|Listed below are some of the letters received from readers of the Talk.Origins Archive in the month of November, 1996.|
I am currently studying at college in the United Kingdom. I wanted to take this opportunity to thank you for the service you provide. The information I have gathered here has been more useful than most of that I have found in the books I have been reading for the past three weeks on entropy and refrigeration.
If you would like an open scientific and publishable debate I would suggest you look into Dr. Walt Brown's comments and offer at his web site at the Center for Scientific Creation Home Page. It would give the opportunity asked for in the articles by Scott and Trott.
I have read the abiogenesis FAQ. Well done. I'd like to see some references. You cited many authors, but didn't provide any references.
Response from the editor:
Check the talk.origins reading list FAQ for a few references on abiogenesis. Unfortunately, scientific studies of the origin of life are moving so rapidly, even most of the references contained there are not up to date.
Here's a few facts: Evolutionists were wrong about the Nebrasksa man. Evolutionists were wrong about the Piltdown man. Evolutionists were wrong about the Peking man-No wait. Let me rephrase that. It mysteriously disappeared. Evoultionists were wrong about the Neanderthal man. He had arthritis. Evolutionists are wrong about God. You'll see when the Rapture occurs. God bless You.
Evolution explains everyhting, and, therefore,explains nothing.
Dear anonymous responder:
Thanks for dialoging. Here is my response to your response for my "is the theory of evolution falsifiable, and is it predictive?"
Here is your response, interspersed with my own:
"Evolution and common descent are certainly falsifiable. One way to disprove them would be to show that the Earth is only a few thousand years old. Not surprisingly, many creationists are trying to do just that..."
Answer: There are a great many creationists who believe the earth is quite old, I am one of them. It's a little irksome to find the contributors to your page consistently restricting the term "creationist" to those who hold to a young earth. When it comes to the origin of life there are only two ultimate possibilities: Intentional, Intelligent Design, or Unintentiional, natural and random processes. Believing that intelligent design is far and away the best explaination for life makes me a Creationist.... not any ideas about how old the earth may be. My contention is that Macro Evolution by any known naturalistic processes is impossible, given any amount of time. The naturalistic explainations given for things like the assembling of the DNA code necessary for life are wholly inadequate based on what we observe in nature.
"One could also falsify evolution by showing that the various forms of life have not changed significantly over time."
Answer: Actually, a great number of organisms living now are substantially much as we find them with their first appearance in the fossil record. Most insects, plants and a lot of others such as crodidiles. In fact all the major classes of now living organisms appear suddenly in the Cambrian, with no predecessors. The "Cambrian Expolsion" wouldn't seem to jive well with Darwinian theory. For starters, that would seem like a pretty good falsification to me. But that's nothing compared to coming up with a naturalistic explaination for the DNA code and the information contained in it. In school in the 60's, I was led to believe that solutions to this problem had been found. But the ideas then have been proven false, and new proposals only amount to "speculation squared".
"Finding strong evidence that humans coexisted with dinosaurs or trilobites, organisms that are currently known to have gone extinct millions of years ago, would be one way to do this."
Answer: Actually I reckon that Dawinists would find a way to reconcile their theory with human bones along-side of dinasaurs, they've done so with far more compelling problems. In any case, It doesn't have much relavence to the major issues at hand.
"In addition to being falsifiable,..."
Answer: Have you given me a serious example of falsifiability? I must have missed it...
".. evolution makes a large number of verifiable predictions. It predicts that closely related organisms will share a large amount of the same genetic material. "
Answer: Intelligent Design predicts the same thing. A Boeing 707 and a 747 have much in common. But the reason is not decent, it's because they have the same intelligent designer. From the Wright Brothers to Boeing, Intelligent designers know better than to "reinvent the wheel" every time they make something new..
"It predicts an ordering of the fossil record, in which animals like mammals never appear before the first reptiles..."
Answer: Speaking of the fossil order.... in my school days I was taught that fossils were found in a neat progressive order, simple to complex, thus proving Darwinism. Actually, in terms of stratographic order, simple to complex is a rarity in the fossil record. The order goes up and down and sideways. In any case even if reptiles "always" precede mammals, how does that prove evolution? Reptiles are highly complex and sophisticated organisms... even more so the ones that are now extinct. Little we find in the design of living things today surpasses them. How does evolution "predict" that reptiles must precede mammals? A Designer can use any order he pleases.
"It predicts that isolated regions of the planet will be populated by living organisms that are unique throughout the world."
Answer: You mean that creatures of purposeful design could not be isolated through environmental changes and drifting continents?
"It predicts anatomical similarities between genetically similar organisms."
Answer: Again, similarity in design can indicate a common Designer as much as common decent. It is interesting to me that morphological similarities are constantly trotted out as heavy "proof" of evolution. Actually, I'd expect a truly random processes traveling divergent tracks to quickly destroy all similarity of design between creatures. If a hundred different people took a "penny-hike" (tossing a coin at each corner to decide which way to go) you wouldn't expect their courses or destinations to bear any similarity with each other...I'd think the predictions of our "random-mutation" evolution to produce great dissimilarities as well... assuming it could work at all.
"It predicts the existence of atavisms and vestigial structures that were useful to ancestral forms but are much less useful to present forms. And so on."
Answer: Back to the "vestigial" organs again? In the light of what we've come to know in the last 50 years, I'd be hesitant to declare any of our features vestigial. We have a terrible track record at that.
"While it is true that these types of predictions are based on prior observations of the evidence, so are the predictions of any scientific theory. In the scientific endeavor, observations are collected, a theory is built to explain them, and the theory is tested by comparing its predictions with further observations."
Answer: Is the Darwinian explaination really a theory? I still don't see where it is either falsifiable or predictive (at least not in the strong sense... like what will we see next based on the theory?). Perhaps the general theory of evolution is really just Naturalistic Philosophy turned dogma. An a priori assumption imposed on all evidence.
Response from the editor:
Before I respond, let me state that the feedback pages of the Talk.Origins Archive are not meant for running dialogues or debates between the archive and its readers. That is what the newsgroup talk.origins is for. However, several points that the reader has raised deserve responses, and so I will attempt to briefly address them here.
First, the reader does not like being lumped in with young earth creationists. Presumably this means he recognizes the poor quality of the science that young earth creationists are performing. In any case, had the reader read my response more carefully, he would have realized that I was not lumping him in with the young-earthers; rather, I was responding directly to his (incorrect) claim that evolution is unfalsifiable. Proving that the Earth is only a few thousand years old would be one way to quickly and decisively disprove common descent; ten thousand years is simply not enough time to evolve this planet's present biodiversity. This example alone proves that evolution is falsifiable.
The reader asserts that "macroevolution by any known naturalistic processes is impossible." That's quite an unsupported assertion, but unfortunately for the reader, the scientific evidence proves him wrong. Presumably the reader is aware of the fact that the geological record shows widespread and significant change in the types of organisms that have existed throughout the planet's history. For over three billion years, the planet was entirely populated by single celled organisms. There were no mammals, no fish, and no trees. Then, during the Cambrian explosion approximately 550 million years ago, dozens of new forms appeared, some with fossilizable hard body parts that allowed us to witness the birth of some of the Earth's earliest multicellular organisms. With a few exceptions, these pioneering invertebrates that appeared in the Cambrian were bizarre by today's standards. For instance, the giant Anomalocaris was a strange-looking creature vaguely reminiscent of a squid, but with two odd feeding arms protruding from the bottom of its head. Anomalocaris, like many of the other Cambrian organisms, does not fit into any of the broad categories, known as phyla, that characterize modern organisms. Nevertheless, while today we wouldn't recognize most of the organisms from the Cambrian period, it is believed that all but one modern phylum had an early representative in that period.
