Our good friends at Answers in Genesis publish or host or what have you a lovely book called "Refuting Evolution." It's supposedly a guide book on how to debunk and dismantle evolution. I learned about it while watching HBO's Friends of God which is actually worth watching. Has a pretty wicked ice burn about Mr. Taggard towards the end.
The book itself is not that challenging in terms of comprehension. I believe any average junior high school kid could memorize its logic and arguments and feel adequately prepared to defend creationism against a peer. However that's the extent of the information provided. Anyone who's taken AP Biology or any college level biology course ought to be able to knock most of these out of the ballpark as the entire book is like a batting machine for arguing with bad logic and straw men.
For my own devices I will be going through it page by page and responding to it. I'll be quoting what I reply to and linking anything significant I don't feel like responding directly to word by word. I still feel my relationship with creationism is like drunk dialing an ex at three AM, but that doesn't make it any less of a good idea at seven AM hopped up on narcotics.
1) "It is a fallacy to believe that facts speak for themselves—they are always interpreted according to a framework. The framework behind the evolutionists’ interpretation is naturalism—it is assumed that things made themselves, that no divine intervention has happened, and that God has not revealed to us knowledge about the past."
This is horse shit with a cherry on top. Yes, science does operate within naturalism, but everything else stated is misleading. Science does not assume things made themselves. It does not assume there is no divine and nothing divine occurred. Science's naturalism is based on the idea that natural means within the universe. That is observable, testable things. Things we can interact with. Under this definition a god which created the entire universe and man and subsequently interacted with man would be a natural god. Yes, science is completely willing to accept the existence of a special creation provided evidence for the special creator matches the extraordinary claim that is his existence.
That's all naturalism indicates. God isn't supernatural by the definition any creationist uses. (For the record, most people consider god supernatural because they do not use the within/without universe boundary, but that's the boundary naturalism uses. Were there an actual god, he'd likely fit into our world in some way as does everything else we've found since the dawn of recorded time.) To creationists, god is very much natural - he created the universe, interacts with it, and still observes it. The two sides differ only in that creationists accept faith and science does not. Science requires evidence, and a few billion people yelling "BUT I BELIEVE" doesn't qualify. The rest of the opening of Refuting evolution goes into some detail trying to make out Evolution to be a god killing theory full of inconsistency and standing on weak legs.
Darwin may or may not have had some secret masturbatory fantasy about killing off god with what he found, but whatever he felt about god, Evolutionary theory was unified to a great degree by Darwin, not invented. He did not invent it, he did not create it, he did not sit up all night with magic rocks looking into his fedora. He observed the world around him and wrote about. Whatever he felt about his findings were irrelevant. The greeks had some basic ides of evolution, as did many societies throughout the last couple thousand years. Many were wrong and most were incomplete, but the idea of evolution did not spontaneously generate within darwin's mind in the 1800s. Hell, people almost beat him to it - had Darwin let his fear of the societal impact of his theory quell him a bit longer we'd be bitching and moaning about someone else entirely.
2) "At this point, it is necessary to reveal a little inside information about how scientists work, something the textbooks don’t usually tell you. The fact is that scientists are not really as objective and dispassionate in their work as they would like you to think. Most scientists first get their ideas about how the world works not through rigorously logical processes but through hunches and wild guesses. As individuals, they often come to believe something to be true long before they assemble the hard evidence that will convince somebody else that it is. Motivated by faith in his own ideas and a desire for acceptance by his peers, a scientist will labor for years knowing in his heart that his theory is correct but devising experiment after experiment whose results he hopes will support his position."
This is a subset of the above point, but it's also something that comes up often in these debates - equivocacy. Just as it is wrong to say all evangelicals are lying sacks of shit because Haggard turned out to be a drug using cock sucker, it's wrong to say that scientific naturalism is somehow impugned because some scientist is obsessed with his own ideas and perhaps touched with a bit of megalomania. How a scientist feels about his work is irrelevant. How many sleepless nights he spends in his basement going over math and checking and re-checking his findings is irrelevant. Science does not care about any of that. What science cares about is that after all those sleepless nights and frustrating failed experiments is that whatever you find you can show to others. That's it. Nobody cares that you knew in your heart of hearts that light is both a wave and a particle. But when you start dropping down the double slit experiments and other things to show this, then people care on a scientific level. Nazis and Japanese scientists learned some interesting things in WWII using prisoners as unwilling guinea pigs. It was horrific and abominable, but the knowledge they produced does not care, it is impartial. On an ethical plane we ought to be concerned about how we come to our knowledge, but on the practical level which scientist discovered what facet of reality is unimportant to the knowledge itself. We didn't need Einstein to be born to understand relativity, he jus thappened to be the guy who did it first. Relativity has been there all along. At the end of the day you can be as impassionately inflamed by your hobby or profession as you like, but that doesn't count for dick when you get to publishing papers, something creationists are intimately familiar with.
3) "Many evolutionists chide creationists not because of the facts, but because creationists refuse to play by the current rules of the game that exclude supernatural creation a priori. That it is indeed a ‘game’ was proclaimed by the evolutionary biologist Richard Dickerson:
Science is fundamentally a game. It is a game with one overriding and defining rule:
Rule #1: Let us see how far and to what extent we can explain the behavior of the physical and material universe in terms of purely physical and material causes, without invoking the supernatural.
In practice, the ‘game’ is extended to trying to explain not just the behavior, but the origin of everything without the supernatural."
