Item #10: My February, 2003, response to item #9 (Mr. Knapp’s "Response to Part 3 of the Debaun [sic] Chronicles") –

TOPICS ADDRESSED IN THIS RESPONSE

1. An object lesson from Matthew 7: 3-5

2. You can lead a horse to water, but...

3. Evolution and the creation of new genetic information

4. Does Phillip Johnson really reject mutation/natural selection as an evolutionary     mechanism?  Do real scientist actually care?

5. What do mainstream scientists think of Johnson's "Darwin on Trial?"

6. Microevolution vs. Macroevolution: A false dichotomy

7. The peppered moth, a creationist poster child in micro/macro debate

8. Animal breeding, Adam and Eve, and the "no new information" argument

9. The value of live evolution/creation debates is, to say the least, debatable.

10. The dismal state of science literacy

11. WWPD?  (What would Phillip do?)

12. Dredging up outdated quotations from the past - a favorite creationist modus operandi

13. Sarfati confuses (purposefully?) methodological naturalism with philosophical materialism.

14. Faith does not validate scientific theory.

15. If it ain't naturalistic, it ain't science. And creationism ain't naturalistic.

16. More dialogue pertaining to the conflict between scientific naturalism and religious supernaturalism

17. A summary of some questions Mr. Knapp has evaded during the course of our dialogue

18. Concluding thoughts

(Mr. Knapp's commentary is in regular type.  My comments follow in bold type. Quotations from previous articles are indicated in blue.)

1. An object lesson from Matthew 7: 3-5

Due to Mr. Debaun's lack of courtesy and ad hominem approach to our discussion, I've made this my last correspondence with him. This means no more letters in the mail Mr. Debaun. Mr. Debaun's true colors were showing in his last article. His last article has been mostly rejected due to his lack of objectivity and civility. To much of his articles have been based on character assassination of creationists verses sticking with the arguments based on a defense for his belief in evolution. To his credit he did send another toned down version of the most recent chapter to our debate. Never the less, I will not change my mind since I've seen his true character and motives on display. I think you will find enough evidence for this in our exchanges I have posted in the feedback section. I believe I have adequately refuted his arguments, demonstrating his biased, closed minded, and militant anti creationist attitude.

Frankly I doubt that Mr. Knapp’s sensibilities are that easily offended. Accusations regarding my lack of courtesy and civility ring rather hollow coming from someone who has repeatedly addressed me with such questionable language as: "This religious-like attitude [of mainstream scientists] rears its ugly head in bigoted stifling of critical examination of alternative views…", "Like many atheistic evolutionists on a militant, anti-thiestic [sic] crusade, your claim is yet another spurious attempt to discredit the Bible and defend your atheistic faith in evolutionism." (nice example of ad hominem argumentation), "If someone is going to defend evolution like he is, he should at least have a basic understanding of some of the evidence in question." (insinuating that I do not have any basic knowledge of this subject), "That is why atheists are at the forefront of promoting the public acceptance of evolution – it promotes their atheistic faith." (another example of ad hominem argumentation), "Mr. Debaun’s [sic] article here drips with near hostility toward those of faith.", "I seriously doubt Mr. Debaun [sic] would know a Christian from a Hare Krishna.", "That is false and your diatribe here is proof of it.", "…your Biblical confusion is due to your own biased and convoluted view of it.", "Maybe the degrees you have aren’t worth the paper on which they are written.", "Does the word ‘hypocrite’ come to mind?" (referring to my supposed appeal to authority), "This is a common and dishonest ploy…", "…sophomoric diatribe from Mr. Debaun [sic].", "…zealous a-priori commitment to his beloved theory, which severely erodes his credibility and effectively disqualifies him from any claim to objectivity." (yet another fine example ad hominem language), "This just reflects your complete lack of understanding.", "It is inexcusable [for me] to be ignorant of details…", "…outdated and dishonest argument…", "…you don’t even have a reasonable grasp of the creation/evolution issue.", "…demonstrates prejudicial attitude displayed by many militant anti-creationists.", "…less-than-honest portrayal and inaccurate understanding of the creationist position.", "…revealing his biased and prejudiced attitude…", "…his biased, closed minded, and militant anti-creationist attitude.", etc.

While my responses to Mr. Knapp may not have been entirely free of sarcasm and the occasional put down (most often made in retaliation against his own acerbic comments), his self-righteous indignation over this matter is duplicitous and completely unjustified. If he does not wish to be on the receiving end of what he considers to be discourteous discourse, then he should avoid engaging in it himself. Anyone who establishes a website that impugns the motives and integrity of those who accept a well-established scientific theory that is endorsed by every reputable scientific organization in the world should not expect all the feedback to be conciliatory. And anyone who voluntarily interjects his religion into the fracas should not expect it to be exempt from critical comments. If Mr. Knapp continues to solicit feedback on his website, he would  be well advised to get over his persecution complex and come to the realization that what is good for the goose, is also good for the gander.

It is a common tactic of creationists to complain that they are being verbally abused and treated disrespectfully by those who disagree with them.  Any argument that casts doubt on their religious beliefs is interpreted by them as a personal and unwarranted attack that transcends the limits of civilized debate.  But the truth is, it is impossible to advance meaningful arguments against the tenets of creationism without calling into question the biblical teachings on which those tenets are formulated. To prohibit any critical comments that impinge on the accuracy of a literally interpreted Bible would end the debate before it begins.  It is ironic that, although creationists have no qualms about casting aspersions on beliefs of evolutionists, they become surprisingly hypersensitive when the shoe is on the other foot.

This sanctimonious condemnation of the "style" of arguments offered by the evolutionists affords the creationists with a handy excuse to avoid dealing with the "substance" of those arguments.  In this respect, Mr. Knapp’s histrionics regarding my writing style provide him with, what he pretends to be, a valid justification for evading the facts that contradict his worldview. Unable to develop any reasonable arguments to discredit the scientific evidence I have presented in support of the theory of evolution (or to explain how it fits into the scheme of the young-earth creationist (YEC) model), he has concocted a rationale for ignoring it. Feigning disgust at my writing style, Mr. Knapp can now blissfully dismiss the evidence I have presented by pretending that my latter responses to him are not worthy of his attention. I leave it to the readers of these articles to judge for themselves who has been the most flagrant offender in the use of derogatory language.

I'll keep my response here as brief as possible.

At the risk of Mr. Knapp hurling further accusations of incivility at me, let me just say, thank goodness for small favors.

2. You can lead a horse to water, but...

Some key points to gather from our exchanges.

Mr. Debaun did not  give one piece of conclusive evidence for evolution. His arguments we primarily based on "because most evolutionists believe such and such , evolution must be true."

It would appear that Mr. Knapp does not recognize "conclusive evidence" even when it is staring him directly in the face. I have made repeated references to the Talkorigins website which is brimming with more "conclusive evidence" than most people can assimilate in a lifetime. I have also directed Mr. Knapp to several other websites that present evidence in favor of evolution (i.e., The National Center for Science Education, The American Scientific Affiliation (a Christian site), Creation Science and Earth History, and the faithreason.org site (another Christian site)). These sites delineate and discuss volumes of pro-evolution evidence. I did not realize that Mr. Knapp expected me to personally spoon feed all of this information directly to him. I assumed that someone, like Mr. Knapp, who gives the appearance of being so engrossed in the subject and who professes to be so open-minded about it would take it on his own initiative to read some of this material for himself. But, as they say, "You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink."  

In my letter of 4/10/02, I listed a number of specific lines of evidence relating to the fossil record and to molecular genetic, comparative embryological, and homology studies that conclusively support the theory of evolution. I presented this evidence in the form of questions for Mr. Knapp to answer in terms of the YEC model. It would appear from Mr. Knapp’s complete failure to acknowledge any of them, that he and his advisors have been unable to provide non-miraculous, strictly scientific explanations that conform to their Genesis-based model (which they stridently proclaim to be a legitimate scientific model). Nor have they been able to concoct reasonable arguments to demonstrate that this evidence does not provide convincing support for the evolutionary model. Hence we are treated to Mr. Knapp’s display of hypersensitivity regarding my writing style and his refusal to sully his reputation by responding to my questions. Mr. Knapp was not so insulted that he could not respond with a rather lengthy exposition on lawyer Phillip Johnson’s polemic against evolution. And he was not so taken aback that he could not bring himself to expound in some detail on my religious beliefs and to pad his response with a number of largely irrelevant quotations. Instead of providing any direct answers to the aforementioned questions, he chose to evade them by throwing up a smoke screen of philosophical palaver. Does he really expect the discerning reader to believe that, if he could have answered any of these questions in a straightforward and convincing manner, he would not have done so?

Truth be known, most creationists refuse to be swayed by any evidence in favor of evolution no matter how conclusive, how voluminous, or how persuasive it might be. Their commitment to the YEC model is a deeply emotional one that derives from fervently held religious beliefs. The theory of evolution is viewed by creationists as a threat to their cherished beliefs - just as the church once considered the heliocentric theory to be a threat to its sacred doctrine. Any evidence that supports the theory of evolution is automatically discounted or summarily ignored. (See the example of Kurt Wise in my response of 11/25/01). The specific lines of evidence I presented in my letter of 4/10/02 represent only a miniscule portion of the enormous database that bolsters the evolutionary model. If Mr. Knapp and his fellow creationists want to ignore it, that is their prerogative. But ignoring it does not make it go away. Those scientists who do not ignore it (the vast majority of scientists worldwide) consider it to be but a small sampling of the overwhelming body of "conclusive evidence" on which the theory of evolution is constructed.

