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Italy science council funds creationist book

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italy science council creationism book evolutionAfter hosting a panel earlier this year to discuss supposed flaws in evolutionary theory, Italy’s science agency the National Research Council (CNR) reportedly put up thousands of dollars to help with the publication of a follow-up book, Evolutionism: The Decline of an Hypothesis. The move has vexed many scientists in the country where the Vatican recently came out in support of Darwin’s ideas.

Authored by CNR’s Vice President Roberto de Mattei, the book asserts, among other things, that scientific dating of rocks is inaccurate and that dinosaurs went extinct just 40,000 years ago (rather than some 65 million years ago, not accounting for modern birds, of course), according to the blog ScienceInsider. The American Academy for the Advancement of Science blog notes that an Italian newspaper, La Repubblica, is reporting that CNR provided 9,000 Euros (some $13,255) to help publish the book, which came out last month.

De Mattei, a political appointee to CNR, teaches the History of Christianity and the Church at the European University in Rome and is president of the Rome- and Washington, D.C.–based Lepanto Foundation, a Catholic group.

Physicist and CNR President Luciano Maiani told ScienceInsider, via the agency’s press office, that CNR’s publishing side independently approved the funds for the book  but CNR did not specifically back the book. "The intellectual research is an open enterprise," Maiani said in a press statement, noting that he would oppose censoring this or any other material, based on Italy’s constitutional guarantee of freedom of expression.

Many of Italy’s scientists, however, are displeased with the decision. "It is not acceptable that something has been published with the label and money of CNR…without going through any kind of peer review evaluation," Ferdinando Boero, a zoologist at the University of Lecce, told ScienceInsider. "We are in front of the paradox that while the Vatican [Pontifical] Academy of Sciences endorses evolutionism, the VP of the biggest scientific institution in Italy denies it."

Image of Italy’s Consiglio Nazionale delle Richerche courtesy of Wikimedia Commons





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  1. 1. NJuan 1:33 pm 01/16/2010

    Galileo,

    I guess I walked right into that, your summary of Denton that is. When I said I didn’t completely understand his argument, perhaps I should have been more specific.

    What I don’t understand is where he gets his basis for an argument. In other words, on what basis does his "equidistant" relationships disprove, or at least bring into question, evolution? Now that I’ve read it more closely, I find Spieth’s* article puts it better than I could have:
    "These conclusions are erroneous: in his interpretation of ‘molecular equidistance,’ Denton has confused ancestor-descendant relationships with cousin relationships."

    My own description of what I thought was actually shown in the data is also better described by Spieth*:
    "Different members of a group of close relatives always have the same relationship to a more distantly related individual who stands outside the group. … Lampreys are equally distant cousins of both fish and humans because the last ancestor that lampreys had in common with humans was the same ancestor lampreys had in common with fish."
    "There is an irony in Denton’s presentation to anyone familiar with the data of molecular evolution. Reflections of genealogical relationships are so strong in molecular data that Denton, in spite of his arguments to the contrary, is unable to hide them. The missing "trace" of which he speaks is not a trace; it is a shout. Simple inspection of the data in Table 12.1 will reveal that cytochrome C found in horses, for example, is quite similar in its molecular structure to that found in turtles, slightly less similar to that in fish, still less similar to that in insects, and very much less similar to that in bacteria. The traditional evolutionary series is very much in evidence."

    So your statement, "The chapter by Denton warrants a careful read and careful analysis of the Dayhoff matrix," is half wrong and half right, respectively.

    *Spieth’S review of Denton’s book at: http://ncse.com/creationism/analysis/review-evolution-theory-crisis)

    By the way, none of this is in support of "creation science," but is merely an attempt to refute evolution, which has not been done in it’s ~150 years. Rather than refuting evolution, I would have thought your objective was to present a theory of creation that is supported by scientific evidence, is testable, is repeatable, etc.
    Unless, of course, you aren’t really concerned with a scientific explanation?!?!

    Link to this
  2. 2. NJuan 3:20 pm 01/16/2010

    Galileo,

    Since RickK has chosen, probably wisely, not to respond, I thought I’d point a few items in your last posting to him.

    You said, "I am not dealing in any straw men;"
    "A straw man argument is an informal fallacy based on misrepresentation of an opponent’s position." (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Straw_man)

    You said,
    "according the the 2nd law[,] instead of the universe becoming more complex[,] everything – stars, galaxies, and clusters – are wearing down and wearing away."
    This is a common misrepresentation of the 2nd Law by many. The 2LOT doesn’t say anything about complexity, just entropy, which is not the same thing. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_law_of_thermodynamics)

    You said,
    "…geneticists have been on the watch for mutations that produce new genetic information but so far the search has not been fruitful."
    This depends on your definition of "new genetic information" and therefore is not an accurate representation of a argument for evolution.
    However, I would consider Lenski’s experiment (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E._coli_long-term_evolution_experiment) showing certain bacteria gaining, through evolution, the ability to use a new food source as new genetic information.

    You said,
    "So it is rather pointless to point out transitional forms since the genetic scene is already a nonstarter."
    This seems to be a misdirection away from fossil evidence. I don’t know if it is a strawman per se, but is definitely a non-sequitor, in that the lack of genetic evidence, which is a misrepresentation itself, would not invalidate the fossil evidence. Now, a contradiction of TOE by genetics, such as every single organism having the exact same genetic sequence or humans having absolutely no protein sequences in common with lampreys, might cause a reevaluation of the fossil evidence. Fortunately, that isn’t the case.

    Other misrepresentations (i.e. strawmen):
    "…life could so easily appear on Mars… because all that is needed are a few ingredients."
    The ingredients are not "all that is needed".
    "I don’t think it too much to ask that evolutionists build a cell."
    You are misrepresenting our current evidence-based understanding as a claim of complete knowledge and capabilities, which no one claims.
    "If there is water surely life will have arisen we are told."
    You say this was in Scientific American, please tell me where.

    I think your response to RickK’s claim is excellent evidence of his claim that you use strawman arguments.
    Perhaps, he didn’t respond because your defense was so obviously self-defeating.

    Link to this
  3. 3. RickK 5:31 pm 01/17/2010

    Galileo,

    You said: "I can assure you that I have dealt in this forum with honest argument. "

    Then you said: "Of course evolutionists have proposed a universe that overall is growing more and more complex"

    Have they? Please provide a citation.

    You said: "If there is water surely life will have arisen we are told. "

    Really? We are looking for life. Some places in the Solar System have conditions that scientists believe could harbor life. But I defy you to provide a citation where a NASA scientist says we’ll surely find life.

    As NJuan says, you’re misrepresenting the Second Law of Thermodynamics.

    So there are 3 examples where you’re either mistaken or not being entirely honest in your argument.

    And you should probably know – Michael Denton has changed his view and now advocates a model that fits evolutionary theory. That is why he was dropped as a fellow of the Discovery Institute.

    While you’re quoting all your Young Earth creationist PhDs like Sanford, perhaps you can find in their many publications a creationist explanation that proves THIS is not evidence for evolution:

    http://www.evolutionarymodel.com/ervs.htm

    Link to this
  4. 4. Stephen Kocsis 7:55 pm 01/19/2010

    Incredible statements require incredible proof. Of course, I am thinking about God….or Gods

    Evolution scientists do not own the creationists anything, The scientific method is working, "What else could it be?" is not a valid argument in science, as the creationists seem to think it is.

    And I thought you Europeans were a lot smarter then this.

    Steve Kocsis
    Jacksonville, FL, USA

    Link to this
  5. 5. Galileo 12:57 am 01/22/2010

    NJuan,

    You quote quite often from Wikipedia as an authoratative source but it is not a reliable one. In an article entitled "Wikipedia Founder Discourages Academic Use of His Creation" founder Jimmy Wales advises college students that they shouldn’t use it for class projects or serious research. The article was in The Wired Campus (June 12, 2006) and published in The Chronicle of Higher Education (2009). He says "… you’re in college; don’t cite the encyclopedia".

    Having said that, however, regarding your concern about the 2nd law of thermodynamics that entropy cannot be equated with complexity, Cutnell and Johnson in their book Physics (3rd Edition) say this, "Entropy can also be interpreted in terms of order and disorder".

    Regarding "new genetic information", how would you describe it or define it? What is an example? In my quote from Dr. M. Giertych he says no one has seen this in any lab. Dr. Sanford says the same thing. Where would new genetic information come from? We might infer that it exists when we see antibiotic resistance or organisms engaging in new behaviour not seen before, but where is this new information seen in the genes themselves? Dr. Giertych doen’t know about it and neither does Dr. Sanford. Neither has Dr. Ab Chudley who I told you about before. These guys are the experts; they come face to face with the scientific literature. Would you say that they are misrepresenting the scientific evidence too?

