Darwin, the roots of words, etc

May 9, 2006 | By | 21 Replies More

I have had the opportunity to exchange email and links with a man named Josh, who I invited to visit this blog.   Josh’s initial comment was: “Thanks for the Invite! But I must say… you and I are in for many future debates!” I could also tell that Josh and I were different by looking at the homepage of his blog, where he writes: “I enjoy apologetics, studying the Bible, and reading various amounts of other important literature. My passion in life is to please Christ.”

Recently, Josh referred me to an article he wrote last year, an article entitled “The Scientific Truth” published on his blog: http://defendtruth.blogspot.com/.   Below is my reaction to his article. 

Josh:

Thank you for bringing my attention to your article:  I’m truly glad we can have this conversation.  We certainly come from different perspectives.  Different perspectives, but not necessarily different backgrounds.  When I was young, I was told to fear God and to read the Bible. I was told that my questions were “just a phase” and that I would learn to simply love God and stop asking impertinent questions.  I was sent to Christian (Catholic) schools for 15 of my years of education.

I don’t pretend to know all the answers.  I am now an agnostic regarding many things.  I believe that the evidence only goes so far and we need to be brave enough to repeatedly say “I don’t know.”  I struggle to find explanations that make the most sense to me, but many of the best explanations available, the “winning” explanations, are not deeply satisfying.  This doesn’t mean that the scientific method is flawed.  It might just mean that we are limited creatures doing the best we can to understand our world.  I see limitations in understanding everywhere I look. I would be a liar, though, to pretend that I understand something when I really don’t. In my mind, then, science should be humble.  Nietzsche captured this idea in Daybreak, (§564) 

Just beyond experience!– Even great spirits have only their five fingers breadth of experience – just beyond it their thinking ceases and their endless empty space and stupidity begins.

Scientists design airplanes that fly, to be sure, but science has not offered much (if any) guidance regarding matters of value and meaning.  Should I donate one of my kidneys to a stranger?  Should we keep people alive when they are in a persistent vegetative state?  I don’t know any current version of science that gives me any helpful advice. 

Science is certainly good at finding correlations and quantifying them through the use of math and machines.  Science can also (once in a while) come up with a spectacularly elegant way of describing (and, depending on your terminology, “explaining”) a huge scope and diversity of phenomena.  Exhibits A & B:  relativity and evolution.

With the above as a prelude, I’ll try to address a few of the points from your article, piece by piece.  For instance, you wrote:

[In the age of modern science] Facts now became theory, and man was now a machine in a closed universe. In a closed system (universe is a law-based machine), there can be no Creator, morals, love, or significance of man; there is no order, everything is relative and arbitrary, “chance” becomes god!

For many of us, there is no God to which to anchor things like morals, love, or significance.  That doesn’t mean that non-believers don’t experience such things, however.  I would challenge you to the following experiment:  get to know some new people well enough to know whether they experience morals, love, or significance (but don’t initially ask whether they believe in God).  Then, take a guess as to whether they believe in God.  I think you would find this to be extremely difficult.

I assume that I experience morals, love and significance as much as anyone else.  I would attempt (I emphasize “attempt”) to explain such things, however, in terms other than “God.”  I am also convinced  that we can find significant precursors to morals, love, or significance in other primates, based on spectacular findings by primatologists working in the field over the past few decades.  I’m greatly influenced by writings such as the following: Our Inner Ape by Frans de Waal (2005);  Good Natured: The Origins of Right and Wrong in Humans and Other Animals, by Frans de Waal (1997) Chimpanzee Politics: Power and Sex Among Apes, by De Waal, Frans (1983); The Human Story, by Dunbar, Robin (2005).

You also wrote:

“Survival of the fittest” made racism acceptable in the name of “science (20th century)” and thus, set the stage for the Nazi movement. Natural selection was the Nazi party’s whole ideology! Hitler said, “the ethics/concepts of Christianity should be replaced by strength over weakness, “the survival of the fittest,” let nature take its course.”

There’s no doubt that many people have referred to Darwin’s writings to bolster their racist arguments and decisions.  This misuse of Evolution doesn’t mean Darwin was a racist or that his theories are racist, however.   Admittedly, Darwin sometimes spoke of non-Europeans as being inferior.  So did Abraham Lincoln, by the way (as did many other famous and benevolent people from years past). 

Darwin’s occasionally statement of something we now interpret as racist does not mean that Evolution itself is a racist theory.  Darwin’s position on race was much less egregious than the positions of most other people of his time.  For example, in a letter to Asa Gray, Darwin stated, “Great God how I should like to see the greatest curse on Earth Slavery abolished.” 

In fact, the scientific theory of evolution downplays even the possibility of race, as explained by Ernst Mayr:

It was the great, and far too little appreciated, achievement of Charles Darwin to have replaced this typological approach by what we now call population thinking. In this new thinking, the biological uniqueness of every individual is recognized, and the inhabitants of a certain geographic region are considered a biopopulation. In such a biopopulation, no two individuals are the same, and this is true even for the six billion humans now on Earth. And, most important, each biopopulation is highly variable, and its individuals greatly differ from each other, thanks to the unique genetic combinations that result from this variability. 

You wrote further:

Thus, laws of biogenesis (life cannot come from non-life), irreducible complexity, and basic physics were all (even in our time now) mere theories, and “pushed to the side.” This machine-man mentality produced by Darwin and Einstein caused others such as B.F. Skinner, to follow the same path. Skinner said, “Society can make people the way it wants them to be.” Skinner (in his fallen attempt to understand man) thought man as this machine that could be conditioned for every problem—”just pop a pill”. The removal of God’s absolute standards for sociological and psychological knowledge causes men like Skinner to become the “fixers of life” i.e. “god’s in white coats.”

It’s clear to me that Skinner overreached.  Lots of people, including theists, overreach.  There are arrogant scientists.  But to blame arrogant personalities on the scientific method they try to employ is overbroad.  It would be like blaming Hitler’s acts on his Catholicism.

Mendel (a monk) relied on the scientific method, as did Newton (an extremely devout man).  I don’t hear anyone accusing Newton of playing “god” with physics. I’ve never heard of anyone arguing that Mendel’s examination and counting of pea plants was in violation of religion. In my understanding, Darwin was very much like Newton and Mendel in his approach to his studies, in that he followed the evidence where it led.  Nor was Darwin arrogant, which anyone can see by the tone of any of his writings.

Here’s another point you made:

How do you explain anything in relation to epistemology, if all knowledge comes from people? Why, if there is no God, and we come from a closed system, do we have the concept or ideology of GOD, if it cannot be discovered other than our five senses? How do words like: good, bad, right, wrong, God, soul, morals, values, beauty, ugliness, emotion, intellect, and sin, even exist, if we are just a machine, or animal that relates all information from our own finite five senses? Maybe I should go and see a shrink, and he can tell me:)

We have concepts for lots of things that don’t exist, including phlogiston, unicorns and fairy dust.  We have imaginations that can generate such thoughts and ideas.   Children are especially able to generate images of non-existent things.  None of this means that all such things exist.

How do machines think?  No man-made machine can think to the extent that people can think.  The brain is so marvelously complicated that we might never have a good grasp on the hard problem of consciousness.  Scientists all over the world are studying human emotions and cognition, though, and many are making inroads.  Scientists would be making big mistakes to claim that they have it all figured out when they don’t.  That was Skinner’s mistake, as you’ve pointed out.   In my opinion, that is also the mistake of many Believers, who utter the word, “God,” as if it was an explanation.   In my experience, many of the people who utter the word God are actually using it to cut off further inquiry.  They utter “God” to say stop trying, don’t be skeptical, don’t test, don’t experiment, don’t collaborate with other scientists, don’t ask difficult questions and don’t even ask easy questions. 

How, then, do words like “good,” “bad,” “God,” “values,” etc exist if a human being is “just a machine?”  By the way, the use of the phrase “just a machine” minimizes the incredible splendor of the human body.  The human body is an extraordinary machine.   How is it possible that our words have meaning?  The explanation that makes the most sense to me is that our words derive their meaning experientially: we don’t just think with our brains.  We think with our entire bodies.  Our sensory-motor experiences constitute the foundation for our thoughts.

