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The Talk.Origins Archive: Exploring the Creation/Evolution Controversy

Feedback for April 1997

Listed below are some of the letters received from readers of the Talk.Origins Archive in the month of April 1997.

Dear Chris Stassen, I must say that I am glad to see your website. You are one of the many evolutionists that seem to have easy answers to problems that LEADING evolutionary AUTHORITIES openly admit they have no answer for.

[... several pages of standard creationist arguments deleted, among which was the following:]

I have long noted that your dates published on the internet which APPEAR to show that all the radiometric dating methods are in splendid agreement that the rocks tested were about 4.5 billion years old. Interesting that years ago they all used to AGREE that the earth was 1 billion years old! Untill evolutionists needed more time. What you also fail to mention (or perhaps your source) is that these are not AVERAGE statistically acquired dates.

Bradley Donald

Response from Chris Stassen

First, let's get one thing straight: this isn't "my" website. I have contributed only a tiny fraction of the files here.

We welcome notes that point out errors in the FAQs, for these help improve the quality of the archive. However, there are practical limits on the length of submissions and responses in this forum. You have sent several submissions which could not be printed in full. Please try to keep your feedback brief (so that it can be printed), and try to do a better job with your research (your many incorrect assertions compound the problem, as these errors require quite a bit of space to correct).

For example, the one paragraph of yours reproduced above contains four sentences. The first merely is an observation of the contents of the FAQ. Each of the remaining three is seriously in error:

The claim that radiometric ages of the Earth "used to" agree on an age of "one billion years" is a falsehood. The very first attempts to date the Earth via radioactive methods (in the 1920s) gave a wide range of results from 1.6 billion to 8 billion years. See Table 2.1 (pp. 14-17) of Brent Dalrymple's The Age of the Earth for references. These early estimates were hampered by primitive equipment, primitive methods (which did not even recognize different isotopes of elements), and large half-life uncertainties. Still, not a single one of the measurements gave a figure near what you claimed to be the consensus.

The claim that "evolutionists" "needed more time" is absurd. Geologists don't take orders from biologists on what the age of the Earth should be. The age of the Earth is fixed by two quantities (U half-life, isotopic composition of primordial Pb) both of which have been measured empirically. There is not room to change the numbers to meet anyone's desires.

The claim that I've presented a misleading sample of data is a falsehood. The tables in the Age of the Earth FAQ are isotope ages of meteorites. Only about one hundred meteorites have been subjected to isotopic dating. Of those hundred, about seventy have yielded isochrons with reasonably co-linear data points (which yield ages with a small range of uncertainty). Of those seventy, more than 4/5 (80%) date to 4.3-4.6 billion years. That age of the solar system is not a number given by a few hand-picked results; it is a value agreed upon by an overwhelming majority of the data.

Incidentally, if (instead of noting corrections for the FAQs) you are really just looking for a debate, please take it to talk.origins. Time permitting, I'll be glad to address your other assertions in that open forum.

You stated that "scientific creationists" do not have a single test for their theory. However, there is no test that can prove that we evolved from APES. Furthermore, there is no test that can prove Macroevolution. Where did the APES, or "ancestors" of modern humans, evolve or come from. You already denied that eveything evolved from some primordial soup. I think denying the theory of Macroevolution is no different than denying the theory of Creationism in our schools. I do believe that Microevolution, or the change in the gene pool, does occur. However, we shouldn't look at a horse and say it evolved from the same ancestor of the tomato (there's no proof or test). What occurs in microevolution is merely variation of the same kind. Mutations are very rarely beneficial to adding new alleles to the gene pool. You can see this in biology laboratories where lab assistants cause many mutations in fruit flies. But none of the mutations are more beneficial than the primary ancestor fruit fly. Futhermore, saying that people evolved from APES just feeds into the causes of racism. Namely, one race thinking that they're evolutionarily more advanced (e.g. Hitler held this view.) Hitler thought that Jewish people were the lowest people, or closest to the APES on the evolutionary ladder (African Americans were viewed as second to the last) In the end, I presume you hold the view that something, meaning the Universe, came from nothing, huh? However, my commonsense seems to tell me that NOTHING MAKES NOTHING, not something.

Dear Sir, I would like to recieve an explination concerning the "mixing" phenomina you described in your essay on isochron. How can it be detected and what tests detect it? how long have those tests been around and how reliable are they?

Response from Chris Stassen, author of "Isochron Dating":

Mixing is detected by a plot somewhat similar to the isochron plot. (On the mixing plot, however, co-linear data suggest that the isochron has no meaning.) The test has been around since the late 1960s at least, and is reasonably reliable for detecting meaningless isochrons caused by two-component mixtures.

The Isochron Dating FAQ has undergone significant revision recently and now includes a fairly lengthy discussion of mixing.

Please provide vitae for the authors at this web site. I think you provide a very valuable service, and greatly appreciate this form. The vitae are necessary when citing sources in this important debate.

Response from , author of "Punctuated Equilibria":

You can find capsule summaries of the background of many FAQ authors in my Biographica file.

I'm unsure about the assertion that such information is necessary to citation, though. I've cited sources before for publication, and have never found it necessary to have an author's educational or work history in order to form a complete bibliographic reference.

The arguments presented upon a topic should be discussed according to the merits of the argument. I don't think that any of the FAQ authors wish for readers to accept their position simply because of claims of authority, nor would any wish to be ignored simply because someone denies that they have enough expertise to speak.

My sincerest thankyou to all the people that contributed to this site, we live in country western australia and are being visited by a "Creationist Scientist" this week. He and his family will be setting up shop and showing films in the town, which already has a very high "religious" quota of residents. Both I and my husband wish to discuss this "Creationist Scientists" beliefs in a cool, calm and rational way, and not being that overly familiar with their points if view, we were very happy to see this web site. Currently in Australia there is a court case regarding the "Ark" teachings and Prof Plimer, we are concerned that creationist beliefs may be pushed for teaching in schools, and we would hope to provide an alternative point of view to those who would have this doctrime in our childrens schools. Many thanks Kim

As a biology teacher and a creationist, I find that all of the fossil evidence and radioactive dating that supposedly supports the evolutionary theory, actually can also be used to support a seven day creation with an earth that is less than 12,000 years old. As God made the earth, He obviously made a mature earth.
[...]
There is also the probability that oil deposits existed and they would seem to be millions of years old, though they were just made less than one week ago. Fossils could be part of the makings of this old earth. As most most scientists desire to know everything they can, it is difficult for many of them to admit that there are many things we humans will never know. Belief in God and in creation forces one to accept that fact.

Response from Chris Stassen, author of "The Age of the Earth":

In my opinion, it is a little misleading to say that evidence of an ancient Earth could support a recent creation with appearance of age. Such a position cannot be supported by the evidence. Rather, it is inherently an attempt to render all possible evidence irrelevant to what you believe to be the "true" age.

It is possible to argue that certain features would necessarily look old on a freshly-created Earth, because otherwise life would not be sustainable. However, other features (such as fossils, or certain distributions of isotope ratios within the minerals of nearly every rock on the planet) have no such purpose. These features cannot be seen as anything other than a grand deception if they truly were created recently as part of a perfectly forged appearance of age. Even most creationists in my acquaintance are uncomfortable with that proposition, and would prefer to argue that there really is no appearance of age.

