Item #5: My April, 2002, response to item #4 -(Note: Some URLs were modified from the original document to correct for inactive websites.  The headings in green were not included in the original document.)

TOPICS ADDRESSED IN THIS RESPONSE

1. Was the PBS series, "Evolution," a good example of evolutionist mumbo jumbo?

2. Concerning the definition of evolution -

3. Answers in Genesis scientists suffer from cognitive dissonance.

4. Acceptance of the theory of evolution is compatible with a belief in God.

5. Some websites that provide information on radiometric dating, fossils, and the geologic column -

6. Science does not claim absolute proof for anything.

7. Incompleteness of the fossil record does not negate the theory of evolution.

8. Evolution has been shown to be driven by such mechanisms as natural selection, genetic drift, and the founder effect.

9. Although science is restricted to working within the confines of methodological naturalism, it  is not anti-God.

10. If creationists don't like the heat, they should stay out of the scientific kitchen.

11. Pot, kettle, black...

12. Michael Ruse and the Arkansas creationism trial -

13. Even if miraculous events were somehow shown to have actually occurred, they would fall outside the bailiwick of science.

14. Science does not categorically assert that supernatural events cannot occur.  Nonetheless, science is prohibited from using the supernatural as part of its explanatory process.

15. Dissention in the Christian ranks - will the true Christian please stand up?

16. Kenneth Miller's "Finding Darwin's God" panned by two creationists - what a surprise.

17. Evolutionist, Kenneth Miller, admits a mistake.  Too bad creationists have not learned this simple act of honesty and humility.

18. Jonathan Sarfati dupes another unsuspecting creationist.

19. Is the Bible a reliable guide to scientific thinking?

20. One of the most vocal promoters of evolution today is Kenneth Miller, a self-proclaimed theist.

21. Why do evolutionists spend time discussing religion in the context of this debate?

22. And now to drag religion into the debate once again.

23. The scientific worldview is incompatible with certain parts of the Bible when they are interpreted literally.

24. Cognitive dissonance and the creation "scientist" mindset -

25. A "guitar-strumming hillbilly" supplies a list of evolution deniers.

26. How do the evolutionary sciences and the physical sciences interrelate?

27. Mr. Knapp fails to appreciate the difference between informed consensus opinions in science and appeal to authority.

28. Can science draw meaningful conclusions about events that have happened in the past?

29. Mr. Knapp gets it right.  Scientists are not infallible and are sometimes subject to bias.

30. Mr. Knapp gets it wrong. Science does not have the option of accepting miraculous explanations.

31. A lack of scientific understanding makes it difficult to differentiate between science and pseudoscience.

32. Mr. Knapp's invitation for me to reinvent the wheel -

33. A few simple questions regarding the geologic column for Mr. Knapp to address -

34. I do not claim to be an expert nor an authority on the theory of evolution.

35. Miraculous "God did it" explanations are not permitted in science, no matter how much creationists would like to weasel them in.

36. Former anti-evolutionist, Michael Denton, finally sees the light.

37. A little quiz for Mr. Knapp regarding results from some molecular genetic, comparative embryological, and homology studies -

38. Public debates are not the place to resolve complex scientific issues such as those pertaining to the theory of evolution.

39. Are creationists who excel in their field of study really discriminated against in obtaining a scientific degree and in publishing legitimate science in scientific journals?

40. Does the theory of evolution really lack relevance to the study of biological systems?

41. Why should we expect Galileo, Copernicus, Kepler, and Newton to be anything other than YECs?

42. Questionable evidence for an "orderly Creator" -

43. Religion was not a predominantly positive factor in scientific progress as Mr. Knapp contends.

44. Mr. Knapp fails to provide an answer to my question.

45. Michael Behe attempts to resuscitate William Paley's discredited argument from design.

46. Can evolution produce an increase in genetic information?

47. The disadvantage of being scientifically naive.

48. Mr. Knapp misunderstands my motives.

49. Dissecting the quotation from Lowentin.

50. Mr. Knapp buys into lawyer Phillip Johnson's philosophical diatribe against evolution.

51. Do creationists really want to replace faith with fact?

52. Where is the evidence for a mechanism that would prevent "microevolution" from becoming "macroevolution," given enough time?

53. Picking and choosing from the Bible -

54. Like all scientific theories, the theory of evolution is subject to revision or replacement if new evidence so dictates.

55. Mr. Knapp again evades a straightforward question.

56. Genetic algorithms demonstrate how evolutionary mechanisms can generate biological complexity.

57. Response to some comments from Mr. Knapp's science advisors at Answers in Genesis.

The following commentary is offered in response to the article "Response to Jack Debaun [sic]" featured on Mr. Knappís website. Selected statements and quotations from Mr. Knapp in that article are indicated in bold type. My responses follow in regular type.

1. Was the PBS series, "Evolution," a good example of evolutionist mumbo jumbo?

Except, I believe the mumbo jumbo is coming from the evolutionist camp. The PBS series ĎEvolutioní is a good example.

See responses to the critiques of this series at the National Center For Science Education website (www.natcenscied.org) to understand why "mumbo jumbo" is an apt characterization of creationist subterfuge.

2. Concerning the definition of evolution -

Önot exactly a solid explanation [for evolution]. Descent with modification is largely a vacuous statement. It really explains nothing.

Well then, how about defining it as:

"Öany 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)

or as:

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

Iím sorry, but the creationist definition of evolution (Öa materialistic creation myth perpetrated by an elite cadre of diabolical God haters [and some God-fearing, but hopelessly misguided, dupes] who are intent on corrupting the moral fiber of humanity) is neither an accurate nor a scientific one.

3. Answers in Genesis scientists suffer from cognitive dissonance.

They [AIG scientists] are well informed on the scientific arguments related to the creation/evolution issue Ė apparently, more so than you are.

And apparently more so (or so they dream) than virtually the entire worldwide scientific community with which they are in serious disagreement. If they are well informed, then they are purposely ignoring and/or misconstruing what they have learned in order to rationalize their religious beliefs. If cognitive dissonance were a virtue, these guys would be prime candidates for sainthood.

4. Acceptance of the theory of evolution is compatible with a belief in God.

When you say "incompatible with a belief in God," to what God are you referring?

How many Gods are there? I thought there is only supposed to be one. I was responding to your insinuation that evolution is incompatible with a belief in God, and I presented evidence to show that you were wrong in making such a blanket statement. Now, as I expected, you are telling me that what you really meant to say was that evolution is incompatible with your particular understanding of God based on your particular interpretation of the Bible. Why didnít you inform me of your selective definition of God in the first place? It would have saved me a lot of trouble.

I still believe it is possible to be a Christian and believe in evolution.

That will come as a great relief to the many millions of Christians who are evolutionists.

Although it is very shaky ground to be on.

Not nearly so shaky as the quicksand into which the creationists are sinking.

As I explained earlier, your conclusion is wrong. Therefore, your false-dichotomy theory is nothing more than a strawman argument. I never said it was impossible to be a Christian and also believe in evolution.

In your article you said, "This is why atheists are at the forefront in promoting the public acceptance of evolution Ė it promotes their atheistic faith." Now when I provide evidence of substantial numbers of theists who "promote" evolution, you try to back-peddle. One of the most ardent promoters of evolution is Kenneth Miller, an avowed Catholic. See also www.faithreason.org as another theistic website that promotes evolution. The Canadian Scientific and Christian Affiliation, The Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences, The Institute on Religion in an Age of Science, The Chicago Center for Religion and Science, and the Institute for Theological Encounter with Science and Religion are additional examples of theistic organizations that endorse the theory of evolution.

Scientists, whether they be theist or atheist, should promote evolution because it is the best scientifically corroborated theory for explaining the development of life forms on earth. If they are promoting the theory simply to advance an atheistic worldview, then they are engaging in a philosophical argument, not a scientific one. Similarly, when creationists misuse science to promote their fundamentalist Bible-based worldview, they are practicing religion, not science.

5. Some websites that provide information on radiometric dating, fossils, and the geologic column -

For information on the mainstream science perspective regarding radiometric dating methods, see "A Radiometric Dating Resource List" at http://www.tim-thompson.com/radiometric.html. See also, "Isochron Dating" at www.talkorigins.org. (Keep in mind that the linear relationships that are established with isochron dating can only be achieved if radioactive decay rates have remained constant for billions of years.)

For information on fossils and the geologic column, search for these topics at talkorigins.org. See also "Creation Science and Earth History" at www.geocities.com/earthhistory/ , and search Google for "Smooth Change in the Fossil Record".

You know we could go on ad infinitum with our dueling websites. But what the people reading this will have to decide is whether they want to rely on the self-serving misinformation peddled by a small (but very vocal) fringe-group of antievolutionists who are distraught because scientific facts threaten their literal interpretations of the Bible, or whether they prefer to place more reliance on the information provided by mainstream scientific organizations. The choice is up to them.

6. Science does not claim absolute proof for anything.

Itís interesting to note from the above paragraph that where it says, "Evidence from the fossil record is consistent with a wide range of proposed evolutionary mechanisms," the word "consistent" is key. It, in fact, cannot be scientifically demonstrated that these "transitional fossils" are indeed such Ė only that it is consistent.

Claims of absolute proof are not part of the scientific investigative process. Science does not claim to unequivocally prove anything. You will have to restrict your inquiries to the field of mathematics if you want proofs. All science can establish (after examining the evidence, proposing a hypothesis/theory to explain it, and confirming the predictions made by that hypothesis/theory) is that the evidence for the "truth" of that hypothesis/theory is exceedingly strong. Nonetheless, while not effective at conclusively proving good concepts, science is very effective at convincingly disproving bad ones, e.g., so-called scientific creationism.

Science examines the evidence related to natural processes, proposes hypotheses to explain the evidence, and tests the hypotheses to see how they hold up under repeated examination. The explanations that science comes up with are tentative and subject to modification or rejection in the light of new, clearly contradictory evidence. Science is concerned with establishing consistency between a hypothesis and factual data that back it up. Consistency is all that science is asking for and is perfectly satisfied with it. Thatís how science demonstrates that hypotheses are valid Ė by showing that they are consistent with the data. Science couches its statements in rather tentative terms because results are tentative and subject to later modification or rejection. The use of the term "consistent" in this context is exactly what one would expect of responsible scientific reporting. The fact that you make such an issue of fact that the authors do not claim to have proved their hypothesis, but claim "only that it is consistent" with the data, demonstrates how meager your understanding of the scientific method actually is.

7. Incompleteness of the fossil record does not negate the theory of evolution.

The fossil record is full of gaps, and it is very difficult to establish any kind of certain evolutionary pathway.

I suppose such a thing would be very difficult for someone who is unfamiliar with the supporting evidence Ė or for someone who is unwilling to examine it with an open mind. Again, science does not claim it has established absolute certainty with regard to any hypotheses that attempt to explain natural processes. If the pretense of certainty is what you want, you will have to stick to religious dogma.

Of course the fossil record contains discontinuities. The process of fossilization is a problematic and complex one that is dependent on such factors as the conditions of burial, the physicochemical environment in which the specimen is buried, the duration of burial, and the subsequent disruption of the strata to expose the fossil (without causing its destruction). Fossilization is relatively rare. Are there squirrels living in the vicinity of your home? If so, how many squirrel fossils have you uncovered while digging in the soil around your house? Presumably these animals have existed in that location for at least thousands of years. In spite of this limited degree of fossilization, many thousands of fossils have been discovered that support the predictions made by the theory of evolution. See my references above for evidence that substantiates the evolutionary origin of the fossil record.

8. Evolution has been shown to be driven by such mechanisms as natural selection, genetic drift, and the founder effect.  

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

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 Ďevolution is factí and natural selection is an important directing force in evolution."

For examples showing how the mechanism of natural selection drives evolution, see "Evolution and Natural Selection" at www.globalchange.umich.edu/globalchange1/current/lectures/selection/selection.html. For examples of evolution guided by the mechanisms of genetic drift and the founder effect, search www.talkorigins.org for "Random Genetic Drift". And for a discussion regarding the concept of self-organization and how it might fit into the picture see the "ProtoTista" website (www.prototista.org).

9. Although science is restricted to working within the confines of methodological naturalism, it  is not anti-God.

At the trial [the Arkansas "balanced treatment" trial] anti-creationists loftily dismissed the claim that evolution was an anti-god religion.

And well they should. The theory of evolution is a scientific theory. It was developed using the principles specified by the scientific method. Hence, like all other scientific theories, it employs only naturalistic assumptions and explanations, and it is noncommittal with regard to the possible existence of supernatural entities. Regardless whether such entities and forces do or do not exist, science is not permitted to utilize them as part of its explanatory process. Science is not anti-God because, by definition, it has nothing to say about God. Any scientist who attempts to prove or disprove the existence of God (or any other metaphysical being) with scientific arguments is engaging in religious philosophy, not science.

10. If creationists don't like the heat, they should stay out of the scientific kitchen.

These candid comments [regarding evolution as a religious ideology] from Mr. Ruse seem to tell another story regarding your theory that evolution is benevolent toward Christianity.

I agree with the basic premise that Ruse has argued. I only question the pervasiveness that he has attributed to it. It is not the function of the natural sciences to promote or criticize metaphysical belief systems or to set standards for moral or ethical behavior. As stated above, science is fundamentally a system for systematizing knowledge that provides naturalistic explanations for natural phenomena. Basic science deals with how things actually happen, not why or how we wish they would happen. Moral, ethical, and religious considerations are the bailiwick of the social sciences, the legal establishment, and the churches, not the natural sciences. Of course, that does not mean that scientists cannot voice their opinions on such matters. But when they do, they must not misuse science as an ideological tool to justify them.

While some scientists have elevated evolution to the status of a religion, I personally donít think the problem is as widespread as Ruse contends. In the case of the evolution/creation confrontation, creationists often mistake honest scientific criticism for a direct and purposeful attack on their religious beliefs. Nonetheless, scientists have every right to confront what they consider to be fallacious pseudoscientific claims with well-founded scientific counter arguments. Unfortunately, if the creationists want to engage in a scientific skirmish with the evolutionists, their religious sensibilities are likely to suffer some collateral damage in the process. While some may interpret this as a personal attack on their religious beliefs by an evolutionary ideologue, it really boils down to nothing more than a proper exercise of the scientific prerogative. If religionists step onto the scientistsí turf, they should expect to be treated like anyone else who challenges current scientific thinking. And if they make science-oriented religious claims that conflict with current scientific thinking, they should be prepared to have them called into question.