I have found the following books immensely helpful in my struggle to understand how it is that words can have meaning: Metaphors We Live By (2003) and Philosophy in the Flesh (1999), by Mark Johnson and George Lakoff.  The Body in the Mind: The Bodily Basis of Meaning, Imagination, and Reason, by Mark Johnson (1990); Women, Fire, and Dangerous Things, George Lakoff (1987); Moral Imagination: Implications of Cognitive Science for Ethics, by Mark Johnson (1993).

Until I encountered these writings by Lakoff and Johnson, I was dissatisfied by all of the explanations I had encountered regarding how words have “meaning.”  Most theories of word meaning fail to ground word meaning.  They hold (one way or the other) that words have meaning by reference to other words.  But you can’t understand the meaning of words by constantly referring to other words!  That argument is a fatally flawed eternal regress.  

Meaning has to start somewhere else.  I know from your own writings that you think that it come from “above.”  I think it comes from “below.”  I believe that all word meaning derives, directly or indirectly, from sensory-motor experience.  For terms involving higher order thinking or subjectivity, I am convinced by Johnson and Lakoff that words are meaningful only insofar that we stretch our basic experiences (these exist in the form of what Johnson and Lakoff would term “image schemas”) through the use of the imagination, often through metaphor. 

Many people would disagree with Johnson/Lakoff.  They hold that our words have a permanent stable meaning associated with them; that words have “objective” meaning.  Under this cover of “objectivism,” though, I believe that the widely-shared meanings of concepts are grounded in and constrained by our widely-shared biological, cognitive, social, and linguistic interactions.  These interactions, which constitute our bodily existences, extend imaginatively and metaphorically to give substance to all meaningful high-level concepts, public policy or otherwise.  “Objectivity,” can exist only to the extent that our interactions are widely shared.

In Women, Fire, and Dangerous Things, George Lakoff writes:

Thought is embodied, that is, the structures used to put together our conceptual systems grow out of bodily experience and make sense in terms of it;  moreover, the core of our conceptual systems is directly grounded in perception, body movement, and experience of a physical and social character,” and 2) “Thought is imaginative, in that those concepts which are not directly grounded in experience employ metaphor, metonymy, and mental imagery–all of which go beyond the literal mirroring, or representation, of external reality.   It is this imaginative capacity that allows for “abstract” thought and takes the mind beyond what we can see and feel.

These are huge issues you’ve raised.  I’ve sketched out for you the path that I have found to be fruitful.  I hope this has been helpful to explaining why I think the way I do. 

I hope to continue this dialogue.

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Category: Language, Religion, Science

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

Comments (21)

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  1. Josh M. says:

    My Response:

    1) Roman Catholicism is not Christianity. They

    interpret the Bible along side of the Apocrapha, and

    add traditions as legitimate proponets to true faith.

    The Bible clearly shows that you cannot work your way

    unto heaven (Ephesians 2:8-9). The Catechism of the

    Romanist church is totally contrary to the Scriptures,

    and to blame the Bible for the "hush your mouth"

    attitude of popery is not valid. I ask many

    questions, and read many other books… and personally

    I find no such errors in the Holy Scriptures.

    2) I believe your very first point you made about my

    article never delt with the issue I addressed.

    You say, "I would challenge you to the following

    experiement: get to know some new people well enough

    to know whether they experience morals, love, or

    significance (but don’t initially ask whether they

    believe in God). Then, take a guess as to whether

    they believe in God."

    But I reply:

    Instead of dealing with "How can these things exist in

    a 'closed-system,'" this machine of humanity that

    humanism has arbitrarily created in their minds and text books, you want me to see if these things actually exist in an unbelieving person. Of

    course love truly exists, along with morals, hope, and

    God. In context, you will see that the issue was

    looking at reality from the Humanistic philosophy of

    science, not the blatant statment that only Christians see these things. But to further answer the "love / significance" question: I would argue that these concepts can and DO only come from a "personal" absolute i.e. God. Animals imitate or as Ivan Pavlov and his bell illustrated, are "classically conditioned." You will never see dogs fighting for civil rights or cats suing for rape, they are animals… we aren't. We were created from an up to down perspective, not a down to up perspective… that is why we have these concepts and they (animals) don't. The whole point was one of meaning. Do these things mean anything? To deny them is hypocrisy, to attribute them to "impersonalism" is ignorance.

    3) I don't care what Abraham said. Abraham is not the scientist. Darwin is the guy that said the statement so I will deal with his idea, and his reasons for flaunting it. Then I will look at society "through the glasses" of Darwin's ideology, and view the same solutions (Hitler for example). To follow the theory of Evolution to "the fullest" or to the "fittest of any circumstance" is to end up with Hitler's and holocausts. Why not kill off "inferior people"–retards, deaf, blind, lame, birth defects, ugly people, or people that cannot reproduce properly (I suggest seeing the movie Gattaca)? I think Hitler provided a perfect example of TRUE Darwinian evolution. We aren't really dealing with racism or ad-hominems, we are dealing with "fact statements" that have a particular function on the mentality of society. What do we see? Euthanasia, abortion, etc. Evolution is a dangerous ideology and it reduces man's dignity and significance to that of an animal (no morals, no rights, no logic).

    4) I think you pushed the statement I made "to the side" by not dealing with the issue again. You said, "It’s clear to me that Skinner overreached. Lots of people, including theists, overreach. There are arrogant scientists."

    That was never the issue… one of arrogance or "over-reacting."

    The issue was exactly what I stated, "The removal of God’s absolute standards for sociological and psychological knowledge causes men like Skinner to become the “fixers of life” i.e. “god’s in white coats." To take God out of the picture, you end up with arbitrary science–Humanistic science. And when you have arbitrary science, you then get into the realm of arbitrary law and so forth (abortion, euthanasia, etc). Newton was a devout man, and that is why his physics weren't based on a "closed-system" but an "open-system." He viewed God as supreme over creation, not himself and his own scientific facts. There is a huge difference between Skinner and Newton. Once again, focus on the context and the flow of the article of the "Humanistic Philosophy of Science" througout the ages.

    5) This response is two-fold:

    Me: How do you explain anything in relation to epistemology, if all knowledge comes from people? Why, if there is no God, and we come from a closed system, do we have the concept or ideology of GOD, if it cannot be discovered other than our five senses? How do words like: good, bad, right, wrong, God, soul, morals, values, beauty, ugliness, emotion, intellect, and sin, even exist, if we are just a machine, or animal that relates all information from our own finite five senses? Maybe I should go and see a shrink, and he can tell me:)

    You: We have concepts for lots of things that don’t exist, including phlogiston, unicorns and fairy dust. We have imaginations that can generate such thoughts and ideas. Children are especially able to generate images of non-existent things. None of this means that all such things exist.

    Tangent #?

    once again, the point is NOT whether or not, such things do exist, but HOW can they? Where do we cross the gap from "Impersonal machine" to "Personal thoughts?" When will my rock, dog, or "intelligent" computer come up with its own views on God (whether or not those views are correct)?

    Here is your answer: "How do machines think? No man-made machine can think to the extent that people can think."

    If a man-made machine can't think, why would you think a non-man-made machine could have the capacity to? What faith, what faith!

    6) You contradict yourself and then mis-represent Christians:

    you said: " In my opinion, that is also the mistake of many Believers, who utter the word, “God,” as if it was an explanation. In my experience, many of the people who utter the word God are actually using it to cut off further inquiry. They utter “God” to say stop trying, don’t be skeptical, don’t test, don’t experiment, don’t collaborate with other scientists, don’t ask difficult questions and don’t even ask easy questions."

    Your contradiction lies just a few paragraphs before when you used Christian scientists (Mendel and Newton) as an explanation to dealing with "experiments" and "tests." Is the above statement you made really honest, or are you just being "anti-theist?"

    Many Christian I know, deal with issues, study, test, experiment, etc. My own religion tell's me to do this (2 Timothy 2:15).

    7) In response to, Women, Fire, and Dangerous Things, by: George Lakoff

    I suggest reading my article on Irreducible Complexity or Materialism.

    In closing, I enjoyed your critiques and look forward to more! I enjoy "the exchange of 'gnosis.'" But I do suggest you do deal with the issues I raise directly, rather than addressing a tangent (It seems that it happened frequently). All in all, I hope that this helped to further the argumentation.

