A Brief E-mail Exchange with Mr. Knapp (February, 2004)

 

During the spring of 2002, Mr. Knapp referred the readers of his website to an article entitled, “Sensational dinosaur blood report.” (See here.)  This article, which was featured on the Answers in Genesis (AiG) website, led readers to believe that scientists at Montana State University had uncovered "…actual red blood cells in fossil bones from T. rex. With traces of the blood protein hemoglobin."  This evidence led the authors to conclude that the discovery "…casts immense doubt upon the ‘millions of years’ idea".

 

In order to determine the accuracy of these claims, I did some investigation of my own and responded to Mr. Knapp with my findings. (See here for the information exchanged between us regarding this topic.)  Recently, Dr. Gary Hurd wrote a comprehensive expose` of AiG’s claims about intact dinosaur blood. (See link below in my first e-mail to Mr. Knapp.)  This expose` reveals how badly AiG misrepresented the facts in their attempt to skew the evidence in favor of  young-earth creationism.

 

Since Mr. Knapp had introduced this topic on his website, and since he and I had exchanged correspondence about the AiG article, I thought he would be interested in learning about this latest critique.  I assumed he would be particularly interested in Dr. Hurd’s article because it contained footnotes that mentioned both his and my websites.  Therefore, I sent him an e-mail message on 2/10/04 informing of the article.  The exchange of correspondence between the two of us is reproduced below.

 

1. My first e-mail to Mr. Knapp (2/10/94) -

 

Check out this article.
> > ( http://noanswersingenesis.org.au/YEC_and_dino_blood.htmExcellent
> > references, don't you think?
> >
> > Sincerely,
> >
> > Jack DeBaun

 

2. Mr. Knapp’s response to my first e-mail (2/10/04 –

 

>Jack, Jack. Still chomping at the bit I see. As much as you would like to
> make this a personal debate between you and me, it's not going to happen.
> Every argument has a one to counter it, but I have neither the time, nor the
> desire to pit wits with someone whom is so thoroughly entrenched in his
> materialist religion that hopes of an objective discussion are clearly not
> possible.  Go and talk shop with your friends at, what is it called?-
> internet infidels.com?
>
> Sincerely,
> Tim Knapp

 

3. My response to Mr. Knapp’s first e-mail (2/11/04) -

 

>I did not expect you to agree with its conclusions, but I thought you might
> want to know about an article that included a link to your website in its
> footnotes.  Since you first introduced the subject on your website, I
> thought you might also like to know where the situation now stands.  I
> apparently assumed too much when I thought you actually had an interest in
> looking at both sides of the story.  From your behavior in the past, I
> should have known better. (By the way, if you know of any errors or
> misstatements in the article, would you please let me know about them so
> that I can pass them along to the author?)
>
> "...I have neither the time, nor the desire to pit wits with someone whom
> is so thoroughly entrenched in his materialist religion that hopes of an
> objective discussion are clearly not possible.
"  With that statement, you
> just caused my irony meter to go off-scale again!  Are you sure you know
> the meaning of the word "objective?"
>
> "Every argument has a one to counter it..."  That's true, but there are
> very well-substantiated arguments based on reliable evidence and there are
> arguments based on faulty reasoning and bad data.  Supernatural demon
> possession is a counter argument to the hypothesis that certain diseases
> are caused by microscopic organisms. It is a counter argument, but it is
> a very bad one that is not supported by the facts.  YECism is a counter
> argument to evolution, but, like demon possession, it has no reliable,
> verifiable evidence to back it up. If you know of any, I wonder why you do
> not present it on your website.
>
> Sincerely,
> Jack DeBaun

 

4. Mr. Knapp’s final e-mail (2/12/04) -

 

Jack if you wish to make good on this sudden surge of honorable intentions to update AIG in  their Dino red blood cells report, then I would suggest you contact them. You remind me of a friend I once new in high school who could not stand it if he didn't get the last word. -Or admit to being wrong. If I want to examine a point you are trying to make I can merely go to your website and then address it on my website if I so choose.  Is that not the purpose of your website anyway? Your appearance of  good intentions here is nothing more then an attempt to initiate some direct debate with me. I would kindly ask you to quit sending me emails. If you have something to say, say it on your website.

 

However, its hard to resist exposing poor arguments. You initiated it so I have the right to respond this once.

 

  1.Your premise that demon possession as a [hypothetical] bad  counter argument to the hypothesis that certain diseases are caused by microscopic organisms would be true. No one that I know would disagree here. 2.However your second premise that Creation theory is a bad counter argument to evolution is false. This has not been established as true. Much to the contrary.Therefore your conclusion that Creation theory is like Demon possession, i.e., that it is a bad counter argument  to Evolution, is False. This is what is called a valid argument with a false premise and a false conclusion. It does not stand under the scrutiny of Logic.

