early creation week, say before the creation of man, such variations were to occur, they could lead to accelerated nuclear decay, thus adjusting isotopic abundances, without giving humans an unacceptable dose of radiation.

My Response:

"If, during early creation week, say before the creation of man, such variations were to occur, they could lead to accelerated nuclear decay, thus adjusting isotopic abundances, without giving humans an unacceptable dose of radiation."

And we always hear that evolutionists engage in wil speculation. ; )

First of all, creationists believe that the geologic column, since it contains fossils (of course), came after the fall of man (when death supposedly entered the world). So why would radiometric dates of millions of years appear long after the alleged creation, after these alleged variances occured? Secondly, geologists use something known as the principle of superposition. It states that all layers of the geologic column were originally layed down horizontally, with the older on the bottom and the younger at the top. Why would radiometric dating agee with this if it was wrong?

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Ray Comfort - Dishonest as he can be

I was at the bookstore again today, and guess what I came across? Ray Comfort's new book about Evolution. I am now thoroughly convinced that the man is either dishonest to the core or insane. Every page was filled with nonsense, misquotes, and misinformation. What can only be described as intellectual violence was done to the ideas of the late Stephen Jay Gould. Comfort quotes him out of context to make it appear as if he said that wings could not evolve, yet a look at the referenced article shows that Gould was only describing the problem of evolving wings... Before illustrating a convincing model for wing evolution and how it had been scientifically tested.

Even worse is the fact that Comfort quoted Ernst Mayr as saying that there were gaps in the fossil record. I decided to go to the science section and look at Mayr's book What Evolution Is and the quote in question. I found that quickly after the quote Mayr stated that the fossil record is expected to be incomplete because only a tiny percentage of corpses fossilize; Besides, geological processes often destroy fossils. Nevertheless, Mayr tells us that there is an excellent sequence of fossils showing the evolution of mammals from reptiles. Indeed there is, and you can see it for yourself.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

At the bookstore...

Yesterday I went to Books-a-Million and was casually browsing through Skeptic Magazine. I was sitting next to someone, who looked over and saw that I was reading an article about the movie Expelled. So we got into a conversation about evolution and creationism. He brought up an argument I had never heard before: The woodpecker. He explained that the woodpecker closes its eyes before it pecks because it hits the wood with such force that its eyes would pop out if it did not close them. I did not know how to answer this argument. It did not bother me, because I always take these sorts of arguments with a grain of salt (they are arguments from ignorance, after all). Yet on the drive home, a brilliant solution hit me: Assuming that what he said was true about the woodpecker, there is a very easy way for it to evolve. The woodpecker may start by pecking wood, only not with such force. It then evolves the instinct to close its eyes while pecking, in order to prevent chips of wood from getting in its eye, which could damage it or cause infection. After this step occurs, it evolves to peck wood much faster. After all, pecking wood faster means that it can drill more trees in the day, and therefore have a greater chance of finding food. Alternately, it would outcompete its peers.

Friday, August 8, 2008

MythBusters to do a show on Creationism?

That's right. They are discussing it and hopefully they will do it next season!!

MythBuster Adam Savage said on the Skepticality Podcast,

"My goal this year is to prove natural selection on the show. It's gonna take a while, it's gonna be very hard to make it fascinating on film in the context of our narrative structure, but I figure screw it. The sky's the limit. Let's do, Let's do natural selection. I'm sick of fifty percent of this country thinking creationism is reasonable. It's appalling. And I have the unique ability, maybe, to sell this idea to Discovery, and they'll, they might allow me to do it, and I'm gonna try as hard as I can."

The thing about doing a show on Natural Selection is that most creationists already accept it. I think it might be a good idea to create an evolutionary computer algorithm for the show to demonstrate that mutation and selection can and do produce complexity.It would also be a good idea to show that cerain things (homologous structures, vestigial organs, atavisms, etc.) are present when evolution from common ancestry is simulated, and that these things are present in the real world.

