The Theory of Evil-ution vs The Myth-ology of Creationism (pt 1)

How can you disbelieve evolution if you can’t even define it?

In a logical world, this discussion (It’s not a debate. A debate requires two at least moderately equal sides.) would not even be happening. But, as we all know, this is not a logical world.

Before you ask why I lump creationism with intelligent(?)design. Btw it’s also called creation science. (Creative – it may be; science – it is not!) Instead of focusing on divine creation, neo-creationism tries to find loopholes in evolution based on misconceptions, misunderstandings and outright lies! However, its underlying thesis is that some magical creature created the universe.

There is one redeeming factor to intelligent(?)design – some of their counter-explanations are downright hilarious. Check out how they think the Grand Canyon was formed.

Total lack of understanding of geology.

Also, I would like to dispel a misunderstanding promoted by creationists. According to them, the Theory of Evolution is just that – a theory. In other words (theirs) a guess.

To the average person a “theory” is a guess. However, in science a “theory” is an explanation based on empirical evidence (i.e. “theory of gravity”). Empirical evidence, in case you are wondering, is evidence that is found by direct observation, experience or situation.

So, creationists either don’t even understand the basic terms of science 101 (high school level) or they’re intentionally lying to boost their cause and/or their pocketbook. (Remember, there’s a lot of book and speaking money to be considered.)

Btw, in science, a guess is called a “hypothesis”.

OK, you atheist propaganda monger. I get the picture. You hate God and everything he stands for, so you’re going to stack the deck in this post.

First of all, it’s pretty hard to hate something that doesn’t exist. And secondly, I will accurately portray creationists arguments. (Mainly because I think they’re damn silly, and I have a weakness for silly.)

In fact, I think I’ll follow their lead and primary arguments, and list their major (stated) objections to evolution. Hell, I’ll even give you the links to their arguments. The only requirement is that you also peruse the rebuttal links. (That is unless you don’t want to be confused by facts.)

I’m not going to address every minor bit of creationist nit-picking (that would take a very large book) but I will provide links that will answer them. However, the subject is still going to require two good-sized posts on my part.

This 1st part is primarily concerned with creationist objections and evolutionist refutations. It gets a bit technical so I’m going to take the liberty of translating some of the more technical concepts, where possible, into language that real people speak. (I don’t want you falling asleep in the middle of a rebuttal.)

The 2nd part is a lot more fun, at least for me. It covers creationist claims. Now, no fair jumping ahead to the 2nd part. (You have to eat your veggies before you can have desert.)

One final disclaimer: I DO NOT have a problem with the religious philosophy of any major religion. They all basically boil down to “The Golden Rule”. How could someone be against that?

Also “Some of my best friends are religious”. (Couldn’t resist using that line, but it’s true.) I have a number of devout friends who earnestly try to make the world a better place.

This isn’t about that or them. This is about religious mythology.

If you’ve read “There Are Not Two Sides to Every Story” (Still available from your friendly local “grouchy” blog.) you know that I don’t believe every story has two sides based on facts. This is one of those stories.

Why am I so certain that there are not two sides to this story? Well, for starters, 99.85% of all scientists of the relevant fields of earth and life sciences in the U.S. agree that biological evolution is a fact.

Wait a minute bunky! What about all those scientists that disagree with evolution?

You mean the 700 or so out of 480,000? Well, if you want to include high school science teachers as scientists (as creationists do) the percentage may be lower, but almost all “scientific” evolution dissenters tend to be in unrelated fields. (That’s like me, a communications grad, commenting on the validity of quantum theory.)

As a prime example of scientific dissenters in unrelated fields, there is the case of one Dr. Henry M. Morris PhD. (1918-2006)

Dr. Morris, according to no less an authority than the Institute for Creation Research, is widely recognized as the founder of the modern creation science movement. (Of course, Dr. Morris founded the ICR, so you might want to take that one with a grain or two of salt.)

But, WOW! A PhD created creation science? I’m impressed. NOT! (The man’s doctorate was in hydraulic engineering.)

Mr. Morris (the PhD really doesn’t apply here) had absolutely no scientific qualifications in any earth or life science.

Plus, it turns out that many of those professors and scientists the creationists claim have never stated support for their cause. They may have questions about certain aspects of evolution, but questioning is what good science is.

Sir Fred Hoyle, a very famous British astronomer is often quoted for his opposition. Sir Fred had his own idea: “The Steady-State Universe“.

He felt one of the main problems with Big Bang is that it implied a beginning, which to him, implied a creator. (Can you say cre-a-shun-is-m?) Unfortunately for Sir Fred, later observations destroyed the underpinnings of his idea and instead, supported Big Bang.

