Jan 03 2013

Created History

Creationists are an endless source of logical fallacies and pseudoscience. There are several reasons for this – creationism is institutionalized motivated reasoning, they have had over a century to make up fallacious arguments, and evolutionary theory is complex and multifarious so there are many opportunities for distortion and error.

For this reason creationism is an excellent foil for learning critical thinking skills. But it is also challenging, because effectively countering creationist arguments often requires a thorough and accurate understanding of evolutionary theory, geology, paleontology, genetics, and even astronomy and physics, in addition to familiarity with creationist arguments themselves. Often the errors in logic and distortion of scientific facts are subtle or a few layers deep, and having only a superficial understanding of the arguments can get even scientists into trouble. This is partly why the infamous Duane Gish was so “successful” debating evolutionary scientists in public – they knew the science but they did not have a mastery over creationist nonsense.

A recent example of this, in my opinion, comes from debate.org. A debate was started by someone wishing to defend evolutionary theory who wished to focus on one issue (it’s always a good idea to keep any such debates as focused as possible). His position is this:

This is a debate that can take many forms and include many arguments, but I will simply make one observation that I think immediately decides the debate:

The fundamentalist idea that the universe is only a few thousand years old must also come with a denial of the known, immense distance between other galaxies and our own. If the cosmos were only a few thousand years old, and the speed of light is accepted as known, then we would have no way of seeing these very distant galaxies, the light from which having to had traveled billions of years to make them visible to us.”

This position is, of course, absolutely correct. Light had to travel for billions of years to reach the earth – therefore the universe must be billions of years old. From a scientific point of view there is no debate here. But, of course, creationists have heard this argument before and they have a response. I don’t think the person defending the above statement adequately dealt with their known response either in the original statement or in rebuttal. Here it is:

“It’s really not that hard to answer those questions no matter what understanding you come from. God of course created them full grown to start with. Adam did not have to wait for the trees to grow old enough to bear fruit from a seedling start. God did not create trees as seeds in the ground, and God according to Genesis did not create an egg for the first chicken to hatch from. The Starting place of growth of all creation is clearly full grown adulthood.

The light-year travel time is clearly by the same extension created already reaching the earth. Basically at the same extension that God created all the matter and energy and photons in the star light-years away, he also simultaneously created every photon from its rays traveling to earth.”

God, creationists say, created the light already on its way to the earth. The defender of evolution in this debate tried to deal with this by saying that the parameters of the debate were science and therefore any argument about God or the bible is outside those parameters, but that is a tangential way to argue the point, and the original reference to “the fundamentalist idea,” it can be argued, opens the door to fundamentalist arguments.

It is better, in my opinion, to address the many problems with this line of argument head on. The main problem with the creationist defense is that it is non-falsifiable (a point which is eventually made in the debate). It is the equivalent of saying, “it’s magic,” or “and then a miracle happens.” These statements are indeed not allowed in science, because they are incompatible with scientific methods and logic. If you can wave a magic wand and fix any apparent contradiction or disconfirming evidence, then you are not doing science.

From a purely logical point of view it also makes for a closed belief system, immune to refutation.

The problem is not that creationists cannot accommodate their beliefs to the evidence, the problem is that they cannot do so without invoking magic or miracles – the unlimited power of God.

There is another more embarrassing problem for the creationist position (to clarify, in this article I am referring to young earth creationists) – not more fatal, but more silly. The creationist in this debate, as with creationists generally,  is assuming that the only problem with the speed of light and cosmic distances is that of light reaching the earth from distant objects. There is a much greater problem, however – light reaching the earth from distant events. Those objects (galaxies, in this example) are not static. They have a history.

Let us consider, for example, supernovae. These are events that are occurring all over the universe, on average about once per galaxy per century. Let’s say God created a star in the Andromeda galaxy 6,000 years ago. The star was created mature, near the end of its life (for the sake of argument, let’s grant creationists that premise), and so it quickly goes supernova. The light from that event would still take about 2 million years to reach the earth. The only way we can see a supernova in Andromeda is if that event took place 2 million years ago.

If creationists are now going to rescue their concept of a young universe with the argument of created history they have a serious logical problem on their hands. This would mean that God, for some reason, not only created light from existing stars all along its path to the earth, but imbued that light with a fake history of that star, including all the things that would have happened to that light if it actually had been traveling along that path for millions or billions of years. This includes being bent by gravity and absorbed in gas clouds.

God also must have created streams of light from fake stars that never existed, to create the illusion that such a star did exist but went supernova millions or billions of years ago.

In other words – the analogy to creating mature trees or animals does not hold. God must have not only created a “mature” universe with light already traveled to some arbitrary distance, but he also created an entire fake history of the universe, including events that never actually took place.

This is why this creationist argument has been often mocked by saying that God could just have easily created the universe 5 minutes ago, but imbued the universe with a fake history, including all your own memories, and a history of people that never actually existed. There is no fundamental difference between saying God created the earth 6,000 years ago with a fake history of billions of years, or 5 minutes ago with a fake history of billions of years.

This brings us back to the closed irrefutable belief system. The creationist argument leads unavoidably to the conclusion that God created a universe that looks exactly, in every detail, as if it is 13.75 billion years old with a natural history and evolution. When scientists investigate that universe, that is what they will find. By creationist’s own argument, then, the scientific answer to the question of the age of the universe is 13.75 billion years, and the answer to the question of how life came to its current form is organic evolution. The evidence (fabricated by God or not) leads unavoidably to these conclusions.

Creationists must believe, based upon faith alone, that the world is not really the way it appears, but was recently created by an unfathomable God to create the illusion of history. They can now waste their time wondering why God would do that.

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37 responses so far

37 Responses to “Created History”

  1. JJ Borgmanon 03 Jan 2013 at 8:54 am

    Dr. Novella,

    My deconversion journey began in earnest eight years ago. I have read a LOT, and listened to hundreds of hours of podcasts in that time. From The Bible Geek to Skeptoid to SGU and many others. But this is the first time I have seen the problem of young earth creationism explained in this manner and level of detail. Thank-you for another provocative insight!

  2. jasonfcannonon 03 Jan 2013 at 9:14 am

    The paragraph says it all! Great article!

  3. Ori Vandewalleon 03 Jan 2013 at 11:30 am

    This is where Ockham’s razor is useful.

    Hypothesis A: The universe appears to be 13.7 billion years old because it is.

    Hypothesis B: The universe appears to be 13.7 billion years old because the Christian god created it specifically to appear as if it were 13.7 billion years old, when in fact it is only 6,000 years old.

    Hypothesis B has a few extra implicit assumptions as well. First, God is a perfect, omnipotent being who nevertheless created the human species in his own image with some very serious design flaws. Second, God is an omnibenevolent being who is nevertheless lying to all humans about the true nature of the universe (and also filled it with evil).

    None of these assumptions presents entirely intractable problems, but they are still extra assumptions that must be dealt with. And Ockham’s razor doesn’t tell us what is ultimately true, but it does tell us which hypothesis a good scientist should proceed from, and that’s the first hypothesis.

  4. Bronze Dogon 03 Jan 2013 at 11:38 am

    Nicely written. I think I’ve seen the idea hinted at, but never described in this level of detail.

    One thing that I’m starting to wonder about on a weird level: What’s the difference between a universe with an amazingly comprehensive, coherent fake history and one with a real history? It strikes me as kind of like fiction worldbuilding. The author starts with an idea for a setting, characters, conflicts, and so forth, lets things run, lets the characters act according to their nature, leading to the situation at the start of his story. Then the somewhat arbitrary change happens: The author writes something down.

