Defending Evolution from ID Distortions

Posts tagged “Creationist

YEC Obsession on the Grand Canyon

Flood Geology — one of the biggest irrationalities in Young-Earth Creationism. In order to rationalize the evidence the geological record that the Earth is older than 6,000 years, they say that Noah’s flood it responsible.  This argument was used by Ellen G. White, one of the founders of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church. In her book, Patriarchs and Prophets, she attempts to minimize the science of geology claiming that “apart from Bible history, geology can prove nothing.” In chapter nine entitled “The Literal Week,” she then goes on to say,  

In the days of Noah, men, animals, and trees, many times larger than now exist, were buried and thus preserved as an evidence to later generations that the antediluvians perished by a flood. God designed that the discovery of these things should establish faith in inspired history; but men, with their vain reasoning, fall into the same error as did the people before the flood. (Patriarchs and Prophets, page 112)  

I was raised a Seventh-Day Adventist – and still am officially a member, so it pains me to say that Ellen White was wrong, but . . . Ellen White was wrong. There’s no two ways about it.  

Her anti-science arguments based on her “visions from God” have continued to infect the Christian community. I’m pretty sure that most YECs are unaware that they are indirectly embracing Ellen White, since many of them consider her a “false prophet.” — As an SDA, I can freely admit that our “prophetess” was at best wrong, and at worse dishonest. Afterall, my faith is in God, not in her.  

I can, however, understand that she felt that Geologists were misguided and being led astray because of her particular, literalistic, understanding of the Bible. It is my contention that the world-wide-flood is based on a misreading of the Bible, and is therefore unbiblical. I don’t see the need to debunk her here because I already give more details in my post entitled “The Global Deluge – Is it Unbiblical.” Also, see Mark Isaak’s “Problems with a Global Flood” for Geological, Ecological and Biological evidence against the universal deluge.  

But, back to the point of this post…  

Young Earth Creationists have some sort of obsession with the Grand Canyon, apparently because they feel that it gives evidence for the flood of Noah. — Eric Hovind, Kent Hovind’s son, in a Creation Minute video mentions that the Colorado river enters the canyon at 2,800 feet above sea-level, and that it exits at 1,800 feet above sea-level, and that the top of the canyon is 7,000 feet above sea-level. Then he asks if the water from the river flowed uphill  to form it, or if it was the result of a flood. Furthermore, on Kent Hovind’s website, it is claimed,  

In contrast to all other rivers, we do not find a delta (a place where washed-out mud is deposited). This alone makes the evolutionist interpretation impossible.  

First, I’ll deal with Eric’s Creation Minute. No scientist would make the absurd assertion that water flows uphill, so he is attacking a strawman. But he obviously did not do any independent research on the formation of the Grand Canyon. No doubt he would simply call them “evolutionist lies” like daddy Hovind does. — The answer is plate tectonics. The Colorado Plateau started out flat as the river flowed. Tectonic uplift pushed upwards causing the river to continually cut into the ground eroding it away to the canyon we have today.  

Next, it isn’t true that there is no delta. All you have to do is do an internet search, and you’ll find the images of it really easily For example, the one below:  

Colorado River Delta

Personally, I find it hard to believe that the Hovinds haven’t done their homework, although it is possible that they didn’t and just assumed that they were right, and therefore saw no need to investigate any further than Creationist propaganda. Anything’s possible, I guess. . .  But still, one doesn’t need to be an expert Geologist to be able to take their claims apart.

Next is the common YEC claim made about rapidly forming canyons. Mount St. Helens is commonly cited because of a rapidly formed canyon that the 1980 erpution formed. Apparently if a canyon can be carved quickly, then the Grand Canyon could have been as well. — Also, on a YEC blog I frequently comment on, the same one I issued my flagellum challenge to Michael (the blogger) which has still been ignored, a very similar argument is being repeated. Except, Michael is using a more recent example to argue his point. — His post entitled “Rapid Canyon Formation is Finally Admitted” alone shows his misunderstanding of how Geologists view the matter.  