Later on came a further diversification of life, which Stephen Jay Gould has described as "variation on set anatomical themes" established during the Cambrian explosion. Fish emerge 500 million years ago; primitive sharks emerge 375 million years ago; amphibians, insects and ferns emerge 350 million years ago; reptiles emerge 300 million years ago; primitive crocodiles and mammals emerge 200 million years ago; dinosaurs go extinct 65 million years ago; many modern mammal species emerge between 65 and 20 million years ago; primitive bipedal hominids with small brain capacities emerge 4 million years ago; the first primitive humans emerge 1.6 million years ago. Life has obviously done a lot of changing over time.
If the reader was taught that the fossil record proves Darwinism true because it presents a progression from simple to complex, then he was taught wrong, and he misunderstands Darwinism. The fossil record does not progress from simple to complex, nor is Darwinian selection a theory of such progress. Darwinian natural selection is simply a progress-neutral mechanism for adaptive change.
When I pointed out earlier that evolution predicts that organisms with recent common ancestors will share a large amount of their genetic material, the reader responded that "intelligent design" also predicts genetic similarity. But why does intelligent design predict this? Couldn't an omnipotent creator just as easily have chosen to make all his animals with completely divergent genetic makeups? Unlike evolutionary theory, "intelligent design" would explain divergent genomes just as easily as it explains similar genomes.
Concepts like creationism that can explain everything explain nothing. Evolution, which is supported by numerous and independent lines of evidence, is a robust scientific theory that is falsifiable and makes predictions.
The debate gets turned up! The Pope has his doubts. He may say otherwise . When can we see this as a debate topic? Your site is great and has credibility behind it.
Response from the editor:
Actually, as most Catholics know, the Pope and the Roman Catholic church have long held that evolutionary theory is compatible with the Christian faith.
I recently read "The Second of Thermodynamics, Evolution,and Probability". It is an excellent overview of the Second Law; it is a very concise and understandable explanation of the most complex of the 3 laws of thermodynamics. Even the explanation of the statistical approach to entropy was understandable to me; this topic can be very involved, but this brief commentary should be adequate for most readers.
Can't believe that someone is THIS stupid!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Hi my name is Daniel I'm also a creationist. But thats not why I'm writing in. I have a question for you guys at T.O, it's for a research paper I'm working on for my english class the question is "can a creationist be a good scientist?" I'm not talking about a creation scientist (I don't buy there "therories" either) but in general do you think that creationist can be good scientist. please Email your answer asap.
Response from the editor:
There is nothing that prevents creationists from doing good science, so long as they keep doing science. Where many creationists (like those who sign the Creation Research Society's statement of belief) go wrong is when they let their religious beliefs dictate the results they are willing to accept.
Since Creationists seem to just love posting out-of-context uotes to "prove" that evolution is (a) wrong, (b) an article of faith on the part of a scientific conspiracy, or (c) the subject of great dissent within the scientific community, it might be worthwhile to assemble a list of quotes frequently taken out of context. With the missing context that shows the quoter to be using deceptive practices.
How sad for you...to go through life and reject the Truth that God has revealed. Nothing you said made me angry, but I did find myself very disappointed in your being blind to the truth. Why don't you just come out and say that you are a satanist? (Jesus said that if you're not with Him, you are against Him) Satan's best tactic is to try to get you to believe he doesn't exist, and you've bought the big lie. Your time and energy would be better spent searching for the Truth instead of flailing around trying to squirm out of any kind of accountability by discounting God.
A friend of mine has this saying: God and gravity are a lot alike...You don't have to believe in either one, but regardless, you are still subject to their laws. (see John 8:24)
I don't want to sound judgemental, that's not my job, but it sure appears that you and a lot of other people are putting a lot of effort and going out of your way to discount the creator. I must wonder about your motive for doing so. Do you have a lot of guilt and think that God can't possibly love you? You're wrong. He loves you more than you can know, but I'm pretty sure that He probably doesn't appreciate you doing what you are doing by propogating half-truths.
If you want to know more about the "Truth and the Life", e-mail me, we'll chat. It really is a matter of life and death.
I know this all sounds snooty and condescending. I've been where you are, but God changed me, and believe me, if He can change my heart, He can do it for you too.
I love ya, man. Write me soon.
Response from the editor:
The reader appears to have mistaken some of the archive's attacks on creationism as attacks on God. However, as the God and Evolution FAQ illustrates, there is no particular reason that one has to reject God in order to accept evolution. In fact, many Christians believe that God has chosen to reveal much of His Truth through nature, thereby making anti-evolutionists the real deniers of God's Truth.
Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Although I don't debate much with the scientifically impaired, I am very much in to educating the public in paleontology. Your well researched articles are a wealth of information that gives me one more source for info. You do need to do a little updating-try Zhelestids(protoungulates),and Phosphatherium(Proboscidea). Also a good idea is to get in contact with some of the better seminaries and rabinical schools; they're generally pretty quick to point out the origin of the creation story in the book of Genisis. Like what does the Torah have to say on the origins of the universe... Also if I can ever be of any help,feel free to ask.
Happy, gleeful, joyous...these are words that describe how I felt after reading your essay. How many times have I had top endure utter nonsense from a creationist!?! Next time I will redirect them to your website. I have much more to read here. Thank you very, very much!
I have just read the FAQ on the hominidae and I was just wondering if in fact the robust australopithecines were the only descendants of the earlier australopithecines and that homo habilis was actually what was referred to in the creation of man so to speak.
Response from Jim Foley, author of the Fossil Hominids FAQ:
It is of course possible that Homo habilis was created by God, instead of evolving from australopithecines, although the idea can be neither proved nor disproved. But if you can accept that modern humans evolved from Homo habilis without divine intervention, why not also accept that H. habilis evolved from the australopithecines, since it is more similar to them than it is to modern humans?
Your counter arguments to creationism are very informative and lucid. I came across my first ever real life creationist in Brisbane today. I never knew they existed here, thought they only lived in the Bible Belt of the US. It was a frightening experience talking to some one who genuinely believed the world to be a maximum 10 000 years old. Oddly enough I had just heard on my favourite radio program the previous day that even the Pope had given the nod to Darwin. That argument didn't wash with my Creationist. I was given a sorry conspiracy tale about the New World Order, the UN, the Catholic Church but not a single mention of the Freemasons or World Jewry which was strange since they usually feature in most popular conspiracies. Personally I'm a great fan of Richard Dawkins and Carl Sagan. I've just finished reading Graham Hancock's 'Fingerprints of the Gods' which I found very stimulating and intellectually sound. There was no suggestion that the pyramids were built by extraterrestrials or any suggestions as to the age of the earth contrary to what is the scientifically accepted age. I doubt the creationists will find much comfort in 'Fingerprints'.
I find the arguments put forward by creationism exasperating. Why do they push this particular line of thought. When both the Catholic and Anglican Churches accept both the Big Bang theory and Evolution why then do the creationists so violently oppose the fruit of centuries of accumulated scientific knowledge. What's in it for them? How can the modern theories of Genisis be any less awe-inspiring than the Book of Genisis. Ask any academic Bible scholar and they will tell you that it isn't Darwin's 'Origin of the Species' which is in doubt, but the Good Book itself. Put that to scrutiny and there isn't many words in say the New Testament which can be attributed to its supposed author(s).
