Questions for Creationists


I have been spending some time on YouTube lately, examining a wide variety of videos. In my clicking through, I found this interesting video which one commenter claimed "everyone who answers to these questions will not actually believe creationists/ID nonsense." In this post, I am keeping the words "evolutionist" and "creationist" in quotes, as I do not believe one necessarily has to be black (evolutionist) or white (creationist) on this issue.

First, I find there is not ample evidence for evolution as a "holistic" science (ie, one that explains everything). I certainly think "evolution is fact" as there are ample portions of evolutionary science (what "creationists" might term "micro-evolution") that are true to a high degree of certainty, but there are also many portions of evolutionary theory that have "proof" that is more philosophical in nature than evidentiary. There is nothing wrong with philosophical exercises, but they are not science.

On the other hand, I do not find any credible evidence that the earth is only 12,000 years old, although many "evolutionists" have tried to rope me with that straw man argument.

With both points in mind, I am probably not the type of person Knowntje wants answering these questions, as I am going to reason through this exercise more than the caricature he has in mind. But I find this an interesting exercise, so let’s go for it.

NOTE: The following is not intended to be a scientific treatise. I have purposefully stated things in simple terms. Considering the lack of proper scientific jargon and phrasing in Knowntje‘s post, I feel this is fair. If you don’t, then find another playground.

1. Explain how the evolution process works, according to the theory of evolution.

Assuming a modern interpretation, evolution is a process in which genetic changes bring about changes in form. Over long periods of time (equilibrium), there are no changes, but occasionally a portion of a group gets "separated from the pack" and is subjected to environmental stimuli that cause enough change to form a new species (punctuation). The beings that survive are those who are best fitted to their environment, whatever "best fit" means at the time; others perish.

This follows Darwin’s beliefs, overall, although Darwin’s initial theory focused on small, imperceptible changes over long periods of time. When the evidence went counter to this belief, Gould & Eldredge "amended the theory" with their own hypothesis called punctuated equilibrium (the "modern" explanation above).

The fact that evolution has changed hypotheses over time has caused many "creationists" to criticize evolution, but it is proper for anyone who has contrary evidence to rework his thinking. To do otherwise leads to neurosis or psychosis.

2. The Big Bang is part of the theory of evolution. Explain to me why this statement is false.

Evolution, while impossible without a starting point (Universe or life) does not deal with origins.

3. Evolution goes against the second law of thermodynamics. Explain to me why this statement is false.

The second law of thermodynamics states that, in a closed system, entropy increases, leading from order to chaos. Evolution shows decrease in entropy, an increase in order, and new information being created. This would be contrary to the second law of thermodynamics, if earth were a closed system. It is not. It would be reasonable to debate whether there is enough energy entering the open system (earth) to account for the decrease in entropy. This is, of course, a gross oversimplification.

4. What would you consider to be a transitional form? Would, for example, a creature with both bird traits and reptile traits be a transitional form? Why or why not?

Assuming a spherical cow … This is a loaded question. Yes, a creature with both bird and reptile traits would be a transitional form, if one considers creatures like archaeopteryx.

Also explain why Kirk Cameron’s Crocaduck example would actually debunk the theory of evolution?

The Crocaduck would neither support or debunk evolution, when examined objectively. After all, we have Duckbilled Platypuses, which have both avian traits and mammalian traits. Bearing this in mind, I assume you mean "supposing a duck had a crockaduck as a child"? That would go contrary to the idea that evolution is accomplished over numerous small changes rather than some type of happy accident.

5. Evolution states that life forms came to their now-a-days complex form due to random chance and long periods of time. Is this statement correct or incorrect and explain why?

The statement is, overall, true, but you are most likely looking at two portions to trap the unwitting "creationist". The first portion is the word "random" indicating that life is like a roulette wheel, which objective people would never state. Although the evolutionary process is random when viewed from a certain height, close examination shows there are forces that can remove the randomness when examined closer. That is, at least, the theory.