    Now it follows easily that if there is no way to build new organisms genetically, there isn’t any way that there can be transitional forms showing how one kind of animal transmutated into another kind of animal. It just isn’t possible.

    No, I don’t misrepresent the current state of knowledge in science nor do I expect scientists to have perfect capabilities and perfect knowledge. How do you expect nature with no knowledge, not even a mind, to build a cell purely by chance processes or as Richard Dawkins puts it " a little bit of luck". If nature can do it surely PhDs with a high degree of knowledge and the best equipped laboratories should be able to produce a single cell. This is not too much to ask is it?

    But your suspicion is quite correct that to build a cell, whose complexity has been likened to a city, it did take someone with perfect knowledge and perfect capabilities. When I think upon the cell and the complexity of the DNA in its nucleus, I am more and more convinced that this is so.

    Link to this
  6. 6. Galileo 1:15 am 01/22/2010

    NJuan and RickK

    In the September 2009 issue of Discover magazine there is an article entitled "Mystery Moon: the $4 Billion Hunt for Life on Europa".

    On page 42 Robert Pappalardo, a planetary scientist at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory is quoted as saying, " I believe that Europa is the most promising place in the solar system for astrobiological potential".

    On page 47 of the same article Richard Greenberg is quoted as saying this, " As far as we know, the conditions and ingredients on Europa could sustain substantial complex life". Greenberg who is at the University of Arizon once worked on the Galileo project.

    Pappalardo has worked long and hard and jumped through many hoops to get NASA to support the mission and has found himself vying for space dollars with researchers who are convinced that there is life on Mars as well as researchers who want to send a mission to Titan.

    According to the article Pappalardo thinks it is likely that life exists in an ocean underneath the ice on Europa.

    Surely when so much effort and so much money is spent going to Mars or to Europa we can conclude that researchers are convinced that life is on these planets.

    I have been hearing on various science programs over the years scientists say that to get life on other planets is rather easy as long as you have a few of the right ingredients. And certainly where there is water there tends to be a strong suspicion life will be found. This was the case with Mars.

    Link to this
  7. 7. Galileo 12:19 am 01/23/2010

    RickK,

    Whether Michael Denton has returned to evolutionary theory or not I do not know. Would you provide a quote from The Discovery Institute to back up your claim that that institute dropped him as a fellow for that reason?

    What I do know is that he was interviewed by Answers in Genesis and the interview was featured in video format on a CD called Creation (2001). Denton who was at that time with the University of Otago in New Zealand had some interesting things to say. He said that Darwinian evolution is not the established fact that it is so often made out to be. He called it the "great cosmogenic myth of the 20th century".

    He points out that the reptile respiratory system and reproductive system is so different from a bird’s that he did not see how a reptile could evolve into a bird by a series of undirected random changes.

    He points out in his interview how there are only two explanations of how things came to be: one is by undirected random changes, the other is by an intelligent designer.

    He says further regarding these and other complex structures that you have to have A, B, C, and D in place for them to work. Of what use is half a lung. The intermediate form would simply not survive he asserted.

    On that CD the flightless cormorant is presented as a species that has lost genetic information. It’s loss of feathers may be beneficial, but still represents a loss of information, information that once coded for feathers.

    In the same video Dr. Werner Gitt of Brunswick, Germany is interviewed He is a specialist in information theory. He said in his interview that the biggest problem for evolution is "no source of new information". He said that information cannot come from a random process.

    Israeli biophysicist Dr. Israeli Spetner, a specialist in the physics and mathematics of information said that the evidence supports the Biblical account, that God created certain basic types which through time diversified as they adapted to their environments. "I do not believe that the neo-Darwinian model can account for large-scale evolution. What they cannot account for is the buildup of information."

    "It’s very improbable", he said, " that there can be many small steps and many small changes adding up to one large change. Not only is it improbable on the mathematical level but experimentally one has not found a single mutation that one can point at that actually adds information. In fact every beneficial mutation that I have seen reduces the information."

    Link to this
  8. 8. NJuan 12:27 pm 01/23/2010

    Galileo,

    As I’ve said before in previous postings, "although Wikipedia is not an authoritative source, it can help the discussion" (NJuan at 02:47 PM on 12/20/09)
    and "Although not an authoritative source itself, [in many cases Wikipedia] does have links to them…" (NJuan at 04:20 PM on 01/01/10)

    You said, "…regarding your concern … that entropy cannot be equated with complexity, … ‘Entropy can also be interpreted in terms of order and disorder’."
    I don’t see "complexity" in there.
    Regardless, the claim that the Theory of Evolution violates the 2nd Law has been thoroughly debunked:
    http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/thermo/probability.html
    http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/thermo/creationism.html
    http://arxiv.org/abs/0903.4603
    http://biologos.org/questions/evolution-and-the-second-law/
    http://ncse.com/rncse/25/5-6/entropy-muffins
    http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=how-nature-breaks-the-second-law
    http://ncse.com/rncse/25/5-6/creationism-laws-thermodynamics

    But it is summed up quite nicely by New Scientist’s, "Evolution myths: Evolution violates the second law of thermodynamics", which states, in it’s entirety:
    "The second law of thermodynamics states that entropy, a measure of randomness, cannot decrease in a isolated system. Our planet is not a isolated system.

    Er, that’s it. There are longer ways of saying the same thing if you prefer."
    (http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn13720-evolution-myths-evolution-violates-the-second-law-of-thermodynamics.html)

    Regarding "new genetic information", you claim that these "experts" claim that no new genetic information has ever been found. First, this is a case of lack of evidence is not evidence. Secondly, without a clear definition of "new genetic information", how do we know it hasn’t been seen. I think a new sequence of DNA could be "new genetic information" because if that particular sequence has not occurred before, then it is new. And, if that new sequence provides an advantage to the organism then it will probably be passed on. (For an example, please re-read my previous posting where I stated one example.)

    "Would you say that they are misrepresenting the scientific evidence too?" Many ‘creation science’ organizations and proponents have in the past; it would not be the first time.

    Link to this
  9. 9. NJuan 12:29 pm 01/23/2010

    …continued

    You said, "How do you expect nature with no knowledge, not even a mind, to build a cell purely by chance processes or as Richard Dawkins puts it " a little bit of luck". "
    Primarily because it is not "purely by chance", it is by natural selection.
    "If nature can do it surely PhDs with a high degree of knowledge and the best equipped laboratories should be able to produce a single cell. This is not too much to ask is it?"
    Yes, it is. Regardless of what you think it claims, science does not claim absolute knowledge. There are still things we don’t fully understand about nature and evolution. However, the evidence and understanding that we do have fully supports the Theory of Evolution.

    "But your suspicion is quite correct that to build a cell, whose complexity has been likened to a city, it did take someone with perfect knowledge and perfect capabilities." First, that is not what I claimed. And second, where is the evidence to support this claim?

    Link to this
  10. 10. NJuan 1:36 pm 01/23/2010

    Galileo,

    What are the logical steps from this:
    " I believe that Europa is the most promising place in the solar system for astrobiological potential".
    and this:
    " As far as we know, the conditions and ingredients on Europa could sustain substantial complex life".

    To what you stated,
    "If there is water surely life will have arisen we are told."

    There is a difference between a minimum requirement, like water, and all necessary ingredients? In other words, without water life is not possible, as far as we know. With water there is a possibility, but only a possibility. Europa is the "most promising" just like a group of trees is the most likely source of water in a desert; it still doesn’t mean it’s an oasis with available water.

    The article mentions this as well:
    "If Europa’s surface is thin and porous like an Arctic ice sheet (as a few vocal researchers assert), then a rich soup of organic chemicals and oxygen from the radiation-soaked surface may have percolated down, seeding the underlying ocean with the essential building blocks of life. But if the shell is thick (most scientists suspect it averages 10 miles or more), there is little chance for contact between surface and sea, and the prospect for living organisms is far smaller."
    (http://discovermagazine.com/2009/sep/28-is-this-bizarre-moon-our-best-hope-finding-extraterrestrial-life/article_view?b_start:int=0&-C=)

    So according to your reference, it is not just water but, also "a rich soup of organic chemicals and oxygen".

    You said, "Surely when so much effort and so much money is spent going to Mars or to Europa we can conclude that researchers are convinced that life is on these planets."

    ‘”Thick ice does mean it’s harder for life,” Pappalardo says. Then he hedges a bit: “It certainly doesn’t rule it out.”‘

    That doesn’t sound "convinced" to me.

    You said, "I have been hearing on various science programs over the years scientists say that to get life on other planets is rather easy as long as you have a few of the right ingredients."

    Ok, "a few of the right ingredients" is a little bit closer than "If there is water surely life will have arisen…". That’s progress, I suppose. However, "rather easy" seems quite a stretch to me. Where’d you see that?