 

This is no surprise since anti-creation propaganda contains lots of intellectual dishonesty in it's word games. Such as the shifty definition of evolution.

 

  1. Evolution really means the development of all living things from a single cell, which itself came from non-living chemicals. This contradicts the scriptures and has no scientific support. 

 

 2.However, to dodge this bullet they turn to another definition of 'evolution' such as 'change in gene frequency over time,' citing Darwin's finches and peppered moths..etc. We do see limited variation within genetically stable populations at best.

 

 

 3.This is then used to prove 'evolution' occurs and creation is disproved. Another words equivocating premise 1 and 2.

 

 This is a valid argument with a false premise and a false conclusion. Premise 1 being false.

 

 

  Notice that premise 2 is being used to prove 'evolution' is true, therefore premise 1 must be true. This is exactly how it is presented by evolutionists and swallowed by the intellectually unwary. It's called equivocation. Equivocation means the meaning of a single word is switched part way through the argument. This is nothing but intellectual dishonestly. So if anything evolutionists are the ones often guilty of  intellectual dishonesty and bad arguments.

 

Creationists do not dispute that limited genetic variation & natural selection occurs. This is an every day observation and a prediction of the Creation theory. It is a whole other issue if one tries to say this supports the grand theory of evolution.

 

One simplistic argument deserves another.

 

1. Evolution really means the development of all living things from a single cell, which itself came from non-living chemicals. This contradicts the scriptures and has no scientific support.

 

2. Creation theory predicts that life was created, therefore life did not evolve from a single celled organism which in turn did not evolve from non-living chemicals.

 

3. Vast amounts of experiments have been conducted attempting to prove that living things evolved from single celled organisms and life evolved from non-living chemicals without success. Scientists have never reproduced life coming from non-life. Scientist have never reproduced single celled organisms changing into higher orders of life. Concrete fact. [You ask why I don't present reliable verifiable evidence for Creation theory on my website? I cannot see this question being anything other than fallacious ignorance considering the links to articles and publications presenting this 'evidence' I have on my website.]

 

 

4. Creation theory is supported by a vast body of evidence. Therefore Creation theory is superior to Evolution theory.

 

Notice the premises 1-3 are true and the conclusion true.

 

Here endith the lesson. :)

 

.

Sincerely,

Tim

 

6. My Response to Mr. Knapp’s last e-mail

 

[Since Mr. Knapp has requested that I not communicate with him via e-mail, I will respond to his final comments here.  In what follows, excerpts from Mr. Knapp’s last e-mail are in regular type and my comments are in bold.]

 

 

Mr. Knapp – “Jack if you wish to make good on this sudden surge of honorable intentions to update AIG in  their Dino red blood cells report, then I would suggest you contact them.”

 

As indicated in my second e-mail to you, it was not my intention to update AiG.  I am sure they will learn of Dr. Hurd's critique soon enough.  My purpose was to call your attention to the article since it was relevant to an issue you had raised and we had discussed in the past and because it contained a link to your website in the footnotes.  Pardon me for assuming that you still maintained an interest in the subject. 

 

Mr. Knapp – “You remind me of a friend I once new in high school who could not stand it if he didn't get the last word. -Or admit to being wrong.”

 

And you remind me of an acquaintance who would throw out unsupported claims and expect everyone to accept them on faith and not question their validity.  And then when the claims were found to be fallacious, he would charge that he had been personally insulted if someone called his bluff.

 

Mr. Knapp – “Your appearance of  good intentions here is nothing more then an attempt to initiate some direct debate with me.”

 

I am not the one who initiated this discussion on the evolution/creation issue.  It was you who first raised the subject in a letter to the editor of the newspaper.  If you did not intend on defending your position via direct communication, then you should have refrained from making unsubstantiated and misleading claims in public that were guaranteed to elicit critical comments.  More to the point, I was not trying to goad you into “some direct debate.”  As stated previously, I was trying to call you attention to an article that I thought would be of interest to you.   It was my fault for not anticipating the fact that you would end up trying to kill the messenger, as seems to be your habit.

 

Mr. Knapp – “I would kindly ask you to quit sending me emails.”

 

If it is your intention to censor commentary in the feedback section of your website, then why do you include the invitation, "Got an opinion? Lets hear from you."  What you appear to need is a filter for your incoming mail that eliminates any messages that raise serious questions about your website's content.    