Science is a game the same way rape is a game. That is, they're not, but you can quaintly phrase them as such if you like. As for the last line - without invoking the supernatural - this is correct, assuming you accept that what is natural is all that is within the universe and what is supernatural is what is above or beyond the universe. If god is as he is in the bible then he is natural and by placing a limit to only what is natural on our explanations we are not excluding god. However, simply because the creationist god is natural does not mean that he gets to be referrenced or used. Sure germs have been around forever, but until we came to properly understand germs and germ theory, our ideas and beliefs regarding germs were meaningless. Same thing with god. Sure, he may actually ultimately be the guy who did everything, and magical creation may have been his tool, but there's something like zero evidence for that. Everything we see says "No, no, ten thousand years is bullshit, animal creation in kinds is bullshit, a global flood is bullshit." For this reason and this reason alone does science reject a literal interpretation of the bible. The evidence doesn't tell us to hate the bible, the evidence just tells us the bible (and many other ancient texts) was wrong. If the bible had been accurate, we wouldn't be having this debate, but since the bible has the descriptive power of a betty crocker box when it comes to natural sciences, we don't use it much. And yes, science is pretty keen on explaining everything and where it came from, but it only excludes the supernatural as the supernatural, by definition, can have no effect on the world. If it has effects it can be studied and observed and incorporated.
Towards the end of the chapter it mentions that most scientists are atheists or agnostics. OH NO. TIME TO BRING OUT THE MESSENGER CANNON. Who cares is 90% of scientists believed in creationism. That has no bearing on the facts they're presenting. And by fact I don't some universal absolute truth, science has none of those. By fact I mean something that pretty much doesn't change based on what we can interact with. Who cares whether or not Mt. Everest really capital T Truth for real is the tallest mountain on Earth, that's not something we as humans can tell even if we want to. What matters is that any one who wants to bust out their mountain sized ruler can go see that it is the tallest object above sea level. Our reality is our reality is our reality. If god is a natural part of that, we ought to be able to see it. All we have is a book attributed to god. While this makes him an accomplished author, there are many of those around with a select few having as much influence as the bible - the Quran, the Torah, Vishnu's mysteries, etc... Without anything additional to show why god is as described, we have no more reason to choose fundamentalist christianity than we do fundamentalist Islam or Hinduism or Paganism. That scientists accept their findings is no indicment of science, it's simply a personal choice those individuals have made, much the same as those who feel persecuted by them.
4) "The philosophy of experimental science … began its discoveries and made use of its methods in the faith, not the knowledge, that it was dealing with a rational universe controlled by a creator who did not act upon whim nor interfere with the forces He had set in operation … . It is surely one of the curious paradoxes of history that science, which professionally has little to do with faith, owes its origins to an act of faith that the universe can be rationally interpreted, and that science today is sustained by that assumption."
Oh no, we're not solipsists. The acceptance of the principle of uniformity of nature is no more or less an assumption than the bible is literally true. The alternative to accepting the PUN or the bible or any basic worldview is to not have a world view which is a great way to die slowly of starvation and dehydration. This claim indicates that there's some kind of deductive evidence science ought to be using that it's not. Thankfully, science isn't based on deduction, it's based on logic. Logic entails deduction, but it also entails induction and abduction. Induction and abduction form a large basis for how we understand science. Christianity may have helped stabilize Europe and allow for the beginnings, but science's major turning points have can be broken into two groups in this debate. The first is everything which does not touch on things core to creationism, and the second is everything that does. Creationists accept the modern workings and understanding of everything in the second group. They disagree with the rest not because they have seen anything which contradicts it, but because it contradicts a book they hold as infallible. Their worldview had the answers before they asked the questions. When someone else asked, and the answer our reality offered didn't match up, so they began a crusade to create a bubble to place those disagreements in. That's not science, that's tautology.
5) "Science does have its limits. Normal (operational) science deals only with repeatable observable processes in the present. This has indeed been very successful in understanding the world, and has led to many improvements in the quality of life. In contrast, evolution is a speculation about the unobservable and unrepeatable past. Thus the comparison in Teaching about Evolution of disbelief in evolution with disbelief in gravity and heliocentrism is highly misleading. It is also wrong to claim that denying evolution is rejecting the type of science that put men on the moon, although many evolutionary propagandists make such claims. (Actually the man behind the Apollo moon mission was the creationist rocket scientist Wernher von Braun.)"
While I agree that heliocentrism isn't the best comparison, the idea is valid in that a lot of people disagreed with the facts for reasons outside of the facts themselves. However, the key problem with this is that they say the past is unobservable. By what defintion? Are fossils not an observation of the past? Exposed strata? Light from long dead stars shining in our night sky? What sort of qualifications is this outlook placing on observation?
As it is true that denying evolution is not denying physics, the mindset which embraced the world as it was is to be ignored at your own peril. When you replace observations with fantasies, you may as well close your eyes alltogether.
Also, a classy appeal to authority.
"In dealing with the past, ‘origins science’ can enable us to make educated guesses about origins. It uses the principles of causality (everything that has a beginning has a cause) and analogy (e.g., we observe that intelligence is needed to generate complex coded information in the present, so we can reasonably assume the same for the past). But the only way we can be really sure about the past is if we have a reliable eyewitness account. Evolutionists claim there is no such account, so their ideas are derived from assumptions about the past. But biblical creationists believe that Genesis is an eyewitness account of the origin of the universe and living organisms. They also believe that there is good evidence for this claim, so they reject the claim that theirs is a blind faith."
Eye witness accounts aren't reliable, ask any court. They're usefull and certainly not to be ignored, but they're not reliable in any rigorous sense. If you ask the audience of a David Copperfield show if they really saw some gigantic object disappear, they'll say yes. Does that mean it actually disappeared or does that mean there was some sort of illusion or deception in play?