The second is "long periods of time" which is overall correct, but modern theory (Eldredge & Gould) suggests that life spend more time in stasis and that "actual" evolution occurs over relatively short periods of time (thousands of years). This theory is called punctuated equilibrium.

6. Evolution is the science that deals with the origins of life. Is this statement correct or incorrect?

Not at all, but we have already covered this. The origins of life are necessary to have evolution, but evolution itself examines processes after life begins.

7. When we look at living bacteria under a microscope we basically look at the same lifeform as the common ancestor of all living organisms. Is this statement correct or incorrect?

The truth is neither of us know what the common ancestor looked like. We know what some speculate it might have looked like, but we have no empirical evidence they are correct. Let me go further on this one.

We do know that one of the earliest forms of life was cyanobacteria. We can examine fossilized stromatolites and get a good clue of what early cyanobacteria looked like.

We can assume that there is an even simpler form of life. A bit further than cyanobacteria, we can hypothesize some form of proto-bacteria. Even farther up, we can hypothesize a common ancestor for both archaea and bacteria.

Your question, however, is whether or not early bacteria would appear like today’s bacteria. The answer is both yes and no, depending on the bacteria you are examining. Would it appear like the earliest prokaryote (or other) life form? This is a wonderful guessing game that neither of us can answer objectively.

8. The skeleton of the famous Neanderthal man was actually the skeleton of an old man with arthritis. Is this correct or incorrect?

Scientifically, there is evidence that some of the Neanderthal remains found were from individuals who had arthritis, or at least symptoms like modern arthritis. So at least part of your question is correct.

Was it a homo sapien who had arthritis? The skeleton does not appear to be homo sapien, so I would say no. I have not read about any genetic findings on the remains, which would seal the matter. It is unlikely I will, as genetic material does not generally survive as well as fossilized bone matter.

9. If we look at the growth of the population, around 4400 years ago, there would have only been a few people on the earth. This falls in line with the biblical account, yet if man has been here for a million years, the entire earth would have been filled by trillions of people. Therefore man could not have been here more than a couple of thousand of years. Explain why this is a false argument?

On a purely logical basis, it assumes  linear progression and survivability rates similar to what we see today. It also ignores that massive plagues, like the medieval black plague, are likely to have happened prior to the advent of writing.

10. Where did the theory of the big bang come from?

Initially, the name "Big Bang" was a derogatory term coined by Hoyle, who believed in a static universe. He was not alone in this viewpoint, as even Einstein added a "fudge factor" to his General Theory of Relativity. But, I digress.

What are the supposed evidences that show the big bang theory to be true from our point of view.

The most compelling, for me, is the Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation (CMB), which was predicted in the first half of the last century and discovered by accident. In particular, it is slight inconsistencies that point to inflation, what George Smoot labeled "wrinkles" in his book. These "wrinkles" were predicted as necessary evidence to support the theory. More recently, WMaP has provided even clearer pictures that convince me the Universe is roughly 13.7 billion years old, give or take a percent.

11. Evolution cannot account for irreducibly complex organs like the eye, because of the mousetrap principle. If you take out one part, it cannot function at all. Therefore, it must have come into existence at once. Explain why this statement is false and how evolution, at least on paper, could account for an organ like the eye.

Almost anything one can imagine can be made more simple or more complex. In the case of the eye, we have simple lenses in some marine life that need little more than shaping to become a more functional eye. The most interesting, from a ironic point of view, is the example where a mousetrap evolution is laid out.

The problem with the eye example is it is most often used as a gotcha rather than an evidential argument. Michael Behe, the one who popularized "irreducible complexity" focuses primarily on biochemistry than structure, where there are far more complex processes involved. Is this an open and shut case for creation? Of course not, but it is an area where ID and evolution land on fairly level ground, as many "scientists" become "philosophers" when examining pathways that produce complex organs.

12. In simple terms, the big bang theory states, first there was nothing which exploded and became everything. Explain why this is false?

Actually, the statement is only false in layman’s terms, as you find many noted Cosmologists calling a condition in which there is no time, space or matter nothing. As long as one uses this definition, the statement is, in essence, true.

