New Facts Could Disprove Evolution

July 24, 2007 | By | 15 Replies More

This is the title of a newspaper commentary column that I stumbled onto recently. It was less annoying than I thought it would be. The “New Facts” turn out to be mainly the testimony of Ken Ham’s Creation Museum (Here’s my earlier post about that).

One gripe I have is the idea of testimony as evidence. This is a very human concept, the basis of legal evidence, and anathema to good science. In science, testimony is merely a claim of observation intended to lead others to be able to repeat the observation. Furthermore, in science an observation is meaningless unless it can be objectively measured with unimpeachable instruments.

Author Tom McVeety brings up a couple of measurable data tidbits free from their context, but responders to his column neatly provide the missing framework for some, and politely attack the innumeracy obvious in others.

It is worthwhile to read many of the comments to the column. Among other threads, they get into a clash between Christian denominations that accept scientific conclusions, and those that deny science when it disagrees with a particular narrow interpretation of the Bible.

Just for grins, here’s a rebuttal on BadAstronomy.com

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Category: Current Events, Evolution, Religion, Web Site

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A convoluted mind behind a curly face. A regular traveler, a science buff, and first generation American. Graying of hair, yet still verdant of mind. Lives in South St. Louis City. See his personal website for (too much) more.

Comments (15)

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  1. Tim Hogan says:

    This is my testimony about the origins of the universe. It is true to the best of my personal knowledge.

    The universe was created 13 billion years ago when I simultaneously hiccoughed, belched, farted and sneezed, causing the creation of a mass of constantly expanding effluvia to be made which has devolved into the universe as we know it.

    And I'm dating Penelope Cruz, with my wife's permission.

  2. Erich Vieth says:

    Dan: your post provoked me to check out the dimensions of Noah's alleged ark. Much conflict somehow remains regarding the feasibility of transporting huge numbers of animals on one ship, to be cared for by only 8 people. Here's a summary from Wikipedia:

    Capacity and logistics: The Ark would have had a gross volume of about 1.5 million cubic feet (40,000 m³), a displacement a little less than half that of the Titanic at about 22,000 tons, and total floor space of around 100,000 square feet (9,300 m²).[30] The question of whether it could have carried two (or more) specimens of the various species (including those now extinct), plus food and fresh water, is a matter of much debate, even bitter dispute, between literalists and their opponents. While some literalists hold that the Ark could have held all known species, a more common position today is that the Ark contained "kinds" rather than species—for instance, a male and female of the cat "kind" rather than representatives of tigers, lions, cougars, etc.[31] The many associated questions include whether eight humans could have cared for the animals while also sailing the Ark, how the special dietary needs of some of the more exotic animals could have been catered for, how the creatures could have been prevented from preying on each other, questions of lighting, ventilation, and temperature control, hibernation, the survival and germination of seeds, the position of freshwater and saltwater fish, the question of what the animals would have eaten immediately after leaving the Ark, how they traveled (or were gathered) from all over the world to board the Ark and how they could have returned to their far-flung habitats across the Earth's bare, flood-devastated terrain, and how two or a few members of a species could have provided enough genetic variety to avoid inbreeding and reconstitute a healthy population. The numerous literalist websites, while agreeing that none of these problems is insurmountable, give varying answers on how to resolve them.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Noah's_Ark

    One of the comments on your site argues that you simply couldn't have carried the big dinosaurs on an ark. I agree. Nor could you have fit even a small percentage of species, many of whom are huge with voracious appetites. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Largest_organism Maybe Noah brought some bags of dinosaur bisquits, but an easier solution is to admit that Noah's Ark is a mythological story.

    It just amazes me (looking at the comments to the article you cited) that people still cling to many old myths as though they were literal truths.  It amazes me that people teach this story to children without questioning God's genocidal act that gives rise to the entire story.   It is a sad and impossible story.   To teach only the "happy" ending (discovering land after the flood) is manipulative cherry picking.  http://dangerousintersection.org/?p=846

  3. Vitri says:

    From the same website, a creationist is now the head of Texas State Board of Education.

    http://www.badastronomy.com/bablog/2007/07/25/tex

  4. Edgar Montrose says:

    To Tim Hogan (from Usenet newsgroup rec.humor.funny, 9/2/99):

    "Scientists were excited this week at having isolated a brief sound which occurred immediately before the Big Bang.