    And the other misrepresentations mentioned? How do you respond?

    Link to this
  11. 11. Galileo 1:00 am 01/27/2010

    NJuan,

    Spieth misunderstands the modern creationist’s view of taxonomy as if it were the same as the nineteenth century view of the fixity of species. There is no excuse for this since creationists have made it plain that they too have abandoned fixity long ago. Genetic variation is seen for what it is and is the reason why within a species there are varieties.

    I don’t suppose that Denton believes in fixity either. I don’t know why Spieth would make such a characterization except to discredit Denton’s views before we read them. But then again, Dr. Spieth engages in the typical diatribe that evolutionists engage in – first make your opponent look unintelligent and then present the views of that opponent.

    Yes, Denton is comparing the cousins, but that is all anyone can do. The evolutionist imagines ancestors whose existence cannot be proven and whose existence is not amenable to scientific confirmation. Notwithstanding, Spieth in particular and evolutionists in general castigate creationists and others for not believing in imaginary ancestors and the stories that are made up to make a connection to them.

    For all that anyone knows about the ancestors, creationists are quite entitled to suppose that the origin of these same cousins is a Divine Creator.

    Geneticist James S. Allen writes that he was an evolutionist for nearly 40 years. As a population geneticist his work was to use" biometrical methods of analysis…. to predict rates of genetic change…."

    With regards cytochrome- C he asks why there are about 5000 gene differences (he admits this to be a conservative estimate) between chimps and humans when there is no difference at all in this particular protein. Yet of the 93 amino acids that have no functional contraint imposed upon them there is no variation between these two species. I find this to be an unacceptable claim".

    Regarding the common ancestor in this case he writes this: "According to Weaver and Hedrick, however, the lack of differentiation in the constitution of cytochrome-c….is due to the very slow ( 0.3 x 10-9) estimated rate of amino -acid substitution in cytochrome-c. How is this rate determined? It is estimated on the basis of the assumed time since the species diverged, i.e, the claim is assumed proven on the assumption that it is true. Must I accept this kind of reasoning? Is there any reason why God should not have created them in virtually the same form as we see them now?"

    Dr. Allen is now a thorough-going Christian and creationist.

    Link to this
  12. 12. NJuan 1:05 pm 01/30/2010

    Galileo: "Yes, Denton is comparing the COUSINS, but that is all anyone can do." (emphasis added)

    Thank you,

    NJuan

    Link to this
  13. 13. NJuan 2:47 pm 01/30/2010

    Galileo,

    Denton again, really?
    First, I’ll assume that you did not intend to give up your argument by admitting that we are "cousins" with lampreys, bacteria, fish, etc.
    Second, I don’t know whether Spieth misunderstands "modern creationist’s view of taxonomy" or not, but I don’t think it’s relevant. In the Chapter 12 example you cited, Denton was presenting what he said was evidence for creation, when in actuality the data supports evolution and common descent. Regardless of Spieth’s approach, Denton’s book has been refuted, or as Jerry Coyne stated in a Forbes article,
    "…the arguments in it have long since been firmly refuted by scientists[*]. Indeed, they were recanted by Denton himself in a later book more than 10 years ago[^]."
    (http://www.forbes.com/2009/02/12/evolution-creation-proof-opinions-darwin_0212_jerry_coyne.html)
    *link from article, http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/denton.html
    ^link from article, http://home.planet.nl/~gkorthof/kortho29.htm

    On the discussion about diatribes, "fixity," and "imaginary ancestors," whether true or not, I fail to see how any of it refutes TOE or supports your position of origin by "Divine Creator."

    As to James S. Allen, I couldn’t quite follow your description; for example, to what 93 amino acids were you referring? With some searching, I found http://www.answersingenesis.org/Home/Area/ISD/allan.asp.
    If I’m reading it correctly, it boils down to Allen disputing the amino acid substitution rate based on Haldane’s "cost" of substitution, which is apparently also known as Haldane’s Dilemma (non-authoritative summary: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haldane%27s_Dilemma), which seems to have been refuted in 1966:
    "Other eminent biologists were worried by Haldane’s
    conclusions.
    Fortunately for modern evolution theory, the calculations turn out to contain an
    error which invalidates the result."
    (http://www.pnas.org/content/55/4/733.full.pdf)
    Additionally, Allen tries to tie this in with a variation on the creationist’s population growth argument, which has also been refuted (http://ncse.com/cej/4/4/creationists-population-growth-bunnies-great-pyramid).

    This is an example of why I generally don’t accept AIG and similar organizations as trustworthy sources. Of course, I assume that is why you didn’t provide a link to the site in the first place.

    Link to this
  14. 14. Galileo 11:22 pm 01/31/2010

    NJuan,

    Why do you prefer to assume I was hiding the source of the Allen quote as AIG? I got Dr. Allan’s viewpoint from a book called In Six Days: Why Fifty Scientists Choose to Believe in Creation. The book does not seem to have any connection to AIG. The chapter for Allen is his own testimonial which should be able to stand by itself no matter who publishes it. It is not anyone’s view of what Allen said.

    Allan says that of the 112 amino acids making up cytochrome-c there are 19 of these that are the same in all organisms tested. In the remaining 93 there are differences among the organisms which he says according to evolutionists is a result of the evolutionary process. Now in humans and in chimps there is no difference in the amino acid sequence, not even in any of these 93 that are free to change. The 19 previously mentioned are fixed, they are the same in all organisms that are known, so, he asks, why after the 6 million years when the human diverged from the chimp is there a change in 5,000 genes, but no change in any of the 93 chromosomes which seem free to change. He says that he finds this an unacceptable claim. I think it worth pointing out again that Dr. Allan was an evolutionist for nearly 40 years.

    Yes, Allen does make use of Haldane’s cost of substitution. Would you show what has been found that was in error regarding Haldane’s calculations? I would appreciate this.

    I do appreciate this back and forth with you, NJuan, but would you provide summaries as well as the references? I don’t always have time to chase down the links.

    Would you provide a summary of the refutation of Denton’s book that Forbes refers to? This would save me much work and time. Also, would you provide a summary of Denton’s recantation of his own work?

    You seem to think that your sources such as talkorigins are solid scientific sources and distrust AIG or ICR. I visited talkorigins many years ago and I believe I looked over an argument regarding the 2nd law of thermodynamics. I believe I did not find it impressive.

    Link to this
  15. 15. NJuan 1:46 pm 02/6/2010

    Galileo,

    I don’t ‘prefer’ to assume you were hiding AIG as the source; it seemed to be too much of a coincidence, but apparently I was wrong. I had already discussed my distrust of AIG information and in searching for your reference to Dr. Allan one of the first links I found was at AIG and covered the exact topic you mentioned. My thinking was based on limited data, the available data has changed, and I am willing to adjust my thinking accordingly. As a side note, that book is currently published by Master Books, which does appear to have ties to AIG, although that may not have been the case with your copy.

    Cytochrome-c:
    Let’s see, we’ve discussed an excerpt of Denton’s book on cytochrome-c. I disagreed and explained why. You weren’t convinced, so I presented Spieth’s review, which was similar to my view, although much more well thought out. You were not convinced, so I presented Coyne’s quote on Denton’s book, in which he presented links to more information. I don’t think I’ve heard specific counter arguments, instead, you have presented a different argument from Allan, but again using cytochrome-c.
    First, I would reiterate from earlier postings that the cytochrome-c data does appear to support common ancesstry. Now, I’ll try to explain why I think Allan’s argument is, like Denton’s, misleading and fallacious.

    "What the theory of evolution is saying is that while humans and chimpanzees have evolved independently from a common ancestor so as to now differ in these 5,000 genes, there has been no change in the 93 amino acids specified by the cytochrome-c gene, and this in spite of there being no functional constraint on change in any of the latter. I find this to be an unacceptable claim." (Allan, http://www.answersingenesis.org/Home/Area/ISD/allan.asp)
    Allan seems to be implying that if all these 5,000 genes are different, why are these 93 amino acids, with "no functional constraint", in this one gene so special?
    But, are they special? If I understand correctly, there are around 23,000 coding/expressed genes in the human genome. If, as Allan states, there are 5k genes that differ, then there are 18,000 genes that do not differ. So in effect, the cytochrome-c coding gene is in the ~75% of the genes in the human genome that do not differ from chimpanzees. (Note: I suspect the 98% difference figure commonly used is based on different data points, not whole encoding genes vs. whole encoding genes.) That doesn’t sound that special to me. (continued…)

    Link to this
  16. 16. NJuan 1:51 pm 02/6/2010

    (continued…)Is he saying that ~75% of encoding genes in the human genome disagree with the Theory of Evolution?
    Misleading: Implying cytochrome-c gene is unusual or unique.
    Fallacy: Straw man ("What the theory… is saying is…")

    "According to Weaver and Hedrick, however, the lack of differentiation in the constitution of cytochrome-c between humans and chimpanzees is due to the very slow (0.3 x 10-9) estimated rate of amino acid substitution in cytochrome-c. How is this rate determined? It is estimated on the basis of the assumed time since the species diverged, i.e., the claim is assumed proven on the assumption that it is true." (Allan, same source)
    Misleading: This assumes that the rate of substitution is the critical explanation, but I don’t think it is. He was discussing the pattern of substitution, i.e. these 5k genes changed, but not these 18k. Whether the substitution happens in millions of years or a few seconds would seem to be irrelevant.
    Fallacy: red herring (which I fell for, by the way, with the Haldane refutation.)