I would like to thank the managers of the archive for doing a more than adequate job of exposing the true nature of creationism. At the risk of overgeneralizing, it seems "scientific" creationism consists of 3 major populations. First, there are the masses that use creationism to sustain their belief in Biblical innerancy; second, there is the smaller population of people whose job it is to sustain the masses belief in Biblical innerancy (e.g., pastors of local churches, etc...); and finally, both groups defer the major criticisms of creationism to the smallest group, the leaders of the movement who actually produce the literature which sustains the populations belief in Biblical innerancy. Notably, in this third group you also find the people who make their living by producing these materials. As a Christian, I am shocked at the disreputable methods the leaders of the creationist movement commit themselves to. As a Christian, I believe we must try to hold ourselves to a higher standard than the one exhibited by Duane Gish and his comrades in deceit.

The heart of the problem is the concept of Biblical innerancy. If the proponents of creationism would logically follow the concept of innerancy to its logical conclusion, my judgement of creationism could be avoided. The problem, of course, is that what is the point of tainting the innerant with words that are in error. In other words, if you believe in innerancy, than shut up and let the Bible speak for itself, because the crap that creationism puts out there makes it appear as though the Bible is intended to be a static answer book from the past, not a life giving guide for the present and the future. Creationism, by the very dishonest and deceptive deeds of its leaders, has attempted to take Christ away from those who have a more intellectual approach to scientific inquiry. For this creationists should be ashamed, and it pains me that I am forced to separate myself from fellow Christians because of their staunch belief in creationism and the insistence of it's truth, but I will not submit to the same subversiveness that the creationist literature does.

Thanks again for maintaining this archive. There is more truth in your database than all of creationist literature. This is a strong affirmation that what they do does not point to Christ, and for that Christians need to take a long, careful look at what they believe.

If anyone is interested, a message I post frequently on Fidonet's HolySmoke echo touches on the evidence problem:

Personally, I have said many times that I would welcome ANY evidence of the existence of any god, and I have even specified indirect evidence that would be quite convincing, not only to myself, but (I suspect) to all the wicked atheists here: the residue of the Noachan Flood. It avoids the problem of "how can there be physical evidence for a spiritual being?" by focussing on one instance in which that spiritual being supposedly interacted physically with the physical world in a way that would have produced distinctive physical consequences. While we have seen fundies claim that their god is so deceitful as to cover his tracks, I, for one, would presume that such a dishonest being is unworthy of being taken seriously, much less of worship.

I do not concern myself here with the issue of the needed two additional hydrospheres of water and its drainage out of earth's gravity well, nor with the necessary consequences resulting therefrom by operation of the laws of physics: the atmospheric pressure resulting from a "vapor canopy" that would prevent the existence of life as we know it, the heat release from the condensation of that much water that would be sufficient to melt lead anywhere in the atmosphere, etc. are very serious impediments to the veracity of the story, but most, if not all, fundies lack sufficient knowledge of physics to be able to follow the reasoning. It only confuses them, leading them to drag out yet another version of the Deceitful God, who, they claim, sets the laws of physics aside his wonders to perform. Instead, I simply take the Genesis account at its face value, looking at the effects that much water falling at that rate would inescapably have upon the face of the earth.

We have an account of a global flood directly produced by Yahweh in the Bible. Given the fact that we have information, presumably from a source inspired by omniscience, of the extent of the flood ("over the highest mountains," or roughly 30,000 feet above present sea level) and of the time of the rain (40 days and 40 nights = 40 24-hour days = 960 hours), it is easy to calculate the rate of the rainfall: 30,000/960 = 31.25 feet of water fell per hour. That is a little more than six inches of rainfall per minute.

I would think that "gullywasher" fails to do this rate justice, inasmuch as that term is applied to rainfalls of one or two inches per hour. Suffice it to say that this rain would wash away pretty much any particles smaller than Volkswagens and deposit all of this in a single stratum covering the low-lying areas world-wide.

We know from geology that floods leave evidence in direct proportion to their size (this stratum would, for instance, be far thicker than any other ever created and would cover all the area on earth with its thickness varying in inverse proportion to altitude), and we further know from the mechanics of disposition of suspended solids in fluids the type and extent of the stratum that would be laid down by a global flood. Those larger particles would lie at the bottom of the stratum, with progressively smaller bits covering them. In addition to that, the contents of that stratum, particularly in the region of shorelines where the braking effect of standing water would cause the flow to drop much of its initial load, the remains of ALL creatures mingled together under optimal conditions for fossilization (heavy sedimentation at great depths, with the finest materials thickly sealing the top) are known: in short, a universal unique event would produce a universal unique outcome--a stratum like no other in the geologic column.

Such a stratum would furnish perfectly good indirect evidence for the existence of this Yahweh person, just as tracings on a photographic plate tell us of subatomic particles or the behavior of objects in space tells us of the existence of enormous gravitational forces only explicable by the presence of a black hole.

So show us this stratum. That would be evidence.

Response from :

Your post touches on several subjects at the same time. I would like to comment on just one: Science deals with what can be observed and measured. It does not deal with matters of philosophy and religion. There is nothing in evolution that rules out the concept of God. Evolution, like all science, does not take a position on matters of religion. Creationists claim that because evolution does not support their dogma, it is atheistic. This is a gross distortion of fact. Evolution neither supports nor condemns religious beliefs; such considerations are simply outside the scope of science. Evolution should be evaluated on the basis of whatever the factual information indicates, not on the basis of whether or not it is consistent with a specific concept of "morality."

I am so glad I found this website. I live in the Southwestern US, and am increasingly concerned with the growing pile of "evidence" for creationism/evangelical christianity that is being used as an excuse for political activism...at least this forum serves as a place for honest and knowledgeable debate. Knowledge may be painful, but without knowledge we die. Thanks so much

What came first the chicken or the egg?

Suleena Bradley

Response from the editor:

The earliest known egg-laying amniotes appeared during the Carboniferous period some 300 million years ago. Chickens belong to an order of birds (the Galliformes) that made their first appearance in the Eocene epoch some 50 million years ago.

So the amniotic egg clearly came first.

Reference:
Robert L. Caroll, Vertebrate Paleontology and Evolution. W.H. Freeman and Company, New York. 1988.

In 1859, gentlemen, there WAS NO scientific evidence to support the theory of evolution; in 1997, there IS NO evidence; in the future, there WILL NEVER BE ANY evidence to support the disordered theory. Creationsim gives everyone a purpose in life; evolutionism takes it away.

This is not so much a comment as a request. I have visited the web sitelooking for information for a term paper on evolution. My head is spinning. There is so much! How do you decifer it for a five page paper? What do you believe? Does anyone have a recommendation for a starting point? Please reply to DKSherrill. Thank you!

Response from :

I don't think there is an easy answer to your request. The object of a term paper is to demonstrate your knowledge of a subject. I'm afraid you'll just have to do a lot of reading. My web page might a good place to start. It has links to talk.origins faqs and other web pages. I have tried to make the posts in my web page as concise as possible, so this might help you. Good luck!

You would make yourself seem more credible if you HONESTLY faced the theory of creationism. You use very 'unscientific' arguments to make your points and you also fall prey to numerous fallacies of logic in your arguments. I know you will not even consider what I have to say, so I won't waste your time or mine trying to convice you. However, I felt that as a middle grade science teacher, I would note that the holes in your arguments are very obvious and are embarrassing. Your extreme biased opinions have seriously effected your scientific judgement, if you can even call it scientific. Science plays no favorites and does not steadfastly hold to this theory or that one. Loyalty does not play a role, however, one would never learn that from any of these web sites.

