Feedback for May 1998

 Feedback Letter Comment: Dr. Carl Sagan, an avowed and famous evolutionist, once calculated the probability of man evolving (via macroevolutiuon/abiogenesis) at 1 chance in 10 to the 2 billionth power. Likewise, Muncaster (1997) calculated the probability of an evolutionary start of mankind by calculating the probability of randomly producing a single living cell at 1 chance in 10 to the 100 billionth power. Since Borel's Single Law of Chance states that beyond 1 chance in 10 to the 50th power events never occur, I'd say that both Sagan and Muncaster proved the chance of life via evolution to be zero. The only thing that seems to keep evolving is some different definition of the word "evolution." PLAY THE EVOLUTIONIST CIRCULAR REASONING GAME: The rules are simple. Start with an original assumption, liberally add more assumptions, introduce an evolutionary psuedo-scientific opinion, add a flawed "scientific dating system" and end the game (a winner every time) concluding that the original assumption is now a "scientific fact"!! Response From: Chris Stassen Author of: Isochron Dating Response: The first paragraph was already addressed in the March '98 feeback. (In fact, it is almost word-for-word identical to the paragraph entered above. I wonder what source these two folks were copying from.) The fallacy of the argument is exposed by the following example: the odds against any particular ordering of a deck of cards are one in 52 factorial (about 1068). Since shuffling the deck is required to produce one of those orderings, and since the probability of any given ordering is less than one in 1050... do you argue that it is not possible to shuffle a deck of cards? However, my main reason for replying is to discuss the second paragraph. It is unfortunate that the writer chose to only make vague allegations about "flawed scientific dating systems." It would be nice if someone would actually bother to show where they are sufficiently flawed to dismiss all of their results. Unfortunately, the only attempts that we ever see here (e.g., the first letter in the April '97 feedback) are easily demonstrated to be entirely false.
 Feedback Letter From: Giselle Walker Our apologies, but you must have JavaScript enabled to view author contact information. Comment: I was interested to see in the "serial plagiarism" refutation about Darwin that you don't mention John Langdon-Brooks' ideas on which of Darwin or Wallace came up with the tree simile and diagram for lineage patterns, and the section of Darwin's Principle of Divergence that deals with Extinction of intermediate forms. Does anyone out there find Langdon-Brooks' thesis convincing? Or is everyone lulled back into a sense of security by reading Darwin's 1842 sketch and 1844 essay? Does it matter anyway? Response From: John Wilkins Our apologies, but you must have JavaScript enabled to view author contact information. Author of: Darwin's precursors and influences Response: I am entirely unfamiliar with Langdon-Brooks or his thesis - can you provide more information? Robert J Richards argues, I think convincingly, that the divergent tree simile that Darwin uses was derived from Karl von Baer, in translation, giving a good reference to Darwin's notebooks and a diagram used by one of von Baer's interpreters. Does it matter? Yes and no. Darwin was influenced by many people in the development of his theoretical views, which is to be expected. For example, he often cites Alphonse de Candolle who is influential in uncited views on the nature of species and classification. So it is interesting to see what the etiology of Darwin's views are as a matter of historical research, just as it is to find possible influences on Jesus from the Essenes or the Pharisees. Does it affect the value of Darwin's theory? Not in itself. Once Darwin and Wallace were in contact in the open about evolution, they mutually influenced each other, sometimes for the better, sometimes not. Wallace's rejection of sexual selection was, in my opinion, a mistake. Wallace's contributions over mimesis were great advances. But why those views now prevail have nothing to do with who originated them (which I am sure you are not suggesting anyway). Darwin clearly understood the importance of extinction long before Wallace put pen to paper, and what the impact that had on the reality and fixity of species. At least, that is my opinion.
