3. My Reply to Mr. X's "Wow" Letter

[Note: Since I did not know whether Mr. X had access to the Internet, I included copies of various articles with the original response. Actual links to the articles were not included in the original letter. When I talk about "my EVC," I am referring to a document ("Evolution Vs. Creationism") that I prepared in 1995 as a rebuttal to a creationist seminar that was given by a local minister, Rev. Knepper.  This document is no longer available in electronic format.]

February 13, 2002

Dear Mr. X,

I appreciate the fact that you took time to comment on the information that I sent you in my previous correspondence. It is a pleasure to share my thoughts with someone like you who has a genuine interest in science. Nevertheless, there are a few issues raised in your recent letter to me that warrant comment. In what follows, your statements are indicted in bold type.

Page - 1

"…I don’t fit the typical creationist you envision."

With all due respect, you fit the profile of the typical creationist perfectly. You belong to a religious organization for which young-earth creationism is a key tenet. In order to accept the theory of evolution, you would have to renounce this fundamental teaching of your church. Surely you do not expect me to believe that your church’s position on this matter has not influenced your thinking on this subject, do you? If not from "fervently held religious beliefs" based on the Bible, from what then does the notion of young-earth creationism originate?

"I remember charts of these layers of the earth from supposed ages past to the present time. NEVER once was I told that nowhere on earth is there such a column."

Well aren’t you fortunate that no one ever told you this. Because if they had told you such a thing, they would have been lying to you. The truth is the entire geologic column has been found to exist in at least 26 basins throughout the world. (See the enclosed Conclusion section from "The Entire Geologic Column in North Dakota" [full article, 17 pages and over 50 references] copied from the talkorigins website.) (See here.)

"Nor did they tell me that in some places some of the column is in a reverse order…"

They should have told you this, because it is a fact. Of course, they also should have explained to you that this phenomenon is caused by overthrust faulting, which in no way invalidates the theory of evolution. (See the enclosed portions of "Thrust Faults" copied from the talkorigins website (See here.) and "Frequently Asked (Or Sometimes Asked Questions About Young Earth Creationist Geology)" copied from the Geography, Geology, and Anthropology Dept. at Indiana State University website. (See here.) See also the section on "Overthrusts" in Appendix C of my EVC.)

"…or that there are places where fossilized trees are standing through many layers, which of course totally invalidates the whole idea."

They should have told you about these so-called "polystrate" tree fossils as well. These fossils are often formed after quick burial caused by local mud/silt flows. Again, the phenomenon is completely explicable in terms of normal geologic events. No worldwide flood is required for their formation, and the "whole idea" is not affected in the least. Often when trees are submerged by local flood events, the lower depths become oxygen deprived and decomposition all but ceases. There are a number of places around the world where trees have been preserved for many hundreds of years by such events. Sediment layers then build up around these trees as subsequent flood events occur. (See the enclosed "Polystrate Tree Fossils" copied from the talkorigins website and Appendix C from my EVC.) (See here.)

"I was shown drawings of a developing fetus and how it resembles the evolution model, thereby proving our ancestors were tadpoles and frogs."

If you are referring to the doctored images of Ernest Haeckel, you should not have been shown these drawings as evidence for evolution. Haeckel was definitely guilty of "touching up" the pictures of embryos to make them more convincing in terms of evolutionary development. However, Haeckel’s creative artwork was exposed by his peers and his theory of "recapitulation" was discounted at the beginning of the last century. You are absolutely right. Haeckel’s idealized embryos should not be included in any modern textbook in support of the theory of evolution.

It is unfortunate that Haeckel saw fit to exaggerate the structural similarities of the embryos of various species, because quite striking similarities can be observed at early stages without resorting to creative artwork. It is now clear that embryos of more advanced animals bear a structural resemblance to those of less advanced animals at different stages of development. Early mammalian embryos have many characteristics that are common to fish and amphibians. For example, the young human embryo has brachial arches (sometimes referred to as "gill arches"), pairs of aortic arches, a fish-like heart with a single atrium and ventricle, and a rudimentary tail.

In fish, the tissue between the brachial arches disappears, the grooves become clefts, and the gill clefts open to the exterior. In birds and mammals, the perforations in the brachial arches do not occur and the arches ultimately give rise to the jaws, inner ear, tonsils, and vocal organs in terrestrial chordates. The role that these potential gill-forming structures play in human development is illustrated by the fact that some people are born with fistulas (openings) in the neck when the spaces between the arches fail to close properly during embryological development. In essence they are born with rudimentary "gill slits".