Response from the editor:

Curiously, the reader does not list any examples of so-called unscientific or illogical arguments used in the archive's articles. And contrary to what the reader says, science does play favorites -- it favors ideas and theories that are supported by the evidence. That is why it favors evolutionary theory and rejects so-called "scientific creationism."

Browsing the Talk.Origins Archives has brought me delight and dismay in equal measure. I am thrilled to see such an elegant collection of rebuttals to the common Creationist arguments, but mortified to see those very same arguments put forward again and again. I was interested to read a previous feedback comment asking about people who were once Creationists, and who later came to accept evolution in place of Special Creation. I am such a person. My personal journey of understanding began with the Creationist teachings of a fundamentalist Christian group. All too soon, however, the evidence that I found all about me became an intolerable burden, and I saw that I had in fact been grossly misled by those who "guided" me. During my University education, culminating with my Ph.D. in Zoology, I came to recognise the same arguments and platitudes that I had been fed as a youth in the works of Creation Scientists. They strike me as even less credible today than they did when I saw through them at age 15, at which time I was mortified that those I trusted would so abuse my trust with such hollow mockeries of "science". When I think back to the "facts" that were related to me as a youth, I become livid that such outright fabrication could be allowed in the education system. For a group that claims to hold honesty in high esteem, they certainly played free and easy with the truth. I am greatly relieved that these archives exist, and hope that others who have been deliberately misled will stumble upon them and have their eyes opened, for possible the first time.

I really have an inquiry to make. Our youngest son, age 13-1/2 years, has for quite some time now expressed his desire to work as an "animal scientist", studying animals, etc. He is a Christian and knows that evolution is a joke. We homeschool him, so he gets taught the Christian's creationism. As he gets older I have two concerns, 1) as he gets into his "high school" years, what teaching resources are there that we can use to continue the proper "creationism" teachings for his education, and 2) what colleges would be available for him to attend that will also continue with the "creationism" teachings? Thanks! I hear Back To Genesis on WMIT-FM.

Response from the editor:

It is heartening to hear that your son is interested in science. This should be encouraged in all children!

Unfortunately, if you are teaching your son that "evolution is a joke," then you are not teaching him accurate biology. Modern biology is based on and unified by the scientific theory of evolution. If you remove it from his curriculum (or worse, if you teach the highly flawed "scientific creationism" in its stead), you will be doing him a disservice, especially when it comes time for him to begin a college education. All major universities teach the theory of evolution as part of their biology curricula; indeed, most biology programs focus very strongly on it.

On a more personal note, you should worry about the effect some of the things you are teaching might later have on your son. If you teach him that "evolution is a joke" and "creationism is good science," he is likely to discover, upon exploring the scientific evidence further, that he has not been taught the truth. This may lead him to question his faith, and this is the last thing you want him to be doing. There is no theological reason that evolution and Christianity cannot be compatible. In fact, most Christians are believers in evolution. See The God and Evolution FAQ.

Regarding the overiview by Brett Vickers concerning the Creation Research Society it is clear that Mr. Vickers is rooted in the Evolutionist camp. It is also clear that he adhers to the classical belief system of traditional science. The only problem is that traditional "science" is, for the most part, not science at all. One needs to muster even more faith than a creation scientist to beleive in the Darwinian model of human development. Many scientists today come from their own pre-concieved belief systems that are molded all the way through their respective educational experiences. As a result, Mr. Vickers destroys his own argument by making the unbelievable implication that all scientists must come from a total vacuum with no prior belief system. Come now Mr. Vickers, are we to believe that you fit your impossible model of a true scientist?

Response from , author of "The Creation Research Society Creed FAQ":

All scientists (that we know of) are indeed human and therefore have beliefs, biases and blind spots. But the power of science is that -- contrary to the assertions of creationists and postmodernists -- it can paint an accurate picture of the universe in spite of human weaknesses. Science cares little for personal beliefs; it requires only evidence. If you propose a hypothesis, and it is supported by and continues to stand in the face of the scientific evidence, then it doesn't matter what belief system you come from -- you have a scientific theory. Evolution is an example of such a theory; it is supported by all kinds of evidence: geological, biogeographical, genetic, embryological, anatomical, and ecological.

So-called "scientific creationism," on the other hand, continues to exist despite the scientific evidence. The idea that all living organisms were specially created is a purely religious belief, held only by people of certain belief systems. There is no scientific evidence to support it. Indeed, there is much scientific evidence that contradicts it. For instance, the fossil record clearly shows forms changing radically over time, and our genes, even the non-functional ones, exhibit uncanny similarities with other animals. Evidence like this provides the impetus for the dogmatic statements of belief that creationists, like those in the Creation Research Society, are required to sign. Statements of belief allow adherents to maintain their beliefs, even when the scientific evidence contradicts them.

There are many more loopholes in evolution than there would ever be in the flood story. Although I wasn't there and don't have first hand experience, I can much more easily beleive that an all powerfull force just made it happen instead of everything sort of happenning to evolve at the right time together in coevolution as if they could communicate and decided to evolve together.

Since so much time has been spent debunking the comments of Barnes and Humphreys in your article of "...Alleged Decay of the Earth's Magnetic Field", I would like views, in clear and concise terms, of what observable historical data shows regarding the flux and/or decay/non-decay of the magnetic fields. The different disciplines that are used in the article should be sufficient to provide my request. Data can be taken and theorems applied to near-past knowledge. Arguments can then be presented. I do not see that in this article. All that I see are uncertainties.

Response from , author of "Creation Science and the Earth's Magnetic Field":

My article is not intended to be a primary source. Rather, it is intended to serve as a review, and as a guide to further reading, which is why there are 30 references attached. The idea is that readers who are sufficiently interested can go beyond what I have written, and see the real primary sources. I encourage you to do that.

I do not understand why you say that you see only uncertainties, and I cannot tell from what is written here, what you want to see. Contact me by E-mail, which you should be able to do by clicking on my name in your web browser. I thought I was quite certain that Barnes was wrong, and why, and I thought I was quite certain that dynamo theory is correct, Barnes not withstanding. If you can make more specific comments, perhaps I will be able to answer, or modify the FAQ file accordingly.

One point that can be made here is that the historic data is not sufficient for modeling the long term behavior of the earth's magnetic field, no matter what analysis is done, a point I thought I made clear in the file. The data base only extends over 150 years or so (maybe near 200 by now). But one cannot reliably extrapolate backwards from that, as Barnes did, for 10000 years, to make assertions about the long term behavior of the field. One must look elsewhere, and that is what paleomagnetism is all about.

While I am a stauch believer in the beauty, simplicity and spiritually inspiring wonder of evolution, I have a very deep belief that "Creationism" and other non-scientific explanation of origins have no place in the school systems of my and other's children. I am puzzled that the debate centers around two alternatives: evolution and creationism. Are there not other notions of creation espoused by non-Christian faiths? Assuming these other notions exist, why do creationists not advocate the teachings of these views in schools in addition to their demanded creationism as a peer theory with evolution?

If one is to accept the falacious argument that evolution is suspect and anti-Christian, should we not ensure that ALL theories of origin are taught in schools, no matter how unscientific, no matter how much they chafe the culture's majority religion, no matter how absurd such beliefs may seem to adherents to evolution and creationism?

My point is simply this: Evolution has solid scientific backing and should be taught in schools. Spiritually based views are valuable in religious teachings and should also be taught...but in churches! I have strong spiritual beliefs that augment my belief in evolution. However, I want my church and me to decide exactly whay beliefs are communicated to my children. I don't want my school board teaching my kids spiritual issues. Similarly, I am not one to mandate my spritual beliefs on others.