(It is ironic that Mr. Knapp makes such a fuss about my supposed failure to provide any "conclusive evidence for evolution" when he, himself, has consistently failed to provide anything remotely resembling "conclusive evidence" to substantiate his own claims of a young earth.)

 (2) Mr. Debaun doesn't understand the difference between Micro and Macro evolution. -Assuming the former is proof of the latter. A critical mistake.

The mistake is in Mr. Knapp’s misconception that I do not know the difference. See below.

3. Evolution and the creation of new genetic information

 Quote from his rejected article. 

This was regarding me asking him to define evolution.

[Tim Knapp] …not exactly a solid explanation.  Descent with modification is largely a vacuous statement. It really explains nothing.

[ Mr. Debaun] Well then, how about defining it as:

"…any change in the frequency of alleles within a gene pool from one generation to the next."

(Helen Curtis and N. Sue Barnes, "Biology", 5th ed. 1998, Worth Publishers, p. 974)

[This is still meaningless.]

 

or as:

"…a cumulative change in the characteristics of organisms or populations from generation to generation." (Academic Press Science Dictionary)

 

There is a big difference between saying "decent with modification" and saying "cumulative change" What Mr. Debaun is trying to say is that he believes that frogs became princes by the accumulation of gradual changes over millions of years. Where are the examples of organisms producing new genetic information today? Like a new gene?  What's the mechanism? zilch! There are none. No examples given.

Ah yes, the old princes from frogs analogy. I understand this corny chestnut still brings guffaws from the creationist crowd. Notwithstanding the fact that evolutionists do not believe humans evolved from frogs, how is this ancestral relationship any more farfetched than the dirt to Adam to rib to Eve story told in the Bible?

Frankly, I wonder if Mr. Knapp has ever bothered to read all that I have written to him. In my letter of 4/10/02, I specifically addressed his question regarding the natural generation of new genetic information. I explained in some detail how gene duplication/divergence acts as one mechanism that accounts for this increase in information. Of the more than 40,000 human genes, about 15,000 give evidence of having been introduced by this means. In his response, Mr. Knapp gives the false impression that I have completely ignored his question. If I had not decided to develop this website, no one would have been the wiser. If Mr. Knapp is unaware of my answer to his question, then he is revealing his lack of thoroughness in reading what I have communicated to him. If he did know of it, but elected to give the impression that I had not responded, then he is disingenuous in portraying himself as someone who is providing an honest accounting of the facts. Either way, his credibility is called seriously into question.

Another natural mechanism for producing new genetic information (in addition to gene duplication and divergence) is polyploidy, in which case entire chromosomes are duplicated. Polyploidy occurs primarily in plants and has been responsible for the development of many species of common garden flowers. The evidence indicates that about half of the flowering plants have originated in this manner.

For more details and numerous examples relating to the natural origin of new genetic information see here.

New genetic information has been shown to arise naturally through a variety of mechanisms: 1. duplications of genes, genomes, groups of genes, exons, and control regions, 2. operation of transposable elements [so-called jumping genes] that add coding or regulatory regions, 3. exon shuffling, and 4. mutation/modification (particularly important in the case of regulatory genes where changes can alter a gene’s activity or timing of expression). While I wouldn’t expect Mr. Knapp to bother to investigate any of the examples I have listed above, if he would, he would find that the natural formation of new genetic information is a scientifically documented and verified fact. It might also start to dawn on him that he is being seriously misinformed by his not-so-trustworthy science advisors.

4. Does Phillip Johnson really reject mutation/natural selection as an evolutionary mechanism?  Do real scientist actually care?

Here is another example of his lack of understanding. He accuses me of making false statement then offers no evidence to back it up other then a quote from his opposition!  He incredulously goes on to misquote Philip Johnson.  

[TK] Of course, no mechanism proposed for evolution has ever been demonstrated to work.

[JD] Patently false statements like this one only lead to further erosion of your credibility. Even one of the most prominent evolution bashers in the country, Phillip Johnson, disagrees with you. In "Evolution as Dogma: The Establishment of Naturalism", Johnson states, "Nobody doubts that evolution occurs, in the narrow sense that certain things happen naturally." and "Examples of this kind [peppered moths] allow Darwinists to assert as beyond question that ‘evolution is fact’ and natural selection is an important directing force in evolution."

   Nothing like quoting out of context. I read this book. Another words, what Phillip Johnson is saying is, if we want to call these limited variations within some organisms evolution, then we would have to conceded that evolution occurs. This really isn't evolution. Especially Macro evolution.  What Mr. Debaun plainly can’t comprehend is the difference between macro and micro evolution. Even after I clearly discussed it in my last rebuttal. What  Mr. Debaun fails to add is that Johnson does not recognize these kinds of limited changes as evidence for gue-to-you evolution, i.e., Macro evolution. Johnson better refers to these changes as limited variation.

My answer was given in response to Mr. Knapp’s assertion that "no mechanism proposed for evolution has ever been demonstrated to work." Phillip Johnson accepts so-called microevolution. Microevolution is a form of evolution that operates at the sub-species level. Phillip Johnson accepts the fact that microevolution occurs through known natural mechanisms such as natural selection. Therefore, I was correct when I pointed out that Phillip Johnson disagrees with Mr. Knapp's assertion. Be that as it may, in terms of a serious scientific discussion of the subject, it matters little what Johnson has to say about the complexities of evolutionary theory. Johnson is a lawyer with no formal training whatsoever in the biological sciences. His knowledge of the details of evolutionary processes is rudimentary, at best. His pronouncements regarding the scientific aspects of evolution carry no more weight than do the personal opinions of a paleontologist commenting on the intricacies of case law. Furthermore, we all know that it is not the primary goal of a lawyer to discover the truth. Their primary goal is to win a favorable verdict for the client, no matter how much truth stretching, obfuscation, and manipulative rhetoric might be required to achieve that end. Johnson is attempting to highjack what should be a discussion centered on the merits of the scientific evidence and to turn it into a legalistic sideshow focused on philosophical irrelevancies. Like Mr. Knapp, he fails to recognize that the philosophical beliefs of scientists are irrelevant as far as the proper conduct of science is concerned.

Johnson has consistently shown disdain for the YEC worldview and has spoken disparagingly of biblical literalism. To quote him directly, "I am not interested in any claims that are based upon a literal reading of the Bible." A representative of the Intelligent Design (ID) group (of which Johnson is one of the Grand Pooh-Bahs) has referred to YECs as "guitar-strumming hillbillies." Most members of the ID crowd are advocates of an old earth (i.e., billions of years old) and some, such as Michael Behe, accept the evolutionary concept of descent with modification and cumulative change. It is amazing to me that Mr. Knapp continues to promote the teachings of an organization that has such low regard for his own beliefs.

5. What do mainstream scientists think of Johnson's "Darwin on Trial?"

Just read his excellent book, Darwin on trial.  

As might be expected, it is difficult to find anything but obsequious praise for Johnson’s book coming from the creationist camp. However, to see what other Christians and mainstream scientists think of Johnson’s "excellent" book, see: "The Mistrial of Evolution", by a Christian chemistry professor (www.asa3.org/gray/evolution_trial/dotreview.html); "The Truth, The Whole Truth, and Nothing but the Truth?" (www.talkdesign.org/faqs/johnson.html#part9); (www.ncseweb.org) à Resources à "Darwin Prosecuted: Review of Johnson’s ‘Darwin on Trial’"; and "Postscript I of the review of Johnson’s Darwin on Trial" (http://home.planet.nl/~gkorthof/kortho19.htm). To those who take an informed and critical look, Johnson’s book comes across as an ill-founded philosophical polemic against the theory of evolution that is littered with recycled and long-discredited creationist half-truths and misinformation. Johnson faults evolutionary scientists for rejecting supernatural and miraculous explanations. In doing so, he reveals his profound misunderstanding of the evolutionary sciences, in particular, and the scientific method, in general.

The author of the above referenced review, "The Truth, The Whole Truth, and Nothing but the Truth?", describes himself as a scientist and a "serious Christian."  An excerpt from this review reads as follows:

"I found that almost every scientific source cited by Johnson had been misused or distorted, in ways ranging from single misrepresentation and innuendos to the construction of what appears to be outright fiction.  The more closely I examined Darwin on Trial, the more inaccuracies I found, until it became almost impossible to catalogue all of the misleading statements in Johnson's work.  This book - upon which the 'intelligent design' movement is trying to hand a program of social reform and public education - is perhaps the ugliest and most deceptive book I have ever seen."

Only someone easily duped by the specious rhetoric of a Darwin-doubting conman would ever characterize "Darwin on Trial" as an "excellent book."

6. Microevolution vs. Macroevolution: A false dichotomy

What Mr. Debaun and many other zealots have swallowed is many of  their high priests call these small insignificant variations within genetically stable populations evolution, therefore everything else they tell you about evolution, i.e., simple celled organisms evolved into people,  must be true. This is an important distinction for him to understand. Apparently he ignored or didn't understand my discussion regarding the difference between microevolution and macroevolution in my first response.

