Evidence for Creationism? Nope!

Here we go again.

So creationist David Buckna has been hanging out in the comments section of the Winnipeg Skeptics blog for the last few days. Rather than have my replies buried deep in the comments section, I like to use them as the opportunity for blog-fodder, especially when they begin to exceed the character limits imposed on comments by the various blogging platforms that we use.

Here is Buckna’s most recent comment:

Gem wrote: “If your only means of supporting your position is to attempt to poke holes in the position of your opponents, you demonstrate that your own position is untenable. Please present evidence for your position.”

You are not obliged in science to come up with an alternative theory for a theory you are criticizing. There is no rule like that in science.

That said, there is ample evidence and related inferences for creation/intelligent design, but evolutionists choose to ignore them because evolutionists interpret evidence and data through the lense of philosophical naturalism. Why _is_ evolution the one subject skeptics aren’t skeptical about?

Evidence for creation/intelligent design include: the universe is a Tri-Universe,

http://www.icr.org/articles/view/2590/215/

earth’s geologic features appear to have been fashioned by rapid, catastrophic processes on a global and regional scale, the fossil record (eg. the Cambrian explosion), man and apes have a separate ancestry, natural selection (a creationist’s idea), the design inference,
rapidly nuclear-decay-generated helium escapes from radioactive crystals
http://www.icr.org/article/new-rate-data-support-young-world/
irreducible complexity, the complexity of living cells, etc.
http://www.nature.com/news/2010/100331/pdf/464664a.pdf

Maybe it’s time for the evolutionists to read Thomas Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1962)

Are we on the verge of another great paradigm shift?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Structure_of_Scientific_Revolutions

“In any community of scientists, Kuhn states, there are some individuals who are bolder than most. These scientists, judging that a crisis exists, embark on what Thomas Kuhn calls revolutionary science, exploring alternatives to long-held, obvious-seeming assumptions. Occasionally this generates a rival to the established framework of thought. The new candidate paradigm will appear to be accompanied by numerous anomalies, partly because it is still so new and incomplete. The majority of the scientific community will oppose any conceptual change, and, Kuhn emphasizes, so they should. To fulfill its potential, a scientific community needs to contain both individuals who are bold and individuals who are conservative. There are many examples in the history of science in which confidence in the established frame of thought was eventually vindicated. Whether the anomalies of a candidate for a new paradigm will be resolvable is almost impossible to predict. Those scientists who possess an exceptional ability to recognize a theory’s potential will be the first whose preference is likely to shift in favour of the challenging paradigm. There typically follows a period in which there are adherents of both paradigms. In time, if the challenging paradigm is solidified and unified, it will replace the old paradigm, and a paradigm shift will have occurred.”

Is it any wonder that I keep having to dig these out of the spam filter?

In any event, I’ll try to address each claim one by one.

You are not obliged in science to come up with an alternative theory for a theory you are criticizing. There is no rule like that in science.

I agree with you, and I made no such claim. I’ll repeat what I said, as it seems like you weren’t listening: “Critiquing evolution does provide evidence for the creationist position.”

So sure, feel free to critique evolution. That’s fine. But you should understand that if you are advocating an alternative hypothesis (as creationists are), you are obliged to provide evidence for it.

Obviously.

Evidence for creation/intelligent design include: the universe is a Tri-Universe,

http://www.icr.org/articles/view/2590/215/

This is evidence? That article is hilarious! It contains nothing but wild assertions and Biblical quotations. The author seems to think that because the universe is composed “of Space, Matter, and Time, each permeating and representing the whole”, this somehow provides evidence that it was created by a triune God.

In support of his thesis, Morris states that “in fact, many scientists speak of it as a Space-Matter-Time continuum.” Actually, they don’t. From what little I understand of the topic, space and time speak to the dimensionality of our universe. Our universe is composed of matter and energy (which are interchangeable). Why not then speak of a “space-matter-time-energy continuum”, you might ask? Because that wouldn’t fit the pattern of the trinity, of course!