Yes, some scientists, like Richard Dawkins, do sometimes use evolutionary concepts to promote their personal worldviews. And some scientists have a tendency to attach an almost religious significance to the body of knowledge associated with their particular area of study. But, as mentioned above, when they do so, they are operating outside the purview of the scientific method. In this respect, they are much like the creationists who highjack science to push their religious agenda.

11. Pot, kettle, black...

Mr. Debaunís [sic] own article here drips with near hostility towards those of faith who reject his religion of evolution.

This comes across as a blatantly hypocritical statement considering the fact that your rebuttal reeks of unabashed sarcasm and disdain for those who accept mainstream scientific findings regarding the development of life on earth.

I harbor no hostility toward people of faith, so long as they show due respect for those who are engaged in an honest pursuit of scientific knowledge.

12. Michael Ruse and the Arkansas creationism trial -

Michael Ruse was a key witness on your side at the Arkansas trial. How does that grab you?

It grabs me just fine. I gather from this retort that you predicted it would grab me differently. You should leave the psychic predictions to Miss Cleo.

So, Ruse has changed his mind after more careful deliberation. So, what? Too bad the creationists are incapable of this simple act of open-mindedness.

You are misleading your audience when you insinuate that Ruseís testimony during the Arkansas trial was the pivotal element in shaping the Judge Overtonís decision. It is quite clear that Judge Overtonís findings were based on the entirety of the scientific testimony that was presented to him. Judge Overtonís concluding remarks included the following:

"[The Arkansas Balanced Treatment Act] was simply and purely an effort to introduce the biblical version of creation into the public school curricula."

"[The methodology employed by the creationists] is indicative that their work is not science. A scientific theory must be tentative and always subject to revision or abandonment in light of the facts that are inconsistent with, or falsify, the theory. A theory that is by its own terms dogmatic, absolutist and never subject to revision is not a scientific theory."

Whatever influence Ruse may have had on Overtonís ruling, it was only complimentary to that exerted by the comprehensive body of evidence presented by the mainstream science witnesses.

13. Even if miraculous events were somehow shown to have actually occurred, they would fall outside the bailiwick of science.

Mayer agreed [that creationism might be true] and added that he had also said, "even if it were correct, itís not scientific." This is quite a revealing statement from Mr. Debaunís [sic] camp.

Revealing perhaps to someone who does not understand the rules imposed by the scientific method - but common knowledge to those who know that science is restricted to the utilization of natural causes and effects. Creationism relies on the occurrence of miracles brought about by a supernatural agency (the miraculous creation of most life forms in the span of a few days, the miraculous gathering of animals to the Ark, the miraculous release of incredible amounts of water to cause the Flood, the miraculous maintenance of large numbers of animals on the Ark for a year, the miraculous migration of animals to foreign lands after the Flood, a miraculous increase in evolution after the deluge, the miraculous prevention of dinosaurs and humans from being deposited in the same strata, etc.). Therefore, even if it were correct, it could not be confirmed by scientific means and is not science, just as Mayer says.

14. Science does not categorically assert that supernatural events cannot occur.  Nonetheless, science is prohibited from using the supernatural as part of its explanatory process.

This is a positive indicator that many evolutionists are not on an honest quest to wherever the evidence leads them. I always thought that science was the search for the truth?

Talk about the pot calling the kettle black! Scientists are involved in a search for the "truth". But the rules they must follow in pursuing that goal require that they must not invoke supernatural causes and effects to formulate their explanations. The dishonesty occurs when creationists pretend to be doing legitimate science while at the same time relying on preternatural elements as criteria for substantiation. The naturalistic assumption has been incorporated into the scientific method because experience has shown that, by using this approach, the process has been immensely productive. This epistemological assumption doesnít seem to cause a great deal of consternation amongst the creationists with regard to such things as the germ theory of disease, the universal law of gravitation, quantum mechanics, or the idea that mental illness correlates with brain disorders. But when science turns to the investigation of origins (specifically cosmological and biological origins), suddenly the creationist nerve has been struck. Now they ignore the fact that the scientific method, with its naturalistic assumptions, has proven to be the most effective system ever devised by man for promoting invention and discovery. Now they want the rules changed to accommodate their religious biases. In this respect, creationists are like a person who enters a bowling tournament and fails to maintain a competitive score. He then whines about the rules of the game and demands that gutter balls be counted as strikes. If creationists do not want to play by the established rules of the game, they should not enter the competition in the first place.

While science is not allowed to use supernatural explanations in its quest for the "truth", it does not assert that such explanations do not exist. In fact, one can imagine a number of ways the "truth" could be convincingly conveyed by supernatural means. In the case of the evolution/creation controversy, suppose that God or one of His designated representatives were to appear simultaneously on every operating television set in the world and, speaking fluently in the language of those in the viewing audience, give the complete serial number of the set on which He was appearing. Suppose then that He explained that the literal biblical account of creation was accurate and that He had purposely created evidence to make it look like evolution had occurred in order to test the faith of the true believers. Suppose further that, upon examination of the serial numbers, it was found that they were identical to those given by the speaker. Clearly a miracle would have occurred that was beyond scientific understanding. With this scenario, even the most gung ho evolutionist would have to admit that the position he/she had been holding was no longer tenable.

While supernatural explanations are possible and not entirely ruled out by science, every time they have been proposed to account for various "supernatural" phenomena such as astrological predictions, psychic readings, near-death experiences, spoon bending, etc. they have always been found to be bogus on close scientific scrutiny. Until there is a clear supernatural revelation regarding the evolution/creation issue, scientists are justified (by the vast amount of evidence which supports it) in maintaining their acceptance of evolutionary theory.

One wonders why, if God could perform a miracle such as the one proposed above, He does not do so and clear up this contentious issue once and for all.

15. Dissention in the Christian ranks - will the true Christian please stand up?

Actually, Kenneth Miller is an orthodox Catholic. I seriously doubt Mr. Debaun [sic] would know a Christian from a Hare Krishna. 

From the juxtaposition of these two sentences, one gets the impression that you do not consider Catholics to be bone fide Christians. Is that your position Mr. Knapp?

Arenít the Christians the ones who have subdivided themselves into more than 20,000 different sects and denominations (Barret, World Christian Encyclopedia, 1982, p. 292) because they canít agree with one another on what their holy book actually says regarding significant doctrinal issues (the baptismal formula, salvation by grace or works, the Trinity, the status of the Virgin Mary, the existence and nature of hell, soteriology, a literal resurrection, the correct Sabbath day, the role of women in church, glossolalia, free will vs. predetermination, the rapture and other details regarding the timing and nature of the "second coming", the Eucharist liturgy, the literal interpretation of Genesis and other books of the Bible, etc.)? Donít many of these sects and denominations contend that they represent the only true pathway to salvation and that all others will lead to eternal punishment in the flames of Hades? And arenít the Christians the ones who sometimes disagree so vehemently on what their holy book says that they murder one another over its interpretation?

The Hare Krishna are the ones with the orange robes and shaven heads who hang around airports, right?

I seriously doubt that, when it comes to the theory of evolution, you know the distal end of your alimentary canal from a terrestrial excavation.

Öa process [evolution] that took millions of years of death, disease, and suffering to bring about life and eventually man.

How could there have been death, disease, and suffering before there was life? Do you deny that death, disease, and destruction existed in the past and that they exist today? If not, then explain why you think "the wonderful loving God of the Bible", who presumably has the wherewithal to bring it to and abrupt end, allows it to persist.

If this is the approach to the Bible we are going to take, we might as well throw the Bible in the trashcan.

Actually, it would be more environmentally responsible to take it to the recycling center.

16. Kenneth Miller's "Finding Darwin's God" panned by two creationists - what a surprise.

Also worth checking out is the devastating review of Finding Darwinís God by creationists John Woodmorappe and Jonathan Sarfati.

Devastating to any claim that these men are competent scientists, thatís for sure. Anyone like "Woodmorappe" who hides behind a fake name raises serious concerns about his credibility.

17. Evolutionist, Kenneth Miller, admits a mistake.  Too bad creationists have not learned this simple act of honesty and humility.

For instance, commenting on one televised debate that even the evolutionary journals conceded was won by the creationist Duane Gish, Miller accused Gish of leaving an important word out of a quote, yet it later tuned out that the word in question was not even there!

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. 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. All the creationists have to say is "God did it" and the audience goes wild with a chorus of amens. Couple these handicaps with the generally dismal science literacy of the audience members, and the scientists can find themselves at a considerable disadvantage in these types of exchanges.

Nonetheless, the fact remains that the validity of a scientific theory is not established on the debate floor or in urgency of televised sound bites. The legitimacy of a scientific theory is determined through peer-reviewed publication and verification of experimental results by knowledgeable scientists who play by the rules imposed by the scientific method.

Be that as it may, it is preposterous to insinuate that Miller is somehow less straightforward than Gish in his promotional activities. At the website, "Creationism: Bad Science or Immoral Pseudoscience" (http://mypage.direct.ca/w/writer/gish.html ), Joyce Arthur examines some of Gishís writing and debating tactics (which she documents) and comes to the following conclusion:

"I examined many of Gishís published writings as well as transcripts and tapes of his debates, and discovered countless examples of questionable tactics and misleading arguments. The majority of Gishís arguments I found to be a morass of errors, omissions, misquotes, old data, distortions, and non-sequiturs. Even worse is my discovery that many scientists have publicly corrected Gish in his presence, but Gish has gone on to repeat the same errors in later debates."

For more on Gishís gaffs see "Creationist Whoppers" at talkorigins.org. If you are going to attempt to portray the creationists as being more scientifically adept and standing on the moral high ground in these debates, you are going to have your work cut out for you.

Miller later apologized in printÖ

What a pity the creationists have not learned this simple act of humility.

18. Jonathan Sarfati dupes another unsuspecting creationist.

But it is misleading [Millerís illustration of a mammal/whale intermediate], bordering on the deceitful, because the skeleton is drawn as a complete animal, with no indication of the fact that far fewer bones were actually found, including the all important pelvic girdle. This means itís ludicrous for Miller to claim, Ďthe animal could move easily both on land an [sic] in waterí,..

You know if I were you, I would seriously consider firing your science advisor, Jonathan Sarfati, for dereliction of duty. If you do a Google search for the article, "Ambulocetus Has No Pelvis and Is Largely Incomplete?" you will find that, not only has a nearly complete skeleton been discovered (and reported in the literature three years ago), but also that it has an intact pelvis which supports everything Miller said about it. Keep in mind that Millerís book was published in 1999, the same year this evidence was reported.

As I said before, mumbo jumbo is coming out of the evolutionistís camp. A compelling Book? So, whoís being duped, you say, Mr. Debaun [sic]?

I think it is glaringly obvious who is being duped. Compare Sarfatiís depiction of the skeletal remains to those that have actually been found (both shown at the aforementioned website) and tell me who you think is being duped. You would think that Sarfati would have taken the time to review the literature before raising such a ruckus. A competent scientist would have. And he continued to make the same erroneous claims about this fossil after the recent PBS series on evolution. When I recently checked his website, he was still presenting the same malarkey.

The fact that creationists must rely on such devious tactics is symptomatic of how desperate they are to prove their case. Mumbo jumbo is obviously coming out of someoneís camp. Sarfatiís misrepresentation of the Ambulocetus fossil should make it clear to everyone whoís camp that is. For a mainstream science look at whale evolution see "The Origin of Whales and the Power of Independent Evidence" at talkorigins.org.

19. Is the Bible a reliable guide to scientific thinking?

Christianity doesnít fight real science. Science agrees with Christianity and the biblical account.

Tell me how four-legged insects (Lev. 11:22-23), cud-chewing rabbits (Lev. 11:6), talking snakes (Gen. 3:1) and asses (Num. 22:28-30), dust-eating snakes (Gen. 3:14), fowl with four feet (Lev. 11:20-21), cud-chewing conies (Lev. 11:5), camels with undivided hooves (Lev. 11:4), mustard seeds that grow into trees (Matt. 13:31-32), disease caused by demons (Luke 13:10-11), dead seeds that grow into plants (John 12:24), a solid-domed earth (Gen. 1:6-8) with windows for rain (Gen. 7:11), and melting slugs (Ps. 58:8) agree with real science. Also explain the biblical genetics that are involved in placing striped sticks in front of pregnant sheep to produce striped lambs (Gen. 30:37-39). I wonít even touch on such subjects as walking on water and rising from the dead.

20. One of the most vocal promoters of evolution today is Kenneth Miller, a self-proclaimed theist.

What I said is the majority of those most vocal in promoting evolution have been atheistic evolutionists. Letís get it straight.

What you said is that atheists are "the most visible" and "at the forefront of promoting the public acceptance of evolution." I provided evidence to show that many theists speak out in favor of evolution and that arguably the most active supporter of evolution at this time, Kenneth Miller, is also a theist. I also made the case that most evolutionists are theists. Yes, letís do get it straight.

21. Why do evolutionists spend time discussing religion in the context of this debate?

This [evolution is neutral with respect to religious beliefs] is utterly false and your own diatribe here is proof of it. If evolutionists are so neutral and evolution such a fact, they wouldnít be spending their time with matters of religion, as you are.

The reason evolutionists must spend time with matters of religion is because creationists, like you, insist on inappropriately mixing religion with science. If creationists would not insist on dragging their religious predilections into the debate, evolutionists would not have to deal with them. You are the one who, in your first article, stated that, "Öcreation is fact and the Bible is true history." You are the one who introduced religion into the discussion. So please do not criticize me for responding to religious assertions when you make them.

If creation "theory" is strictly scientific and does not warrant comment regarding its religious underpinnings, please describe the creationist model in scientific terms. Explain how it is testable and falsifiable, explain how it can make predictions (and how these predictions would differ from those made by the theory of evolution), and acknowledge whether it can be modified or rejected in light new evidence. Describe also how it utilizes only natural causes and effects to formulate its explanations. If you can demonstrate that creation "theory" does not depend on faith-based evidential support, then evolutionists will be more that happy to leave religion out of the discussion.