Just to clarify matters, religious organizations are the ones that have priests, not the scientific establishment. Science does not need authority figures to preserve immutable dogma, because, unlike religious institutions, science does not embrace immutable dogma. If anyone is guilty of swallowing  indiscriminately, it is Mr. Knapp who has so voraciously devoured the steady diet of baloney that is continuously extruded by the creationist propaganda machine.

Mr. Knapp is incorrect in stating that mainstream science insists that macroevolution "must" be true. Evolutionary scientists maintain that, when the evidence is examined objectively and in its entirety, microevolution and macroevolution currently provide the best scientific explanations for the diversity of life on earth. Unlike creationists, legitimate scientists do not make dogmatic statements about the TRUTH of their conjectures. As one scientist, Dr. Steven D. Schafersman, puts it, "Science does not make statements about the ultimate nature of reality, but about the proximate nature of the universe." Scientific theories are only as good as the evidence which supports them and, if new evidence indicates they are in error, then those theories must be modified or abandoned altogether in keeping with the tenets of the scientific method. At the present, after some 150 years of investigation, no hard scientific evidence has been produced that raises any serious concerns among knowledgeable scientists about the reality of macroevolution.

I most certainly did understand Mr. Knapp’s statements regarding the difference between microevolution and macroevolution and I also understood his contention that the latter has not occurred. That is why I specifically addressed the issue and included specific questions for him regarding the fossil record, molecular biological studies, and homology in my response of 4/10/02. If Mr. Knapp is of the opinion that these of lines of evidence (when considered in a unifying context) do not provide meaningful support for macroevolution, then he should explain why and tell us how they better comport with the YEC model. Otherwise his protestations against macroevolution amount to nothing more than vacuous arguments from incredulity.

Creationists often call micro evolution, variation. I think variation is a better term then calling this micro evolution, or evolution for that matter.  This is because the latter is deceptive. Another words it's like saying, "since peppered moths varied slightly in color, and evolutionists want to call this evolution, then apes must have evolved into humans."  This is gullible to say the least. WE are talking about two entirely different concepts comparing peppered moth variations and with the so called evolution of man from apes. The situation about the peppered moths is nothing more then variation within a genetically stable population. No new genetic information is being added to the genetic code as would be required if evolution were true.

Yes, I am sure Mr. Knapp would prefer to use "variation" rather than that nasty "e" word. Nonetheless, evolution continues to be defined in scientific circles as "change in allele frequencies from one generation to the next." And that is exactly what microevolution and macroevolution are all about. Mr. Knapp accusing an evolutionist of gullibility is like Bill Clinton accusing President Bush of sexual impropriety in the White House.

In reality, there is only one type of evolution. When it is observed in the short term within species, it is sometimes called "microevolution." When it is observed over longer periods of time to result in the emergence of new species and higher taxa, it is sometimes referred to as "macroevolution." The evidence that supports microevolution is so abundant and persuasive that even the creationists can no longer deny that it occurs. Macroevolution, on the other hand, normally involves more extensive changes in morphology that require substantial amounts of time and more complex genetic modifications. Macroevolution usually occurs over much longer time scales than does microevolution and is, therefore, not normally amenable to direct observation within the human life span. In this case scientists must use inference (as they do in other scientific disciplines such as particle physics, astrophysics, geology, microbiology, chemistry, etc) to formulate an explanation for the observations they make. Macroevolution is inferred from the study of such things as shared and derived phenotypic characters, the hierarchical relationships among organisms, genetic similarities using molecular techniques, biogeographic distributions, comparative embryology, and the composition of the fossil record.

Studies of the Hawaiian silverswords illustrate how some of these methods are used to establish evolutionary relationships.  The silverswords, which the evidence indicates evolved from a single genetic colonizer, are comprised of some 30 species that exhibit enormous phenotypic diversity in spite of relatively similar genetic relationships.  For a discussion of this topic, see "Adaptive Radiation and Hybridization in the Hawaiian Silversword Alliance" at www.botanty.hawaii.edu/faculty/carr/radiation.htm

There is overwhelming evidence for a genetic connection and continuity among all living organisms through time. For example, humans have some genetic sequences that are identical to those of the most primitive bacteria that lived more than 3.5 billion years ago – preserved because they are essential to basic biological functions. For a summary of some of the lines of evidence that support the concept of macroevolution see, "29+ Evidences for Macroevolution" at www.talkorigins.org. It is informative to read the questions raised about this article by young-earth creationist Ashby Camp and author Douglas Theobald’s response to them. Again, if Mr. Knapp wants us to take his argument (that the YEC model is at least as good as the evolutionary model) seriously, he must explain how his model accounts for these facts as well as the currently accepted, mainstream scientific model does. It is hard for me to imagine how anyone who would take the time to examine these 29+ evidences with an open mind (i.e., without the blinders of religious dogmatism firmly in place) and to consider them in their totality, could fail to arrive at the conclusion that they provide "conclusive evidence" for common ancestry and the interconnectedness of all life forms on earth. While it is doubtful that dyed-in-the-wool creationists will find these lines of evidence convincing, the fact remains that the vast majority of scientists do.

7. The peppered moth, a creationist poster child in micro/macro debate

It's dumb founding that even PhDs can miss this.  Peppered moths are not evolving into anything. Actually, evolutionist's old classic peppered moth example of evolution has fallen into serious question. Check out: http://trueorigin.org/pepmoth1.asp and http://www.answersingenesis.org/Docs/4105.asp .

What is dumb-founding is that someone who admits to having no advanced scientific education would have the gall to insinuate that he is more knowledgeable about a specific area of scientific investigation than are those who have spent a good part of their lives studying the subject in excruciating detail. In spite of Mr. Knapp's claim of superior insight into this matter, he has here again demonstrated his tenuous grasp of the facts.

Mr. Knapp is erecting another a straw man argument with his unfounded criticism of the peppered moth studies. Evolutionists have never considered these studies to be examples of macroevolution. They have always been understood to be examples of microevolution (in this case – natural selection acting on the genetic diversity of a population to change the allele frequencies in subsequent generations). The fact that Mr. Knapp thinks otherwise is testament to his lack of understanding of the subject.  To appreciate just how misleading and unprofessional Mr. Knapp’s web references on this subject actually are, see "Icons of Obfuscation, Chapter 7: Peppered Moths" at www.talkorigins.org/faqs/wells/#moths. This article provides some good examples of the kinds of deceptive tactics so-called creation "scientists" often employ in order to bamboozle those who are unfamiliar with the primary literature.

Prior to the advent of modern molecular genetic studies, there were nagging questions about how known genetic mechanisms could account for macromolecular changes, even over extended time scales. Now it is known that major changes in morphology don’t always require extensive genetic changes. New advances in molecular biology show that relatively modest changes in the timing, duration, and location of regulatory genes can result in significant changes in morphology. Extensive genetic change, mediated by chromosomal rearrangements, has been observed, both in the lab and in the wild. Chromosomal rearrangements involve the aforementioned genome duplications, unequal crossing over, inversions, translocations, fissions, fusions, and deletions. In my response of 4/10/02, I provided the example of a rather basic modification of a so-called Hox gene that causes major changes in body design. For more information on the role that Hox genes play in macroevolution see, "Homeobox Genes and Macroevolution" (www.mlamutations.com/myrants/macroevolution/macroevolution.html). It is expected that future research involving Hox genes will contribute greatly to our understanding of macroevolutionary processes.

There are no known characteristics of the genetic apparatus, nor any known mechanisms of inheritance, nor any known basic properties of living systems that prohibit macroevolution from occurring. And as discussed above, there is abundant evidence that it has occurred. If Mr. Knapp, with his self-proclaimed superior insight into these matters, knows of any limiting factor, then he should present it to the scientific community for validation. If creationists like Mr. Knapp want mainstream scientists to take them seriously, they have the burden of proof to show that some, as yet unidentified, mechanism exists to prevent known genetic interactions from producing macromolecular changes. Until they do, their argument against macroevolution remains nothing but baseless assertion that ignores the wealth of evidence against them. For more information on this subject, see "Genetic Barriers Don’t Exist" at www.talkorigins.org/origins/postmonth/jul01.html.

8. Animal breeding, Adam and Eve, and the "no new information" argument

Evolutionists will use the same kind of logic when looking at the variability in Dogs. But is this really evolution? The last time I checked dogs are still dogs. There is no evidence that new genetic information has been added. If anything, the hybridized dog’s are less fit to survive, exhibiting a downward progression of mutation and survivability, verses an upward progression and increase in genetic information that evolution requires. 

Here we are treated to yet another strawman argument from Mr. Knapp. No evolutionist in his/her right mind would ever trot out dog breeding as an example of natural evolution in action. In the case of natural evolution, organisms are selected for on the bases of their enhanced ability to adapt to their environments and to reproduce in the wild. In the case of dog breeding, enhanced survival and fecundity normally have very little to do with the process. Instead, such factors as size, shape, disposition, and hair characteristics are artificially selected for. However, even with dog breeding, it is possible to gain an appreciation for the potential that selective pressures and genetic diversity can have for modifying body morphology. It is true that all dogs are, by definition, still dogs. Nonetheless, it is unlikely that a pint-sized, 7-inch-tall Chihuahua and a 200-pound, 30-inch-tall Mastiff could be able to reproduce naturally if left to their own devices. Since a common definition of a species describes it as an interbreeding group of individuals, these two dog breeds are, for all intents and purposes, two different species. I think most people would agree that the difference between a Chihuahua and a Mastiff is at least as great as that between a fox and a wolf.  Yet the fox and the wolf belong to two different genera!  (See here for further discussion on the subject.)  Furthermore, artificial breeding programs have produced entirely new species of plants. Trithordeum (a cross between durum wheat and barley) and Triticale (a cross between durum wheat and rye) are two examples.