Despite Haeckel’s excesses, comparative embryology (ontogeny) continues to provide strong support for evolutionary theory. I have enclosed summaries of a couple of experiments that vividly demonstrate how embryology can be used to verify ancestral relationships. In the Kollar/Fisher experiment (See here.), embryonic jaw tissue from a chicken was exposed to inducers produced by embryonic mouse molar mesenchyme. This resulted in the formation of teeth in the tissue of the chicken showing that this tissue still retains the latent ability to grow teeth as it did in the chicken’s evolutionary ancestors. The second experiment, the Hampe experiment (See here.), produced Archaeopteryx-like bones in the legs of modern chicks by interfering with the diffusion of inhibitory growth substances. (See also my Evolution vs. Creation [EVC] page 64-65 for another example.) [Here I had discussed the ontogeny of a brachiopod, the keyhole-shelled Pygope, that had lived in the Jurassic Period. This animal started its life with a shell in the shape of a V. As it matured, the shell assumed a shape in which the two stems of the V became joined with the result that the adult looked something like a bagel. It has also been discovered that four distinct species which are ancestral to the keyhole-shelled Pygope had adult shells which were the same shape as the intermediate and adult stages of this brachiopod. The oldest ancestor had a V-shaped shell and the youngest ancestor had a bagel-shaped shell. In other words, as the keyhole-shelled Pygope developed, it duplicated the adult shell forms of its ancestors in the same sequence as they appear in the fossil record.]

"I was also shown drawings of the Piltdown man and the Nebraska man that were just as bad."

Remember that these discoveries occurred almost 100 years ago when paleontology was in its infancy and rather undisciplined. Also keep in mind that artists often take liberties with the truth. I have seen many pictures of Jesus, but, to my knowledge, his countenance is nowhere specifically described in the Bible or anywhere else for that matter. Isn’t that "just as bad"? (See my EVC pages 38-39 for discussion on Piltdown man and Nebraska man.) (See also here and here.)

Page –2

"Why am I saying all this? To let you know how I stand on the science issue…"

I can only congratulate you on your zest for scientific knowledge. Nonetheless, many (if not most) people today are basically scientifically illiterate – not understanding such basic principles as what causes the seasons and what constitutes a molecule. While you seem to have a higher scientific aptitude than most, you still appear to lack the knowledge of some basic concepts necessary for acquiring a good understanding of the processes of evolution. In your exposure to science, I detect a heavy emphasis on the physical and chemical aspects and very little emphasis on the biological aspects. While knowledge of basic physical and chemical principles are helpful in augmenting the understanding of evolutionary theory, they are not of much use if one does not have a strong background in the biological sciences as well. Having a decent understanding of such things as combustion dynamics, convection currents, and motorcycle fairing manufacture may be useful for your current endeavors. However, you will not get a good grasp of evolutionary processes until you understand such things as chromosomal crossing over, alternative splicing, allopatric speciation, exon shuffling, random drift, etc. The talkorigins.org website is a good place to familiarize yourself with such concepts.

"I put little value (although I consider their import) in the opinions of others."

In science we must often put a great deal of value in the opinions of others. Since none of us can become an expert in every branch of science, we must trust the consensus opinions of those scientists who are recognized experts in their fields. The peer review process ensures that incorrect opinions are eventually weeded out of the system. This is the way that scientific knowledge advances without all of us having to become an expert in every field of study.

Do you apply this same critical approach to the opinions of the religious spokesmen in your church as well?

Page – 3

"…the Cruncher is like a readers digest."

You mean the "Cruncher" does not accurately reflect what is contained in the three books from which it was derived? Then why did Ferrell bother to write it? I assumed you thought it presented strong scientific arguments for creationism and against the theory of evolution. If you did not, then why did you go out of your way to present me with a personal copy? My guess is that Ferrell’s three books contain the same B.S. as the "Cruncher" but that it is simply piled a little deeper.

"And not anywhere in there was one scientific fact to prove evolution."

If you really understood how the scientific method operates, you would know that it does not use facts to "prove" anything. Proof, in the formal sense, applies only to such things as mathematics where absolutes are involved. Science involves observing factual evidence, proposing hypotheses to explain those facts, and testing the hypotheses to determine how well they describe those facts. It does not provide absolute proof. It provides reasonable explanations that must be modified or rejected in light of further non-confirmatory evidence. The theory of evolution is a valid scientific theory because it provides the best explanation for the diversity of life when ALL the available factual evidence is taken into consideration. The theory of evolution is not "proven" by any single scientific fact. Like all well-established scientific theories, its acceptance by the scientific community rests on the extensive body of scientific evidence that supports it.