22. And now to drag religion into the debate once again.

The reason for this is the religion of evolution is being threatened. Tell me, Mr. Debaun [sic], are you an atheist? Where do you stand? Letís lay all of our cards on the table here. You know where I stand.

Itís not the evolutionary scientists who must swear to religious oaths of obedience. That dubious honor belongs to the creationists.

If you really think evolution is being threatened where it really counts, in the mainstream scientific community, you are suffering from delusions of grandeur. And let me get something else straight. If reliable evidence involving the discovery of a fossil of a flowering plant in an undisturbed Pre-Cambrian sediment, a trilobite fossil in an undisturbed Cretaceous sediment, a wagon wheel in the same strata as a T. rex, or a new organism with a completely different source of genetic information from DNA or RNA were ever to be uncovered, it would shake the current concept of evolution to its very core. While I would be very surprised to see such evidence validated, if it were, I (and all other honest scientists) would be obligated to acknowledge that the theory, as it now stands, is no longer viable. I would cease to accept the present theory under those circumstances because I have no religious or emotional ties that bind me to it. I would have to go where the new evidence would lead. If there was some revelatory experience such as I discussed above that established a convincing case for creationism, thatís where I would be obliged to go. I wonder if you can make a similar statement regarding your commitment to creationism.

I am a Pantheist. Please donít make any wisecracks about my religion. I am very sensitive about it.

Yes I know where you are standing Ė in over your head.

You seem to be more concerned about the religious implications than me [sic].

I am concerned about them only so far as they inhibit the proper dissemination of scientific knowledge, particularly as it pertains to the evolutionary process. Otherwise, I couldnít care less what religious beliefs you hold.

Tell me, Mr. Debaun [sic], what is a Biblical Christian? Can you answer that?

Let me guess. Someone who believes what you believe? Frankly, with some 20,000 Christian sects and denominations all claiming to be Bible based, itís a little difficult to answer that question. You tell me.

23. The scientific worldview is incompatible with certain parts of the Bible when they are interpreted literally.

Ö.evolution is incompatible with the rest of the Bible.

Many Christians disagree with you on that assertion. But even if it were true, it would seem to me to be more of a problem for the Bible believers than for the theory of evolution since the theory is so overwhelmingly supported by factual evidence.

At least we are getting a clear picture of your primary motivation for rejecting evolution Ė because it is a threat your religious beliefs. Taken literally, parts of the Bible are incompatible with virtually all branches of science. What scientific theories do you invoke to account for the purported ability to float axe heads on water, turn water instantly into wine, and survive three days in the stomach of a whale? Biblical literalism is not just at war with evolution, it is in conflict with science in general Ė particularly as it pertains to cosmology and geology. It strikes me as rather hypocritical that creationists gladly partake of the fruits of scientific labors (advances in communication, agricultural production, health care, entertainment, transportation, etc.) and then turn around and badmouth scientists for their theories regarding the development of life Ė even though scientists have applied the same methodological techniques in all cases.

How do you think the word processor on which you write your material came into existence? Through some kind of supernatural design process?

A God who is "created" by evolution is, for all practical purposes, indistinguishable from no God at all.

The theory of evolution neither creates nor destroys gods. Only people do that.

24. Cognitive dissonance and the creation "scientist" mindset -

See a sample below [of scientists who reject evolution]Ö..Naturally, you would just blow these individuals off as insignificant or ignorant, simply because they are creationists.

No, I would not "blow them off" as ignorant simply because they are creationists. Itís a quirk of human intelligence that people, including highly intelligent ones, can experience a kind of involuntary mental biasing known as cognitive dissonance in the case of fervently held beliefs - particularly in the case of religious beliefs with their strong emotional attachments. Such individuals function in a completely rational manner when dealing with matters that do not impinge on their cherished beliefs. Nonetheless, the same individuals, even the intelligent ones, have the uncanny ability to turn off their critical thinking processes when it comes to anything that raises questions about their emotion-laden worldview. Scientists who fall into this category can be just as productive and innovative as any other scientist in areas of research that do not jeopardize their worldview. But in situations that challenge their worldview, they abandon logic and resort to whatever means are necessary to insulate it from doubt Ė even if it means ignoring the rules for doing science, embellishing the facts, and misinterpreting the evidence to achieve that sense of security. Such, in my opinion, is the situation with most "scientific" creationists. They can be very good scientists, but not when they are practicing the pseudoscience of creationism.

I would, however, "blow them off" as being insignificant. See below.

It should also be emphasized, that many of the scientists in your list are not YECs, and they do not support your fundamentalist interpretation of the Bible. For example, Michael Behe, a prominent spokesman for the Intelligent Designers, even agrees with evolutionists that humans have descended from ape-like ancestors.

Tell me something I donít know.

Where to begin??

You apparently donít know that you are misspelling my name. At least Iíll have to give you points for consistency.

You also probably donít know that I visited the website that advertises your masonry work. The work shown on those pages is some of the most beautiful I have ever seen. You should stick with something you know.

Thatíll have to do for now.

The fact that it is perhaps too complicated for you does not mean there are not those qualified in the opposition to assess the scientific results.

I did not say that no one in the opposition is qualified to assess the results. The point I was trying to get across is that those who are most intimately involved in the biological sciences and have the most experience in that area of study are the ones who are most qualified to address the evidence related to evolution, because it is inherently a biological process. Frequently those who speak in opposition to evolution have no direct experience or training in the biological sciences. (Phillip Johnson is a prime example.) Do you think it would be appropriate for a lawyer who has no training in masonry work to instruct you on the details of how you should perform your job? If not, then you can get some idea why evolutionary biologists should be given the most credence in assessing the evidence related to evolutionary studies.

While there are some creationists who are qualified to assess scientific work related to evolutionary studies, they invariably suffer from that dreaded cognitive dissonance syndrome. (Before you accuse me of suffering from the same condition, let me remind you that, if the theory of evolution were ever conclusively demonstrated to be scientifically invalid, I would reject it without suffering any mental anguish. If such an improbable thing were ever to happen, I [and my other scientific colleagues] would simply have to accept whatever new theory was best supported by the evidence. Just a word of caution, I wouldnít hold my breath waiting for that to happen if I were you.)

25. A "guitar-strumming hillbilly" supplies a list of evolution deniers.

This is a sampling of those creationists who are qualified to comment on evolutionary theory Ė in spite of your predictable claim to the contrary.

Thanks for proving my point for me. My guess is that this is more than just a sampling. My guess is that creationist organizations have scoured the globe looking for any "scientist" they can draft as an opponent of evolutionary theory - and yet this is basically all they can scrounge up. In spite of the fact that there are some duplications on your list, in spite of the fact that the list includes such professions as engineers, dentists, psychologists, veterinarians, computer scientists, philosophers, mathematicians, plastic surgeons, combustion theory experts, hydrologists, linguists, and psycholinguists, and in spite of the fact that many on the list are not YECs, letís see how impressive this list really is.

For the sake of argument, letís assume that there are no duplications between the Creation Research Society (CRS) list and the others indicated on your list (a very unlikely assumption). Letís assume that all these scientists are from the United States (this works to your advantage in the following calculation), letís assume that they are all creationists, and letís assume (despite the somewhat irrelevant areas of expertise of a number of them) that they are all qualified to speak authoritatively on the intricacies of biological evolution. If I counted correctly, there are somewhere around 242 people (not counting the 650 from the CRS who were not individually listed) included on roughly 5.5 pages of text. This calculates out to be 44 people per page. If I were to list the remaining 1,823,108 (1,824,000 Ė (242+650)) natural scientists in this country who are evolutionists using the same number of people per page as you did, it would take me roughly 41,434 pages to accommodate them all. 41, 434 compared to 5.5, even after giving you unfair advantage! Even if we assume that only 90% of the remaining 1,823,108 natural scientists are evolutionists, it would still require 37, 290 pages. And we are supposed to be impressed with the support for creationism within the scientific community? Who are you trying to kid? Yourself?

A significant portion of your list is made up of individuals rounded up by the Discovery Institute (DI). In releasing this list, the DI gave the impression that the signatories were opposed to evolutionary theory in general. However, the statement to which they attested read as follows:

"We are skeptical of the claim for the ability of random mutation and natural selection to account for the complexity of life. Careful examination of the evidence for Darwinian theory should be encouraged."

Most evolutionists I know would not be averse to signing such a statement. The evidence now shows that the evolutionary process cannot be explained exclusively in terms of random mutation and natural selection. Other mechanisms such as genetic drift and sexual selection along with self-organization processes also come into play. And as far as encouraging careful examination of the evidence is concerned, no scientist in his/her right mind would argue against such a thing. The DI is attempting here to make a mountain out of a molehill. One of the scientists who signed this statement later wrote, "I am not a creationist and have no reasons to doubt common descent." For a discussion of this matter, see "Doubting Darwinism through Creative License" at www.natcenscied.org.

Are you really sure you want to include the DI bunch in your list? On September 26, 2001, Matt Carter of the "Trivalley Herald" (S.F. area) reported the following about a meeting of evolution bashers that took place regarding the PBS evolution series: "We wanted to talk about science, and they [A.I.G.] wanted us to do Sunday School; said Mark Edwards, a spokesman for the D.I. The final episode paints a picture that the only critics of Darwinian theory are these guitar-strumming hillbillies in Kentucky who are creationists, and thatís not true. Weíre glad weíre not part of that stereotype."

I hate to break it to you, but the intellectual elites at the DI are embarrassed to have to associate with you "guitar-strumming hillbilly" YECís ", but they are hesitant to fess up because they need you to maintain the illusion that substantial numbers of "scientists" are opposed to evolution. With friends like that, who needs enemies?

26. How do the evolutionary sciences and the physical sciences interrelate?

I would especially like to know how you think evolution theory is important to the physical sciences, Mr. Debaun [sic]?

The link between the physical sciences and evolutionary theory is a very important one. Physical scientists like geologists, physicists, and cosmologists have helped confirm and define the make up of the stratigraphic column and the immense periods of time over which evolution has taken place. It is not so much that evolutionary theory informs the physical sciences, as it is that the physical sciences inform evolutionary theory. Nonetheless, it should be kept in mind, that prior to the advent of radiometric dating, geologists most often used the positions of fossils to date geologic strata because of the consistency they observed in the succession of those fossils.

27. Mr. Knapp fails to appreciate the difference between informed consensus opinions in science and appeal to authority.

"Öquoting consensus of opinion makes you guilty of the same logical fallacy [appeal to authority] of which you accuse me.

If you canít tell the difference between opting for the consensus opinion of virtually every expert on evolutionary theory in the world, and clinging to the extreme minority opinion of a fringe-group of naysayers who are promoting a religious agenda, then you are seriously handicapped in your thinking. Science is built on consensus opinion because it affords an effective means of weeding out all the "weird science" that would otherwise overwhelm the process. Science is democratic in that it will examine any idea that anyone proposes. But it is not democratic in the sense that it gives equal status to each and every idea proposed. Only those ideas that are rigorously tested and confirmed in accordance with the tenets of the scientific method and that are endorsed by the scientific community at large are given the status of legitimate scientific hypotheses. Creationism simply doesnít cut the mustard.

Maybe, the degrees you have arenít worth the paper on which they are written.

I detect a serious case of degree envy here. Only someone who had not experienced the challenges associated with obtaining a degree in a scientific discipline at a reputable institution of higher learning could make such a disparaging comment.

As to the worth of my degrees, you will have to take that up with the University of Idaho and the University of Wisconsin.

"While their [Hoyleís and Wickamasingheís] theory about insects from outer space may be Ďout there,í their calculations on the probability of life arising from nonlife on earth were not."

For a dissenting opinion see "Lies, Damned Lies, Statistics, and Probability of Abiogensis Calculations" at www.talkorigins.org.

Evolutionists are susceptible to the same human emotional attachment to their belief in evolutionism.

True, and some succumb to this temptation. However, those who do are not practicing sound science if they let these emotional urges get in the way of objective observation and hypothesis building. Strict adherence to the scientific method forbids such behavior. The difference is that, in the case of creationists, this sort of emotional involvement is widely practiced, encouraged, and rewarded.

28. Can science draw meaningful conclusions about events that have happened in the past?

Actually both creation and evolution are un-provable. They both purport to explain events in the past that cannot be scientifically tested.

Since science does not pretend to "prove" anything, the first sentence is basically correct. But your second one is not.

Events in the past can most assuredly be scientifically tested. Forensic scientists test the evidence from past crimes and the conviction of perpetrators often rests strongly on their results. A geologist can observe a cone-shaped mountain, test the composition and structure of the rocks that make it up, and arrive at the reasonable conclusion that it was formed by a volcano. An archaeologist can test the composition and structure of clay pottery and determine when and by what group of people it was produced. A radio-chemist can measure the ratio of isotopes in properly prepared specimen and determine its age. When a cosmologist measures the characteristics of distant bodies in space, he/she is scientifically testing something that occurred in the past. And a paleontologist can examine the position of a fossil in the geologic column and determine when it was part of a living animal.

Of course creationists want to pretend that past events cannot be tested scientifically. That is the only way they can delude themselves into thinking that the data, which so strongly contradicts their worldview, is irrelevant. This ostrich head-in-the-sand approach is the only option they have going for them.

29. Mr. Knapp gets it right.  Scientists are not infallible and are sometimes subject to bias.

Scientists are not infallible and are subject to the same bias and prejudice the next one is. You are deceiving yourself if you think that evolutionists are not.

I am not deceiving myself because I agree with you that evolutionists are fallible and subject to prejudice. But thatís the beauty of the scientific method. It negates individual prejudice by subjecting every scientistís technical work to peer review. If prejudice is involved in formulating an incorrect or self-serving conclusion it will soon be discovered and rooted out by the scientific community at large. I remember when I was reviewing scientific papers. It was truly gratifying to be able to uncover mistakes or inconsistencies in some other scientistís work. Not because I wanted to gloat over someone elseís mistake, but because it made me feel that I was doing my part to ensure the integrity of the scientific enterprise. Thatís the way most scientists feel about it.

The problem with creationists is that they donít want their miracle-promoting work subjected to this filtering process because almost none of it gets through. And it doesnít get through because they have violated the rules for doing proper science.