And scientists speak of it as a “space-time continuum”; it’s creationists who speak of it as a “space-matter-time continuum” (here, let me Google that for you).

earth’s geologic features appear to have been fashioned by rapid, catastrophic processes on a global and regional scale, the fossil record (eg. the Cambrian explosion), man and apes have a separate ancestry, natural selection (a creationist’s idea), the design inference,

So you look at the “geological features” of the planet and infer catastrophism “on a global and regional scale”? You were not specific, probably because you’d like to maintain a position of unfalsifiability. Perhaps you’re referring to the Grand Canyon? It’s features are not consistent with a global flood. The geologic column? Ditto. Fossil sorting? Nope.

And “the fossil record (eg. the Cambrian explosion)”? What’s that supposed to mean? Presumably that complex life forms appeared suddenly, with no ancestral fossils? That is false. The Cambrian “explosion” was “sudden” on a geological timescale, but actually took place over an estimated 70–80 million years, and is in no way inconsistent with an evolutionary understanding of speciation. The Wikipedia article provides a useful summary of the Cambrian explosion for anyone interested.

As for “man and apes have a separate ancestry”, you’d be wrong. Humans are apes. If you want to present evidence to the contrary, be my guest. Until then, citation needed.

You say that natural selection is “a creationist’s idea”. Perhaps you’re referring to Gregor Mendel’s theories of inheritence? The term “natural selection” was first coined by Darwin in Origin, but even if it had originated with a creationist, that’s a nonsequitur. If you would kindly limit yourself to arguments that make sense, I’m sure that we’d all appreciate it.

I won’t waste anyone’s time discussing the “design inference”, as it has been more than adequately addressed elswhere, most notably at Iron Chariots and at Talk Origins’ Index to Creationist Claims. If you’re interested, you know where to look.

Maybe it’s time for the evolutionists to read Thomas Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1962)

Are we on the verge of another great paradigm shift?

I’m familiar with Kuhn. But paradigm shifts are rare, and I’m not convinced that we’re on the verge of one. There are also many insightful criticisms of Kuhn’s work, some of which are summarised here. But I think that PZ Myers addresses this claim quite adequately here.

[M]ainstream journalists play this game with scientists, and some scientists play it up as well; but the real masters are the creationists. It’s all they’ve got: rhetoric that tries to put them in the role of the brave, noble, clever underdog trying to overcome the stifling influence of a stagnant scientific orthodoxy. It’s even more false, but it does appeal to the media.

Can we just get something straight? Science builds on past discoveries. You don’t get to cherry pick what bits you want to include in your theory — successful new theories don’t throw away old evidence, they extend and strengthen and reinforce, and offer new insights. There may be new theories that follow the theory of evolution … but they will all incorporate the basic facts of earth’s history — its age, common descent, the relationships between species, etc. — and will not be any more appealing to creationists than what we’ve got now.

So you’ve thrown a veritable Gish Gallop of nonsense at the wall, hoping that some of it will stick. What a waste of time.

Look, Buckna: I have neither the time no the inclination to deal with any more of your foolishness. I have two jobs, a family, and a community of friends with whom I’d like to spend more time. I do this in my free time, which is scarce enough, and I have other projects on which I’d like to work. So unless you can come up with something interesting, instead of just throwing out wild assertions and long-debunked creationist canards, I’m not going to waste any more time on you.

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15 thoughts on “Evidence for Creationism? Nope!

  1. No amount of rationality or evidence will convince someone who thinks the Magic Sky Daddy (aka God) created everything in 6 days, the unstated premise is that The Bible is right no matter what. Well, that is easily disproved, but then again the beleiver can and will rationalize and explain away every error; I know because that’s what I used to do. It takes something deeper to break that pattern.

  2. Two fails for creationism: 1) it’s untestable, and therefore not viable as an alternative to any scientific theory; 2) paradigm shifts are all well and good, but new science builds on what is right in past science. Thus, e.g. general relativity doesn’t overthrow Newtonian mechanics – it incorporates Newtonian mechanics. Many other examples.

    I also commend the effort Gem has put in here: one of the things creationists and other pseudoscientists have on their side is that spreading nonsense is easy, whereas determined, intelligent thought and detailed debunking of nonsense take time and perseverance. Well done, Gem!