 

Mr. Knapp – “If you have something to say, say it on your website.”

 

Remember, you asked for it.

 

Mr. Knapp -  “2.However your second premise that Creation theory is a bad counter argument to evolution is false. This has not been established as true”

 

What is true is the fact that there is not a shred of substantive evidence to support the brand of young-earth creationism which you espouse.  There is not one legitimate scientific organization in the world that accepts the concept of YECism as being anything other than a religious fairytale.  The only organizations that support it are religion-based advocacy groups, composed of religion-driven hucksters, who promote religion-derived pseudo-science, to dupe religion-hypnotized science illiterates.  Fewer than 0.15% of all life and earth scientists in this country (those with the most extensive training in disciplines related to the study of evolution) buy into the creationist flimflam.  So-called Creation theory is not just a bad alternative to evolution, is it an entirely worthless one as far as science is concerned.  See here and here for some examples of just how worthless it actually is.

 

Mr. Knapp – “Much to the contrary.Therefore your conclusion that Creation theory is like Demon possession, i.e., that it is a bad counter argument  to Evolution, is False”

 

No it is not false.  In the past people believed the biblical claim that demons cause disease.  It was only with the emergence of the modern medical sciences that the notion of supernatural demons causing disease was shown to be superstitious nonsense.  Similarly, it has only been since  the discoveries of Darwin and Wallace and the development of the modern geological and biological sciences that YECism has also  been shown to be superstitious nonsense.  Comparing demon/disease to creation/evolution is an appropriate analogy.  The fact that creationists have not yet come to the realization that YECism is superstitious nonsense is beside the point.  History teaches that fervently held religious beliefs always die a hard death.  The fact is, so-called Creation theory is no more a counter to evolution than astrology is a counter to astronomy or alchemy is a counter to chemistry.

 

Mr. Knapp – “This is no surprise since anti-creation propaganda contains lots of intellectual dishonesty in it's word games. Such as the shifty definition of evolution.

 

Can you say, pot, kettle, black?

 

Mr. Knapp – “Evolution really means the development of all living things from a single cell, which itself came from non-living chemicals. This contradicts the scriptures and has no scientific support.”

 

Evolution does not say the first cell came from non-living chemicals.  In fact, it does not say anything about where the first replicator(s) came from.  For all evolution cares, the first cell could have come from the bilge of an alien space ship, a meteorite from Mars, or even from the creative act of a god.  Evolution only deals with the diversification of life after the first replicator(s) were present on earth.  Why do you keep repeating this straw man argument when I have explained this to you several times in earlier correspondence?

 

As far as evolution of multi-celled organisms from single-celled organisms is concerned, see here for current scientific thinking on the subject.  For an example of single cells that can combine to form a functioning multi-celled variant, see hereIt is not difficult to envision how such multi-cellular aggregates could have led to the development of fully functional multi-cellular organisms in the past.  Your claim that this process has no scientific support is incorrect.  To say that abiogenesis does not have scientific support is also not borne out by the facts.  (See here, here, and here.)  As for the scientific support for the evolution of complex organisms from more primitive ancestral forms, see here and here

 

The ordering of fossils in the geologic column also contradicts the scriptures.  But just because it contradicts the scriptures does not mean that such ordering does not exist and that it does not have scientific support.

 

Mr. Knapp – “ This is a valid argument with a false premise and a false conclusion.

Premise 1 being false.”

 

Since your argument that premise 1 has no scientific support is false, your conclusion based on that argument is also false. 

 

Mr. Knapp – “ Notice that premise 2 is being used to prove 'evolution' is true, therefore premise 1 must be true. This is exactly how it is presented by evolutionists and swallowed by the intellectually unwary. It's called equivocation. Equivocation means the meaning of a single word is switched part way through the argument. This is nothing but intellectual dishonestly. So if anything evolutionists are the ones often guilty of  intellectual dishonesty and bad arguments.”

 

Notice how creationists blindly assert that macroevolution (evolution above the species level) is impossible using the same mechanisms that cause microevolution to occur.  Notice how they do this without providing any evidence to substantiate that assertion.  Notice how they cannot offer one compelling scientific argument to refute the premise that macroevolution is simply microevolution operating over extended periods of time.   Notice how they claim that anyone ( including 95% of the scientists in this country and millions of mainline Christians)  must be “intellectually unwary” because they accept evolution.  Notice how they arrogantly claim that 72 Nobel Laureates who have spoken out in favor of evolution are “guilty of intellectual dishonesty and bad arguments.”  Notice how creationists make bold, unsupported assertions and how desperate they are to create the illusion that evolutionists (who represent virtually the entire scientific community worldwide) are corrupt and untrustworthy.  Notice how creationists fail to recognize that, when it comes to origins science, it is they, themselves, who have committed intellectual suicide, not the evolutionists.