    Sincerely, Josh

  2. Josh M. says:

    The Reference to my Article:

    The Scientific Age

  3. Erich Vieth says:

    As to the ultimate questions you have asked (and I have not answered), e.g., how things like love and morality exist in a "closed" system: I don't claim to have ultimate answers. Full, complete and satisfying answers to those things extend beyond the evidence as I currently understand it. Saying "I don't know" is not satisfying to me either–but that dissatisfaction keeps me curious about these problems.

    Other readers will probably have to be the judges of this discussion. Maybe others will weigh in. Rather than being a cop-out, though, "I don't know" is meant as my honest and sincere answer to many questions. "I don't know" isn't my version of admitting your version of reality, nor is it throwing in the towel. It IS a succint statement of my belief that true discoveries can only occur on the road of solid evidence. To go beyond the evidence is to speculate. Ancient people used to explain the sun coming up and rain coming down by reference to God (or gods). We now have better explanations to those things. I will admit that it is POSSIBLE that God is the ultimate explanation of all things, but the evidence just doesn't go that far. To me, conclusions beyond the evidence constitute speculation.

    In my view, then, attributing answer to difficult questions to "God" is not an explanation. Even if I believed in a sentient Creator, belief in God would STILL not serve as an explanation, just as belief in "gravity" does not fully answer why apples fall from trees. Gravity does not end the inquiry of competent physicists and belief in "evolution" does not end the inquiry of competent biologists. In science, each explanation, even if it is an ethereal-seeming construct, is fair game for further study. That study should be fueled by careful evidence-gathering, meticulous analysis and skepticism. Only then will new knowledge be of the same fabric as the rest of the known world.

    Perhaps that is my version of faith: that everything is interconnected and correlated in some way (though we are far from having a complete picture). To me, positing God completely outside of the naturalistic order is a false move, usually borne of ignorance, fatigue and desperation.

    Many believers use the word "God" to snuff out curiousity, thereby self-inducing contented ignorance. For me, that restriction on free inquiry is one of the dangers of some (not all) religious beliefs and organizations.

    I know you don't agree with all of this, but this is how I see things.

  4. grumpypilgrim says:

    First, I want to address Josh's point #3 above. He says in his point #2 that humans are not mere animals. However, he then contradicts that assertion in point #3, when he says, "To follow the theory of Evolution to 'the fullest' or to the 'fittest of any circumstance' is to end up with Hitler’s (sic) and holocausts…I think Hitler provided a perfect example of TRUE Darwinian evolution…."

    To me, Hitler provides a good example of why Darwinian evolution means something different for humans than it does for most* other animals. If humans were like most* other animals, then we would never have gone to war to stop Hitler. To Josh, "TRUE" Darwinian evolution would have seen Hitler take over the world without substantial opposition. But that isn't what happened. Evolution rooted him out and killed him off, because he and his kind were plainly not "the fittest" for human survival. Why were they not "the fittest?" Because, for us humans, Darwinian evolution doesn't just mean purely physical survival, it also means some component of…call it whatever we wish…the need for freedom, a sense of fairness, a willingness to die to prevent injustice, etc. The reason we don't "kill off 'inferior people'" is because our species severely punishes such behavior, as Hitler and his pals discovered. The fact that we punish such behavior and most* other species do not does not undermine Darwinian evolution. To the contrary, humans evolved to consider such behavior abhorrent — abhorrent enough to cause us to fight to the death to stop it. Most* other species have not evolved that way. In either case, Darwinian evolution remains uncontradicted.

    Second, as regards Josh's point #2, his assertion that concepts such as morality, hope, love, etc., could only come from an exteral absolute being (God) is merely a bald declaration. There simply is no evidence to support this assertion and no compelling reason to believe it. To the contrary, Darwinian evolution provides an entirely sensible explanation without any need for an supernatural intervention: these concepts evolved in humans because they provide humans with additional tools for survival. In a species that severely punishes anti-social behavior, the ability to display moral behavior would obviously have been an advantage in survival. Likewise, hope would have provided early humans with an enhanced will to live, while love would have been the basis of mutual support and teamwork, both of which would have enhanced the survival of the tribe. In sum, any human trait that Josh wants to attribute to an invisible "God" can just as easily be explained through Darwinian evolution.

    This raises the question: why should anyone prefer to believe Darwinian evolution instead of just believing in "God?" Simply because Josh's arguments in favor of "God" can just as easily be applied to any other invisible creatures — unicorns, ghosts, pink elephants or the Giant Green Spaghetti Monster. Darwinian evolution, on the other hand, cannot. Arguments for evolution rely on the scientific method, whereas arguments for God do not and cannot.

    One other big problem for Josh's argument is that there is no physical evidence to support the existence of God (or Christ). For example, Believers don't have longer life spans than non-believers; they aren't more successful in life; they aren't healthier; they don't have lower divorce rates; they don't experience more "miracles;" the don't have lower rates of car accidents; they don't have better rates of survival after surgery; in sum, there simply is no statistically significant that accrues from being a Believer, as one might expect for people who have been "saved" by God. Of course, there are physical benefits from many external behaviors that some Believers engage in — better nutrition, meditation, exercise, not smoking, not drinking, etc. — but the same benefits accrue to non-Believers who engage in these behaviors. Simply put: belief in God or in Christ — despite thousands of years of human history — has yet to provide Believers with any tangible benefit in life that is not equally available to non-Believers. I, for one, find that very hard to understand if, in fact, God is a "personal" god who is looking out for Believers.

    * Note: I use the phrase "most other animals," because there is evidence that some species of non-human primates do severely punish anti-social behavior. See, e.g., Our Inner Ape, by Frans de Waal.

  5. Josh M. says:

    To Grumpypilgrim:

    I see no contradiction between points 1 and 2. Did you read it?

    As for God having to "look out for us." He does, when I die, I don't have to worry about going to Hell. As for this life, He never promises physical benefit, in fact, He states that we would be persecuted because people persecuted Him too.

    As for Evolution again. Come on! Evolution does not answer the "big gap" over where we cross from "impersonalism to personalism". I think Erich stated best, when he said he didn't know. That is a good answer for you guys. But what really, really "gets me" is why you even believe in this theory. It's not even fact or law. It's just a theory that has absolutely NO evidence for, except on Microscopic levels. Macro, Cosmic, chemical, biological, etc. are all a farce. I want you to be a "skeptical of your skepticism." Read this article by: Robert Congelliere and think about what you are saying.

    Thanks for your comments, Josh Defend the Truth

    A Creationist's Challenge To Evolutionists

    Author: Robert Congelliere

    In Time Magazine, August 23, 1999, evolutionist Stephen Jay Gould asserted that "evolution is as well documented as any phenomenon in science" and "we can call evolution a 'fact'". This is typical of the stratagem used by evolutionists: If you make a statement strong enough and repeat it often enough, you may be able to convince yourself and others that it may be true. I would like to remind evolutionists that, despite their dogmatism, there are many knowledgeable people who do not believe that the evidence supports the theory of evolution.

    One of the most-powerful pieces of evidence against evolution is the fossil record. If evolution occurred by slow, minute changes in living creatures, there would be thousands of times more transitional forms of these creatures in the fossil beds than complete forms. Since the billions of fossils that have been found are all complete forms, the obvious conclusion is: Evolution has never occurred! Though evolutionists have stated that there are many transitional forms, this is simply not true. What evolutionists claim to be transitional forms all have fully functional parts. A true transitional form would have non-functioning parts or appendages, such as the nub of a leg or wing.

    (1) Where are the trillions of fossils of such true transitional forms?

    Critics of creationism often say that creationism is simply religion, whereas evolutionism is based on science. The Bible says in Genesis 1 that all creatures reproduce "after their kind" (no change to another kind, i.e., no transitional forms). So the complete absence of transitional forms in the fossil record supports creationism.

    (2) Is this scientific evidence for creationism, or isn't it?

    I have also noted that evolutionists only discuss this subject in the broadest terms. If evolution is true, why don't they give us answers to questions such as these:

    (3)Where did all the 90-plus elements come from (iron, barium, calcium, silver, nickel, neon, chlorine, etc)?

    4) How do you explain the precision in the design of the elements, with increasing numbers of electrons in orbit around the nucleus?

    (5) Where did the thousands of compounds we find in the world come from: carbon dioxide, sodium chloride, calcium hydroxide, hydrochloric acid, oxalic acid, chlorophyll, sucrose, hydrogen sulfide, benzene, aluminum silicate, mercaptans, propane, silicon dioxide, boric acid, etc.?