 Feedback Letter From: Frank J. Iaconianni Our apologies, but you must have JavaScript enabled to view author contact information. Comment: Did you know that "evilutionist" Ybloc Sirhc is a member of the Science Cancer Cult, headed by Drab J. Nella. Scientists created cancer when they invented chemicals. That's why you never heard of anyone dying of cancer until after Scientists came along. SCC reportedly has the cure for cancer, an all-natural herb recipe, which was stolen from a well-known Creationist when he was wrongly jailed for his alleged role in a scandal involving a former US President. SCC members will cure themselves after they eliminate everyone else. Nella's manifesto can be found in the April 22,1996 issue of "Chemical and Engineering News." Seriously, this is an excellent site. I am a PhD Chemist who has been fascinated with all areas of science for as long as I can remember (40+ years), and with evolution for most of that time. I am just now learning the language of evolution, and I am not ashamed to admit that I am learning a lot. The theories explaining evolution, speciation and abiogenesis simply "make sense." Never have they interfered with my religious beliefs, and in fact they reinforce them. Thanks for adding to that.
 Feedback Letter From: Don H. Our apologies, but you must have JavaScript enabled to view author contact information. Comment: I have run across many statements to the effect that creationism is not scientific because no predictions can be made from the theory. This is total bunk. Therefore I put together a long post about it then decided instead to make a website page from it. I have submitted the link to the link site. Feel free to read it and comment. For once, however, try to have an open mind. It is titled "Science and Creation". Mahalo Don Response From: Kenneth Fair Our apologies, but you must have JavaScript enabled to view author contact information. Response: Thanks for your submission! The Talk.Origins Archive is always looking for new web links; if anyone else wishes to submit one, please use the form on the bottom of the Other Links page. If you would like to discuss or debate the issues you discuss on your site, please join the discussion in the talk.origins newsgroup. The "Science and Creation" page should appear in our list of other links shortly. As always, the Archive encourages its readers to check our information against that presented by other web sites and most importantly, against the primary scientific literature and books referenced in most of the FAQs and in our extensive bibliography.
 Feedback Letter From: Hernán Toro Our apologies, but you must have JavaScript enabled to view author contact information. Comment: Hello! I would like to know where can I find more about the experiment pointed in the FAQ about transitional fossils. There we find: "[Note: a classic study of chicken embryos showed that chicken bills can be induced to develop teeth, indicating that chickens (and perhaps other modern birds) still retain the genes for making teeth. Also note that molecular data shows that crocodiles are birds' closest living relatives.] " It is not the first time I read about it, but I have been unable to locate the info. If you can help me, I will be eternally grateful. Hernán Toro. Response From: Richard Trott Our apologies, but you must have JavaScript enabled to view author contact information. Response: Check the first reference at Teeth in the Bibliography.
 Feedback Letter From: J. Stanley Wilkinson Our apologies, but you must have JavaScript enabled to view author contact information. Comment: I have read most of Henry M. Morris books and a number of other pieces pro and con. I remember one reading about an internation conference of scientist in at which a number of papers were presented regarding origins. A Russian scientist was quoted as saying that we must face the fact that however far back science may think it has pushed the frontiers of its knowlege of origins, it is at a certain point up against an impenetrable wall. Though a mere layman, I believe that there is much speculation mixed with what today is presented as fact regarding the development of various species on the planet. I conclude by asking why so many make so much effort to try to unravel the past when it can make no difference now, except possibly philosophically? Response From: Kenneth Fair Our apologies, but you must have JavaScript enabled to view author contact information. Response: Perhaps it is all speculation, but if so, it is just as speculative as your assumption that you were alive yesterday and that you weren't just created fully formed with memories implanted in your head of the previous days of your life. Yet I'd be willing to be that you don't sit around worrying about whether you did actually exist or not. However, it is not speculation in the everyday sense of the word. What we know about the past isn't just a guess; it is confirmed by existing evidence. That is what science is all about: piecing together existing evidence, coming up with new ideas, and then finding additional evidence that supports or rejects those ideas. If you think what scientists say about the origins of the world, life, and humanity are mere speculation, then perhaps you aren't familiar enough with the evidence. (To be fair, not many of us are.) And why does it make a difference to learn about the past? Because the past tells us about the present and the future. I leave you with three quotations: What's past is prologue. -- William Shakespeare, The Tempest To be ignorant of what occurred before you were born is to remain a child. For what is the worth of human life, unless it is to be woven into the life of our ancestors by the records of history? -- Cicero, Orator Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. -- George Santayana, The Life of Reason
 Feedback Letter From: Rob Brayton Our apologies, but you must have JavaScript enabled to view author contact information. Comment: I enjoyed reading your article on Dinosaur Tracks in Coal. Although I am not a geologist, it seems reasonable to accept that the dinosaur footprints in the Utah coal as described by Balsley were made during a localized flood. However, this does not disprove the possibility of the world-wide flood theory held by creationists. While most creationists believe in a single global flood, I have not heard any claims that it was the very first flood. I am not aware of any evidence against the possibility of localized floods during the antediluvian period. What are your thoughts? Response From: Kenneth Fair Our apologies, but you must have JavaScript enabled to view author contact information. Response: Perhaps you should check out our Flood Geology FAQs, especially the Problems with a Global Flood FAQ. While localized floods are common and expected, there is no coherent geological evidence to suggest a global flood took place. On the contrary, there is a great deal of evidence against such a possibility.