    Other questions:
    Although I don’t think it’s relevant, according my understanding of the paper I referenced, Haldane’s calculations have incorrectly assumed a constant population, in which there were negligible errors. However, in varying population sizes, those errors are cumulative and become non-negligible over longer time frames. I do have to say, however, that the paper is beyond my level of knowledge on the subject.

    On the Denton refutation: If I have time.
    On the Denton recantation: I think the main point here is that a later book of Denton’s , "Nature’s Destiny," supports a form of (theistic?) evolution and therefore recants earlier works attempting to dispute evolution entirely.

    Like Wikipedia, I don’t consider talkorigins to be authoritative, but still a good source of information and a starting point for further research. At the risk of digressing into unproductive discussions; you say that you were not impressed by talkorigins. Do you have examples of why it should be distrusted?

    As I’ve said before, AIG and ICR believe the bible before evidence, and therefore their information is suspect until verified. Talkorigins was built/designed for discussing the Theory of Evolution on a scientific basis. Although I would never claim talkorigins to be inerrant, I would say that it is significantly more "solid" than AIG or ICR, for reasons already stated.

    You seem to think that your sources such as, AIG or ICR, are solid scientific sources and distrust talkorigins. Why is that?

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  17. 17. NJuan 7:41 pm 02/6/2010

    My argument against Allan’s rate of substitution argument, the one I called a red herring, may be incorrect. Please, disregard that paragraph, although I may revisit the idea after further research.

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  18. 18. Galileo 12:35 am 02/11/2010

    NJuan,

    Just a few thoughts with the few minutes I have.

    I think that the mind can be closed whether a person belongs to AIG or talkorigins, but it is not necessarily so. That is, the mind can already be made up on a matter and so there may be a refusal to budge from a given position.

    I admire the guiding principle that Antony Flew has espoused for years: go where the evidence leads, one of two guiding principles he talks about in his book There is a God. He wrote this book as a former atheist who built much of the atheistic thought of this and the last century.

    Certainly believing the Bible is not a sufficient cause for closed mindedness. It’s not a guarantee either that one will be open-minded. But certainly one can believe the Bible whole-heartedly and still be open to whatever science comes along. I believe the numerous scientists of old were of this school of thought, believing, I am sure that the God who had written the Bible was the same God who had created all things. Not that they couldn’t be wrong about their science; I believe they were well aware that they could get the science wrong.

    I have come to believe that many, if not most, of today’s creationists are of this old school and do their science accordingly.

    In the years I have corresponded with evolutionists I have found many a closed-minded one who sticks to his position no matter what. And I am gratified to have met a few who are more open and willing to think about things.

    I’ll try to get back later.

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  19. 19. NJuan 12:50 pm 02/13/2010

    Galileo,

    First, I think it is inaccurate to think that today’s creationists follow the same path as that of "scientists of old." Your pseudonyms-sake followed the evidence even though it went against the then-current understanding of the bible’s Earth centric universe. Today’s creationists use the bible as their basis for evaluating the accuracy of evidence, if it agrees with their interpretation of the bible, then it is valid evidence, otherwise it’s invalid*.
    Even if one believes that the bible, when understood, is completely true, then in order to use it as a test of validity one would have to claim complete understanding of the bible. Wouldn’t complete understanding, according to a theist, require god-like intellect?
    *"By definition, no apparent, perceived or claimed evidence in any field… can be valid if it contradicts the scriptural record." (http://www.answersingenesis.org/about/faith)

    Second, I would think that the goal would be modern science, not science "of old."

    "Go where the evidence leads" is indeed a useful principle (despite what AIG thinks.) Although, I would have to ask Antony Flew what positive scientific evidence he has for the existence of a god, even his Deist god. However, I would not argue against Flew’s position on the existence of a Deist god, or your position for that matter on God’s existence. There may, in fact, be a god and he may be the Christian God, for all I know, but there is no evidence for such a claim, that I am aware of.

    I am not arguing against God or gods, I am arguing for science as the best, albeit imperfect, tool available to humanity for gaining accurate knowledge of the universe in which we live. And, for reasons stated above, because of examples given in previous comments, and based on what Ive read of their work, I do not think creationists use science.

    If you have positive scientific evidence supporting typical creationist ideas, (not just anti-evolution, since you would need to provide a better scientific explanation,) then present it.

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  20. 20. Galileo 12:11 am 02/18/2010

    NJuan,

    It’s been a busy time around here with mid-terms but I have given some thought to your statements. They are very thought-provoking and ones that bring us, I believe, to the heart of the difference in the way in which an evolutionist approaches science and how the creationist approaches it.

    Yes, indeed Galileo followed the evidence where it lead. There was no need for him to go against the teachings of Scripture because nowhere in the Bible is there any claim that the earth stands till while all heavenly orbs besides revolve about it. This was Aristotle’s and Ptolemy’s concoction and the Catholic Church simply adopted it and made it an offense to contradict it. It had also adopted other non-Biblical teachings at the time including indulgences and salvation by works (which Ephesians expressly teaches against in its 2nd Chapter emphasizing that salvation is by the grace of God alone, through faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross.) The attitude of the Catholic Church through the centuries has been to put its decrees equal with Scripture, if not above it.

    As Christians who are students of science we can identify with the scientists "of old’ and we can appreciate why they made such great discoveries. The Bible game them light.

    But they understood something that we today also understand, that we must trust God to give us light so that we might understand his eternal word. So Kepler and Galileo in their correspondence could talk about those things that Jehovah their creator had shown them giving more credit to the Creator than to themselves. Also Newton understood that scientific laws pertained to the whole universe since the universe was made by the Creator who we come to know from the Bible, with God’s light.

    Today’s creationist scientists are not backward looking as if only the past is important. Rather the Bible is a very important guide to them in this day. A creationist scientist working at Agriculture and Agri-food Canada worked, I believe, for 10 years on nutrition research and found that a creationist approach was more effective than an evolutionary one. Further he says that his colleagues tended to steer away from an evolutionary approach and adopted rather a pragmatic one. So yes, a Biblical approach is still very much useful today in this era of modern science.

    Now to your challenge to present some creationist evidence rather than just anti-evolutionary thinking. This I would like to do in the next post (tomorrow).

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  21. 21. Galileo 12:20 am 02/19/2010

    NJuan,

    Lately one of my science classes has been considering the swamp theory of coal formation. But here is some data, most of which I obtained through Dr. Andrew Snelling a creationist geologist who is with Answers in Genesis and ICR. He presents data which better supports a Biblical flood model since the data indicate that the material was swept in by a flood:
    - pine logs in coal seams; a number of these trees if not most without roots
    - polystrate trees entending from one coal seam to another through sedimentary layers
    - layers of pollen and layers of twig material suggestive of water sorting; the pollen layer having a number of varieties of pine
    - lack of a soil horizon below the coal seam; instead a layer of kaolinite or granite in some cases. The kaolinite layer is below a coal seam 14 square miles in extent in Australia

    Of course very good evidence of the Noahic Flood is the extensive amount of sedimentary rock found around the globe with countless numbers of fossils, sometimes packed very thick together. Many of these fossils show very fine detail indicating rapid deposition of fossil layers.

    Also the fossil trees that extend through great thicknesses of these sedimentary layers also indicate rapid deposition of the sediments.

    The sorting of granules within a stratum of sandstone indicate water sorting. There tends to be a gradation of these water sorted granules.

    Antony Flew says in his book that design in nature is a very good argument for the existence of God. Of course Flew is not just anybody. I first encountered him many years ago in a little book called, I think, "The Existence of God". His essay is in there among the great thinkers of all time. This former Oxford professor is credited with contributing original thought to philosophy.

    He says that in accepting the design argument, which he formerly argued against as an atheist, he considered that a number of prominent scientists such as Einstein and Stephen Hawking suggested the existence of a God from the design of the universe they were investigating.

    I’d like to write more later when I can find more time.