Thanks for keeping up the good fight against this cast back to the Dark Ages.
I appreciate your attempt, at least as I percieved it, to remain unbiased in your views on this subject as written in your article on the visit to the ICR museum. However, your beliefs are blatently shown through the snide remarks concerning the museum. This is not only a mark of bad journalism but also a rather spineless attempt to put down the study of Creation science. I would appreciate it tremendously if you would simply state your opinion instead of offering snide and childish remarks concerning the efforts of other better qualified scientists than yourself.
Even Darwin admitted it was merely a theory..... I did not stick around long enough to get angry, I prefer my broad minded view beyond some of the headings I read.
Response from the editor:
Closed minds are not broad minds.
Someday when you stand before your maker it will all be perfectly clear as it will be to me. Concentrate your efforts on a more worthy cause.
I feel that the argument for evolution is far stronger than the evidence against. The information that Erasmus Darwin as well as his relation Charles have clearly stated that there is far too much coincidence in the world of biology. I think that there is just too much hearsay from these anti-evolutionists like Sir Richard Owen who shot himself in the foot by using analogy as well as homolgy to prove evolution wrong. There is too much similarity between the foreleg of a horse and a frog for example and the vertabrate in the neck of a giraffe is exactly the same as a small vole.
In response to:
"As a high school student in a small, conservative town, I am constantly surrounded by biblical fundamentalists. Recently, I have noticed a proliferation of some anti-evolution stickers. Some of them are extremely ridiculous, such as a big fish eating a smaller 'Darwin' fish, saying 'survival of the fittest.' I would like to get some pro-evolution ornaments. For example, does anyone know how to get those neat bumper stickers that say 'reunite godwanaland' or something close to that?"
Here is a site: http://www.usa.net/evolvefish/.
JUST WANTED TO SAY THIS IS A GREAT IDEA!!!
If evolution is true, then does that mean we are still evolving? If we are no longer evolving, then how can we explain how everything else evolved so far? If we are still evolving, what evidence do we have of this taking place?
Response from , author of the Random Genetic Drift FAQ:
We and all other species are evolving today. Scientists know this because they have studied some species very intensely and they can observe that the frequencies of some genes are changing in the population. This is the definition of evolution.
In the case of humans it is obvious that there has been a considerable mixing of genes in the population as groups that were previously isolated have come in contact. For example, there has been mixing of genes from the native population of North America and immigrants from Europe and Africa. This is an example of evolution in action. We except that after some period of time certain genes (actually alleles) will be eliminated and others will become fixed in the human population. This may be due to natural selection but more likely due to genetic drift.
So, like the evidence for evolution as a whole, the evidence that evolution is taking place today is overwhelming and undeniable. In fact, it is mainly because of the evidence for evolution today that we have so much confidence in the theroy that it occurred in the past to produce the results that we see in the fossil record, in the sequences of genes, in the geographical distribution of species, and in comparative morphology.
I hope this answers your question. I wasn't sure whether you were asking about human evolution or any modern species. You will often see comments to the effect that humans are no longer evolving but such comments are not correct.
I appreciate the really large set of articles and arguments presented here. I have barely scratched the surface of the materials, so from a limited perspective, may I share the reflection of an interested layman in these matters...
The creationists seem to have a valid point in the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics, which to date I have NOT seen refuted in a logically coherent way. The law applies to everything from thermal gradients to information theory, etc. The law (of increasing entropy) is of course stated as if in a closed system, for the sake of simplicity. (In a similar manner, we could say that "Other things being equal, people will buy the least expensive automobile that meets their needs." Of course, 'other things' never are exactly equal, but that in no way negates the tendency for people to shop for value.)
The fact that we live in an open system (energy from the sun, incoming asteroids, etc.) does not negate the thermodynamic observations. (After all, the law was DISCOVERED amidst a world of 'open' energy events !) What is needed is a CONVERSION MECHANISM to utilize the energy (e.g. photosynthesis), and a BLUEPRINT to direct the application of the converted energy (e.g., DNA). For example, I can buy a truckload of materials to build a shed (e.g., lumber, nails, paint, shingles, concrete) and have it delivered to my driveway, and just leave it there. But no matter how long I wait, I will not find a shed building itself, even though we have energy from the sun and wind, and occasional water (the magic elixir of evolution). In fact, the energy from the sun, wind and water will only tend to DECOMPOSE the materials (whether from drying out, rot, rust, etc.). Or as a friend of mine pointed out, you can take a swimming-pool full of wet tissue, and add energy to it by firing a machine-gun into the mass, and you'll never get origami designs out of it.
The point: An energy conversion mechanism and blueprint are necessary for external energy to help overcome the 2nd law.
Response from , author of the FAQ on The Second Law of Thermodynamics, Evolution, and Probability:
In responding to my talk.origins FAQ, Mr. Lee Patterson stated: "The creationists seem to have a valid point in the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics, which to date I have NOT seen refuted in a logically coherent way."
My FAQ article clearly refuted the creationist argument that order can not [ever] spontaneously arise from disorder. You admit that you have "barely scratched the surface of the materials...", and therein lies the problem. If you want to understand the issue, you will have to become familiar with the mathematical basis of thermodynamics; there is no other way. Trying to understand thermodynamics in terms of qualitative metaphors can lead to conclusions that are completely wrong.
Your examples of a swimming pool full of wet tissue paper and materials needed to build a shed standing in the driveway are just variations of the old creationist "junkyard into an airplane" metaphor. I can give you examples where order does spontaneously arise from disorder: formation of crystalline snowflakes from randomly moving water vapor molecules; crystalline salts forming when a solution evaporates; plants sprouting from seeds; chicks forming from eggs; etc. etc. Even if you don't understand thermodynamics, you can see plenty of examples where order does, indeed, arise spontaneously from disorder. I would think that that alone would refute the creationist argument.
Remember, we are talking about probability. Probability, as related to thermodynamics, is dependent upon changes in a property called entropy. If you don't understand the mathematics of entropy change, then discussions of probabilities are nothing more than mere speculation.
If and when you have gained an understanding of entropy, the next step is to study the relationship between entropy and probability. I explain this relationship in some detail in my article. I really think you should read it carefully. If you have any further questions, please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
While I haven't been here in a while, I must say that the new look and feel are vastly improved over the old site. As always the content is excellent, and while clearly biased towards evolution/scientific knowledge, this is entirely understandable. To help stave off the usual comments ("Why don't you give a fair treatment towards creationism"), you might want to the add the disclaimer, "From a scientific(rational) viewpoint". Keep up the good work. Last note: This site seems to be drifting towards "dry" skepticism; again while understandable, you'll probably reach more people by acting more "wet". Again, you folks have done an excellent job.
I am a theistic evolutionist and for those of you who do not know what that is--I believe in God and in evolution. The way I see it is like this. Do we know how God felt those couple hundred billion years ago when scientist say the world was supposedly created? Do we know exactly how many of our days are equal to one God's? Technically we don't. All we have to go on is our faith in Him. Besides, either way you go you must have faith in a pre-existant God or pre-existant particles. Both of which were and have always just been there. Back to my afore statement about how God felt when the Earth was created. How do we know if God did not decide to manipulate us by the process of evolution? If God created those so called particles that make up the "Big Bang Theory" and life as we know it evolved from there then in a sense did God not create us. I believe in God whole-heartidly and I believe God is all powerful and knowing. I also believe that since God is all powerful and knowing that He could have created us in any way He pleases. Sure the bible says that He created us in the image of Himself but still; if God created those particles and we came from there then He still created us in the image of Himself. Just because it took a couple hundred million of OUR years for that to happen does not mean He did not create us in the image of himself.
