Researching Creation

July 04, 2014

Discussions around the Web / Scientific American's 15 Answers to Creationist Nonsense


I was online, and someone posted an old Scientific American article titled "15 Anwers to Creationist Nonsense".  Since I am a creationist, I thought I would take a moment to respond, and respond here, so that I don't have to re-type it later if someone reposts it.

One thing that was problematic about the whole article is they they never reference  who they are quoting.  This fact alone makes this whole article somewhat of a straw man since it means that they can make the claim mean whatever they want, because they don't reference any particular person so someone can go and check to see if that is what they really meant.   

1. Evolution is only a theory. It is not a fact or a scientific law.

They are correct on this one.  Most people misunderstand the relationship between hypotheses, theories, and laws.  However, most evolutionists are also wrong because they think that "theory" attributes some special status.  It does not.  A law is a mathematical expression of a relationship.  A theory is a conceptual expression of a relationship.  A hypothesis is the presumed outcome of an experiment.  A conjecture is an educated guess.  There is both a theory and a law of gravity.  The law is the mathematical equation.  The theory is how it is presumed to work.  However, what most evolutionists don't point out is that it is the law of gravity, not the theory of gravity, which is solid.  That's because conceptual categories are much more fungible and harder to test.  Most of the "laws" in evolution are actually population genetics laws, and population genetics is actually an outgrowth of creationism (most don't realize that Mendel's paper on pea plants was explicitly anti-evolutionary).

2. Natural selection is based on circular reasoning: the fittest are those who survive, and those who survive are deemed fittest.

They are wrong on this one, and the funny thing is they don't even really try to disagree.  In fact, they completely unlink fitness and survival in the last sentence: "The key is that adaptive fitness can be defined without reference to survival: large beaks are better adapted for crushing seeds, irrespective of whether that trait has survival value under the circumstances."  If fitness and survival are not linked, how does that help natural selection at all?

3. Evolution is unscientific, because it is not testable or falsifiable. It makes claims about events that were not observed and can never be re-created.

They start off with a straw man, by saying that the field is dividable into microevolution and macroevolution (do you remember the days when it was claimed that "only creationists separate micro- and macro-?  I certainly do).  Obviously the claim is meant to apply to macroevolution, and to imply otherwise is simply a straw man.  Interestingly, they go on to acknowledge that it is a straw man, so it is unclear why they mentioned it to begin with, except to poison the well.

They are correct that there are ways in which historical hypotheses are testable, but they fail to mention that these are epistemically less reliable types of tests.  The reason why operational science is stronger epistemically than circumstantial evidence is because, first of all, a claim to understand a process requires that I know enough about it to recreate it.  This is something evolutionists have failed to do.  Second, in operational science any part of the process can be tested by a third party who changes different values than the original experimenter.  Therefore, if someone says, "well, it *looks* like X, but I think the real cause is Y", then, since it is repeatable, the person can perform the experiment and see, changing only the variable they believe is the cause.

In historical sciences, dealing with circumstantial evidence, this is not the case.  You only have the evidence that history already left, and they are never controlled for a single variable.  Unless you can recreate the presumed history in the lab, the things that make operational science epistemically reliable simply aren't there for historical science.  There are analogs to these, but they do not have the same epistemic import.

It should also be noted that evolutionists themselves have pointed out how fungible evolution is.  One evolutionist asked his colleagues about two sets of "data" (that he made up) which were the opposite of each other.  His colleagues said of both sets, "of course, it was because of X".  In other words, it doesn't matter what the data is, some evolutionist has a story they can tell you about it.

Then Scientific American talks about how it could be tested.  Of course, the data they are talking about doesn't actually exist, so, as it stands, it is untestable.

4. Increasingly, scientists doubt the truth of evolution.

They are wrong here in two ways.  First of all, they interpreted "doubting the truth of evolution" as being equivalent to "embracing creationism".  This is false.  What most people actually say is that more and more scientists are rejecting Darwinism, and that is quite true, with such ideas as Shapiro's Third Way.

However, there is also an increase in scientists following both creationism and Intelligent Design.  I know this because I know them.  The author uses as "proof" a search of scientific literature.  However, that scientific literature has a policy of rejecting papers that directly point to Intelligent Design or creationism, which might be one reason why the aren't there. Scientists are threatened with their jobs if they publicly support creationism.  A friend of mine had several million in grant money, the BBC had done a documentary about him, and he lost his job when it came out that he was a creationist.  

In addition, there is a growing body of technical literature by creationists.  First of all, creationists are publishing in the technical literature papers with obviously creationist interpretations, but without the label creationism.  See this paper for instance.  Also as proof for the claim of people getting fired, this person got fired for publishing this paper.  Also, you can often tell a closet Creationist or ID-er in the technical literature, as they refer to both Wallace and Darwin as the founders of evolution.  

Second, creationists publish in their own technical literature.  Some evolutionists call foul on this, but it is no different than other fields which have their own journals.  And, given the fact that the volume of papers is increasing, and most of those papers come from qualified scientists, one could rightly say that the numbers of creationists are increasing.

So, we have more creationists, they are publishing, they are getting fired for being creationists (which skews the numbers), and they get fired for publishing papers which have obviously creationist interpretations.  And even with this persecution there is an increasing number of scientists accepting creation or ID positions.

5. The disagreements among even evolutionary biologists show how little solid science supports evolution.

This shows that evolutionists are less philosophically inclined than creationists.  The problem is not that there are disagreements, it is that the disagreements are on fundamental issues, with each position having significant evidence against it.  If every position has significant evidence against it, why is there a need to exclude options?  The current crop of bad solutions that are counter to the evidence aren't being excluded, so why try to exclude others that you think are bad?  This is totally unreasonable, but is the stance of most evolutionists.