    I guess it boils down to the difference between a real thing and a perfect simulation of it. Continuing the literary metaphor, a character is still the same before and after writing, including characters that exist in the fictional world but not in the written story. Historical events from the worldbuilding still have impacts on the written story’s present. Ancient “fake” astronomical events from before the “creation” would have impacts on what astronomers record with their telescopes today. If the fake history isn’t “real,” why is it linked up so intimately with our chains of causality?

  5. Steven Novellaon 03 Jan 2013 at 12:18 pm

    Bronze dog – I agree. There is essentially no difference. That is the whole point.

    What would the difference be if the universe were created 5 minute ago? Nothing. That is why when you start to explore the implications of “God created the light on it’s way to the earth” you end up with – God created a 13.7 billion year fake history for the entire universe.

  6. nybgruson 03 Jan 2013 at 12:30 pm

    @Bronze Dog:

    A good point. It also relates to the concept of philosophical zombies and whether an artificial life form that passes a Turing test (and whatever other tests you can imagine) actually experiences the qualia of conscioussness and sentience that we do. If every response, every conceivable metric from the p-zombie is indistinguishable from you or I, how can we determine that it doesn’t experience qualia, conscioussness, and sentience the way we do?

    I would argue we can’t, and in the absence of some other way of discerning it must be satisfied with assuming it does, and remove the extraneous explanations needed to separate us from the p-zombie (we have a soul, it doesn’t; we grew organically with decades of experience, it didn’t; etc) using Occam’s razor.

    The same would hold true for a universe that appears billions of years old, as Ori stated as well. If a universe that is 13 billion years old is indistinguishable from one that is 6,000 with a faked history, then the extraneous and undiscernable explanations for the latter hypothesis should also be eschewed.

    But the problem with the latter theory (YEC) runs even deeper than Dr. Novella stated here (though I am sure he knows of it): if at any one single point we can reasonably invoke such an extraneous and undiscernable explanation, one which no metric can conceivably detect then we cannot say that this doesn’t happen regularly. We cannot predict when it may or may not happen and thus we can never actually know anything about our universe and expect it to hold true reliably. In other words, every human endeavor for knowledge grinds to a halt because there is not consistently logical or rational way to determine when to merely stop and say “godidit” and not pursue the matter further.

    And of course this has been demonstrated not to be the case throughout the known history of mankind and all of our current scientific knowledge. The argument can be made that God created the faked history of the universe and left us on our own without meddling since that point and will return sometime later at a time of its (or His, if you prefer) choosing. Of course this is also assumed to be false by the very people trying to convince us of the idea in the first place, but assuming it isn’t false how else can we rationally act until such an event occurs?

    And how can we be sure that it isn’t happening every minute of every day, like resetting the Matrix, with our own knowledge and memories wiped and altered to make it undetectable to us?

    No matter how you try and approach the problem you must either eschew the supernaturalism until such time as that is demonstrated to be a misleading approach or descend into hard solipsism. And even then, the arguments by those who would have us believe in this deity of creation would make even solipsism difficult to justify since we may not even be able to be sure of our own conscioussness in such a scenario, let alone everyone else’s or the existence of the universe at all. The very premise of supernaturalism and special creation would seize up the entirety of humanity like an engine without oil. Which is why even those professing belief in this don’t actually live their lives as if it were really true. They only invoke it when it suits their ideologies and agendas, whether consciously so or not.

  7. sonicon 03 Jan 2013 at 1:44 pm

    I was taught that Jesus spoke in parables.
    So why would I think the rest of the book is to be taken literally?
    Never have got a good answer to that one–

  8. DOYLEon 03 Jan 2013 at 1:58 pm

    Religion is fiction.It’s a sprawling,bent out of shape tempest of adolencent level reasoning.To offset it’s lack of reason,it seeks narrative control in the shape of tidy proclamations.All you need is some surrogate mouthpiece to convey what the big Author in the sky is capable of.

  9. Karl Withakayon 03 Jan 2013 at 4:14 pm

    This is about the extent to which I will concede to being agnostic:

    If I skip past the logical problems I have with the concept of an ‘all powerful being” (maximally good or otherwise) and speculate about what if one did exist…

    I can’t absolutely rule out such an all powerful being creating a universe that appeared to be consistent with its non-existence. Such a truly all powerful being would, by nature of absolutely limitless ability, also be able to create a universe in which it was logically prohibited from existing, or even a universe which was not created by said all powerful being.

    The main problem here seems to be

    Step 1.) Start with an illogical, unsupported premise.
    Step 2.) Continue with logical reasoning.

    (Waive rules of logic for the starting premise, and then precede logically from that point on.)

    Regarding the seemingly inevitable Ontological argument: Which is really greater? The god that exists in reality or the god that exists only in the mind and yet was still able to create the universe? Surely a god that doesn’t exist and still created the universe is greater than one that created the universe without having to overcome the handicap of not existing? (This is basically the limit of how seriously I take the Ontological Argument, along with the Ontological Cheeseburger argument. http://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2011/12/30/the-ontological-argument-kitteh-style/)

  10. Karl Withakayon 03 Jan 2013 at 4:17 pm

    Sonic,

    For some time, I’ve had a hard time understanding biblical literalism. If the bread and wine are supposed to be literally the body and blood of Jesus, why aren’t Christians literally branches of a literal vine that is Jesus?

  11. Dmitrion 03 Jan 2013 at 5:16 pm

    I guess we came up with another paradox of omnipotence. Can god create an object that is older than him?

  12. NotAnAtheiston 03 Jan 2013 at 5:19 pm

    I will grant that nonfalsifiable arguments are impossible to disprove.

    So he says because a statement is nonfalsifiable it makes it untrue? There are plenty of nonfalsifiable statements that could be true or false. Evolutionists assume there can be no miraculous events, therefore no miraculous events occurred. Circular reasoning if you ask me.

    Evolution is a very loose theory with no detail as to how it actually happened. Sure, we see “natural selection” all the time. But no one can give details of how we got from primordial soup to even a cell. I’m not sure anyone could make a claim about these details that would be falsifiable. What does that mean about the “Theory of Evolution”?

  13. stevekoon 03 Jan 2013 at 6:38 pm

    Taking the “the light was already there” argument further, it would presumably be completely consistent with Creationist beliefs that none of the celestial bodies further than 6000 light years away actually exist. If god is creating the fake light (complete with fake history), then there’s no particular reason for there to be a star on the other end of it – other than that we’ll slowly figure out the ruse over the next few million years as the night sky slowly disappears.

  14. Draalon 03 Jan 2013 at 7:45 pm

    Nicely detailed post!

    “They can now waste their time wondering why God would do that.”

    Growing up, I’ve often heard, “God works in mysterious ways,” or “You cannot know the mind of God,” or “Who are you to question the Lord?” To me it seems that when ‘they’ are confronted with what seemingly appears illogical, the cognitive dissonance is reconciled with the God card and end of discussion. I would also add the God card is seeming pulled while playing the argument from authority card e.g. ‘You’re not a religious scholar’, ‘You’re not the teacher’, ‘I’m the religious authority,’ ‘You don’t have Faith like I do and just don’t understand.’

  15. nybgruson 03 Jan 2013 at 9:25 pm

    Such a truly all powerful being would, by nature of absolutely limitless ability, also be able to create a universe in which it was logically prohibited from existing, or even a universe which was not created by said all powerful being.

    Can God create a rock so heavy that He cannot lift it?