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  22. 22. NJuan 10:48 am 02/20/2010

    Galileo,

    I will reiterate, did the original Galileo follow the evidence or not? Did that provide the best explanation available?

    Again, the source of inspiration is not relevant to claim; it must stand on it’s own.

    "A creationist scientist working at Agriculture and Agri-food Canada worked, I believe, for 10 years on nutrition research and found that a creationist approach was more effective than an evolutionary one. Further he says that his colleagues tended to steer away from an evolutionary approach and adopted rather a pragmatic one. So yes, a Biblical approach is still very much useful today in this era of modern science."

    This is an unsupported assertion.

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  23. 23. NJuan 11:21 am 02/20/2010

    Galileo,

    "Dr. Andrew Snelling a creationist geologist who is with Answers in Genesis and ICR."

    I will reiterate, for reasons previously stated, information from AIG and like organizations is suspect unless verified by an independent source. I am amazed that you still trust such sources when, as was already shown, they openly state their dishonesty, in that, they will disregard data when it doesn’t fit their "scriptural record".

    "Of course very good evidence of the Noahic Flood is the extensive amount of sedimentary rock found around the globe with countless numbers of fossils, sometimes packed very thick together. Many of these fossils show very fine detail indicating rapid deposition of fossil layers."

    This is an unsupported assertion. How did you arrive at the conclusion that sedimentary rock and countless fossils support rapid deposition and the implied conclusion that rapid deposition supports a "Noahic" flood?

    Similarly, with the fossil trees and water sorting (hydrologic sorting?).

    Yes, you already mentioned Flew. Please, see my previous postings for my response.

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  24. 24. NJuan 11:41 am 02/20/2010

    p.s.

    Just out of curiosity, you said "…nowhere in the Bible is there any claim that the earth stands [s]till…". I am not a biblical scholar, so I won’t question your response, but I wanted to get your interpretation of Psalms 93:1:

    1 The LORD reigns, he is robed in majesty;
    the LORD is robed in majesty
    and is armed with strength.
    The world is firmly established;
    it cannot be moved.

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  25. 25. Galileo 11:35 pm 02/21/2010

    NJuan,

    did the original Galileo follow the evidence or not?
    I believe my second-last posting to you was clear that Galileo indeed followed the evidence. And, as you know, that evidence was very supportive of Copernicus and still is, as far as I know.

    Link to this
  26. 26. Galileo 11:40 pm 02/22/2010

    NJuan,

    Here is the rest of the message I began yesterday. For some reason all of it did not get into the same post:

    "Again, the source of inspiration is not relevant to a claim; it must stand on it’s own."
    Perhaps there are a couple of answers to what you say. One answer is this: The evidence must stand alone as to whether it has scientific value or not regardless of the inspiration. This idea is not original with me. I found it helpful for a certain philosopher to explain in his writing that the source of inspiration should be treated differently from the scientific idea that it gives rise to. For example, Kerkule had a dream of a snake chasing its tail. Kerkule went on from this to arrive at the benzene ring. Of course, the benzene ring had to stand or fall as scientifically valid independently of its source of inspiration. And we can see that that has been the case.
    The same philosopher went on to point out that Maxwell got his idea of the nature of light from his conception of the Trinity. Again, the scientific idea must stand upon the evidence and be scientifically verifiable by others.
    The point the said philosopher makes is that the scientific idea should not be invalidated because of its source of inspiration. Yet, today an idea arising from the Bible is considered invalid merely because it has a religious source. We would not think of invalidating the Benzene ring because of its source being a man’s dream. I think we would agree on that.

    Of course the source of inspiration can be quite relevant to a claim for at least, sometimes, if the source is not there or not available, the claim may never be made. For example, Newton, claimed that scientific law pertained to the whole universe not just the earth. In his claim he went beyond Aristotle. The mathematician Morris Kline has said that the religious philosophers of that era ( the time of Newton, Galileo, etc) believed that God made the entire universe and therefore believed that scientific law applied to the entire universe.

    To say that the source of inspiration does not matter is to think that science can exist in a vacuum. It just stands and falls on evidence. I don’t think that is possible. Not even Darwin’s science did. When he divised his theory God was very much part of his thinking.

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  27. 27. NJuan 11:23 pm 02/23/2010

    Galileo,

    The reason I asked the question again was because I thought I detected some ambiguity in your response.
    "Yes, indeed Galileo followed the evidence where it lead. There was no need for him to go against the teachings of Scripture…"

    What is the purpose of the qualifications?

    "One answer is this: The evidence must stand alone as to whether it has scientific value or not regardless of the inspiration."

    Again, a conditional ‘yes’. What is the other answer, "that the scientific idea should not be invalidated because of its source of inspiration."?
    I think that is what, ‘the evidence stands on it’s own,’ says.

    "Yet, today an idea arising from the Bible is considered invalid merely because it has a religious source."
    I think creationist ideas are being found invalid because the evidence does not support them, not merely because of the source.

    Link to this
  28. 28. Galileo 12:48 pm 02/27/2010

    NJuan,

    My statement regarding Galileo was in response to your claim that science was an instance of a contradiction of the Bible.

    It is not likely that either Aristotle or Ptolemy relied on the Bible to justify their model. And the Catholic Church does not seem historically to have needed to ground its teaching in the Bible.

    I have been reading the following verse over and looking at some commentaries regarding its meaning:

    "The LORD reigneth, he is clothed with majesty; the LORD is clothed with strength, wherewith he hath girded himself: the world also is stablished, that it cannot be moved. " (Ps 93.1)

    My own thought on this agrees pretty well with the commentaries I have been looking at: the world is established and cannot be moved in the sense that since God is sovereign He keeps the earth in its course as it revolves about the sun and nothing will knock it out of its course without His allowing such an incident.

    As I read Psalm 112:7 this morning, I read about how the righteous man shall not be moved. This verse seems to carry the same sense of "moved" in that the man of God shall not be thrown off course without God allowing it to happen. He is perfectly protected and safe in God.

    I need to beg to differ on your assessment of creationist science. There is among evolutionists a distinct hatred for the Bible and for Christian teaching and this goes back to Darwin’s day and before. So, as soon as there is any awareness that the Bible might be involved with a scientific claim, the claim is not even considered for its scientific merit. Robert Gentry’s polonium halo findings, I believe, are a good instance of this. He concluded from his findings that the basement rocks of the earth must have formed intantly when they first formed. He found no evidence for a long history of the earth being in a molten state. He maintains today that his data has not been refuted. I believe him.

    My experience over the years has been that as soon as I have brought forth data that supports, say the Noahic Flood, it has been automatically dismissed since the data is in support of a religious claim.

    The Christian or creationist roots of science are often hidden from us. I was reading a little from a textbook on oceanography this morning that talks about Matthew Maury who was one of the "fathers" of oceanography. It describes his having made a very useful chart showing the currents of the world but does not reveal where he got his inspiration -Psalm 8.

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  29. 29. NJuan 5:31 pm 02/28/2010

    Galileo,

    First, Thank you for your interpretation of Psalms 93.1. I’m sure it is more accurate than what I could come up with.

    On the rest, perhaps we are talking passed each other. You said, "My statement regarding Galileo was in response to your claim that science was an instance of a contradiction of the Bible."
    I don’t recall claiming that science was a contradiction of the Bible, just that the original Galileo got closer to the truth despite the "then-current understanding" of the Bible. And, more importantly that his findings stood on their own, based on the evidence. It may seem like I’m splitting hairs here, but my point is not that the Bible is correct or incorrect, but that for science to be valid it must not use the Bible as evidence. As an inspiration it is neither acceptable nor unacceptable, because the source of inspiration does not factor into the validity of the hypothesis. Therefore, attempting to justify a Biblical basis for a particular idea by claiming that others, i.e. Galileo, have done it, I think, is misleading, because the acceptance of Galileo’s ideas comes strictly from the evidence, not because he may or may not have been inspired by the Bible.

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  30. 30. NJuan 5:32 pm 02/28/2010

    (continued…)

    I have to disagree with your assessment of creationist science (no surprise, I suppose.) First, there are many Christians who you would probably consider ‘evolutionists,’ like Ken Miller, Francis Collins, and all 12,000+ signatories of the Clergy Letter Project. Perhaps you would disagree with the label of ‘Christian’, in which case I would ask for evidence that these ‘evolutionists’ hold "…a distinct hatred for the Bible and Christian teachings." I mention these people not as an appeal to authority, but as evidence of your hyperbole or invalid generalization. Second, I would suggest that your experience that as soon as "… the Bible might be involved with a scientific claim, the claim is not even considered …" contains the very reason for your experience. As I’ve tried to emphasize, a scientific claim needs to stand on it’s own; the Bible, not being evidence, would not be involved in a valid scientific claim.
    If you want to make a theological claim and use science to back it up, that’s up to you, but using the Bible as evidence for scientific claims is not valid science. From my own experience, I’m sure that other factors also come into play, for example, disinterest in rehashing previously refuted creationism (e.g. world wide floods, a young earth, biblical ‘kinds’, etc.), distrust of the source of information (e.g. AIG, ICR, etc.), however, the argument need go no further than ‘that’s not science,’ because it’s not.