Evolution in schools. Creationism (and the Budhist, Muslim, Hindi equivalents) in churches.

I have a question. It's about the evolution of wings. The question is this: How is it possible that wings evolved at all? By my favorite theory of evolution, things evolved with a purpose, i.e.- reptiles evolved into amphibians so that they could live on land. So, since partially evolved wings are are pretty much useless for anything, how could they have come to be? Is it possible that they were used for something besides flying? Thanks.

Sincerely, E-Man at XACQ15A@Prodigy.com

Response from :

There is a philosophical point I'd like to make before addressing the question of wings.

Evolution does not look ahead - it is not clairvoyant. Fish (I presume the 'reptiles' was a typo) did not become amphibians in order to live on land. They acquired features that eventually permitted them to live on land, but they were not adaptations for that until living on land was 'within their grasp', so to speak. Only then were features that made living on land possible subject to selection for that purpose.

Another way to say this is that evolution is not guided by some goal or final purpose (which is not to say that there are therefore no goals or final purposes - just that it is not a matter for scientific theories). Things appear for some immediate function and may be co-opted for a later use. The technical term that is accepted now is 'exaptation', while a feature that is of immediate use is an 'adaptation'. Useful features in general are called 'aptations'. This terminology is due to Stephen Jay Gould and an African naturalist Elisabeth Vrba.

As to wings: if you read the chapter on wings in the recent excellent book by Richard Dawkins, Climbing Mount Improbable, you will get a better idea how flight could evolve generally, but as to bird's wings and feathers, there is recent evidence that feathers were initially varieties of scales used for insulation (recently feathers were induced in chicks to form from scales on their legs, and a dinosaur in China showed an imprint of feathers along its spine). Once there, feathers must have been co-opted for a range of reasons. One theory is that they were used to catch prey - insects and small rodents - as a kind of net. Once you have them on forelimbs, it is not a long leap, if you'll forgive the pun, to flight, as we see incipient fliers all around us in the form of tree leapers and gliders. Straight selection would account for it.

I hope this answers your concerns.

Instead of engaging in pointless debates with creationist nuts, why don't evolutionary scientists start looking at the hegemonic inclusion of racist and sexist ideologies in scientific theories? Darwin says some devastating things about the evolutionary status of women. Yet, instead of deconstructing these historic arguments, arguments that are still relied upon in the field of sociobiology especially, your web page is focused uselessly on the debating creationists who are equally primitive in their thinking about gender and race. When are scientists going to wake up to the myth of scientific objectivity and start examining the erronous assumptions at the base of many theories. I also would like to see some discussion about the use of violent adjectives in text books and articles, for example in my intro to biology course we learned about a species that"Won the arms race of the sea." Do scientists really believe that the use of this vocabulary has a positive impact on the learing process? Does anyone but me worry about the impact this has on students as far as creating reactionary right wing scientists like Oppenheimer? Is Steven J. Gould the only person in this field with a clue? I sincerely hope you start talking about these issues before science becomes completly polarized and removed from what is going on in other disciplines.

these

Response from :

The sorts of issues you raise here are more properly the domain of philosophers, sociologists and historians of science, of which there is a flourishing industry dealing with precisely the topics you mention. I can recommend these books, which deal with these issues directly or indirectly in the area of evolutionary biology:

Dealing with older evolutionary theories

Bowler PJ: The Eclipse of Darwinism:Anti-Darwinian Evolution Theories in the Decades around 1900, John Hopkins UP 1983.

Bowler PJ: Evolution: The History of an Idea, revised edition, University of California Press 1989.

Desmond A: The Politics of Evolution: Morphology, medicine, and reform in radical London, University of Chicago Press 1989.

Dealing with modern theories or a history to the modern day

Depew DJ and BH Weber: Darwinism Evolving: Systems Dynamics and the Genealogy of Natural Selection, Bradford Book: MIT Press 1995.

Eldredge N: Reinventing Darwin: The Great Evolutionary Debate, Weidenfeld and Nicholson 1995.

Hull, DL: Science as a Process: An Evolutionary Account of the Social and Conceptual Development of Science, University of Chicago Press 1988.

There is a movement in modern sociohistorical study to treat the social and ideological influences on science as determining the theories that it develops and the way in which it presents them. Like all clearly true statements and rules, this one is only partly true. Scientists consider that what is most distinctive about science, what sents it apart from other intellectual traditions, are the theories and their application, in other words the ideas and the uses of those ideas. To treat science as a simplistic apologia for whatever is the dominant political or social class of the day overlooks most of what is interesting historically and philosophically about science. Your mileage may vary, but I do not find that what are sometimes called "social constructionist" accounts of science actually come to grips with the subject matter, at least, not without a lot of trimming to suit the preconceptions of the researcher. Of course, the human element is crucial to science, and I recommend Hull's book and the discussions of this in the early chapters.

Sometimes the desire to find, for example, patrilineal discrimination in science ledas to error of historical research. An example is Rosalind Franklin, the woman who did the x-ray crystallography that gave Crick and Watson the clues they needed to model the double helix. While there is no doubt that Watson behaved (and even today still admits it, without regret) badly to Franklin, recent books have argued on the basis of testimony by her coworkers that she was not the victimised feminist protohero some have made her out to be, but that she was uncommunicative and generally not able to extrapolate beyond the data in the way Crick and Watson were, in an environment of unusual equality for women.

The predisposition to find a certain influence on history (in this case, male dominance, but it could be almost anything you care to name) determining the results of science misses out on interesting human and theoretical stories.

Sociobiology, for example, will be judged as right or wrong (and Wilson has had 20 years of bad press based on political ideology, in my opinion) on the results of the theory, and generally the idea that genes and epigenetic rules determine much more than a fraction of human behaviour has been abandoned, not because it is incipient fascism, but because researchers cannot make it work. A newer strain, evolutionary psychology, is having more luck but is not yet sweeping the field.

We who contribute to this site and on the group itself debate creationists in order to battle a general 'dumbing down' of our societies. We do this for a range of personal reasons, but the fight against creationism is a fight for the autonomy of science and education from limited special interest lobby groups. I think it is worth it.

With respect to the constatancy of radioactive decay: Recently, a creationist trotted out an article which advanced the claim that the decay constant had been shown to vary, and in fact to be subject to perturbation by changes in temperature, pressure and the chemical state of the atom involved. <> I decided to follow up on the source, and discovered the following: (1) The effect was not one that would turn up in any of the nuclides used in radiometric dating, and (2) the magnitude of the effect was AT MOST five percent, under the most extreme conditions.