  16. ronanon 03 Jan 2013 at 9:50 pm

    Great article Steve, as usual, but I’d like to point out two things (IMHO)

    a) The debate with creationists is never a level playing field. We have the burden of proof and science on our backs (and on our favour) and they can make whatever claim they want/need without any real supporting evidence to back it up. The creationists have already made their minds up and have chosen to throw any logic out of the window…they dont need it. No amount of evidence will convince them as their own beliefs cover every angle we could come up with.

    However, something that every debater should have very clear on their minds is that the target of the debate are not the creationists themselves, but rather the audience, which might be open for evidence / reasoning and could be in a position to change their minds. We often try to convince the creationists when that is really a lost cause. Trying to convince the creationists often results in a frustrated skeptic (as we “cannot compute” the multiple / compounded logical fallacies) that does not respond well to the nonsense that’s being spewed out and therefore leaves the overall impression that since we cannot refute the creationists’ arguments, they could still be right about it.

    b) We tend to use a lot the argument of “Why would God do x,y,z”. This is really a very shallow argument as speculating about the motives or intentions of a supreme being / all powerful / all knowing is futile. It always results in “God moves in mysterious ways” or some other accommodating argument, which they can completely make up as they need to. No need to consult, check , test, verify, observe….just make stuff up…it will be allright. We also have no way of fighting back on this line of reasoning. How do you respond to “God made up a fake history of the universe to test our faith”? There’s no answer as all logic and falsifiability was out of the window in the first place.
    I guess the only way out of this one is to point out the incongruence of an all mighty / all knowing supreme being and its very human and childish actions and judgements : “Abraham go offer your son in sacrifice to me….NAH!! I was just testing ya!!” Its 8-year old elementary school behaviour.
    Then again…when all things fail, they will go back to “God moves in mysterious ways”, so there’s really no escaping this one.

    Anyway….great article as usual

    cheers

  17. ttaerumon 03 Jan 2013 at 10:26 pm

    Then again… God could have created man working through evolution.

    Of course, if evolution is indistinguisable from creation, then you do not need one to explain the other – Occum’s Razor – unless creation gives “purpose” to life. So far as the purpose of evolution is concerned, it is “to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth – until you go extinct”. It is not that different from Genesis and Revelations.

    And if you believe that Genesis creates a religious calendar by which one can interpret and understand the coming of the Messiah (it is, after all, a religious book), then there is no reason to not believe what is obvious – that the age of the universe is 13.7 billion years old. It serves its own purpose.

    There is no reason for fake science or fake religion.

  18. johnwernekenon 03 Jan 2013 at 10:42 pm

    Sad argument. We benefit from science and from religion. There need be no conflict. Whether God created us in His image, or the other way around, there are truths both about the world and about people. Science and religion have much to teach about our world and about us. There need be no conflict between the two. In fact, as I understand it, in general science AND religions (not just the various Christian ones) teach that some things i.e. initial conditions and what “came before” them, may remain unknowable, in which case which way the creation arrow points could be a matter of personal preference, with neither choice taking anything away from what is and could be known about us and our universe.

  19. nybgruson 03 Jan 2013 at 10:50 pm

    I’ve just now discovered the LOLcats bible. I absolutely love it and am dying reading the various religious apologetics in LOLspeak. So from now on, whenever I engage a theist in debate, I will reference the LOLspeak version of arguments because I am tired of the reiterating the same rebuttals to the same hackneyed claims.

    So I will rephrase my statement above:

    Can teh Ceiling Cat createz a chzburger so big He cannots eets it himselfs?

  20. YankeeGuy19on 03 Jan 2013 at 11:14 pm

    As a Catholic, I am upset that so many Fundamentalists (i.e. Evangelicals and others, for the most part) are attacking scientific fact in the name of God. Pope John Paul II released a statement in 1992 that apologized for the Church’s early attacks on scientific theorists (Galileo in particular) and explained that the theories of evolution, the Big Bang, etc. were compatible with Christian faith, provided that accepting these theories does not mean that you reject any action of God. In other words, to be consistent with the Christian faith, you can believe whatever you want about creation, but whatever you believe must have God in some role, whether it is guiding the process of evolution or bringing about the situation for the Big Bang to occur 13.75 billion years ago. I share in your frustrations with the scientific denial of some Fundamentalists, but please don’t use it as an excuse to object to Christianity as a whole- or to speak frankly, don’t throw the baby out with the bath.

  21. bilimorion 03 Jan 2013 at 11:47 pm

    Please, please leave the creationists and I.d.ers alone. No one knows a single fact about God,so there is nothing to talk about. Why not ignore these people and stop bolstering your egos with your smug disdain of those enamored with religious beliefs.

    But you are equally wrong about evolution. It is simply impossible for the 100trillion cells of the human body to self organize into all of the incredible systems which make up a human body.

    If you are asked, “What is life”, you can only reply, ” I do not know”.

    If you are asked, ” How did the first life form arise from the basic elements”, you can only reply, ” I do not know”.

    I could ask many basic questions about the origin of our species and ” I do not know” would be the only honest answer that you could give.

    You will prattle on endlessly about “beneficial mutations and natural selection” without examining how many more mutations were not beneficial, and how it is possible in the scant four billions of years that life has existed, that there has been sufficient time to select – reject- organize- write-amend all of the thousands of trillions of coding inherent in the successful formation of the human species.

    Evolutionists are just as ignorant as the creationists and ID ers as to the true origins of life.

    The only possible answers to the big questions are, ” We do not know”.

    That is not a statement of ignorance, it defines the frontiers of our knowledge. Evolutionists should emulate the physicists who are currently exploring dark matter and dark energy. They admit the limits of their knowledge and are forthright in explaining their theories.

    So how about some intellectual honesty from all of you evolutionists, admit what you do not know, and throw out the Theory of Evolution and work at finding a better theory. For there are answers, and I am sure the Truth of Life when found, will be incredibly grander than evolution or creationism or intelligent design.

  22. Dreaded Anomalyon 04 Jan 2013 at 12:59 am

    Just for everyone’s edification, this argument is known as the Omphalos hypothesis. I am always tickled when creationist arguments end up devolving into it.

  23. ccbowerson 04 Jan 2013 at 7:58 am

    Nybgrus-

    Perhaps its a bit obvious, but there is also the famous line from a great intellectual:
    “Could God microwave a burrito so hot that he himself could not eat it?

  24. ccbowerson 04 Jan 2013 at 8:26 am

    “Why not ignore these people and stop bolstering your egos with your smug disdain of those enamored with religious beliefs.”

    Your assumption is that these beliefs are harmless, which is not the case. There have been many attempts to water down children’s education in the US based upon these beliefs. There are many previous creationist posts which discuss this.

    “But you are equally wrong about evolution. It is simply impossible for the 100trillion cells of the human body to self organize into all of the incredible systems which make up a human body.”

    First sentence is the definition of false equivalence. The second sentence is a false assertion, apparently based on personal incredulity.

    “I could ask many basic questions about the origin of our species and ” I do not know” would be the only honest answer that you could give.”

    Yes, but imperfect knowledge does not equal no knowledge. To imply that is the nirvana fallacy.

    “Evolutionists are just as ignorant as the creationists and ID ers as to the true origins of life.”

    Not true, but I have to mention the caveat that most “evolutionists” are not largely concerned with the “true origins of life,” since this is a related but separate issue.

    “So how about some intellectual honesty from all of you evolutionists, admit what you do not know, and throw out the Theory of Evolution and work at finding a better theory.”

    Who is not admitting what they don’t know? You have provided no examples of someone not admitting what they don’t know. There is no reason to “throw out” our understanding of evolution, that would be a huge waste. The “better theory” you seek will be the refinement of what we know about evolution.