"Creationists don’t pretend that any knowledge, science included, can be pursued without presuppositions (i.e., prior religious/philosophical beliefs). Creationists affirm that creation cannot ultimately be divorced from the Bible any more than evolution can ultimately be divorced from its naturalistic starting point that excludes divine creation a priori."
This is pure and simple conflation. Evolution is not married inextricably from abiogenesis. Abiogenesis of a couple forms fit into the earliest forms of life and could explain the launching point, but a creator god could have easily sparked the first touch of life and let it go from there. I don't personally believe there was any kind of divinity involved, but this is not because I believe evolution requires no divinity at all, it's because I've seen no evidence implicating such an event. Yes, everyone has a basic set of axiomatic truths they have to accept in order to simply interact with the world, but you don't have to go so far as to deny god to accept the evidences and facts supporting the theory of evolution. Creation, on the other hand, can be divorced from the god of the bible. Why couldn't Odin the All Father be the source of special creation instead? Or Quetzocuatl? Or any other god? You can have special creation without the specific biblical variety. Evolution is no more demanding of a non-divine creation event than Creationism is bound to any one specific religious interperetation. Christian Creationism, the only kind anyone bothers to defend, is unique only in that their followers are the most vocal about refusing to choose what they can see over what they feel.
1) "This chapter contrasts the evolution and creation models, and refutes faulty understandings of both. A major point is the common practice of Teaching about Evolution and the Nature of Science to call all change in organisms ‘evolution.’ This enables Teaching about Evolution to claim that evolution is happening today. However, creationists have never disputed that organisms change; the difference is the type of change. A key difference between the two models is whether observed changes are the type to turn particles into people."
Right out of the gates of chapter two creationism loudly proclaims it is going to redefine what people mean when they use words then use that altered definition to try and bring down their argument. Oh, and there's a giant fucking bale of hay next to it. This is often a key problem with creationist representations of evolution - not that they use a non-standard definition, but that they use one to interpret material that's already written without bothering to find out if the definition is appropriate.
2) "Evolution, of the fish-to-philosopher type, requires that non-living chemicals organize themselves into a self-reproducing organism. All types of life are alleged to have descended, by natural, ongoing processes, from this ‘simple’ life form. For this to have worked, there must be some process which can generate the genetic information in living things today. Chapter 9 on ‘Design’ shows how encyclopedic this information is."
Evolution does not require non-living chemicals to organize themselves. Abiogenesis does. Evolution may very well have been spawned by a process of abiogenesis, but this probability is not a necessity. Biological Evolution deals with the changes in life. What originally caused life is not a component of evolutionary theory. While it is usefull and may help explain more about life as we know it, the starting point isn't tied to evolution. Evolution picks up where genesis - abiotic or not - left off.
3) "Thus, any single human could produce a vast number of different possible sperm or egg cells 26700 or 102017. The number of atoms in the whole known universe is ‘only’ 1080, extremely tiny by comparison. So there is no problem for creationists explaining that the original created kinds could each give rise to many different varieties. "
There's no problem with kinds creating lots of variety. However if you examine the kinds you find that creationists are simply taking the evolutionary tree of life and cutting out the trunk and saying the branches were magically created. If you look at any biology that doesn't eclipse the 6-10 thousand year limit creationists posit, you'll find they agree with modern evolutionary theory most of the time. They accept natural selection and genetic drift, etc... Is this because of something they noticed in the world or is it because they can't allow anything to contradict the bible?
4) "An important aspect of the creationist model is often overlooked, but it is essential for a proper understanding of the issues. This aspect is the deterioration of a once-perfect creation. Creationists believe this because the Bible states that the world was created perfect, and that death and deterioration came into the world because the first human couple sinned."
I would really like to find out what perfect means in this context.
"As the previous chapter showed, all scientists interpret facts according to their assumptions. From this premise of perfection followed by deterioration, it follows that mutations, as would be expected from copying errors, destroyed some of the original genetic information. Many evolutionists point to allegedly imperfect structures as ‘proof’ of evolution, although this is really an argument against perfect design rather than for evolution. But many allegedly imperfect structures can also be interpreted as a deterioration of once-perfect structures, for example, eyes of blind creatures in caves. However, this fails to explain how sight could have arisen in the first place."
Mutations sometimes cut out genetic code, true. But they also sometimes add to it. They sometimes ignore it. They do all sorts of stuff and a lot of it is useless or fatal. As for this fall from grace genetic alteration theory, I'd be interested in how a creature changing to work better in its environment, including adding genetic code to itself over time, is somehow a deterioration. Sometimes animals get smaller or lose irrelevant features. Sometimes they get bigger and gain new features. Sometimes they just die out. Hell look at the Coccyx. Adam didn't have a tail, why did he have a tail bone? What perfection was this deteriorating from? Forget blind cave animals, why do humans have a blind spot? How did our eye connect before and how did it degrade by wholly changing over? Octopi have no blind spot and an eye as awesome as ours, if we're god's perfect creation why did a sea rodent get better goods than us? I have yet to read the rest of this book but I'd put money they're going to delve into the myth that evolution never adds DNA.
5) "Also, the once-perfect environments have deteriorated into harsher ones. Creatures adapted to these new environments, and this adaptation took the form of weeding out some genetic information. This is certainly natural selection—evolutionists don’t have a monopoly on this. In fact, a creationist, Edward Blyth, thought of the concept 25 years before Darwin’s Origin of Species was published. But unlike evolutionists, Blyth regarded it as a conservative process that would remove defective organisms, thus conserving the health of the population as a whole. Only when coupled with hypothetical information-gaining mutations could natural selection be creative."