Twenty Reasons, Part 4

This is a followup to my last post, in which I looked at the twenty reasons to Reject theistic evolution by Ken Ham and a rebuttal to them provided by "Answers in Creation" and add my own commentary. The other posts in this series may be found by simply scrolling down on this page. By the way, I am going to frequently just use the paraphrases that AiC uses (to save space), although I am checking the original AiG article to make sure AiC did not caricature or distort Ham's position.

Reason 11 will be skipped since it is just a rephrased version of the Tenth Reason.

12. Days cannot be Millions of Years

My Opinion:

This was Ham's best point:

"There are many other aspects at which we could look to show that the days must be ordinary days. For example, Adam was created on day six. He lived through day six, and day seven, and died when he was 930 years old. If each day were a million years, there are big problems here, too. It also needs to be made clear that the passage in 2 Peter 3:8, that compares a day to a thousand years is not defining the word “day” as a thousand years. In fact, taken in context, 2 Peter 3:8 has nothing to do with the days of creation, but with the fact that God is outside time."

AiC does not discuss this. This does seem to me a good, though not conclusive, evidence that the Genesis writers did indeed mean 24 hour periods when they wrote the word "day".

13. Animals reproduce "After their kind".

My Opinion:

Indeed. But kinds are defined by their characteristics, and characteristics can and do change all the time... So which characteristics can not change, and why not? All genes mutate, even the ones responsible for development (The Hox Genes). I think that a Christian might quite correctly interpret this as meaning that animals always bear offspring of a strong resemblance to themselves, with which all biologists agree.

14. The Order of Events in Genesis

My opinion:

Ham points out that the evolutionary timeline and the Genesis account are different. AiC insists that the two are not incompatible; Yet a quick look at Genesis 1:20-22 states that fish and birds were created on the same day before the day that land animals were created. As we all know, land animals have existed for over 300 million years (if not longer) while birds have existed for only about 100 mllion years. This could be reconciled with Genesis, but only if one agrees to take the superliberal stance that the entirety of Genesis is a metaphor. Even then, why didn't God just have the Hebrews right down the real order of events, instead of inventing an incorrect metaphorical one?

15. The Earth came first, not the Sun

My Opinion:

This is a restatement of the last point. AiC's rebuttal was unsupported and weak in my opinion. They said, "If you look at Genesis 1, the account is written from the perspective of an observer standing on the face of the earth (4.5 billion years ago)... The atmosphere was not yet developed, and was a swirling mix of materials which blocked out all light. Once the materials cleared enough to allow light through, the first life forms could begin (the algae). Also, light would have appeared (the Day 1 light). The sun would not be visible, however, until Day 4, when the atmosphere was clear enough to actually see the light source."

Sounds like a stretch to me. Once again, a superliberal interpretation of Genesis might solve the problem, but why not just write down the correct order of events?

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Religion - Evolution's Answer to Disease?

From The Economist:

"SOME people, notably Richard Dawkins, an evolutionary biologist at Oxford University, regard religion as a disease. It spreads, they suggest, like a virus, except that the “viruses” are similar to those infecting computers—bits of cultural software that take over the hardware of the brain and make it do irrational things.

Corey Fincher, of the University of New Mexico, has a different hypothesis for the origin of religious diversity. He thinks not that religions are like disease but that they are responses to disease—or, rather, to the threat of disease. If he is right, then people who believe that their religion protects them from harm may be correct, although the protection is of a different sort from the supernatural one they perceive."

(I am skipping down to the evidence for this idea):

"The two researchers also looked at anthropological data on how much people in “traditional” (ie, non-urban) societies move around in different parts of the world. They found that in more religiously diverse (and more disease-ridden) places people move shorter distances than in healthier, religiously monotonous societies. The implication is that religious diversity causes people to keep themselves to themselves, and thus makes it harder for them to catch germs from infidels.

