5. My Reply to Item 4
[Note: The "creationist coloring book" mentioned in this response refers to a copy of "A Creationist’s View of Dinosaurs and the Theory of Evolution" which Mr. X enclosed with his last letter.]
March 17, 2002
Dear Mr. X,
What follows are my comments regarding your most recent letter to me. Your statements are indicated in bold type.
But is this what you call science?
The technical material that I have presented in my several letters to you is what virtually every scientist in the world calls "science". Why do you have such a difficult time recognizing it for what it is? It appears you do not understand what actually constitutes legitimate science.
It seems to me to be nothing but the history of the evolving of evolutionary thinking plus some more ideas from other people.
Science is the process of testing ideas that have been proposed to explain natural phenomena. Nothing in science is absolutely proven nor written in stone. The only invariant aspect of science is the scientific method itself. Existing scientific ideas are tentative and subject to modification if other qualified people come along with better ideas. What I have presented to you are scientific hypotheses/theories that have been developed by critically examining the pertinent evidence, sharing information and ideas about that evidence, and formulating what is considered to be the best explanation that is compatible with the rules for doing science. That is the way scientific knowledge is advanced, improved upon, and purged of erroneous ideas. What do you what me to give you? Would you prefer that I provide you with wild speculation, anti-science doubletalk, pseudoscientific malarkey, and self-serving propaganda such as you accustomed to receiving from the creationists?
There is not one thing about science proving evolution of the eye, but ignores that fact that the eye is totally useless unless it is complete and perfect.
You are starting to sound like a broken record with your incessant demand for scientific proof. As I have pointed out to you in past letters, science does not prove anything. Science involves tentative ideas that represent the best explanations available based on current evidence. If you are looking for proofs in the absolute sense, you will have to restrict your inquiries to the field of mathematics.
I have also previously addressed your erroneous statement about the uselessness of partial light sensing structures. (See page 50 of my E.V.C.) (Are you actually reading what I am sending to you, or am I just wasting my time? Please let me know. I have more important things to do than communicating with those who ignore what I write.) Many organisms have only light sensitive spots (rudimentary "eyes") that provide them with a survival advantage over other organisms that lack them. A look at the variety of light sensing organs found in nature (ranging from primitive light sensing cells to full-blown eyes) quickly dispels the notion that "eyes" must be "complete and perfect" in order to perform a useful function.
Let me attempt one more time to inform you how evolutionists treat the development of the eye. Please read the portion of Kenneth Miller’s "Life’s Grand Design" that deals with the evolution of the eye (enclosed). (See here.) While doing so, try to keep in mind that evolution does not posit that eyes sprang into existence wholly formed. The evidence supports the theory that they evolved in small incremental stages, from primitive eyespots to fully formed eyes, with each stage providing a slight survival advantage over the one that preceded it. While you may disagree with the concept, at least I hope you gain a better understanding of what it is that the evolutionists are theorizing regarding the development of visual organs.
But I am thankful for the one about whales. I will keep this in my evolution file for sure. It is the most foolish thing one can imagine.
That’s not a surprising reaction considering it is coming from someone who thinks that a creationist coloring book represents cutting-edge science.
How could a cow (or whatever} go back into the water, and just because it liked water it would turn into a whale? For one thing a male and female would have to do their thing there, and saying they both agreed to this and it could be done at all, here comes a calf born underwater.
I hardly know where to begin in addressing such a juvenile representation of the evolutionary process.
First, just to set the record straight, evolutionists do not theorize that a cow was an evolutionary ancestor to the whale. The fossil evidence indicates that Sinonyx, a wolf-sized mesonychid (a primitive ungulate from the order condylarthra), was one of the earlier ancestral forms.
Secondly, evolutionists do not theorize that a cow walked into the water, got lucky and found a suitable mate such that they could "do their thing", and then, because they "liked water" decided it would be cool to produce a whale. I hope you do not really think that this is what evolutionary scientists are proposing. If it is, then your understanding of evolutionary theory is even fuzzier than I first thought it was.
Please reread the information I sent you on whale evolution and try to keep in mind that it is talking about a very slow transition involving small incremental changes from an ancestral species that lived both on land and in water (think hippopotamus) to modern whales. Also keep in mind that this transition (which occurred as a result of such things as mutation/ natural selection, genetic drift, and founder effect) encompassed many millions of years and left fossils of intermediate forms in the geologic record (some of which have been discovered and are depicted in the article). Keep in mind also that these intermediate fossils occur in a sequence showing that, as the transition occurred, each successive form was more whale-like and less ungulate-like than its predecessor. Again, you may not agree with the evolutionary scenario, but at least make an honest effort to understand what it entails.
One can imagine how well it would fare, perhaps it could live for a few minutes, and then it learns to eat fish or plankton rather quickly if it managed to surface. I can go on no further.
Ah, but you do go on.
But this year I saw some newsreels of some floods in the South East, and there were many kinds of cattle involve, and they all perished. They did not start to evolve into anything.
Under the catastrophic conditions you describe, no knowledgeable evolutionist in the world would think that they would do anything other than become dead cows. Where are you getting the ridiculous notion that evolutionists would expect them to evolve into some other creature in such a brief time span under these circumstances? I thought you said in one of your letters that you had once received some instruction in evolutionary biology. Was the teaching really that bad, did you fail to pay attention, or have you simply forgotten what you learned?