  3. As I said before, it appears evolution is the one subject skeptics aren’t skeptical about it. All evolutionists are committed to philosophical naturalism, whether an atheist evolutionist, agnostic evolutionist, or theistic evolutionist (refer again to my chart of 8 origins perspectives)

    Gem wrote: “So unless you can come up with something interesting, instead of just throwing out wild assertions and long-debunked creationist canards, I’m not going to waste any more time on you.”

    I, and others have provided you with ample evidence for the creationist/ID position (eg. the Tri-Universe, complexity of even the “simplest” living cells, irreducible complexity, the Cambrian explosion, geophysical evidence, radioactive zircons in Precambrian ‘basement’ granites, etc. If the evolutionists here just want to ignore this evidence, that’s their problem.

    Is Danny Faulkner a “pseudoscientist”? Is D. Russell Humphreys a “pseudoscientist”? Is John Baumgardner a “pseudoscientist”? Is Sigrid Hartwig-Scherer a “pseudoscientist”? Is mathematician Robert Herrmann a “pseudomathematician”? All have published in peer-reviewed, secular journals.

    Was the late A.E. Wilder-Smith (who debated Richard Dawkins in 1986) a “pseudoscientist’?

    http://richarddawkins.net/audio/721-1986-oxford-union-debate

    http://www.tonguesrevisited.com/oxford_union_debate.htm

    http://www.creationresearch.org/creation_matters/pdf/2003/cm08_04_rp.PDF

    Who is A. E. Wilder Smith
    http://mall.turnpike.net/C/cs/smith.htm

    http://mall.turnpike.net/C/cs/col.htm
    http://mall.turnpike.net/C/cs/ns.htm
    http://mall.turnpike.net/C/cs/sa.htm
    http://mall.turnpike.net/C/cs/time.htm
    http://mall.turnpike.net/C/cs/ordering.htm

    The World’s Greatest Creation Scientists
    http://creationsafaris.com/wgcs_5.htm

    Gem, is it true that in 2010 your were invited by a Winnipeg pastor to defend the evolution position in a public debate? If so, why didn’t the debate take place?

  4. I, and others have provided you with ample evidence for the creationist/ID position (eg. the Tri-Universe, complexity of even the “simplest” living cells, irreducible complexity, the Cambrian explosion, geophysical evidence, radioactive zircons in Precambrian ‘basement’ granites, etc. If the evolutionists here just want to ignore this evidence, that’s their problem.

    Your “evidence” is laughable. I addressed most of those above. The rest are handily debunked elsewhere. I’m not going to waste my time on them.

    Gem, is it true that in 2010 your were invited by a Winnipeg pastor to defend the evolution position in a public debate? If so, why didn’t the debate take place?

    Yes, that’s true. This is why. TL; DR? I have better things to do, and they should ask someone who has even a modicum of expertise in evolution, rather than someone who is at best an interested layman.

    Now, by all means, continue to waste your time here. But I’m done with you.

  5. I noticed on the “Debating a Christian” chart (Atheism Resource) the first question is: “Can you envision anything that will change your mind on this topic?”

    If the topic is creation-evolution, I can think of several things that would change my mind. For example, if the fossil record revealed transitional forms showing non-winged pterosaur/pterosaur ancestors gradually developing fully functional wings, showing the gradual elongation of the long bony fourth finger and the wing membranes. Or if the fossil record revealed transitional forms showing non-winged bat ancestors gradually developing fully functional wings.

    To the evolutionists reading this, can you envision anything that will change your mind?
    What evidence would convince you that vertical evolution (information-building evolution) is false? If you say no such evidence exists, or indeed could exist, how then can evolution be testable?

    1. Actually, any number of scientific writers have said that finding human fossils mixed with dinosaur fossils would be decent evidence to question evolution. Gives creationists a chore, start digging.

  6. I find it interesting Gem says he “is at best an interested layman”, yet also says the evidence I and others have presented for creation/ID “is laughable”.

    If the evidence for creation/ID is so laughable, and the evidence for evolution so overwhelming, why wouldn’t he agree to debate? He wasn’t being asked to debate a scientist (eg. biologist, biochemist, paleontologist), he was asked to debate a church pastor.