In his post, he cited a recent Science Daily article which talks about a newly formed canyon in central Texas. He then says,  

This is another reason why a one-party closed system that formulates ideas on research based on an old time frame gets falsified more often than just on scientific advancements. Creation scientists with many years of research field experience and PHDs were way ahead of this discovery made by secular scientists with their PHDs. It’s funny how the secular scientists act like it’s so new, again they are afraid that it will turn the public more away from evolution and their funding dollars. Let’s rejoice! It’s a great day for creationism!  

For the record, I am tired of YECs confusing Geology with Evolution. But more importantly, this doesn’t even come close to refuting evolutionary theory, much less the geological principle of uniformity. Michael has shown over and over again that he understands neither.  

We know that the Grand Canyon couldn’t have been formed in a single event in only recent history for one basic reason: It doesn’t have the features it would have if it had been carved in a short, year long event such as Noah’s flood. The Grand Canyon has  U-turns in it which is consistent with the formation of the canyon taking a long period of time, and inconsistent with a rapid event as seen below,  

Grand Canyon: Notice the U-Turn!

In contrast, the newly formed Texas canyon mentioned in Michael’s post has completely different characteristics. The photo in the original Science Daily article show the water’s path as an essentially more straight line and no meandering,  

Texas Canyon Formation: Notice the Essentially Straighter Path!

The path of the water flowing from the reservoir has a much straighter path. It is not meandering like the Colorado river in the case of the Grand Canyon. Therefore this cannot be used as evidence that the latter formation was also the result of rapid formation.  

The last issue I have with Michael, as well as other YECs. And that is their understanding of the Geological principle of uniformity. This principle is often summed up as “The present is the key to the past.” — When Creationists hear this, they assume that Geologists necessarily believe that all accumulation of geologic layers – and canyons – had to have taken millions of years. Hence, the Creationists mistakenly think that since Scientists think the Grand Canyon took millions of years to be carved, that therefore they think that all canyons had to have been carved in long periods of time. This is not the case.  

What uniformitarianism means is this: We see disasters happen today, therefore we know they happened in the past; We see floods happen today, therefore they happened in the past; Also, we see some canyons form rapidly today, and therefore some formed rapidly in the past as well. But also, we see slow processes in action today, and therefore slow processes happened in the past as well.  Nobody ever denied that rapid formation can occur, but it is denied when all the evidence is inconsistent with rapid formation.– And the Grand Canyon, is an example that is only consistent long processes.  

Even the Science Daily article affectively debunks Michael’s perception that uniformitarianism denies a rapid formation. Interestingly enough, though he quotes the article extensively, he somehow missed a very relevant section. In it is this detail,  

Our traditional view of deep river canyons, such as the Grand Canyon, is that they are carved slowly, as the regular flow and occasionally moderate rushing of rivers erodes rock over periods of millions of years.  

Such is not always the case, however. “We know that some big canyons have been cut by large catastrophic flood events during Earth’s history,” Lamb says. (My emphasis)
.  

Hmmmm, wouldn’t this take away from the title of Michael’s post that “rapid formation is finally being admitted”? — Well, it certainly refutes the idea that Creation science has in anyway been vindicated.  

This begs the question: Why did Michael leave this out? I guess it’s possible he only read what was convenient for him, or he would no longer have a strawman to knock down. Or maybe he has bad reading comprehension. Who knows? — I pointed out most of these points in my comments on Michael’s blog, and so far, he completely ignored them. I think it’s either because he knows he cannot refute them, or he is willfully ignorant. You make the call.  

References:
How was the Grand Canyon Formed, from Buzzle.com 
The Formation of the Grand Canyon, from Grand Canyon Explorer
The Grand Canyon and Creation Science, From Answers in Creation
Grand Canyon Formed over Millions of Years, by by Dr. Jeff Zweerink,  from Reasons to Believe.
CH581: Carving the Grand Canyon, by Mark Isaak, from Talk.Origins.
Geology of the Grand Canyon area, from Wikipedia.
Creationist Grand Canyon Argument

Advertisements

A New Challenge to a Creationist

Lately, I have been commenting on  a Creationist blog, defending Evolutionary theory from Creationist distortions. Of course, one may wonder why I would take the time, and endure the headache of defending the fact of Evolution when arguing with Creationists is often a futile crusade. Well, I guess my reasons are that 1) somebody has to do it, and 2) I’m a glutton for punishment. I like to argue my case.