You look at all the information I sent you and apparently find nothing that indicates the evolution of life forms has occurred. Yet respected biological scientists who have spent their careers evaluating this same type of information arrive at the opposite conclusion. In fact, because the evidence is so overwhelming in its favor, the theory of evolution is unequivocally endorsed by every reputable scientific organization in the world. Do you honestly think that you are better qualified to pass judgment on this evidence than the worldwide community of scientists who specialize in these areas of investigation? Or do you think that these many millions of scientists are all unscrupulous charlatans who are involved in some kind of worldwide conspiracy to hide the truth? If the latter, what would be their motive for doing so and how do you think it would be possible to pull off such a conspiracy with so many individuals to spill the beans?

So that I can get a better understanding of your alternative "theory" to evolution, please describe which of the various creationist models you endorse. How can this model be tested scientifically and what predictive value does it have? Assuming that you think there is scientific support for this creationist model, what the are three most compelling scientific facts that you think offer the most convincing "proofs" for the model? (Please don’t include such things as formation of the universe and abiogenesis since these are not relevant to Darwinian species evolution.) On pages 63-67 of EVC, I listed some lines of evidence that support the theory of evolution. On pages 47 and 48 of EVC, I discuss pseudogenes and retrospons in human and chimpanzee DNA. Please explain how these observations fit into the creationist scheme of things and why you think they are not supportive of the theory of evolution.

One of the most convincing lines of evidence in support of evolution is the geologic column. The column is a neatly layered set of strata that appear in chronological order, showing evolutionary development from early, less-complex organisms up to modern, complex organisms. Small organisms dominate the lower strata, even though fluid mechanics would dictate that, in a flood, they would sink slower and remain in the upper layers. Dinosaurs are never intermingled with large mammals such as elephants, and the large mammals always appear in much higher strata. Modern plants never appear in the lower strata that contain Late Cambrian algae fossils. There are no pterodons (extinct flying reptiles) in the higher layers. Coral reefs hundreds of feet thick and miles long are preserved intact with other fossils below them. Artifacts such as footprints and burrows are preserved and perfectly sorted. No human artifacts (tools, buildings, etc.) are found except in the uppermost strata, and none of these artifacts are mixed with trilobite or dinosaur fossils. Pollen and spores are found sorted in strata in association with the trunks, leaves, and roots produced by the same plants.

While the aforementioned facts are consistent with evolutionary theory, they are difficult, if not impossible, to reconcile in terms of an event like the hypothetical Noachian flood. There are a number of other features that exist deep in the geologic column that pose serious problems for the flood model: Coal seems, which require thousands of years to form, interleaved between marine sediment layers. Salt seams, which are produced when shallow seas dry up (not easy during a flood). Dried raindrop impressions. Desiccation-cracks, formed when mud is baked dry in the sun. Wind-blown sand dunes. Dinosaur footprints, some of which are found on coal seams. Sediments that are tilted, raised, and eroded by wind and rain, and then more sediment is deposited on top. (See also my EVC pages 28-32 and page 77.)

If you think none of the evidence that has been presented supports the theory of evolution, then you must consider it to be supportive of the biblical Flood model (i.e., the entire geologic column and the order of the fossils it contains were all established during Noah’s Flood). If so, consider the following observations/questions regarding the geologic column and explain to me how they "disprove" evolution and how they can be rationalized in terms of the biblical Flood.

The great conglomerate sea cliffs near Marseilles, France are hundreds of feet high and contain boulders more than a foot in diameter. How could a flood deposit a thickness of several miles of fine-grained sediments first, and then place the boulder-laden conglomerates on top? Clearly the bottom layer must have already hardened into rock before the boulders were deposited or they would have sunken into it. How could this rock-forming process have occurred during the relatively short time span of the Flood?

The geologic column often contains clean, sharp lines at the boundaries between the geologic layers. Layers which face upward often have fossil limpets or barnacles attached to them, indicating that the layers had time to harden into rock and attract rock-climbing shellfish before the next stratum was laid down. How could these successive periods of deposition and hardening into rock have occurred during the year of the Flood?

In chalk deposits, a definite succession of different species of the same type of creature is found, separate and unmixed at different levels.

Why, if the Flood took place rapidly, are sandstones nearly always devoid of fossils? Evolutionists explain this as being due to the fact that, over very long periods of time, shells are oxidized and abraded out of existence by the action of the sand. How do creationists explain the absence of these fossils?