    As for Gentry’s halo problem, my understanding (although admittedly a limited one) is that 1, his samples were not verified as "basement rocks", but instead came from an area containing a mixture of rock types and 2, he did not sufficiently explain the cause of the halos in that he only dealt with certain isotopes of Polonium and not with the alpha producing, but non-halo producing, Polonium isotopes and did not account for all types of halos, just the ones that appeared to match his claim.

    There are many reasons why a recent (thousands of years) world-wide flood doesn’t make sense based on the evidence. For example, geologic strata or record, progression of fossils, and plate tectonics. There are also many problems with such a flood itself, for example, where did the water come from/go to, where did all the different species come from and how did they get to where they are now, and where is the evidence of such a flood, just to name a few.

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  31. 31. Galileo 11:05 pm 03/14/2010

    NJuan,

    Thank you for replying. I didn’t think you were writing any more messages since I got no notification from Scientific American; it’s notifications have alerted me to any new messages. Perhaps I forgot to check the box last time so that I would be notified.

    In any case, I will try to get back to you soon.

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  32. 32. Galileo 12:06 am 03/22/2010

    NJuan,

    I had made a typo when I wrote, "science was an instance of a contradiction of the Bible". I am afraid I didn’t proofreed so carefully.

    I quite agree with you that an idea has to stand on its own as to its scientific merit apart from what may have given it inspiration.

    I agree that the Bible is not to be used as scientific evidence. However, I would contend that where it makes staements about nature, these are accurate. Not only is this so, but it is accurate in its history, archaeology, and prophesy. But of course, science does not work on the basis of quoting the Bible; we know that science works differently.

    I would say, and many others would say, that it is the best inspiration for the scientific enterprise and in that way is very relevant, even though the ideas that come about as a result must be verified scientifically.

    When I first began teaching nearly 30 years ago, I was using a textbook at that time from a Christian publisher. It came as a "revelation" to me as I read the book that the early scientistists made the progress they did as a result of the light they got from the Bible, as God helped them.

    Over the years I have read what the early scientists said and it is plain that their faith in God and in his word was very important to their science. Not only did it motivate them to do science in the first place, it served as a starting point for their science.

    Newton once commented, I understand, that theology is the queen of the sciences. Of course we see the reverse of this thinking today, ever since the time that Lyell declared that theology should be divorced from science.

    But of course Christian theology never did make a quick exit. I am learning these days that when Darwin formulated his theory, God was very much in his thoughts. He could not accept what he thought was a Biblical concept: the fixity of species (which actually either came from the Greeks or from the biologist John Ray, a contemporary of Newton). And so when he saw variation between animals in South America and the Galapagos, it was plain to him that animals do vary and the "fixity of species must be wrong".

    It seems also that Darwin did not realize that the world suffers from the effects of the Fall, so in thinking that God would make things perfect, how could there be evil in the world? An example he apparently offered was a wasp laying eggs in a caterpillar. Many ask this today, it seems to me, again, not realizing that we live in a fallen world.

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  33. 33. Galileo 12:17 am 03/22/2010

    NJuan,

    Regarding the 12, 000 signatures from Christian clergy who endorse evolution, I would like to say the following.

    Whether they are truly Christians or not it is not for me to say. God knows and that is enough. I have known Christians who at one time fully embraced evolution, before they were Christians, and then they adopted theistic evolution in an attempt to harmonize the Bible with science, only to later become creationists when they got more light. I believe it was Dr. Henry Morris, founder of the Institute for Creation Science who made this progression.

    For myself I believe that science and the Bible support a thorough-going and robust creationist position. I have looked at theistic evolution and have found it untenable. Perhaps these 12,000 souls are waiting for more light.

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  34. 34. Galileo 12:20 am 03/22/2010

    NJuan,

    On the Flood, I would say that the fossil record progression can be explained in terms of ecological niches. As the flood waters rose it successively covered over the various niches or ecological zones. This would help to explain why some fossils get out of place.

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  35. 35. NJuan 11:19 am 03/27/2010

    Galileo,

    Honestly, I don’t understand how your logic works. You said, "I quite agree with you that an idea has to stand on its own as to its scientific merit apart from what may have given it inspiration." And then later in the same posting say, "It seems also that Darwin did not realize that the world suffers from the effects of the Fall…"

    How exactly does "the Fall" impact Darwin’s findings and the Theory of Evolution? Regardless of why Darwin was investigating the diversity of life (e.g. "evil in the world,") his findings stand on there own. Unless you have some evidence for this "Fall" and how it affects biological life, I don’t see how it factors into anything scientific.

    Perhaps I’m missing something, but it appears to me that the logic you are using essentially applies a filter to all scientific claims wherein if the claim does not support your interpretation of the Bible then it is not ‘valid’ science, rendering all ‘valid’ science in agreement with your interpretation of the Bible. This allows you to attach your seemingly ever-present qualifiers about the evidence standing on it’s own, such as, "However, I would contend that where it makes statements about nature, these are accurate."

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  36. 36. NJuan 11:24 am 03/27/2010

    As I said in the posting, "I mention these people not as an appeal to authority, but as evidence of your hyperbole or invalid generalization. "

    Would you agree that not all of what you would call "evolutionists," have a "…a distinct hatred for the Bible and Christian teachings." or not?

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  37. 37. NJuan 12:27 pm 03/27/2010

    Galileo,

    On the Flood; Seriously, ecological niches? "This would help to explain why some fossils get out of place."

    Which fossils would that be? The flowering plants that got sorted out of non-flowering plants? Or, the cows, horses, pigs, tigers, bears, etc. that somehow got swept away from similar sized and weighted reptiles? Or, perhaps the aquatic mammals, like whales, dolphins, manatees, etc. that mysteriously got filtered out of entire areas where fish and aquatic reptiles seemed to have remained.

    How’s that work anyway?

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  38. 38. Galileo 12:41 am 04/19/2010

    NJuan,

    It has been quite a while for me to respond. It has been very busy around here of late and little time to get a message out. However, I have been mulling over some things you’ve said over the last few weeks; you do bring up some good points.

    In the first paragraph of your last message where you quote me, there is no contradiction or inconsistency on my part even with what I said about Darwin. I’ve mentioned a few instances of where researchers started with the Scriptures and finished with scientifically testable results, such as Matthew Maury and James Clerk Maxwell. Others could be cited.

    Darwin had learned a natural theology (a false theology regarding the God of the Bible) in his studies at Cambridge but in his research aboard the Beagle found reason to reject this theology and God. His thinking seems to have been that if God had created the world and all life on it then his creation should be perfect. He therefore rejected God as creator and favored a naturalistic explanation for two principle reasons:
    1) species are not static but rather show variation
    2) there is evil in the world therefore God could not have created, or if he had, he had taken his hand off it a long time ago

    For as long as I have been doing science I have come across the notion that God could not have created this world and its life forms since it shows such imperfections: if God had created, then we should see perfection. I think this was the basis for Stephen J. Gould arguing that the panda’s thumb shows there cannot be a God.

    I believe I can make the claim that when the Bible says anything about the natural world that it is accurate and still make my claim about the Bible giving impetus to science. Going back to the illustrations that I have given from the history of science, it is interesting that when the Bible is used for inspiration it produces testable science; after all there is no doubt that Matthew Maury’s oceanic map works; this of course is the reason why he is considered a founder of modern oceanography. For Newton and others of his era, they understood that God was the creator of all things and therefore they had no trouble believing that scientific laws applied everywhere in the universe.

    As I observe the world about me the Bible fits seamlessly with the world I observe, yet I understand very well that the scientific method is a very useful tool, in fact indispensible in understanding how the world works.

    I would like to continue on another note tomorrow.

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  39. 39. Galileo 11:46 pm 04/20/2010

    Njuan,

    I don’t know if these people you refer to, the clerics, have a distinct hatred for the Bible or not. The important point is that they are mistaken. A good friend of ours who we have had in our home is a cleric who believes evolution and the Bible can be reconciled, but we have no hatred for this person and we would not think that she has any hatred for the Bible.
    We believe she dearly loves the Lord Jesus Christ.

    Could you point out to me wherein the hyperbole lies? This may be a help to me.