 

Mr. Knapp – “Creationists do not dispute that limited genetic variation & natural selection occurs. This is an every day observation and a prediction of the Creation theory. It is a whole other issue if one tries to say this supports the grand theory of evolution.”

 

Explain in scientific terms what biological mechanism prevents microevolution from producing macroevolutionary changes when the process occurs over billions of years.

 

Mr. Knapp – “ Vast amounts of experiments have been conducted attempting to prove that living things evolved from single celled organisms and life evolved from non-living chemicals without success.”

 

Scientists do not “prove” anything in the absolute sense.  They examine and test evidence to determine which theory does the best job of explaining that evidence.  That is what the theory of evolution does.  It explains ALL the evidence better than any other scientific theory that has currently been proposed.  Evolution does not have to “prove” that life evolved from non-living chemicals because evolution does not deal with the origin of the first living cell.  You question whether “living things evolved from single celled organisms.”  Do you actually think that single celled organisms are not alive?

 

The distinction you make between living things and non-living chemicals is a rather tenuous one.  Scientists have already produced fully-functional "living" viruses from non-living chemicals. (See here.)  It is likely only a matter of time until more complex living organisms are produced synthetically in the lab. 

 

Mr. Knapp – “Scientist have never reproduced single celled organisms changing into higher orders of life.”

 

Geologists have never created a volcano, but that does not mean they have not used existing evidence to arrive at reasonable explanations for how they originate.  Cosmologists have never produced a star, but that does not mean they have not used evidence gathered with scientific instruments to determine how they are formed.  A judge does not have to actually see a criminal in the act of committing a crime in order to gather sufficient evidence after the fact to find them guilty.  Likewise, biologists do not have to recreate all aspects of evolution in order to formulate a viable theory based on the evidence that has been left behind.  According to your way of thinking, since creationists have not constructed a full-sized replica of Noah’s Ark, crammed it full of thousands (millions?) of species of land-dwelling animals, provided it with a meager crew of eight people (one of whom is six-hundred years old!), and tested it in turbulent seas for nearly a year, we can safely conclude the Flood has not actually occurred.  In this latter case, I am inclined to agree with you.

 

Mr. Knapp – “You ask why I don't present reliable verifiable evidence for Creation theory on my website? I cannot see this question being anything other than fallacious ignorance considering the links to articles and publications presenting this 'evidence' I have on my website.”

 

I did not ask for blatant misrepresentations of the facts dreamed up by a fringe-group of myth-mongering pseudo-scientists whose fanciful creation “theory” is rejected by every legitimate scientific organization in the world.  I asked for “reliable verifiable” evidence.  It is a shame you cannot tell one from the other.

 

Mr. Knapp – “Creation theory is supported by a vast body of evidence. Therefore Creation theory is superior to Evolution theory.”

 

Okay, let’s lay our cards on the table.  The most basic requirement for any theory is that it must explain the evidence.  It’s as simple as that.  If a theory does not accurately account for why things are the way they are, it has no explanatory value.  The challenge I have presented here delineates a number of lines of evidence, all of which are readily explicable in terms of the theory of evolution.  These are not observations concocted out of thin air.  They are factual observations pertinent to the evolution/creation issue that can be verified by anyone who cares to investigate them in the scientific literature.  If your “Creation theory,” whatever it is, is superior to the theory of evolution, then it should do an even better job of explaining these observations.  I have repeatedly asked you to take this challenge, and you have consistently refused to do so.

For the umpteenth time, I am asking you to tell us how your “Creation theory” does a superior job of explaining the lines of evidence enumerated in my challenge.  To put it bluntly, it is time for you to put up, or shut up.  If you will not or cannot answer this challenge, then the honorable thing for you to do would be to cease making claims of superiority which you are unwilling or unable substantiate.

 

(Please do not attempt to dodge this challenge by trying to shift the responsibility to me to take the "Evolutionist Challenge" on your website.  I have already explained in considerable detail why your challenge is a sham.  (See here.)  Asking me to take your challenge is like asking someone to waste their time gathering information to show that the moon is not filled with green cheese, requiring them to prepare a detailed scientific paper on the subject, and demanding that they submit it to a publication produced and edited by those who believe on faith that the moon is filled with green cheese and who will not accept anything for publication that does not promote pro-green cheese dogma. )

 

Mr. Knapp – “Here endith the lesson.”

 

Yet another sad example of the sorry state of science education in this country.