I had a recent discussion with a co-worker on the age of the earth and evidence supporting a young earth. I referred to human population studies that I learned about at a local seminar that stated there would be 2 x 10 to 2166 power persons on the earth now if man has indeed been around for a million years and increasing at a half percent rate. The known universe can only hold 7 x 10 to the 78 power! My friend responded that 1) fossilization is rare, and 2) growth rates can hold at zero percent for long periods.
Do these responses have any validity? Also, what formulas are used to calculate population growth? Does the ln (natural log) come into play in any oof these formulas?
Response from the editor:
Please see the Debate between Bob Bales and Chris Stassen as well as Jim Meritt's General Anti-Creationism FAQ for answers to your questions about human population growth.
Thank you for your wonderful article. Until now, I have been looking this up in encyclopedias and had no good way to prove to my biology teacher that evolution is not a fact! By the way, the big bang theory defies all three laws of motion.
Hello, I am a biology major at the University of Houston and I found the articles and comments here in your site very interesting and informative. I myself am a Christian who sees the scientific support for evolution. I am constantly faced with fellow Christians who, although love God, are misinformed about evolution. I constantly have to defend myself to them on this subject. As a guy who loves science I am fascinated with the way evolution has progressed in recent years and I am encouraged that more and more support for evolution is being raised everyday. My only comment is that like all theories evolution does have some flaws and I am constantly reminded of those flaws by my Christian counterparts but I also see the weight of the evidence in support of evolution. All creationists try to do is dog evolution and they don't even got a theory of their own that is worth much. Thanks for supplying some information to me, I look forward to visiting your page and checking new articles out in the future.
Do you know of any resources for ordering any of the books that are frequently referenced in your articles, such as those related to creation/evolution, radiometric dating, etc. I would like to get a copy of "The Age of the Earth" by Dalrymple, but cannot find any easily accessible sources. Any help would be appreciated.
Response from the editor:
Contact and consider joining the National Center for Science Education. They sell many of the books described by articles in the archive (including Dalrymple's), and if you're a member you even get a pretty good discount.
Do not take this as a harsh or angry comment, it was not meant to be acrid or degrading in any way. I just want to know a few answers.
Why are you on such a vendetta against creationists? Why do you assume that your theories are the ONLY possible explanation?
You know, they laughed at Copernicus when he tried to publish his findings and theories about a geocentric universe. They said, "How can you come up with such unfounded ideas? We have EVIDENCE that we're right, and we used scientific methods to find them! You're being absurd." Sound familiar? The problem with the portion of the scientific community that believes in evolution is that they have complete and total faith in the innumerable findings they have. Isn't it just as absurd to wholeheartedly believe in one theory and not consider anything else as it is to believe in a God or other "undetectable" force? If you had only one ruler, and you spent your whole life meauring and recording everything you saw with that ruler, of course you could bring up piles of "evidence" that said that everything in the world is the size that you recorded it as. But what if your ruler was incremented wrong, and because of that, you had a disproportionate view of the world. Would you tell the millions of other people who were using the correct rulers that they were right all along, or would you force your measurements on them?
The purpose of creationism is not nearly as absurd, frivilous, or ritualistic as many people paint it to be. It is no more primitive to believe in God than it is to believe in the writings of one man. What if Darwin's ruler was incremented wrongly? Why can't you be more open to other possibilities? We are in the search for truth, and to only look in one book in the library, and base your report on that is extremely shortsighted.
I urge anyone out there who has been taught their whole life that evolution is a FACT and not a THEORY (as it truly is) to reconsider the fact that maybe the explanations you have been taught might possibly be based on an incorrect mindset, and to truly examine the issues as they are, and just use your common sense! There are so many findings that prove that evolution is physically impossible, yet the prominent scientific community just shoves them under the carpet as strange ideas, not factual in the least. All the data is there, but for centuries, we've been misinterpreting it!
I also ask you not to stereotype creation scientists as heretics or brainwashed religious fanatics. There are countless creationists who hold very prestigious degrees and accomplishments and know what they are talking about! Do not base all creationist views on my writings either, for I am simply a fifteen year-old high school student who, in the search for truth, has found things in my learning that simply do not make sense! I'll try to close this rather lengthy comment by pleading with you to consider what I and thousands-if not millions-of others have had to say and don't just brush off these comments by labeling me as a brainwashed fanatic. I know what's going on in the world and it just doesn't make sense! Question everything! The unexamined life is not worth living!
A. M. M.
Response from , author of the Piltdown Man FAQ:
You raise several points. Some are valid and some are definite errors. Let's consider them in turn.
Is there a "vendetta" against creationists in the talk.origins archives? Not really, although it may seem like that to a sensitive creationist. Some of the FAQ's are articles composed specifically for the archives. Many of them, however, are taken directly from postings in the talk.origins newsgroup. The rhetoric in the newsgroup is often inflammatory and the language and style in some of the FAQ's is harsh. Some posters in the group can be said to have a vendetta against creationists.
In a broader sense, though, the archives do respresent a consensus that young earth creationism, biblical literalism, is seriously in error and that the arguments advanced by creationists are faulty. This is not just the consensus of "evolutionists" posting to talk.origins; it is the general informed opinion of science. What you want to believe isn't true; to tell you that is not a vendetta nor is it a reflection on you; it's just the way things are.
Some errors: You give the example of Copernicus and get it backwards. It was the Church that Copernicus feared, religion and not science. The Church banned Copernicus's work for theological reasons and not for scientific reason. The reason why scientists object to creationism is that there are many creationists today who want to do the same thing, to ban science, to remove it from the schools for reasons of religious doctrine.
It is a serious error on your part to say that the evidence for creationism was there for centuries but that it has been misinterpreted. Centuries ago Genesis was accepted as being literally true - the evidence for evolution was ignored or misinterpreted. It was good Christians, people who accepted as a matter of course that Genesis was literally true, who found the evidence said something else, that the Earth was much older, that life had changed over time, and that there was no world wide flood that drowned the world. You speak of people opening their minds but that is not what you are asking, that is not what creationists are asking. You are, in effect, asking people to close their minds, to ignore what generations of research has discovered, and retreat to a long discredited doctrine.
It is a serious error on your part to think that people "believe" in evolution because they have been taught it and have never questioned. There are indeed people who accept evolution just because that is what they were taught in school. But that is not what scientists do and that is not what people who take the topic seriously do.
It is a serious error on your part to assume that the theory of evolution is a doctrine promulgated by Charles Darwin and that it a choice between Darwin and the Bible. It was not Darwin who discovered that the Earth is old. It was not even Darwin who discovered that life had evolved. Darwin put together a theory, a good theory, about how life evolved and people went on from there. But it's not one person who worked things out; it is many people. And they did not just accept doctrine; they argued and compared interpretations and looked for data to confirm or refute particular theories. The effort to find out what really happened has been going on for a long time.
You aren't a brain washed fanatic. Most people who are creationists aren't. But you have been lied to by people who are fanatics, who see nothing wrong with "lying in the name of God". They lie about their credentials. They lie about what scientists say. They misrepresent scientific results. They put together arguments that sound convincing to people like yourself who do not have the background and knowledge to know that their arguments are a fraud. And they do it, knowing that their arguments are fraudulent. They don't care. These liars and their lies are documented in the FAQ's. Do you really want to accept their lies as truth?