This chapter goes into how all natural selection, genetic drift, and the founder effect do is remove genes from an individual. This is super and great and true and irrelevant to the overall point. This section entirely misses the fact that all these processes are designed to allow mutations to move through a population as well as any other kind of genetic code. This is all predicated on the idea that additive genetic mutations are mythical or hypothetical. Which is willful ignorance of observation. There are bacteria which developed chemical pathways to eat man made fibers by randomly scoring on the "OH I ADDED A PATHWAY I NEVER HAD OH WHAT IS THIS POLYESTER MMMM" front. Hemoglobin doubled up and developed a clotting system. Drosphilia do all kinds of crazy crap genetically, some awful, some neutral, and some beneficial. We have plants which randomly hook up added code. The idea that information gaining is hypothetical can be directly refuted in a number of labs around the world - unless you're interested in the game of moving goal posts and redefinition.
6) "Another aspect of the creationist model is the Bible’s teaching in Genesis chapters 6 to 8 that the whole world was flooded, and that a male and female of every kind of land vertebrate (animals with biblical life in the Hebrew nephesh sense) were saved on Noah’s ark. A few ‘clean’ animals were represented by seven individuals. The Bible also teaches that this ark landed on the mountains of Ararat. From these assumptions, creationists conclude that these kinds multiplied and their descendants spread out over the earth. ‘Founder effects’ would have been common, so many ‘kinds’ would each have given rise to several of today’s ‘species.’"
But would the flood explain the fossil patterns we've noticed? Would it explain our discovery of the Tiktaalik? Would it explain why whales ended up with pelvises? Would it explain the differentiation between marsupials and other mammals being so distinctly split? Such a flood would predict a fossil record expanding from a central Ararat area. We ought to be able to trace all these species from a central locus of this mountain. This also highlights the seemingly childish understanding of genetic variability within a single pair. Not to mention the records of the damage incest is capable of inducing genetically.
7) "However, what has this to do with the evolution of new kinds with new genetic information? Precisely nothing. What has happened in many cases is that some bacteria already had the genes for resistance to the antibiotics. In fact, some bacteria obtained by thawing sources which had been frozen before man developed antibiotics have shown to be antibiotic-resistant. When antibiotics are applied to a population of bacteria, those lacking resistance are killed, and any genetic information they carry is eliminated. The survivors carry less information, but they are all resistant. The same principle applies to rats and insects ‘evolving’ resistance to pesticides. Again, the resistance was already there, and creatures without resistance are eliminated."
Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain! Semantic hand waving and blatant misrepresentation of the issue. Bacteria already had the genes to be resistant to anti-biotics and chemical medicines that weren't created until after those same bacteria were found to be a problem? Or maybe they had various systems and genes that, after either mutation or re-assignment, proved effective at neutralizing the poisons. Once the environment became such that those without that ability died, the new strain became dominant and we have to come up with new ways to fight them which they then become resistant to ad nauseum. You go through enough of these cycles and then compare the resultant bacteria to the original and bam, large differences. Now repeat that level of difference over thousands of generations and you have not just minor changes but wholly new organisms.
"Another example of acquired antibiotic resistance is the transfer of pieces of genetic material (called plasmids) between bacteria, even between those of different species. But this is still using pre-existing information, and doesn’t explain its origin."
Of course transfer of existing material doesn't explain the origin of it. Take the case of the bacteria that evolved to eat Nylon. Nylon is a completely man made substance which did not exist in any form prior to the 1900s. Bacteria evolved to hydrolise and consume nylonase sometime after its creation. If the creationists are correct, a strain of bacteria had the ability to eat a substance that didn't exist for thousands of years. And not only that, during the thousands of years they were slowly changing and losing information they managed to keep this genetic information which would have been entirely useless before the initial synthesis of nylon. And once they came across nylon they kicked that gene into gear randomly out of all the genetic information they could have pulled out of their DNA files. Somehow this is less fantastic than bacteria just kept doing their normal adapt to the environment thing and one strain happened to have a mutation that triggered a frame shift allowing an existing chemical pathway to digest the new chemical. Granted the end parts of both ideas are similarly odd - either developing a mutation or randomly guessing which gene to activate - one of these explanations does not entail a microscopic organism hauling around wholly useless DNA for thousands of years. Oh, and from the research done on this bacteria the gene used to digest it did not exist in chromosomal or plasmid form.
8) "Also, all modern land vertebrates would be descended from those which disembarked from the ark in the mountains of Ararat—over generations, they migrated to their present locations. It should therefore be no surprise to biblical creationists that animals on islands off Africa’s coast should be similar to those in Africa—they migrated to the islands via Africa."
It should be a surprise that the spread of speciation doesn't begin at Ararat, though. It should also be a surprise that Noah and his animals were doing their flood limbo after the whole created kinds thing occurred. If god needed a global flood to wipe everything out, man would have had to have a sizeable presence on the globe. However, with Adam and Eve having been created at the same time as all the animals, how many generations of genetic loss would we have had? And if we only need 8,000 species on the ark, is that the 8,000 god created in genesis or would he have made less and then 8,000 is the number he made after growth? Or did we lose unicorns in the flood because we didn't get the horses that had unicorn genes on the boat?