For the last few months, Eelco, who often comments on the Creationist blog has been issuing a few questions to Michael (the Creationist blogger) who has completely ignored them. In fact, Michael rarely ever — if even ever — engages in discussion with anyone who disagrees with him. The questions Eelco asks Michael on every post are,

(1) Blog readership numbers ?

(2) Your qualifications to discuss any scientific subject, in response to the challenge to Olorin.

(3) A substantive review of Signature in the Cell, promised for August 2009.

(4) outstanding question from Upson Downes on mitochondrial Eve.

Sounds fair enough, no? — Olorin, who Eelco mentions in number two was another frequent commenter who always took Michael to task, and who seems to now been blocked from posting comments anymore.  Personally, I am waiting for Michael to answer Eelco, but I’m not holding my breath.

UPDATE: Olorin was banned from posting on the blog temporarily. He now has been unblocked, I imagine because of preasure that Michael has been feeling about banning him in the first place.

But now I have my own separate challenge to Michael. I refuted Irreducible complexity in my comments on his blog, and I never have gotten him to respond to me. All he did was respond to a fellow Creationist by quoting the long-refuted Michael Behe, and then he attacked the Science Talk.Origins website saying,

Talking origins is out dated piece of bias and will continue to be outdated while we learn more about nature like the FLAGELLUM.

Just pointing out, Michael couldn’t even get the name of the website right — He called it “Talking origins.” It’s Talk Origins. But I digress…

Realizing that he completely ignored EVERYTHING I said, and every argument made against Irreducible Complexity, all he does is attack a science website, and then pull out the obvious “We’re learning more about the flagellum!!” — Well, no dip!! And for some reason, he wants to treat any new discovery about the flagellum as bad for Evolution, and therefore good for Creationism, which he has no basis for.

Well, anyway, I responded to him saying,

The only bias Talk.Origins has is in favor of real scientific research.

I already showed in an earlier comment that flagellum is NOT irreducible. . . Earlier, I pointed out,

An Important fact that ANYONE here has yet to mention is that the flagellum IS NOT EVEN IRREDUCIBLE. — In 1988, G. Kuwajima was able to remove ONE-THIRD of the 497 amino acids from the flagellum, AND IT STILL WORKED PERFECTLY!!!!! . . . Also, we know that the L and the P-rings can be taken away from the flagellum, and it will STILL work. . . .

Michael, if you want to cry “BIAS!!!” then you should do so ONLY AFTER refute this fact that I pointed out.

From now on, i will be issuing a similar challenge to you that Eelco has issued to you, and one you have FAILED to take on. . . except it will be awaiting your refutation of the facts I pointed out about the REDUCIBILITY of the flagellum.

That’s my challenge to him. Will he take me up on it? I’m not holding my breath. Probably like a good Creationist, he will just pretend that it isn’t there, like he does with Eelco’s challenge.


Evolution, Theory and Falsifiability

A while ago, I was reading a book entitled The Reluctant Mr. Darwin which gives details about the time that Darwin was developing his theory of Evolution. I was developing an interest in Darwin the man rather than just his theory of natural selection which was why I got the book in the first place. What happened was, a member of a certain church saw the book, and we got into a short discussion. After our really short discussion about Darwin and Evolution, he said to me “It’s a theory,” putting plenty of stress on “theory.” A lot of Creationists love to use the “Evolution is a theory” argument, apparently, because that semantics technicality gives them a justification to reject it all together.

The argument that evolution is just a theory is made on ignorance of the scientific method, or methodological naturalism. This is made up of several steps such as 1) observation, 2) hypothesis, 3) testing, 4) revision, and 5) theory. — Notice that hypothesis and theory are two separate steps in the scientific method. They layperson uses the two terms interchangeably. Not so in the scientific community.

Some of the mentioned steps of the scientific method are self-explanatory, but it works like this: A hypothesis is used to explain a certain observation in nature. The hypothesis is used to make a prediction, that is, if the hypothesis predicts that X should happen, and it does, then it has support. However, you need to keep testing the hypothesis against other predictions that it makes, and if it does not pass them, then it needs to be revised. On the other hand, if it passes every test given, then it becomes a theory. — To a scientist, a theory is well supported by the evidence. It is not just a hair-brained idea that was just dreamed up. Indeed, scientific “theories” are described “proven hypothesis” and are more like scientific laws.