Prior to time and space (and matter), there was an infinitesimal ball of extremely hot radiation. As time began, this "ball" expanded, or exploded, at first extremely rapidly (inflation) and then settled down to the pace we see today (or roughly so, as it turns out Einstein’s "fudge factor" may have been correct after all, as our Universe appears to be speeding up … but I digress again). As this ball cooled, we gained matter. Matter eventually coalesced into stars and galaxies, some of which were too big and imploded then exploded, flinging heavier elements throughout the Universe. Some of these bits of heavy matter eventually were pulled together and formed what we now know as earth.

Yes, this is an extreme oversimplification of the Universe, but it works for this post.

13. The big bang was an explosion of matter within empty space. Explain why this is a false statement.

Because there was nothing which exploded and became everything. 🙂

In a less sarcastic tone? One needs space to have empty space.

14. The age of the earth, 4.6 billion years old, is based on the theory of evolution. Explain why this is false.

I think we have already covered this enough times, don’t you? As a sidenote, I have never seen a "creationist" who stated anything remotely similar to this, although I am certain there is someone, somewhere, who has.

15. Tell me to what biblical kinds does this animal belong? (picture below) And explain why you think this.

biblicalKinds 

Looked at objectively, it neither strengthens or weakens either "side" of the argument if someone cannot "type" this creature. If one attempted to "type" this creature, it would most likely be a Lamarckian exercise anyway.

16. Evolution explains that humans came from apes. Explain why this statement is false.

According to evolutionary theory, man and apes both evolved from a common ancestor. Man did not evolve from apes.

17. A creationist argument sometimes used is “if man evolved from apes, then why didn’t the reign of apes end?” Why aren’t apes still evolving into humans? Explain why this is a false argument.

Well, assuming that man did evolve from apes, which we had previously shown to be false 🙂 …

You actually have multiple questions here. The first question (reign of apes end) is provably false, according to the theory, which states that members of a group separate, are subject to environmental (and other) factors, and then evolve into new species (over time). The members of the group that do not separate and are not subject to the factors do not evolve, or at least do not evolve down the same pathway. Some creatures may not evolve at all, or at least not to the extent where ancient and modern forms are noticeably different when examining fossilized remains.

The second question is a valid question. It, unfortunately, is not a scientific question, at least not at present. Why? Because we cannot observe whether or not apes are still evolving. Supposing evolution is true (tautology), we know what it looks like over long periods of time. We have no clue what it looks like over short distances of time, except that it deals with genetics. What we observe today as a change in eye color may, in fact, be an evolutionary step … or not.

18. Are the terms micro and macro evolution terms that were created by creationists or are these terms commonly used by evolutionists?

Questions like this, or rather thinking like this, is the reason "creationists" view "evolutionists" with disdain, and visa versa. Whether the terms were created by "creationists" or not is a red herring question and best used to design a straw man. This is much like when "creationists" state "you cannot prove that" and "evolutionists" state "science does not prove things". The "evolutionist" believes he has trumped the "creationist" simply because he did not state "you have not shown that to a high degree of certainty" or similar. But the "creationist", in this case (provided, of course, he is not a "leave your brain at the door" type), probably understands certainty.

What the "creationist" is attempting to do is label things so he can set up a clear delineation, in his mind, between that which has been shown to be true with a high degree of certainty and that which has not. He is also focused on those things that most challenge his worldview. On the other side of the fence, you find "evolutionists" doing the same thing about religion. In the end, both sides are stating some truths, but they are wrapped up in a caricature of what the other side is … or believes.

19. If you agree that microevolution can occur, can you tell me how many microevolutions can occur within a kind?

The answer is one … two … three … crunch. Three! Sigh. The world may never know.

I am certain some of you get this. 🙂

20. What is the genetic barrier that prevents animals from macroevolving through the process of microevoultion into another kind? And can you give me some evidences of this genetic barrier?