 Feedback Letter From: Bruce R. Booker Our apologies, but you must have JavaScript enabled to view author contact information. Comment: I have a question. Just yesterday I was listening to the news relating to El Nino and discovered that scientists have stated that the earth slowed down by 60 millionths of a second (I believe) due to the El Nino effect. Later in the report it said that the La Nina effect which follows will speed the earth back up again. Since evolutionists postulate the earth with billions and billions of years in the making, evidently the earth through that time has been slowing down and speeding up through the millenia. My question is: According to the laws of physics, wouldn't the earth be overall slowing down? If so, billions of years ago when life first started, wouldn't the earth be spinning too fast to produce life? Lastly, if the earth slows down and speeds up, should not there be some external force acting upon the earth to keep its speed constant enough to support life as we know it? Response From: Tim Thompson Our apologies, but you must have JavaScript enabled to view author contact information. Author of: Creation Science and the Earth's Magnetic Field Response: Yes the earth is overall slowing down. About 900,000,000 years ago the length of day would be about 18.9 hours, and by about 620,000,000 years ago, the day was about 21.9 hours [1,2]. But what constitute's "spinning too fast to produce life"? Even if the length of day, at the proposed epoch of abiogenesis, was as short as 8 hours, or 5 hours, is that "too fast to produce life"? How would one decide? The earth slows down overall bacause of tidal drag produced by the moon. If the moon were not there, the earth would be spinning much faster now than it is. The external force is not required to "keep the earth spinning", which it would do quite well by itself. The external force (lunar tides) is what serves to slow the earth down. One might argue that because of the moon, the earth spins slow enough to support life, rather than fast enough. But I doubt that anyone can actually quantify what is "slow enough" or "fast enough" anyway. The small scale slowing such as you see with El-Nino is common and typical. The earth's rotation rate (expressed as a precise length of day) varies at the millisecond level on a daily basis, and also varies strongly (at the several millisecond level) with season as the earth exchanges momentum with trade winds in the atmosphere. [1] "Neoproterozoic Earth-Moon Dynamics - Rework of the 900 MA Big Cottonwood Canyon Tidal Laminae" C.P. Sonett & M.A. Chan Geophysical Research Letters 25(4): 539-542 (1998 Feb 15) [2] "Precambrian Length of Day and the Validity of Tidal Rhythmite Paleotidal Values" G.E. Williams Geophysical Research Letters 24(4): 421-424 (1997 Feb 15) Also see the classical textbook by Kurt Lambeck, "The Earth's Variable Rotation: Its Geophysical Causes and Consequences", Cambridge University Press, 1980 (especially chapter 11, "Paleorotation").
 Feedback Letter From: Douglas L. Smith Our apologies, but you must have JavaScript enabled to view author contact information. Comment: Thanks for the articles on Michael Behe. I have been in combat with Creationists, and they constantly throw up Behe in my face as the one true scientist that exists today. If you know where I could get more I would appreciate it very much. Also, can you point me in the direction of critical comments about Phillip Johnson's "work"? He seems to have taken on the mantle of the cause to recuse God from those wicked and evil scientists who support that evil concept of Evolution. Again, thanks and keep 'em comin'. Response From: Kenneth Fair Our apologies, but you must have JavaScript enabled to view author contact information. Response: A critique of the works of Phillip Johnson, including reviews of Darwin on Trial and links to his homepage, can be found in Critiques of Anti-Evolutionist Phillip Johnson's Views.