From this, to say that evolution is “just a theory,” Creationists are unwittingly saying Evolution is well substantiated and tested. Evolution, therefore, is only a “proven hypothesis,” it is only as useful as a scientific law. When Creationists argue along these lines, they are crossing definitions of the same term which is really not a valid line of argument. Indeed, pulling out the “it’s only a theory” card is nothing more than semantics.

Casey Luskin, who is a well-know Intelligent Design proponent at the Discovery Institute in an essay he wrote on the subject recommends against resorting to calling evolution a theory because it can imply to Evolutionists that the Creationist/ID proponent cannot cite evidence against it. — He then points out,

The “evolution is just a theory” line can come off as if the speaker really thinks “evolution is just a guess, so I don’t have to believe it if I don’t want to.” In fact, neo-Darwinian evolution as a whole is not merely a guess and most Darwinian scientists will provide reasons why they think it is the best explanation for the diversification of life.

I agree very little with Casey Luskin, but he cannot be more right in this case. When this argument is used, the implication is since evolution is a theory, there is an excuse to simply dismiss it purely our of convenience. — “It’s convenient for me, therefore I will reject it. It’s a theory, not a fact.” — Under this logic, we could dismiss other scientific theories such as germ theory, plate tectonics, the big bang, general relativity, and also gravitation. All of these are theories, and yet they have been verified by the data against observations that very well could have falsified them. — And that’s part of science right there. In order to become a theory, the proposal has to make prediction that can be falsified if it’s wrong. If later observations go against the proposal, then it has been falsified. If not, it has been verified, and it moves into becoming a scientific theory.

One of the most obvious predictions that Evolution makes is that ancient life forms in the fossil record have to show some change and transformation from certain species to others. So intermediate features between ancient fossilized creatures and modern living animals have to be discovered to verify this particular prediction. — And it so happens that fossils that seem to fit this description, in fact, exist. There are intermediate fossils between land mammals and whales, transitions between fish and tetrapods, as well as intermediate forms between ape-like creatures and modern humans.

Another prediction that is made is genetic similarity between species. And no, I don’t mean the 95 to 98% DNA similarity between humans and chimps, though there is that to. I’m talking about shared plagiarized molecular mistakes shared between different species. — Shared plagiarized errors in genetics imply a common source (or ancestor) for differing species, much like shared copying mistakes between different publications indicate that the more recent writer copied from the other.

Considering that Evolution has been tested by these predictions, and even others, common descent is just as much a legitimate part of science as any other scientific theory. And this is despite the claim made by some creationists that evolution doesn’t even meet the standard of a respectable hypothesis. In fact, there is a lot more evidence for evolution than what I have mentioned here. — The fact that there were discoveries that could have been able to falsify evolution, and that it has been verified, shows that it is more than just a hypothesis.

References:
Scientific Laws, Hypotheses, and Theories. From Wilstar.com
Is “Evolution” a “Theory” or “Fact,” or Is This Just a Trivial Game of Semantics?, by Casey Luskin, Discovery Institute.
The Origin of Whales and the Power of Independent Evidence by Raymond Sutera. From the Talk.Origins Archive, and The National Center for Science Education.
Recent Findings: Fishes With Legs, from Devonian Times.
Human Ancestory: Species, from archaeologyinfo.com. — Also see Prominent Hominid Fossils from the Talk.Origins Archive.
Divergence between samples of chimpanzee and human DNA sequences is 5%, counting indels, by Roy J. Britten. From The Proceedings at the National Academy of Sciences.
Plagiarized Errors and Molecular Genetics, by Edward E. Max, M.D., Ph.D. from the Talk.Origins Archive, and Creation/Evolution
Is Evolution a “Fact” of Science?, by Wayne Jackson, M.A., from Apologetics Press.
29+ Evidences for Macroevolution: The Scientific Case for Common Descent, by Douglas Theobald, Ph.D. From the Talk.Origins Archive.