I can not understand why their is an argument. Creationism explains how God is the creator. Evolution was the tool he used. God made the laws of physics billions of years ago (or about 8 days ago since God created everything in 7 days which turns out that his days are billions of years for us). Genesis is a simple explaination of a complicated subject. God created Adam from the earth. That is he was pulled from the ground or evolved from lower things than himself. If the author of Genesis did indeed have divine inspiration, God may have shown him Adam being made. If you look at an illustration of evolution in any ninth grade biology text you can see man's evolution from ape and if you went back far enough you may see the beginnings of life in the form of single celled organisms. If God showed Genesis' author that it would seem man was made FROM the dust.
As a visitor to talk.origins for the first time last night, I was struck by the intensity of the anti-darwin sentiment, from, as it turns out, Stephen Jay Gould (according to creationists....). Does SJG know how he is interpreted by these loons? Does he care?
I am not sure if creationists sense the contradiction in their ability to accept some science if it helps them (electricity comes to mind), but not all if it contradicts their book of faith. I plan to inform them.
As Richard Dawkins writes, "Evolution needs evangelizing", or something to that effect.
The Talk.Origins pages are a tremendous resource. Keep up the great work! Your writers are to be commended for their hard work.
Until we, as creationists, learn the truth about Genesis, our divided efforts to "convince" others are futile. How can an untruth ever prove another lie to be in error? Instead of teaching "doctrines of men", we should be conveying the truth of the Bible, namely Genesis. Moses did not say "...and the evening and the morning was the first day of Creation"!! Theology told us that. Moses only said "...was the first day". The first day of what?? Certaintly not creation, for if it were, when did God first create water?? Was "the water" older than God?? It saddens me to hear and read people say "the first creation account", or "the second creation account". The 'P', 'J', and 'E' documents "doctrine" is just an excuse for ignorance of the Bible. There IS NO CONTRADICTION because those "accounts" are not describing the same thing. It is ridiculious that the dinosaurs (mammoths, sabre-toothed tigers) and the flood of Noah are attached to Creation. They have nothing to do with each other, and are separated by millions of years. Literal interpretation does not mean "believing in foolishness", but rather "believing in all that is written, with the faith that understanding will later be given". That "understanding" has now been given to mankind, and is ready to be used against the lies of Satan. The Bible is the Written Word of God, and is the truth. The discoveries of science are also true, but the conclusions of science are false. If there are those with questions about this "new understanding", they can be answered by writing to Ephraim, Box B-220-135, 100 North Tryon St., Charlotte NC 28202.
Gee, I love this new thing I just found called the internet. Gosh a lot of you guys don't know it yet but you are going end up being born-again christians. Every knee will bow. Years ago, I truley belived in evoloution. But then the Lord opened my eyes. But for now I am going to go off line and read all of your arguments that you chickens (or was it the egg?) are writing. Jesus Loves You and so do I.
The Flat Earth Society is a group of (mainly British) eccentrics who I have always been led to believe do not even take themselves seriously, let alone expect others to take them seriously. Have you been led up the garden path on this one?
I'm really glad I found this archive. It is very helpful to me in my research (I'm writing a book). I also appreciate some of the other links which have provided me with lots of human origins information to chew on. And no, I'm not a creationist. I like to refute these creatures---politely, of course.
How does evolution (simple to complex life) fit in with the Law of Entropy.
Response from the editor:
If you had used the Search Engine to find information on "entropy", you would have found the The Second Law of Thermodynamics, Evolution, and Probability FAQ.
Hope you've resoved that job situation so you can get back to updating things here. Your work is so wonderful I can understand anger when you slack off.
I'm new on the web but not to the study of man, especially in referance to his psychological developement toward religious thought and ideas concerning supra-natural beings. If you know any other good web sites concerning this I would appreciate knowing them. I can see I'll spend a lot of time at your site and thank you for all your effort.
Response from the editor:
See the Other Links page. And who's slacking off? :-)
Just a comment on FABNAQ "9b. Explain how a viable population was established for all of those animal kinds from only a single pair of each."
This problem must be faced by evolutionists for every specie (unique, cannot inter-breed) on earth. The problem for evolutionists is further compounded by the fact that two, one male and one female, for each new specie must come into existense at the same time. That is incredible.
Response from the editor:
If it were true that evolution required a male and female of every sexual species to evolve simultaneously, it would indeed be incredible. But this is not how evolution works. Evolution is descent with modification. Once a trait (like sexual reproduction) evolves, it can be passed on to future generations, assuming it has no negative effect on an organism's ability to survive and reproduce.
I wanted to commend you on your web site. It is very attractive, and the articles are excellent in discourse and documentation. I wish I could say the same about your counterpart, CSI. I was searching the web for GOOD information about both sides of the Origins Argument and have only found one side thus far. Thank you for putting the time and effort into writing/designing a page that helps maintain high standards on the WWW.
I am, by definition, a creationist. However, that is by a personal interpretation of the word, rather than what it means among scientific circles. I am one because of my Christian faith, not because of science. Science has a good place in our society, but it has made assumptions that exceed its ability to prove. Neither evolution or creationism can be PROVED. They are both theories that merely look for "scientific data" to back up their claims. Arguments and rhetoric will not change this fact.
Evolution has a strong acceptance in our society because of the anti-religious sentiment which has permeated our culture for the past 30 years. Otherwise, it would have gone the way of spontaneous generation and environmental determinism years ago. Evolution is atheistic in its roots, as well as its fruits. Therefore, evolution is religiously biased.
Response from the editor:
Nothing in science is ever proved so it meaningless to single out evolution (or creationism) as being unprovable. However, there are some theories in science that are better than others, and it is the quantity and quality of the evidence that determines which scientific theories deserve our attention. Evolution, supported by volumes of consistent evidence from independent research fields, is one such theory. Special creation, contradicted by even the simplest observations of nature, is not.
As for evolutionary theory being "atheistic" or "anti-religious" at its core, I suspect that the millions of Christians who accept evolution, including the Pope, would respectfully disagree.
The Earth was flooded only where mankind existed. Given the relatively short span of time between Creation and The Flood, this did not have to include the entire planet. It only had to occur in what is now called the Middle East, and maybe a small portion of the surrounding landscape. Thus, not EVERY living creature had to be brought to the Ark, only those indigenous to that region.
To cause a flood of that magnitude it was necessary for God to completely change our ecosystem. Before the flood it did not rain, (that is why Noah was ridiculed) so He created what we call the hydrologic cycle. When He "opened up the fountains of the deep", it fractured the plates that undergird the land on which we live. Thus, we now have earthquakes and land masses that are seperated by oceans and huge lakes. In fact, all of the natural disasters that now occur, happen because of this change. Now don't start thinking that I'm saying God kills all the people that die in these horrific events, I am not. The Flood was necessary to save mankind. Otherwise, our (their) sinfulness would have killed them all, including any who may have actually loved God.
The reason you do not generally get answers to all these questions is because you will only laugh and mock the answers you receive. Jesus told us "not to cast pearls before swine, lest they trample them underfoot and then turn and rend you also." You all are not pigs. He was using a metaphor to explain a simple truth. "Those who do not appreciate another's knowledge or opinion will only discard it and ridicule the one from which it came", (Ed South, 1996).
I'm a chemical engineer by training and experience, with lots of extra math under my belt. Also, I spent 30 years with IBM so I'm pretty up on computers too. And I'm a 75 year-old Jew.