There are fossil ammonites whose spiral shells contain buoyancy chambers and are, therefore, very light. Yet these fossils are never found in the upper strata of the column. Ammonoid species ranging in size from a fraction of an inch to several feet across are all found together in the same deposit. How does this observed sorting fit in with the hydraulic mechanism that is often used by creationists to explain the order of fossils in the column?

In spite of the fact that many centers of civilization were located at or near sea level, there is not a single human fossil below the topmost layer of the column. How were all the cripples and sick folk able to race ahead of the floodwaters?

Pterodactyl fossils are found only in the middle layers of the column. Is it reasonable to assume that not one of them could have flown to higher land in advance of the Flood?

Some species of oysters are only found in layers that are higher than those that contain many species of clams. How can this be reconciled with the Flood model in view of the fact that oysters are "glued" to the bottom and clams are usually unattached?

Brachiopod fossils are often found in alternating layers. After they were buried, the sediment hardened into rock and another layer of brachiopods grew on top of them. Repetition of the cycle formed these alternating layers. How do Flood geologists account for this phenomenon?

Not one human being, horse, cow, fox, deer, tortoise, or monkey was so slow, so stupid, or so crippled to have been drowned in what would become the lower layers of the column. And not one dinosaur, trilobite, or mammoth was fast or nimble enough to make it to higher ground. Is this what the creationists expect us to believe?

Trilobites, light, fragile creatures resembling pill bugs, tend to be found only in the deepest layers. They are never found in the upper layers with mammals (not even marine animals). How could this relationship be possible in the aftermath of the Flood?

Fossils of flowering plants do not occur until after the early Cretaceous era. What Flood-related mechanism could explain the lack of flowering plants in lower layers? Could flowering plants run faster than most ferns?

Characteristic pollens and spores are associated with specific animal fossils in each stratum. How could pollens and spores have been sorted so specifically into different layers by the Flood?

The only mammals buried in the same layers with the dinosaurs were the small primitive eutherians. How could dinosaurs have lived together with humans, horses, cows, elephants, and rats, and yet the only mammals to be buried in the same strata with them are these small transitional eutherians?

Whales and dolphins are found only in the higher layers, while ancient marine reptiles of very similar size and body plan are only found much lower. How does the Flood model explain this sorting?

Sardines and swordfish (teleostean fish) first appear in the late Triassic times. Why aren’t these deep sea fish found in the lowest strata if the Flood was responsible for their demise?

Mesozoic fish are always found in lower layers than the corals and snails of the Cenozoic period. How does the Flood model explain this sorting?

Fossils of scleractinian corals appear in the column above layers that contain two other orders of coral. How could these scleractinian corals have remained suspended during the Flood while these other two orders of coral settled beneath them?

Thick layers of microscopic diatoms occur in layers that are separated from the thick layers of microscopic radiolarians that lie beneath them. How does the Flood model explain this precise sorting of these microscopic creatures?

There is a relative order to the fossilized species of plants. Relatively modern plants such as apple and orange trees occur in the upper layers. Below them are the first magnolias. And below them are the first ginkgos which appear in association with the dinosaurs. How does the Flood model explain this sorting?

Primitive conifers appear in the column in lower layers than angiosperms such as willows and lily pads. How does the Flood model explain the fact that conifers (normally associated with mountainous environments) first appear in layers that are lower than lowland-loving plants which normally grow near surface water?

In the case of therapsid reptiles, those with well-developed reptilian jaw joints and incipient mammalian joints were buried in the lower layers. Those like Probainoganathus with double jaw joints were buried in the next higher layers. Forms like Morganucodonts, with functional mammalian joints and receding reptilian joints were buried in the next higher layers. But all of them were buried below the true mammals with no reptilian characteristics. This is exactly the type of progressive arrangement the theory of evolution predicts. How is it explained in terms of the Flood scenario?

"You seem to have a vengeance to discredit those who believe in God…"

Au contraire. What I have is a strong resentment against those who pervert science in an attempt to promote their pseudoscientific beliefs. I know a number of theistic evolutionists who are not the least bit offended by what I have to say about young-earth creationism.

"If the Bible says the earth was covered with the water we see today, it is quite obvious that the mountains of today were not there when the water covered them."

While one might argue that all "the mountains of today" may not have been present during the Flood, the Bible makes it clear that high hills and mountains were in existence at the time (Gen. 7: 19-20). I think it is reasonable to assume that, if the Bible speaks of high hills and mountains, the highest of them would at least have reached a height of 40 feet above sea level. It is hard to imagine that anyone would describe something as a mountain if it were any less than 40 feet high. Don’t you agree? So let’s assume that the highest mountain was only 40 feet high. According to the enclosed "The Water Vapor Canopy Theory, Why the Bible (and science) says it is false", (See here.), a canopy necessary to deliver 40 feet of water would double the earth’s atmospheric pressure and raise the temperature to 220oF, killing most animals including humans. Any organisms that might be lucky enough to survive under those hellish conditions would ultimately be cooked when the water condensed to form rain. Condensation of that much water would raise the earth’s temperature to 810oF! Noah, his cargo, his boat, and his crew would have been reduced to cinders.