    Apparently, that sound was 'uh oh.'"

    [From the WBAP morning talk show in Dallas/FW]

    To Erich Vieth: "…a more common position today is that the Ark contained 'kinds' rather than species—for instance, a male and female of the cat “kind” rather than representatives of tigers, lions, cougars, etc."

    Then, of course, all of the present day species of cats must have evolved from the catkind on the Ark … right?

  5. grumpypilgrim says:

    It's obvious how Noah managed to carry all those animals on the ark: he carried them all as eggs, thus eliminating the need to carry food or water, to worry about on-board predation, or to have enough room for all the species. The one thing I don't understand is why he took mosquitos on board — obviously a mistake of Biblical dimensions….

    While we're on the subject…heaven is even harder to explain. According to Revelations, heaven is a cube, about 375 miles on each side, consisting of about a dozen stories. No word yet on how God plans to extend the earth's atmosphere up to cover the top floors.

  6. Erich Vieth says:

    Edgar – I had heard about the "kinds" versus "species" theory, and chuckled about it for the reason you've mention: it requires (accelerated) post-flood evolution to turn those "kinds" back into the species that now populate the Earth. It's funny, isn't it? Creationists criticize evolution because it is not possible for it to happen at all. Now, in order to salvage Noah's Ark as literal truth, YEC's implicitly invoke an impossibly fast and entirely unsubstantiated version of national selection.

    BYW, has any biologist traced back all human DNA to those 8 ark survivors 6,000 years ago? Surely, that evidence exists . . .

  7. grumpypilgrim says:

    The thing to remember about creationist attacks on evolution is that even if “new facts disprove evolution,” this still would not elevate creationism to the realm of science. Accordingly, even if the wildest dreams of creationists come true, and evolution someday becomes discredited, the data which does the discrediting would form the basis for some new theory to explain our planet’s genetic diversity, and science would continue its quest for a new explanation. Meanwhile, creationism would remain what it has always been: a fringe, nonsensical religious belief that is refuted by mountains of scientific data.

  8. Tim Hogan says:

    Erich, watch out! There's a theory that we have all evolved from a single female who for whatever reason had superior abilities to reproduce/adapt/survive. What with mitochondrial DNA only slightly mutating over time, and with each of us having a full complement of our mother's mitochondrial DNA in each of our cells, somebody's gonna trace us all back to "Eve", and then the fight will be "how long?" are we from "Eve"?

    Oh, and "Ecuse me!"

  9. Ben says:

    Eve is more than "just a theory" the way laymen use the term.

    Only Mitochondrial Eve, and her matrilineal ancestors, have a purely matrilineal line of descent to all humans alive today. Because mitochondrial DNA is only passed through matrilineal descent, all humans alive today have mitochondrial DNA that is traceable back to Mitochondrial Eve.

    Furthermore, it can be shown that every contemporary woman of Mitochondrial Eve either has no living descendant today or is an ancestor to all living people. Starting with 'the' MRCA at around 3,000 years ago, one can trace all ancestors of the MRCA backward in time. At every ancestral generation, more and more ancestors (via both paternal and maternal lines) of MRCA are found. These ancestors are by definition also common ancestors of all living people. Eventually, there will be a point in past where all humans can be divided into two groups: those who left no descendants today and those who are common ancestors of all living humans today. This point in time is termed the identical ancestors point and is estimated to be between 5,000 and 15,000 years ago. Since Mitochondrial Eve is estimated to have lived more than hundred thousand years before the identical ancestors point, every contemporary woman of hers is either not an ancestor of any living people, or a common ancestor of all living people.