Although I don’t doubt that the cow-to-whale yarn is a big hit in creationist circles, it is just plain ridiculous as far as knowledgeable scientists are concerned. Just a word of advice. If you want to avoid making a fool of yourself in the company of real scientists, I suggest you refrain from using this asinine depiction of whale evolution in their presence.
The paper on the people, who are supposed to be Christians doing awful things to one another, is quite a distressing thing.
Finally something we can agree upon.
But remember Hitler did his terrible deeds because he believed in evolution………...
It appears you weren’t paying any better attention in your history classes than you were in your biology classes. The truth is, Hitler "did his terrible deeds" primarily because of his religious belief that white Aryans were the favored people of God. Most historians agree that it was Germany’s thorough indoctrination in Martin Luther’s rabid anti-Semitism which set the stage for Hitler’s reign of terror. First read the enclosed, "Martin Luther’s dirty little book: On the Jews and their lies", (See here.), to gain an understanding of Luther’s hateful attitude toward the Jews. Then read the enclosed, "The Religious Views of Adolf Hitler", (Original article appears to be no longer available on the web. See here for a similar article.), to learn about his religious outlook. Finally, read the enclosed, "Creationists, Hitler and Evolution", (See here.), to learn why your argument has no basis in fact. In the last article, note how the Institute for Creation Research (ICR) lied about Hitler’s emphasis on evolution to advance their agenda. I fail to see how anyone can read these documents and not come to the realization that, if justification based on the theory of evolution played any part in Germany’s war effort, it was inconsequential compared to the justification that stemmed from the people’s religious beliefs. [See also here a relevant article that was not included in the original letter to Mr. X.]
It [the Russian display at the World’s Fair] was nothing but displays of creatures evolving from one kind to another, finally ending up with man.
So what’s wrong with presenting mainstream scientific information at a World’s Fair? Would you have preferred a more Bible-oriented display including four-legged insects (Lev. 11:22-23), cud-chewing rabbits (Lev. 11:5-6), talking snakes (Gen. 3:1) and asses (Num. 22:28-30), dust-eating snakes (Gen 3:14), fowls with four feet (Lev. 11:20-21), cud-chewing conies (Lev. 11:5), camels with undivided hooves (Lev. 11:4), mustard seeds growing into trees (Matt. 13:31-32), demons causing disease (Luke 13:10-11), dead seeds producing plants (John 12:24), and melting slugs (Ps. 58:8)? Or how about a display on biblical genetics demonstrating that placing striped sticks in front of pregnant sheep causes them to give birth to striped lambs (Gen. 30:37-39)? Or maybe a nice diorama depicting a flat earth supported on pillars and covered with a solid canopy with windows in it (various Bible verses) would have been more to your liking?
To quote from "Creationists, Hitler and Evolution" – The creationists are apparently unaware of the fact that Stalinist Russia rejected Darwinian evolution as "bourgeois" and instead embraced the non-Darwinian "proletarian biology" of Lysenko and Michurin (a disaster from which Russsian genetics and biological sciences has still not completely recovered)." Many prominent scientists were arrested and perished in the Gulag because they tried to refute Lysenko’s pseudo-science by pointing out the evidence that clearly contradicted it. If you creationists get your way, our science programs (and maybe scientists) will suffer the same fate as that of the Russians’ programs. Remember, those who remain ignorant of history, are bound to repeat it.
The religion of evolution does have its’ [sic] drawbacks.
I agree. When people use the theory of evolution as the basis of a belief system for shaping moral and ethical behavior, they are practicing religion, not science. The basic theory of evolution is a scientific theory that explains the progression of life forms on earth. The natural sciences deal with how natural things happen, not why or how we would like them to happen. Ethical and moral questions are the bailiwick of the social sciences, the legal establishment, and religion. Anyone who uses the theory of evolution to justify such things as social Darwinism or to promote philosophical materialism is overstepping the bounds of science.
The nations [who fought the Israelites in biblical times] had seen the miracles of the Jews escaping Egypt and the way God took care of them in the desert, yet they hardened their hearts and chose to fight against God.
Whether the "miracle" of the Jews escaping Egypt actually occurred is the subject of considerable debate in archaeological circles. [For a pertinent reference not present in the original version of this letter, see here.] The same is true for the actual occurrence of the many battles that the Israelites are purported to have fought against their enemies. Be that as it may, try to put yourself in the place of the indigenous peoples living in the Middle East if a horde of Jews were to invade the region. How would you respond if a bunch of barbaric desert nomads suddenly descended on your country claiming that their God demanded that you give up your land to them? Would you meekly surrender your homeland without putting up some kind of resistance? Besides, if God really wanted the Jews to possess the territory, why subject them to the horrors of war to achieve that end? An omnipotent God could have simply poofed the enemy out of existence with the snap of His mighty fingers, could He not? Or at the very least, He could have saddled the enemy with a serious case of the hemorrhoids as He is said to have done with the Egyptians. With the enemy preoccupied with such an affliction (and absent the miracle of Preparation-H) it would no doubt have proved quite advantageous for the Israelites and saved then numerous casualties.
Regarding the "non-arguable arguments" contained in your creationist coloring book, let me simply remind you that the mainstream scientific establishment has repeatedly refuted all of these dead horses. If you want to find out why these arguments are not only arguable but scientifically invalid as well, I suggest you check out talkorigins.org on the Internet. Frankly, I don’t have time to keep spoon-feeding you information. If you’re really interested in learning why your arguments are bogus from the scientific standpoint, you will have to do some investigation on your own.
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