"There is no need for fish to be in there [the Ark], the whole world was full of water."

As you must know, many species of fish and other sea life are very susceptible to changes in salinity and to the effects of sediments suspended in the water. No matter how you cut it, a flood on the scale of that proposed in the Bible, would have resulted in drastic alterations in salinity and water clarity that would have been fatal to most non-mammalian aquatic species. The only reason the authors of the flood myth did not include aquatic organisms on the cargo manifest was because they did not understand how sensitive they were to such ecological upheavals.

Page – 4

"And no dinosaurs need be taken on the ark…"

You must be reading a different Bible than I am. My Bible says that "…every living thing of all flesh, two of every sort…" and "…beasts that are not clean…" and "…every beast after his kind…" were to be loaded onto the Ark. (Gen. 6:19, 7:2, 7:14) Dinosaurs were "beasts" that were part of "every living thing of all flesh". Therefore, it would have been necessary to haul them aboard the Ark, would it not? What manner of creative exegesis do you employ to exclude dinosaurs from the Ark?

"…which would be why they all became extinct in one shot."

There is a serious problem with this explanation for dinosaur extinction. The dinosaurs became extinct in a relatively short period of time some 65 million years ago. Therefore, it is a little hard to pin this event on a flood that was supposed to have occurred only about 4,300 years ago. As you may know, there are a number of lines of evidence that indicate the dinosaur extinction was precipitated by an asteroid collision with the Earth.

"How could you possibly know what Moses knew or did not know?"

Assuming Moses actually wrote any of the Pentateuch, you can tell a great deal about what he did not know from the mistakes he made about the size of the earth and the ease with which he thought animals could be collected from and dispersed over it. His idea that there was a solid "firmament" separating the waters above heaven from the waters below would certainly not win any prizes at the local science fair. He obviously knew nothing about genetics. (Gen. 30:37-8) He thought rabbits chewed cud. (Lev. 11:6) He thought insects had four legs. (Lev. 11:22-23) Based on what he is supposed to have written, I think it is safe to assume that Moses’ knowledge of science and geography was anything but divinely inspired. Why anyone would give any credence to his description of the Creation is beyond me.

"There were no oceans or polar caps etc."

Really? Again you must be reading a different Bible than I am. According to mine, "…God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas…" (Gen. 1:9-10) Sounds like there were oceans to me. Besides if there were no oceans, how did the marine life that is specifically adapted to deep-sea existence survive during that period? Many of these organisms literally explode when they are artificially transported to higher depths. Did they all evolve in the relatively short 4,300-year time span since the purported Flood? That’s some mighty rapid evolution!

Extensive zones of oppositely polarized (magnetic) sea floor sediments exist in the Atlantic Ocean. If sea-floor spreading is occurring, the alternative zones of normal and reversed polarities should be arranged symmetrically about the mid ocean ridges. That is exactly what is observed. Magnetic polarity reversals are also evident in drill cores and they correlate with those observed in the sea floor sediments. Based on the distribution of these magnetically polarized zones, the Atlantic Ocean sea floor is at least 180 million years old. I’m afraid your theory that the oceans did not exist at the time of the Flood does not gibe with the facts. (See the ocean isochron profile at the U.S. Dept. of the Interior Geological Survey website and Page 60 of my EVC.) (See here.)

No polar caps at the time of the Flood? How do you reconcile this statement with the fact that ice cores dating back some 160,000 years have been recovered from the Antarctic ice sheets? (See "Ice Core Dating, the Vostok Ice Core" at talkorigins.org for more information.) (See here.)

"And how hard would it be for God to simply cause the animals to walk or fly or crawl to the ark?"

And how hard would it have been for God to selectively eliminate the undesirable people without subjecting all animals outside the Ark to the torment of drowning? Presumably He could have snapped His fingers and all those who displeased Him would have vanished into thin air. Here you are using a miraculous explanation in an attempt to refute a scientific improbability. If you want to make a scientific case against evolution you will have to refrain from resorting to miracles. Miracles are not permitted as scientific explanations. Miracles can be concocted to explain anything. Therefore they actually explain nothing.