30. Mr. Knapp gets it wrong. Science does not have the option of accepting miraculous explanations.

This is an apparatus that only allows naturalistic explanations, no matter how counterintuitive they may be Ė that is, concepts that will endorse the evolutionary paradigm and philosophical framework.

From whom did you obtain this philosophical balderdash? Of course it is an apparatus that only allows naturalistic explanations.

The National Academy of Sciences is the most prestigious scientific organization in the country, if not the world. Only the foremost scientists who have contributed the most to their fields of research are allowed membership in this organization. On page 42 of "Teaching about Evolution and the Nature of Science" which was published in 1998 by the NAS, it is specified that:

"The statements of science must invoke only NATURAL things and processes"

(Emphasis mine)

Here you have the most knowledgeable scientists in the country (if not the world) telling you unequivocally that science allows only naturalistic explanations. Creationists gripe that it is unfair for science to exclude supernatural explanations. The following excerpt from the online University of Texas El Paso syllabus for the "Introduction to Biology 1306: Harris Section" explains why science insists on that exclusion.

"The scientific approach is entirely naturalistic. Thus, when doing science, the supernatural cannot be invoked. This says nothing about the religious and philosophical beliefs of scientists Ė personal beliefs vary from atheistic to fundamentalist religious faiths. It means only that the supernatural is off limits to scientists when acting as scientists. Long experience has taught us that when we are allowed to explain things by supernatural occurrences, we tend to rely on these rather that doing the hard labor to find natural explanations Ė in short, we stop doing real science, and we stagnate. This approach has paid off big time. In the few centuries that science has been at work, we have learned more about the natural world than we had learned throughout the earlier history of mankind."

The rationale for allowing only naturalistic explanations in science is further elaborated on in the following excerpt from the Internet article, "Compatibility of Christianity and Evolution", by Paul Neubauer.

"Once we decide that any phenomenon has a supernatural cause, we can do no more than throw up our hands and say, "we cannot explain it." To say "God did it" is to say that He did it for His own reasons, which we do not presume to understand, and this is precisely equivalent to giving up our search for an explanation. Methodologically, this is bad strategy. If we stop searching for explanations, we will certainly not find them. Therefore, as scientists, we must proceed under the assumption of naturalism, even if we, as human beings, might also be committed theists."

Supernatural explanations are excluded from science because, allowing them in, seriously hinders the scientific quest for practical explanations for natural phenomena. The rules are clear. Only naturalistic explanations are permitted in the conduct of scientific inquiry. Quit whining about it. Get over it. If you want to employ miracles as evidence, you will have to go somewhere other than the scientific arena to do so.

If you disagree that science is, and has been, restricted to naturalistic explanations, then please present evidence for an established scientific theory that involves anything other than natural processes in computations that describe its theoretical framework. For an excellent discussion on the scientific method, search the Internet for "An Introduction to Science, Scientific Thinking, and the Scientific Method" by Steven Schafersman (Geology Dept., Miami University). See also "Evolution and Philosophy, Naturalism: Is it necessary?" at www.talkorigins.org.

Öincorrect. I acknowledged that Ďyourí mainstream science sites were pro-evolution.

I donít want to get into a pissing contest about this, but what you actually said about the mainstream science sites I recommended was that they "would better be labeled" pro-evolution. The clear implication from your letter was that I had not endeavored to provide mainstream science sites but that I had arbitrarily selected pro-evolution sites. There was certainly no implication on my part that you endorsed them. So why do you now imply that I did?

Ötalkorigins website is a pseudoscientific site bent on promotion of its cherished theory, and not on science.

Thereís a typo in that sentence. Talkorigins should read trueorigin.

31. A lack of scientific understanding makes it difficult to differentiate between science and pseudoscience.

Just because someone is not an expert does not mean he cannot intellectually make valid arguments based on scientific research and conclusions by scientists.

You are right. Itís too bad you donít practice what you preach.

The problem with a lack of scientific expertise manifests itself when it becomes necessary to differentiate genuine science from pseudoscience. Those who are not well grounded in the scientific method and who do not have a good grasp of the scientific processes involved are often ill equipped to tell one from the other. In that case, they usually opt for whatever fancy-sounding ideas best harmonize with their worldview. If you want to see a good example of someone who takes that approach, look in the mirror.

IĎve known a few people with a PhD in my time. I found that sometimes those degrees arenít worth the paper on which they are written.

Iíve known a number or people without a Ph.D. in my time. I found that sometimes the lack of a degree, or at least some type of formal education related to the subject matter at hand, puts them at a distinct disadvantage in discussing highly technical subjects like evolution.

Actually Iíve also become familiar with some Ph.D.ís whose degrees appear not to be worth the paper they are written on. One of them is the creationist, Kent Hovind. (See below.)

32. Mr. Knapp's invitation for me to reinvent the wheel -

Here is a suggestion, Mr. Debaun [sic]. If you do not find me to be qualified enough for this discussion, then why donít you try a debate with one of the scientists associated with the AIG or Trueorigin.org?

If all I had to do with my life were to devote it to educating those who refuse to look objectively at the evidence, I would take you up on your offer. The truth is, virtually every one of the spurious claims made at the aforementioned creationist websites have been thoroughly debunked, sometimes repeatedly, at the mainstream websites I have listed above. Frankly, I donít have time to reinvent the wheel. It has taken an inordinate amount of my time just responding to you Ė and I am currently engaged in epistolary debates with two other creationists as well. If creationists would stick to playing by the rules for doing science, it would be one thing. But by introducing untestable and unfalsifiable miracles into the equation, they turn it into an exercise in futility. I have more important things to do than spending all my waking hours trying to nail Jell-O to the wall. If Sarfatiís handling of the Ambulocetus data is any indication, it would be an even more futile task than that.

Since you initiated this latest exchange in the newspaper, perhaps you should be the one who is demonstrating his expertise to world. Why donít you attempt to set the record straight on the Evolution/Creation board at the Internet Infidels Discussion Forum? Be forewarned though, some of the participants are much more knowledgeable than I am and arenít nearly as genteel.

Uh oh! Isnít this [reliance on consensus opinion] an appeal to authority? Does the word hypocrite come to mind?

No, but the words "without a clue" do.

I just donít buy into their [scientists] evolutionary interpretations related to that [valid scientific] research.

That couldnít have anything to do with your religious presuppositions and the fact that you have no formal scientific training in this area of study could it? If scientists are doing valid research in fields directly related to the study of evolution, on what grounds do you arbitrarily dismiss the interpretations they derive from it? The fact is, the correctness of evolutionary interpretations has nothing to do with whether you buy into them of not.

33. A few simple questions regarding the geologic column for Mr. Knapp to address -

Youíre holding to the logical fallacy that science cannot go on without the theory of evolution. Nonsense.

I suppose it could go on, but it would be severely crippled in the process. As the eminent population biologist Theodosius Dobzansky aptly noted, "Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution." The influence of evolutionary thinking has been widespread throughout the sciences. For example, genetic algorithms (patterned directly after Darwinian mutation and natural selection) are now being used to design everything from new pharmaceuticals to water distribution systems. I suppose airplanes would continue to fly (for a while) even if we scrapped aerodynamic theory. I suppose nuclear reactors would continue to operate (for a while) even if we rejected the theories related to nuclear fission. And I suppose diseases would continue to be cured (for a while) even if we denied that pathological organisms can evolve and resorted to the Dark Ages understanding that disease was caused by demons. I suppose, after abandoning evolutionary theory and adopting creationism, we could even attempt to make some sense out of the following observations related to the geologic column:

  • 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 and 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 the Flood have sorted pollens and spores so specifically into different layers?
     
  • 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 arenít 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 ginkgoes, 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?
  • Yes, I suppose we could try to make some sense out of all of these facts in terms of the creation model, but I am having a great deal of difficulty doing so. Perhaps you could help me out.

    34. I do not claim to be an expert nor an authority on the theory of evolution.

    So, you are an expert and authority on all of these [scientific disciplines related to the study of evolution]?

    So, is any one of the so-called creation scientists you are so enamored with an expert and authority on all of them? I never claimed that I am. Is any one of them making such a claim?

    I hardly think a PhD in oncology qualifies you as an expert on the subject at hand.

    Not that I am all that concerned about what you think about my degree, but let me just say that the primary focus of my studies at the University of Wisconsin was on biochemistry and molecular biology. Most of my research work in the four years I spent at the McArdle Laboratory for Cancer Research consisted of analyzing animal tissues for degradation products to establish the biochemical mechanism of the carcinogen, 2-Acetylaminofluorene. My research led to the discovery of a novel situation in which a normal detoxification pathway resulted in the conversion of an innocuous chemical into a carcinogenic intermediate. That finding served as the basis for my thesis.

    While such work does not qualify me as an expert on evolution (as I have acknowledged elsewhere), it has given me a good general understanding of the biological processes involved. What type of relevant training do you bring to this discussion?

    Where have I ever said that evolutionists donít understand "real science"? This is probably another accusation grabbed out of thin air on your part.

    Actually, I "grabbed" this interpretation from your first article where you said, "I just make the distinction between evolution (philosophical naturalism) and real science." If you think there is a distinction between evolution and "real science", then you must think that, when evolutionists are developing evolutionary hypotheses, they are not doing "real science". However, since evolutionists think that they are doing "real science" when they are developing evolutionary hypotheses, then they must not understand what "real science" actually is. If that is not what you intended to infer, then you should clarify your statement.

    At this point, Mr. Debaun [sic] goes into a spill [sic] about how science works and is more of a waste of space than anything.

    Then why do you reproduce it later in your rebuttal?

    There is much more to creation science than simply declaring itís a Ďmiracle of Godí.

    Youíre right. In addition to resorting to miraculous claims (which automatically disqualifies them from being scientific), creation "scientists" also make generous use of fact twisting, data massaging, evidence manipulation, illogical guess working, and preposterous rationalization concocting to further their cause. The mental gymnastics they perform are truly miraculous.

    Creationists also understand the importance of explaining observed phenomena within the framework of natural laws.

    Then why donít they play by the rules?

    (The remainder of the paragraph that includes the statement you made above consists primarily of the same evolution-bashing drivel that I have dealt with elsewhere in this commentary.)

    34. Automobile manufacture is an improper analogy to the evolutionary process.

    If we maintain, for instance that automobiles are the products of intelligent design, it does not mean that we thereby assert that their function is beyond rational explanation: we only conclude that the origin of the automobiles is not scientifically reducible to the function of the car itself.

    This is not a proper analogy for evaluating the evolutionary process. Evolution involves, among other things, self-replication, genetic modification, and the cumulative selection of advantageous traits by living organisms. Automobiles do not self-replicate. Because they do not self-replicate and pass on genetic alterations to subsequent generations, they are improper analogs for living systems. Automobiles are designed and produced in automobile factories as anyone can confirm by firsthand observation, if they are so inclined. Automobiles are not designed and produced by hypothetical intelligent designers who refuse to show themselves in public. They are designed and produced by engineers and assembly line workers who can be seen at work in automobile assembly plants. Directly observing how and where automobiles are designed and produced leaves little doubt about their origin. Similarly, directly observing how (from molecular genetics, comparative embryology, comparative anatomy, etc.) and where (from the geologic column) life forms were/are "designed and produced" (by natural selection, genetic drift, etc.) makes it possible to determine their origin as well. It is not necessary to have to scientifically reduce the origin of an automobile from its function because its origin can be readily deduced through observation. The same is true for the origin of living organisms.

    35. Miraculous "God did it" explanations are not permitted in science, no matter how much creationists would like to weasel them in.

    Check out http://www.trueorigin.org/creatheory.as for a more balanced treatment of the evolution and creation theories.

    Surely you are not serious about this miracle-based "theory" being a viable scientific alternative to the theory of evolution. This is a joke, right? (Nothing like using a simple dictionary definition of science to describe the intricacies of the process.) Let me remind you once again that science is not permitted to invoke supernatural causes and effects no matter how loudly malcontents like you miracle-mongering creationists whine about it. This inviolable rule does not apply exclusively to the study of evolution. It is applicable to all branches of science. And it is fundamental to the proper functioning of the scientific system of inquiry. The implication from the aforementioned disinformation site is that evolutionists are somehow unique in their insistence on naturalistic explanations. They are not. All legitimate scientists must play by these clearly defined rules. Again, if you think evolutionists are unique in their demand for naturalistic explanations, then please identify any commonly recognized scientific theory that utilizes supernatural processes in formulating its theoretical framework.

    The Bible-based "scientific" theory presented at trueorigin.org relies heavily on supernatural intervention and "God did it" explanations. This sad excuse for a scientific theory maintains that the purported supernaturally orchestrated creation and Flood events described in Genesis must be embraced as literal history, i.e., as hard scientific evidence. These purported miraculous occurrences form the very core of this abortive attempt to disguise creationism as legitimate science. But no matter how hard they try to camouflage their miracles in scientific jargon, their true motives remain abundantly clear.

    As far as science is concerned, the "God did it" explanation is no more valid than the "Invisible Pink Unicorn did it" explanation. Since both explanations can be used to explain anything, they, in reality, explain nothing. (If you disagree, then provide an example of a phenomenon that cannot be "explained" by someoneís claim of supernatural intervention.) To say that a supernatural entity caused something to happen is to effectively remove that something from the realm of scientific investigation. If it invokes supernaturalism, it does not meet the requirement for falsifiability and it does not lead to reliable predictions. If itís not natural, itís not science. What is presented on this website is not a viable scientific alternative to the theory of evolution. It is an abortive attempt to rewrite the rules for doing science in order to weasel in the supernatural elements that are so essential to creationist dogma. By presenting this bastardized version of scientific theory, one can only conclude that the primary goal of these religious propagandists is to indoctrinate the lay public. Certainly no reputable scientist would ever endorse such a thing. If theyíre just trying to bamboozle the general public, they will probably meet with some success if you are any indication.

    36. Former anti-evolutionist, Michael Denton, finally sees the light.

    This is a typical example of many like Mr. Debaun [sic] who just grab the latest anti-creationist resource book and derive all their conclusions about creationism from it without ever studying creationist material firsthand.