    How was it determined how many bonds each element would have for combining with other elements? When did these compounds develop from the elements (before the big bang, during the big bang, after the big bang)? When evolutionists use the term "matter", which of the thousands of compounds are included? When evolutionists use the term "primordial soup", which of the elements and compounds are included? Why do books on evolution, including grade-school, high-school and college textbooks not include such important, basic information? Evolutionists are masters of speculation. Why don't they speculate about this?

    (6) How did life develop from non-life?

    (7) Where did the human emotions, such as love, hate, and jealousy come from?

    (8) What are the odds that the evolutionary process, proceeding by random changes, would produce human beings, plus millions of species of animals, birds, fish, and insects, all with symmetrical features, i.e., one side being a mirror image of the other? We take symmetry in all these creatures for granted, but is that a reasonable outcome for a random process?

    (9) What are the odds that of the millions of species of animals, birds, fish, and insects, a male of each species developed at the same time and in the same place as a female of the same species, so that the species could propagate?

    (10) Why are there 2 sexes anyhow? This is not foreordained in the evolutionary framework. Is there some sort of plan here?

    (11) If the first generation of mating species didn't have parents, how did the mating pair get to that point anyhow? Isn't evolution supposed to progress when an offspring of a mating pair has a beneficial mutation?

    Conclusion: No parents, no evolution. A species would have to jump from a primitive form to a fully developed male and female, each with the ability and instinct to mate.

    (12) How did the heart, lungs, brain, stomach, veins, blood, kidneys, etc. develop in the first animal by slow, minute steps and and the animal survive while these changes were occurring?

    For example, did the first animal develop 10% of complete veins, then 20%, and on up to 100%, with veins throughout its entire body and brain? Then how did the heart slowly develop in the animal and get attached to the veins in the right spot? How did the blood enter the system? The blood could not enter before the veins were complete or it would spill out. Where did the blood come from? Did the blood have red corpuscles, white corpuscles, platelets, and plasma? At what point in this process of development did the heart start beating?

    Did the animal develop a partial stomach, then a complete stomach? After the stomach was formed, how did the digestive juices enter the stomach? Where did the hydrochloric acid as part of the digestive juices come from? What about its kidney and bladder? The animal better not eat anything prior to this. How did the animal survive during these changes? (And over thousands of years?) Of course, at the same time the animal's eyes must be fully developed so it can see its food and his brain must be fully developed so the animal can control its body to get to the food.

    Like the heart, brain, veins, and stomach, all of the organs and systems in the first animal's body must be fully functional in the first moments of life. This indicates that evolution couldn't occur, and the fossil record indicates that it didn't occur!!! In other words, if you cannot come up with a detailed, feasible scenario of how the first animal developed, the whole evolutionary theory goes out the window, because it never could have even gotten started! Or is your attitude going to be: "Don't bother me with such details. My mind is made up."?

    (13) Why do books on evolution, including biology textbooks, always start with a fully developed animal when attempting to explain how one species developed into another species? Why don't evolutionists first explain how the first animal developed? (An animal with a heart, lungs, brain, stomach, etc.)

    (14) What are the odds that the evolutionary process, proceeding by random changes, would produce a system in human reproduction whereby exactly 50% of offspring are male and 50% are female (based on 50% X-chromosomes and 50% Y-chromosomes)? Again – is there some sort of a plan here?

    To a creationist, the incredible complexity of human life, animal life, plant life, and the universe is absolutely overwhelming evidence that there must have been a designer.

    Evidence for a designer: The law of gravity is basic to an understanding of the universe.

    (15) Where did the law of gravity come from? Did it have a beginning? Isn't it reasonable to assume that when matter was created, the law of gravity was established at the same time to regulate matter?

    Further evidence: The earth receives an incredible amount of energy from the sun, even though the sun is 93,000,000 miles away. Yet the earth only receives one part in 2 trillion of the sun's total energy. And since the sun is only an average star among the 100 trillion billion stars in the universe, the total energy in all these stars is absolutely beyond human comprehension. ( I have read that the number of stars is greater than the number of grains of sand in every beach and desert in the world! )

    (16) Where did this energy come from? Isn’t the only reasonable answer that it was the result of a creative act by an almighty designer/creator?

    (17) Why do evolutionists summarily dismiss the evidence from design without any serious consideration?

    Professor D.M.S. Watson, zoologist and Chair of Evolution at University College London has given us some insight as to why this is so. He said, "Evolution [is] a theory universally accepted not because it can be proved by logically coherent evidence to be true, but because the only alternative, special creation, is clearly incredible". This of course is an admission that the foundation of evolution is not science, but a rejection of the supernatural. Evolution then is simply the best alternative anyone has been able to come up with. This also means that evolution is the only field in science where one decides on the answer first, and then looks for evidence to support that predetermined answer.

    (18) Other than rejection of the supernatural, how else can one explain the steadfast adherence of evolutionists to this theory even though they do not know the origin of the 3 main bases of evolution: the origin of matter, the origin of energy, and the origin of life?

    If you believe in evolution:

    (19) Can you give us just one coercive proof of evolution, i.e., a proof that absolutely eliminates any other possible explanation for the origin of the universe, the material world, and human life?

    (20) Isn't it true that rather than proofs of evolution, all that evolutionists can come up with are evidences for evolution to someone who already believes in evolution?

    Let's see some answers to important questions such as these, rather than a discussion of what is science and what is religion. That type of discussion is entirely irrelevant. What we seek is the truth, and creationism is a far more reasonable and logical explanation of the origin of the universe, the material world, and human life.

    Robert H. Congelliere

    rhcongelliere@yahoo.com

  6. grumpypilgrim says:

    Hi Josh,

    First, I'm not sure why you have asked me if I found a contradiction between your points #1 and #2. My earlier comment did not mention your point #1 at all, because I have no opinion about it; i.e., whether or not "Roman Catholicism is not Christianity."

    As regards God "looking out" for you after you die, Christians don't know anything more about what will happen after death than non-Christians do. Christians might have faith (i.e., hope) about what will happen, but none actually knows.

    As regards your comments about evolution, it is obvious you have never read Darwin's books, because if you had you would know that Darwin did not discover evolution. Evolution was discovered and accepted by many people, including many Christians, well before Darwin came along. However, before Darwin, people believed that God was the engine driving evolution — that God decided which creatures lived, which ones died, and how the various species changed (evolved) over time. Darwin proposed an alternate theory to explain how evolution happened: natural selection. Thus, Darwin's "theory of evolution" was not evolution itself; it was natural selection — the theory that nature itself was the engine driving evolution. Evolution (change over time) was not considered a "theory" in Darwin's time (or in ours); it was something that was (and still is) seen in the fossil record. It is the same with, for example, Newton's "theory of gravitation" — gravitation is not a theory, but Newton's formula for describing it is.

    Anyway, natural selection, not surprisingly, is what got many 19th-century Christians upset, because it meant that nature itself determined which creatures lived, which ones died, and how the various species changed (evolved) over time. That removed God as the engine driving evolution, and that bothered many Christians. In fact, it bothered some so much that they formed a new sect of Christianity calling themselves "Fundamentalist" specifically to attack Darwin. As I understand their history, they began after Darwin's second book (Descent of Man) because it proposed that humans descended from a primate ancestor, rather than from Adam and Eve; but, as happens with so many religious sects, they gradually became more extreme, first expanding their attack to include natural selection, then expanding it again to include evolution itself. My hunch is that many of them made the same error you did — not reading Darwin's books and thus believing (incorrectly) that Darwin's "theory of evolution" was evolution itself, rather than natural selection.

    Finally, as regards the Congelliere article, I'm not going to go through the many nonsense arguments and absurd questions he raises, but I will say this: evolution — including Darwin's "theory of evolution" (i.e., natural selection) is about biology. It makes no attempt to explain the origin of the universe, the origin of chemical elements, the structure of the atom, the origin of human emotions, or most any of the rest of the things that Congelliere talks about. And it does not need to. We don't reject Newton's theory of gravity merely because it does not enable us to determine the speed of light or the structure of black holes. It is useful for explaining what it was intended to explain, just as Darwin's theory (natural selection) is useful for explaining what it was intended to explain. Congelliere's article is classic creationist subterfuge: he is incapable of refuting Darwin's actual theory, so he instead distorts Darwin's theory, and then criticizes it for absurd and irrelevant reasons.