Contrary to Mr. Knapp’s contention that artificial breeding leads primarily to "downward progression" and less fitness, animal and plant breeding programs have provided a number of significant improvements in desired traits that benefit mankind. Examples include foods with improved nutritional value, higher crop yields, increased insect and disease resistance, better food quality, improved storage stability, improved adaptability to harsh growing conditions, better fiber production, and enhanced meat and milk quality and quantity. Almost all crops we now cultivate bear little resemblance to the wild types from which they were developed by artificial breeding programs. World food production has doubled in the last 40 years in large part through the efforts of these breeding programs. Furthermore, with regard to dog breeding, a number of the breeds are classified as "hardy".

As is evident from Mr. Knapp’s remarks, creationists commonly argue that breeding programs do not involve the introduction of any new genetic information. Instead they insist that such programs merely select from a pool of pre-existing genetic diversity that was introduced when all the "kinds" were supernaturally created some 10,000 years ago. According to this hypothesis, any changes to the genome are deleterious. (This, of course, ignores the fact that plant breeders sometimes use mutations that are induced by chemicals and radiation to generate new variation to augment the breeding process.) As we have also seen, creationists further argue that since (according to the YEC model) new genetic information cannot arise naturally, macroevolution (which requires new genetic information) cannot occur.

Unfortunately for the creationists, this scenario impales them firmly on the horns of a dilemma. For each gene in each human genome, there are two variants called alleles (one maternally inherited and the other paternally inherited). Any one person can possess no more than two alleles for any given gene (by being heterozygous). That means, in the case of the eight voyagers that are said to have been on Noah’s Ark, there could have been no more than 16 different alleles for any particular gene. But it turns out that for some human genes, there are many more than 16 alleles. For example, in the case of one of the major histocompatibility complex genes (designated HLA-DRB-1), there are 59 alleles represented in the human population. Assuming for the sake of argument that the Flood story is not a myth based on an ancient Sumerian legend, where did the other 43 alleles (representing new genetic information) come from, if not from macroevolutionary processes? And what is even more baffling, how could the entire assortment of alleles that now exists in the human population have originated from just two people (the hypothetical Adam and Eve) who, together, could possess a maximum of only four alleles per each gene? If creationists must resort to some kind of miraculous intervention to explain these facts, then they are admitting that the YEC model does not conform to accepted scientific standards.

9. The value of live evolution/creation debates is, to say the least, debatable.

(3.) In his rejected article, Mr. Debaun makes excuses why evolutionists lose most of their debates with creationists, while at the same time taking shots at those who demur from his position.

[JD] Scientists do sometimes fair rather poorly in such debates because they are not trained as professional debaters as are most of the more prominent creationist speakers. [False-Creation scientists simply let the facts speak for themselves. If the evidence was  so overwhelming in favor of evolution you wouldn't have to be an expert debater to prove it. ]

Here’s a typical scenario in a public evolution/creation debate:

In his first presentation period, the creationist lets fly with a barrage of misstatements about the evolutionary process.

In his first presentation period, the evolutionist attempts to educate the audience on the basics of paleontology, biochemistry, geology, anatomy, embryology, molecular genetics, etc. so that he can begin to address the creationist’s first round of misinformation.

In his next presentation period, the creationist unloads another steaming pile of pseudoscientific malarkey.

During his next presentation period, the evolutionist continues to provide necessary background information and becomes frustrated when he realizes that he has time to adequately deal with only a fraction of the creationist’s erroneous claims.

In his summary, the creationist chides the evolutionist for not properly dealing with all the points he has made.

In his summary, the evolutionist doesn’t have time to summarize anything because he is still struggling (within the time limit) to educate the audience about a few of the creationist’s most flagrant bloopers.

In evolution/creation debates before live audiences, the cold hard facts often have limited persuasive value. Once the evolutionist begins to defend his/her position by presenting a detailed analysis of the facts, the audience’s eyes often start to glaze over. It is most often flamboyance, charisma, and rhetorical flair that win the day in these situations. Besides, who determines the winner of these debates and what criteria do they utilize? (Does Mr. Knapp actually have factual evidence to back up his claim that creationists win 99% of these encounters?)  Is the winner the one who sticks to the scientific facts (no matter how boring they may be) and provides verifiable evidence to support his/her side? Or is the winner the one who plays fast and loose with the facts, appeals to the audience's religious presuppositions, and unleashes a well-choreographed, rapid-fire attack that leaves his/her opponent little time to adequately respond? In my experience with reading these debates, it is often the latter type of approach (as commonly practiced by the creationists) that seems to impress the audience the most.

As I have stated elsewhere, a live public debate is not the appropriate venue in which to determine the correctness or incorrectness of a scientific theory. Scientific theories demonstrate their correctness in experimental laboratories, carefully controlled field studies, and peer-reviewed journals, not on the debate floor before lay audiences. Just because creationists would like to turn the scientific process into a theatrical performance does not mean that scientists are obliged to accommodate them.

Furthermore, scientists often find themselves in front of unsympathetic audiences composed largely of bused-in church groups, and they are often bombarded with a deluge of questions encompassing a large variety of scientific disciplines that require time-consuming and complex answers. [Evolutionists often find themselves on secular college campuses losing debates to creationists. They try to avoid an academic crowd because it would be more embarrassing to lose before that crowd. ]

Most scientists avoid debating with creationists before live audiences because they are aware of the dubious tactics creationists often employ in such situations. See www.talkorigins.org  for "Debates and the Globetrotters" for more insight on this topic. Nonetheless, some evolutionists are not opposed to jumping into the fray. Ken Saladin is one such individual and a reproduction of his debate with Duane Gish can be found at www.infidels.org/library/modern/ken_saladin/saladin-gish2/index.shtml. I think that an honest assessment of this debate would lead one to conclude that Saladin had come out on top. I imagine most creationists would see it the other way around. That is why attempting to declare a winner in such a contest is a rather meaningless exercise.

A better method of debating these issues publicly involves use of an Internet format where neither side is permitted to get away with misstatements, half-truths, or outright lies. For an example of an interesting debate using this format, see the Miller – Johnson Debate at www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/odyssey/debate/. In this format both sides have time to investigate and correct errors made by their opponents thus avoiding many of the pitfalls inherent in the time-constrained, live audience fiascos. I have seen Ken Miller debate creationists live and unrehearsed, and, as in the case of this Internet debate, I think he presented the most convincing arguments. I suspect many, if not most, creationists would disagree with me.

All the creationists have tofo [to] say is "God did it" and the audience goes wild with a chorus of amens [I've listened to a good number of debates. This is a patently false statement and a distortion of the truth.]

Perhaps I was thinking more in terms of the Ken Ham dog and pony shows. I am willing to acknowledge a bit of hyperbole on my part in this instance.

10. The dismal state of science literacy

  Couple these handicaps with the generally dismal science literacy of the audience members, and the scientists [Evolutionists] can find themselves at a considerable disadvantage in these types of exchanges. Note. Mr. Debaun's treatment of church people and the general populace as scientific illiterates. This kind of elitist arrogance is splashed throughout his articles and must be offensive to many readers I would imagine.

It is not "elitist arrogance" to present the truth – even though some may not want to hear it. The Third International Mathematics and Science Study conducted in 1998 found that the top performers among final-year secondary students were from the Netherlands and Sweden. The lowest performers were from Cyprus, South Africa, the Czech Republic, and the United States. The Science and Engineering Report from 1996 concluded that many Americans have little understanding of science. In this study, fewer than one in ten could properly describe a molecule. The National Science Foundation Biennial Report (2002) found that 70% of Americans do not understand the scientific process. In this study some 40% of those queried accepted the scientific validity of astrology, 46% did not know how long it takes the Earth to orbit the Sun, only 51% knew that antibiotics could not kill viruses, and 56% erroneously thought that lasers operate by focusing sound waves. These facts should be offensive (and worrisome) to all readers. A country that does not maintain a high level of science literacy will find itself seriously handicapped in this increasingly more scientifically and technologically oriented world. If nothing else, these results go a long way toward explaining why creationist debaters are often so successful in pulling the wool over their audience’s eyes. See "Science Literacy" at www.space.com/opinionscolumns/gentrylee/science_literacy_gentry_000804.html for further comment.

11. WWPD?  (What would Phillip do?)

(4.) The crux of the matter.                                                          Naturalism

       The key to the whole argument is the underlying philosophy of naturalism.

"The framework behind the evolutionists’ interpretation is naturalism — it is assumed that things made themselves, that no divine intervention has happened, and that God has not revealed to us knowledge about the past. Evolution is a deduction from this assumption, and it is essentially the idea that things made themselves. It includes these unproven ideas: nothing gave rise to something at an alleged "big bang," non-living matter gave rise to life, single-celled organisms gave rise to many-celled organisms, invertebrates gave rise to vertebrates, ape-like creatures gave rise to man, non intelligent and amoral matter gave rise to intelligence and morality, man’s yearnings gave rise to religions, etc. The primary presupposition of evolutionism starts with his religious/philosophical belief system. This is a materialistic/naturalist belief system. Materialism and naturalism is essentially the same.