A comment concerning your WWW page "On Archaeopteryx, Astronomers, and Forgery"

There are 8 so called Archaeopterix specimen. The London and Berlin specimen are claimed by Hoyle et al. to be a hoax! First let me study the question : Do the other Archaeopteryx specimen have feathers ? 1. The Eichstaett specimen: You claim : "... the Eichstatt specimen has clear feather impressions..." I had a look on a photo of the Eichstaett specimen,published by Wellnhofer in Spektrum der Wissenschaft, a german popular science journal, but I was really not able to see any feather impression! They are really not visible ! Please have a look on a photo of this specimen too, you will realize : There are no feather impressions visible . Is it not true that the Eichstaett specimen was first not classified as an Archaeopteryx ? Why? Because feathers are not visible! 2. The Teyler specimen : Shows clearly no feathers, I have read the original paper of Ostrom in SCIENCE, there are no feathers. 3. The Solnhofen Specimen: I have in front of me the paper written by Wellnhofer in SCIENCE, Vol 240, p. 1790. It is interesting that you do not refer to this paper, because it is stated in this paper: " ... one is eager to see wether the Solnhofen specimen shows traces of feathers. Under low-angle illumination there are distinct parallel impressions originating from the lower arm of the left wing skeleton. These features ( Fig. 2) are interpreted as feather shafts." But: Fig 2 is a sketch of the specimen, not a photo. There is a photo of the specimen (Fig. 1), but nothing concerning feathers is visible. In addition it is stated in the paper that this specimen was thought to be a "Compsognathus", the specimen was found years before it was claimed that it was Archaeopteryx. And then " exact locality data are not available". This is not good science! This specimen is very doubtful! 4. The Maxberg Specimen: Unfortunately this specimen was not seen by any scientist since 1974. Nobody knows where this specimen is ! This specimen is missing. So nobody can study this specimen, nobody can make critical investigations. So this specimen is lost and should not count! One has to ask why the owner Eduard Opitsch has removed the Maxberg specimen from the museum. Was it done to hide something? You claim :" The specimen was described by P. Wellnhofer in 1959. " Can you give the reference, please ? And just this specimen should have feathers. 5. The Solnhofen-Aktien-Verein specimen : On your WWW http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/archaeopteryx/info.html you only state that this specimen is existing, nothing else. On the WWW page On Archaeopteryx, Astronomers, and Forgery this specimen is not mentioned! We see: The five specimens listed above are not able to give the claim of "Archaeopteryx had feathers, it was a bird" any account.

What remains are the London and Berlin specimen. It is clear that this specimen should be investigated very critically! In a letter to Nature Vol 324 p. 622 ( you do not refer to this letter too ) Hoyle et al. say: "The sample of the rock matrix shows a characteristic crystalline structure exactly as in other specimen of Solnhofen limestone, with identical X-ray resonance spectra. But the sample from the suspect material shows a non-crystalline structure resembling that of amorphous material bound by an organic glue" This letter was published in Nature after the publication of the article of Charig et al. (1986), but as far as I know no contradiction to this letter was ever published in Nature or Science etc. with the exception of your WWW page. What is your explanantion? ""Some time prior to the removal of samples from the Archaeopteryx specimen, the specimen was thoroughly cleaned to remove accumulated grime and old preservatives. This process was highly successful, but not 100% successful. ....Once cleaned, a master silicone rubber mould was taken" This is indeed a very weak statement, it does not explain why no "amorphous material bound by an organic glue" was found in samples from the rock matrix. And more: It seems to me that this procedure was done to cover up something: One has to ask: Why was just "Some time prior to the removal of samples from the Archaeopteryx specimen " this procedure done ? Was it done (if ever) to mislead Hoyle et al. ? Was it done to make any critical investigation of the specimen impossible ? And then: You do not say anything about the Berlin specimen. I have never seen a critical study about the Berlin specimen concerning this topic ( forgery or not). It is now time to investigate this specimen and to see if this specimen is a forgery. If the Berlin specimen would be not a forgery, then it would be the only example of a real Archaeopteryx !

Response from :

To my knowledge, Hoyle has only claimed that the London specimen is a hoax. His efforts to dismiss the other specimens is not convincing.

With regard to the Eichstatt specimen, the publication you mention does not include a detailed description, but appears to be a popular science article. For a detailed description of the specimen and close-up photographs of the feather impressions, see Wellnhofer (1974). Both Mayr (1973) and Wellnhofer (1974) considered that the Eichstatt specimen might be a new species, separate from A. lithographica, but both considered it to be Archaeopteryx. So you are incorrect in suggesting that, at first, the specimen was not classified as an Archaeopteryx. Howgate (1985) did suggest that the Eichstatt specimen belonged in a separate genus, but no-one has followed his designation.

The paper in Science by Ostrom (1970) announced the reinterpretation of a specimen originally described as a pterodactyl and thus the finding of another Archaeopteryx - the Teyler, or more correctly, the Haarlem, specimen. This was a preliminary announcement which carried little detail and only one photograph, but even this commented that, "faint impressions of wing feathers are also preserved" (Ostrom 1970, p. 538). For a detailed description of the Haarlem specimen, including the feather impressions, see Ostrom (1972).

Again, the Science article you refer to (Wellnhofer 1988a) with regard to the Solnhofen specimen is a preliminary announcement of the finding of a new specimen. It does not contain a detailed description and only has one photograph. This is of the whole specimen and thus was not taken under low angle light (to show the feather traces) because that would obscure other details of the specimen. I do not refer to it because a much more detailed description of the specimen exists, see Wellnhofer (1988b). With regard to the Compsognathus identification and the lack of locality information, the source you cite clearly states, "Exact locality data are not available. According to the collector, an amateur, the specimen was found many years ago and no data were kept. After preliminary preparation, carried out only recently, he took it for a speciman of the small theropod dinosaur Compsognathus, rather than Archaeopteryx." Thus the finding and Compsognathus identification was done by an amateur, not a professional palaeontologist.

The information obtained from the Maxburg specimen is still valid because a detailed description of it exists, with photographs. It was described by Heller (1959) and not Wellnhofer as stated in the FAQ (see below for full reference). Since the specimen was worth conservatively, at least US$750,000 one has to ask why Opsitsch left it in the museum as long as he did!

The entry for the Solnhofen-Aktien-Verein specimen in my Archaeopteryx FAQ states why information is limited (the description is in German), but does state that a small keel and feathers are present. It is not listed in the forgery FAQ because it is yet to be updated, but is another nail in the coffin of the forgery claims, since it too possesses feather traces.

The letter by Hoyle et al. is a short correspondence containing little information and taken from a larger article (Spetner et al. 1988) which is mentioned and forms the basis of much of the forgery FAQ. Their claims are misleading since they are talking about a round amorphous structure, not the rock matrix. As pointed out in the FAQ, there is no evidence of glue nor that the amorphous substance is organic. There is no evidence that the amorphous subsatance was found in the rock matrix, in fact the photograph they provide clearly shows the substance is separate from the rock. The chemical composition of the amorphous substance given by Spenter et al. is entirely in agreement with it being a fragment of silicone rubber. It is not part of the rock, it is not glue.

There has been little interest in the claims of Hoyle et al. because at every turn, their claims have been shown to be false. The various specimens of Archaeopteryx do show feather impressions. Your claims that they do not appear to be based on preliminary reports or popular accounts and not the detailed descriptions which clearly show the presence of feather traces.

Chris Nedin

Heller, F. (1959) Ein dritter Archaeopteryx-Fund aus den Solnhofener Platterkalken von Langenaltheim/Mfr. Erlanger Geologische Abhandlungen, 31: 1-25.

Howgate, M.E. (1985) In: The Beginings of Birds, Proceedings of the International Archaeopteryx Conference, 1985. M.K. Hecht et al. (eds.). pp. 105-112.

Mayr, F.X. (1973) Ein neuer Archaeopteryx-Fund. Palaontologische Zeitschrift, 47: 17-24.

Ostrom, J.H. (1970) Archaeopteryx: Notice of a "new" specimen. Science, 170: 537-538.

Ostrom, J.H. (1972) Description of the Archaeopteryx specimen in the Teyler Museum, Haarlen. Proceedings Koninklijke Nederlandse Akademie Van Wetenschappen, B, 75: 289-305.

Spetner, L.M.; Hoyle, F.; Wickramasinghe, N.C. & Magaritz, M. (1988) Archaeopteryx - more evidence for a forgery. The British Journal of Photography, 135: 14-17.