  25. nybgruson 04 Jan 2013 at 8:36 am

    oh my my, I go to bed and wake up to both a creationist (or at least anti-evolutionist) and an accomodationist? All while I am still on holiday from my rotations? Like a kid in a candy store.

    (LOL. My fiance just walked out the door to go to her job at NASA and asked why I was smiling and when I told her she rolled her eyes and said “You know there are these stupid people everywhere? If that’s what makes you happy I’ll find one a day for you.”)

    God could have created man working through evolution

    Sure. But that line of reasoning makes no sense on a few levels. First off, it requires something extra and vastly more complex to explain something that is already explained quite well by much simpler and well defined processes. Next, it posits the need for something which have yet to detect and on principle cannot detect. Next, it implies a limit to Ceiling Cat’s power since it requires that he needed natural processes to achieve a goal – one which he could not have known would happen a priori unless he invisibly meddled in the process all along the way. And lastly, evolution quite thoroughly explains the origin of species whilst not (yet, IMO) explaining the origin of life.

    For the first point, well – theists love to assume that science is great at demonstrating the simpler and simpler components of the universe working through natural laws to explain our universe. Until we get to the simplest parts and then feel the need to posit the most complex thing ever conceivable in order to explain the simplest of fundamental principles. In other words, simpler and simpler explanations for complex things works for literally everything we have discovered to be true… until it becomes necessary to inject the incredibly unexplainable complexity of Ceiling Cat at whatever point is most convenient in order to maintain the conclusion that Ceiling Cat must exist.

    Of course, if evolution is indistinguisable from creation,

    Next is the unfalsifiable insertion of extra complexity with absolutely no need for it – it defies Occam’s Razor. If X + Y = X, then we know that Y = 0. So if evolution + Ceiling Cat = evolution then Ceiling Cat = 0. In other words, if the universe is absolutely the same regardless of whether Ceiling Cat exists or not, then Ceiling Cat most likely doesn’t exist.

    Next is the implicit assumption in the doctrinal acceptance of evolution as compatible with theism – that Ceiling Cat must work through natural processes. If you actually examine your own stances and beliefs (or rather that of the church) you will note that the role and power of Ceiling Cat has continually diminished over the centuries. Kind of like this graph illustrates. First he created everything in its current form. Then science came along and proved evolution to be an irrefutable fact. Now he used evolution to create life as we see it. Funny how that gaps keep getting smaller and smaller.

    Lastly, we always find this conflation: “Evolution doesn’t explain how life arose on earth!” Well, no duh! It’s not supposed to! It explains how the diversity of life came about. That is like saying “The theory of gravity doesn’t explain why we have electricity!”

    There is no reason for fake science or fake religion.

    Which religion is fake? Which one is real? Sorry, but “fake religion” is redundant.

    We benefit from science and from religion.

    Sure, and people benefit from heroin, lots of fast food, and sitting in front of the TV all day. But on balance, the negatives outweigh the positives. Same with religion – we benefit from some consolation and community, a sense of purpose in life. But all of those are fake answers, which you don’t need religion for (I certainly have all of those and in case you haven’t yet guessed my theistic leanings….) and you certainly don’t need all the negatives that come with it.

    Science and religion have much to teach about our world and about us.

    Religion has no explanatory power to teach us anything about the world around us, except that people like to believe, are gullible enough to do so, and can become quite unshakeably indoctrinated if started at an early enough age. For every thing you claim a religion “explains” I can find a different one that explains it differently. There is no utility in that whatsoever.

    There need be no conflict between the two.

    But inherently there is. The methods by which each derives answers is fundamentally different. Science approaches things systematically, empirically, and verifiably. Religion just makes stuff up. Science doesn’t care about religion – it is religion that gets upset when science shows how wrong it is. Thence the conflict. But hey, demonstrate to me any modern amenity we have that is the direct result of religious inquiry. Was cell phone technology derived completely separately from science and a product of intense reading of religious texts and applying the knowledge therein? How about computers? Internet? Cars? Insulation? Cryptography? Anything? (I’ll give you a hint as to the answer: No).

    in general science AND religions (not just the various Christian ones) teach that some things i.e. initial conditions and what “came before” them, may remain unknowable

    Science teaches no such thing. Scientists may reasonably postulate that certain things might be unknowable to unlimited precision, but we still work hard to find out as best we can. For example, in physics we have been able to describe the state of the universe all the way down to something on the order of 10^-30 seconds after the big bang. That is 0.000000000000000000000000000001 seconds after the universe began. Can we go back further? Maybe not, but possibly and we are still working hard at it. How well has any religion described the early universe? Which one? I personally like the one where the earth is riding on the back of a turtle.

    in which case which way the creation arrow points could be a matter of personal preference, with neither choice taking anything away from what is and could be known about us and our universe.

    Now this you are at least partly right about. It is personal preference. But insofar as it stays entirely in the realm of personal preference it is an extraneous aspect that gives no explanatory power. In other words we are at the X + Y = X statement again. But the rub for theists is that us creating Ceiling Cat is a much more likely explanation than Ceiling Cat created us… but has absolutely no evidence of his existence and works entirely through natural forces which become progressively simpler until we posit Ceiling Cat.

    No matter how you slice it, it makes no sense.

  26. nybgruson 04 Jan 2013 at 9:18 am

    The anti-evolutionist deserves his/her own post. (oh, and even though I didn’t quote YankeeGuy19, my previous post applies to him as well, especially the X + Y = X part).

    Please, please leave the creationists and I.d.ers alone.

    We’d love to. If they would just pack up shop and stop trying to denigrate science by pushing for the teaching of nonsense in science class we’d have nothing to talk about… and be happy about it!

    No one knows a single fact about God,so there is nothing to talk about.

    Woah there Nelly! First off, I absolutely agree. One cannot know a single fact about an entity that doesn’t exist. Yet there are literally hundreds of unique religions with 10′s of thousands of sub-sects that claim they do know many, many facts about Ceiling Cat, including what foods he wants us to eat (chzburgers obviously, but not bacon), what parts of our bodies to cut off in his honor (ouch!), what kind of sex and marriage is allowed (sorry, no swordplay!), and on and on.

    So which is it? Because your statement is vastly more compatible with my stance than any religious stance.

    But you are equally wrong about evolution. It is simply impossible for the 100trillion cells of the human body to self organize into all of the incredible systems which make up a human body.

    It is possible and it has been demonstrated and proven to have happened. Argument from incredulity doesn’t actually fly.

    If you are asked, “What is life”, you can only reply, ” I do not know”.

    I wouldn’t reply like that. Sure, there is difficulty to create a single definition to encompass absolutely every case of “life” since things like viruses and prions kind of are and kind of aren’t. Which, by the way, is vastly more compatible with life arising de novo from non-life and evolving than the notion that Ceiling Cat specifically created life.

    Think about it. Ceiling Cat wants to create life. Why would it be so difficult to then separate out what is and is not life? Why would there be a continuum with some things being obviously alive (us), some being obviously not alive (a slab of granite), and some things somewhere in between (a virus or prion)?

    Furthermore, there are common traits to life that most living things exhibit, some more than others, all along that continuum (a quick wiki search will find this for you so you won’t have to just say “I don’t know”):

    1) Homeostasis, 2) organization, 3) metabolism, 4) growth, 5) adaptation, 6) response to stimuli, 7) reproduction.

    Humans exhibit all of these. Rocks none. Viruses 2 and 5, but 3, 4, 6, and 7 only in the presence of cells.

    Once again, this is consistent with a gradual evolution from non-life rather than an all powerful entity like Ceiling Cat creating it (unless he was trying to make it this way to fake our history and fool us all and then we are right back to the original point Dr. Novella was making).