    Iíve read more than enough creationist books, pamphlets, tracts, and web pages to convince me that it has absolutely nothing to do with legitimate science and every thing to do with religious indoctrination. In fact, I just finished reading Vance Ferrellís "The Evolution Cruncher". What a pathetic piece of pap that was! Another one of the creationist books I have read is Michael Dentonís, "Evolution: A Theory in Crisis". At one time Denton was the darling of the creationist camp and his book was widely touted by them. One creationist actually sent this book to me as his best example of scholarly dissent against evolution. The reliance on Dentonís work is noteworthy because in his latest book, "Natureís Destiny", he has done an almost complete about face. While his first book mercilessly attacked naturalistic biological evolution, his latest unabashedly endorses it. To quote from "Natureís Destiny":

    "It is important to emphasize at the outset that the argument presented here is entirely consistent with the basic naturalistic assumption of modern science Ėthat the cosmos is a seamless unity which can be comprehended ultimately in its entirety by human reason and in which all phenomena, including life and evolution and the origin of man, are ultimately explicable in terms of natural processes. This is an assumption which is entirely opposed to that of the so-called "special creationist school." Ė page xvii.

    Somehow I doubt that most creationists will include Dentonís latest book on their recommended list. Nonetheless, it is reassuring to see that even rabid anti-evolutionists like Denton can finally see the light when they remove their creationist blinders. It appears that, over the intervening years, the evidence in favor of evolution has become so convincing that even Denton could no longer ignore the obvious.

    How much pro-evolution material that has been written in the last ten years have you studied firsthand? Judging from your apparent lack of knowledge on the subject, I would say very darn little.

    37. A little quiz for Mr. Knapp regarding results from some molecular genetic, comparative embryological, and homology studies -

    The theory of creation is at least as capable of explaining most of the empirical data that evolution is.

    There are good explanations, and there are bad explanations. Creationists suffer from the delusion that, so long as they offer an explanation - any explanation - they have satisfactorily answered the question. Nonetheless, while creationists are well practiced at concocting ad hoc explanations, the quality of those explanations often leaves a great deal to be desired from the scientific standpoint. Letís put your claim to the test. Consider the following eight lines of evidence developed from molecular genetic, comparative embryological, and homology studies.

  • The human genome contains a great deal of what is referred to as non-functional DNA, i.e., DNA that is not translated into proteins. Because these elements are not functional in the usual sense, they are passed from generation to generation without experiencing the selective pressures brought about by natural selection. We do not have the ability to synthesize vitamin C because the gene involved in vitamin C synthesis is non-functional in humans. In other animals that can produce vitamin C, this same gene functions properly. In other words, humans have the same gene, but it is "broken" so to speak. Chimpanzees and gorillas also posses this same gene which is broken in exactly the same spot as it is in humans. The odds of this happening by chance are astronomically low. But this is exactly what we would expect to see if humans, chimpanzees, and gorillas were all descended from a common ancestor who first experienced this defective gene. Because this ancestor ate a diet that was adequate in vitamin C, the defect had no overt consequences and could be passed on without harm to succeeding generations.
     
  • Cytochrome c is a cellular protein involved in a process known as electron transport. Studies have shown that only about a third of the 100 amino acids that make up this protein are essential to its function. Most of the amino acids are "hypervariable" and can be replaced by a large number of functionally equivalent analogs. H.P. Yokey ("Information Theory and Molecular Biology", New York, Cambridge University Press, 1992) has calculated that there are a minimum of 2.3 x 10^93 possible sequences of amino acids that would provide functionality to cytochrome c. In spite of this incredible number of possible functional sequences, humans and chimpanzees have exactly the same cytochrome c sequence, whereas other organisms have different ones.
     
  • Because of the redundancy of the DNA coding system, there are over 10^49 different DNA sequences that could code for the exact same amino acid sequence in cytochrome c. In humans and chimps, the DNA sequence that codes for cytochrome c differs by only a single base unit.
     
  • Transposons are virus-like genetic sequences that randomly insert themselves into host DNA. Except in rare instances, they are passed on from generation to generation by DNA duplication and inheritance. One important transposon is known as the "Alu" element. All mammals contain many of these elements, which constitute about 10% of the human genome. In the human a-globin cluster there are seven Alu elements, and all of them are also present in the chimp in exactly the same seven locations.
     
  • Retroviruses are the molecular remains of past viral infections that occur in host DNA. They are produced when viruses insert their own DNA into the DNA of the hostís germ line cells. These randomly inserted sequences are then passed on by inheritance to the hostís descendants. There are at least seven different know instances of common retrogene insertions between chimps and humans.
  • Keeping in mind that there are some 3 billion different insertion points in the human genome, explain, in scientific terms, how the "theory of creation" is "at least as capable of explaining" these observations as is the theory of evolution.

    Consider also a couple of studies in comparative embryology. In the Kollar/Fisher experiment, 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 chickenís evolutionary ancestors. The Hampe experiment produced Archaeopteryx-like bones in the legs of modern chicks by interfering with the diffusion of inhibitory growth substances. (Details of these studies can be obtained by doing a Google search for "Kollar Fisher experiment" and "Hampe experiment".)

    As above, explain, in scientific terms, how the "theory of creation" is "at least as capable of explaining" these observations as is the theory of evolution.

    Finally, consider homology. One example of homology involves a cranial nerve that goes from the brain to the larynx via a tube near the heart. In the fish, this path is a direct route. And in all species that have this homologous nerve, it follows the same path. This means that in an animal like the giraffe, this nerve makes a detour from the brain all the way down to the heart and back in order to connect two organs that are only a little more that a foot apart. So the giraffe has to grow 10-15 extra feet of nerve compared to the direct connection. The nerve takes this circuitous route because, if evolutionists are correct, giraffes are descended from a fish-like ancestor where this route is a direct connection. While evolutionary processes resulted in the lengthening of the giraffeís neck, the original neural routing was preserved from its fish-like ancestor. And, all other species that have this homologous nerve have the same arrangement.

    As above, explain, in scientific terms, how the "theory of creation" is "at least as capable of explaining" this factual evidence as is the theory of evolution. The observations described above are typical of those that fill the thousands of volumes of scientific journals related to biological studies. If creationism is as capable of explaining most of the data, as is the theory of evolution, then you should not have any trouble coming up with some reasonable answers.

    Creationists believe that God created the universe and the known laws of science; however, they do not invoke "fairies, gremlins, gods, etc." in order to explain empirical data. This is an outdated and dishonest argument still floating around the evolutionary community and regurgitated here by Mr. Debaun [sic].

    Now donít go getting your knickers in a twist. If you will carefully read what I said, you will find that I mentioned these entities as examples of supernatural beings (which have at various times been invoked as causative agents) that cannot be utilized as part of scientific explanations. The reference was to science in general, not creationism in particular. Although as they say, if the shoe fitsÖ

    On the other hand, evolutionists believe that space, time, and matter are self created or eternal.

    Some do, some donít. It is improper to lump evolutionists into a single category of belief regarding these matters. Just like the creationists, not all evolutionists hold the same beliefs. Some evolutionists believe that God was the creative force behind space, time, and matter. Furthermore, like most creationists, you incorrectly lump cosmological assumptions with the acceptance of biological evolution. Biological evolution only deals with the development of life forms after the first replicators appeared on earth. It does not describe the origin or development of the cosmos nor the origin of those first replicators.

    These [evolutionary] assumptions are outside the realm of empirical verification.

    That will come as news to the hundreds of scientists who have actually verified them empirically. See the empirical evidence from the aforementioned geologic column arrangement, molecular genetic studies, radiometric isochron dating work, comparative embryological studies, and homology study that I have presented above.

    Science doesnít need evolution.

    Just like it doesnít need gravitational theory, atomic theory, electromagnetic theory, etc.

    Öonly because of the evolutionistís self-serving set of requirements, which exclude any theory that does not align with their philosophical or naturalistic bias.

    There you go again trying to make evolutionary science appear biased because it involves naturalistic assumptions. Those "self-serving set of requirements" you sneer about are exactly the same requirements that pertain to all scientific endeavors, whether they have anything to do with evolution or not. You should learn how science operates before you go off half-cocked condemning evolutionists for misusing it.

    38. Public debates are not the place to resolve complex scientific issues such as those pertaining to the theory of evolution.

    It should be noted that creationists win 99% of the time when debating evolutionists Ė that is, if an evolutionist will even debate them.

    See my discussion on this topic on page 5 [in original document] and please substantiate the 99% figure. These debates are largely theatrical, religious, and political dog and pony shows whose outcomes have very little to do with the correctness of the arguments advanced by either side. The creationists are practiced at asking a series of 2-second questions (i.e., Where is the evidence for transitional fossils?) that require many minutes to answer properly. There is simply not enough time in most of these exchanges to present an adequate response, even if the scientist had the information at his disposal. Evolutionists, in general, do not make a career out of debating creationists because they have more important things to do - such as conducting the scientific research that may lead to a better understanding of how the natural world operates. Creationists spend most of their time quote mining and taking pot shots at the mainstream scientific literature.

    39. Are creationists who excel in their field of study really discriminated against in obtaining a scientific degree and in publishing legitimate science in scientific journals?

    Baloney. With the academic stranglehold and requirement to bow down to the evolutionary view that the evolutionists have, it is very difficult for a creationist, for instance, to gain his degree without severe prejudice Ė even if he excels in his field.

    Baloney indeed. The "academic stranglehold and requirement to bow down to the evolutionary view" did not seem to seriously hinder the likes of Dr. Morris, Dr. Gish, Kurt Wise, Dr. Sarfati, and Jonathan Wells from attaining their degrees. What specific scientists who have excelled in their fields have been denied a degree if they have adhered to the rules stipulated by the scientific method in the conduct of their studies? Could you please name some of them for me? Certainly if they insist on explaining their results in terms of supernatural intervention, they will run into trouble. And well they should, because by doing so, they would have violated the rules of the game.

    This domination carries over to the scientific journals as well, making it virtually impossible to publish in a science journal.

    This is a hackneyed and completely groundless lament commonly sung by the creationist contingent. Itís amusing the way you talk out of both sides of your mouth. Out of one side you contend that creation "scientists" are barred from publishing in scientific journals, and out of the other you declare that Dr. Sarfati "has co-authored papers in mainstream scientific journals on high temperature superconductors and selenium-containing ring and cage-shaped molecules." Creationists are given the same consideration regarding the publication of their results as any other scientists so long they have something innovative to report and stick to the rules for doing science. A number of creationists who have met these qualifications have published their work in scientific journals. The trueorigin.org website even contains an article attesting to that effect, "Do Creationists Publish in Notable Refereed Journals?" If creationists invoke nebulous claims of transcendental forces in their work or if their work is sub par, they will not get it published in mainstream scientific journals. Fortunately for them, there are plenty of sub par pseudoscientific rags like Creation Research Quarterly around that are more than happy to put their work into print.

    Creationists support good science.

    Creationists support good science only so long as it does not clash with their religious presuppositions. As soon as those presuppositions are threatened (which is instantaneous in the case of biblical inerrancy), they support good science like the Mafia supports good law enforcement.

    40. Does the theory of evolution really lack relevance to the study of biological systems?

    Evolution has little or no importance in these matters whatsoever. You are attributing far too much credit and importance to the theory of evolution.

    In spite of Sarfatiís rambling discourse against the value of evolutionary theory, the fact remains, that after some 150 years of observation, experimentation, and verification, it still represents the best scientific explanation for the nested hierarchy of life forms observed in the natural world. Sarfati veers off on a tangent about the irrelevancy of the theory of evolution to his studies of vibrational spectroscopy and superconductivity. This is a classic example of a non sequitur if there ever was one. Of course evolution does not impinge directly on these particular areas of research. Who ever said it did? The study of evolution is the study of life, involving predominantly the biological sciences and some other supporting disciplines such as the geological sciences. Why would any scientist ever insinuate it should have anything whatsoever to do with superconductors? Only a creation "scientist" who was trying to purposely confuse the issue, I reckon.

    The value of the theory of evolution stems from the fact that it provides a unifying explanation that makes sense out of all the empirical evidence that has been amassed from areas of study such as paleontology, molecular genetics, comparative molecular biology, comparative anatomy, cladistic taxonomy, comparative embryology, animal and plant breeding studies, biogeography, vestigial organs studies, and the study of homologous structures. Because it is a bone fide scientific theory, it has predictive value that helps scientists anticipate what kinds of relationships they might expect to observe when comparing one organism to another. And as stated above, genetic algorithms based on the evolutionary concepts of replication with modification and selection are now being used to design and optimize a variety of products and systems.

    Apples would still fall without gravitational theory and organisms would continue to change without the theory of evolution. However, without these theories we would not understand how these things occurred. Thatís the fundamental importance of any scientific theory, it tells us how things happen.

    Uh oh, here is one of your so-called crackpot creationists [Dr. Sarfati] at AIG. Somehow, along with being a YEC, he still conducted scientific research and published work in mainstream science journals. Iíll bet he didnít even have to "invoke God," as you would put it.

    Iíll not take you up on your bet because you have a sure thing going for you. If Dr. Sarfati had invoked God, he would not have gotten his work published in a legitimate science journal. I do not dispute that Dr. Sarfati is capable of doing quality scientific research. The message I am trying to get across, is that when he, or any other scientist, uses supernatural explanations (as the trueorigin.org "theory" does), he is not practicing legitimate science and should not expect to have his work published in a reputable scientific journal. As long as he abides by the rules, he is accorded the same publication privileges as any other scientist.

    41. Why should we expect Galileo, Copernicus, Kepler, and Newton to be anything other than YECs?

    What Mr. Debaun [sic] doesnít tell you is that Galileo was a young earth creationist (YEC)! How humorous!

    The jokes on you. Since Galileo died long before any reliable scientific evidence had been presented to authenticate the ancient age of the earth and the evolution of life forms, why would he be expected to be anything other than a YEC? (Galileo died in 1642 and the "Origin of Species" was not published until 1859.) Thatís like trying to discredit Einsteinís theory of relativity by noting that Newton did not acknowledge its validity. Furthermore, considering that expressing a belief in anything other than YEC could get you in deep doo-doo with the religious authorities, the commitment to this worldview at that time must be taken with a very large grain of salt.

    According to Mr. Debaun [sic], such great men like Copernicus, Kepler, Galileo, and Newton, all who believed in the Bible and a young earth, were not real scientists.