Wellnhofer, P. (1974) Das funfte skelettexemplar von Archaeopteryx. Palaeontographica A, 147: 169-216.

Wellnhofer, P. (1988a) A new specimen of Archaeopteryx. Science, 240: 1790-1792.

Wellnhofer, P. (1988b) Ein neuer Exemplar von Archaeopteryx. Archaeopteryx, 6: 1-30.

With respect to the archive concerning God and evolution. There are major problems with the assumption that God would put the world in motion and allow it to unfold. I will attempt to summarize them here: 1. The process of macro-evolution to form the different species is a very ineffecient one. Would an omnicient God have used such an inefficient process to create the world? 2. Arguments for the reliability of the bible were presented in the context of the archive. It was also stated that the stories of Genesis 1-11 were allagorical. If they were aligorical, then Adam did not sin. If Adam did not sin, then there is no need for a redeemer of mankind's sin -- Christ. Therefore, the rest of the bible is meaningless and Theistic Evolution falls apart. 3. Another problem is that if there was no death before Adam, then no living creatures would have died prior to Adams original sin which lead to death. This means that macro-evolution would not have taken place over millions of years, but God efficiently created all living species at one time -- as the fossil record indicates. Interested in your comments. I would like to submit a more comprehensive paper on this argument for "Intelligent and Efficient Creation". Regards, James

Response from the editor:

Taking your claims one at a time...

  1. "Evolution is inefficient, so why would God use it to create life?"

    Indeed the evolution of Earth's present biodiversity has taken billions of years, so in some sense it is justifiable to call it inefficient. But who are we to judge God's methods? If you accept the literal story of the Great Deluge, then isn't this the same God who used a flood to kill nearly every living thing on the planet just to wipe out some corrupt humans? God in his omnipotence could have efficiently willed the corrupt individuals off the planet in the blink of an eye.

  2. "If Genesis is allegory, then Adam did not actually sin and we don't need redemption."

    A figurative interpretation of Genesis would have Adam's sin symbolizing human weakness, for which we need redemption. A literal Adam need not exist for humans to have a sinful nature.

  3. "There was no death before Adam, so evolution couldn't have happened."

    This argument assumes that the form of death introduced by the Fall was a literal death. But most Christian theologians interpret the Fall as initiating spiritual death, not physical death. To deny that physical death has been occurring for billions of years is to deny the reality of the fossil record. And the fossil record certainly does not show all creatures being created at one point in time. Quite the contrary, it exhibits an ongoing series of extinctions and evolutionary novelties.

See The God and Evolution FAQ and the Interpretations of Genesis FAQ for more information.

Thank you, thank you, thank you. Just a note of thanks for those who worked at putting this excellent site together.

Joseph B. Janick

There are approximately two billion mothers in the world. How many of those mothers would be thrilled to hear a doctor say, "Mrs._____, your child has a mutation."? To help you with your answer - how many pregnant women are saying, "I hope my child has a mutation."? The answer to both of these questions would be zero. How could two billions moms be wrong?

Theophilus

Response from the editor:

I've heard it estimated that everyone carries around on average three uninherited mutations. Because most mutations are harmless, I doubt most moms would think it was much of a big deal.

To Evolutionists:

I would just like for someone to explain to me how the big bang could have created an organized universe. How could we have gotten order from disorder?

Response from , author of "Creation Science and the Earth's Magnetic Field":

And I would like someone to explain to me why the big bang could not have created an organized universe, or why it could not have developed order from disorder. What are order and disorder in this context anyway? If one carries the big bang idea to its logical premise, the universe did not develop order from disorder, but rather the other way around, it developed disorder from order. After all, if you place the entire universe into a single geometric point, that is about as ordered as anything can get.

There is another point to keep in mind. Whether you like it or not, the big bang theory is entirely empirical in nature; we can see the systematic redshift-distance relationship very easily. It is hard to come up with any other interpretation for the redshift than that of a Doppler shift, and that means an expanding universe. There are competing theories, but they are not popular, and even all combined represent a small minority of cosmological scientists.

Find out more about the big bang theory from Ned Wright's Cosmology Tutorial, or try the Introduction to Cosmology webpage from the Microwave Anisotropy Probe (MAP) mission.

Question for evolutionists.......During the apollo moon program, it was surmised that because of the age of the solar system and the Earth that the moon would have accumulated several feet of surface dust. Thus long. skinny pods were build onto the apollo lunar module to overcome bogging down during landing. Once apollo 11 landed, the astronauts encountered only a thin layer of dust. Using the calculations that indicated how much dust would have accumulated over millions of years, it was discovered that the amount of dust present would have accumulated over about 8,000 years. Why is this fact not discussed openly?

Response from Chris Stassen, author of "The Age of the Earth":

Had you bothered to make a simple mathematical "sanity check," you would have known that your supposed "fact" could not possibly be correct. "Several feet" per five billion years equals how much per eight thousand years? (I get 0.0001 inches per each five feet in "several". That would not be considered a "dust layer" at all.)

It is also incorrect to allege that your non-factual claim is not "discussed openly." It is discussed in detail, with references, in both Meteorite Dust and the Age of the Earth and in The Age of the Earth FAQ.

Pay special attention to the two addenda (one and two) in the latter document. The first discusses a confusion (which you apparently share) between "loose dust" and "meteoritic material" -- not all loose dust is meteoritic in origin, and not all meteoritic material is loose dust. The second addendum shows that creationists have disowned the "Moon Dust" argument -- I've actually had a Creation Science Foundation member take me to task for refuting the Moon Dust argument in that FAQ, "because we don't use that argument any more."

I liked your site, but I find it slightly "layman-unfriendly", and most importantly: religious-unfriendly.(I embrace the knowledge of the theory of evolution, and I'm not a Christian). Creationists believe Evolutionists to have the goal of overthrowing their belief, and many of the writings in your page seem in fact geared to that goal! I think that any writing that has the purpose of disproving the Bible is irrelevant in your page. It truly is science invading faith's territory. Personally I think any intent to disprove the Bible is ridiculous, the same way a scientist would look foolish attempting to prove that the Easter Bunny doesn't exist.

Response from :

This site is written by people of many religious persuasions, ranging from atheist to theist, Christian to non-Christian, dedicated to apathetic. It has no overall agenda that I have been made aware of apart from what is written on the site's home page:

This archive is a collection of articles and essays, most of which have appeared in talk.origins at one time or another. The primary reason for this archive's existence is to provide mainstream scientific responses to the many frequently asked questions (FAQs) and frequently rebutted assertions that appear in talk.origins.

The difficulty that those with a scientific education have with the claims of creationists lies not in their religious views, but in their campaign to have some religious belief taught as science, and their misrepresentation of the nature of evolutionary science and indeed of science as a whole.

In order to address these problems, we must attack the assumptions they make and correct the errors they try to uncritically (or dishonestly) spread in the name of their religious views. This is not the same as arguing that the Bible is not the revelation of God, or a good source of spiritual, moral or theological inspiration. It is the same as denying that the Bible makes a good source of scientific knowledge, anymore than it is a source of modern farming techniques, medicine or astronomy.

When fundamentalists try to impose the stories from Genesis and the images found in the poetic and prophetic parts of the Bible as literal and descriptive narratives that can overthrow the results of centuries of scientific research, and they are opposed by better informed people, that is not science infringing on the territory of faith but the exact reverse case.

In the metaphysics FAQ I argue that science and religion do not conflict so long as science restrains itself from making moral or theological judgements and religion restrains itself from making false factual claims about the processes and nature of the physical and empirical world. Some things are the proper domain of only one of these two endeavors.