9) "Thus, Darwin helped answer a problem raised by skeptics of the Bible and its account of the flood and ark: ‘How did the animals get to faraway places?’ This also showed that some invertebrates could have survived the flood outside the ark, possibly on rafts of pumice or tangled vegetation, or on driftwood as Darwin suggested. Other experiments by Darwin showed that garden seeds could still sprout after 42 days’ immersion in salt water, so they could have traveled 1,400 miles (2,240 km) on a typical ocean current. This shows how plants could have survived without being on the ark—again by floating on driftwood, pumice, or vegetation rafts even if they were often soaked. Therefore, the creation-flood-migration model could also have led to such experiments, despite what Teaching about Evolution implies."
It's not so much a question of how they got so far away that the creation model needs to answer but how everything matches up with every other aspect of not just evolutionary biology but the geologic age of the earth and other sciences information about our world. When more data about the geologic age and tectonic shifts are discovered, they're incorporated into the overall body of knowledge quite well. For example when researchers looked at the ages of the earth and the spread of various species they figured if there was a reptillian-fish transitional animal it would be in a certain area, and low and behold after some looking we found Tiktaalik. This could not have been done with the creation model, but evolution pointed it out and found it without prior knowledge of this specific species. Creation's flood model may be a loose approximation that sort of answers the questions, but it is only a rough approximation and fails to account accurately for the distribution of marsupials across south amaerica and australia among other observations.
1) "Teaching about Evolution and the Nature of Science discusses the fossil record in several places. Creationists and evolutionists, with their different assumptions, predict different things about the fossil record. If living things had really evolved from other kinds of creatures, then there would have been many intermediate or transitional forms, with halfway structures. However, if different kinds had been created separately, the fossil record should show creatures appearing abruptly and fully formed."
We see both, so who's corner does that fall into? I don't know what the creationist defines as transitional but if you mean you have species A and species B and you're looking for AB, we have that. If you're looking for a fossil record that goes A -> AA -> AAB -> AABB -> ABB -> BB -> B then you're probably not going to see it. The Tiktaalik example is a hybrid fish/reptile. It has features common to both worlds. Why does this not count? Archaeoptryx shows facets of both birds and reptiles. There are many, many fossils which show organisms which have features similar to seperate groups. Why are these not transitional fossils? Because the organism doesn't have a useless half wing? Or is it because as we find these examples the goalposts labeled "Satisfying the creationist definition of transitional fossils" move?
2) "Teaching about Evolution avoids discussing the vast gulf between non-living matter and the first living cell, single-celled and multicelled creatures, and invertebrates and vertebrates. The gaps between these groups should be enough to show that molecules-to-man evolution is without foundation."
Vast gulfs are not a significant theory destroying problem for evolution. If you look at how fossils are formed, you will understand that only a small fraction of any living organisms will be fossilized. That's what we find. The gulfs are unfortunate as a full corpse of everything that ever lived would be awesome, but as that would also mean I couldn't drive my car to work I guess it's kind of a trade-off. We find records of numerous species from various strata and geologic ages. They are not complete, but they are still very telling. Sure we can't find an A -> AA -> AAB -> AABB -> ABB -> BB -> B record, but that doesn't mean that's not how it happened, it means fossilization isn't our best friend in the investigation of our past. Given how many A -> AB -> B fossils we've found and how many genetic equivalents such as the hemoglobin code in everything with blood the objection that transitional fossils aren't around is assinine. Not to mention that fossils are not required for evolution to be true, simply that they help provide us with a better idea of how it all came together and how it all happened.
3) "In nature, a well-preserved fossil generally requires rapid burial (so scavengers don’t obliterate the carcass), and cementing agents to harden the fossil quickly. Teaching about Evolution has some good photos of a fossil fish with well-preserved features (p. 3) and a jellyfish (p. 36). Such fossils certainly could not have formed gradually—how long do dead jellyfish normally retain their features? If you wanted to form such fossils, the best way might be to dump a load of concrete on top of the creature! Only catastrophic conditions can explain most fossils—for example, a global flood and its aftermath of widespread regional catastrophism."
Catatrophic incidents such as the flood? Or how about the ELE that wiped out the dinosaurs? Or the tectonic and volcanic activity that stripped pangea into seven continents? With three and a half billion years to record, including some global level events, it's not that hard to imagine some catastrophic or sudden events occurring. Locally speaking we have earthquakes to this day that rend massive sections of earth. Because they are relatively uncommon, we wouldn't expect them to be going around fossilizing everything, but during the existence of the jellyfish, why couldn't a volcano erupt or an earthquake occur burying it under tons of sea floor or rock? If there was a global flood, why don't we see fossils from the exact same timeframe globally? Why don't we see mammals fossilized with ancient reptiles? Why don't we see creatures which were created later according to evolution fossilized along side remains of older animals as we would expect with the creation model? Essentially, why don't we see a rabbit in the pre-cambrian?
4) "Evolutionists believe that the earbones of mammals evolved from some jawbones of reptiles. But Patterson recognized that there was no clear-cut connection between the jawbones of ‘mammal-like reptiles’ and the earbones of mammals. In fact, evolutionists have argued about which bones relate to which."
The reptile jaw system and mammal jaw-ear system have a number of things in common. They both contain four bones. In mammals three of these are in the ear and one is our jaw. In reptiles they have segmented or multi-part jaws. You can follow this at this link. There may not be a full map of the transition, but it is clear that these branches are related on some level, however far back it may be. If god created mammals and reptiles as different kinds, why wouldn't he use a more efficient set of tools for mammals than old reptile bones? For that matter, why would there be so many horribly inefficient designs common to different kinds? Perfection may have been the starting point, but degrading from perfection doesn't create the cavalcade of issues we see with the ad-hoc evolutionary system.