"…it takes a lot more faith to believe some small hoofed animal went back into the water and turned into a whale…"

That might be true if there were no evidence to support such a belief. After all, that’s what faith is all about - believing in that for which there is no solid, material evidentiary support. The truth is such evidence does exist for the evolution of whales, so faith is not necessary. (See the enclosed "The Origin of Whales and the Power of Independent Evidence".) (See here.)

"These also are not facts but assumptions."

What the author of "Transitional Vertebrate Fossils" presented were facts that supported her assumptions. That’s what all good scientists do. Again, you have this mistaken assumption that scientific ideas, hypotheses, theories, etc must be etched in stone as absolute truths in order for them to be valid. Nothing could be further from the truth. Unlike religion, which pretends to know all the ultimate answers, science does not operate that way. You criticize the author for saying "…I think…". If you had read any original scientific literature, you would know that scientists routinely couch their language in such equivocal terms. All scientific theories are tentative and subject to revision or rejection in the light of new evidence. The fact that you make an issue out of this tentativeness demonstrates that you lack a thorough understanding of how the scientific process operates.

"There is not one transitional fossil in all his pages..."

I provided you with only portions of the articles from the American Scientific Affiliation and talkorigins websites just to give you an idea of what information was covered in the complete documents. Did you visit those websites and read the entire articles? (I doubt if you did because the author of the talkorigins article is a woman and you refer to her as a man.) The parts I gave you were just introductions and conclusions. The detailed enumerations and discussions of the substantial database of transitional forms were contained in the body of these articles. I cannot force you read any of this material. But, assuming you have not, I can only consider your statement to have been made out of unfamiliarity with the evidence.

"…such as the head of a whale attached to rear of a cow."

No knowledgeable evolutionist would ever propose such a preposterous chimera.

"…and cannot be proven, as he admits himself."

Go read up on the scientific method.

"So what makes me such an expert? I will tell you: SIMPLE OBSERVATION OF FACTS"

So you are an expert, are you? Your modesty is overwhelming. Millions of paleontologists, embryologists, microbiologists, anatomists, ecologists, biochemists, taxonomists, etc. with advanced training in the biological sciences observe the same facts as you do. After careful consideration of all the facts, they come to the informed conclusion that the theory of evolution is the best explanation for the diversity of life on Earth. You, with no formal training in the biological sciences, mull over some simple morphological relationships and proclaim that you are an expert on the subject and that evolution did not occur. If hubris were a virtue, you would be a strong candidate for sainthood.

Real experts do not have to brag about their expertise. They are recognized as experts by their peers because of the extensive knowledge they posses about the subjects they study. True experts do not proclaim themselves to be experts. They don’t have to. Their exceptional insight is obvious to those who follow their work.

A little learning is a dangerous thing;

Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring;

There shallow draughts intoxicate the brain,

And drinking largely sobers us again. – Alexander Pope, "An Essay on Criticism"

Page – 5

"None have eyes under their armpits or lungs attached to their kidneys."

Of course they don’t. And the theory of evolution does not predict that such unworkable arrangements should or could exist. Unlike an omnipotent creator, naturalistic evolution is constrained by pre-existing anatomical architectures. While a creator could presumably produce animals with any conceivable configuration he/she/it wanted, evolution is limited by the fact that it can only produce small incremental changes in the existing blueprint. And with evolution, only those changes that are not detrimental and provide reproductive advantage are incorporated into the body plans of succeeding generations. Things like the arrangement of eyes in vertebrates are highly conserved through structures known as homeobox genes. These genetic structures place strong limitations on how much change can occur without jeopardizing the viability of the fetus during embryogenesis. Evolutionary change is, therefore, substantially constricted by these controlling factors. It could be argued that having eyes in the back of their heads would be advantageous to certain vertebrates. Presumably a creator could easily poof such an arrangement into existence. But with evolution, it would be very unlikely because of the constraining influence of such things as the homeobox genes. The fact that no vertebrates have eyes in the back of their heads (nor any other drastic departures from the standard Bauplan) is much stronger support for evolution than it is for creation.

"There are NO transitional fossils."

In the event you have not been completely duped by creationist propaganda, see the enclosed "The Fossil Record: Evolution or ‘Scientific Creation’". (See here.) This article discusses a succession of transitional fossils linking reptiles and mammals. Keep in mind while reading this article that these fossils do not occur willy-nilly in the geologic column. They occur in sequential order from A. Hylonomous (lowest) M. Asioryctes (highest), just as the theory of evolution predicts. Also think about how this precise order could have resulted from the chaos of a year-long, worldwide flood.