There is no genetic barrier that prevents animals of one kind from becoming another kind, but the lack of a genetic barrier does not mean there are not forces that effectively resist evolutionary change. It is possible that some of these forces may be strong enough to provide a "barrier".

There is evidence that DNA resists changes, at least in more complex animals. Since the early 80s, we have been aware that some of what we commonly term "junk DNA" serves as a correction mechanism. We have further evidence that more of the "junk" serves a purpose than we thought in the 80s, giving rise to the possibility that there is far less that is actually "junk" than we think. It is also possible that very little of our DNA is junk. Yet, many "evolutionists" ignore the scientific evidence that more and more of the junk is being shown to have a purpose, just like some of the vestigial organs have been shown to have a purpose.

DNA is not so much a barrier to changing kinds as it is a barrier to positive genetic mutations, both "micro" and "macro". But both the "creationist" and "evolutionist" would agree that evolutionary processes are quite improbable (yeah, I stole that from Dawkins).

We have experimental evidence, in fruit flies, that purposeful genetic mutations will often reverse themselves over many generation, unless continued "pressure" is applied to maintain the mutation. We do not have much in the way of experimental or observational evidence on humans, however, to determine if DNA could be a barrier against a human evolving into another kind over long periods of time. There are numerous reasons for this:

  1. Humans generations are much longer than fruit flies and we have not been investigating this type of science long enough to observe (or experiment)
  2. There is a greater question of ethics when experimenting on humans
  3. We have not identified all sources of outside pressure that are being applied, nor can we guarantee our control will not be under the same pressures

Now, one might argue that #3 is precisely how evolution works, which is true. But, the types of outside pressure I am talking about here are things like nutrition. For example, the western culture has a higher genetic predisposition to breast cancer. We can show this through markers in DNA. Asian cultures have a much lower predisposition. When you bring Asians to America and subject them to our diet they have higher incidents of cancer, but you also begin to see higher incidences of the genetic markers for breast cancer.

The question is if nutrition, kept in stasis (ie, we keep eating really bad as a society) can continue to morph DNA in some positive way that improves survivability. The evidence, by in large, is contrary to this position, as a good number of those who have these types of mutations simply die. Those who survive rarely pass on any traits, much less positive traits, as most treatment options either render one sterile or alter the DNA passed on to their children in a negative manner (mom survives, the children die).

Is it theoretically possible, however, that some type of outside force could create enough positive genetic changes to push a species over the brink into another kind (ie, unable to breed with the original species)? Certainly. But, once again, we are entering philosophical, not scientific ground.

21. What evidence would you need to convince yourself that evolution and the Big Bang are true?

I think there is ample evidence that the Big Bang is true. So, let’s push that one aside. As for evolution, I agree that there is evidence of evolution in the form of adaptation. Darwin’s finches is a great example, so I think we need to get to the question of "changes in kind" or something along those lines. There are many other examples, so it is not evolution I have a problem with.

What evidence do I require? Well, first, I would like to see science on many of the issues that are philosophically bandied about as "science". I would like to see experiments that show that positive mutations can stack up to create new kinds and then explain how these pathways can be traversed without human intervention. The common counter is "we have that proof already", but we don’t. We have a lot of philosophical musings masquerading as science (the "proven on paper" exercises), but little substance. And, I do not blame scientists for not having these answers; I just blame "scientists" for accusing anyone who sees their arguments as philosophical as some form of delusional being or as a moron. I think people can be rational and disregard philosophy in a lab coat.

What is even more annoying is many processes, primarily in origins, have but one or two steps out of thousands completed. And, in many, if not most cases, the steps taken are not even complete steps. Yet, the fact these steps have been "completed" is enough for some to state the entire pathway is true beyond all reasonable doubt.