 Feedback Letter From: Traveler Our apologies, but you must have JavaScript enabled to view author contact information. Comment: I've heard, from time to time, people claim that a certain action is bad, or harmful, or otherwise wrong because it violates natural selection. I've also heard people praising nature for an evolutionary process that makes the world "better". Isn't it misguided to draw a view of morality based on just the way things are? As a case in point, remember in Jurassic Park where John Hammond defends their work by using the example of condors (being endangered), and Ian Malcolm says it's different because dinosaurs were selected against whereas condors are endangered due to humanity's actions? If an asteroid came tomorrow and wiped out all life on Earth, well, that's evolution, isn't it? It must be for the better! What are your thoughts on this? Response From: Richard Trott Our apologies, but you must have JavaScript enabled to view author contact information. Response: Yes, it is very misguided to draw a view of morality based on the assumption that "is" or "does" means "should." The argument that an asteroid hitting Earth must be a "good" thing because it's natural, or "that's evolution," is a non sequitur. Just because something will happen without intervention from mankind does not make it inherently good (or bad). Valid evaluations of "right" and "wrong" are unlikely to come from science (or at least not from science alone). They are much more likely to come from elsewhere, such as philosophy and theology.
 Feedback Letter From: Jason Orendorff Our apologies, but you must have JavaScript enabled to view author contact information. Comment: Keith Robison's article about Behe's "Darwin's Black Box" is a weak article. It's too nit-picky and it avoids Behe's strongest points. It starts with Behe's mousetrap example. Robison cleverly points out that a mousetrap without a base can be made functional. Okay. Maybe a mousetrap isn't irreducably complex, but Behe's real point with the example is that a mousetrap couldn't have evolved, and Robinson doesn't address this. (From my layman's perspective it appears the mousetrap is an acceptable example.) Next, Robison addresses pseudogenes. He blockquotes Behe, who seems to be dismissing the pseudogene argument against intelligent design of life. Behe's dismissal is clearly inadequate. He tries to turn Miller's critique aside by bringing up what he sees as a(nother) failure of conventional science: its (perceived) failure to explain the process of DNA replication. This rhetorical trick deserves to be waylaid, and after that, an explanation of evolutionary takes on the development of DNA is in order. Instead, Robison focuses on one sentence out of the paragraph and describes the introduction of tandem duplication. The sections on cascades and antibodies are good, and the section concerning the Krebs cycle is educational, too. But in all, Robison's patronizing attitude is not justified by the strength of his arguments.
 Feedback Letter From: Fredrik Bendz Our apologies, but you must have JavaScript enabled to view author contact information. Comment: Is the theory of Punctuated Equillibrium unfalsifiable and thus unscientific? /Fredrik Bendz, Uppsala, Sweden Response From: John Wilkins Our apologies, but you must have JavaScript enabled to view author contact information. Response: I don't believe so. Evidence of patterns in the paleontological record are often conjectural because information is lost over time and preservation is at best patchy, but there are documented cases of morphology remaining static for long periods and if one picks well-preserved features like the number of eyes on trilobites (which was Eldredge's case study) then you can validate or invalidate punctuated equilibrium like any hypothesis. Global hypotheses are hard to test, but not impossible.
 Feedback Letter From: Eric Our apologies, but you must have JavaScript enabled to view author contact information. Comment: I have a question that is giving me a little trouble, but perhaps someone else may be able to help me out with it. Of course, you are probably familiar with the epiglottis, the flap of cartilage that covers the windpipe when a person swallows food. My question is this: if humans evolved, and the tissues and organs or structures inside them evolved, what did the first humans or "humanoids" do before this structure evolved in them? It seems to me that they would all have died off because of 1.) Choking due to the food entering the windpipe/lungs, or 2.) Inability to ingest nutrients because of #1. I would welcome some ans- wers. Thank you. Response From: Chris Stassen Author of: The Age of the Earth Response: Humans didn't have to evolve an epiglottis; we inherited it because it is a feature common to all mammals. (For example here is a slightly gross picture of a dissected cat with the epiglottis exposed and labeled.) There are animals (e.g., birds) that don't have an epiglottis, so there must be some way to survive without one. I think the problem which bothers you rests with your (implied) assumption that inability to live without an epiglottis would probably predate the epiglottis itself. I would suspect the reverse to be true.