    Nonsense. A belief in the Bible does not automatically lead to a belief in YEC-style creationism, as I have documented above. That these great scientists would subscribe to the notion of a young earth is exactly what one would expect of them at the time. Prior to the availability of the scientific evidence that substantiates an ancient earth (such as rates of cooling and radiometric dating), it would only be natural for them to subscribe to this view Ė particularly since the church could make life very difficult for them it they professed anything else. But time marches on, new evidence is accumulated, old ideas are rejected, and scientific progress is made. Thatís the way science works. There is every reason to believe that, if these great men were privileged to the definitive evidence regarding the age of the earth that we have available to us today, they would be appalled that anyone calling themselves a scientist would still be promoting such an antiquated myth as young-earthism.

    42. Questionable evidence for an "orderly Creator" -

    An orderly universe makes perfect sense only if it were made by an orderly Creator.

    Would this be the same Creator who created imperfect human beings who, to His apparent surprise, disobeyed His orders (and who then had them booted out of the paradise He had prepared for them even though they had no prior knowledge of good and evil when they committed their transgression)? And would this be the same Creator who, having botched His experiment at producing humans, became so irate over His failure that, in a fit of pique, He had virtually every living thing on the planet exterminated in a flood? Presumably this is also the same Creator who thought that having his "chosen people" engage in decades of genocidal warfare with indigenous landholders was the "orderly" way for them to secure title to their promised land. Apparently, this is the same Creator who has planted all the evidence to make it look like evolution has occurred, although you claim it has not. Sorry, but this just doesnít seem very orderly to me. If early scientists perceived a pattern of orderliness in nature, it is primarily because that is what they actually observed. And if orderliness is what they derived from the Bible, they had to ignore large parts of it that suggest serious confusion and capriciousness on the part the Creator it describes.

    See the section on "Self-organization" at the "ProtoTista" website (www.prototista.org) for evidence that order is an inherent property of nature that can manifest itself spontaneously.

    43. Religion was not a predominantly positive factor in scientific progress as Mr. Knapp contends.

    What Mr. Debaun [sic] fails to tell you is Copernicus believed in the Bible and a young earth. This fact is a serious problem to his "religion was an impediment to science theory" and undermines his whole attack.

    If anything is undermined, it is your contention that religion was predominantly conducive to the advancement of science. Historical fact is not on your side.

    Copernicus, who had been a professor in Rome, first expressed his heliocentric ideas as early as 1500. But because these ideas were framed as nothing more than conjecture, they did not then arouse the ire of the religious authorities. Nonetheless, as Copernicus continued to study the subject in more detail, it became increasingly more apparent to him that his idea was much more than mere speculation. Because he feared serious repercussions from the religious authorities if he were to elevate his speculations to the status of "truth" in Rome, he returned to Poland. However, even the religious establishment in Poland was not receptive to such heresy, and he put off writing his momentous work, "Revolutions of the Heavenly Bodies", for some thirty years.

    He knew that he could not send his manuscript to Rome, and he knew that it would be equally dangerous to send it to Wittenberg, where the Protestants would be no less hostile to the heresy he had written. He finally entrusted his manuscript to a friend who agreed to have it printed in Nuremberg. Unfortunately, this friend lost his nerve and prepared an apologetic preface that said Copernicus was not really claiming the fact of heliocentricity, but that he was simply exercising an astronomerís imagination. By the time "Revolutions" was finally delivered to Copernicus in printed form, he was on his deathbed and was in no position to defend the "truth" of this monumental piece of scientific literature.

    Because the preface had largely obscured Copernicusí actual thoughts on the subject, the church authorities did not pay any particular heed to the document for nearly seventy years. However, when, in 1616, Galileo corroborated Copernicusí findings and proclaimed them as being the "truth", the writings of Copernicus were condemned by the ecclesiastical authorities and Galileo was forbidden to teach anything about the moving earth. Also forbidden by the church at that time were "all books which affirm the motion of the earth."

    So you see it little matters whether Copernicus believed in the Bible and a young earth or not. His ideas were still squelched by a religious establishment that would not tolerate any challenges to its sacred dogma. Science did "[grow] out of a decidedly religious background" as you say. But that growth was more in spite of this background than because of it.

    Below, I point out some articles about geocentrism and the early church which show that the primary reasons for the early church adopting geocentrism was they had mistakenly adopted the teachings of the ancient philosophers, i.e., the Aristotelian/Ptolemaic theory Ėnot because the Bible teaches this.

    While Aristotelian/Ptolemaic theory no doubt contributed to the churchís thinking on the subject, the fact remains that the religious scholars of the day interpreted various biblical passages as substantiating the idea of geocentricity. I provided examples of statements from religious authorities of the time that show unambiguously that the Bible played an integral part in framing their ideas about the immobility of the earth. Why is it that such passages only seem to lend themselves to accurate interpretation after the scientific evidence renders the former interpretation completely untenable? It seems to me that a divinely inspired document would be composed in such clear and concise language that there would be little or no room for error in interpreting it Ė especially by scholars who specialize in such things. That does not appear to be the case with the Bible.

    While the Roman Catholic Church did err in taking the side of geocentrism from the Middle Ages to well into the Renaissance, it was primarily because it had adopted the works of ancient pagan philosophers and tried to conform the Bible to them.

    Iím afraid you Protestants canít get off the hook that easily. All branches of the Protestant Church Ė Lutheran, Calvinist, and Anglican Ė attempted to outdo one another in condemning Copernicus for his heresy. In my previous commentary, I quoted the statement from Martin Luther in which he refers to Copernicus as a "fool" for proposing his heliocentric theory and cites Joshua to validate his own geocentric worldview. The protestant reformer Melanchthon wrote in his "Elements of Physics" regarding Copernicusí theory that "it is want of honesty and decency to assert such notions publicly, and the example is pernicious." He then cites passages from Psalms and Ecclesiastes in support of his condemnation.

    In his "Commentary on Genesis", Calvin condemned anyone who asserted that the earth is not the center of the universe Ė citing the first verse of the 93rd Psalm to back him up. I included a condemnatory statement made by Calvin directed at Copernicus in my last commentary. Turretin, Calvinís successor, claimed to have proved, from a multitude of scriptural texts, that the earth was unmoved at the center of the universe. He did this in his compendium of theology even after Kepler and Newton had lent further credence to the correctness of Copernicusí heliocentric theory. In England, various religious luminaries joined the attack. Hutchinson with his "Mosesís Principia", Dr. Samuel Pike with his "Sacred Philosophy" and the writings of Horne, Bishop Horsley, and Forbes all criticized Newton for siding with Copernicus. And they all made ample use of Scripture to bolster their arguments. The renowned Puritan, Dr. John Owen, proclaimed that the Copernican idea was a "delusive and arbitrary infidelity", and even the more moderate John Wesley thought that it "tend[ed] toward infidelity." The people of Nuremberg, a hotbed of Protestantism, even commissioned the production of a medal with inscriptions ridiculing Copernicus and his theory. The attack was not just directed at Copernicus and Galileo. John Owen riled against the work of Newton, claiming that his discoveries were "built on fallible phenomena and advanced by many arbitrary presumptions against evident testimonies of Scripture." (Does this argument sound familiar to you? It should. Because for all intents and purposes, it is the same argument creationists are making today in opposition to evolution.)

    Wittenberg was the university of Luther and Melanchthon and their influence loomed strong at the institution. About the middle of the 16th century, two instructors teaching at that institution had come to the conclusion that Copernicus was correct in his description of the solar system. Although they wanted to teach this theory in their classrooms, they were prevented from doing so by nervous school authorities. One of these instructors, Rheticus, finally left the university so that he could teach the truth as he saw it. The other instructor, Reinhold was finally allowed to at least mention the Copernican theory, but when he did so he was forced to expound on the superiority of the Ptolemaic system. Eventually this was even too risky for the authorities and they replaced Rheinhold with a new instructor named Peucer who emphatically denounced the theory of Copernicus as "absurd, and unfit to be introduced into the schools."

    To indoctrinate the German Protestant school children in anti-science ideology, Rector Hensel wrote a textbook entitled "The Restored Mosaic System of the World" which portrayed the Copernican theory as being contrary to the teachings of the Bible.

    All your finger pointing at the Catholics does not negate the fact that the Protestants of the time were equally guilty of stifling scientific knowledge when they considered it to be a threat to their uncompromising religious beliefs. Now history repeats itself as a movement led largely by anti-science Protestants focuses its attack on Darwinian theory. My guess is that someday people will look back on this current attack with the same bemused amazement that we all now view the religious opposition to Copernicus.

    Confusion persists today in that nearly every textbook that discusses the Galileo affair claims that it was a matter of religion vs science, when it actually was a matter of science vs science.

    The apologetics of Dr. Faulkner notwithstanding, the words of the religious thought police speak for themselves. Scientists who rejected the Copernican theory were strongly influenced by the pronouncements of the religious authorities. It was neither socially acceptable nor beneficial to oneís career to speak out against official religious doctrine Ė it could get you arrested or killed. While religion may not have been responsible for all the opposition to Copernicusí revolutionary theory, it is indefensible to attempt to foist all the blame on the intransigence of the scientific community at the time. The historical record clearly shows otherwise.

    Contrary to legend, Galileo and the Copernican system were well regarded by church officials.

    You ought to submit this fairytale for the next edition of Mother Goose. If your claim is true, then why were Copernicusí "Revolutions" and all other books supportive of a moving earth put on the index of forbidden literature? Why then did the officials of the Inquisition have Giordano Bruno burned at the stake and Galileo put under house arrest? And why did Protestant leaders like Luther and Melanchthon refer to Copernicus as a "fool" and to his ideas as being "pernicious"? Give me a break. Creationists spend so much time reinventing history to fit their distorted Weltanschauung they can no longer tell fact from fiction.

    For an extensive and well-documented commentary on the subject of the relationship between science and religion search for "A History of Warfare of Sciences with Theology in Christendom" by Andrew Dickson White on the Internet. The title speaks for itself. For specific information on the Galileo affair, see the section entitled "Victory of the Church over Galileo". Most of my commentary on this subject is paraphrased from this document. For additional information see Andrew Draperís "History of Conflict Between Religion and Science."

    You appear to be dead wrong, Mr. Debaun [sic]. It would seem that science came from religionists! It is interesting that you use such names as Sir Francis Bacon and yet conveniently leave out their religious backgrounds. Is it perhaps because youíll do anything to subvert the truth in order to push your own brand of religion for which evolution is justification?

    When have I ever said that scientists cannot be God-fearing, Bible-believing Christians? You have again erected a very flimsy straw man. The truth is, I have provided evidence to highlight this very fact. Iím afraid when it comes to "subvert[ing] the truth", Iíll have to admit to being a rank amateur compared to you creationists.

    Regarding Sir Francis Bacon, it should be noted that, prior to his time, learning was based primarily on faith rather than reason [See Saint Anselm (1037-1109) and Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) and the Scholastic School]. Bacon argued that the only knowledge worth knowing was grounded in the natural world. He refined the concept of inductive thinking thus revolutionizing the approach to doing science. While philosophers such as Aristotle maintained that reasoning was all that was necessary to acquire knowledge, Bacon insisted that useful knowledge was only obtained by getting oneís hands dirty by doing empirical research. Bacon was strenuously opposed to relying on authoritarian philosophies such as those promoted by the church. As "Encarta" puts it, "Baconís philosophy emphasized the belief that people are the servants of nature, that truth is not derived from authority, and the knowledge is the fruit of experience." It was this materialistic approach championed by Bacon that led the way for the discoveries of such great scientists as and Galileo and Kepler.

    While Bacon was a religious man, it was largely his rejection of authoritarian doctrine and his focus on the natural and material world that accounted for the astounding success of his scientific method.

    To demonstrate to the reader how false your idea that science was impeded by the religionists, Iíll list some names here that destroy such a theory. All the scientists were Bible-believing creationists.

    To demonstrate how outlandish your argument is, let me point out that two-thirds of the men in the list were long dead before Darwin published "Origin of Species" in 1859. Of course they were creationists. Creationism was basically the only game in town Ė the religious authorities did all they could to keep it that way. Until Darwin published his work, there was no good reason to accept evolution as a viable scientific theory. That all changed after Darwinís theory was made public, and there is every reason to believe many of these earlier scientists would have become evolutionists as well had they been knowledgeable of the scientific evidence that supports it.

    Understandably Descartes (1596-1650), the eminent French mathematician and philosopher who is known as the father of analytical geometry, did not make your list because he was an avowed materialist. The threat of religious persecution prevented him from publishing a complete account of his scientific ideas. He is said to have lived in fear of sharing the same fate as Galileo. Who can blame him?

    Of the men in your list, Newton stands out as the most illustrious in terms of scientific achievements. However, if you think you can parade him around as a card-carrying YEC, you are sadly mistaken. The following quotes are from a letter that Newton wrote to Thomas Burnet during the winter of 1680-81 (the full text is in "The correspondence of Isaac Newton", Vol. 11, 1676-1678, edited by H.W. Turnbull, Cambridge University Press, 1960):

    "As to Moses I do not think his description of ye creation either philosophical or feigned, but that he described realities in a language artificially adapted to ye sense of ye vulgarÖhis business being not to correct the vulgar notions in matters philosophical but to adapt a description of ye creation as handsomely as he could to ye sense an capacity of ye vulgar. So when he tells of two great lights and the stars made ye fourth day, I do not think their creation from the beginning to end was done ye fourth day nor in any one day of ye creationÖ ÖBut in ye third day for Moses to describe ye creation of seas when there was no such thing done neither in reality not appearanceÖ"

    In other words, Newton did not think that Moses was writing factual history, but that he was simply communicating in a language that could be understood by the "guitar-strumming hillbillies" of the day. It appears this approach has had rather long-lived utility. While Newton was a Christian, he was most certainly not a biblical inerrantist. He wrote a manuscript entitled "A Historical Account of Two Notable Corruptions of Scripture" in which he attacked the concept of the Trinity. Fearing retaliation from the religious authorities, he gave a copy to John Locke to have it published in France. He once confidently predicted on the basis of complex calculations involving various biblical passages that the so-called "second coming" would occur in the late 19th century. He was a Unitarian who had a passion for alchemy (believing at one point he had created gold) and astrology. While Newton is rightly respected for his work in optics, mechanics, and math, these achievements lend no additional credence to his work or belief in alchemy, mysticism, and theology. The same general thing can be said for the other scientists on your list as well.