    Bottom line: if you want to believe the creation story in the Bible, that's your personal choice. But stories from the Bible are not science and never will be science, because science is not about the alleged activities of invisible supernatural beings.

  7. Josh M. says:

    typo… I meant to say #2 and #3. You know what I meant.

    Evolution… ehhhhh… Look… repeat after me. Evolution, NOT science. Evolution, speculation for stuff not understood… real slow now…. Sp–ec–u–la—tion…

    You stated, "Evolution was discovered and accepted by many people, including many Christians…" where are you getting this from? If someone does not believe in the Bible, then they are not Chrsitian's. Thus, if I don't agree with Creationism, then I am not a Christian. Get the picture. So even if you did "flaunt" some document about some guy who claimed to be "such and such" and was a Christian and believed in Evolution… then he wasn't a Christian to begin with. Christian = following Christ = following God = obeying what He wrote = Bible. To disagree with His book, is to disagree with God Himself, thus nullifying the person being a Christian. I can claim to be "Batman" all day long, but that doesn't prove squat.

    These arguments are so futile man…

    Then you say that Darwinian evolution doesn't need to get into the Chemical and atomical level. Are you serious? How would the evolutionary process even take place without the atoms and chemicals in our "biological make-up" working "hand-in-hand."

    Grumpypilgrim, I've come to the conclusion that you don't really know much about science. I am a science major. I've read many, many argument from both sides. You seem to be "lacking." And your thesis of "refuting" Mr. Congelliere seemed to be more of a weak excuse in not explain your "speculations." The question's are extremely valid. I didn't expect you to "speculate" on all of them. But to at least consider looking into the other side of the debate.

    This is not hard.

    Thankyou for your replies,

    Josh

  8. Jake says:

    to address the last post's "bottom line" – his last paragraph.

    science can only make claims about what it has tested, and may only speculate about what is testable.

    if you accept that the "stories in the Bible are not science", then you can not say that they "will never be science" because this contradicts the way that science works.

    if something is untestable, science must pass over it in silence till the day that it may speak about it. if the question never becomes testable, science must remain silent (or state "i dont know") forever.

  9. grumpypilgrim says:

    I think Jake and I are saying almost the same thing, but in different words. Science does not now include (in Jake's words, "must pass over in silence") the alleged activities of invisible supernatural beings, because, as Jake points out, science must remain silent about what it cannot test. Where Jake and I differ is that I went the extra step of asserting that science will never be about the alleged activities of invisible supernatural beings. I stand by that assertion; however, since neither Jake nor I can claim to have superior clairvoyant powers (or, indeed, any clairvoyant powers), my assertion is merely a prediction. Others may predict differently.

  10. grumpypilgrim says:

    As regards Josh's last comment, first, evolution (genetic change over time) is science, because it can be (and has been) tested and demonstrated. Examples abound. A current one is the global fear that the deadly bird flu will evolve the ability to pass from human-to-human. If evolution were merely a "theory," that fear would not exist. Likewise, some bacteria are evolving an ability to resist antibiotics. Likewise, fish and other creatures that live inside caves have evolved the inability to see, even though they still possess vestigal eyes.

    As regards evolution being discovered and accepted before Darwin, here is a quote from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evolution:

    "The idea of biological evolution has existed since ancient times, notably among Greek philosophers such as Epicurus and Anaximander. However, scientific theories of evolution were not established until the 18th and 19th centuries, by scientists such as Jean-Baptiste Lamarck and Charles Darwin. The transmutation of species was accepted by many scientists before 1859, but the publication of Charles Darwin's On The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection provided the first cogent theory for a mechanism by which evolutionary change could occur: natural selection."

    As to whether or not Christians can believe in evolution, you have have not proven anything, you have merely created your own personal definition of the term "Christian" to exclude those who believe in evolution. That's a semantic game, not an argument. You have cited no authority (Christian or otherwise) for your definition. To the contrary, TWO DIFFERENT Roman Catholic popes would reject your definition. They found "no conflict between evolution and the [Christian] doctrine of faith" (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pope_John_Paul_II). Who are you to say otherwise?

    As regards your suggestion that evolution should explain everything down to the atomic level, I answered that suggestion in my previous post. Moreover, Darwin died in 1882, so the suggestion that his theory should be rejected because it does not address 20th-century quantum mechanics is beyond ridiculous.

    Your last paragraph is merely an ad hominem attack on me, which I will ignore. Moreover, as I indicated previously, Mr. Congelliere's article says nothing worthy of a response. I'm not saying that because the things he discusses are "hard," I'm saying it because the things he discusses are idiotic.

    I'll close by suggesting, once again, that you should read Darwin's books, because they should answer many of your questions. Indeed, if you are going to spend so much of your life attacking Darwin, then you should at least learn what he wrote. You can download 'The Origin of Species' for free from this website:
    http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/origin.html

    BTW, Darwin was a well-educated theologian at a time when clergymen felt it was their duty "to explore the wonders of God's creation." He did not set out to find a theory to explain how evolution happened; he discovered it by studying many, many plants and animals over a period of many years. In other words, it is not *my* science education you are up against, it is Darwin's, and his is formidable. Here is a website to show you the man you are up against:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Darwin.

    Good luck, Josh.

  11. Jason Rayl says:

    Evolution is not speculation. It has been witnessed in the lab (microbially) and the predictions made based on evolutionary theory are what give us virology and modern medical pathology. We have ourselves been "guiding" evolution for millennia (animal domestications, breeding for specific traits, etc) and if evolution were not a fact, none of this would be possible. The accusation that evolution is "merely a theory" misunderstands both evolution and the meaning of theory in science. It is wishful thinking that evolution is not true.

    (One nasty consequence of ignoring the principles of evolution is drug-resistent bacteria.)

  12. Sujay says:

    ==========

    One of the most-powerful pieces of evidence against evolution is the fossil record. If evolution occurred by slow, minute changes in living creatures, there would be thousands of times more transitional forms of these creatures in the fossil beds than complete forms. Since the billions of fossils that have been found are all complete forms, the obvious conclusion is: Evolution has never occurred! Though evolutionists have stated that there are many transitional forms, this is simply not true. What evolutionists claim to be transitional forms all have fully functional parts. A true transitional form would have non-functioning parts or appendages, such as the nub of a leg or wing.

    ———–

    I believe you have a wrong idea of how evolution occurs. Evolution does not occur by slow 'addition' of body parts. It occurs by slow "improvement" of already existing parts.

    ———–

    once again, the point is NOT whether or not, such things do exist, but HOW can they? Where do we cross the gap from “Impersonal machine” to “Personal thoughts?” When will my rock, dog, or “intelligent” computer come up with its own views on God (whether or not those views are correct)?

    ————–

    Again, there are only theories on this….

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Consciousness#Physic

    The above link could provide some answers…

    To me, these theories hold the same weight as the existence of god , which is also a 'theory'. Why should the theory of 'god' hold more weight over these?

    ———

    To take God out of the picture, you end up with arbitrary science–Humanistic science. And when you have arbitrary science, you then get into the realm of arbitrary law and so forth

    ———-

    Here's the way I see it. I believe all morals, including those in the Bible are man-made. Religion is just a stamp of authority given to some man-made morals which were democratically believed to further the cause of humanity. Any kind of association always necessitates the need for morals. Even bees (who I believe cannot read the Bible) have morals among themselves. All morals are engineered in such a way so as to continue the furtherance of the race. So even if I come up with an 'arbitrary' moral, it won't be considered a 'moral' if it is of no good to the people around me. Of course it is possible that a moral is convenient to one group of people, only. But that is the way the nature of morality has been upto now, even in the presence of Christianity (An example that comes to my mind : 'Crusades', where people were killed in the name of God). Could genocide, murder etc. be justified by people who don't believe in God? Of course! They have been justified by people who BELIEVE in God. But the fact is, any moral which is universally accepted will be done so only if it is convenient to most of the people. There have been and will be people who have 'arbitrary' morals, which do not suit most people. These people are today called 'criminals' and their morals are simply not heeded to!

  13. grumpypilgrim says:

    Further to Sujay's comment, I've never understood why anyone would suggest that the fossil record should contain creatures with "non-functioning parts or appendages." Obviously, a "nub of a leg or wing" either could be used for something (in which case, it would be "functional"), or else it could not (in which case, the creature probably would not survive long enough to reproduce). In both cases, the result would be exactly what we see in the fossil record.