5) "The inability to imagine functional intermediates is a real problem. If a bat or bird evolved from a land animal, the transitional forms would have forelimbs that were neither good legs nor good wings. So how would such things be selected? The fragile long limbs of hypothetical halfway stages of bats and pterosaurs would seem more like a hindrance than a help."
The inability to imagine functional intermediates is a lack of imagination on the part of the person doing the contemplating. Smaller forlimbgs could provide a number of advantages. First of all, the creature would have less mass and require less resources. Rear legs good enough to mobilize the creature to eat would allow it to need less food to develop and live to breeding age. There you go, one possible benefit and I came up with it in less than two seconds. Other possible benefits include ability to get into smaller areas. Any webbing could provide improved mobility (such as in pterosaurs) through water or limited gliding - more access to resources by tree hopping or able to cross areas predators can't. If you can't come up with a reason for beneficial use of reduced or altered limbs, you just need to think harder.
6) "Of course, the soft parts of many creatures would also have needed to change drastically, and there is little chance of preserving them in the fossil record. For example, the development of the amniotic egg would have required many different innovations, including: (LIST); Another example is the mammals—they have many soft-part differences from reptiles, for example: (LIST)"
So a lot of changes would need to take place. That's fine for evolution as that's exactly what evolution predicts and describes. What creationists seem to gloss over is the millions of years and thousands of generations this had to happen. One gene of significant benefit can spread like wildfire through a population. Wolbachia is a bacteria that fucks up butterflies. When a mutation occurred that allowed the species to overcome this, it spread in ten generations to the majority of the population. Drastic changes are not a problem when you have three and a half billion years to roll from the first self replicating organisms to today's massive variety.
1) "However, Alan Feduccia, a world authority on birds at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and an evolutionist himself, disagrees with assertions like those of ‘Doug’:
Paleontologists have tried to turn Archaeopteryx into an earth-bound, feathered dinosaur. But it's not. It is a bird, a perching bird. And no amount of ‘paleobabble’ is going to change that.1"
Ah, appeal to authority, hallowed be thy name. It's a bird! There's nothing you can say because the words of Alan Feduccia has spoken! His word is law! Not the realities and particulars of the archaeopteryx! No, no, it is a bird based on the words of this man! Well, let's take a look here at this comparison chart showing the bird like and dinosaurlike features of the archaeopteryx.
Table of archaeopteryx features
1 = present; * = present in some; ? = possibly
present; x = absentDinosaurs Archae Birds 1 * 1 1 2 x 1 1 3 * 1 1 4 * 1 1 5 x x 1 6 x x 1 7 * x 1 8 * 1 x 9 1 1 x 10 1 1 x 11 1 1 x 12 1 1 x 13 1 1 x 14 1 1 x 15 1 1 x 16 6 6 11-23 17 1 1 x 18 1 1 * 19 1 1 x 20 1 1 x 21 1 1 x 22 1 1 x 23 1 1 x
Well, it appears we have a number of similarities between both birds and dinosaurs. While it does have some diagnostic characteristics such as feathers, it also has some dinosaur characteristics. (The full list of what numbers 1 to 23 mean can be found here if you're interested in a discussion of the matter. So Alan was wrong to say "It is a bird!" unless Alan uses bird to mean something that has feathers, a wish bone, and a specific toe orientation. Poor Alan, his definition is either woefully inadequate or he hadn't read up on dinosaurs enough to understand the commonalities Archaeopteryx had with them.
"Archaeopteryx had fully formed flying feathers (including asymmetric vanes and ventral, reinforcing furrows as in modern flying birds), the classical elliptical wings of modern woodland birds, and a large wishbone for attachment of muscles responsible for the downstroke of the wings. Its brain was essentially that of a flying bird, with a large cerebellum and visual cortex. The fact that it had teeth is irrelevant to its alleged transitional status—a number of extinct birds had teeth, while many reptiles do not. Furthermore, like other birds, both its maxilla (upper jaw) and mandible (lower jaw) moved. In most vertebrates, including reptiles, only the mandible moves."
Yes, but the enlarged cerebellum did not press down as we see in modern birds, it has many reptillian characteristics. It's range of motion does not encompass full bird rotation, but it had a fairly good range. Teeth are relevent not because some old birds had them, but because the position evolution takes on Archaeopteryx is that it came from teeth bareing reptiles as did all other birds. Archaeopteryx isn't the root of all birds, it's just an example of a transitional species. Nobody said Archaeopteryx was the transitional species.
2) "There are many problems with the dinosaur-to-bird dogma. Feduccia points out:
‘It's biophysically impossible to evolve flight from such large bipeds with foreshortened forelimbs and heavy, balancing tails,’ exactly the wrong anatomy for flight.
There is also very strong evidence from the forelimb structures that dinosaurs could not have been the ancestors of birds. A team led by Feduccia studied bird embryos under a microscope, and published their study in the journal Science. Their findings were reported as follows:
New research shows that birds lack the embryonic thumb that dinosaurs had, suggesting that it is ‘almost impossible’ for the species to be closely related."
Nobody said birds evolved from the dinosaurs which had forshortened forlimbs. The suspected root family of dinosaurs had arms which have no such hindrance, and in fact the wrists and shoulder joints of these suspected ancestors relate up well to modern birds. Not closely related isn't an issue either depending on what you mean by close. Just because something is an ancestor doesn't mean it's the same animal, just the same root. So dinosaurs had a thumb which birds eventually lost, not an issue. Embryonic birds have teeth which never develop along with other outdated reptilian features that only develop in modern adult birds which arrest those stages of embryonic development. (Ostriches, Emus, Kiwi, etc...)