Due to the rarity of preservation and the likelihood that speciation occurs in small populations during geologically short periods of time, transitions between species are uncommon in the fossil record. Transitions at higher taxonomic level, such as the ones discussed in the article, are abundant. (See also pages 32-34 of my EVC.)

"Even on the bottom strata are creatures like the trilobites as complete specimens…"

To be more precise, trilobites occur only in the bottom strata. Trilobites had a relatively light (non-dense) chitinous skeleton similar to that of crabs. They were much less dense than the clam-like mollusks which lived in the Mesozoic and Cenozoic periods that are found in great abundance in the higher layers of rock systems corresponding to those periods. If these fossils were all laid down as a consequence of the biblical Flood, trilobites should occur in strata above the mollusks as a result of hydraulic sorting. How do you explain this inverted arrangement in terms of the Flood model?

"…I KNOW that no chance thing can do this."

You need to learn to distinguish between what you know and what you believe. All you are presenting in this paragraph is an "Argument from Incredulity".

In this paragraph you seem to be making the argument that complex systems require complex designers. If the Creator is as complex as the Bible makes Him out to be, them He too must require an even more complex designer. What creator created God? And if you are going to exclude God from this requirement, then why not exclude the universe as well?

"Just leave some stuff around long enough and life will spring into being."

That is a gross oversimplification of what origin-of-life scientists think may have happened. For a discussion of current scientific thinking on the subject you should visit "The American Scientist" website and read the article entitled "The Beginnings of Life on Earth" in the Sept.-Oct. 1995 edition. (See here.) (See also pages 21-25 of my EVC.) Also keep in mind that the theory of evolution does not deal with the initial emergence of life. The theory pertains to the evolution of subsequent life forms after the formation of the first living replicators.

"You put Christianity at odds with science…"

No, fundamentalist Christians do that all by themselves without any help from me.

Page – 6

"So, let us for a moment assume evolutionists are correct, and I convert over and believe in evolutionism. What gain is there in it for me, or anyone else? Nothing!"

Wrong!!! What is in it for everyone who endorses evolution is the satisfaction of knowing that, after objectively and honestly examining the pertinent information, they have discovered a beautiful and elegant theory that offers a plausible scientific explanation for the diversity of life on earth. They have not made their decision to accept evolution because they have been beguiled with promises of everlasting bliss in some ephemeral paradise if they accept the theory. Nor have they made their decision because they have been threatened with insufferable punishment if they do not accept it. They have arrived at their decision after careful consideration of the facts and without coercion. And, in doing so, they have gained an immense appreciation for the interconnectedness of all life forms and a profound reverence for the majesty of the great chain of being.

If you want to believe the creation myths told by followers of a 3,ooo-year-old religious text that was written on goatskins by polygamists who burned dung as fuel, thought the earth was flat, and massacred anyone whose land they coveted because they thought an invisible man in the sky told them to, that is your prerogative. However, I refuse to allow myself to experience cognitive dissonance so I can believe something that contradicts the facts just because it gives me the warm and fuzzies.

"The Roman church, which is the leader here, is the anti-christ…"

I’m afraid Protestants can’t get off the hook that easily. After all, it was the Protestants who executed "witches" in Salem. And it was largely the Christian Protestants who were beating their Bibles to justify the continuation of slavery in the South. On average, some two-thirds of the Native American population in New England were killed by colonist-imported smallpox before actual violence began. This was interpreted by the Protestant colonists as a sign of "the marvelous goodness and providence of God." Or as the Governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony put it in 1634, as "for the natives, they are near all dead of the smallpox, so as the Lord hath cleared our title to what we possess."

See also the enclosed excerpt from "Victims of the Christian Faith" for more examples of Protestant Christian atrocities committed against the Native Americans. (See here.)

Page – 7

"…God claims to be omnipotent and thereby takes the blame for all things, with the exception of sin."

Why doesn’t God take responsibility for what Christians refer to as "sin"? According to the Bible, things transpired in the Garden of Eden basically as follows:

God placed a tree of knowledge of good and evil conspicuously in the middle of the Garden of Eden. Then He instructed Adam (whom He had created by blowing into a pile of dust) not to mess with the fruit of this tree. God then, as an afterthought, ripped a rib out of Adam while he was asleep and used it to manufacture Eve. Along came a talking snake (Yes, boys and girls, a real live talking snake!) that persuaded Eve to eat the forbidden fruit. Adam was subsequently beguiled by Eve into partaking of this verboten delicacy. All of a sudden they realized they didn’t have any clothes on. (How out of it were these people?) Now it happened that God was strolling in the garden and couldn’t figure out where Adam and Eve had gone. (Strange isn’t it that an omniscient God would not know what had happened and where they were hiding.) But when He did find them and recognized what had happened, He had a holy hissy fit. The first thing Adam did was to pass the buck to Eve by blaming her for tempting him. Eve, as might be expected, passed the buck on to the loquacious serpent. By now God’s knickers were really in a twist. First He commanded the snake to walk on its belly and eat dust. (What was the snake walking on before? And when was the last time anyone saw a snake eating dust?) Then God cursed Eve with the pain of childbirth and relegated her to a subservient position to Adam. God was extremely worried about these original sinners getting their hands on the tree of life. Therefore, He banished them to a life of toil outside the garden. - Condensed from Genesis Chapters 2 & 3.

What’s wrong with this story? How about a talking snake and a puzzled and worried God for starters? Or, how about trees whose fruit can confer knowledge and life? Or, how about an omniscient God who didn’t appear to have a clue about what was going to happen when He created the tree, Adam, and his mate? Or, how about the fact that Adam and Eve could not have known what they were doing was wrong because they did not have the knowledge of good and evil until after they ate the fruit? After all, they didn’t even know they were naked or that there was anything wrong with being naked prior to eating the fruit. Or, how about the fact that the whole childish scenario appears to have been dreamed up to explain to a tribe of credulous, superstitious, pre-scientific, desert nomads, why women should be subservient to men, why people must work for a living, and why life is full of trials and tribulations? Or, how about the fact it has all the earmarks of a myth that attempts to rationalize the fact that a perfect God did not provide a prefect world for us to live in because He was miffed about the transgressions of our ancestors?

The story is analogous to a situation in which a father places some candy in the center of the room on the floor, brings his two-year-old infant into the room, and then instructs the child to not touch the candy. The father then retreats to another room in the house and waits for the inevitable to happen. The child eats some of the candy, the father returns to discover what has happened, and then he throws the kid out of the house. Eventually the child grows to an adult, marries, and has children of his own. Grandpa then puts a curse on his grandchildren (and all of their offspring) because their father couldn’t resist the candy on the floor when he was a baby. Is this the kind of behavior we would find admirable in a human being? Of course not, and it is even less admirable in a God.

God should take complete responsibility for sin. If He were omniscient, he would have known in advance exactly how Adam and Eve were going to behave when they were placed in the Garden of Eden with the tree of knowledge (whatever that was). If He had not placed them in that tempting situation without the knowledge of good and evil, they would not have had the opportunity to sin. Therefore, God is ultimately to blame for the whole mess. At the very least, He should not blame us for the transgressions of our ancestors. How could people today have had any influence on the behavior of two people supposed to have been living thousands of years ago? If we had nothing to do with their behavior, we should not be punished for it.

"I believe that a comet which the Lord would normally steer aside, was pulled into the outer water canopy, causing it to burst."

And I believe that a giant, invisible, purple, water balloon was pierced by a missile fired from an alien spaceship causing the Flood. There is just as much scientific evidence to support my "theory" as there is to support yours – exactly none. As stated above, the water canopy theory does not hold water. "Bursting" of the canopy (had such a thing existed) would have baked Noah and company to a crisp.

Page – 8

"He [God] let go of nature and it became nasty…"

Isn’t it rather irresponsible for a God to create a universe and then abandon it to the forces of evil?  If He wasn’t going to give it His continued commitment and attention, perhaps He should not have created the universe in the first place. After all, if He were omniscient, He would have known He was eventually going to "let go" before He ever stared the preliminary drawings. If your description is accurate, God has behaved like a petulant child who has become bored with a rambunctious pet and has dumped it by the roadside. Not exactly the kind of behavior one would expect from a loving, compassionate, and merciful God, now is it?

"Christ will allow the devil to finish his work of evil…"

The belief in a supernatural source of evil is not necessary; men alone are quite capable of every wickedness. - Joseph Conrad

 

Sincerely,

Jack DeBaun

 

P.S. – With all due respect, I think I will pass on your kind offer to discuss the Bible and history with me. I have been involved in religious debates with a number of Christians for several years, and I am currently engaged in a rather time-consuming discussion with a fundamentalist Christian from Missouri. I have read volumes of Christian apologetics that my worthy opponents have sent to me. Frankly, I doubt that you could provide any novel apologetic argumentation that I am not already familiar with. I think it is safe to say that I have pretty much heard, read, considered, and discussed it all. Thanks anyway for your offer.

Your heat engine does sound interesting. I will try to drop by some day to see it in action.

Return to A Frank Dialogue with Mr. X