    If you are asked, ” How did the first life form arise from the basic elements”, you can only reply, ” I do not know”.

    Maybe you would say that. I would say differently. We don’t know all the details yet, but have piles of evidence to support mechanisms for abiogenesis. But I’ve already had this conversation here. Suffice it to say, no relevant scientist would say “I don’t know” and leave it at that. We have exciting and interesting data and leads to support and demonstrate the fact of abiogenesis.

    You will prattle on endlessly about “beneficial mutations and natural selection” without examining how many more mutations were not beneficial

    Actually any evolutionary biologist worth his or her salt would be stupid to not examine how many more are not beneficial. In fact, the non-beneficial (i.e. neutral and negative) mutations are absolutely integral to the theory of evolution and necessary to explain what we see. This is a complete straw man.

    and how it is possible in the scant four billions of years that life has existed

    Scant? Scant!?!? Scant?!?!? You truly have no fundamental grasp of how enormously long 4 billion years is do you? The average human life span today is ~80 years. That means 50,000,000 (that’s 50 MILLION) lifetimes ago is when life began. And that is if we assume all lifetimes were as incredibly long lived as today’s. For most of human history it was half or less than half of that. That’s 100,000,000 lifetimes. Put another way, lets hypothesize a single pair of Adam and Eve, who produced only exactly 1 boy and 1 girl, and each of their decendents produced exactly 1 boy and 1 girl for 100,000,000 generations (lets ignore population genetics for a moment and assume this is feasible for the hypothetical here). That number is so large as to be incalculable. I try and punch it into Google’s scientific calculator and it just rounds to infinity. Think about that and tell me it is “scant.” It is a mind bogglingly huge amount of time. Seesh!

    that there has been sufficient time to select – reject- organize- write-amend all of the thousands of trillions of coding inherent in the successful formation of the human species

    So yeah, there is ample time for that process to occur. Read about Dawkins’ weasel program to see why it is not only ample time, but vastly ample time.

    Don’t make the mistake of thinking all changes needed to happen at once or none at all. It’s about incremental change.

    Evolutionists are just as ignorant as the creationists and ID ers as to the true origins of life.

    Once again, evolution does not even attempt to explain the origin of life, merely the origin of the diversity of life.

    But even then, scientists relevant to the field of abiogenesis are certainly not as ignorant to the origins of life as theists.

    The only possible answers to the big questions are, ” We do not know”

    Which is not only not true, but also very funny because it is precisely theists and their religions that claim they do know! How incredibly arrogant!

    Evolutionists should emulate the physicists who are currently exploring dark matter and dark energy. They admit the limits of their knowledge and are forthright in explaining their theories.

    Oh we do. You are the one trying to take evolution beyond its limits in a misguided attempt to try and disprove it (that’s called a strawman). Evolutionary theory is also the most well supported theory in all of the sciences. We know orders of magntitude more about evolution than we do about gravity, and have mountains more evidence to support it too. Yet nobody gets all uppity about the theory of gravity do they?

    So how about some intellectual honesty from all of you evolutionists, admit what you do not know, and throw out the Theory of Evolution and work at finding a better theory.

    Care to posit a better theory? You clearly don’t even have the faintest of what evolutionary theory even is, let alone how to posit something better. If there was something better though, we’d be all over it.

    It is quite laughable how you demand from us intellectual honesty yet exhibit absolutely none yourself. Learn about evolutionary theory before you try to claim we need a different theory. I actually hold a degree in it – do you? Seriously – make a genuine effort to learn what it actually is all about. Then come up with a better theory. And then I will be the first to shake your hand and congratulate you on your shiny Nobel prize.

    For there are answers, and I am sure the Truth of Life when found, will be incredibly grander than evolution or creationism or intelligent design.

    Like I said, learn about evolution. You will see just how incredibly grand, elegant, and amazing the theory is.

  27. nybgruson 04 Jan 2013 at 9:48 am

    So Dr. Novella’s most recent post made me look back at the comments here and realize that my RSS feed is not actually delivering every single comment. I was specifically missing the comment he first quoted and the very next one. All others are present.

    I have no idea what the issue is, if it is fixable, or even worth the time, but thought I would mention it just in case Dr. Novella wished to raise the issue with the IT powers that be.

  28. Steven Novellaon 04 Jan 2013 at 10:41 am

    nybgrus – It is probably that those comments you missed were stuck in moderation and just recently approved.

  29. nybgruson 04 Jan 2013 at 11:02 am

    Thanks Dr. Novella –

    But they still aren’t coming through my RSS reader no matter how many times I refresh. I can only read them when I actually load the page itself. That may just be a limitation of my reader I suppose, and I may be the only one actually having this problem.

    I just thought I would mention it in case there was something more to it that can be fixed. I know a number of people use RSS readers and often as I respond to comments I would have changed my comments (or commented more) had I noted those comments to exist. At a minimum it certainly changes the flow of the conversation (obviously).

    If I am in isolation with this issue so be it. Just figured I would raise it in case others experienced something similar and you felt it worthwhile to address in some way.

  30. Zachon 04 Jan 2013 at 11:34 am

    Hello,
    I will start this off by letting you know I am a Christian and from that world view I will engage your world view in the attempt of a honest and respectful conversation. I was pointed to this site by a friend who is an agnostic, and we have frequent conversations which are enjoyable and thought provoking. After reading this blog post I pointed out several key problems I believe are in this article, and he encouraged me to interact with Dr. Novella directly. So this is my attempt to do just that.

    Dr. Novella, this will be a systematic response to your post in the order of how it was written.

    To start, the ad hominems (though mostly subtle) do little to encourage conversation. The Richard Dawkins types with pretentious attitudes in the agnostic/atheist camp are unhelpful to the conversation. Good, and brilliant men, differ on these issues – though obviously one side is wrong, respectful conversation should be the standard. You obviously strongly believe that the Christian theory of divine origins is wrong and have little respect for anyone holding to a YEC world view. I will attempt to help you to at least seek to understand the YEC view for what it truly is – not simply setting up a boy’s view of creationism and then knocking down before the excited mob of readers who don’t know any better. You are clearly and educated man and I respect that, but with that education comes responsibility – responsibility to not misrepresent what other believe in order to look intellectually superior. Now I don’t know for sure if that is your motive, so I will attempt to provide you with a clearer explanation of YEC views just in case you are truly unaware of it’s position and claims.

    Dr. Novella your world view holds two un-provable positions.

    1. Uniformitarianism (the way everything functions today is how it has always since the beginning of time).
    2. Naturalism (everything in the universe can be explained by natural processes (the supernatural is excluded).

    I do not deny that you have reasons for believing these to be true, but notice I use the word “believing”, because it is just that – a belief. You cannot prove these to be true or false based off the scientific method. This leads me to my next concern.

    Western culture has largely come to equate the term “science” with things that are absolutely not “science”. For example, all of history is not “science”. One cannot prove via science that George Washington was the president of the United States. However, that does not mean one should reject the claim that he was. They accept it based off of another form of knowing truth – historical evidence – not science. Now don’t get me wrong, science is excellent, but it is not capable of ascertaining all truth. The vast majority of what a human being accepts as true is not gained via the category of science. Science, strictly speaking, refers to the scientific method. It is Observable, Reproducible (Repeatable), and Falsifiable (Testable). One might call something else a “science”, but it that does not make it so. It doesn’t make it bad or untrustworthy, it’s just not “science”. Most of what human knowledge is made up is gained more by a court room type process – the does various evidences lead to the conclusion.

