Meanderings In The Mesozoic
Tuesday, July 20, 2004
  I sense a disturbance in The Force...
This post is a continuation of this.

As a Christian who also happens to be very fascinated with the multitude of lifeforms that once inhabited this planet long before humans walked the Earth, I am often caught up in a storm of arguments for and against evolution. And while I openly proclaim myself a Theistic Evolutionist, i.e. one who believes in both the existence of a God and that evolution does occur, it riles me to no end when Creationists and fellow Christians resort to half-truths, occasional outright lies, withholding of valuable information, out-of-context quotes, irrelevant and illogical arguments, and already-refuted points, and much hysterical arm-waving and hollering to strengthen the case for the story of creation, which, to put it mildly in my point of view, is complete bullshit.

Now I don't want to start a flame war or end up polarising my readers into 2 opposing camps, but all I have to say is that, at present, all the evidence points out that the Earth is indeed several billion years old, and that over the eons, the shape of life has not been immutable and permanent, but that organisms have been continually changing ever since time immemorial.

Follow this link to an article in Scientific American, for 15 rebuttals to some of the common Creationist arguments.

I have chosen to reproduce here the introduction to the essay, as well as a few of the other more pertinent points. The entire article is 7 pages long, so read the entire article only if you're really interested in the creation vs. evolution debate, which actually IMHO, isn't a real debate, but the whinings of a proportion of the population who would apppear to worship the book of Genesis more than they worship God Himself, and who choose to ignore all the evidence that exists all around us. But don't quote me on that.

15 Answers to Creationist Nonsense
Opponents of evolution want to make a place for creationism by tearing down real science, but their arguments don't hold up

By John Rennie

When Charles Darwin introduced the theory of evolution through natural selection 143 (Ivan: now it's 145) years ago, the scientists of the day argued over it fiercely, but the massing evidence from paleontology, genetics, zoology, molecular biology and other fields gradually established evolution's truth beyond reasonable doubt. Today that battle has been won everywhere--except in the public imagination.

Embarrassingly, in the 21st century, in the most scientifically advanced nation the world has ever known, creationists can still persuade politicians, judges and ordinary citizens that evolution is a flawed, poorly supported fantasy. They lobby for creationist ideas such as "intelligent design" to be taught as alternatives to evolution in science classrooms. As this article goes to press, the Ohio Board of Education is debating whether to mandate such a change. Some antievolutionists, such as Philip E. Johnson, a law professor at the University of California at Berkeley and author of Darwin on Trial, admit that they intend for intelligent-design theory to serve as a "wedge" for reopening science classrooms to discussions of God.

Besieged teachers and others may increasingly find themselves on the spot to defend evolution and refute creationism. The arguments that creationists use are typically specious and based on misunderstandings of (or outright lies about) evolution, but the number and diversity of the objections can put even well-informed people at a disadvantage.

To help with answering them, the following list rebuts some of the most common "scientific" arguments raised against evolution. It also directs readers to further sources for information and explains why creation science has no place in the classroom.

Among some of the excellent rebuttals to the points argued again and again in Creationist websites and propaganda are:

4. Increasingly, scientists doubt the truth of evolution.

No evidence suggests that evolution is losing adherents. Pick up any issue of a peer-reviewed biological journal, and you will find articles that support and extend evolutionary studies or that embrace evolution as a fundamental concept.

Conversely, serious scientific publications disputing evolution are all but nonexistent. In the mid-1990s George W. Gilchrist of the University of Washington surveyed thousands of journals in the primary literature, seeking articles on intelligent design or creation science. Among those hundreds of thousands of scientific reports, he found none. In the past two years, surveys done independently by Barbara Forrest of Southeastern Louisiana University and Lawrence M. Krauss of Case Western Reserve University have been similarly fruitless.

Creationists retort that a closed-minded scientific community rejects their evidence. Yet according to the editors of Nature, Science and other leading journals, few antievolution manuscripts are even submitted. Some antievolution authors have published papers in serious journals. Those papers, however, rarely attack evolution directly or advance creationist arguments; at best, they identify certain evolutionary problems as unsolved and difficult (which no one disputes). In short, creationists are not giving the scientific world good reason to take them seriously.

5. The disagreements among even evolutionary biologists show how little solid science supports evolution.

Evolutionary biologists passionately debate diverse topics: how speciation happens, the rates of evolutionary change, the ancestral relationships of birds and dinosaurs, whether Neandertals were a species apart from modern humans, and much more. These disputes are like those found in all other branches of science. Acceptance of evolution as a factual occurrence and a guiding principle is nonetheless universal in biology.