If scientists are debating a process because there is substantial evidence against *every* current solution, then it is in fact reasonable to propose a different alternative, even if it is unpopular. 

Also, the author mentions creationists quoting Gould.  Again, he fails to provide specifics.  He fails to mention that Gould, while being an evolutionist, actually did doubt much of Darwinian orthodoxy, and punc-eq was not his sole point of disagreement.  I don't see how, if one is pointing out problems with evolutionary theory, it is wrong to refer to Gould.  It would be wrong to say that Gould supported creationism, but it would not be wrong to point to Gould's criticism of evolution as part of a larger support of creationism.

In fact, it is normally considered a very strong case if you can make your case relying only on witnesses that are predisposed to agree with you.  Creationists often do this because it is, in fact, a more powerful way of making your point.  Evolutionists call foul if you quote an evolutionist in support of a point because they don't agree with the rest of your points.  They then call foul even stronger if you quote a creationist in support of a point because they do agree with the rest of your points.  As you can see, they just don't like hearing creationists talk.

6. If humans descended from monkeys, why are there still monkeys?

I've heard this one, too.  In fact, it is a really terrible argument.

7. Evolution cannot explain how life first appeared on earth.

They basically tried to sidestep this, but I'm calling foul on that.  Universal Common Descent is very tied to the concept of abiogenesis, and the specifics of how it works.  If Scientific American doesn't care about Universal Common Descent, then the idea of them "disagreeing" with creationists is actually wrong - they would then fail to have any substantial disagreement with creationists.

I've written more about this here.  Basically, to claim that two things must have shared an ancestor, you have to have reason that they didn't arise independently.  In order to do that, you have to know whether or not the similarity could have been produced by arising independently.  In order to do that, you have to have a theory of abiogenesis.  If you don't, then most of evolutionary theory goes out the window.



January 22, 2014

General / Naming Infinity


Someone posted a link to a book that looks fantastic -- Naming Infinity.  I'm a big fan of infinity (both in philosophy and mathematics), and have been learning more about it.  This looks like a great contribution to the discussion.

A friend of mine posted this review of it.

January 22, 2014

Activism / Martin Luther King on Intelligent Design


UncommonDescent just posted a great review of Martin Luther King's thoughts on Intelligent Design.

May 16, 2013

Discussions around the Web / Taxonomy vs Common Descent


I am posting this mostly so I remember it later on - this is a great article on UD about the relationship between taxonomy and the concept of common descent.  The point is that what the nested hierarchy shows is specifically *not* Darwinian.  Excellent post with excellent argumentation followed by an excellent discussion.

May 10, 2012

Information Theory / Engineering and Theology Unite


For those interested in engineering and theology and philosophy, this conference is for you!  I've got two talks slated for the conference - come and listen!  Lots of fascinating stuff from a number of disciplines:

You can see the abstract list here and the conference flyer here.

September 03, 2011

General / Special Creation Research Society Discount for Students


For those interested in joining the Creation Research Society, they are running a special membership drive at a steeply discounted price:

See here

June 28, 2011

General / The Doctrine of Creation and the Making of Modern Biology


I just posted a new article on the Classical Conversations website - check it out!

May 18, 2011

General / On Being an Amateur


I'm posting this mainly because I was thinking about it today, and it took me over an hour to find it.  So I'm saving it here for future reference.  Biblo at Telic Thoughts put up some excellent thoughts about being an amateur ID proponent.  I also added the following comment:

I think it is dangerous for any discipline to reject the criticisms of amateurs out-of-hand. I have been programming computers for 25 years, have a book on programming that is used at Princeton University, have taught programming, and have numerous papers and articles on programming published by IBM and others.

Nonetheless, I still, often, have customers who come up with ways of doing things that I don't think of – customers who have never programmed a day in their life. I know many people who dismiss their customers ideas out-of-hand because they don't believe that non-programmers have valid input. That is total B.S. The fact is, being a non-programmer gives someone an outside look at the issues that aren't obscured with all the things us programmers normally worry about that, and sometimes that opens their minds up to possibilities that we don't see.

It doesn't mean that I take their ideas without criticism – there are more bad ones than good ones (which is expected, because they are outside the field, and aren't familiar with the issues). But nonetheless, I would be a lesser developer if I used the fact that these people are non-experts as a reason to dismiss what they had to say.

This also often requires translating what the have to say. Non-experts often use terms wrong, have a bad understanding of the way certain concepts work together, and the like. But *my* job is not to use my expertise as a way of beating their ignorance over their heads, but rather to *translate* their conceptualizations of their ideas into full-fledged, implementable ideas. So, rather than using my expertise to knock down, I use it to build up – to find a way to understand the non-experts in the most gracious light, and find a way for them to be right.

Doing so improves us both.

February 20, 2011

General / New Book - Sacred Cows in Science


The book Sacred Cows in Science was just released.  This book is a compilation of issues from 17 authors in 3 countries which each challenge some aspect of science that normally goes unchallenged.  I have a chapter in it, so please take time to purchase a copy!  My chapter is on genetic mutations and whether they are accidental or not (or both).

The book covers a lot of territory, including astrophysics, biology, sociology, and other topics.  Many of the topics deal directly or indirectly with creation and evolution but not all.  Anyway, the chapters are all very different, some lay-oriented and some that are more technical.  Anyway, purchase a copy today!

February 08, 2011

General / A Theory of Undesign


One thing that is often missing in ID contexts is a theology of "undesign".  That is, if we are going to take our design inferences seriously, that means that there needs to be a real category of "undesign".  Yet, if we take our faith seriously, then we also need to understand God as the designer of the whole universe.

David Snoke takes a pass at working through this issue in a paper titled "Defining Undesign in a Designed Universe".  Well worth your read.