Creationists Objections and Evolutionist Refutations

Let us proceed by examining what creationists call the holes in the theory:

1) The scientific origin of the universe is wrong!

The theory of a big bang has been shaken with unresolvable inconsistencies, such as an unexpectedly uneven distribution of matter in the universe and a need for dark matter.

Well, that’s a bit of an overblown statement founded on some rather shaky ground.

First of all, remember the Big Bang is a theory as defined in science. (It’s not “The Big Bang Hypothesis”!)

That means that it is backed up by “direct observation, experience, or situation”. (As opposed to the magical manipulations imagined by ancient shepherds while imbibing on the local loco weed a bit too heavily.)

For instance, there’s Einstein’s (ol’ “E=MC square” himself) general theory of relativity that implies that the universe has to expand or contract. Hubble’s Law states the more distant a galaxy is, the faster it’s getting away from us. Both of these have been proven by observation. (Think “doppler shift”.)

If you reverse the timeline and take it back, oh say 13,700,000,000 years or so it all shrinks down to a very, very, very, small, very, very, very compact point called a singularity. Steven Hawking: The Large-Scale Structure of Space-Time (1973)

The Big Bang model predicted that there should be universal (as in everywhere) cosmic microwave background radiation (CMBR) with a temperature of about 3 degrees Kelvin (-454.27 degrees Fahrenheit).

When the CMBR was finally observed in 1965, the temperature checked in at 2.73 degrees k (-454.756 degrees Fahrenheit).

The CMBR is evenly distributed to about 1 part in 100,000, approximately the amount predicted by Big Bang. (So much for “unexpectedly uneven distribution”.)

The only model that predicts the observed abundances of primordial hydrogen, deuterium, helium and lithium in the universe is Big Bang. (Creationism is strangely silent on the issue.)

Once again, I’d like to point out that these are not observations to fit the theory. They are predicted by the theory and observed in reality!

Inconsistencies are not necessarily unresolvable. The clumpiness of the universe, for example (if you consider 1 part in 100,000 all that clumpy) was resolved by finding unevenness in the CMBR.

Oh, and before I forget, there is the question of dark matter.

Unlike the other side of the discussion, we don’t yet know all the “divine smoke dreams” of the universe. The universe has been at it for 13,700,000,000 years. We’ve been seriously studying it for less than 500. And, only the last 100 or so with decent tools.

We don’t know what dark matter is yet. Hell, we didn’t even guess it existed until 1933. We know it has gravity and it doesn’t show up on any radiation spectrum analysis. One hypothesis (guess) says that it might emanate from a parallel universe. We just don’t know yet.

But you see, that’s the thing about science. It’s all about the pursuit of the unknown. Examining, hypothesizing, predicting, observing, checking, rechecking and rechecking again and finally confirming or denying.

Creationism refuses to be held to those standards. (Some stoned shepherds said it was true, so don’t question anything.)

2) How could living creatures come from non-life?

a) Pasteur and other scientists disproved the concept of spontaneous generation and established the “law of biogenesis” – that life comes only from previous life. Watchtower Bible and Tract Society “Life – How Did It Get Here?” pg 38 (1985)

There is no “law” of biogenesis. Despite the name, biogenesis does not have the status of a scientific law. (No matter what creationists try to tell you.)

Biogenesis says that life cannot be created from nothing. It does not say that very primitive life cannot form from increasingly complex molecules.

The spontaneous generation that Pasteur and others disproved was the idea that life forms such as mice, maggots and bacteria can appear fully formed. (They disproved a form of creationism.)

 

Besides lying about the “law of biogenesis”, the statement omits the fact that “spontaneous generation” was Christian creationist dogma at the time.

Augustine of Hippo (Saint Augustine to all you “true believers”) discussed spontaneous generation in “The City of God” and “The Literal Meaning of Genesis“, citing Biblical passages such as “Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life” (Genesis 1:20) as decrees that would enable ongoing creation.

 

b) Abiogenesis assumes life was created by processes still operating today, so new life should still be appearing today. Henry M. Morris “Scientific Creationism” pg 46 (1985)

Did I mention that ol’ Hank had no pertinent background in life (or earth) science? Well, here’s another place where his stupid is showing.

First, for those of you not intimately acquainted with abiogenesis, it is the development of living organisms from nonliving matter.

The processes may still be operating today, but conditions are vastly different then they were early in earth’s history.

When life appeared there was almost no molecular oxygen available. Oxygen is reactive and interferes with the formation of complex organic molecules.