3) "Feduccia and Martin reject the idea that birds evolved from dinosaurs, with good reason. But they are unwilling to abandon evolution, so instead they believe that birds evolved from reptiles called crocodilomorphs. They propose these small, crocodile-like reptiles lived in trees, and ‘initially leapt, then glided from perch to perch.’
But a gliding stage is not intermediate between a land animal and a flier. Gliders either have even longer wings than fliers (compare a glider's wingspan with an airplane's, or the wingspan of birds like the albatross which spend much time gliding), or have a wide membrane which is quite different from a wing (note the shape of a hang-glider or a flying squirrel). Flapping flight also requires highly controlled muscle movements to achieve flight, which in turn requires that the brain has the program for these movements. Ultimately, this requires new genetic information that a non-flying creature lacks."
Yes, at some point people thought perhaps crocodile like ancestors were the correct root for birds. However in 1985 the main proponent of the crocodile-bird hypothesis has stated that the hypothesis "has become so tenuous that it is very difficult to sustain." Turns out as more evidence became available the general concensus was that a crocodile like ancestor just didn't pan out. Of course this document wouldn't bother to mention proponents of evolution already agreed with them on the crocodile link twenty three years ago. Granted the book was published in 1999 (I could be wrong but that's what the internet tells me) so they only had 14 years to figure out they were on the same side as the dreaded evolutionist.
Gliding may very well not be an intermediate stage. Good thing nobody is saying it is. And of course evolution requires new information other creatures lack. That's the entire point. Archaeopteryx is suspected to have developed it's flapping motions from an ancestral mechanism that pulled prey in close to its body to allow the claws and teeth to tear more effectively while keeping its prey bound with the stronger bicep muscles. Same motion only without the feather-wing super structure, a motion you yourself can generally make. Not that you and I have anything in common with reptiles or birds of course.
4) "In short, Feduccia and Martin provide devastating criticism against the idea that birds evolved ‘ground up’ from running dinosaurs (the cursorial theory). But the dino-to-bird advocates counter with equally powerful arguments against Feduccia and Martin's ‘trees-down’ (arboreal) theory. The evidence indicates that the critics are both right—birds did not evolve either from running dinos or from tree-living mini-crocodiles. In fact, birds did not evolve from non-birds at all! This is consistent with the biblical account that distinct kinds of birds were created on Day 5."
They provide no such devastating criticism against ground-up flight evolution. Saying "IT'S ALREADY A BIRD OK, NOT A TRANSITIONAL SPECIES" is not a devastating criticism any more than "I AM AN EXPERT ABOUT BIBLES AND QURANS AND THEY'RE ALL HOGWASH" is a devastating criticism against the mentioned texts. The trees down theory doesn't have any crocodillian base and therefor no real root any longer. But evolutionary scientists pointed that out, not creationists. As for things consistent with the bible, I still have no idea why we have two sets of ten commandments. Sure it may have an explanation, but I'm not going to look into it, I'll just label it as a contradiction and call the whole thing false because of it. That's fair, right?
5) "All evolutionists believe that birds evolved from some sort of reptile, even if they can't agree on the kind. However, reptiles and birds are very different in many ways. Flying birds have streamlined bodies, with the weight centralized for balance in flight; hollow bones for lightness which are also part of their breathing system; powerful muscles for flight, with specially designed long tendons that run over pulley-like openings in the shoulder bones; and very sharp vision. And birds have two of the most brilliantly designed structures in nature—their feathers and special lungs. "
Yes, they have keels that came from so much muscle being moved to the chest area. It's a sturcture that gives the muscle somewhere to attach as opposed to a non-avian chest. They have hollow bones, but so did our friend archaeopteryx who has as much in common with birds as he does with dinosaurs. Flight muscles and joints are similar to some of the muscles even humans have - anything with a rotating wrist and shoulder can approximate flight motions. As for the kind, pretty much everyone in the field of evolution points to theropod ancestors, possibly saurischians. At least in the case of Archaeopteryx, saurischian is the most likely ancestor.
6) "Feduccia says ‘Feathers are a near-perfect adaptation for flight’ because they are lightweight, strong, aerodynamically shaped, and have an intricate structure of barbs and hooks. This structure makes them waterproof, and a quick preen with the bill will cause flattened feathers to snap into fully aerodynamic shape again."
Evolution created a form well suited to its function? Isn't that what evolution has been claiming it does the entire time? Whatever you build that works best in your environment gives you an advantage so you get to breed so those features stick around. Feathers are awesome for flying and give you dominion over an area many other animals cannot get to? Well, I can't possibly imagine how that would stick around. Oh they also keep you warm and make you waterproof? That's neat, but really, you can do with out that, so just how WOULD that evolve? I mean to what benefit? Oh it's just so amazing that without any benefit of any kind they just showed up. Guess god did it.
7) "In chapter 2 we showed that every structure or organ must be represented by information at the genetic level, written in a chemical alphabet on the long molecule DNA. Clearly, the information required to code for the construction of a feather is of a substantially different order from that required for a scale. For scales to have evolved into feathers means that a significant amount of genetic information had to arise in the bird's DNA which was not present in that of its alleged reptile ancestor.
As usual, natural selection would not favor the hypothetical intermediate forms. Many evolutionists claim that dinosaurs developed feathers for insulation and later evolved and refined them for flight purposes. But like all such ‘just-so’ stories, this fails to explain how the new genetic information arose so it could be selected for. "
It's a good thing we also don't currently think scales were the original feathers. Especially since they grow out of follicles and not skin folds. Sarcasm aside, the embryological development of feathers points out a more hair-like ancestry than scale-like.