    As regards the suggestion that, "Evolution does not occur by slow ‘addition’ of body parts. It occurs by slow “improvement” of already existing parts," there simply is no science to support that suggestion. Evolution happens by _mutation_, which can obviously occur via both addition of new parts and improvement of existing parts. An example of "addition" would be mammals that have six toes, when the usual number is five. Such changes are known to occur in just one generation, not via the slow development of a "nub."

    As regards the suggestion that evolution cannot explain consciousness, that suggestion also cannot be demonstrated with science. For all we know, some dinosaurs were every bit as "conscious" as humans are.

    Moreover, there is uncontrovertible evidence that a few other species of apes are self-aware. In the book, "Our Inner Ape," de Waal describes experiments in which they would put an ink spot onto the forehead of an ape (sorry, I don't recall which species), and when the ape later saw itself in a mirror, it would touch the spot where the ink was and try to rub it off. Other mammals (with the possible exception of some marine mammals) do not display this behavior. In any case, the results very much depend upon how the term "consciousness" is defined.

    One final thought: there really isn't any compelling reason to assume that consciousness in humans (and other apes) requires some external agent for its creation. Consciousness might simply be an emergent property of something as complex as the ape brain. We simply have no structure that is analogous to the brain from which we can make assumptions. One thing I can say is that I have heard about experiments with massively inter-connected electronic neural networks in which these computers would spontaneously begin producing slow-wave harmonics that looked remarkably similar to human brain waves. I don't believe anyone tried to suggest that this meant the computers were self-aware, but it did demonstrate that some properties of the human brain could well be emergent; i.e., could arise spontaneously on their own.

    Finally, as regards the statement:

    "To take God out of the picture, you end up with arbitrary

    science–Humanistic science. And when you have arbitrary

    science, you then get into the realm of arbitrary law and so forth."

    exactly what is meant by "arbitrary?" God-fearing Christians are notorious for their selective — i.e., arbitrary — application of biblical "law." Example: President George Bush's invasion of Iraq, justifed by his over-selling of the threat posed by Saddam and WMD, has resulted in the unnecessary death of more than 30,000 innocent Iraqi civilians (to say nothing of the many tens of thousands more people who were arguably not innocent civilians). Exactly how does this square with: "Thou Shalt Not Kill?"

    Likewise, what is "arbitrary" about an atheistic culture that develops its own moral rules to govern itself? All cultures need moral rules, regardless of their religious beliefs, and some rules will obviously work better than others. The process of discovering and codifying the rules that work the best for that culture would be anything but "arbitrary."

  14. Josh M says:

    Fish loosing eye sight is not evolution. That is actually the opposite of evolution. They are loosing information, not gaining it!

    Your examples were of variation, and "micro-evolution." Biological, chemical, cosmic, macro, and others are simply not proven! You've given us nothing true.

    hit the books,

    Josh.

  15. grumpypilgrim says:

    Hi Josh,

    As regards fish losing eyesight, please provide the scientific source for your definition of evolution. Your definition — which uses the ambiguous term "information" — is inconsistent with any definition of evolution that I've ever seen (including the one in the dictionary) and I am unaware of any reputable scientist who uses it.

    Nevertheless, even if we use your definition, your assertion is incorrect. Within the cave environment, fish with non-functional eyes are clearly better adapted to survival than are fish with functional eyes; thus, they embody the extra "information" that eyes are unnecessary.

    As regards "micro-evolution," I was obviously listing examples that have been observed in the lab. Observing "cosmic-," "chemical-," "macro-evolution," etc., obviously takes much longer than any lab experiment that has yet been conducted. In what way does that invalidate Darwin's theory?

    I assume, by your silence on the other points I made, that you agree with those points. If that is not the case, please be specific about what you disagree with.

  16. Erich Vieth says:

    I would add this to the cave fish example: It appears that Josh doesn't like characterizing the LOSS of eyesight as evolution. Admittedly, at first glance, this grotesque set of dummy eyes appears to be a step backwards.

    The fitness of the population of organisms in their current envirnment needs to be considered, however. Eyes are very expensive, biologically speaking. Within the ecological niche of an underwater cave, burning the extra energy to have functional eyes (eyes that see NOTHING in that environment) could be disasterous for the species. Extinction is a much more backward step than being a thriving (though blind) population living in a cave!

    Fitness is not measured by having the most bells and whistles. Rather, fitness "describes the capability of an individual of certain genotype to reproduce, and usually is equal to the proportion of the individual's genes in all the genes of the next generation. If differences in individual genotypes affect fitness, then the frequencies of the genotypes will change over generations; the genotypes with higher fitness become more common." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fitness_%28biology%2

    Once upon a time, those eyes were an adaptation for earlier versions of that fish, versions that lived where eyes gave them a survival advantage. Functional eyes of cave fish would no longer be adaptive, however.

    I think the problems begin whenever one starts thinking "that the poor cave fish might someday want or need to leave the darkness of the cave." Evolution does not have foresight, however; it doesn't prepare populations for environments in which they might someday live (or where YOU might think they would be better off living). To criticize that cave fish have gone "backwards" due to their loss of functional eyes, then, is not to criticize the scientific theory of evolution.

  17. grumpypilgrim says:

    Erich is correct. Eyes require energy, both to create and operate them, and also to maintain the brain function needed to use them. If that brain function is not needed for processing visual information, then the organism can presumably put that part of its brain to better use, such as to improve its other senses. Not that fish brains are necessarily as maleable as human brains, but we know that humans who lose one of their five senses often show an improvement in the remaining four. That occurs because the brain can rewire itself to devote fewer neurons to the lost sense and more neurons to the remaining senses. Thus, if we consider how cave fish (as a species) lost their eyesight, it probably began with their brains shifting neural function away from the unused eyes and toward the remaining senses. Then, over time, random mutation began to dismantle the cave fish's eye itself. Josh calls this "the opposite of evolution," but that characterization is valid only if we continue to use the yardstick that applies to fish who need their eyes to survive. Since cave fish do not, then they can use a different yardstick — a yardstick in which adaptations other than better eyesight constitute evolutionary progress.

    BTW, don't underestimate the energy needed to support brain function. In humans, for example, the brain constitutes only about 2% of body weight, yet it consumes about 20% of the total oxygen and calories consumed by the person. (See, for example, http://www.jsmf.org/meetings/2003/nov/PNAS_Commen… It's very unlikely the ratio is this skewed in fish, but fish brains probably do consume more than their "fair" share of energy resources.

  18. Sujay says:

    Hi grumpy!

    Yes I am aware that evolution occurs through mutations. I am an Arts student, so do pardon if some of my statements dealing with science seem uninformed! But going by the statements you and Erich have made, I think my understanding of evolution is more or less correct, as I have known evolution to be the process through which some animals born with mutations are accidentally better suited to their environment, and hence can live and breed better.

    And you are right when you say that it can occur through the addition of new parts as well. I was addressing this statement made by Josh :

    ————————

    How did the heart, lungs, brain, stomach, veins, blood, kidneys, etc. develop in the first animal by slow, minute steps and and the animal survive while these changes were occurring?

    For example, did the first animal develop 10% of complete veins, then 20%, and on up to 100%, with veins throughout its entire body and brain? Then how did the heart slowly develop in the animal and get attached to the veins in the right spot? How did the blood enter the system? The blood could not enter before the veins were complete or it would spill out. Where did the blood come from? Did the blood have red corpuscles, white corpuscles, platelets, and plasma? At what point in this process of development did the heart start beating?

    —————–

    And your point about god-fearing people being arbitrary about interpreting morals was just what I was alluding to.

  19. Yana Kanarski says:

    I realize that most educated people consider Robert Congelliere's arguments to be "idiotic," but the truth is that many Christians actually take them seriously. This is why I will try to address them here in this post.

    The nature of these arguments indicates that Congelliere is blatantly ignorant about the science of evolution. If he had done a little more research before coming up with these questions, maybe he would have realized that most of them can easily be answered.

    (1) "Where are the trillions of fossils of such true transitional forms?"