    Newton was instrumental in refining the scientific method. He presented his four rules for conducting scientific investigations in his masterpiece, "Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica". The rules were: (1) we are to admit no more causes of natural things such as are both true and sufficient to explain their appearances, (2) the same natural effects must be assigned to the same causes, (3) qualities of bodies are esteemed to be universal, (4) propositions deduced from observation of phenomena should be viewed as accurate until other phenomena contradict them.

    I do not dispute the fact that these scientists were religious and that they practiced science at a time when religious authorities wielded considerable power. However, like all scientists who adhere to the restrictions imposed by the scientific method, they did not incorporate preternatural religious claims into their scientific explanations. Newtonís rules clearly show that such claims are not part of a proper scientific dissertation.

    44. Mr. Knapp fails to provide an answer to my question.

    ________________________________________________________________________________________

    You appear to have overlooked my question regarding your claim that "we are starting to see a defection from evolutionism today." I asked you to please provide some data to back up that assertion. And in particular, I asked what evidence you had to show that this "defection" was occurring among biological scientists. Can you substantiate your claim, or is this simply more wishful thinking on your part?

    ________________________________________________________________________________________________

    45. Michael Behe attempts to resuscitate William Paley's discredited argument from design.

    In that article [one of your earlier letters to the newspaper], I believe I mentioned irreducible complexity, the issue of genetic information, and some others. If the newspaper did not afford you that there, this forum certainly does. So there are no more excuses.

    The concept of so-called irreducible complexity is nothing but an Argument from Incredulity. Michael Behe champions this latest manifestation of Paleyís design argument. Basically his argument boils down to the following: (1) Iím a really sharp guy with a Ph.D. (2) Iíve examined some molecular systems that are so complex that I (even as clever as I am) canít figure out how they could have been formed by natural means (3) Therefore, God did it. (4) Donít waste any more time trying to discern how these systems could have arisen naturally because supernatural forces were involved.

    This approach is often referred to as the God of the Gaps method. It works as follows: If science has not yet thoroughly explained some puzzling observation, creationists can always plug God into that knowledge gap and later remove Him when the problem is resolved. It should be clear from what has been said before that this does not represent a scientific approach because it invokes supernatural explanations. But for arguments sake, letís suppose this approach were to be integrated into the scientific method. Now letís suppose that biological scientists have encountered a complex system whose origin or cause is not yet readily explicable in naturalistic terms. Who decides whether the problem is absolutely intractable or whether it is amenable to further investigation that might provide a naturalistic explanation? Who decides whether a scientist should resort to the "God did it" cop out and drop any further work on the subject, or whether they should continue their search for a traditional scientific explanation? Would this be a committee of scientists under the supervision of religious scholars? What criteria would this committee use to reach their decision? How would this approach improve the scientific process? What result might this approach have had when early scientists were struggling with the difficult problems related to the causes of disease and mental illness and the Bible assured them that they were caused by demons?

    For a thorough rebuttal of the irreducible complexity argument, see "Irreducible Complexity and Michael Behe" and "Darwinís Black Box, Irreducible Complexity or Irreproducible Irreducibility" at www.talkorigins.org.

    46. Can evolution produce an increase in genetic information?

    The issue of genetic information is something that many creationists tout as one of their strongest arguments against evolution. According to their theoretical paper-and Ėpencil computations based on a selective definition of information, increases in genetic information cannot occur naturally in living systems. Unfortunately for them, the facts show otherwise. One way that genetic information has been shown to increase in living systems is through a process known as gene duplication and mutation. The process works as follows: (1) There exists gene A. (2) Gene A is duplicated naturally to produce an exact replica of itself. Call the replica, gene B. (3) Gene B undergoes mutation(s) that changes how it functions. (With a functional gene A still present, the organism will not suffer any ill effects as a consequence of the mutation of gene B.) (4) Gene B can now be selected (by natural selection) for a different (sometimes greatly different) function that was brought about by the mutation(s). There are many families of genes constructed in a manner that provide strong evidence that this is a common process for increasing genetic information. To understand how creationists misrepresent the information transfer issue, see "How to Measure Information", Post of the Month: February 2001 at www.talkorigins.org.

    Like I said above, in a past article, I mentioned some specific areas of scientific study which support creation and are big problems for evolution.

    You may have mentioned some specific areas of scientific study. However, if you think they support creation and cause big problems for evolution, you need to get a reality check. Lay off the creationist propaganda and read some real science for a change.

    47. The disadvantage of being scientifically naive.

    As I mentioned earlier, just because you have a degree does not mean you have a good grasp of the issues.

    While I admit that a degree does not automatically make anyone an expert, I will argue that formal training at the college level in a scientific discipline does provide one with the tools necessary to correctly validate scientific claims if one wants to go to the effort to do so. I understand why you trust the opinions of those who are advising you on the scientific aspects of the evolution/creation conflict. As far as you know, you have no reason not to trust them. I may be wrong, but I would guess that you have held your creationist beliefs for many years and that you have had rather limited exposure to the evidence that supports the theory of evolution Ė particularly the molecular genetic evidence that has been developed during the past couple of decades or so. Because you lack the formal education to critically examine this evidence on your own, you must rely on the opinions of those from your camp who claim to be knowledgeable about such things. Thatís fine. But I think you should give some consideration to the fact that these "experts" in whom you are placing your trust, are at odds with every major scientific organization in the world. Because you do not have the scientific expertise to critically examine such a thing as radiometric dating for yourself, you are forced to rely on others who may be more concerned with winning debating points than scientific accuracy. That, to me, is the disadvantageous position one finds oneself in if he/she is searching for the "truth" in situations such as this and does not have the proper qualifications to conduct an independent audit, so to speak.

    I seriously doubt you have spent more than a fair amount of time examining both sides of the evolution/creation controversy.

    You can doubt whatever you want, but that doesnít mean your doubts are grounded in reality. See page 15 [of the original document].

    Your theory that you canít be a creationist and a scientist at the same time doesnít hold water.

    I have no such theory. So long as creationists adhere to the rules spelled out by the scientific method, they can function quite effectively as scientists. Itís only when they engage in "creation science" that they cease to function as legitimate scientists.

    You are starting to re-plow a lot of the same old ground, so I will limit my subsequent responses so as to avoid needless repetition.

    Canít evolution theory stand on itís [sic] own merits, Mr. Debaun [sic]?

    Visit any science library at any major university anywhere in the world that has a legitimate science department and you will see that the theory of evolution is standing alone, unchallenged on a massive foundation of supporting literature. The answer to your question is an unqualified - yes it can and it is. By the way, to read up on creationism, youíll have to concentrate on the history of religion and mythology sections of the university library.

    Evolution theory is far from a fact, as you would like to believe.

    Evolution theory does not claim to be a fact. Evolution theory is just that, a theory that proposes naturalistic mechanisms to explain the fact of evolution. The theory of evolution is one of the most, if not the most, heavily documented and highly corroborated of all the scientific theories.

    It seems, with evolutionists such as Mr. Debaun [sic], design is not a part of science only when it might point to a designer/creator.

    Pshaw! Scientists recognize design in all aspects of their work. My American Heritage Dictionary gives one meaning of design as follows: "A basic scheme or pattern that affects and controls function or development." That is the meaning that most scientists have in mind when they speak of design in nature. The basic scheme or pattern is determined by the genetic complement of the organism, and the mechanisms that govern the change in this pattern over time are what the theory of evolution explains.

    Regarding the identity and origin first replicating organisms, science is still in the early stages of deciphering this conundrum. If you want to plug God into that gap right now, go right ahead. Nonetheless, you had better be prepared to unplug Him sometime in the future if/when science comes through with a reasonable explanation.

    How about [scientists swearing to] an oath to materialism/naturalism. Same thing. Same dogma.

    How about learning the difference between agreeing to play by the rules imposed by science and swearing on a stack of Bibles?

    48. Mr. Knapp misunderstands my motives.

    Mr. Debaun [sic] seems more interested in contending that there is no creator and making sure no empirical evidence could point to one than he is in real science. Let me ask you a question?

    Okay, go ahead. (How could empirical scientific evidence that, by definition, must be naturalistic, confirm the existence of a creator who, by definition, must be supernatural? The existence or nonexistence of a creator is a philosophical question, not a scientific one. I am no more interested in proving that there is no creator than I am in ensuring that no empirical evidence points to the reality of Santa Claus. Itís simply not that important an issue with me. I am happy to let everyone believe what he/she wants Ė so long as he/she doesnít try to improperly impose his/her supernaturalism on science as you creationists are bent on doing.)

    Does your definition of science include the search for the truth? I would like you to answer that question?

    Yes.

    49. Dissecting the quotation from Lowentin.

    Iíll just quote Mr. Lowentin [sic] again,

    Yes quote mining is one of the creationistsí favorite pastimes isnít it? In evaluating what Lewontin had to say about science, you should keep in mind that his statements represent one manís opinion that is not necessarily shared by the scientific community at large. Be that as it may, letís take a look at some of what he wrote.

    "We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructsÖ"

    Some scientific constructs do indeed appear rather absurd. The observation that one particle can be in two places at the same time (quantum mechanics) and that time slows down for objects traveling at higher speeds relative to another slower moving or stationary object (relativity) are a couple of examples. Nonetheless, where they have been properly tested, all the predictions made by these "absurd" theories have been shown to be right on the mark.

    "Öin spite of the its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life,Ö"

    Certainly not all of the promises of science have born fruit. But surely you would not deny that science has greatly enhanced the quality of life, would you?

    "Öin spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so storiesÖ"

    Informed speculation is the seed from which mighty theories grow. Without imaginative ideas, science would stagnate. Remember, science is not limited to the conjectures of authoritarian dogma like creationism is.

    "Öbecause we have an a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism."

    In the methodological sense thatís true. Thatís so we can devise explanations that can lead to practical solutions and applications in the material world.

    "It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, etc..."

    This is where I think Lewontin gets it wrong. Certainly the foremost scientists in the country at NAS disagree with him here. They make it absolutely clear that the scientific method allows the utilization of only natural causes and effects.

    "Moreover, that materialism is an absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door."

    Science does not permit supernatural explanations because such explanations are antithetical to the fundamental objectives of science Ė to provide explanations for the occurrence of natural phenomena. Unfortunately, the Divine Foot has had a history of trying to trample innovative science into the dust.

    50. Mr. Knapp buys into lawyer Phillip Johnson's philosophical diatribe against evolution.

    It [evolution] is a plain straight religion Ė a materialistic/naturalistic philosophy which aims to exclude the possibility of a creator Ė plain and simple.

    Youíve been reading too much Phillip Johnson. Thereís nothing like relying on the courtroom rhetoric of a lawyer to argue that evolutionists are philosophers rather than scientists. The possibility of a creator is something with which science does not concern itself.

    My dictionary defines religion as: "Belief in and reverence for a supernatural power or powers regarded as creator and governor of the universe." While this definition fits creationism perfectly, it is in no way applicable to the scientific study of evolution. Thatís not to say that many evolutionists are not religious. It is just that if/when religious evolutionists are doing science, they cannot develop supernatural answers to their questions.

    This evolutionary requirement to exclude God from existence and say that matter and the material world is all there is conflicts with Christian belief.

    Again, tell that to all the millions of Christians who are evolutionists. Evolution obviously conflicts with your brand of Christianity, but it does not conflict with the belief of many Christians who take a less literal stance on the Bible. As I have said before, if you want to get into a discussion regarding who is, and who is not, a true Christian that is up to you. But if you do so, you will not be engaging in scientific discourse.

    For the umpteenth time, there is no evolutionary requirement to exclude God from existence. But there is a requirement to exclude supernatural explanations from the conduct of ALL scientific endeavors. The scientific study of evolution is no different than any other scientific investigation in this regard. Neither the theory of evolution nor any other scientific theory makes the claim that God does not exist. Many theists (better known as deists) believe that God created the natural laws and left it at that. That sounds to me like a rather reasonable thing for a god to do.

    Since Darwin, many have claimed that science is itself a materialistic enterprise, but we [members of the Discovery Institute] donít buy it. Neither did Galileo, Copernicus, Kepler, Newton, or Maxwell.

    It little matters whether a handful of evolution bashers at the Discovery Institute buy it or not. They do not set the standards for scientific conduct Ė praise be to Mother Nature. The founders of the scientific method set those standards long ago. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, please identify an established theory developed by any one of these eminent scientists that employs anything other than natural laws in the computations that describe it.

    No vast amount of "contradictory evidence" [against creationism] exists as you would like to believe anyway.

    Then why is creationism rejected by virtually the entire scientific community worldwide? Visit some of the websites I have indicated above to find out what some of that contradictory evidence actually is. The scale of this contradictory evidence is not a matter of belief; it is a matter of fact. Pretending that it does not exist or refusing to look at it will not make it go away.

    51. Do creationists really want to replace faith with fact?

    It seems that the rules of evolutionary science exclude other concepts that may very well be the truth.

    The rules of science exclude anything that smacks of supernaturalism. If creationism or any other concept based on transcendental forces is the "truth", it will not be authenticated by the scientific method. Only some kind of supernatural revelation will be able to do that. Of course that does not mean that erroneous scientific claims associated with such concepts cannot be invalidated by science Ė as has been so amply demonstrated in the case of creationism. Besides, if creationism were somehow verified by science, there would no longer be a need to accept it on faith. I thought faith was the cornerstone of the Christian religion. By attempting to validate biblical creation scientifically, you are essentially striving to remove the necessity of faith. Is that really what you want to do?

    52. Where is the evidence for a mechanism that would prevent "microevolution" from becoming "macroevolution," given enough time?

    Are you not aware that the creation model takes into account variation in the gene pool of populations over time? If you are not, and I suspect so, itís inexcusable ignorance.

    Once again your psychic powers have failed you. Yes, I know this. The problem is that creationists put an arbitrary brake on the process, which they claim prevents the variation from crossing from one "kind" (whatever that is) to another "kind".

    In fact, the changes youíre alluding to in your definition are trivial and cannot be scientifically verified to produce macroevolution.