Like everyone else, I'm aware of the "conflict" between science and religion that has been going on for many centuries, but I am struck by the way in which the cosmological views of scientists and theologians have been drawing closer in recent years. Example: LaPlace's steady-state, mechanical universe does not, as he himself asserted, require the hypothesis that a Creator exists. But while present-day big-bang cosmology doesn't REQUIRE a Creator, it is at least consistent with the hypothesis that there is one. There are many other examples I can cite.
I'm not inclined to argue about whether the universe is 5000 years old or a million times older, but I would like to offer my views about how and why we may be approaching a reconciliation of the scientific and religious viewpoints. I've even written a four-or-five-page monograph on the subject.
Please let me know if you consider this subject as appropriate for your board.
Response from the editor:
If you have an article that you think would make a good submission for this archive, then ask yourself the following questions:
If the answer to these questions is yes, then post your submission to talk.origins requesting comments and criticism. Talk.origins readers make up the informal FAQ review committee, and many of them will be happy to provide you with constructive input. Next, revise your submission based on the talk.origins readers' comments. Repeat this process until there is general agreement that a satisfactory final result has been achieved. Submit the final revision of your FAQ.
From July, 1996 through November 15, there was an excellent discussion of evolution and creation, in the NY Times on-line Forums. Some input from an adamant Bible quoter, an aethist or two, some agnostics, a Chinese scientist familiar with Eastern religions, and some others made each position very clear.
My comment is in Exhibit #3: "The Fall of Man" Man and animals die because of the fall, not just animals. That's why we sin and and there is a price to pay....it's called the wages of sin is death, and the bible tells us that one sin will keep us out of Heaven. But it also tells us how to go to Heaven! But you have to read the bible or talk to a Christian to know how to do this, because most people think that they have to turn from their sins or work or be good to get to Heaven. But, that is the wrong way and they will never ever get there at all.
I want to know where you get how Adam sinned by eating the apple? He sinned by eating of the fruit which he was told not to do. There is no mention of the apple in scriptures. I know that ICR didn't have that one listed. See this is why people who don't read the scriptures don't know anything about the scriptures. If they did then it's wrong as it is no where in the Bible. Also this is what we need to have in all of our schools...creation Evolutionists teach that we come from monkeys and things out of the sea.......wrong,wrong,wrong. Genesis means beginning and this is telling us about our beginning and how we got here. Also if you read Genesis 1:26 it says that God made man in His image. Us in this passage referring to the Triune God. The Bible also tells us how to live our lives in a moral way. Man is not from any ape, believe me. If you were from an ape you would look like an ape. Species of animals produce from their kind. In other words a cow can't mate with an elephant and produce anything. So it is with a human, nothing comes out different from a human except a male or a female which God did create in the beginning with Adam and Eve.
You don't have any real proof that evolution happenned. I have the Word of God. How's that for proof??!!
The introduction to evolutionary biology, by c. colby was a well documented report on evolution and its history, however I have noticed a small error that I think should be made known. In his work he stated that the trypanosoma bacterium was responsible for the spread of malaria, in fact the plasmodium bacterium is the vector. thanks for allowing me that comment
Response from the editor:
The reader's comment has been forwarded to Chris Colby.
I've assigned my students to use your web site as a resource for our 3 week effort to study the sr/ev controversy. It's a college course for non-science majors in which I try to get the students to actually DO science (as much as possible) instead of just learning about it. They will be debating the issue on a local newsgorup. Your site is an excellent resource in many ways and I'd just like to say thanks a heck of a lot for taking the time to run it. Your calm approach is excellent--a more strident approach would turn many people off. the only criticism i can think of is that some of the stuf is a bit too formal--eg. giving text book definitions for "theory" or "2nd law" intead of trying to use a more explatory approach that might be easier to follow. Not much of a criticism though.
Keep it up!
You pointed out, on your web page dedicated to educating evolutionists about debate tactics, that evolution does not need to be defended because it is taught in public schools and colleges. You really need to get a grip. Evolution is being taught because the people who are in control of picking the text books are Liberal Humanists. To think that you all criticize Creationists for making unfounded claims, then make one yourselves. Again, GET A GRIP on reality. Public school curriculum is chosen by POLITICIANS, BUREAUROCRATS, and PUBLISHING COMPANIES, not scientists or teachers! For the last 30 to 40 years humanistic liberals have been the primary contolling element in government and the printed media (of any kind). It is no wonder that evolution is the only theory about the origin of the universe and life on earth!
Where does the natural sciences stand on the issue of the origin of the entire universe at this point? It has been argued by, among others, Bertrand Russell that the universe could very well have existed for ever. I quote Russell in his "Why I Am Not a Christian" (of course, his argument was a philosophical one, but it entails the scientific issue I am wondering about):
I may say that when I was a young man and was debating these questions very seriously in my mind, I for a long time accepted the argument of the First Cause, until one day, at the age of eighteen, I read John Stuart Mill's Autobiography, and I there found this sentence: "My father taught me that the question 'Who made me?' cannot be answered, since it immediately suggests the further question `Who made god?'" That very simple sentence showed me, as I still think, the fallacy in the argument of the First Cause. If everything must have a cause, then God must have a cause. If there can be anything without a cause, it may just as well be the world as God, so that there cannot be any validity in that argument.
Is this view plausible, i.e., is it possible to posit that the universe did not have a beginning, and how does this view relate to the Big Bang theory?
Response from , author of On Creation Science and the Alleged Decay of the Earth's Magnetic Field:
I think there is some confusion here between natural science and natural philosophy. Natural science concerns itself with how the universe behaves, with reference to our innate ability to observe and measure that behavior. Natural philosophy, on the other hand, does concern itself with why the universe behaves the way it does, instead of some other way. Natural philosophy, therefore, may deal with concepts that do not involve observation and measurement, with concepts that may remain unknown and unseen, only contemplated.
First and foremost, big bang theory is nothing more than an idea that provides a uniform framework for understanding how the universe behaves. We observe systematic redshifts, and then try to deduce what macroscopic behavior would produce that observed result. The best idea, but not the only idea, is that the universe is expanding from some as yet indescribable initial state. It is that initial state, perhaps the mere fact of its existence, that causes the problem.
Natural science cannot derive how or why that initial state came to be, but can only infer that such a state once existed, based on the most likely current behavior of the universe. I think, therefore, that the natural sciences remain neutral on the question asked, as a collection of disciplines, but as diverse in opinion as any collection of people of various background and heritage can be. Natural science is short on opinion, but natural scientists are not.
Whether or not one desires that the universe be without a beginning is a matter of philosophical/religious interpretation; I would hazard to guess that the majority of those people who do posit a universe with no beginning, do so in order to eliminate the possible need for the idea of God being responsible for the act of creation. The initial state of the big bang theory may be a true beginning, or it may be only a step in a much longer, maybe infinite process. I know of no scientific reason for choosing one over the other, save that specific scenarios need to be compatible with our observation and understanding of the current universe.
The back door that allows all of this to go on, is that natural science cannot describe the initial state at all, only what it looked like some finite time after the "bang" occurred; that bang itself is the literal beginning of time for a general relativistic theory. But general relativity is a classical theory, and is not adequate by itself for describing what the universe looked like in its earliest post-bang moments. This means that, at least for the time being, we have no scientific tools to describe the infant universe. So, it may still be scientifically valid, for instance, to view the universe as an endless series of expansions and contractions (pending sufficient mass to stop the expansion by gravitation, or the intervention of some other as yet unknown effect to produce the same result). Or, it may still be scientifically valid to consider the universe to have remained in its infant state for a very long time before the "bang" occurred; maybe an infinite time. Or maybe infinite time does not mean what we think, in a physical realm where time itself becomes quantized. In any case, there are enough missing pieces for just about any idea to survive until the tools for its examination are available.