Greetings! I am hoping someone can help me track down a PBS NOVA biography titled 'Stephen J Gould: This View of Life. If you have any information on how I can get a copy, please contact me at cackie@kcnet.com

Response from Chris Stassen, author of "The Age of the Earth":

To obtain a transcript of a Nova episode, go to Nova online (http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/). Click on "search" to find the episode (if you don't already know the title or air date). If the episode is not available online, then click on "store" to get information on ordering transcripts.

Transcripts are available online for episodes that aired after 1/7/1997. The episode you want, "Stephen Jay Gould: This View of Life," originally aired on 12/18/1984. Call HyperScribe at 1-800-ALL-NEWS to order a transcript.

When did granite batholiths form? Some of these are intruded into older sediments and have younger sediments on their eroded top surfaces.

Haven't heard about this yet.. what forms granite?? Is it micro organisms?? I need to know what makes it then I could help answer this.. As for the different sediments?? Where do you say younger and older? Are you listening to the Evolutionists who date the fossils in layers by the layers and date the layers by the fossils.. ... hmmm something wrong with this method.

Response from Chris Stassen, author of "The Age of the Earth":

Granite is an igneous rock, meaning that it is formed by the solidification of molten rock. It is distinguished from other igneous rocks by its chemical composition, and by a relatively large crystal size. Since a very slow cooling is necessary to produce large crystals, granite is always an intrusive formation. (This means that the cooling occurs underground. Molten rock which reaches the surface of the Earth will cool much too quickly to produce a similar texture.)

The identification of sediments as "younger than" or "older than" a particular intrusion has nothing to do with evolutionary assumptions. It is deduced from straightforward geological relationships which can be observed in the field. Consider the following example:

Younger sediments over older sediments. The older sediments are cut by granite intrusion.

The green sediments must be older than the granite (blue), as the granite cuts into them. We know they were present when the granite formed, because they will show signs of heating (decreasing in severity with distance from the intrusion). The pink sediments must be younger than the granite, as they sit on top of its eroded surface and show no signs of contact metamorphism.

The problem for "flood geology" is caused by the interplay of these three facts: (1) some sedimentary formations were in place (and lithified) before the intrusion of the molten rock from which the granite formed; (2) other sedimentary formations was not deposited until after the granite was cooled and solid; and (3) the granite must have cooled slowly. This necessarily inserts a long span of time between the two sedimentary events, which means that they cannot both be explained as part of a one-year-long flood.

Incidentally, you have been misled by whoever told you that rocks and fossils are dated circularly. The ordering of the geologic column was worked out by geologists who did not accept evolution, decades before Darwin published. It was done simply by noting the order in which the formations are deposited over one another in Europe. Distinctive fossils are used -- and were used by geologists who did not accept evolution -- to match up layers of the same age, not to invent a relative sequence.

I saw a fascinating short article on evolutionary theory on the www, and can not find it again. The title is "Racing the Red Queen". I would be grateful if anyone can tell me where to access it.

Response from , author of "Archaeopteryx FAQs":

The link you want is The Red Queen Principle.

"Racing the red queen" comes from a link to it from UCMP navigational guide page

If evolution is true, where are the people or animals between monkeys and men? I have read about several and heard of several so called cavemen but all have been proven a hoax. where is the link?

Response from Jim Foley, author of "Fossil Hominids FAQ":

If you read the Fossil Hominids pages in the archive, you will find that most hominid fossils have not been proven to be hoaxes. Grab any anthropology textbook to verify this for yourself.

Why do so many people continue to believe in evolution, when in fact Darwin, the founder of the modern theory of evolution, said that it was incorrect shortly before he died?

Response from Jim Foley:

Two reasons. One is that Darwin never said any such thing (see The Lady Hope FAQ). Even creationists who have investigated this story have found no evidence for it, and the Institute for Creation Research sells a booklet debunking this legend. Two is that even if Darwin had said it, it wouldn't make it so. Science is not based on the authority of any one person, no matter how prominent that person is.

Humans are unique organisms. Natural selection doesn't act on human populations in the classical Darwinian sense due to the culturally and technological developments that buffers the effects of natural selection. My question, which may be circular reasoning is, does natural selection favor traits that buffer its effects?

Response from :

It is debatable whether humans are indeed buffered from the effects of natural selection. Human gene frequencies are just as affected by environmental influences as any other large mammal or else the gene for sickle cell anemia would not be maintained at the Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium in parts of Africa and elsewhere.

Moreover, selection operates at timescales of 103 generations. At an average human generation time of 30 years, that's 30,000 years. We have been influencing 'wild' gene frequencies with medicine and 'civilisation' for only about 5000 to 8000 years, and in a wide and divergent range of environments. Selection has not had time to show up yet.

A second problem lies in whether every trait must be an adaptation - that is, whether natural selection is responsible for all human features.

Some are pleiotropic - that is, they hitchike on genes that are adaptive. The classic example is that of the human chin. Selection for certain teeth and developmental duration results in a chin, but it isn't selected for. It is entirely possible that many cognitive abilities are the result of pleiotropy for social skills, or visual acuity, etc. This argument is put by the so-called evolutionary psychology movement.

Others are the result of drift - random sampling that permits minority traits to become dominant in a small isolated population that may found a new species.

Still others can be the result of sexual selection, and a good number of so-called 'racial' differences in humans are due to this biasing of gene replication by mate choice.

So I don't think that humans are exempt from selection but even if they were, it does not follow that selection has resulted in its own demise.

The argument that Evolution is a fact in the way that gravity is a fact is incorrect because you are using reasoning without proof. Yes, gravity is a fact for the reason that if you drop an apple it will fall. This is evidence, but to say that evolution is a fact you would also need this same kind of proof, which will not be found.

Daniel Mariscal

Response from :

This analogy of evolution to gravity is a common one, and unfortunately, prone to misunderstandings. Not the least of which is fueled by the common belief that gravity is as simple as 'drop an apple and it will fall'. This is a truth, but, despite the fact that this analogy forms the near sum total knowledge of the layman about gravity, it is a very small fact, and a miniscule brick in the edifice that is the theory of gravity. I would compare the 'apple falling' fact of gravity to the 'characteristics are inheired discretely from parents' fact of evolution. That is, they are both vital but simple facts, both fundamental to their respective theory, and both very early additions to the theory. But, we know that the description, 'an apple will fall', is a simplification of much more complex interactions of matter. In fact, the apple does not really fall, in an absolute sense, but the mutual gravitational attraction of the apple and the earth bring them together. As we go up the scale of examples, like missile trajectories, powered flight, orbiting satellites, moons, planets, stars, the questions about falling, and the seemingly simple analogy of 'an apple falls' takes on much deeper levels of complexity. Take only three planetary masses and set them in motion around each other, and now try to apply the 'apple falls' solution. You can't, or at best, you can say that all three masses are falling towards each other, but now their momentum is, for the moment, preventing them from colliding. However, despite the fact that this is almost as simple a gravitational system as one can imagine, no one can predict the future of the this system with confidence. Will they orbit each other indefinitely, or will they collide, or will they eventually separate and go their separate ways? Only three objects, and all of human knowledge of gravity is incapable of answering these simple questions. And this is still only in the realm of Newtonion gravity. Now take a solar mass, and a planetary mass the size of and orbit of Mercury, and another level of complexity is entered, because not only does this planet 'fall' towards its sun in a strictly Newtonian fashion, but something else, some strange phenomenon of gravitational force drags the planet just a little as if in the wake of this sun's rotation. This relativistic effect of gravity is far from the effect of 'an apple falls', and we still haven't begun to explore the truly exotic realms of gravity, with objects so massive that photons are bent into orbiting them, that the gravity is so intense that the forces of physics that have up to the present keep the matter intact are now incapable of prevent their ultimate collapse to a singularity, a point of infinite gravity and zero dimension, where matter/anti-matter is ripped out of nothing and again annihilated, and where the dimensions of time and space are transformed. Add to this massive object rotation and electric charge, and it becomes an object out of science fiction, with behaviours so exotic that it makes the common mind reel with the implications.