Of course, correlation is not causation. But religion is not the only cultural phenomenon that stops groups of people from mixing. Language has the same effect, and in another, as yet unpublished study Mr Fincher and Dr Thornhill found a similar relationship there too. Moreover, their search of the literature turned up work which suggests that xenophobia is linked psychologically with fear of disease (the dirty foreigner…). Perhaps, then, the underlying reason why there is so much hostility between ethnic groups is nothing to do with the groups themselves, but instead with the diseases they may bring."

My thoughts:

As the last paragraph states, correlation is not causation. Perhaps xenophobia, be it racial, cultural, or otherwise, served our ancestors well**. It is well known that Europeans brought some nasty diseases to the Native Americans back in the day. Then again, perhaps this study is flawed; After all, the Journal of Religion and Society found that, "higher rates of belief in and worship of a creator correlate with higher rates of homicide, juvenile and early adult mortality, STD infection rates, teen pregnancy, and abortion in the prosperous democracies."

** I want to make it known that I do not approve of racism or any other prejudice even if it had or has a biological benefit.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Twenty Reasons, Part 3

Part Three Baby!!

This is a followup to my last post, in which I looked at the twenty reasons to Reject theistic evolution by Ken Ham and a rebuttal to them provided by "Answers in Creation" and add my own commentary. By the way, I am going to frequently just use the paraphrases that AiC uses (to save space), although I am checking the original AiG article to make sure AiC did not caricature or distort Ham's position.

8. God is Good. Quote from original article:
"God pronounced of His creation that 'it was very good.'... Now think about the methods of evolution: elimination of the weak, survival of the fittest, death and struggle in an evolutionary progression, elimination of the unfit, and so on. Would God have used this method in bringing all life into being and then describe it as good?

AiC Rebuttal:
"Young earth creationists will agree with me that the laws of nature have been instituted by God. According to these laws, God put in place a system of renewal, including death and decay. He created this specifically so that the world would last. If He created a world without death and decay, it would soon be overrun by the organisms that He created. The beauty of the system He created awes scientists and lay people alike each day. Based on the multiplication rate of some bacterial organism, this would only take a few days, unless there was some method of curbing that growth."

My Opinion:
It is shocking to me that creationists have the nerve to say, "Well if God did it this way he must be a monster", but at the same time, how often do you hear, "The Lord works in mysterious ways" or "Who is man to judge God?" This is shameful inconsistency.

Personally I don't find this argument convincing, because most of the organisms who have lived on earth (bacteria, plants, fish, etc. most likely do not (and did not) have consciousness. I do find it odd, though, that the Native Americans did not (apparently) know about Jehovah until Europeans taught them. Isn't it shocking that God let generations and generations live and die without knowing the truth? Why not share it with them?

One more thing: The theistic evolutionist's answer makes little sense. Why install death as part of natural law? Couldn't he simply have made nonreproducing organisms eternal?

9. "Many claim that Genesis is only symbolic—a kind of analogy... However, if applying this idea—that Genesis is only symbolic—then one has to ask the question, 'Where do we learn that God is Creator?' We can, of course, go to Genesis 1:1 which says, 'In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.' But if Genesis is only symbolic, to be consistent we would have to question whether the words 'God created' are also symbolic. We would have to ask what this really means."

I am skipping the AiC rebuttal: Many christians interpret Genesis as a story with the point that nothing comes except by the will of God. I think this argument was mainly a "filler" to get the number of arguments against T.E. up to a nice even twenty.

10. Quote "Christ died on a cross because of sin and death and the necessary shedding of blood for the remission of sins. The origin and basis of this is in the Book of Genesis. We wear clothing because God gave clothes because of sin. We read this in the Book of Genesis. To understand Christian doctrine we must understand the foundations of doctrine given in the Book of Genesis. If Genesis cannot be taken literally, there is no foundation for Christian doctrine—therefore, Christian doctrine no longer has meaning."

(One Paragraph later):

"There are other instances where Jesus quoted from, or referred to, and thus accepted Genesis. For example, Matthew 24:37–39: 'But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark. And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.'"