The theory of biological evolution has nothing to do with the "big bang" nor the origin of the first live replicators. Mr. Knapp will have to blame those ideas on scientists who specialize in the areas of cosmology and abiogenesis.

Following in the fumbling footsteps of his mentor, Phillip Johnson, Mr. Knapp chastises evolutionary scientists for employing naturalistic assumptions in the conduct of their work. The truth is ALL scientists must employ these same assumptions in order for their work to qualify as legitimate science. All real scientists ranging from agronomists to zoologists must adhere to these assumptions. It is a cardinal rule of the scientific method that supernatural/miraculous explanations are not permitted, period. Before simply regurgitating Johnson’s misstatements about the supposed naturalistic biases of evolutionary scientists, Mr. Knapp should take some time to find out how science is actually supposed to operate.

In the pre-scientific past, supernatural/miraculous explanations dominated man’s efforts to understand the world about him. Various gods were thought to be the causes of earthquakes, volcanoes, floods, droughts, lightning, etc. Progress in developing meaningful knowledge about the natural universe under those conditions was slow to nonexistent. Galileo and Newton popularized a new approach in which they utilized purely natural laws to explain the natural processes and objects that they were investigating. This was the beginning of the modern scientific method. Methodological naturalism, as this approach is called, became a critical element in the scientific method during the Enlightenment under the influence of such great scientists as Lavoisier, Laplace, and Hutton. The biological sciences were the last to be "naturalized" largely through the efforts of Lamark and Darwin. By the end of the 19th century, methodological naturalism was firmly established as the only acceptable modus operandi of the scientific method.

There are valid reasons for restricting science to naturalistic explanations. One good reason is that they work and have a proven track record of success. Another reason is that scientific explanations must be testable and falsifiable - two properties that are impossible for supernatural/miraculous explanations. Another important reason is that supernatural/miraculous explanations would seriously stifle inquiry. If a miraculous explanation could be used as an easy fix to resolve a difficult scientific conundrum, why bother to study the problem any further using empirical methods? Where would the medical sciences be today if research had been curtailed because demons had become the accepted explanation for disease?

Methodological naturalism is an integral part of the general process of critical inquiry. Science is just a subset of the larger system of critical inquiry that operates across many disciplines. It is primarily in the areas of pseudoscience and theology that critical inquiry is most often inadequately applied. Critical inquiry is effective because it produces reliable knowledge that is universally applicable and has a high probability of being true. The knowledge it produces is trustworthy because it has been obtained by reliable methods that use empiricism, rationalism, and skepticism. A good rationale for the insistence on the use of methodological naturalism in science has been provided by Arthur Strahler in his book, "Science and Earth History".

"Supernatural forces, if they exist, cannot be observed, measured, or recorded by the procedures of science – that’s simply what the word 'supernatural' means. There can be no limit to the kinds and shapes of supernatural forces and forms that human mind is capable of conjuring up from 'nowhere.' Scientists therefore have no alternative but to ignore 'claims' of the existence of supernatural forces and causes. This exclusion is a basic position that must be stoutly adhered to by scientists or their entire system of processing information will collapse. To put if another way, if science must include a supernatural realm, it will be forced into a game where there are no rules. Without rules, no scientific observation, explanation, or prediction can enjoy a high probability of being a correct picture of the real world." – Arthur Strahler

As he has done a number of times before, Mr. Knapp again tries to divert attention from a focused scientific discussion of the observational data by turning the debate into a war of conflicting philosophical ideologies. Although he seems incapable of understanding the distinction between the methods used by scientists and their religious or philosophical beliefs, the fact remains that science does not care a whit about what ontological or metaphysical beliefs its practitioners might hold. Science is not a metaphysics. It is an epistemological method that has no commitment to any specific metaphysical philosophy. Scientists can be philosophical naturalists, metaphysical supernaturalists, ontological superduperists or anything they want. However, once they don their lab coat and enter the realm of scientific inquiry, they must leave behind any supernaturalistic baggage they might be carrying and operate strictly in accordance with the naturalistic methodology specified by the scientific method. Those are the inviolable rules. The fact that Mr. Knapp and his creationist cohorts do not understand them and/or disagree with them is their problem, not the evolutionists’. And for them to claim that scientists who study evolution adhere to these rules only because of ontological biases does nothing but expose their own ignorance of the scientific method.

In order to frame the discussion in a context that may be more amenable to Mr. Knapp’s thought processes, let me address the issue in terms of, "What would Phillip do?" Assume that Phillip Johnson is the presiding judge at a murder trial. And assume that the defense attorney pleads the innocence of his client on the grounds that some supernatural entity caused the client to commit the murder. Does Mr. Knapp think Judge Johnson would consider the argument, "The devil (or as is more often the case, God) made me do it.", to be a legally valid defense in a court of law? Does he think that Judge Johnson would not uphold an objection from the prosecuting attorney were he/she to voice disapproval regarding such an argument from the defense? If Mr. Knapp can understand why Judge Johnson, or any other reputable judge, would not accept supernatural excuses in his courtroom (except possibly as an indication of mental illness), perhaps he can better understand why science does not accept them as well.

12. Dredging up outdated quotations from the past - a favorite creationist modus operandi

Professor D.M.S. Watson, one of the leading biologists and science writers of his day, demonstrated the atheistic bias behind much evolutionary thinking when he wrote:

Evolution [is] a theory universally accepted not because it can be proven by logically coherent evidence to be true, but because the only alternative, special creation, is clearly incredible.

The fact that Mr. Knapp must resort to dredging up quotations from the distant past in an attempt to bolster his case shows just how desperate he is to find any supporting evidence whatsoever, no matter how irrelevant it may now be. This statement from D.M.S. Watson was issued in 1929, nearly three-quarters of a century ago. Just because Mr. Knapp refuses to believe that significant progress has been made in substantiating the evolutionary model in the last 75 years or so does not mean that such progress has not been realized. In fact, the evidence is now so extensive and conclusive that the theory of evolution is endorsed by every legitimate scientific organization in the world. When Watson made his statement, nothing was known of the compelling evidence that has been obtained from molecular genetic studies (not to mention the subsequent discoveries in paleontology). To pretend that Watson’s observations regarding the evidence supporting evolution are valid today ignores the vast strides that have been made, since his time, in confirming the evolutionary process. Mr. Knapp appears not to be aware that, unlike religious dogma, scientific understandings change and advance in the light of new evidence. One thing Watson did get right, however. Special creation was, and still is, "clearly incredible."

Then there is also the matter of whether, or not, Watson was really "one of the leading biologists and science writers of his day." For more information on this topic, see "D.M.S. Watson Admitted Evolutionists Dogmatically Rejected Creation?" at www.members.cox.net/ardipithecus/evol/lies/lie031.html.

13. Sarfati confuses (purposefully?) methodological naturalism with philosophical materialism.

JONATHAN D. SARFATI Ph.D.., Refuting evolution. 1999

 

 

In this context, it has little to do with greed or wanting to buy
too much at the mall to boost your self-esteem. 

Materialism is the modern day philosophy that holds that
matter and the material world are all there is, or more
modestly, that matter is the fundamental reality from which
everything derives. The materialist says: "If you can't see it,
touch it, smell it, taste it or reduce to something you can, it
doesn't exist." For the consistent materialist, human beings
are merely complex machines and not spiritual beings or
significantly free moral agents. 

Materialism is endorsed by many (but not all) contemporary
Western intellectuals, and doubted by most everyone else.
Nevertheless, materialists enjoy a disproportionate amount of
influence and control over research resources. Since Darwin,
many have claimed that science is itself a materialistic
enterprise, but we don't buy it. Neither did Galileo,
Copernicus, Kepler, Newton, or Maxwell. 

  So, evolutionary science is not a pure search for the truth. Instead, they will only accept interpretations of the evidence based on their preset rules, i.e., those which will support their materialistic philosophy.. The following quotes show this bias.

Like a broken record, Mr. Knapp and his partner in crime, J.D. Sarfati, repeat the hackneyed refrain that evolutionists "will only accept [naturalistic/materialistic] interpretations of the evidence based on their preset rules." How many times must they hear it before it sinks in that "their [evolutionists’] preset rules" are the same as every other scientist’s preset rules. They are the rules specified by the scientific method and they are followed by all legitimate scientists, no matter what discipline they specialize in. One wonders how Sarfati could have obtained a science degree and remain ignorant of this basic fact.

Here Sarfati insinuates that evolutionary scientists are the only scientists who employ the methodological naturalistic approach to doing their work. Sarfati says he doesn’t buy Darwin’s claim that science is a materialistic enterprise, and he claims that Galileo, Copernicus, Kepler, Newton, and Maxwell did not as well. I have previously asked Mr. Knapp to provide me with just one currently accepted scientific theory advanced by any of these great scientists (or any other legitimate scientist for that matter) that utilizes anything other than  materialistic/naturalistic factors to describe the processes it addresses. This, of course, is another of the questions that Mr. Knapp has deftly ignored. And he has ignored it for good reason - because there aren’t any such examples. The fact is, the famous scientists that Sarfati alludes to were the early pioneers in applying methodological naturalism to their studies. When they were acting in the capacity of scientists, they were behaving as methodological naturalists, whether Sarfati and his ilk buy it, or not.