So far are we from the analogy of 'an apple falls', and yet we are still within the realms of what little we know about gravity. There exists yet unknown numbers of unexplored territories within the theory of gravity, not the least of which is simple a description of force itself, and how, within the realm of the basic forces of the universe, it actually works.

'An apple falls' can barely be compared to this extraordinary mystery which we call gravity. And yet this same simple analogy is used time and again to try to discredit the theory of evolution, because it somehow implies that gravity is a simple fact, and evolution is not. And this is simply not true. Evolution has many, many levels of complexity, that unfold before our investigations like so many layers of an onion peel. There are many unexplored and unresolved layers, but, like gravity, there are also many resolved facts, the results of investigations that have established the foundations of the theory. Indisputable bits and pieces that when put together, point to the conclusion that is the theory of evolution.

Rob Derrick

The Hypothesis of evolution is patently absurd.Now I can understand why a child molester,abortionist,marxist, homosexual or any other sundry degenerate would opt for evolutionary thought ie to extricate him/herself from accountability.Take Steven J Gould for example here is a Marxist-Leninist who every time he opens his mouth the media trip over each other to poke a mike in his face. I believe that 80% of North Americans believe in God yet this low grade hypothesis is foisted upon us from pre-school on Now in your case the tax dollars are probably your bread and butter and you best not preach any other Gospel.I attended one debate on the subject, the proponent for evolution refused to answer the questions and resorted instead to reductionism and ridicule. We are now paying dearly for the fruits of evolutionary thought,where by life is meaningless (atoms in motion) The fool hath said in his heart.......

Why don't you give creationists a chance to debate these topics, rather than putting them in print where your "feedback" is the only method of response. Also, in response to "where did the water come from" in your argument about the Genesis flood- are you guys really that stupid? Every now and then we see a little something called "rain." Have fun in hell, Eric Kautzi

Eric Kautzi

Response from , author of "Creation Science and the Earth's Magnetic Field":

First, there seems to be some confusion about what this feedback is all about. This is not a debate forum, and it is not intended to be a debate forum. But there most certainly is a debate forum available, and the creationists certainly do make use of it. The debate forum is the talk.origins newsgroup. We give creationists there every opportunity to debate these topics, and debate them they do. The feedback pages are supposed to represent an opportunity for you, the reader, to offer an opinion as the the contents or layout of the pages. Many people do use these pages to ask questions about evolution/creation, or to offer opinions on the relevance of either. However, the most efficient way to do that is to go to the talk.origins newsgroup, where you will get more answers, and get them quicker, and actually engage in almost-real-time dialog.

As for the 'stupid' wisecrack, this is not the way to win friends and/or influence people. Unless you want to invoke a unique divine rain, very much unlike any natural rain ever seen, you could never supply all of the water required for the flood by any kind of rain; there is no place for the rain to come from unless it comes straight from God's fingertips. If you think there is a natural explanation, then offer it up to the talk.origins newsgroup and see if you can back it up.

After skimming the site, I have not seen any evidence that is contrary to evolution. Why is this? Does evolution answer all biological questions? If it doesn't, then this is not treating the subject scientifically, and an immature paradigm is treated as perfection. It is not science to treat -theories- (scientific, not public) as laws.

Response from :

The answer to this question rests on defining exactly what you mean by the term 'evolution".

If you mean "is the theory that all living things descended from earlier and different living things [the theory of common descent and the theory of descent with modification - simple evolution] accepted by all biologists as accounting for the diversity of life?", then the answer is 'yes". Biology as a discipline rests on this view of life. There is no evidence that life arose in any other way (and note that I used the word 'evidence' in the scientific sense].

If you mean "is the theory proposed by Darwin accepted by all biologists?" then the answer is "mostly". Naturalists, ecologists, anatomists, geneticists, and molecular biologists - when they think about it - almost always accept that Darwinian theory, or at least some modern version of it, is true in what it tries to achieve: explanation of why living things are the way they are.

But this is not the whole story. Darwinian theory was around for 40 years before a workable theory of heredity appeared, and then another 30 years passed before the two were reconciled. It has been modified by the arrival of molecular genetics and the discovery of DNA, and is being expanded by other disciplines. Darwinian theories are not sufficient to explain all facets of life, and few if any have ever claimed that they were.

An example is the 'mechanism' of evolution that Darwin and Wallace proposed: natural selection. Most biologists would accept that selection is not the sole or in cases of speciation the most powerful process of evolution. This is even now hard debated. One major 'force' of evolution is genetic drift, which is understood not by Darwinism but by population genetics, which is now part of the 'synthesis' that we have today.

Quantum mechanics fails to explain why my city is so wet during July to September. By the logic implicit in your question, quantum mechanics is an immature 'paradigm' (a word which, whenever I read it in the context of science, makes me want to reach for my pistol...) for it cannot explain every physical question, such as that of meteorology. That is obviously wrong. So is the view that evolutionary science must have an explanation for all biological issues.

Furthermore, evolutionary science is not perfect (you heard it here first). Why? Because it is a science, and not a philosophy or religion. Science learns; it makes mistakes, it goes down false alleys and retreats until it can progress again. It can be mature, though, for all of that. Some of the disputes and vaguenesses in physics, for example are the result of its maturity, not a pointer to its immaturity. Evolutionary science is in fact a very mature theoretical matrix, and it is highly unlikely to be overturned in the near future.

This site lacks information that counts against the process of evolution because there isn't any to present. There are all sorts of claims made by antievolutionists but when asked to put up or shut up, they generally change the subject. Of the very few publications that challenge that evolution has happened, none have been to my knowledge peer reviewed, which is the validation procedure of science.

Although I'm not a creationist, your are very good at skirting the issue that there are apparent fallacies to evolution. Even if all the evidence is leaning toward one side of argument, if both sides aren't presented equally then it's not worth listening to.

matt green

Response from , author of "Punctuated Equilibria":

Much of the FAQ archive is devoted to demonstrating that specific claims of fallacies in evolutionary mechanism theories really boil down to simple ignorance of either the evidence or the theories which are being critiqued. I am uncertain in what sense "skirting the issue" is used, since so many SciCre and TAE assertions are directly referenced and rebutted. If you have specific examples which you feel have not been addressed in the archive, please present them in discussion on the talk.origins newsgroup.

The list of anti-evolution sites maintained at the FAQ archive is one of the most extensive that can be found anywhere. We don't attempt to argue the anti-evolution position, but rather let those proponents have their say in their own way at their own sites.

I would assert that how well a position corresponds with reality does have a bearing in the presentation of that position. Giving equal credence to positions that differ drastically in their fit to the evidence does not serve any purpose but obfuscation.

I find your contridicting of creationism very aitheistly-stated. I, personally, find creationism to be true, while all of you "Evolutionists" and supposed "Scientists" base your theory upon animal bones and teeth!! May God forgive you lost souls.

I.M.Urked

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