    The point is, the first two assertions you hold are not “science”. That doesn’t make them wrong, but you can’t expect someone to accept these assumptions at face value – creationist do not. I am convinced it is from these two assertions that the chips then fall where they do. Evidence does not interpret itself and one’s presuppositions generally drive how one interprets the evidence. So appealing to only naturalistic claims doesn’t help your argument in terms of scientific claims. Saying a claim is not within the realm of science is true, but that sword cuts both ways. Your naturalism is not science, it is a belief you hold. You call foul when the creationist appeals to the non-scientific, yet your world view is no different in that respect. The bottom line is all truth claims are difficult to determine, but we have no other choice, and appealing to strong naturalism or the scientific method as the only source of truth (in which you don’t even actually stick by) is as C. S. Lewis stated, like the drunk refusing to look anywhere for his keys but under the street lights, because it’s dark elsewhere.

    Another problem is your misrepresentation of the light travel problem. You state that the speed of light travels at the same speed and always has (probably true, but not proven by science), yet you simply ignore the fact that this issue is not only a creationist problem.
    In reference to the big bang the similar problem is referred to as “horizon”. I am sure you are aware of this problem, and I wonder why you skip over it while calling foul at the creationists for having the same problem you do. Now this doesn’t prove your view wrong, but it surely doesn’t prove creationism wrong either. Both views may be wrong, but neither one stands on higher ground in reference to this issue alone.

    The remainder of your article largely deals with a straw man argument. The creationist (the ones I know) do not pretend that God created supernova’s (history) that did not exist. While we do suggest that creation was created in maturity, the light travel time problem is generally not attributed to this.

    Finally, there are numerous examples of things that are better explained by a young universe than an old, and pontificating that the universe looks entirely in every detail as if it were 13.75 billion years old is ignorant of the data and creationist claims.
    You seem to put all your eggs in the basket that all creationists claim that the light travel time issue is explained by fake history – yet creationists don’t believe that.

    For an explanation of the basic ideas some creationists hold, see the following link. It also addresses some of your fallacies you used in making your argument.
    http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/nab/does-starlight-prove

    Respectfully,
    Zach

  31. tmac57on 04 Jan 2013 at 11:39 am

    Nybgrus said

    Yet nobody gets all uppity about the theory of gravity do they?

    I think we should get “uppity” about anti-gravity ;)

  32. nybgruson 04 Jan 2013 at 11:46 am

    @tmac57L

    Bazinga!

  33. nybgruson 04 Jan 2013 at 12:59 pm

    @zach:

    Dr. Novella your world view holds two un-provable positions.

    1. Uniformitarianism (the way everything functions today is how it has always since the beginning of time).
    2. Naturalism (everything in the universe can be explained by natural processes (the supernatural is excluded).

    I do not deny that you have reasons for believing these to be true, but notice I use the word “believing”, because it is just that – a belief. You cannot prove these to be true or false based off the scientific method. This leads me to my next concern.

    In every single instance they hold true. Every bit of data demonstrates they hold true. You are correct that science is always tentative in its assertions and that evidence to the contrary would overturn a supposed scientific truth. The problem is that there is no such evidence to overturn the fact that the earth is billions of years old or that evolution is true. And there are literally mountains of evidence to support this.

    The basic fundamental principles that allow you to access the internet and read the tortured logic of AIG would not work if the universe was young.

    And not only do we have good reason to believe in “uniformitarianism” we have actually tested it, in every conceivable way, and continue to do so. We have not just taken at face value that radioactive decay is constant – we have tested it innumerable times under innumerable conditions, from the mundane to the most extreme. At a certain point it would become perserve to try and posit that it may not have been uniform at some point. There is absolutely no evidence to support this claim and no reason for it to be true except to try and hold the erroneous belief that the earth is young.

    The same goes with evolution. As has been stated, modern molecular genetics could have absolutely overturned the theory of evolution in a heartbeat. Not only did it not, it further supported it, to the point where now the theory can stand quite nicely with only genetic and molecular evidence. But we don’t just have that, we have myriad other lines of evidence converging on the same answer.

    The same with naturalism. There is no evidence that supernaturalism exists and nothing useful has actually been derived from supernaturalism. And time after time after time naturalism has been shown to be a better descriptor of reality than anything else. As such, until such a time as naturalism fails it would be perverse to think otherwise. The only evidence for supernaturalism comes from your holy text and the (empirically demonstrated) highly unreliable first hand accounts of supernatural events. And all of those events that are investigated are found to have a natural explanation (vis: the bleeding statue of Mary in India).

    Also bear in mind that we are not just talking about looking back and explaining post hoc what our evidence shows us. That would indeed be a weak stance as you are absolutely correct that evidence can be interpreted in many ways. The true power of science which absolutely verifies the validity of the methodological underpinnings is the predictive power of our theories. We look at a bunch of evidence and then predict what would happen if the theory tying the evidence together were true. Then we test that theory. In every case we find it holds true – the predictions of radiodating, evolution, particle physics, materials engineering, and so on all hold up. If they didn’t, we couldn’t possibly build the computer you are using or the airplane that flew the parts to the assembly plant. We couldn’t harness quantum states to transmit entangled information and we couldn’t even be certain that our smoke detectors would work.

    The implications of supernaturalism would mean that we could never be confident in our answers or rely on our products. Things would fail randomly, with no explanation. Airplanes would crash and we couldn’t possibly find out why – or prevent it from happening. Yet none of this is true.

    So you are correct that the philosophical underpinnings of scientific inquiry rest on these principles and that in the absence of anything else you would have a valid position. But the fact is that the compendium of evidence is so vastly in support of uniformitarianism and methodological naturalism it would be perverse to eschew them in favor of supernaturalism. What AIG does very well is take a conclusion – YEC – and then pick and choose evidence in isolation to support the claim, twist evidence to fit the claim, and completely ignore the evidence that they simply cannot make fit.

  34. Steven Novellaon 04 Jan 2013 at 1:31 pm

    zach – I have also addressed your points in an addendum to my follow up post today