Professor D.M.S. Watson, one of the leading biologists and science writers of his day, demonstrated the atheistic bias behind much evolutionary thinking when he wrote:

Evolution [is] a theory universally accepted not because it can be proven by logically coherent evidence to be true, but because the only alternative, special creation, is clearly incredible.

Apparently Mr. Knapp was so impressed by this quotation, he couldn’t resist including it again. The truth is, it doesn’t get any better with the retelling.

14. Faith does not validate scientific theory.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

At this point, it is necessary to reveal a little inside information about how scientists work, something the textbooks don’t usually tell you. The fact is that scientists are not really as objective and dispassionate in their work as they would like you to think. Most scientists first get their ideas about how the world works not through rigorously logical processes but through hunches and wild guesses. As individuals, they often come to believe something to be true long before they assemble the hard evidence that will convince somebody else that it is. Motivated by faith in his own ideas and a desire for acceptance by his peers, a scientist will labor for years knowing in his heart that his theory is correct but devising experiment after experiment whose results he hopes will support his position.

Boyce Rensberger, How the World Works (NY: William Morrow 1986), pp. 17–18.

Rensberger has a point when he says that most scientists get their ideas through hunches and wild guesses. Scientists make observations about natural phenomena and then formulate hypotheses [sometimes hunches and wild guesses, but more often educated guesses] to explain what they have observed. They then test those hypotheses to see if they are valid and can stand up to rigorous scrutiny. It is often the influence of hunches and wild guesses that imparts innovation to the process and accounts for novel scientific discoveries. Einstein’s theories of relativity, with all of their counterintuitive implications, were most likely based on "hunches and wild guesses" when they was first being formulated. But that does not make them any less valid.

Quite obviously, scientists are not unique in having "faith" in favorite ideas that they hold to be true. However, unlike some other areas of human endeavor that I could mention, faith does not sustain the "truth" of such ideas in science. In science, ideas that do not hold up under repeated and rigorous analysis by knowledgeable experts are cast by the wayside. If a scientist chooses to labor for years on his pet "false" hypothesis, that is his prerogative. Many times valuable ancillary discoveries emerge during the course of such studies. Nonetheless, unless a scientific hypothesis can prove itself in the high court of scientific review, it will not be accepted by its proponent’s peers no matter how much faith he/she may have in it. Faith in the validity of one’s theory might be a source of encouragement to a scientist in the pursuit of his/her goals, but faith will not validate a bad theory, no matter how unshakable one’s faith might be. In some ways, science is not so much about fits of brilliance that generate good ideas as it is about the rather mundane process of identifying and discarding all the bad ideas so that the good ones can be more clearly identified from what remains.

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15. If it ain't naturalistic, it ain't science. And creationism ain't naturalistic.

Dr Scott Todd, an immunologist at Kansas State University:

‘Even if all the data point to an intelligent designer, such an hypothesis is excluded from science because it is
not naturalistic’

Todd, S.C., correspondence to Nature 410(6752):423, 30 Sept. 1999.

Yep, Todd told it like it is. If it ain’t naturalistic, it ain’t science.  Supernatural hypotheses are not permitted in science, regardless of how much the data might seem to point to them.  While some might look upon this restriction as a limitation of the method, it is a "limitation" which has enabled science to become the most effective system ever devised by man for unlocking the secrets of the natural world.  Furthermore, since all the data do not necessarily point to a supernatural intelligent designer, the foregoing statement is purely hypothetical. However, I doubt that this will prevent the proponents of such a hypothesis from laboring for years, motivated by faith, attempting to prove it.

Since Mr. Knapp prefers to argue from quotations rather than evidence, perhaps he would not be too critical if I threw out a few quotations of my own.

"Most creation science is garbage." – creationist, Kurt Wise, in Harpers, v293, pp. 51-60, Nov. 1996.

"If you believe that your own personal religious beliefs are more important than truth (and you demonstrate this by refusing to consider information that contradicts your beliefs), then you are really just making a idol out of your own human beliefs and then setting this idol up on a pedestal and worshipping it, instead of humbly accepting truth. If, as a Christian, you do this, you make yourself into a hypocrite." – from the homepage of "Greene’s Creationism Truth Filter"

"Scientific creationism, intelligent design, and other terms have been offered as alternate explanations for past and present biological processes. However, these represent a collection of beliefs based on a literal interpretation of religious texts, and are therefore disguises for religious doctrines, and not scientific theories. They ignore the empirical data around us and fail to provide a testable hypothesis. Consequently, since no testable explanation for biological history has been provided, they cannot be considered scientific theories." – from a position statement by the Genetics Society of America

"Scientific investigations seek to understand natural phenomena by direct observation and experimentation. Scientific interpretations of facts are always provincial and must be testable. Statements made by authority, revelation, or appeal to the supernatural are not germane to this process in the absence of evidence. In creationism, however, both authority and revelation take precedence over evidence." "Special creation is neither a successful theory nor a testable hypothesis for the origin of the universe, the earth, or of life thereon. Creationism reverses the scientific process. It accepts as authoritative a conclusion seen as unalterable and then seeks to support that conclusion by whatever means possible." – from a position statement by the National Academy of Sciences

"…This group favors what it calls "creation science", which is not really science at all because it invokes supernatural phenomena. Science, in contrast, is based on observation of the natural world. All beliefs that entail supernatural creation, including the idea known as intelligent design, fall within the domain of religion rather than science." – from a position statement by the Geological Society of America

"Creation science is based on faith and is not supported by scientific observations of the natural world. Creationism is not science and does not have a legitimate place in any science curriculum." – from a position statement by the American Geophysical Union

While this is but a small sampling of the anti-creationist sentiment that one could document if one were so inclined, it does serve to illustrate that quotations favorable to the cause are far from being unique to the creationist side of the debate. For more statements on this subject from other mainstream scientific and religious organizations, see "Voices for Evolution" at www.ncseweb.org/ .

16. More dialogue pertaining to the conflict between scientific naturalism and religious supernaturalism

Do not be duped by Jack Debaun or any other evolutionist who says that the creation/evolution issue is an issue of religion verses science. They Both start with a religious or philosophical belief system which influences their interpretations of the evidence. 

I am not the one who first interjected religion into this discussion. Mr. Knapp did so with his very first letter to the newspaper. And he is the one who persists in making it the central issue in this debate. I am perfectly happy to stick to a scientific discussion of the factual evidence that supports the theory of evolution. Mr. Knapp is the one who insists on turning this exchange into a confrontation between science and religion.

Mr. Knapp appears to be particularly impressed by the argument that evolutionists have wrongly interpreted the evidence because of, what he claims to be, their philosophical biases.  This type of subjective argument has wide application.  Indeed, the same argument has been made by one of his fellow creationists to discredit Mr. Knapp's interpretation of the evidence pertaining to the motion of the earth.  At "The non-moving earth and anti-evolution web page," the author says the following:

"Qualified and able Creationists/Geocentrists around the world are speaking out on the two facts that ICR (and AIG) are steadfastly resisting, viz., The Bible teaches a moving sun, not a moving earth; &: Both the heliocentricity and the geocentricity models explain all the phenomena.  Thus, support of heliocentricity is a philosophical, not a scientific, choice, & not fit for Biblical Creationists."

So Mr. Knapp's acceptance of a moving earth is, according to the author of this website, ill-founded and based on a faulty philosophical belief system.  Furthermore, the author contends that a true Biblical Creationist should not believe such a thing.  (Just as Mr. Knapp contends that a true Christian should not believe in evolution.)  This website (complete with testimonials from geocentrist "scientists," volumes of "scientific" evidence purporting to disprove heliocentricity, and a plethora of Scriptural support for a non-moving earth) utilizes the same type of pseudoscientific nonsense and biblical authentication as does the typical anti-evolution website.  If Mr. Knapp can see the fallacy in the geocentric arguments presented on this website, one wonders why he is so easily duped by the creationist arguments on his favorite anti-evolution websites.

Creationists start their thinking from a different point.-That God exists and the Bible is true.

So do many evolutionists who are Christians. Scientists can start their thinking from wherever they want. However, they cannot incorporate any supernatural elements that might derive from such thinking into any scientific explanations they might propose. If they do, they are not practicing legitimate science.

Creationists understand and abide by good scientific standards.

They may understand them, but they sure as shooting don’t abide by them when they attempt to incorporate untestable and unfalsifiable supernatural explanations into their "scientific" theories.

Creationists have no problem with acknowledging that God may have intervened supernaturally in the past or can at anytime.

Of course they don’t. If creationists had this "problem", Mr. Knapp and I would not have been engaged in this debate. The problem the creationists have is their insistence on admixing supernatural intervention with scientific inquiry where it does not belong. In order to maintain explanatory consistency and predictability, science must operate under the assumption that the laws of nature are invariable over time. Because supernatural intervention would introduce unpredictable and uncontrolled variability into the system, it must be assumed, from the scientific standpoint, that such intervention does not occur –regardless what the creationists acknowledge.

–Nor do they buy into any naturalistic biases i.e., evolution, which does not seek truth and acknowledge scientific evidence that points to a designer/creator. Never the less, creationists realize that God created natural processes and therefore seek explanations based on natural phenomena.

Mr. Knapp never gives up on his attempts to characterize evolutionists as being somehow unique in working  within the framework of methodological naturalism. He appears to be of the opinion that, if you repeat a false statement often enough, it will eventually transform miraculously into the truth. Sorry Mr. Knapp, it may work that way as far as creationists and pro-creation arguments are concerned, but it doesn’t work that way in the case of critical thinking scientists.