My Opinion:
Once again, this argument seems weak to me, and I believe it is probably another "filler". I think Christians might be able to see the story of Noah as literally true, except that the entire world was not covered in water. They have some fine arguments to support this, for instance here.

Stay tuned for the next installment. And by the way, I need to state that I do not agree with theistic evolutionists that the Bible is correct. I am not on a crusade to unite science and religion, nor to make it okay for Christians to accept evolution (I care very little whether they can or can not, and don't have any interest in telling them so in order to stop the textbook wars). I genuinely do not see these arguments as fatal to the TE position. On the other hand, my last post ecieved a comment which does seem to pose a problem for TE.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Twenty Reasons, Part 2

This is a followup to my last post, in which I looked at the twenty reasons to Reject theistic evolution by Ken Ham and a rebuttal to them provided by "Answers in Creation" and add my own commentary. By the way, I am going to frequently just use the paraphrases that AiC uses (to save space), although I am checking the original AiG article to make sure AiC did not caricature or distort Ham's position.

5. Creation Is Finished. Ken Ham states that, "[M]odern evolutionary theory accepts that evolution is still going on (therefore, man must still be evolving!), so if a Christian accepts evolution he has to accept that God is still using evolution today. Thus, He is still creating. But God tells us that He finished His work of creating. This is a real dilemma for the theistic evolutionist."

AiC Response:
Ham is right...creation is finished. He claims that evolutionists have a problem, since evolutionary principles are still happening today, therefore God is still creating through this process. The answer to this is very simple. During God’s creative period, He would have been guiding and directing the evolutionary process. Now, He is not. Although the same scientific principles are still in effect, the Hand of the Almighty no longer directs them.

My opinion:
Sounds good enough, but this does contradict the position held by some theistic evolutionists, namely Ken Miller, who thinks that God does not control evolution, but simply set up the universe in a way so that life would eventually emerge and then give a soul to some creature. My verdict is that this poses no problem for the theistic evolutionists, so long as they are willing to believe that God was very active in tampering with life on earth to make sure it got the way it is today. Then again, instead of tampering with the evolution of life, why not just create it? That is a questin worth pondering.

6. Dust to Adam, Rib to Eve.

AiC Response:

Ham claims that evolutionists claim that the “dust to Adam” phrase summarizes the fact that Adam came through evolution, and it summarizes the entire millions of years process. In this he is essentially correct. Ham claims that this presents a problem, in that Eve was created from Adam’s rib. To be consistent, evolutionists would have to explain a similar evolutionary origin, explaining how Adam’s rib evolved into Eve. While the logic appears to be sound, we must also remember that we are dealing with God, who can create at His will. If you consider evolution, and the development of humans, the fossil record contains numerous steps in this process, over the last few million years. Once God ended this process with Adam, he had the final product. In order to be a genetic match for Adam, God created Eve with the exact same DNA as Adam. Thus, His final products were perfectly matched to each other. Requiring an evolutionary tale for Eve is merely a young earth complaint, but there is an easy answer. Eve was created from Adam’s DNA, obtained from Adam’s rib. I know that young earth creationists will scoff at this idea...but then again, they scoff at everything. The truth is this is a possible explanation. It may not be the best explanation, but it is possible.

My opinion:
I have, for a while now, considered the Eve-came-from-Adam's-rib story a bit weird: Eve would have been essentially a female clone of Adam. I have a hard time thinking that anyone would be attracted to a female clone of themselves, but that's me. One issue that could be raised here is the fact that this scenario boils down to the worst case of interbreeding imaginable; Yet I'm sure theistic evolutionists would cover this by saying that Adam and Eve had perfect DNA, so there would not be any nasty recessive alleles causing Cystic Fibrosis.

7. The Return to Dust.

AiC Response:
Ham says that some people say that the dust represents the animal from which man evolved. Thus, when God says man shall return to dust, it only stands to reason that he would return to being an animal. On this one I agree with Ham. Man will return to dust and decompose, and his components will re-enter the cycle of life to renew other life. This one is no problem when you consider the life cycle.