And before life there was no life.Life today would devour any complex molecules before they could turn into anything approaching new life. (You don’t think so? Hell, there are bacteria that eat rock. If you think anything half way organic is immune, think again.)

3) How could life have started without a creator?

The most primitive cells are too complex to have come together by chance. Henry M. Morris “Scientific Creationism” pp 59-69 (1985)

Hank’s back with another dazzling display of dumb!

Biochemistry does not occur by chance. It follows a strict set of rules as does all the physical universe. It inevitably produces complex products. Doesn’t even require a planet to work. The basic building blocks of life, including amino acids and other complex molecules are even known to form in space.

Also, nobody knows what the most primitive cells were like. All existing cells are the result of billions of years of evolution. The earliest self-replicators were very likely much simpler than those alive today. Plus, self-replicating molecules don’t need to be all that complex and protein-building systems can also be simple.

 

4) Physics proves evolution is impossible!

The second law of thermodynamics says that everything tends toward disorder, making evolutionary development impossible. Henry M. Morris “Scientific Creationism” pp 38-46 (1985)

Strike three! With Hank, that PhD really does seem to stand for Piled higher & Deeper.

He’s lying of course. The second law of thermodynamics says no such thing.

It says that heat won’t spontaneously flow from a colder body to a warmer one (well, duh!) or, equivalently, that total entropy in a closed system will not decrease.

For those of us without a degree in physics, entropy is a measure of the energy that is NOT available for work during a thermodynamic process. A closed system evolves toward a state of maximum entropy. (In other words: everything eventually comes to a dead stop.)

The problem for ol’ Hank and his buds, is that the earth is not a closed system.It’s power source (the sun) is external. Sunlight, with low entropy, shines on it; and heat, with higher entropy, radiates off. This flow of energy, and the change in entropy that accompanies it, can and will power local decreases in entropy on earth.

If the low entropy / high entropy bit is a bit confusing? (Well, it was to me at first.) Think of it this way: You’re camping by a lake at night. You look across the lake and see the light from the campfires on the other side (low entropy) but the heat (high entropy) has dissipated long before it gets to you.

The only processes necessary for evolution to occur are reproduction, heritable variation, and selection. All these are seen to happen all the time, so obviously, no physical laws are being broken.

5) Evolution makes a monkey out of me!

a) Human and dinosaur footprints have been found together in Cretaceous rocks of the Paluxy riverbed near Glen Rose, Texas. Henry M. Morris “Scientific Creationism” pg 122 (1985)

The git just keeps on giving.

At Paluxy, the “human footprints” are really tridactyl (three toed) dinosaur tracks that have been partially filled in by natural processes. Once clean, they no longer look human. Plus, some of the “human” tracks are from 16 to19 inches long. (Must have been a hell of a huge human!)

b) There are no transitional fossils. Evolution predicts a continuum between each fossil organism and its ancestors. Instead, we see systematic gaps in the fossil record. Henry M. Morris “Scientific Creationism” pp 78-90 (1985); Watchtower Bible and Tract Society “Life – How Did It Get Here?” pp 57-59 (1985)

Hank’s back again and this time he’s brought friends. (But they’re still just purveyors of west-end extrusions from an east-bound bull.)

There are quite a few transitional fossils, and more being discovered. (A transitional fossil is a fossil that shows a mosaic of features from older as well as more recent organisms.)

Are there gaps? Of course there are. The conditions required for fossilization occur quite rarely. But even so, we find gradations in fossils. Way too many to list here, so I’ll just concentrate on some human transitional fossils.

 

Australopithecus afarensis (3.9 to 3.0 million years ago (Mya)) Its skull is similar to a chimpanzee’s but with more humanlike teeth. Most (possibly all) creationists would call this an ape, but it was bipedal.

 

Australopithecus africanus (3.0 to 2.0 Mya) Its brain size (420-500 cc) was slightly larger than A. afarensis, and its teeth were even more human like.

 

Homo habilis (2.4 to 1.5 Mya) was similar to Australopithecines, but used tools and had a larger brain (650 cc) and a less projecting face.

 

Homo erectus (1.8 to 0.3 Mya) Earlier H. erectus had a brain size around 900 cc, which grew to around 1,100 cc in later ones. For reference, modern human brains average 1350 cc. (Of course, not all humans use all of their brains all of the time.)

For more examples of transitional fossils (human and otherwise) click on the pic below.