Let me use a metaphor or analogy: If one takes a single step across a field, it is plausible, rational and sane to believe he can complete the entire journey across a wide field. In fact, barring some known factor that would likely impede his progress, like a landmine, it would be irrational to assume he would not make it. The same is not necessarily true if the journey is across a frozen field and the man is in his undergarments. If we further suppose there is a frozen river in the middle of the field, it becomes less plausible he will make it. And, if we add a condition where the field is in two sections, one at the top of a cliff, it becomes true to a high degree of certainty that the man in his undergarments will succumb to the weather before he makes it.

When I look at many evolutionary pathways, we have taken one step, but have neither mapped out the journey, nor made an assessment of our clothing. Yet, the fact one step has been made has those supporting the man sure he will make it. If the field is, in fact, flat with proper weather conditions and proper clothing, this is a rational thought. As it stands, we cannot state whether or not the thought is rational or irrational.

Yet, in this arena, we have proponents from both sides examining the bumps the other must traverse and claiming victory. In reality, neither has the right to that claim.

In the end, however, even a completed map, with proper evidence backing up each step, does not eliminate the possibility of God. It eliminates the possibility of some types of God, of course, but not all types. It also makes God, if He exists, an unnecessary component to life.

22. If you stumbled on irrefutable evidence for evolution and the Big Bang, which was undeniable would you, first of all, accept it?

As I have no problem with evolution, at some levels, nor the Big Bang, I have to focus on evolution as a process that explains all life (ie, the God versus science debate).

As a Christian, if there were irrefutable evidence that all life could be accounted for by the evolutionary process, meaning (per my analogy) the map of the field had been completed, I was properly dressed, and I was physically capable of completing the journey, I would have to accept that as fact. Sculpturally speaking, Jesus is stated to have said he was "The Truth". If He is The Truth and the evolutionary process is irrefutable, I would have to either a) accept evolution as God’s method or b) He was lying.

I continually examine my belief systems and re-examine the evidence that backs them up. It is not scientific evidence, but science can neither prove nor disprove God anyway. In fact, science falls short in many arenas. This is not saying science is bad, by any means, as I am an adherent of science. It is simply stating science does not have all of the answers.

And how would this impact your life and views of life and the Universe?

I cannot say with any certainty any more than you could say, with certainty, how your life would change if provided irrefutable evidence that there is a God. We can both imagine what we think we might do, but there is no way to be certain.

Epilogue

Now, for my two cents on the questions. Some of these questions are valid to determine if one knows what he is talking about. I agree with Knowntje that one should know something about what he is criticizing, at least if he wants to be taken seriously. Many of the questions do nothing to examine whether the poster knows what he is talking about and enter into ground where Knowntje appears to be setting a trap rather than asking questions that focus on knowledge, or lack thereof.

I believe in God. I have evidence to back up my belief. It is not, on the whole, scientific, but science cannot do much in the realm of the supernatural, as it is naturalistic in focus. This is not a criticism, as I think science should be grounded in the natural. There are a great many other things both you, and I, believe that are not scientific in nature.

I am also a skeptic, in many ways. I question anyone who is zealous about his particular worldview, even those whom I generally agree with. Even more importantly, I question anyone who has a dog in a particular hunt, meaning, in general, a material interest. If someone is hawking vitamins, his theory that they solve all diseases is questionable.

What does this have to do with "evolution"? There are a great many for whom "evolution" has become their religion. This is not to say that, for many, Christianity is a religion, but one expect a theological system to be religion, not a science.

I also firmly believe that "science" should be available for debate when it enters the arena of philosophy. Unfortunately, some believe it is a sacred cow that should not be questioned, except in a scientific way. If "science" is playing in the field, how can a reasonable person expect the "creationist" to remain in the house. It is an unfair binding on one participant and, paradoxically, the participant who has been declared the loser before the fight even begins. When we allow "science" to wax on philosophically, but tell "creationists" they must only play with "science" as science, we are being both unfair and hypocritical.

Good science will stand. Bad science will ultimately fall. As there are far too many zealots on the "evolutionary" side, it makes me wonder how much of it is bad science. As mentioned in the text, I have no problem with evolution, as a science. I have a problem with it as a philosophical system … and that is where I see much of the "science".

Peace and Grace,
Greg

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