    Just as Sujay and grumpypilgrim have pointed out, Congelliere fundamentally misunderstands what a "transitional form" really is. It isn't an organism with nonfunctioning parts in the process of developing over generations; rather, it is an organism with functional parts which are better than the ones of its ancestors but not as good as the ones of its progeny. But even if one uses this definition, some creationists still claim that the fossil record is incomplete because it lacks enough transitional forms. Darwin actually addressed this by saying that it is unlikely that many fossils will be found due to the imperfections of the geological record and the short time span and geographical range of these species. Note that not very many organisms actually become fossilized because the conditions for it are relatively rare. Furthermore, Stephen Jay Gould's theory of punctuated equilibrium provides an explanation for any apparent "gaps" in the fossil record: major changes in species tend to occur in relatively short periods of time (by "short," I mean tens of thousands of years, which is not very long by geological standards).

    (2) "Is this scientific evidence for creationism, or isn’t it? I have also noted that evolutionists only discuss this subject in the broadest terms."

    The answer is, "No, it isn't." Evolutionists actually go into detail regarding their theory and can address your objections if they concern biology and are therefore relevant to evolution.

    (3) "Where did all the 90-plus elements come from (iron, barium, calcium, silver, nickel, neon, chlorine, etc)?"

    Honestly, this question goes beyond evolution and does not relate to biology; it is rather on the topic of cosmology–the study of the history and nature of the universe. But I'll answer it anyway. Right after the Big Bang, everything was pure energy, and the four fundamental forces were all united. Then, as the universe started cooling off, the forces split from each other one by one and particles of matter started forming. First, the quarks and electrons were all separated because everything was too hot for them to stay together; then, quarks fused together in groups of three to form protons and neutrons; when things became cool enough, the nuclei of the lightest elements (mostly hydrogen, and a little bit of helium) started forming, and the electrons went into orbit around them. Then, due to the force of gravity, slight irregularities in the matter distribution led to the formation of nebulae and, eventually, stars.

    This is where your question starts being addressed directly. The stars started "burning" the light elements such as hydrogen to form heavier elements via nuclear fusion. This not only resulted in the immense energy released by stars but also led to the formation of elements with larger nuclei. After the first generation of stars died out (i.e. by supernova explosions), there were heavier elements present and new nebulae formed, which led to second-generation stars. Those led to the formation of even heavier elements, and when those stars also died, the elements that resulted from them became constituent material for planets such as Earth.

    4) "How do you explain the precision in the design of the elements, with increasing numbers of electrons in orbit around the nucleus?"

    I know that the nature of atomic orbitals and electron distributions can be explained by quantum numbers (n, l, ml, ms), whose values can be attained through mathematical formulas (the first three, for instance, are derived from the Schrodinger equation). But the more fundamental questions of why those particular formulas are used, and why certain fundamental constants have the values that they do, are still not clear. Physicists are currently looking for a unified field theory that may answer this, but even if it doesn't, perhaps our universe is one of many that happens to have a certain set of laws governing it that are different from those of other universes. These questions do not necessarily require a God to be answered, and you should note that just because scientists didn't figure something out yet does not mean that it requires a supernatural explanation.

    (5) "Where did the thousands of compounds we find in the world come from: carbon dioxide, sodium chloride, calcium hydroxide, hydrochloric acid, oxalic acid, chlorophyll, sucrose, hydrogen sulfide, benzene, aluminum silicate, mercaptans, propane, silicon dioxide, boric acid, etc.?

    "How was it determined how many bonds each element would have for combining with other elements? When did these compounds develop from the elements (before the big bang, during the big bang, after the big bang)? When evolutionists use the term “matter”, which of the thousands of compounds are included? When evolutionists use the term “primordial soup”, which of the elements and compounds are included? Why do books on evolution, including grade-school, high-school and college textbooks not include such important, basic information? Evolutionists are masters of speculation. Why don’t they speculate about this?"

    The nature of the compounds that exist can all be explained by atomic orbitals, which are addressed in the previous question. These compounds developed after the "heavier" elements of which they are made were created by nuclear fusion in stars from an earlier generation. There is a great variety of them, and most can only exist under certain conditions (i.e., those present on Earth as opposed to most other planets). When evolutionists refer to "matter," it depends on the context of what they are discussing. Most of the time, they are referring to organic chemicals because they deal with biology. The primordial soup is supposed to be composed of the precursors of amino acids (which compose proteins–major components of living organisms). Such substances include water, methane, ammonia, hydrogen, and nitrogen (but no oxygen). Evolutionists speculate about everything relevant to their studies, and college biology textbooks include whatever is needed. Some of the things you addressed are not even related to biology (which explains why they're not included), and other things are just plainly obvious. They do, in fact, talk about some specific chemicals involved in life; it depends on whether you're discussing biochemistry or other aspects of evolution.

    (6) "How did life develop from non-life?"

    It developed over a very large period of time, unlike the now-disproven spontaneous generation hypothesis. Everything started from a "primordial soup," which includes substances that can be shown to develop into amino acids (like in the Miller-Urey experiment). Other subsequent experiments have actually shown that self-replicating molecules can be formed from simple, primordial-soup conditions. These could then develop further, evolving into nucleic acids and early cells.

    (7) "Where did the human emotions, such as love, hate, and jealousy come from?"

    Human emotion evolved as animals' nervous systems became more complex as a result of natural selection. These emotions clearly have an evolutionary advantage, which explains why they formed. If you're wondering about the general origin of consciousness, that is still something neuroscientists are trying to answer. But it could be that consciousness just developed as a result of a more complex brain.

    (8) "What are the odds that the evolutionary process, proceeding by random changes, would produce human beings, plus millions of species of animals, birds, fish, and insects, all with symmetrical features, i.e., one side being a mirror image of the other? We take symmetry in all these creatures for granted, but is that a reasonable outcome for a random process?"

    First of all, the evolutionary process is not entirely random. The way the chemicals are arranged (they follow a certain pattern) would systematically lead to symmetry, rather than its resulting just by chance. Also, more symmetrical animals were probably favored for reproduction because they often indicated an animal's health and wellness. We do, after all, consider symmetrical people more beautiful and desirable than nonsymmetrical ones.

    (9) "What are the odds that of the millions of species of animals, birds, fish, and insects, a male of each species developed at the same time and in the same place as a female of the same species, so that the species could propagate?"

    You are making the assumption that the emergence of a male and female gender was independent and occurred by coincidence. Instead, it was all interrelated, starting out from a simple organism propagating through asexual reproduction and then slowly evolving more elaborate mechanisms. This occured through gradual replacement, as opposed to starting out as the things we observe today.

    (10) "Why are there 2 sexes anyhow? This is not foreordained in the evolutionary framework. Is there some sort of plan here?"

    No. Just use Occam's Razor: wouldn't it be easier and more efficient to have only two sexes, instead of three or more? It's hard enough finding one mate, let alone two, three, four, or five. This is also superior to asexual reproduction because it allows for more gene variation and, thus, greater adaptability.

    (11) "If the first generation of mating species didn’t have parents, how did the mating pair get to that point anyhow? Isn’t evolution supposed to progress when an offspring of a mating pair has a beneficial mutation?

    "Conclusion: No parents, no evolution. A species would have to jump from a primitive form to a fully developed male and female, each with the ability and instinct to mate."

    Correction: a species does not have to jump from a primitive form to a fully developed male and female. It all occurs gradually, and the same concept of gradual replacement (mentioned above) applies. Also, evolution does not just describe species that reproduce sexually; it describes every form of propagation of living organisms.

    (12) "How did the heart, lungs, brain, stomach, veins, blood, kidneys, etc. develop in the first animal by slow, minute steps and and the animal survive while these changes were occurring?

    "For example, did the first animal develop 10% of complete veins, then 20%, and on up to 100%, with veins throughout its entire body and brain? Then how did the heart slowly develop in the animal and get attached to the veins in the right spot? How did the blood enter the system? The blood could not enter before the veins were complete or it would spill out. Where did the blood come from? Did the blood have red corpuscles, white corpuscles, platelets, and plasma? At what point in this process of development did the heart start beating?

    "Did the animal develop a partial stomach, then a complete stomach? After the stomach was formed, how did the digestive juices enter the stomach? Where did the hydrochloric acid as part of the digestive juices come from? What about its kidney and bladder? The animal better not eat anything prior to this. How did the animal survive during these changes? (And over thousands of years?) Of course, at the same time the animal’s eyes must be fully developed so it can see its food and his brain must be fully developed so the animal can control its body to get to the food.