    Mitochondrial Eve is the most recent common matrilineal ancestor, not the most recent common ancestor (MRCA) of all humans. The MRCA's offspring have led to all living humans via sons and daughters, but Mitochondrial Eve must be traced only through female lineages, so she is estimated to have lived much longer ago than the MRCA. While Mitochondrial Eve is thought to have been living around 140,000 years ago, according to probabilistic studies, the MRCA could have been living as late as 3,000 years ago.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mitochondrial_Eve#Mi

    Mitochondrial Eve (mt-mrca) is the name given by researchers to the woman who is the matrilineal most recent common ancestor (MRCA) for all living humans. Passed down from mothers to offspring for over a hundred thousand years, her mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) is now found in all living humans: every mtDNA in every living person is derived from hers. Mitochondrial Eve is the female counterpart of the Y-chromosomal Adam, the patrilineal most recent common ancestor.

    She is believed to have lived about 140,000 years ago in what is now Ethiopia, Kenya or Tanzania. The time she lived is calculated based on the molecular clock technique of correlating elapsed time with observed genetic drift.

    Mitochondrial Eve is the most recent common ancestor of all humans via the mitochondrial DNA pathway, not the unqualified MRCA of all humanity. All living humans can trace their ancestry back to the MRCA via at least one of their parents, but Mitochondrial Eve can only be reached via the maternal line. Therefore, she necessarily lived much longer ago than the MRCA of all humanity.

  10. ashutosh vyas says:

    universe is the most incomphrinsible thing . the evolution must hav taken a mystrious turn thtt is unknown till today

  11. Erich Vieth says:

    Here's a succinct Scientific American article that rebuts commonly-encountered creationist objections to evolution.  Article is here.

  12. Lee says:

    all you got to do is research and study and see the evidence speaks for itself, anyone believes something came from nothing, well, explains it all.

    check out my site, because I love revealing truth.

    As for noah's ark, see genesistv and watch Ken Ham and those of answersingenesis who will shed more light on this and so much more.

    Incidently I have a book from creation research, very good, showing dinosaur and human footprints together and so, so much more.

    Also to think that DNA as complex as it is just organized itself and the planets also and our moon and earth all just in the very precise position, and so so much more and suddenly you start to get a clearly picture.

    The Evolution theory is just that a theory being accepted so one does not have to believe in God and be accountable when they die, but to God it makes no odds, because if I'm wrong, well, nothing lost, but If I'm right, rather the Bible is, then, well, you work it out.

    Incidently the Bible's predictions so far have all come 100% true as well.

    Anyway, just do your own research on the matter and then see what you think.

  13. Erich Vieth says:

    Lee: Ken Hamm peddles snake oil. He is an arrogant ignoramus. You need to get yourself a good book on evolution and carefully read it, truly. I'm talking about a scientific book, not one that bases its conclusions on holy books. You need to demonstrate that you understand the process of natural selection before attempting to criticize it.

    You've also bought into "Pascal's Wager." Such a sad substitute for open minded scientific inquiry. You are deciding to believe in God because IF God exists, you won't go to hell.

    You obviously have the right to do what you are doing with your brain, but it has nothing to do with science.

    My advice to you: Quit being timid. Go read a few good science books (your library should have plenty of them) and then report back and show us that you actually understand the theory you are now criticizing.

  14. Dan Klarmann says:

    Lee brings up some oft repeated points. The Dinosaur and human footprints together fallacy is easy to rebut if you can find actual pictures of this site. If humans had 3 toed 16" long feet with a 40" walking stride, then it is very convincing. Most of the Discovery Institute presentations of this fossil record hide the bottoms of the "human" prints in shadow or with water, and then show a footprint of a modern human artfully made to look like a fossil in a separate image.

    The idea of evolution came from seriously faithful men. Darwin, one of the 3rd generation of evolutionists, had no science degrees, just a degree in divinity from a Christian institution.

    Evolution is not about where everything came from, nor about how life started. It only explains how and why breeds and species change over time.

    Keep in mind that the complexity of any system always increases. It is called disorder when one can no longer keep track of the changes.

    Science is about explaining nature strictly in terms of nature. Faith only explains nature in terms of mythology.

  15. David Byrd says:

    The small sound right before the ‘Big Bang’…….”Let there be light”

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