So evolution, which postulates that random mutation leads to the selection of these random mutations when beneficial, does not describe how new information is added to the genetic code? I think there's a difference between not describing the specific path of any given mutation and selection and the general mechanism we observe which adds information. We'll likely never know exactly what proteins changed and when that gave us feathers, but that's a far cry from not knowing how it happens.
"As usual, loss of flight and feather structure are losses of information, so are irrelevant to evolution, which requires an increase of information."
I don't really understand this statement, it seems so facile. Just because something became less usefull for job A doesn't mean it did so by losing DNA. It could have added some sort of code that modified the structure and made it useless for job A and pretty keen for job B. Why is loss of a function - a phenotypic expression - inarguably married to a reduction in the genotype? This assertion is commonly made, and while it no doubt occurs this way on occasion, I see no evidence that it's necessary. Losing DNA is sufficient to impair functionality for a particular job, but is it necessary?
8) "Downy feathers are also good insulators and are common on flightless birds. Their fluffiness is because they lack the hooks of flight feathers. Again, natural selection would work to prevent evolution of aerodynamic feathers from heat insulators."
It happened in one case so it must happen in all cases. This is the sort of logic that lands us in bad places. For the same reasons using partial and crushed archaeopteryx fossils gave us bad ideas about their origin, using small pools of data to extrapolate over the entirety of life can be dangerous. Now granted we may only have a small portion of history available for viewing, but there's a difference between using the examples that fulfill your goals and ignoring everything else, and making due with what you have and updating as new information becomes available. Generalization from the self or just really bad induction, either way the fact that hooks do not exist in down has no limiting ability on the overall evolution of flight.
9) "How would the ‘bellows’-style lungs of reptiles evolve gradually into avian lungs? The hypothetical intermediate stages could not conceivably function properly, meaning the poor animal would be unable to breathe. So natural selection would work to preserve the existing arrangement, by eliminating any misfit intermediates."
If you put amphibian lungs in a human they'd have a hard time breathing and probably die. That's why we don't have them. Any changes in lungs from stage to stage probably wouldn't be too appropriate for any other creature. Good thing they only had the lungs they needed and not someone else's, otherwise they'd die before they could breed. As for "could not conceivably work", well, that's a lack of imagination, not an actual complaint about the idea of transitioning. Sure it would take a long time and only change in stages, but transtioning doesn't require that any given creature end up with a 50/50 mix, just an organ that has features of the old and the new.
10) "Also, even assuming that we could construct a theoretical series of functional intermediate stages, would natural selection ‘drive’ the changes? Probably not—bats manage perfectly well with bellows-style lungs—some can even hunt at an altitude of over two miles (three km). The avian lung, with its super-efficiency, becomes especially advantageous only at very high altitudes with low oxygen levels. There would thus have been no selective advantage in replacing the reptilian lung."
Being able to fly higher and cover more territory isn't advantageous? A mammal uses mammalian lungs adapted to its body? Birds and bats, while both fliers, don't have the same pedigree. What worked for mammals may not have worked for the line that evolved birds. This is to be expected, not gawked at as some barrier to evolution.
11) "Interestingly, some defenders of dinosaur-to-bird evolution discount this evidence against their theory by saying, ‘The proponents of this argument offer no animal whose lungs could have given rise to those in birds, which are extremely complex and are unlike the lungs of any living animal.’ Of course, only evolutionary faith requires that bird lungs arose from lungs of another animal."
Oh what an iceburn mister author. No such faith is required to assume that if evolution is correct that the lungs must have come from somewhere. Oh no we don't have an exact answer, just a pretty decent idea. Poor us, just having a suspected ancestor with a possible pathway that could evolve into an avian lung. How could evolution possibly be accurate without faith on our part? So we think dinosaurs are the possible ancestors of birds and had a lung system that could have given us a basis for an avian lung, but no living animal has a lung like a birds? Great, that's exactly what evolution's saying.
Chapter 5 is about whales and dolphins and unimaginative people who continue to press their beloved point of "OH THIS IS REALLY COMPLEX SO IT NEVER EVER COULD HAVE EVOLVED!" despite every time they bitch about irreducible complexity they get schooled in laboratories and courts globally. I really recommend just reading this then going through and reading chapter 5. Apply the same basic ideas from previous chapters to the arguments of OH MAN THAT IS A COMPLEX WHALE MELON HOW DID IT SHOW UP!? and you'll grasp that the creationist position is basically a limited imagination and an inability to understand what 3.5 billion years + cumulative selection. It's not that they have any serious evidence against it, they just don't seem to get it. :(
1) "Humans are very different from animals, especially in the ability to use language and logic."
And we're off to a terrible start here with the first sentence of chapter six. You see, many creatures use language of sorts, and our primate cousins can even learn sign language. What's more many animals use tools and logic to navigate their daily lives. We're more advanced, but this point is like saying one bird is a better flier than another so they must be unique in their flight capability. Not just that they alone posess that level of flight, but somehow that being the sole posessor means nobody else ever could have gotten it from anywhere else.
2) "But Teaching about Evolution forcefully indoctrinates readers with the idea that humans have descended from a simple cell via ape-like ancestors. The arguments used involve alleged apemen and DNA similarities. This chapter analyzes the fossil record, and also discusses the large difference in genetic information content between apes and humans."
The large differences like how we have 46 chromosomes and chimps have 48 except our second chromosome looks exactly like two of the chimp chromosomes that got combined, complete with the second chromosome containing a non-functional chromosome termination tail that means we had a common ancestor and humans had a combined chromosome? Probably not though, I mean, that's just god fucking with us.