My Opinion:
This is a very Buddhist/Lion King Response. It's the circle of life, and it moves us all! I think that AiC should interpret "dust of the earth" to mean the raw materials of earth. We know that primordial earth was swimming in amino acids, nucleic acids, fats, etc., And we are certain that life as we know it began from such. And guess what? After we die, and begin to rot, we are nothing more than a disorganized bunch of amino acids, water, and so on.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Twenty Reasons, Part One

In this series, I am going to look at the twenty reasons to Reject theistic evolution by Ken Ham and a rebuttal to them provided by "Answers in Creation" and add my own commentary.

1. "No Death Before Adam's Fall"

AiC response:

"It is true that evolution teaches that there was death prior to Adam. Ham uses Romans 5:12 and 1 Corinthians 15:21-22, which state that death came by sin. I agree. Whereas Ham believes this includes animal death, old earth creationists hold the opposite view, that this represents human death. The passages involved can be interpreted either way."

Okay, but what about the people before Adam and Eve? Did they not have souls? If so, when did Adam and Eve live? For the past three million years, homonids have been very creative and intelligent, so just when was this, and how is it determined? Other than that, this is not fatal to theistic evolution.

2. Paraphrased: Everything was created good, and then became bad when man sinned. Theistic Evolution says that things evolved into complexity and haven't changed drastically since.

AiC Rebuttal:

"If you look closely at the curse, he cursed Adam, Eve, and Satan. He did not curse the whole of creation. Yes, the whole creation groaneth, but a better interpretation is that the creation groans under the oppression of sinful man. We see that clearly today in the pollution, global warming, and other issues that show how man is failing to take care of God’s creation."

Once again I do not view Ham's objection as fatal.

I am going to skip number three, as it is basically a restatement of the claim above (View the article here).

4. Animals were created Vegetarians

Genesis 1:29-30
“And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat. And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so.”

AiC Rebuttal:

This makes sense only if you consider that it is God’s directions for the Garden of Eden, which is the location this edict was given.

I do not find AiC convincing. I agree with them that "many animals are uniquely designed as predators, and their digestive systems are designed to process meat. Young earth creationists explain this away by saying the curse changed animals...but then again, animals were not cursed"; However, this cannot be explained as directions for the garden of Eden as it seems to apply to the entire earth.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Theistic Evolutionists

Reader Discretion Advised: The this blog post and the video discussed in herein contains offensive language.

The video in question is TheAmazingAtheist's Fuck Theistic Evolutionists. He explains that atheists should not show favoritism to theistic evolutionists simply because they accept the truth of it while other christians are in the strangleholds of fundamentalist christianity. He is half right. Theistic evolutionists may be viewed as more open minded, thoughtful and intellgient (in general) than fundamentalists. However, creationism is only one of the many fire breathing heads growing from the beast of religion; Likewise religion is only one terrible creature amongst a monsterous species of irrationality. Just as Charles Darwin once said, promoting Scientific Thought (Or Critical Thinking) may be key to showing just how irrational some thought systems are. The next step, of course, is to show that Nontheism and Critical Thought go hand in hand. So in order to further Nontheism, we must first further Critical Thinking.

This brings me to another point of TheAmazingAtheist's: That Atheism has "sold out", or become too popular, and now is like anyother belief system/subculture/(quasi?)religion. In a way this is true: Atheism is now usually associated with thoughtful people who embrace Science, Skepticism, and are way too harsh in their critiques of religion. Of course, he realizes that what Atheism has been associated with and what it is are two different things: Atheism is really and truly a lack of belief in a or any god(s). To solve this problem, he introduces what he calls "Amazing Atheism": A Ruggedly individualistic framework which also embraces Atheism. I would change the name of his idea to something a little less self serving: We should promote Skepticism and Science above all else, and state that until further notice Atheism is most compatible with this framework of thought, the reasons we think this, and then encourage others to challenge these arguments.