  7. The problem is that the ID crowd will submit anything at all as evidence just to make noise and get themselves heard. They rarely, if ever, really care about what actually makes good evidence and why. When you point this out – that they are, how shall we put it, epistemologically challenged, they accuse supporters of evolution of being somehow elitist and closed-minded, as though the only way not to be closed-minded is to accept any old gibberish and agree necessarily to waste time in public forums giving these guys equal time. Some IDers don’t even understand their own arguments (see Bergman’s attempt to call all atoms irreducibly complex http://lukesci.wordpress.com/2011/07/04/bergmans-stupid-idea-that-atoms-are-irreducibly-complex/).

    The bottom line is that if you don’t understand what makes good evidence good, and what makes a good argument good, then you’re likely to believe claptrap. This is one of the differences between genuine scientists and the IDers who wish everything they said, no matter how poor the support for it, was taken seriously.

    That’s why the pseudoscience people use phrases like “alternative knowledge”; they try to give the impression that it’s somehow equally valid. Alternative to reality and facts is what it is. Alternative to logic and evidence.

  8. As the Russian writer Fyodor Dostoyevsky (1821–1881) puts in the mouth of the Grand Inquisitor in The Brothers Karamazov, “Without God, everything is permissible; crime is inevitable.” So when Christians debate atheists, we should heed the warning of the 18th century British statesman and philosopher Edmund Burke: “There is no safety for honest men but by believing all possible evil of evil men” [meant inclusively in those days] (Reflections on the Revolution in France, p. 249).

    1. It’s interesting that you don’t provide a page number when you cite The Brothers Karamazov. While it does seem accurate to attribute that sentiment to the work, apparently those words don’t actually appear in the text.

      But that’s not the point. Even if Dostoyevsky did write those words, it would be irrelevant. Dostoyevsky doesn’t provide evidence that morality is impossible or that crime is inevitable without belief in a deity. The authoritarian ethical system endorsed by many Christians is far from alone among ethical philosophies, and the position that atheism leads to crime or unethical behaviour is demonstrably false. If you’d like to familiarise yourself with some of the secular ethical philosophies, you can do so here.

      Although it is not without its criticisms, the research of Gregory S. Paul has demonstrated that “high religiosity is not universal to human populations, and it is actually inversely related to a wide range of socio-economic indicators representing the health of modern democracies.” (Links to and further discussion of the research can be found on that page.) Regardless of your position on the existence of God, the sociological and psychological research of Paul and many others clearly shows that belief in a deity is neither necessary nor sufficient for ethical behaviour.

      Also, as you have posted the same comment, verbatim, to three separate articles in the last few minutes, you’ve been permanently banned from the blog for spam. Bye!

      We’re all for open discourse here at the Winnipeg Skeptics blog, but please ensure that your comments are relevant to the subject at hand, and don’t post the exact same remarks to several different articles.

  9. Regarding the point about God and morality, it’s worth considering the famous Euthyphro dilemma (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Euthyphro_dilemma):

    God’s moral recommendations can be considered moral for either one of two reasons. The first possibility is that what God recommends is moral in and of itself, it’s inherently moral. In this case God is not required for the particular recommendation to be moral, it is already. So why not cut out the middle man? God’s not needed; morality is independent of him.

    The second possibility is that morality is dependent on God; things God says are moral because he makes them so. That is, doing whatever God recommends is moral simply because God recommends it. (Certainly, huge parts of religious scripture are written with this assumption.) So if God recommended, hypothetically, to wipe out an entire race of people – that is, if he recommended genocide – by this logic it would be moral just because it was God who recommended it. If you believe that, then ask yourself if you really think dreadful things like rape, murder, genocide and so on can become moral just because they are recommended by a particular being. Because that doesn’t sound very sane to me (nor, indeed did they to Socrates and probably not to most normal people).

    So what role is left for God in morality?

    By contrast, note that evolution explains not just the origins of morality, but also its failures. Sophisticated primates, including our ancestors, gained advantages from learning to cooperate, and there are certainly survival advantages to be had in punishing people who jeopardize the safety of the group, its rules and so on. This doesn’t mean we all live in harmony, because both individuals and groups will compete against each other when it suits them and cooperate when its suits them.