Unfortunately, dishonest creationists have shown a willingness to take scientists' comments out of context to exaggerate and distort the disagreements. Anyone acquainted with the works of paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould of Harvard University knows that in addition to co-authoring the punctuated-equilibrium model, Gould was one of the most eloquent defenders and articulators of evolution. (Punctuated equilibrium explains patterns in the fossil record by suggesting that most evolutionary changes occur within geologically brief intervals--which may nonetheless amount to hundreds of generations.) Yet creationists delight in dissecting out phrases from Gould's voluminous prose to make him sound as though he had doubted evolution, and they present punctuated equilibrium as though it allows new species to materialize overnight or birds to be born from reptile eggs.
When confronted with a quotation from a scientific authority that seems to question evolution, insist on seeing the statement in context. Almost invariably, the attack on evolution will prove illusory.

6. If humans descended from monkeys, why are there still monkeys?

This surprisingly common argument reflects several levels of ignorance about evolution. The first mistake is that evolution does not teach that humans descended from monkeys; it states that both have a common ancestor.

The deeper error is that this objection is tantamount to asking, "If children descended from adults, why are there still adults?" New species evolve by splintering off from established ones, when populations of organisms become isolated from the main branch of their family and acquire sufficient differences to remain forever distinct. The parent species may survive indefinitely thereafter, or it may become extinct.

9. The Second Law of Thermodynamics says that systems must become more disordered over time. Living cells therefore could not have evolved from inanimate chemicals, and multicellular life could not have evolved from protozoa.

This argument derives from a misunderstanding of the Second Law. If it were valid, mineral crystals and snowflakes would also be impossible, because they, too, are complex structures that form spontaneously from disordered parts.

The Second Law actually states that the total entropy of a closed system (one that no energy or matter leaves or enters) cannot decrease. Entropy is a physical concept often casually described as disorder, but it differs significantly from the conversational use of the word.

More important, however, the Second Law permits parts of a system to decrease in entropy as long as other parts experience an offsetting increase. Thus, our planet as a whole can grow more complex because the sun pours heat and light onto it, and the greater entropy associated with the sun's nuclear fusion more than rebalances the scales. Simple organisms can fuel their rise toward complexity by consuming other forms of life and nonliving materials.

13. Evolutionists cannot point to any transitional fossils--creatures that are half reptile and half bird, for instance.

Actually, paleontologists know of many detailed examples of fossils intermediate in form between various taxonomic groups. One of the most famous fossils of all time is Archaeopteryx, which combines feathers and skeletal structures peculiar to birds with features of dinosaurs. A flock's worth of other feathered fossil species, some more avian and some less, has also been found. A sequence of fossils spans the evolution of modern horses from the tiny Eohippus. Whales had four-legged ancestors that walked on land, and creatures known as Ambulocetus and Rodhocetus helped to make that transition [see "The Mammals That Conquered the Seas," by Kate Wong; Scientific American, May]. Fossil seashells trace the evolution of various mollusks through millions of years. Perhaps 20 or more hominids (not all of them our ancestors) fill the gap between Lucy the australopithecine and modern humans.

Creationists, though, dismiss these fossil studies. They argue that Archaeopteryx is not a missing link between reptiles and birds--it is just an extinct bird with reptilian features. They want evolutionists to produce a weird, chimeric monster that cannot be classified as belonging to any known group. Even if a creationist does accept a fossil as transitional between two species, he or she may then insist on seeing other fossils intermediate between it and the first two. These frustrating requests can proceed ad infinitum and place an unreasonable burden on the always incomplete fossil record.

Nevertheless, evolutionists can cite further supportive evidence from molecular biology. All organisms share most of the same genes, but as evolution predicts, the structures of these genes and their products diverge among species, in keeping with their evolutionary relationships. Geneticists speak of the "molecular clock" that records the passage of time. These molecular data also show how various organisms are transitional within evolution.

There's more arguments, and you can read the whole article here.

Thirsty to find out more on the evolution and creation debate? Visit the following:

Talkorigins is the one-stop website that clears up the muck stirred up by the Creationists.

A blog (of sorts) that discusses and debates evolution.

An innocuous question about Answers In Genesis sparks off a long, protracted debate, with victory (of sorts) going to the evolutionists.

A statement-by-statement rebuttal to an entire article spawned by a Creationist.

After a while, the arguments all sound the same. This is what you get when an entire school of thought rehashes and recycles its arguments ad nauseum, even when it has been thoroughly refuted and disproved by the evolutionists.

I don't want a petty little thing like how the world came to be to detract from the glory of God (yes, atheists and non-Christians, go ahead and roll your eyes), so why is it that some people will go to extreme lengths just to accuse evolutionists of being evil blasphemers who don't believe in God and who will all burn in Hell? And I find it extremely distasteful that information is deliberately withheld, that Creationist science (an oxymoron itself) is force-fed and indoctrinated into schoolchildren and being preached as the truth, even when its lies have long been exposed.

Pah. Reading all that Creationist nonsense again irks me to no end. Shall reserve a true rant on this subject for another time.
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