 Feedback Letter From: Matt Quinn Our apologies, but you must have JavaScript enabled to view author contact information. Comment: Jerry A. Coyne states that, "Behe's theory of biochemical complexity is not scientific because it is untestable: there is no observation or experiment that could conceivably refute it." That is also true of the opposite of Dr. Behe's views at this time. The absolute most anyone can do at present is infer that evolution of living matter from non-living matter occurred. Why the bitter hostility from either side, then? Some evolutionists on this site call creationist views "screed"; some creationists pour contempt on evolutionists as blind Godless fools. The truth of the matter is that both sides use evidence (of vastly differing types/quality sometimes), and the gaps are filled in with faith. Response From: the editor Our apologies, but you must have JavaScript enabled to view author contact information. Response: Your thesis that neither common descent nor "intelligent design theory" is falsifiable is only half correct. The reason that intelligent design theory is unfalsifiable is because an omnipotent, intelligent designer can choose to build something in any manner it deems appropriate. For instance, it could choose to design plants and animals with similar DNA sequences. Or it could just as easily choose to do the exact opposite: create plants and animals with completely unique DNA sequences. That's the problem with an omnipotent designer -- any fact imaginable can be called evidence for its existence. Evolution, on the other hand, is not so easily concluded. The hierarchy of organisms determined by examining the genes of living things, in conjuction with persuasive evidence from other fields like paleontology and comparative anatomy, is conclusive evidence that all living things descended from a common ancestor. Evolution would be falsified if there were no similarities in the genetic makeups of living organisms. Can the same be said for "intelligent design"?
 Feedback Letter From: Lewis S. Our apologies, but you must have JavaScript enabled to view author contact information. Comment: I truly believe that the attempts by "scientists" to discredit Cutting edge researchers such as Graham Hancock, Robert Buval, and the Flem-aths will eventually fail. Establishment "science" has become a psuedo-science. Hancock and company have burst the bubble of the comfortable little theories that keep you all warm at night. Too bad. Your science has become a "religion" in itself, unable to change its worn out paradigms. Galileo was treated this way by the Church "scientiists" of his day. I challenge all of you to actually "read" Fingerprints of the Gods, by Graham Hancock. It is an incredible book, thoroughly researched. After reading it, I think you will conclude the our establishment science has failed us miserably. Cheers.
 Feedback Letter From: Don Hammond Our apologies, but you must have JavaScript enabled to view author contact information. Comment: I must say, for a site alledgedly trying to bring both sides of the origins debate, it is amazingly lopsided. Not in evidence but in the snide comments of the keepers of this site. I was looking around and went to the debate section and found that the debate discriptions never put the evolutionist in a bad light but did, on many occasions, put the creationist in a bad light. Why is this? Maybe because this is actually an evolutionist site? No problem. Please state that and stop lieing to the public. Then everyone coming in will know what to expect. To be specific, take a look at the conferences, read the discriptions. It is very obvious you are laughing at the creationists but not at the evolutionists. Response From: the editor Our apologies, but you must have JavaScript enabled to view author contact information. Response: I recommend visiting the archive's home page, where it very clearly states that "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." If that's not clear enough, perhaps you should also visit the archive's welcome page, where readers are told: The Talk.Origins Archive exists to provide mainstream scientific responses to the frequently asked questions and frequently rebutted assertions that appear in talk.origins. The archive's policy is that readers should be given easy access to alternative views, but those who espouse alternative views should speak for themselves. Hence, the archive supplies links to relevant creationist web sites within many of its articles. It also maintains a frequently updated and extensive list of creationist and catastrophist web sites so that readers may familiarize themselves with anti-evolutionary perspectives on scientific issues.