  35. bilimorion 06 Jan 2013 at 11:39 pm

    • # nybgruson 04 Jan 2013 at 9:18 am
    The anti-evolutionist deserves his/her own post. (oh, and even though I didn’t quote YankeeGuy19, my previous post applies to him as well, especially the X + Y = X part).
    *I am happy that my ten minute opinion got you foaming at the mouth.
    Please, please leave the creationists and I.d.ers alone.
    We’d love to. If they would just pack up shop and stop trying to denigrate science by pushing for the teaching of nonsense in science class we’d have nothing to talk about… and be happy about it!
    Religious nonsense and evolutionary nonsense have no place in any science class.
    No one knows a single fact about God,so there is nothing to talk about.
    Woah there Nelly! First off, I absolutely agree. One cannot know a single fact about an entity that doesn’t exist. Yet there are literally hundreds of unique religions with 10′s of thousands of sub-sects that claim they do know many, many facts about Ceiling Cat, including what foods he wants us to eat (chzburgers obviously, but not bacon), what parts of our bodies to cut off in his honor (ouch!), what kind of sex and marriage is allowed (sorry, no swordplay!), and on and on.
    So which is it? Because your statement is vastly more compatible with my stance than any religious stance.
    *When you grow up you will find that neither religion or evolution provide the answers. Life *obviously started somehow, someplace. It should be a simple matter for evolutionary science, *knowing all of the elements that could have been present at the primal birth of life, to replicate, *in a sterile laboratory, the first life form. Until that happens we cannot say that evolution is *science.
    *Evolution is more about being anti-god and anti-religious thought, than to be about pure science..
    *But you are equally wrong about evolution. It is simply impossible for the 100trillion cells of the *human body to self organize into all of the incredible systems which make up a human body.
    It is possible and it has been demonstrated and proven to have happened. Argument from incredulity doesn’t actually fly.
    *Another canard. It has never been demonstrated, it has never been proven. Incredulity is the *evolutionist provenance. Bird beaks in the Galapagos, and moth wings in sooty London are a *long stretch to explaining our 100 trillion well ordered cells.(Well mine are well ordered, but I *suspect a few of yours have loosened up!)
    If you are asked, “What is life”, you can only reply, ” I do not know”.
    I wouldn’t reply like that. Sure, there is difficulty to create a single definition to encompass absolutely every case of “life” since things like viruses and prions kind of are and kind of aren’t. Which, by the way, is vastly more compatible with life arising de novo from non-life and evolving than the notion that Ceiling Cat specifically created life.
    *Thanks for proving what I said: you do not know how life started.
    Think about it. Ceiling Cat wants to create life. Why would it be so difficult to then separate out what is and is not life? Why would there be a continuum with some things being obviously alive (us), some being obviously not alive (a slab of granite), and some things somewhere in between (a virus or prion)?
    Furthermore, there are common traits to life that most living things exhibit, some more than others, all along that continuum (a quick wiki search will find this for you so you won’t have to just say “I don’t know”):
    1) Homeostasis, 2) organization, 3) metabolism, 4) growth, 5) adaptation, 6) response to stimuli, 7) reproduction.
    Humans exhibit all of these. Rocks none. Viruses 2 and 5, but 3, 4, 6, and 7 only in the presence of cells.
    *Congratulations, you do know the difference between a rock and a living thing, but the *development of detailed classifications and the development of a structure for evolutionary *theory does not make the story true. The bible is a large document that has persuaded many *people to adhere to its teachings and only critical thinking can free one from its teachings. As are *evolutionary textbooks in which thousands of minds of like persuasion regurgitate and reformat *variations of the same story. Unfortunately not backed up by any laboratory data which would *prove the foundational truths of evolution.
    Once again, this is consistent with a gradual evolution from non-life rather than an all powerful entity like Ceiling Cat creating it (unless he was trying to make it this way to fake our history and fool us all and then we are right back to the original point Dr. Novella was making).
    *I’m trying to clean house, I want the evolutionist cant thrown out with the religious cant. Science *and public education must be rendered pure.
    If you are asked, ” How did the first life form arise from the basic elements”, you can only reply, ” I do not know”.
    Maybe you would say that. I would say differently. We don’t know all the details yet, but have piles of evidence to support mechanisms for abiogenesis. But I’ve already had this conversation here. Suffice it to say, no relevant scientist would say “I don’t know” and leave it at that. We have exciting and interesting data and leads to support and demonstrate the fact of abiogenesis.
    *Now you have outdone yourself, you are the first to say that abiogenesis is a fact! All other *writings on abiogenesis that I read use qualifiers such as “could have” or “maybe”. None have *claimed it as a fact.
    *Perhaps you qualify for a Nobel, as a fact can always be well defined, is capable of being *reproduced. Perhaps we can expect quite soon the first sterile lab produced simple-self *producing- lifeform, made from the basic non-contaminated elements as found in a typical *microbe. As there are not so very many elements involved surely this is simple work for a fact *demonstrator such as yourself.
    *No doubt the exciting and interesting data came from your NASA fiancé. NASA always seem to be *looking for proof of transpermia in outer space. That gives you mastery of the entire range of *possibilities, from primeval mud to outer space!
    You will prattle on endlessly about “beneficial mutations and natural selection” without examining how many more mutations were not beneficial
    Actually any evolutionary biologist worth his or her salt would be stupid to not examine how many more are not beneficial. In fact, the non-beneficial (i.e. neutral and negative) mutations are absolutely integral to the theory of evolution and necessary to explain what we see. This is a complete straw man.
    *Well the range is a few million cells in a microbe, to one hundred trillion (give or take a few) in *your typical human. Common sense says that most cell mutations that occurred in that journey *must have been non-benificial. We experience negative mutations all the time. Usually they *propagate quite fast and kill the host. Suggesting that if evolution had happened the human *race would have been wiped out quite early in its development. For you to say that evolutionary *biologists factor in negative mutations is a falsehood, as they are as yet totally incapable of *tracing and building the history of the human genome and of the structure of the human body.. *DNA decoding, notwithstanding.

    and how it is possible in the scant four billions of years that life has existed
    Scant? Scant!?!? Scant?!?!? You truly have no fundamental grasp of how enormously long 4 billion years is do you? The average human life span today is ~80 years. That means 50,000,000 (that’s 50 MILLION) lifetimes ago is when life began. And that is if we assume all lifetimes were as incredibly long lived as today’s. For most of human history it was half or less than half of that. That’s 100,000,000 lifetimes. Put another way, lets hypothesize a single pair of Adam and Eve, who produced only exactly 1 boy and 1 girl, and each of their decendents produced exactly 1 boy and 1 girl for 100,000,000 generations (lets ignore population genetics for a moment and assume

    this is feasible for the hypothetical here). That number is so large as to be incalculable. I try and punch it into Google’s scientific calculator and it just rounds to infinity. Think about that and tell me it is “scant.” It is a mind bogglingly huge amount of time. Seesh!

    *I’m glad I got your knickers in a twist. I do have a grasp of large numbers. For instance light *travels one million miles in just over 5 seconds, takes about 90 minutes to travel one billion *miles, takes about 62 days to travel one trillion miles and about17 years to travel one hundred *trillion miles. This is how I get my sense of proportion regarding large numbers. So the difference *between a billion and one hundred trillion is mind boggling huge..Scant is still appropriate.
    *The Cretaceous extinction happened only 65 million years ago, and it is believed that the nearest *creatures to us in configuration, who survived that event were amphibians .All land creatures *didn’t make it. So Ev. Biologists should surely be able to map in great detail the ascent of the *human species from any amphibian species that they select, and as it is over a relatively short *period of time such a map, ordered at the cell/body- system level of units should be able to prove *that evolution is possible. Or not. Why don’t you do that?
    * Thirty years ago, or so, Stephen Jay Gould (my favorite evolutionist) and just before he died *came to the knowledge that there was just not enough time for evolution to work out and *discussed the possibility of spontaneous evolution as being necessary to make the General *Theory work. His work on the Burgess Shale eventually led him to that particular discussion. He *was that rarity, an honest, cultivated and pleasant evolutionist, whose books were a pleasure *to read, even if later I became critical of some of his conclusions. What a contrast to the *evolutionist boors of this world such as yourself and Dawkins.
    *It is time for evolutionists to put up, or shut up. Your present day science is primitive.You rely on *a noble profession, paleontology, to get you the fossil record, but you insist that the fossils *found be sorted into a preconceived framework. Paleontology needs to be divorced from *evolutionary interference and be what it is, a discovery of life as it existed all those thousands *and millions of years ago.
    *You also clutter up DNA research, you have glommed onto that science so that similar DNA *sequences in other species are proof of descent. Not so to me, just proof of common features, *like eyes, teeth, heart, etc.
    that there has been sufficient time to select – reject- organize- write-amend all of the thousands of trillions of coding inherent in the successful formation of the human species
    So yeah, there is ample time for that process to occur. Read about Dawkins’ weasel program to see why it is not only ample time
    * I read the Blind Watchmaker many years ago when I was an evolutionist, I was revolted by his *nastiness as a human being, and un-persuaded by his simplistic logic. He was responsible for my *closer scrutiny of evolution theory.