    Macroevolution, as you call it, normally takes large amounts of time. But laboratory studies have now been conducted that shed new light on this process. For example, a recent study conducted by biologists at the University of California, San Diego has shown that a simple mutation in a regulatory gene called Ubx inhibits the formation of legs that would normally appear on many body segments. A news release from this research group explained their results as follows: " Using laboratory fruit flies and a crustacean know as Artemia, or brine shrimp, the scientists showed how modifications to the Hox gene Ubx Ė which suppresses 100 percent of the limb development in the thoracic region of fruit flies, while its crustacean counterpart from Artemia only represses 15% - would have allowed the crustacean-like ancestors of Artemia, with limbs on every segment, to lose their hind legs and diverge 400 million years ago into the six-legged insects." In other words, this work shows that a dominant mutation in a regulatory gene can produce major changes in body plans. It also squelches the creationist argument that genetic mechanisms do not exist that permit radical new body designs without producing lethal results. For a review of this work, see (http://ucsdnews.ucsd.edu/newsrel/science/mchox.htm). And for an example how creationists jump to unsubstantiated conclusions in their frenzy to discredit anything supportive of evolution, see "NCSE asks Discovery Institute: Whereís the Shrimp?" at www.natcenscied.org.

    Furthermore, if anyone can study the succession of animal forms in the geologic record and claim that macroevolution has not taken place, they are in a serious state of denial.

    The creation model predicts that limited change can occur.

    Well thatís where creationists suffer from a real "missing link" in their story. What evidence have they uncovered that would prevent micro-evolutionary changes from progressing to macro-evolutionary changes given sufficient time? Has anyone actually found this hypothetical braking mechanism in any living organism? If so, how does this restriction on evolution function at the molecular level? If creationists will accept genetic changes within species that have produced such diverse body types as Chihuahuas and Saint Bernards from a common dog ancestor, why do they reject the idea that microevolution (given enough time) can produce lynx and tigers or porpoises and dolphins from common ancestors? (Remember that you defined microevolution as being restricted to changes at the species level.) Until these questions are satisfactorily answered, the existence of this ad hoc braking system is nothing but wishful thinking, like most of the other unverified creationist hypotheses.

    53. Picking and choosing from the Bible -

    I donít ignore it [parts of the Bible] at all. However, I do consider all Scriptures and not just one passage. Homosexuality is an abomination to God. The Old Testament dealt with the Israelites under the Old Testament Law. Proper exegesis of Scripture is to consider all Scripture and not to lift one passage and build doctrine from it Ė something you are trying to do here for your own purposes.

    So I take it from this that you do disregard the unambiguous mandate of Lev. 20:13 to execute homosexuals. Thatís reassuring. Nonetheless, if proper exegesis involves considering all Scripture, then what excuse do you make for also ignoring Matt. 5:17-26 ("Öone jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled." "Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandmentsÖhe shall be called the least in the kingdom of heavenÖ" and Luke 16:16-17 ("The law and the prophets were until JohnÖ" "ÖAnd it is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one tittle of the law to fail."). According to these words attributed to Jesus, every niggling detail of Old Testament Law is binding and universally applicable "till all be fulfilled". Do you think all has been fulfilled?

    Your propensity for selectively ignoring problematic biblical passages leaves little doubt about who is trying to do something for his own purposes.

    But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned Ė 1 Co. 2:14

    Thatís equivalent to asking someone to believe something before have any evidence to support that belief. In other words, you have to believe before you have good reason to believe. That cart-before-the-horse approach may make sense from the religious standpoint, but it certainly doesnít qualify as critical thinking in my book. Using that approach, one could con oneself into in believing anything.

    Besides, why would a compassionate and caring God want to conceal anything from anyone in cryptic spiritual language Ė especially when something as important as his/her salvation might be in the balance?

    54. Like all scientific theories, the theory of evolution is subject to revision or replacement if new evidence so dictates.

    Likewise, would definitive scientific evidence I presented that refuted evolution cause you to admit your theory is nothing more then [sic] a sophisticated fairy tale?

    Yes, if you were to present such evidence.

    Would you at least consider there to be reasons to question the theory?

    Of course, thatís one of the most important things science does Ė it question theories.

    55. Mr. Knapp again evades a straightforward question.

    Likewise, Iíll continue dialogue with you as long as you donít reflexively discount everything I have to say and continue to appeal to ad hominem arguments.

    You have evaded my question. I asked if you are "willing to acknowledge that the Bible, when literally interpreted, might be something less than perfect in the face of credible evidence." This is not a trick question. A simple yes or no is all I am asking for, not some repetitious and rambling anti-evolution diatribe. Can you give me a yes or a no? Or are you afraid of revealing just how close-minded you really are?

    I canít make any promises about the ad hominem arguments since virtually everything I say that is critical of creationists is interpreted as such by you.

    Do you believe that there is the possibility of a God that created the universe and life?

    Yes, I think there is a possibility that some ineffable transcendental force (call it God if you like) may be responsible for the existence of space-time. Anything is possible. However, I do think it is highly improbable that this "God", if He exists, is the same rather mercurial one that is described in the Bible.

    (Please donít go on a rant and complain that I am demeaning your religious beliefs. I am responding to your questions about the Bible as honestly as I can. Remember, you are the one asking these questions.)

    They [the founding fathers of science] were in search of the truth and found no contradiction in seeing how science shed light on our understanding of the natural world and the Creator who made it.

    Seeing how science might shed light on our understanding of the natural world and the Creator whom they thought made it is one thing. Incorporating biblical miracles into their scientific formulae is something quite different and is something they assiduously avoided. The same cannot be said of modern-day creationists.

    Where is this definitive scientific evidence that refutes the Bible?

    If you are speaking of a literally translated Bible, spend some quality time at talkorigins.org, faithreason.org, the "Creation Science and Earth History" site, and the "Radiometric Dating Resource List" site and you wonít ask such naÔve questions. See also my page 6 [in the original document].

    Iíve yet to see you put forth any solid evidence.

    You have to open your eyes before you can see.

    Is it [my declaration that evolutionists are religiously neutral] perhaps because the idea of accountability to a creator is repugnant to you?

    Why would a perfect god want for anything, least of all groveling subjugation from humans. Perfection entails absolute completeness. Until a less than perfect god comes along who demands that people must account to him, Iíll remain accountable to the laws of the land, my family, and my conscience.

    I have acknowledged that not all evolutionists are religiously neutral. In fact, in their personal lives, many of them are pious Christians, as I have shown.

    56. Genetic algorithms demonstrate how evolutionary mechanisms can generate biological complexity.

    Likewise, I encourage anyone to check out the following articles which explain why computer programs like genetic algorithms (computer programs that try to simulate biological evolution) are flawed and do not adequately simulate biological evolution.

    Most genetic algorithms are not used to simulate biological evolution, per se. They are primarily used to apply the Darwinian processes of replication, mutation, and selection to solve complex problems that would otherwise be very difficult to deal with. This methodology, which is a direct spin off from the study of biological evolution, has been used successfully in such diverse areas as engine design, analog and logic electronic circuit synthesis, structural optimization and layout, factory and project scheduling, control system synthesis, music composition, image recognition, drug design, and automated programming. (Search the Internet for "Genetic Algorithms" to see how this process is finding an increasing number of applications.)

    What the theory and empirical results show is that this technique, which finds its theoretical basis in evolutionary studies, leads to improved solutions in many problem domains. In other words, by applying Darwinian principles to problem solving, improved solutions (i.e., increased complexities) are developed. It is now clear that well-designed genetic algorithms can solve a broad class of problems, quickly, reliably, and accurately.

    The programs run into the inherent problem of intelligence being injected into the scenario somewhere along the line.

    What is initially injected into the scenario is information in the form of a population of solutions coded as artificial chromosomes. First there is a computer-driven selection for those solutions that are best adapted for solving the problem at hand. These better-adapted solutions are then "mutated" and "mated" to produce offspring that must compete with the pre-existing solutions. Those new solutions that outperform their ancestors in solving the problem are then selected for a new round of this iterative process. Complexity builds (in the form of better problem-solving capabilities) as the process continues Ė just as it does for evolving organisms in the natural world.

    The initial population of solutions in this computer process is akin to the first replicators in the evolutionary process. The origin of these first replicators is something with which the theory of evolution does not concern itself. To see how genetic algorithms are being used to study living systems, see "Genetic Algorithms Archive" at http://www.aic.nrl.navy.mil/galist/.

    This would be one of those specific lines of evidence (the issue of genetic information) that I believe supports the creation model.

    The correct methods for applying information theory to the question of biological complexity are rather speculative at this time. A good mathematical theory of biocomplexity simply does not exist. Because this field of study is so nebulous, it is difficult to draw any definitive conclusions from it regarding the generation of complexity from evolutionary processes. At this stage of the game, the arguments are often more philosophical than they are scientific.

    Dr. Chris Hillman, who has a Ph.D. in mathematics and who specializes in complexity theory and dynamical systems, voiced his opinion as follows:

    "Öthe evolution of complex life forms on Earth from less complex forms implies that Ďecosystems get more complex over timeí. There is, in fact, no satisfactory theory of the complexity of ecosystems, and this whole issue is a very vexed one. Since there is no viable mathematical theory, some scientists can take the view that this is Ďobviouslyí true and others can take the view that it is probably not at all true."

    "My own hunch is that when a good mathematical theory of biocomplexity is available, it will turn out that there are many distinct (and scientifically useful!) notions of biological complexity, and that the truth is much more complex than either extreme and simple-minded view (Ďlife gets more complex over timeí, Ďlife does notí) would have us believe. "

    "Be aware that many of the early papers in this field are based upon misconceptions of fundamental concepts of information theory. One should be cautious, in fact, in reading the most recent papers --- this is a very subtle area and many of the people writing in this field do not (IMHO) have an adequate mathematical background. (I hasten to add that on the other hand, I myself do not have an adequate biological background --- in fact, Iíd go so far as to wonder aloud whether anyone is really qualified to work in this area, which probably explains why forty years after the first conference devoted to this field, it remains contentious!)" (Internet link is no longer available.)

     

    If this is one of the specific lines of evidence that supports the creation model, then I would say that the support is rather flimsy. It is so very typical of the creationists to hone in on to an emerging area of study like this where the knowledge base is rather meager, the methodology is still in the formative stages, and any direct applications are speculative, and to plug God into this knowledge gap. For a mainstream science approach to this subject, see "The Growth of Complexity" (http://pespmc1.vub.ac.be/COMPGROW.html) and "Evolutionary cybernetics" (http://pespmc1.vub.ac.be/EVOLCYB.html).

    There is no law of physics able to create information from nothing.

    There is also no law of physics that prevents increases in information content in systems that are thermodynamically "open" and supplied with energy. Nor is there a law of physics that prevents matter from emerging from a quantum vacuum.


    The remainder of your rebuttal consists of a rehash of your previous harangue against evolutionists, except this time it is supplied by your own personal pseudoscience advisory committee. Because of this repetitiveness, I will restrict my comments to just a few statements.

    57. Response to some comments from Mr. Knapp's science advisors at Answers in Genesis.

    In fact, the evidence best supports the creation model.

    In your dreams.

    It [evolution] includes these unproven ideas: nothing gave rise to something at an alleged "big bang," nonliving matter gave rise to life, Ö..

    Wrong. Evolution only deals with the sequential development of living organisms after the first spark of life appeared. It does not speak to the origin of life nor the origin of the cosmos.

    Proffesor [sic] D.M.S. Watson, demonstrated the atheistic bias of his timeÖ D.M.S. Watson, "adaptation," Nature 124:233, 1929

    Pickings must be pretty slim if you must mine for quotes that are more than seventy years out of date.

    A survey of all 517 members [of NAS] in biological and physical sciences resulted in just over half responding: 72% were overtly atheistic, 20.8% agnostic, and only 7.0% believed in a personal God.

    The members of NAS are not selected on the basis of their religious beliefs. They are chosen for membership because they are the most productive scientists who have made the most significant contributions to their fields of study. They are members of this esteemed organization because of their extraordinary scientific achievements, not because of their religious persuasion. (I realize this concept is difficult for creationists to grasp because, in their organizations, the opposite is often the case.)

    Are you sure you really want to call attention to these statistics? If a fairly high percentage of the most accomplished scientists in the country are atheists, there just might be a subtle message in all this. Could it be that those with the atheistic perspective make better scientists? What do you think?

    Öif a materialistic framework of thinking can be established in young people through the education system, then Christianity will not stand.

    Is the case for Christianity so weak that a course in evolution is all that is required to undermine all the indoctrination young people are subjected to in Sunday school, church, and after school religious clubs? Is the concept of evolution so convincing that it can easily negate the effects of home religious instruction and the messages conveyed by the myriad of religious programs that are broadcast on radio and television? If so, then it is no wonder creationists are so up in arms.

    Motivated by faith in his own ideas and a desire for acceptance by his peers, a scientists [sic] 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.

    Sometimes such persistence pays off, such as in the case of the scientist who identified prions as the causative factor in certain brain disorders. But no matter how much a scientist may be motivated by faith or a desire for acceptance by his peers, if he does not produce scientifically valid results, he will not get the recognition he seeks. Thatís a major strength of the scientific process. Faith and desire for acceptance do not determine success. Success is obtained only by producing meaningful results. Itís a concept "creation scientists" should investigate some day.

    How about answering some questions yourself Mr. Debaun [sic]? Here is a list.

    Ah yes, the Dr. Dino pop quiz. Iíll make you a deal. You explain to me how creationism provides at least as good a scientific explanation as the theory of evolution for the factual evidence I have presented regarding the geologic column, molecular genetics, homology, and radiometric isochron dating, and I will take a stab at them. Since you initiated this exchange with your letter to the editor (creationists have always initiated them as far as I can determine), it only seems fair that you should go first.

    In the meantime, you might want to glance at "Mr. Hovind's Questions for Evolutionists" at (http://home.comcast.net/~fsteiger/kent-hovind-questions.htm Click the "X" on the dialogue box). And for a prime example of someone with a degree that is not worth the paper it is written on, see http://noanswersingenesis.org.au/bartelt_dissertation_on_hovind_thesis.htm.

    Jack DeBaun

    Back to Skirmish

    Updated 1/28/04