 Feedback Letter From: Ryu, Seong Won Our apologies, but you must have JavaScript enabled to view author contact information. Comment: Can I get permission to translate and put an article from this archive on another BBS? I would like to put some articles on this archive on the hitel Korean BBS, so here I ask permission. And thanks for the fine work of all the authors on this archive. Response From: Kenneth Fair Our apologies, but you must have JavaScript enabled to view author contact information. Response: You came to the feedback page from the Age of the Earth FAQs section so I assume that you wished to translate one or more of those FAQs. Here are the relevant authors and their contact addresses: Chris Stassen: : Steven H. Schimmrich Our apologies, but you must have JavaScript enabled to view author contact information. Geochronology according to John Woodmorappe : Robert P.J. Day Our apologies, but you must have JavaScript enabled to view author contact information. The Decay of c-decay : Tim Thompson Our apologies, but you must have JavaScript enabled to view author contact information. : John Brawley Our apologies, but you must have JavaScript enabled to view author contact information. : Matt Brinkman Our apologies, but you must have JavaScript enabled to view author contact information. Hope that helps.
 Feedback Letter From: Alden Streeter Our apologies, but you must have JavaScript enabled to view author contact information. Comment: I just got done reading the " rebuttal" article to your Attributing False Attributes to Thermodynamics article on the talk.science (?) web page, and it sounds a lot more scientific than yours, so to the uneducated lay person I believe it would sound that you are losing the argument here. [The talk.science site Mr. Streeter mentions no longer exists. True.Origins has another rebuttal to this Archive's thermodynamics materials.] I myself am not a physicist or chemist (I don't know if you are), but I had a few college level physics and chemistry courses on the way to my Computer Science degree (I even majored in biology for a short time), so can I make a few suggestions as to how you can present your point more effectively? Maybe actually state the second law verbatim from a physics book. Be sure to especially point out its requisite closed system. The talk.science article completely ignores this, but you barely mention it in yours. If you did, the talk.science guy would have to throw out his entire article. Have a few examples of how biological systems locally decrease their entropy by actively increasing the entropy of the closed system of the world around them, or using free energy (i.e. sunlight) produced by an increase in entropy elsewhere in the system. Your second comment about "there is no need to postulate an energy conversion mechanism" is unconvincing because you can postulate an energy conversion mechanism: Seeds grow into trees be utilizing free energy in the system produced through nuclear fusion in the sun (resulting in increased entropy there) to allow biochemical reactions that remove the free energy from the system to allow their growth to locally decrease their entropy. Eggs develop into chicks by utilizing energy from the breakdown and metabolism of the material in the egg yolk. The whole reason it is there is to provide this energy (along with material to make the chick). The crystalline salts are formed because the water that the salts were dissolved in was removed from the system through the action of free energy in the system (sunlight again or heat) causing evaporation. Also if you apply the equations of entropy, crystals receive their increased order by minimizing their energy state. In if you read some of the lastest articles in biochemistry, a related mechanism is used to produce structures with proteins. Snowflakes - again the reduced energy (heat loss resulting in freezing) of crystals. Here is a quote from a message I sent to the talk.science guy on this subject that you may find amusing: "Just try to picture of the mountain of disordered sewage that has been produced by your own personal biological entropy reducing machine by breaking down the nicely ordered food you have eaten your whole life, and you can easily realize how biological systems easily work within the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics." In light of my previous statements in point #3 above, you can better state comment number four, because at the biochemical level, human thought can be described mathematically (although it would be very complex!) Cheers! Response From: Kenneth Fair Our apologies, but you must have JavaScript enabled to view author contact information. Response: The Second Law of Thermodynamics has no requirement that a system be closed; it operates for all thermodynamic systems. Frank Steiger does quote the Second Law of Thermodynamics in The Second Law of Thermodynamics, Evolution, and Probability FAQ; it is dS = q/T, where dS is the change in entropy of the system, q is the amount of heat absorbed by the system, and T is the absolute temperature of the system. There are other equivalent formulations of the Second Law useful in different physical contexts, but it is only these mathematical formulas that are the Second Law. Statements about "order" and "disorder" are consequences of that Law as applied to specific systems. One consequence of the Second Law is that the overall entropy of a closed thermodynamic system cannot increase. A "closed" system is one that exchanges no heat with its surroundings. Entropy can decrease on the surface of the Earth for two reasons: The Earth is not a closed thermodynamic system. Energy is constantly being received in the form of sunlight and being radiated away from the planet. So the overall entropy of the Earth can change. Even if the Earth were a closed system, this would only mean that the overall entropy of the Earth could not decrease. That would not prevent particular parts of the Earth (say, individual creatures) from decreasing their entropy at the cost of increasing the entropy of other parts of the Earth. The point is that the Laws of Thermodynamics operate without regard to any "energy conversion mechanism." That's part of the power of the science of thermodynamics; scientists and engineers can make calculations about end results without having to examine the path taken to reach those results. It's not that one can't come up with an "energy conversion mechanism" --in the case of evolution, biochemistry and natural selection fit the bill--it's that thermodynamics does not require it to perform calculations. Anyone who says that an "energy conversion mechanism" is necessary to do thermodynamics is using an invented thermodynamics, not the one used by science and engineering.