Evolutionists (and scientists in general) seek only to provide the best naturalistic explanations for the naturalistic processes they investigate in keeping with the naturalistic evidence that is available while adhering to the naturalistic restrictions of the scientific method. That is what real science is all about, and that is what the scientific method demands. So far as mainstream science is concerned, all of the evidence that pertains to the development of life on earth points to, and can be explained adequately in terms of, purely naturalistic processes. Creationists seek explanations based on natural phenomena only so long as those explanations do not conflict with their religious presuppositions. Once a conflict arises (which doesn’t take long), they either resort to pseudoscientific rationalizations or ignore the conflicting evidence altogether.

Many evolutionists who are Christians also believe that "God created natural processes and therefore seek explanations based on natural phenomena." For examples see, "Christianity and Evolution" at www.theistic-evolution.com/, and essays at the "Affiliation of Christian Geologists" website at www.wheaton.edu/ACG/.

This is contrary to Mr. Debauns assertion that they are looking to evoke God to explain everything. This is flat out false.

The problem is not that creationists invoke God to explain everything in doing their "science". The problem is that they invoke God to explain anything in this context. Football teams are not allowed to have fourteen men on the field and have the goal posts lowered three feet when they kick a field goal  just because they find themselves behind in the game and think the rules are stacked against them. Likewise, "creation scientists" are not allowed to break the rule prohibiting supernatural explanations just because they are marginalized by mainstream science and because naturalistic explanations clash with their metaphysical presuppositions. Keep in mind that science does not assert that the supernatural does not exist, it only assumes that it does not exist in order to maintain a workable system of inquiry that is based on testable and falsifiable evidence. Whether or not God exists is outside the scientific purview.

So the only real difference between a creationist and evolutionist is their religious/philosophical starting points. Mr. Debaun's own religious view is a materialistic one. -He is a pantheist

The significant difference between an evolutionist’s and a creationist’s approach to doing science is that the evolutionist consistently plays by the rules and the creationist doesn’t.

"# "Pantheism \Pan' the-ism\, n. [Pan- + theism.] Any doctrine, philosophy, or religious practice that holds the universe [cosmos], taken or conceived of as the totality of forces and/or matter, is synonymous with the theological principle of God." --Universal Pantheist Society web site

# "Pantheists are persons who derive their fundamental religious experience through their personal relationship with the Universe." --The Universal Pantheist Society

WHAT DOES PANTHEISM TEACH? 

* "All is God. And because all is God, there is no God..." --Benjamin Creme in The Reappearance of the Christ and the Masters of Wisdom, ©1980 Tara Press

* "Its central tenet is that the universe is the ultimate reality, the ultimate object of reverence, while nature is a sacred part of the totality. Scientific pantheism is some-times called Sci-Pan." --World Pantheist Movement

* "We must relate to the universe with humility, awe, reverence, celebration and the search for deeper understanding - in other words, in many of the ways that believers relate to their God." --World Pantheist Movement "

http://christiananswers.net/AIIA/ap-vol10-no1.html

   So it's no surprise why Mr. Debaun has an aversion to the Christian religion and is an outspoken militant ant-creationist.

I do not have an aversion to the Christian religion. Some of my best friends are Christians! I don’t have an aversion to any religion. I respect the right of every individual to believe whatever they so desire, so long as they don’t attempt to foist their beliefs on others and maintain a reciprocal respect for my beliefs. What I do have is an aversion to the crusade by religious fundamentalists to discredit one of the most thoroughly corroborated theories in science and to replace it with pseudoscientific claptrap. (Believe me, it took great restrain on my part to refrain from making a sarcastic comment about my ability to create ants.  What would a "militant ant-creationist" create?  Army ants?)

Science does not care if its practitioners are Christians, Buddhists, Raleans, disciples of the Grand Invisible Pink Unicorn, or adherents of any other religious tribe, coven, sect, cult, or denomination. However, scientists are forbidden to integrate supernatural explanations based on their own (or anyone else’s) religious beliefs into any scientific theories they might develop. Scientific theories are universally applicable regardless of one’s religion, race, sexual orientation, shoe size, or any other personal criteria. The equation, force = mass x acceleration, applies equally to the actions undertaken by everyone on earth. No one gets and exemption because it conflicts with their religious beliefs.

Consider what would happen if personalized, supernatural explanations were permitted as part of the scientific process. Imagine the confusion that would arise as the various factions haggled with one another over whose miraculous (and objectively unverifiable) explanations represented the "truth". Under such conditions one could envision a hopeless morass of individually crafted and mutually exclusive "sciences" that would render the entire process utterly useless. To avoid such confusion, science purposely restricts itself to naturalistic conjectures that can be tested in the light of inter-subjective experience and criticism. It is for this reason that scientific theories enjoy the universal applicability that they do.

We Christians believe in the one and only God of  Israel who is entirely separate from his created universe. According to the Christian biblical belief the universe and God are irreconcilably mutually exclusive. The metaphysical belief system of pantheism goes hand in hand with the materialistic philosophy of evolutionism. Pantheism is essentially the worship of the material universe.

Whether he realizes it or not, Mr. Knapp is making the argument that my metaphysical outlook is more compatible with the scientific worldview than is his. Why is that my problem?  According to a poll taken by the Graduate Center of the City University of New York in 2001, some 77% of the people in this country are professing Christians. And according to a Gallup poll take in 1997, 49% of the population accepts evolution as a fact and 44% are YECs. So even if all the YECs are Christians, that still means that more than half of the evolutionists are also Christians. Evolution is taught at Christian colleges such as: Baylor Baptist, Southern Methodist, Wheaton College, and Calvin College. Mr. Knapp’s contention that a belief in evolution is anathema to the Christian faith simply does not gibe with the facts. By the way, if God and the universe are "irreconcilably mutually exclusive", then how can God interact with it to produce any observable effects?

The Christian belief is more realistic. We see that complex things do not form themselves by some property or force inherent in matter. We do not see 747 airplanes, computers, software code, paintings, and heads carved in stone on mount Rushmore forming themselves.

If it is Mr. Knapp’s intention to use these examples of man-made objects as analogs to living organisms, he is incorrectly comparing apples to oranges. None of the objects he listed are capable of self-replication, nor do they experience anything analogous to genetic modifications and selective pressures as do evolving organisms. Therefore, they are unsuitable models for comparison with living things that are generated by the evolutionary process. Furthermore, none of the examples he listed were formed by anything other than natural human processes. If Mr. Knapp is trying to make a case for supernatural intervention, he has failed to do so with these examples. Mr. Knapp is basically restating William Paley’s long-discredited argument from design. For an easily understood refutation of this argument, see "The Watch in the Desert" at www.rice.edu/armadillo/Sciacademy/riggins/newindex.htm.

Likewise, we do not see living organisms arise from no-living matter, worlds forming to sustain life, and so on. There must be an external force, i.e., an intelligence to make these things happen.  A.K.A a creator God. 

Scientific theories pertaining to the origin of life (abiogenesis) and the universe are necessarily speculative at our current state of knowledge. Since these events occurred in the very distant past, the scientific evidence pertaining to them is often rather difficult to come by. Nonetheless, advances continue to be made in these areas of research and reasonable, evidence-based theories have been developed to explain these phenomena in scientific terms. For some of the current scientific thinking on abiogenesis, see "The Beginning of Life on Earth", an American Scientist article, at www.hometown.aol.com/darwinpage/abiogenesis.htm and "Probability of Abiogenesis FAQs" at www.talkorigins.org/faqs/abioprob/default.htm.

Astrophysics explains how stars, galaxies, etc. can be formed from relatively homogenous clouds of matter by natural processes. The Big Bang theory explains how these clouds could have originated naturally without any necessity for supernatural intervention. Furthermore, quantum physics has demonstrated that (at the microscopic level that would have existed at the beginning of the universe) transitions, decays, and nuclear reactions do sometimes occur spontaneously without any apparent causation. For more information on the current scientific thinking regarding this subject, see "The Origin of the Universe, Earth, and Life" at www.nap.edu/html/creationism/origin.html and "Origin of the Universe" at www.dcd.net/NBP/hawking_origins.html. This second article explains in some detail why, if the "no boundary" proposal is correct, supernatural intervention is not required to set the formation of the universe into motion.

Because of the fundamental difficulties inherent in studies dealing with the origin of life and the universe, science may never be able to provide absolutely definitive answers to these questions. However, unlike the case with most religions, with science there is no sin in admitting that the ultimate answers are unknown. As the philosopher Bertrand Russell once put it, "One of man’s greatest virtues is his ability to endure uncertainty."

If an external intelligence is required to create complex entities like the universe, and if there is a God who must be more highly complex than the universe He created, then why is an even more advanced external intelligence not required to create Him? And so on. If you are going to exempt God from this infinite regression, then on what grounds do you deny an exemption for the universe itself?

Pantheism finds little basis in reality.

The reality of matter, energy, and the natural laws that govern them is not in doubt. Pantheists consider the totality of such entities to be synonymous with God. The reality of invisible deities who choose to remain unseen is far from a proven fact. The existence of such supernatural beings is not based on universally accepted evidence. It is based on revelation, faith (belief without evidence), and wishful thinking whose manifestations often differ substantially from individual to individual. Even among those who believe in such entities, the appearances, identities, personalities, motives, capabilities, commandments, actions, etc. of such beings are the subject of considerable, and often heated, debate. In my opinion, until the existence of such cryptic beings can be established more convincingly, pantheism remains far more firmly grounded in reality than those religions that worship their unseen and intangible gods.