    The idea of the flood filling ecological zones in sequence is not so far fetched. After all we would expect trilobites and brachiopods to be near the bottom, the fish to be at a higher level, amphibians to be at a higher level still. The general aspect of the geological record shows this with no transitions between. But we would expect the picture not to be so very nice and neat even from a flood geology point of view. After all, we understand that there was quite a bit of violence in the flood waters which would marr a nice and neat sequence.

    This would help explain, among other things, why in Belgium in the 19th century a number of iguanadons were found in a coal mine. This is why dino tracks are found in coal mines in Colorado. The evolutionist has explained some of these anomalies by saying that the earth opened up and the iguanadons fell into the coal mine. There have been a number of such evolutionary explanations in order to save the theory.

    In some places fossils have been found of quite different animals from quite different ecological zones smashed together in a cave, a phenomenon we would expect as a result of violent flood waters.

    Some evolutionists have pictured the flood as some tranquil thing like a bathtub filling up and then draining out. What could such a flood do to provide the geological features we see today? But there is every reason to believe that the flood was quite different with volcanoes erupting and tsunamies racing across the face of the earth.

    We don’t have a complete picture of the flood by any means, but I think we have some credible ideas about it. If we could have been there to observe it then then we would have more of a complete picture. We must get what clues we can from present geological processes and the geologic record.

    We see marine fossils at the tops of mountains, we see strata out of order, we see a number of phenomena that help us put pieces of the puzzle together.

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  40. 40. Galileo 12:53 am 04/21/2010

    NJuan,

    To continue my last message, I wanted to say something about polystrate trees which pose a particular problem for the supposed evolutionary concept of slow deposition of sediment.

    The polystrate trees, a well-known phenomena involves petrified trees which are upright, many of them, through great thicknesses of strata. Some straddle coal seams. They certainly speak of rapid deposition of sediment, even rapid deposition of coal seams (rather than the swamp theory). One of my former professors a creationist who accepts evolution, has acknowledged that creationists have a point regarding these trees.

    Well, that is all for tonight, I do have another message for either tomorrow, but probably moreso for Thursday evening.

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  41. 41. NJuan 7:55 pm 04/25/2010

    Galileo,

    You touched on many aspects in your postings and I will try to address them briefly, but first I want to address what I see as the main disconnect in this discussion by showing what I think are the errors in logic you are presenting, in the hopes of clarifying the situation.

    You say that you accept that, in science, an idea must stand on its own. "…an idea has to stand on its own as to its scientific merit…" (Your posting on 3/22/2010)

    And, that the bible is not scientific evidence. "… the Bible is not to be used as scientific evidence." (Your posting on 3/22/2010)

    Then you present the idea that the bible, "…is the best inspiration for the scientific enterprise and in that way is very relevant, even though the ideas that come about as a result must be verified scientifically." (Your posting on 3/22/2010)

    This is misleading at best and contradictory at worst, in that you claim that inspiration is relevant after previously stating that "an idea has to stand on its own", which states that inspiration is not relevant. If you are trying to say that the source of inspiration is relevant to the discussion, although not to the validity of science, then this is called, I think, a red-herring, in that it is not relevant to the question of the validity of the Theory of Evolution (TOE), which is what we were discussing. If however, you are saying that it is relevant to the validity of the TOE, then that is contradicting your previous statements. I lean towards the misleading, primarily due to what is presented later.

    Next, you present some anecdotes that you say support your argument that the bible is "the best inspiration" for science. Anecdotal evidence is not sufficient evidence for any scientific idea and therefore does little to support your argument.

    You conclude with an argument that Darwin was rejecting a false theology when he developed the TOE by stating, "…it was plain to him that animals do vary and the ‘fixity of species must be wrong’" but, "…Darwin did not realize that the world suffers from the effects of the Fall…" The implication being that because he was rejecting "a false theology" (You, 4/19/2010) his idea is also false.

    (…continued in next comment)

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  42. 42. NJuan 7:57 pm 04/25/2010

    (continued…)
    I’m not sure how to classify that fallacy, perhaps ‘double negative false dichotomy’? Disproving an invalid idea invalidates your own idea? In logic terms, this is irrelevant or a red herring. Both ‘fixity of species’ and ‘the Fall’ are unsupported ideas that, as theology, have no relevance to the validity of the TOE. This is like saying that ‘the theory of gravity is wrong because Newton was trying to disprove the idea that we are held down by invisible angels, which is false theology’. If there were evidence of ‘the Fall’ or ‘invisible angels’, then they might be relevant.

    You restate this later as:
    "[Darwin] therefore rejected God as creator and favored a naturalistic explanation for two principle reasons:
    1) species are not static but rather show variation
    2) there is evil in the world therefore God could not have created, or if he had, he had taken his hand off it a long time ago" (Your posting on 4/19/2010)

    This not only shows the same red herring irrelevancy, or the ‘double negative false dichotomy’, item ’1)’ being the ‘fixity of species’ false theology and item ’2)’ being the world must be perfect false theology. But, it also completely ignores that Darwin "favored a naturalistic explanation" because of the evidence that he himself presented in his book "The Origin of Species", not because of a particular theology, false or otherwise. And then, of course, Darwin’s ideas are not the same as the modern TOE, so an argument against Darwin is not necessarily relevant to argument against the modern TOE. What is that now irrelevance cubed or 3 degrees from relevance?

    Let me see if I can sum up your argument, as I see it:
    A) Scientific ideas must stand on their own.
    B) The Bible is not scientific evidence.
    C) The Bible is the best inspiration for science.
    (unsupported assertion and irrelevant[see A])
    D) Darwin rejected God as creator and favored naturalism, because (false dichotomy and irrelevant[see A and B])
    1) his theological expectations were incorrect,
    i.e. ‘fixity of species’
    (irrelevant [see A and B])
    2) he failed to account for a correct theology,
    i.e. ‘the Fall’
    (irrelevant [see A and B])
    Therefore:
    E) Evolution is not true.
    (non sequitor, see C and D)

    These are some of the contradictions and inconsistencies that I see.

    p.s. sorry for the lengthy response.

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  43. 43. NJuan 8:00 pm 04/25/2010

    Galileo,

    You also made two specific claims that, although not directly applicable to the Theory of Evolution discussion, are interesting claims.

    "… when the Bible says anything about the natural world that it is accurate…"
    And
    "…the Bible [gives] impetus to science."

    On the first claim, I would say that you bear the responsibility to show your claim to be true. And that would, I think, at a minimum entail showing that your method of identifying each instance of when the Bible "says anything about the natural world" is complete, showing for every instance that your interpretation is accurate, and then showing that it is scientifically accurate. With the broad scope of your claim, a sampling would not be sufficient.

    On the second claim, anything could be claimed as an impetus to science, for example, Jules Verne, Homer, the Bhagavad Gita, and I’ve had discussions with someone who was very adamant that Taoism was the best inspiration for science, e.g. yin-yang explaining everything from wave-particle duality to Newton’s 3rd law of motion.
    If you are claiming the Bible is better or in some way inspires better science than other sources, then that might be testable. To begin I would think you would need identify a correlation between those influenced by the Bible and scientific discoveries. This would of course need to adjust for confirmation bias, only picking examples that confirm your hypothesis such as famous Christian scientists, sample bias, when the sample selected is more likely to support the hypothesis such as western scientists during or after the enlightenment, be sure to include all the scientists during the dark ages, I think they were called Alchemists then, self-serving bias, when ambiguous information is interpreted favorably such as the phase "Paths of the sea" giving rise to oceanography, and all other statistical biases.
    Or, perhaps you can find a real world situation that already tests for the hypothesis. For example, if you look at all the Universities, will you see a correlation between the religiosity of the school and the scientific output? MIT, Stanford, Havard, UC-Berkley, and Cornell are often listed as top science schools. Wheaton, Calvin, Pepperdine, Baylor, and Biola are sometimes listed as top Christian schools. I don’t see a correlation there. Admittedly, that is not a scientific study, but at least it uses some objective data, i.e. school rankings, as opposed to anecdotal stories.

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  44. 44. NJuan 8:01 pm 04/25/2010

    Galileo,

    >>"Could you point out to me wherein the hyperbole lies?"

    I think I said hyperbole or invalid generalization. You paint all so-called ‘evolutionists’ as Bible hating anti-Christians; therein lies the hyperbole (or invalid generalization.)

    "There is among evolutionists a distinct hatred for the Bible and for Christian teaching and this goes back to Darwin’s day and before. So, as soon as there is any awareness that the Bible might be involved with a scientific claim, the claim is not even considered for its scientific merit. " (Galileo at 12:48 PM on 02/27/10)

    Link to this
  45. 45. NJuan 8:03 pm 04/25/2010

    Galileo,

    I’ve posted more than I intended today, so I’ll try to be brief and to the point.