    Don’t make the mistake of thinking all changes needed to happen at once or none at all. It’s about incremental change.
    *Precisely, if changes occur, they must happen incrementally and slowly as each change has to be *worked out over many generations. Early work on mutated fruit fly reproduction led to the *discovery that breeding over a few generations tended to restore the fruit fly descendants to *their original state.This means that evolutionary change in any species is extremely difficult and *very slow for incremental change. Given the trillions of cells that have to be grouped into *meaningful improvements, created, selected, adapted, accepted -rejected by the general specie *population, and incorporated into the genome, there is just not enough time to get from the *Cretaceous Extinction to here.

    Evolutionists are just as ignorant as the creationists and ID ers as to the true origins of life.
    Once again, evolution does not even attempt to explain the origin of life, merely the origin of the diversity of life.
    *The usual evolutionist cop- out, you do not explain, because you cannot. This is precisely the *point on which you battle the Creationists. You insist that the schools teach\, that there is no *God as life began through evolution. Yet you tell me that evolutionary theory takes a pass on the **start of life and now limits its starting point to one that they think is more defensible.
    *When I design a house, there is always a first line and without it I cannot proceed. The first line *is the most necessary line in the entire drawing. That is why to make your theory complete you *must draw the first line.
    *So get real, create life from non-life in the laboratory, explain how life can be constructed from *the raw elements. Then go on to explain the individual life force of each human, as distinct from *the properties of life in general . After all the collective power of the minds, heart, soul and will of *humanity is the most powerful force on the planet. We humans deserve a better explanation *from science than we are merely the end result of “beneficial mutations adapted through natural *selection”
    But even then, scientists relevant to the field of abiogenesis are certainly not as ignorant to the origins of life as theists.
    The only possible answers to the big questions are, ” We do not know”
    Which is not only not true, but also very funny because it is precisely theists and their religions that claim they do know! How incredibly arrogant!
    *I do not think I am arrogant, I left the church at eleven years of age, repelled by its deceptions. I *was taught Darwnist Evolution at school and believed it until I read Dawkins. I do not know *anything about God, I know now that evolution could not have happened. Where does that *leave me? Just the hope that after death, the grand secrets will be revealed. But if not, and if it *is only oblivion at death then I will be truly pissed. (that’s a joke.)
    *But that is a better than believing in the darkness of evolution. Evolutionists are really telling our *school kids that there is no after life and that oblivion awaits them.Of course evolutionist never *say that explicitly, but that is the real message given whenever they attack the religious beliefs *of ordinary people.
    admit the limits of their knowledge and are forthright in explaining their theories.
    Oh we do. You are the one trying to take evolution beyond its limits in a misguided attempt to try and disprove it (that’s called a strawman). Evolutionary theory is also the most well supported theory in all of the sciences. We know orders of magntitude more about evolution than we do about gravity, and have mountains more evidence to support it too. Yet nobody gets all uppity about the theory of gravity do they?
    *You do not know by orders of magnitude. Thousands of questions could be posed about *evolution and your reply would be, if you were honest, “I do not know” But most likely you will *bluff and bluster. I will try one question on you. As I watch my 3 year granddaughter grow, I ask *myself, where is the program, that regulates the growth of her bones, that regulates the *placement of new bone molecules, that shifts the bone platelets so as to permit coordinated *growth in each and every bone, that shapes the bones in unison, that in the sockets of ball *joints- growth in the ball must be accompanied by parallel retreat in the socket. That in a human *lifetime it will change out all of our bones several times. We know that the program that *regulates that was created soon after conception, and programmed into every cell. It must be *akin to a computer program. That program in and of itself is an incredible engineering *achievement. How did evolution do this? Hundreds of millions of points of coordinated action, *how could your crude program of beneficial mutations bring about such an incredible feat of *engineering?

    So how about some intellectual honesty from all of you evolutionists, admit what you do not know, and throw out the Theory of Evolution and work at finding a better theory.
    Care to posit a better theory? You clearly don’t even have the faintest of what evolutionary theory even is, let alone how to posit something better. If there was something better though, we’d be all over it.
    *Thank you, I will start reading about evolution again when and if any real progress is made in *evolutionary science, and which is free from anti creationist cant and drivel.
    *I do have a theory on life that is as simple and obvious as the pimple on the end of your nose, it *follows below and I hope Occams Razor has never been so sharp::
    *If there is a God, he is not in touch with humanity and he wants it that way. Therefore there is *no point in doing or saying anything about God.
    *If evolution is true, then there is no after life, and one may as well take and grab everything he *can as there are few consequences.
    *But evolution is not true and God is not around. But it is self evident that all of nature and all of *human nature cannot be here by accident or chance. These are my three key truths..
    *There is only one of two possibilities after death. There is a God who may decide the *consequence of my life.
    *Or
    *There is oblivion.
    *I believe the weight of probability lies in life after death. Therefore I choose a moral life, with free *will beholden to none, all in true harmony with my conscience, instincts and personal happiness.
    *I prefer my philosophy to that of evolutionary nihilism.
    It is quite laughable how you demand from us intellectual honesty yet exhibit absolutely none yourself. Learn about evolutionary theory before you try to claim we need a different theory. I actually hold a degree in it – do you? Seriously – make a genuine effort to learn what it actually is all about. Then come up with a better theory. And then I will be the first to shake your hand and congratulate you on your shiny Nobel prize.
    *I have read sufficient to understand that evolution is a flawed theory. You are still at the *primitive end of data necessary to prove evolution is true. When you can map the typical human *body,when you can assign cells to the hundreds of systems that make up the human body, when *you can map the 80 billion brain neurons with their chemical and electrical connections, when you *finally understand the complexity of it all, then evolution will be seen for what it is, a primitive *theory and a total impossibility.
    *My degree is in Engineering. An honest and useful field backed up by discoverable truth.
    *But you are aggressive and abrasive in defense of your chosen field. Sounds like you are a *teacher, I doubt if you are a good one, you use sneers and arrogance and play the usual *evolutionist game taught to you by Hawkins. Which is to lambast creationists and tell them to *read and study so as to be as smart as you claim to be, all as you congratulate your selves in *your sagacity, wisdom, wit and general superiority over all. Just the usual evolutionist guff.
    * You are not someone whose hand I would wish to shake.
    *They don’t give out Nobels for the application of common sense.
    For there are answers, and I am sure the Truth of Life when found, will be incredibly grander than evolution or creationism or intelligent design.
    Like I said, learn about evolution. You will see just how incredibly grand, elegant, and amazing the theory is.
    *Beauty is in eye of beholder, to me evolution smells of dankness, decay and death.
    *Thanks for the opportunity to indulge in a satisfactory rant.
    *All the best.
    Bilimori

  36. nybgruson 07 Jan 2013 at 12:16 am

    LOL. Thanks for that.

    I honestly couldn’t read it all because the formatting was so bad, but if anyone here is “frothing at the mouth” it is you, my creationist friend.

    Of course every word of what I did get through was utter nonsense, fallacy, and straw man (e.g. evolution does not describe the origin of life, as you seem to demand it does).

    Anyways, I have no more time to waste on such piffle anymore.

    Best of luck to you as well.

  37. madmidgitzon 22 Feb 2013 at 5:15 pm

    “# DOYLEon 03 Jan 2013 at 1:58 pm
    Religion is fiction.It’s a sprawling,bent out of shape tempest of adolencent level reasoning.To offset it’s lack of reason,it seeks narrative control in the shape of tidy proclamations.All you need is some surrogate mouthpiece to convey what the big Author in the sky is capable of.”

    That’s insulting to adolescents ,they are capable of much higher levels of reasoning than creationists

    :)
    May pesto be upon you
    Praise the FSM
    r’Amen

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