How ironic that someone who is so condemnatory of anyone who dares to question his religion finds nothing hypocritical about so cavalierly dismissing mine.  He has described me as having an attitude that "rears its ugly head in bigoted stifling of critical examination of alternative views" and having a "zealous a-priori commitment to his [my] beloved theory, which severely erodes his [my] credibility and effectively disqualifies him [me] from any claim to objectivity."  Considering his holier-than-thou attitude toward those who define "God" in different terms than he does, I think a good case could be made that these descriptions are at least as applicable to Mr. Knapp as they are to me.

From the Bible we can conclude that,

1. The universe had a beginning.   Genesis 1                         

        Confirmation via the first and second law of Thermodynamics

2. Time had a beginning.     2 Timothy 1: 8,9           

        Einstein's general relativity , which has much experimental support, shows that time is linked to matter and space.

3. Life does not arise from non living material.-It was created.    Genesis 1: 

      Abiogenesis has Never been observed in spite of many attempted experiments to prove otherwise. 

4. Existing life did not evolve from simple celled organisms.    Genesis 1: 

     Scientific evidence does not support the creation of new genetic information in the DNA via any proposed evolutionary mechanism. 

5. Life was created to produce after it's own kind.       Genesis 1:11-24

Does Mr. Knapp really think it is prudent to offer the Bible as a reliable source of scientific information? If he does, then he will have to explain why it talks about the existence of such things as four-legged insects, cud-chewing rabbits, talking snakes and asses, dust-eating snakes, fowl with four feet, cud-chewing conies, camels with undivided hooves, mustard seeds that grow into trees, diseases that are caused by demons, dead seeds that grow into plants, a solid-domed earth with windows for rain, melting slugs, floating axe heads, etc.

      Scientific observations show that life produces after and varies within it's own kind. Life does not evolve from one kind  of organism into another kind of organism.  A good example is the Dog kind. In spite of the wide varieties of dog produced by hybridization, they are still Dogs. No new genetic information is produced.  The bottom line here is in order for evolution to be true, evolutionists MUST show us where and how brand new genetic information has been produced. That is, new code in the DNA for new organs and body plans. The proof is Nil!

Been there, done that.

When we start our thinking from the premise that God exists and the Bible is true, we see that it makes far better sense of the scientific evidence.

Although the evidence is, in the opinion of the some 35 million nonbelievers in this country, something less than convincing, it still may be a valid premise that God exists and the Bible is true. Arguments have been made both for and against the existence of a personal God (see "Arguments for and against the Existence of God" at http://pespmc1.vub.ac.be/GODEXIST.html) No one actually knows for certain whether any particular god exists or not. In reality, the belief in such a god or gods boils down to a matter of personal opinion that is influenced strongly by the societal and cultural factors that shape the individual. Be that as it may, there is not a shred of sound scientific evidence that confirms a literally interpreted Genesis account of creation. In fact, the time scales involved, the instantaneous acts of creation, the chronology of appearance of created entities, and the occurrence of a worldwide flood as depicted in Genesis all directly and incontrovertibly contradict the scientific evidence. Mr. Knapp is entitled to start with any premise he wants. However, if he wants to harmonize the scientific evidence with the premise that the "Bible is true", he will have to acknowledge that, in many places, it is true only in a metaphorical sense, and not a literal one.

17. A summary of some questions Mr. Knapp has evaded during the course of our dialogue

Throughout our discussions, Mr. Knapp has evaded a number of questions I have posed to him. In addition to the specific questions regarding the geological column and the molecular genetic, embryological, and homology studies, he has also failed to address the following:

* In an earlier exchange (see here), Mr. Knapp gave the impression that he did not consider Catholics to be true Christians.  Does he consider Catholics to be bone fide Christians?

* Can he back up his claim that "we are starting to see defection from evolutionism today?" In particular, can he document that, among natural scientists, there has been a meaningful increase in the percentage of those who have switched to the creationist camp?

* Can he substantiate the claim that thousands of "highly-educated scientists" have rejected the theory of evolution?

* How would allowing supernatural explanations into the scientific process improve upon it?  And what mechanism should be used to determine which supernatural explanations should be accepted and which should be rejected?  How would such an approach stimulate scientific inquiry?

* How, in light of such verses as Luke 16:16-17 and Matt. 5:17-20, does one ignore the unambiguous dictates of verses such as Lev. 20:13?

* If he will acknowledge that known genetic mechanisms can produce diverse body types (such as Chihuahuas and Mastiffs) within species, why does he reject the theory that similar genetic mechanisms can produce macromolecular alterations that lead to different species such as lynx and tigers or porpoises and dolphins?

* Is he a Kurt Wise type of creationist who will not alter his beliefs no matter what the evidence shows? Or does he acknowledge that there is a possibility that the Genesis account of creation might not be true in the literal sense, and that in light of sufficient evidence he could be persuaded to abandon his creationist beliefs?

* Can he substantiate his claim that 99% of evolution/creation debates are won by creationists?  What criteria does he use to establish the winner?

* Mr. Knapp claims that even scientists who excel in their scientific pursuits are subjected to "severe prejudice" in obtaining their degrees simply because they are professing creationists.  Can he provide some examples of such scientists?

* How can the creation model be falsified in the scientific sense?   What predictions does the model make?  How do predictions of the creation model differ from those made by the evolution model?

* Mr. Knapp contends that when creationists submit noteworthy, legitimate scientific work for publication in scientific journals, they find it "virtually impossible" to get it published. Can he provide some examples of such scientists?

* Can he provide an example of any established scientific theory that invokes anything other than natural forces, natural laws, natural energy, and natural matter as part of its formal explanatory process?

* If he cannot provide an example for the aforementioned question, then why does he persist in criticizing evolutionary scientists for practicing methodological naturalism?

I would really like to hear Mr. Knapp’s response to these questions, but I’m not holding my breath.

18. Concluding thoughts

In conclusion, I must acknowledge that, in a certain sense, Mr. Knapp’s approach to the evolution/creation issue is more consistent and straightforward than that of the so-called "cafeteria Christians" who pick and choose the parts of the Bible they want to believe and ignore the rest. In spite of mountains of evidence stacked against him (a great deal of which he does not appear to be aware of or clearly understand), Mr. Knapp doggedly persists in trying to shoot down a theory that raises serious questions about the fundamentalist religious beliefs he holds so dear. It is obvious that he feels very passionately about the subject and is sincere in his desire to expose what he considers to be the fraudulence and evil intentions of the competing worldview.

Mr. Knapp deserves a certain amount of credit for his unflinching attack on a theory that places his fervently held beliefs in jeopardy. Certainly, one should not be faulted for standing up for sincerely held beliefs. The pity is that, because of his admitted lack of formal education in the sciences, Mr. Knapp does not recognize that genuine scientific evidence to back those beliefs is completely nonexistent. He remains blissfully unaware that the creationists whom he has entrusted to advise him on the scientific aspects of the evolution/creation issue are subjecting him to a well-calculated misinformation campaign. Taking such things into consideration, perhaps Mr. Knapp should not be judged too harshly for the cocksure attitude and sardonic comments that have typified his responses during the course of this dialogue.

While I respect Mr. Knapp’s and his fellow creationists’ right to believe whatever they want, I do strongly take issue with their misguided attempts to portray evolutionists as God-hating heretics whose overriding purpose in life is to wreak havoc with the creationists’ religious beliefs. It is unfortunate that, since they are unable to deal forthrightly with the factual evidence, creationists have chosen to rely instead on character assassination and innuendo in hopes of belittling those who are guilty of nothing more than supporting good science. Their incrimination of evolutionary scientists for practicing  methodological naturalism is another bone of contention. Such a stance serves only to reveal their ignorance (purposeful or otherwise) of the scientific method. It is quite obvious that "neo-young-earth" creationists like Mr. Knapp are not interested in conducting a reasoned discussion of the scientific evidence – for the simple reason that the evidence is so damaging to their cause. Instead they spend their time misconstruing or ignoring the evidence and littering the discussion with philosophical red herrings. Their ultimate goal is to deconstruct the scientific process so that it will no longer raise objections to incorporating their faith-based miracles as legitimate explanations. To make such a fundamental change would destroy the very essence of the scientific method and render it utterly ineffectual as a means of obtaining a reliable understanding of the natural world around us. Apparently creationists couldn’t care less, so long as they get their way.

I have no problem with creationists promoting their YEC beliefs in appropriate venues such as houses of worship, their homes, or religious schools. However, they have no right (legal or otherwise) to promote their religious dogma in the public school classroom under the guise of a legitimate scientific "theory." Relying on what are claimed to be inerrant and immutable literal interpretations of religious texts to formulate theory and rehashing arguments that have been long-discredited by the scientific community is not just poor science – it is anti-science. Any attempts to incorporate such pseudoscience into the public school science curriculum will continue to run into well-deserved opposition from the scientific establishment. My concern over the further dumbing down of an already marginal scientific educational system by the introduction of "creation science" into the curriculum is what motivated me to take up the cudgel against creationism in the first place. When I feel strongly about a principle, I stand up for it. In this respect, Mr. Knapp and I have at least one thing in common.

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Updated 5/16/04