 Feedback Letter From: Bill Boyett Our apologies, but you must have JavaScript enabled to view author contact information. Comment: I was wondering how it can be believed that the age of the universe in ten thousand years old when we have seen galaxies ten billion light years away? Light travels at a fixed speed, so that light would be ten billion years old. How could the universe be ten thousand years old? Response From: Kenneth Fair Our apologies, but you must have JavaScript enabled to view author contact information. Response: Some creationists have responded to this argument by saying that God created all of the photons of light just far enough away so that the light is just now reaching us. This certainly could be the case; there's no way to tell if we are observing objects that are ten million light years away or if all of our observations are a stupendous hoax created by a Trickster God just to fool us. I personally refuse to accept that God would go to such lengths to deceive us; I leave it to the reader to decide whether he or she wishes to accept such a deity.
 Feedback Letter From: Eddie Rios Our apologies, but you must have JavaScript enabled to view author contact information. Comment: Hello, everybody! I am a student at the University of Texas at Austin studying biochemistry. I also have an odd problem - there is a fundamentalist preacher who comes to the campus, sets up his table and waits for people to talk to him. In any case, this man makes the following assertions about evolution: The finches Darwin found on the Galápagos Islands exhibited changes and adaptation to the varied environments in that region but they were still finches, and the changes do not equal macroevolution. That a scientific fact must be observable, testable, repeatable and falsifiable, and that evolution is none of these things. That the Cambrian Explosion disproves evolution because many modern organisms appeared fully formed and, allegedly, without ancestry. Furthermore, this preacher challenges me to show him where he is wrong and to show where it is written down. I would appreciate any help you could give me in this matter. Thanks, Response From: Kenneth Fair Our apologies, but you must have JavaScript enabled to view author contact information. Response: Evolution does not expect a finch to give birth to goat, or a lizard, or even a magpie. If such a thing occurred, it would be evidence against evolution, not for it. What evolution does say is that we expect to see populations of organisms diverging, given reproductive or other isolation. An engaging account of current research on Darwin's finches and what they say about evolution can be found in the Pulitzer prize-winning book The Beak of the Finch by Jonathan Weiner, Random House, 1994, ISBN 0-679-40003-6. As for "macroevolution" (see the Macroevolution FAQ), in this context it basically means speciation, which we have observed. See the Observed Instances of Speciation FAQ and the More Observed Instances of Speciation FAQ. Theories in evolutionary biology are observable, testable, repeatable, and falsifiable. Here's several ways: Given two types of modern organisms with certain common characteristics, a researcher predicts that fossils will be found with a mixture of characteristics of the two types. A prediction, with testable observables. If such fossils are found, they help confirm the theory. The observations are repeatable because anyone can look at the fossils and double-check. Likewise, evolution makes predictions about what we won't see. If we do see those things, then large doubt is cast upon evolutionary theory. Organisms that share a greater degree of morphological similarity should also share a greater degree of genetic similarity. This is an observable prediction of evolution, tested in many experiments. Molecular biologists can often test evolutionary theories through direct experimentation of the sort many people think of as "doing science." And so on. See the Evolution and Philosophy FAQ, especially the section on predictions. See also the Evidence for Evolution FAQ. As for the Cambrian explosion, I'll point you to the Post of the Month for December 1997, in which Chris Nedin discusses the topic. The basic gist is that the organisms which appear during the Cambrian evolved from soft-bodied organisms that do not fossilize well and are therefore underrepresented in the fossil record.