(A) Pan troglodytes (modern chimpanzee)
(B) Australopithecus africanus (2.6 My)
(C) Australopithecus africanus (2.5 My)
(D) Homo habilis (1.9 My)
(E) Homo habilis (1.8 My)
(F) Homo rudolfensis (1.8 My)
(G) Homo erectus (1.75 My)
(H) Homo ergaster early H erectus (1.75 My)
(I) Homo heidelbergensis “Rhodesia man” (300,000 – 125,000 y)
(J) Homo sapiens neanderthalensis (70,000 y)
(K) Homo sapiens neanderthalensis (60,000 y)
(L) Homo sapiens neanderthalensis (45,000 y)
(M) Homo sapiens sapiens Cro-Magnon (30,000 y)
(N) Homo sapiens sapiens modern

OK, in fairness, the leading creationists distance themselves from the following “objection”. However, it just keeps popping up in anti-evolution propaganda and it is so down right hilarious that I just have to include it:

c) If we are descended from apes, why are there still apes around? (Or, as TalkOrigins rephrased it: “If many Americans and Australians are descended from Europeans, why are there still Europeans around?”)

I’ll let you work this one out all by yourself.

And finally, we come to the absolute clincher (if you’re a troglodyte):

6) THE BIBLE SAYS SO!!!!

a) God’s word, the bible, must be our ultimate authority. The bible says it, I believe it, and that settles it. Jonathan Sarfati “Refuting Compromise” pg 17 (2004)

b) The bible, being God’s revealed word, is without error or fault in everything it teaches, including what it says about creation, historical events, and its own origin. Scientific study of the earth cannot be used to overturn scriptural accounts of creation and the flood. International Council on Biblical Inerrancy “The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy” (1978)

And it wouldn’t be right to finish this post without one last visit from good ol’ Hank:

c) Genesis must be literal; it is straightforward narrative. Henry M. Morris “The Literal Week of Creation” (1998)

I’ll get into this a hell of a lot more in pt 2 People who don’t want their beliefs laughed at shouldn’t have such funny beliefs“.

For now, I’ll just do a quick demolition of the above.

a) This claim is guilty of “my way or the highway” dogmatism in the 1st degree. It has absolutely no basis for its conclusion other than “my view is the ultimate authority”. More than a few wars have been fought over this brand of rubbish.

b) I googled the International Council on Biblical Inerrancy, and much to my surprise (NOT!) it turned to be a collection of right-wing evangelical (or is that a double negative?) bible thumpers. But, that’s beside the point.

I’m not even going to comment on the social problems that any type of inerrancy causes. That would take far too long.

Instead, I’m just going to list a few instances of “inerrancy”:

  • The earth is immobile 1st Chronicles 16:30, has ends or edges Job 37:3 and has four corners Isaiah 11:12, Revelations 7:1;
  • Also, the earth rests on pillars 1st Samuel 2:8;
  • And, btw, it’s small and flat enough to be seen in it’s entirety from a mountain Matthew 4:8;
  • Rabbits chew their cud Leviticus 11:6 (I didn’t even know they had one.);
  • Insects including grasshoppers have four legs Leviticus 11:20-23 (Mutilated bugs anyone?);
  • Some four-legged animals fly Leviticus 11:21 (Well yah, dragons do. But they’re kind of mythological as well.);
  • Turtles have voices Song of Solomon 2:12 (Hmm, and all this time I’ve been listening to whales.)

Those are just a few of many, many examples, but this post is too long already.

And, since we’re speaking of “God’s revealed word”, the bible says a lot of other stupid things:

  • If you work on the sabbath, you should be put to death. Exodus 35:2-3
  • If you curse, you should be stoned to death. Leviticus 24:14-15 (Is it all right if I just get “stoned” instead? That would be a lot more fun.)
  • You should kill your child if he strikes you. Exodus 21:15
  • Women should be subjugated by their husbands. 1st Peter 3:1-7
  • Happiness is smashing children upon the rocks. Psalms 137:9

You know, this last list sounds an awful lot like Sharia Law to me.

c) Evidence that ol’ Hank didn’t grade well in English either.

Straightforward narrative does not imply literalness! Myths, fables, fantasies, parables, analogies and just plain writing exercises are all typically straightforward narrative. Simply saying that a writing is narrative does not indicate how to interpret it.

One last thing before I wrap up this post:

For those of you who think I’ve been picking on poor ol’ Hank (and I have). It’s because in my opinion, he’s either the dumbest PhD I’ve ever heard of, or he was lying to fatten his wallet. Personally, I think it’s the latter. (I hope our educational system isn’t that out of whack.) In either case, the man isn’t worthy of any respect. I don’t respect stupid, and I certainly don’t respect lying.

OK, we’ve got the heavy slogging out-of-the-way. IT’S MILLER TIME!

Take a break and on to pt 2. (It’s a lot more fun!)

Grouchy

 

 

 

 

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