    Finally, you have to consider that the Bible as a source of morality is just about the least consistent source you can get. (see here for details: http://sciencebasedlife.files.wordpress.com/2011/02/biblecontradictions-reasonproject.png)

    All the best,

    Luke

  10. Neither video address the Euthyphro dilemma problem.

    William Lane Craig (WLC) ought to be famous for his false premises and non-sequiturs. He says, for example, that without God no objective moral values exist. That’s an assertion. There’s no reason to suppose that would be any more true for moral values than it would be for the hydrogen atom, which objectively exists. It all depends on how you define morality. If what is moral increases human well-being and minimizes suffering, then certainly we can look at how different actions affect people, and hence if they are moral or not. No God required. WLC says that without God you can’t say that the Holocaust was objectively bad. Yes you can: it created gigantic amounts of suffering. Godless morality is not necessarily either relativistic (indeed, countless atheist moral philosophers have come out against relativism).

    WLC asserts lots of things that he doesn’t support. “Deep down we all know objective morality exists.” That’s not an argument. “Nothing can come to exist without a cause.” – ignorance of the spontaneous emergence of particle/anti-particle pairs as observed in quantum physics. It just goes on and on like that.

    And not to mention, neither has the point about the evolution of morality been answered. You can assert that it didn’t but you’d have to show that the emergence of kinship, cooperation, rules and all the rest – which we see in our closest cousins – has nothing to do with morality in humans. Finally, God’s own moral instructions in the Bible are horrendously contradictory. In the OT, God orders genocide – and yet WLC says that genocide is objectively wrong. Which is it? Why did Jesus not ask people not to keep slaves? He even told slaves to obey their masters.

    It’s ridiculous to keep trying to sustain the position that morality requires God, or that scripture is consistently moral, or that God is consistently moral or that human morality has nothing to do with evolution – a huge area of present-day research.

    See here:
    http://lukesci.wordpress.com/2011/07/06/dont-swallow-your-moral-code-in-tablet-form/

  11. I always love it when someone trots out Dr. William Lane Craig on objective moral values. It either fails on the premises or proves that his god is not the real one.

    The argument is laid out as (from WLC’s book “On Guard” )

    1. If God does not exist, objective moral values and duties do not exist.
    2. Objective moral values and duties do exist.
    3. Therefore, God exists.

    If premise 1 and 2 hold as true, the conclusion 3 is correct.

    Premise one can be challenged as an assertion as Luke has already done. An anchor for objective morality could also be placed outside of an abstract concept like god.

    Premise two can also be rejected. Moral Values are not objective. They are subjective to what is best for society as a whole. Principles of supporting education and empowerment to all, as well as avoiding harm to others become a good basis for a societal moral code. Note that I did not say that they were subjective to peoples opinions as WLC would have you believe. Luke has already done a fine job of making a case for godless morality, so I’ll move on to the fun point.

    As a side point – WLC does respond to the Euthyphro dilemma in his book “On Guard”. He suggests that neither ‘horn’ of the dilemma needs to be addressed as a third possibility exists. The argument made is that god wills something because He is good.

    If I grant WLC’s premise that objective moral values do exist and that some things are really wrong, the discussion gets interesting. Most of us will agree that rape and murder are wrong. I think we’d all agree that genocide, slavery and animal cruelty are also morally wrong.

    Having hypothetically granted the premises and accepted the conclusion, it would seem reasonable to test contemporary (or ancient) notions of god against this moral absolute standard.

    The Judeo-Christian god fails the moral test. She endorses and commits attrocities including genodice, slavery, infantcide and animal cruelty. (See Genesis 6 where almost every kitten, puppy and child on the planet are mercilessly drowned)

    The stories about Jesus are no better. I’ll concede that some good teachings and ideas were borrowed from other traditions. (The golden rule was not the invention of Christ). Consider the androcentric society that Jesus was living in and the story presented in Luke 9:61-62. Here we have Jesus telling a prospective disciple to abandon his wife and children (presumably to starve).

    I can take a step back and look at any god.

    I think Epicurus put it well:
    “Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent.
    Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent.
    Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil?
    Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?”

    Short version:

    1. We don’t need a god to define morality.
    2. If a god was needed, it certainly wouldn’t be the god of the bible or the koran.

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