 Feedback Letter Comment: your arguements for the origin of man are very deceiving and weak at best. The findings of "ape-men" fossils contradict themselves so much its not funny. All you guys do as evolutionists is circular reasoning. You never answer any questions with sound answers, just speculation. The entrie evolutionary mindset is "theory" not fact, and evidence supports creation way more than evolution. I will pray that you will find to be true as well. Read Genesis chapter 1 for all the answers of where you came from
 Feedback Letter From: Robert Baty Our apologies, but you must have JavaScript enabled to view author contact information. Comment: Dear Talk Origins, Approximately 5½ years ago a "young-earth creation-science preacher" came to my local church and put on his show. He was Bert Thompson, a Ph.D. who has a publishing company called Apologetics Press out of Montgomerty, Alabama. Various errors were put over on me and the congregation. In testing the criticism of the movement for being uninformed and undisciplined, I have been trying since then to get simple admissions and corrections. Chief, and simplest, was the promotion of the Matthew Maury myth (how he was sick one day and someone read him Psalm 8, and so he went out and discovered the seas had currents). Bert Thompson even claimed there was a statue at the Naval Academy depicting Mr. Maury with a bible in one outstretched hand. It doesn't exist. Bert Thompson has refused to meet his public responsibilities in this regard. He even had one of his subordinates publish a coverup in the Creation Research Society Quarterly (June 1996 I believe). That accomplice in the cover up is Trevor Major. While pointing out the errors of others and trying to claim credit for setting the record straight, Trevor Major failed to mention his superior, Bert Thompson, has been one of the biggest promoters of the myth in modern times. As a result, the myth continues its popularity. Much more might be said regarding the failure of Bert Thompson, Ph.D. and his cronies to meet their public obligations to insure their errors are identified and corrected. Maybe this medium will help shed a little light on this dark side of the Bert Thompson, Ph.D. ministry. The public needs an appropriate warning.
 Feedback Letter From: Marcie Kozura Our apologies, but you must have JavaScript enabled to view author contact information. Comment: The 32 page "must read" portion is the best I have ever seen! I am so glad that someone finally posted the real concepts of evolution, Genetic Recombination, and Natural Selection. I am a Biology Major at the University of North Texas, and this is exactly what we learn. I just wish that people would learn what these concepts are before they argue them and make us all look bad. "I we would only listen instead of critisize, we would gain more knowledge, and with more knowledge, the Universe becomes a much bigger place." Marcie Kozura
 Feedback Letter From: Sarah Quadri Comment: HELP! I'm doing a report on Social Darwinism and I would like any comments or views that anyone has on this subject. Also, any views on Evolution and Its Influence: The Herbert Spencer Lectures, 1986, edited by Alan Grafen, which "reviews the impact of Darwinism on art, philosophy, sociology, psychology, and other fields." Response From: Kenneth Fair Our apologies, but you must have JavaScript enabled to view author contact information. Response: I'd suggest you take a look at John Wilkins's Evolution and Philosophy FAQ, in particular the section on Social Darwinism. Also, see E.T. Babinski's essay on Social Darwinism in Cretinism or Evilution?. Then look at Wilkins's Evolution and Metaphysics FAQ and his responses in the December 1997 feedback and January 1997 feedback. You might also want to read Herbert Spencer's book Social Statics and learn more about the 1905 U.S. Supreme Court case Lochner v. New York, 198 U.S. 45, in which Justice Holmes dissents, stating, "The 14th Amendment does not enact Mr. Herbert Spencer's Social Statics."
 April 1998 1998 Feedback June 1998