    "Like the heart, brain, veins, and stomach, all of the organs and systems in the first animal’s body must be fully functional in the first moments of life. This indicates that evolution couldn’t occur, and the fossil record indicates that it didn’t occur!!! In other words, if you cannot come up with a detailed, feasible scenario of how the first animal developed, the whole evolutionary theory goes out the window, because it never could have even gotten started! Or is your attitude going to be: “Don’t bother me with such details. My mind is made up.”?"

    The above question epitomizes the fallacy made by proponents of the Intelligent Design theory–namely, their use of "irreducible complexity" to assert that the whole cannot function without its parts, which are assumed to be fully developed from the get-go. Again, I will mention the concept of gradual replacement. What evolution actually proposes, as Sujay has alleded to, is that fully-functional parts don't develop individually; instead, they all stay together as a system within each individual organism, all growing more complex over thousands or millions of generations. Michael Behe's theory has basically been refuted by evolutionary scientists, but most creationists are ignorant of that.

    ***On a personal note, I went to a Christian school in the ninth grade, and I remember having to watch a video espousing the theory of Intelligent Design in my biology class. We never really discussed evolution in detail and never addressed the flaws in that video; indeed, I don't think the teacher was aware of any. And I must admit, that video really did make Intelligent Design look like a valid scientific theory, so I understand how a Christian can truly believe it makes more sense than evolution. But if you really look into it, which I did on my own time, you would discover that some of its claims are not as true as they seem, and there really is another approach to the origin of humans and animals.***

    (13) "Why do books on evolution, including biology textbooks, always start with a fully developed animal when attempting to explain how one species developed into another species? Why don’t evolutionists first explain how the first animal developed? (An animal with a heart, lungs, brain, stomach, etc.)"

    Many biology textbooks only give a cursory explanation of evolution because they have a lot more topics to cover. But they explain just what they were meant to explain. If you want a more detailed understanding evolution, that can be found in other books that are actually devoted to that topic. Many books also address theories of how the first animals developed, and many talk about the ultimate chemical origin of life. Just because some of this isn't in textbooks doesn't mean it's not out there.

    (14) "What are the odds that the evolutionary process, proceeding by random changes, would produce a system in human reproduction whereby exactly 50% of offspring are male and 50% are female (based on 50% X-chromosomes and 50% Y-chromosomes)? Again – is there some sort of a plan here?"

    No, there is no need for a "plan." Your question can easily be answered with a little understanding of meiosis. This process produces four haploid cells (containing one set of chromosomes) from one diploid cell (containing two sets of chromosomes). Take a human cell, for instance. The diploid cell contains 46 chromosomes; it first divides into two diploid cells, and then each of these divides into two haploid cells, each containing 23 chromosomes. These haploid cells are the gametes, and they contain either an X or a Y chromosome. A female evolved to have two X's, and a male evolved to have one X and one Y. Obviously, this means that the male will produce equal amounts of X's and Y's, because each original diploid cell has this amount, and when it divides, the X goes to one half and the Y goes to the other. And so, given that the male produces equal amounts of X's and Y's, he has a 50/50 chance of creating an offspring of either gender.

    (15) "Where did the law of gravity come from? Did it have a beginning? Isn’t it reasonable to assume that when matter was created, the law of gravity was established at the same time to regulate matter?"

    I already discussed the issue of fundamental laws of physics. . . . It's not completely settled yet, but physicists have theories and are currently looking for a more satisfying answer.

    "Further evidence: The earth receives an incredible amount of energy from the sun, even though the sun is 93,000,000 miles away. Yet the earth only receives one part in 2 trillion of the sun’s total energy. And since the sun is only an average star among the 100 trillion billion stars in the universe, the total energy in all these stars is absolutely beyond human comprehension. ( I have read that the number of stars is greater than the number of grains of sand in every beach and desert in the world! )"

    (16) "Where did this energy come from? Isn’t the only reasonable answer that it was the result of a creative act by an almighty designer/creator?"

    No; the immense energy of the sun came from nuclear fusion, which converts mass into pure energy. This energy is enormous according to the laws of physics (in E = mc^2, mass is multiplied by the square of the speed of light–a very large number!).

    As far as the ultimate origin of energy (i.e., the origin of the universe) is concerned, most scientists believe it occured from the Big Bang (which many Christians accept to be true, by the way; they say that God caused it to happen). The Big Bang could still have occured without a god, though. Our universe could have branched off from another universe as a result of a quantum fluctuation or some sort of cosmic event. There may be a higher-dimensional space out there that contains all the universes; perhaps it has always existed. If you think that it's ridiculous to say that it has always existed, realize that you are making the same claim about God, thus being guilty of the homunculus fallacy. If you say that God is outside time, you can also make that claim about the higher-dimensional space, as time is relative in physics and is considered a dimension.

    (17) "Why do evolutionists summarily dismiss the evidence from design without any serious consideration?"

    When they look into Intelligent Design, they don't see enough evidence supporting it. There is a lot more evidence for evolution, and it doesn't involve the assumed existence of an invisible supernatural being with paradoxical traits.

    (18) "Other than rejection of the supernatural, how else can one explain the steadfast adherence of evolutionists to this theory even though they do not know the origin of the 3 main bases of evolution: the origin of matter, the origin of energy, and the origin of life?"

    Evolutionists, like most scientists, adhere to whatever can be examined empirically and put under scientific scrutiny; supernatural things cannot be analyzed or studied, and there is a clear lack of evidence for them. Scientists tend to go where the evidence leads them. If a supernatural being (i.e., God) were directly involved in people's lives on a regular basis and talked to them like he did to Adam and Eve, there wouldn't be such a huge debate about him. The origin of matter, energy, and life are all in the process of being studied by scientists. Just because their explanations are not complete at this point does not mean they cannot be discovered. By the way, evolutionists are only concerned with the origin of life; the other two are left for cosmologists.

    "If you believe in evolution:

    (19) "Can you give us just one coercive proof of evolution, i.e., a proof that absolutely eliminates any other possible explanation for the origin of the universe, the material world, and human life?"

    The idea of absolute proof is not very scientific to begin with; science is based on theories which have the potential to be refuted but not necessarily "proved." No one was there to observe evolution while it happened, so on a strictly epistemological level, we can't be 100% certain of any theory to explain the origin of life. But some theories may have overwhelming evidence and remain standing after many attempts to disprove them. Those are the accepted scientific theories.

    (20) "Isn’t it true that rather than proofs of evolution, all that evolutionists can come up with are evidences for evolution to someone who already believes in evolution?"

    Not necessarily. On the contrary, all that creationists can come up with is evidence of creation for someone who already believes in creation.

    By the way, how do you explain the existence of vestigial organs (wisdom teeth, appendix, tail bone, etc.) if evolution did not really occur? Also, consider the observable effects of "microevolution," which accounts for various forms of domesticated animals, drug-resistant bacteria, and a general change in the overall human population (e.g., the average human height is greater now than it was in the past, as well as IQ–the Flynn effect). Now think about it: if such changes can occur within a human lifespan or over a few hundred years, how much greater would the changes be if they are given millions and even billions of years to occur???

  20. grumpypilgrim says:

    Further to item (1) above, I've always wondered why creationists expect there to be more fossils than there are. As Yana (and Darwin) points out, the odds of an ancient creature being fossilized, having its fossil survive tens of millions of years of erosion, and then having its fossil found, must be very small.

    However, what I find far more interesting about evolution isn't the number of fossils that exist today, but that Darwin and his contemporaries made their discoveries long before most of today's fossils were found. Darwin *didn't need* a continuous fossil record to recognize where fossils came from. He also didn't need radiocarbon dating (which wasn't discovered until 1949). To the contrary, Darwin studied biology: he spent most of his time studying living species, not searching for fossilized remains.

    This is one reason why creationist arguments are so misplaced. They point to gaps in the fossil record or try to claim flaws in radiocarbon dating (or complain that Darwin didn't address 20th-century questions about chemistry, cosmology, astronomy, quantum mechanics, etc.), but neither of these issues is relevant to Darwin's research. Darwin examined *the living world around him* and drew conclusions based upon what he saw. Therefore, critics of Darwin need to confront the same data he did if they expect to be taken seriously. The fact that creationists don't do so speaks volumes about their (il)legitimacy.

  21. marvin nubwaxer says:

    religion is a mental disorder and those practicing it have brought on the world's disorder.

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