    "Polystrate" trees, or in situ fossils, are not a particular problem for geologists or biologists. My understanding is that these are cases where there was relatively rapid deposition of sediment, so in that sense you are correct. However, these are localized situations that are generally explained by land subsidence, volcanic activity, and yes, floods.

    As for the flood filling ecological zones, if a global flood was as violent as needed to make things like the grand canyon, how would all the animal not get mixed up completely. In other words why are there no land animals in the Cambrian or before, surely one or two fossils would have been found with all that water rushing around. Surely some flowering plants would have ended up with in the Paleozoic layers with non-flowering plants. And are you saying that no… (nevermind, I said this last time, read my earlier posts.)

    You said, "After all we would expect trilobites and brachiopods to be near the bottom, the fish to be at a higher level, amphibians to be at a higher level still. " Why? Are there no fish at the bottom of the seas, are there no reptiles with the fish in the water, are there no mammals in the oceans? Why don’t the mammals show up with the reptiles, fish, and trilobites at to bottom of the geologic layers?

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  46. 46. Galileo 11:48 pm 05/16/2010

    NJuan,

    There is no red herring and neither is their any attempt at misleading, whether wittingly or unwittingly. An idea can give rise to a scientifically verifiable concept, though the inspiration itself is not part of the science; it only gave rise to it (I believe this is what the philosophy of science is about). There is a legitimate connection but that connection does not in and of itself make the inspiration a piece of science. The fruit can be, if it can be tested and verified in the laboratory. So Kerkule’s dream of a snake chasing its tail apparently led to the benzene ring but though there is a relevant connection here, the dream does not become part of the science. Similarily Maxwell, according to one philosopher of science, was stimulated by his theology of the Trinity which in turn enabled him to come up with a certain idea of reality. In turn then this led to his science of light. Again there is a legitimate connection, yet the theology remains theology and his metaphysics remains just that. The science of light however, as we know, is what we call science since it is what has been taken into the laboratory and verified by other researchers.

    Just as you and I can make scientifically correct statements these are not per se part of what we regard as the body of science since they are not arrived at by the scientific method; they are our personal statements. In the same way the Bible makes scientifically accurate statements but we don’t, of course regard this as part of the corpus of science for the same reason our statements would not be. However, since God made these statements they will always be accurate descriptions of how nature works. We are fallible but his is infallible.

    Many scientists of old took the claims of Scripture as devinely inspired and accurate statements of reality and proceeded to base their science on it. You may remember my quote of the mathematician Morris Kline to this effect. He referred to the religious mathematicians who understood that God created the whole universe and that therefore the laws of nature applied to the whole, not just to the terrestrial as Aristotle had thought.

    You are quite correct that one could come up with a correct scientific idea even though it was a result of attempting to falsify another claim. However, in Darwin’s case, without being fascetious, his claims remain much in dispute without scientific backing, though it is commonly supposed his claims are well supported.

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  47. 47. NJuan 6:59 pm 05/21/2010

    Galileo,

    If by "legitimate connection" you mean a completely subjective experience that is not testable, verifiable, or repeatable, then yes, your anecdotes are "legitimate connections". However, they are still not evidence for or against evolution and therefore are irrelevant to the question of whether or not the Theory of Evolution is scientifically valid.

    If you want to discuss philosophy and/or metaphysics, go ahead, but I don’t intend to join in. Although I would suggest that if you try to make a case for ‘creationism’ with nothing more than philosophy, metaphysics, and the Bible then your argument will not be very strong.

    You said, "However, since God made these statements they will always be accurate descriptions of how nature works. We are fallible but his is infallible."
    These are unsupported assertions.

    You said, "However, in Darwin’s case, without being fascetious, his claims remain much in dispute without scientific backing, though it is commonly supposed his claims are well supported."
    These are unsupported and incorrect assertions.

    Darwin’s general claims, but more specifically the claims of the modern Theory of Evolution, are not in dispute among most mainstream scientists. For support of this claim of consensus, not as an appeal to authority, I offer multiple institution’s and organization’s statements related to evolution at http://ncse.com/media/voices/science and more specifically related to claims of "much in dispute" there is Project Steve at http://ncse.com/taking-action/project-steve.

    As to, "without scientific backing," the fossil record, genetics, and the distribution of species all scientifically support the Theory of Evolution, as I have described in previous postings. More information at:
    http://evolution.berkeley.edu/evosite/lines/index.shtml
    http://www.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=6024&page=9#p200064869970009001
    http://www.actionbioscience.org/evolution/
    http://www.nescent.org/index.php

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  48. 48. Galileo 11:08 pm 06/4/2010

    NJuan,

    An interesting aspect of your last post, NJuan, seems to be your claim that science is the only way we can gain legitimate knowledge. But I would suggest, as others have, that there are other ways of knowing.

    The theologian claims to know things, so does the artist, but neither can subject his knowledge, not all of it, at least, to scientific investigation.

    In everyday experience we know that someone loves us, but we do not ask for scientific evidence that this is so.

    As a Christian it does not bother me that the things that I know are subjective. I know that God answers prayer, but I am not bothered that science does not corroborate my experiences. I know that my sins are forgiven and that God has unfailing love for me. I know that when I die I will go to heaven. I cannot prove these things, but that is not a bother to me.

    But even science must stand on assumptions that themselves, cannot be proven scientifically else they cannot be taken as assumptions. For example, scientists assume that the universe is an orderly place. As the former atheist Anthony Flew points out, order is the basis for design. Design is not something we can take for granted because there are those who deny design, Richard Dawkins being a prime example. And yet we cannot do science unless we assume that the universe is an orderly place.

    Science of course is an extremely useful tool and lately I have been very thankful for the modern medicine we have and the medical technology which is based upon science. Yet as useful and as wonderful as science is, it is only one way of knowing, though many have taken it as the only way. Apparently Bertrand Russell took it as the only source of knowledge.

    No, there is not uninimous agreement among evolutionists, neither does evolutionary theory find that it has solid scientific backing, but I believe we have been down this path before.

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  49. 49. NJuan 5:10 pm 06/12/2010

    Galileo,

    I made no claim that science was the only knowledge; I simply asked for scientific evidence in a debate on a scientific question. That doesn’t seem unreasonable to me. If the debate were on transubstantiation or Picasso then I might ask a theologian or an artist for their subjective non-scientific views.

    How did we get into epistemology anyway? Surely, we don’t need to build a philosophy from the ground up.

    I cannot "prove" a philosophical basis for my belief (yes, belief) that we experience reality within the limits of our physical abilities to do so and that we can learn about that reality through rational means (i.e. I exist and I can learn about the reality in which I exist). I can however say that the evidence supports a rational, or ‘orderly’, universe, simply because every test that has ever been done supports that conclusion. Every time I drop something on this planet it falls. Every time the Earth rotates the sun ‘rises’. Every time the distance to Alpha Centari is calculated it is the same. Every time water is heated to a certain temp and pressure it turns to vapor. Etc. Etc. Etc. (And, yes there are exceptions but, interestingly, the exceptions are also rational and discoverable. e.g. lighter than air objects, suns burn up, stars move, and superheated water)

    There is almost no end to the supporting evidence that we live in an ‘orderly’ universe (i.e. existence in a rational world) and no evidence that I’m aware of that contradicts it (i.e. no evidence of miracles). Is that "proof"? No, it’s not. Is it a rational assessment of a basic property of the universe based on the evidence, I certainly think so. And, so it is with Evolution. Science doesn’t deal in "proofs," that’s mathematics, it deals in evidence-based descriptions and explanations of how the universe works.

    So do I need to make an assumption, or take it on faith, that the universe is rational, or ‘orderly’? No, the evidence fully supports that conclusion.

    (cont. in next post)

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  50. 50. NJuan 5:13 pm 06/12/2010

    (continued…)

    On the question of scientific agreement, I think you are equivocating, if that is the right term. However a few points, first, science is not decided by popular vote, second, I would think by definition all "evolutionists" would agree that evolution happened, and third, only because you are interested in the vote, the vast majority of scientists involved in evolution related fields agree that evolution happened and debate only which mechanisms are the main drivers (see links in a previous post of mine.)

    On the statement that the TOE doesn’t have "solid scientific backing." This is completely inaccurate and blatantly false. Restating this again and again doesn’t make it any more true. You may disagree with the conclusions but denying the existence of well documented, well researched, and well tested, evidence that can be found in many scientific journals as not being "solid scientific backing" is, well, delusional. I have provided evidence previously, please review it.

    So we’ve covered the philosophical basis for reality being real, an orderly universe, proof and science, scientific agreement, a serious disconnect on what constitutes "solid scientific backing". None of which is directly relevant to the validity of the Theory of Evolution.

    What’s next? Hopefully some actual evidence.

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