The bottom line, as far as I can tell, is yes, it is possible to posit that the universe had no beginning, despite the appearance of a beginning, as long as the scientific tools remain unavailable for a detailed study of the infant universe (a condition which may be semi-infinte anyway). I am not personally a fan of that notion, I think the appearance of a beginning is strong, and that the universe almost certainly had a unique beginning, and will probably not have a unique end; it will expand forever. But I do dispute the notion that the existence of a unique beginning requires the concept of God.
Thanks for publizing the article about eveloution. I am a freshman at University of San Deigo and the article about the evolution explained a lot of thing I did not understand from my professor.
After all these years of seeing the Salem Hypothesis discussed in talk.origins from time to time, and seeing newcomers come in and ask about it, and seeing attempts at answers, I am surprised a FAQ does not exist here. Could you prevail upon Mr. Salem (Bruce, if I recall correctly) to write one?
Even just a short statement describing exactly what it is and why it was formulated would be nice.
Response from the editor:
For readers wondering what Alex is talking about, the Salem Hypothesis states that creationists with formal educations are more likely to be engineers than they are to be other kinds of scientists. This hypothesis is supported primarily by anecdotal evidence: a good number of creationists who post to talk.origins claim to be engineers, and creationist organizations seem to be disproportionately populated by engineers. Why engineers would be more prone to creationism than other scientists is a good question.
My daughter is a freshman in college. In her Old Testament class she was given the following hand-out. I would ask the creationists/Biblical literalists to explain how, if the flood account is just literal history, could this mirror image be possible? Conversely, why is the flood narrative not something akin to a poem? Why is it not just a later Hebrew version of the Babylonian Gilgamesh epic, which was written about 1,000 years prior to the Hebrew version?
The Genesis Flood Narrative
In an important article "The coherence of the flood narrative, Vestus Testamentum" 23 (1978) p. 336-348, Gordon J. Wenham showed that the narrative of the flood in Genesis 6-9 is quite amazingly complex. The entire narrative is put in the form of an extended palistrophe. That is, the first item in the story matches the last item, and so on. The second half of the stroy is thus a mirror image of the first half. The following chart is reproduced from Wenham's article (p. 338).Genesis 6:10-9:19 A Noah (6:10A) B Shem, Ham, and Japeth (10B) C Ark to be built (14-16) D Flood announced (17) E Covenant with Noah (18-20) F Food in the ark (21) G Command to enter ark (7:1-3) H 7 days waiting for flood (4-5) I 7 Days waiting for flood (7-10) J Entry to ark (11-15) K Yahweh shuts Noah in (16) L 40 days flood (17A) M Waters increase (17B-18) N Mountains covered (19-20) O 150 days waters prevail (21-24) P GOD REMEMBERS NOAH (8:1) O' 150 days waters abate (3) N' mountain tops visible (4-5) M' Waters abate (5) L' 40 days (end of) (6A) K' Noah opens window of ark (6B) J' Raven and dove leave ark (7-9) I' 7 days waiting for waters to subside (10-11) H' 7 days waiting for waters to subside (12-13) G' Command to leave ark (15-17 (22)) f' Food outside ark (9:1-4) E' Covenant with all flesh (8-10) D' no flood in future (11-17) C' Ark (18A) B' Shem, Ham, and japeth (18B) A' Noah (19)
Kathleen Hunt's horse-evolution FAQ is excellent, very welcome. Note that there is even controversy over modern species. I hate to advertise - well, no, I love to advertise actually - but do take a look at my "Horses, Asses and Zebras in the Wild" (David & Charles, 1974), still not so very out of date. Therein I give evidence that Equus Kiang is separable at species level from E.hemionus (but in the book I separated E.quagga from E.burchelli; I now accept that they are conspecific [the prior name for the combined species, incidentally, is E.quagga]). Domestication problems, and a survey of recent equids (especially Middle-Eastern) is given in Richard Meadow & Hans-Peter Uerpmann (eds.), 1986. Equids in the Ancient World. Published by Dr Ludwig Reichert Verlag, Wiesbaden (in the Tubinger Atlas des Vorderen Orients series). There is a fine book on one species, Lee Boyd & Katherine A.Houpt (eds.), 1994, Przewalski's Horse (SUNY Press).
Colin P. Groves
Brilliant work. Every time I come back here there's something new to see or read. Congratulations, folks.
I thought the response by Jim Foley on "mysterious Origins of Man" was very interesting. One of the main themes of the show that Charlton Heston narated, was the idea of a missing link in man's evolutionary tree. The possible evolutionary divergence between chimpanzee and hominids was characterized by hominid's ability to walk on their legs, which freed their hands. This freeing of the hands selected for greater flexibility of the wrists and joints, allowing for prehensile thumbs and index fingers. This new use of the hands increased motor dexterity and neural brain functions, and accompanied a probable transformation of the long neuronal connections of the brain. A probable expansion of the brain core occurred in the hypothalamus and cerebellum as a result of bipedalism. This transormation could have possibly allowed hominids to have the ability for a better memory. One study done by (Holloway 1992:275) suggests that brain transformation in hominids may have occurred early on in the divergence of chimpanzee and hominid. Holloway compares the chimpanzee brain to hominid's endcasp of the cranium. This study suggests the squamosal suture and the occipital bone in hominids are twice the distance in chimpanzees. This would indicate less emphasis on vision in hominids and more attention to dexterity. It could be said that the Chimpanzee's selected for their enviornment by impoved vision, while man had trouble adapting to his and had to evolve. This derived event may have enable Australopithecus to posses an expanded memory with greater short and long term memory.
References Cited: Holloway, R.L., Shapiro, J.S. 1992 Relationship of Squamosal suture to Asterion in Ponginds. American Journal of Physical Anthropology, Vol. 89(3) p.275-282
I read with interest the commentary on the role of male secondary sexual characteristics and why they exist. The author asks why such predator-attracting displays would be beneficial in an evolutionary sense. Theories introduced were the relative unimportance of survival when compared to sexual attractiveness, and the use of brightly-colored displays as an indication of healthiness to potential mates. I think both explanations miss the point. I believe a bold male display sends a very clear message to potential mates: "I'm an easy target for predators, and I'm still alive! I'm one tough hombre -- come share my genes!"
There is a book called "The Neck of the Giraffe" by Francis Hitching, which I think contains the creationist argument that the neck of the giraffe could not have evolved by natural selection.
Could you recommend a book or article that gives the evolutionary answer to this argument? Thank you for your time.
- Walter K.
A visitor from the UK handed me a copy of "The Facts Of Life" by Richard Milton, in response to our debate of creationism vs evolution. Naturally, I was delighted to find your info on the net, which has been printed and forwarded. I am a devout atheist, and a member of the Freedom From religion Foundation, however since I am obsessed with truth Milton's book seemed challenging. I confess to having a marginal science background, therefore Milton's arguments appeared sound, a printing of Chris Stassens response to Walter Brown did wonders ... many thanx
Last month Neil G. attacked evolution on the basis of the distorted views of Adolph Hitler and the eugenics movement. Well Neil, over the centuries, millions of people have been killed, tortured, imprisoned and enslaved by people calling themselves Christians, acting in the name of Christ. That doesn't make Christ's message invalid. If you believe that Christ was not responsible for the Spanish Inquisition or the Ku Klux Klan, then you will have to concede that Charles Darwin is not responsible for Adolph Hitler.
[The following letter was originally entered entirely in capital letters. Out of kindness to the reader, it has been converted to lower-case. -ed.]
I am writing about something i read in you evolution link. It said twards the end that creationalism is "crap". That is wrong. I'm a freshman and i have been taught both arguements. I am also a Christian. I believe that evolution is wrong, not only because i am a christian but also because it is the only thing that could be true. There are so many evolutionary theories that you have many to pick from. There is the big bang theory, if you choose to believe that then you still have to pick one of the many different big bang theories. In creationism there is only 1 main theory. Yes there are people that think that god may have made the days longer to complete the earth in 6 days but other than that the theory stays the same. If you look at fossils that have been found there are highly complex things with other things that are very simple things in the same place and the same period of time. So far there hasn't been a missing link found. Apes are apes and humans are humans. They have always been that way. I could go on and on but i wont. Please tell all the facts if you are going to give any facts at all. Thanks for reading my comment.
Response from the editor:
First, the Big Bang theory is not about biological evolution. The reason there are several different mechanisms for evolution (e.g., natural selection, genetic drift, etc.) is because it's possible for evolution to happen in more than one way.
Second, there are many different theories of creation. Some creationists hold that the Christian God created the Earth a few thousand years ago; others accept the scientific evidence that shows it was formed billions of years ago. Some creationists think God specially created each and every living species (or "kind") of animal that exists today; others believe God employed evolution. So, already you can see that creationism has many forms, and I haven't even accounted for the dozens of non-Christian varieties of creationism yet!
Finally, contrary to the reader's uninformed statement, an abundance of transitional fossils has been discovered. See the Transitional Vertebrate Fossils FAQ and the Fossil Hominids FAQ.
Fascinating compilation. Perhaps the only words listed are those which are actively referenced in ongoing argumentation. However, looking through the list, a few of my favorites are missing: bacteriorhodopsin (a seemingly peculiar coincidence), Bose-Einstein condensation (a quantum membrane characteristic?) chirality (how did the spin get put on?) chronobiology (were entraining rhythms important), photobiology (and halobacteria - when did light play a role?), and piezoelectricity (an interesting property of the notochord).
I thought I should mention that "Sinosauropteryx prima" (as of yet the name is a nomem nudem) is actually a Compsothnathid, and therefore about as far away from an Avian as you can get inside the Theropoda.
So it appears that most small Theropods had feathers so feathers cannot really be used to define Aves, mind you feathers were always a bad characteristic for classifying extinct species as they are rarely preseved.
Response from , author of the Archaeopteryx FAQs:
The modern classification system was created for and therefore heavily influenced by extant organisms. These organisms have a distinct series of characters which make them unique. These characters have been honed by millions of years of evolution such that modern organisms tend to clump into groups of similar body plan. Each organism within these groups shares certain basic (or definitive) characters with other members of that group, but not with any other group. For the most part the intermediaries or stem stock of each group -- or phyla -- have long since disappeared from the biological record and what we see today are derived forms with very few if any intermediate forms. This has given rise to the fact that modern forms in one phyla are very different from forms in another phyla. Whilst this is true, it is very important to note that modern forms in one phyla are not only different, but very distant, in an evolutionary sense (i.e. time to last common ancestor) from forms in another phyla. The morphological differences which are the basis for modern classification have been brought about as much by the evolutionary distance as by anything else.
As we look into the fossil record, we find that these defining morphological characters become fuzzy, and it becomes increasingly difficult to comfortably place fossil species into the modern classification system. The reptile-mammal transition and Archaeopteryx are good examples of this.
Archaeopteryx has been classified as a bird mainly due to the presence of feathers, despite having many more characters in common with other dinosaurs than it does with extant birds. Since the only extant group of organisms which have feathers are birds, the presence of feathers is a very good character for classifying extant organisms. However, if the presence of feathers on Sinosauropteryx is confirmed, it means that, in all probability, several groups of small theropod dinosaurs also had feathers. It also means that transtionary birds did not need to evolve feathers, as they were already present in the ancestral dinosaurs, suggesting that feathers came first -- probably for insulation and/or display.
I have two observations/questions on which I would enjoy hearing your response. In "Evidence for Common Descent and Macroevolution" toward the end in a paragraph beginning, "Transitional fossils between groups have been found." the inference is made that similar skeletal details in a selection of premammals and an early mammal are evidence of transition, yet these samples are "not from a single, unbranched lineage." How does that argument support transition between reptiles and mammals, if they are not in a unbranched line?
Then, in the final paragraph of that portion of the article the statement is made that the prediction that closely related organisms morphologically would have greater more similar gene sequences than morphologically distinct organism. Isn't that begging the question since the assumption in the body of the article is that morphology is the result of particular gene sequences?
I am a software engineer interested in evolution in general and genetic algorithms - programming. I know how theories of evolution affected genetic programming. Can anyone tell me how if at all have the advances in genetic algorithms or programming affected the ways in which evolutionary biologists view biological evolution?
I am a creationist. Many after seeing this comment will automatically think I am a Christian young-earth/ six literal day/ world flood antievolutionist. Yet, I am a creationist that accepts evolution as God's method of Creation and as overwhelming scientific fact. I am a former literalist antievolutionist converted to evolutionary creationist/theistic evolutionist. Yet I have been a creationist all along both before and after my switch to evolution. The point is that there are many different types of creationists. Unless one is a secular evolutionist, he/she is a creationist! True, the Christian young- earth literalists have largely grabbed the term to themselfs.
However, among Christians alone, there are both evolutionary and antievolutinary creationists (young-earth and several types of old earthers like Day-Agers). Lets not forget Buddist, Navajo indian, Muslim and many other creationists and the many variations within each group (antievolutionary and evolutionary.) Talk Orgins Archives does deal with this whole misconception fairly well up to a point.
Unfortunately, many in media, theology, and scientific circles tend to oversimplify this issue as "creationist" vs "evolutionist." While Talk Orgins Archives does go a distance to not fall into this trap, some of your authors and contributers do still refer to young-earthers as "creationists". This matter needs to be corrected. I am a creationist yet I do not like being lumped with the pseudoscience of young-earthers. By more often distinguishing between the different creationists, some air may be taken from the sails of the well meaning but delusioned young-earth literalists.
Otherwise, I find your site to be great. Keep up the hard work.
Thank you very much for the interesting information. I am a Web novice, and had a vague idea that the only things anyone read through this were sicko love notes. This was quite an interesting experience, and worth the trouble. Do keep up the good work.
This is not a comment although I would like to compliment you on your incredible selection of topics. It's a college students dream! Anyways, I'm trying to find information about the effects of oxygen levels and the size of insects. I know Scripps has done some research pertaining to the Permian era, but I was hoping to find more. If you could help me out by giving me some good links to go to I would be very appreciative. Have a splendid day!
Just found your website and am impressed with the work that has gone into it. I personally don't really care if evolution is G-d's method of creation or not, but I do see some fundamental problems for which I have not yet received satisfactory answers. Let me pose just one, albeit a classic one. How does the evolutionary hypothesis deal with the development of the human eye?
Response from the editor:
Richard Dawkins devotes a chapter to the gradual step-wise evolution of the vertebrate eye in his latest book, Climbing Mount Improbable (Norton 1996).