Answering Objections to 'The Argument from Evolution' Part 1

Hello Ken, 

I am the author of the article “Argument from Evolution” released on Thinking Matters. Ken Perrott has laid a few charges at the door (see Open Parachute) so to speak, and has tripped a few times getting there, so I wish to address some of the problems here. I will first outline them.

I perceive these charges to be: (1) being anti-evolution; (2) upholding a ‘web of lies’ by citing ‘bulling’ tactics from evolutionists that curtail of the freedom of inquiry; (3) The illegitimate use of a quotation by Stephen J Gould that speaks of a lack of transitional forms in the fossil record; (4) the illegitimate use of probability calculations to substantiate fault in evolutionary models; (5) the illegitimate use of the second law of thermodynamics and (6) that these improbability calculations should equally apply to creation models.

(1) on being anti-evolution

There needs to be a subtle distinction drawn here. In the article I did not state my position, but I did argue in a way that suggested a purely naturalistic evolutionary model is not viable. Granted, the movement of the article was towards refuting evolutionary models, and evolution did come under heavy assault, but the main burden of the article was to show that evolution does not imply that God does not exist (a contention it seems you did not imbibe) and if true, the Christian can be open to where the evidence leads. If the evidence points to some form of evolution, then holding to it can be considered a valid intellectual move. If the evidence points away from evolution, the Christian is free to move away from it unlike the atheist who committed to purely naturalistic evolution. 

But where does the evidence lead? We can discuss the merits of it here at least partially by looking at your objections. 

Beginning your discourse you immediately make two mistakes. The first is here:

“It’s interesting that people who have no real regard for science, and are actually working hard to discredit modern science, feel the need to ‘use’ science to support their arguments!”

You conflate ‘modern science’ with ‘correct science.’ I, like you, have a regard for science as a valid method to explain the world in which we live (I have posted on this subject of Science, God and the Bible separately). I have no interest in discrediting good science. I do feel obligated to refute bad science (as I see it), and especially bad philosophy that is smuggled in underneath good and bad science. 

Your second mistake is here:

“…the fact that evolutionary science is overwhelmingly accepted by the scientifically literate. . . the experts, do actually support evolutionary science?”

Just because the majority of people accept evolution does not mean that evolution is true. Making that leap is called the fallacy of argument from the majority of opinion. If your point was that the majority of expert opinion lends weight to the argument that evolution is true, then I could agree with you. I would question then if it was the case that there was an overwhelming majority of opinion, but that would be beside the point. 

Take for instance this example. If I told you that the overwhelming majority of critical new testament scholars and historians recognise the facts surrounding the events of Christ’s death as truly historical (namely; (a) the honourable burial; (b) the empty tomb; (c) the resurrection appearances; (d) the disciples earnest belief that ‘God raised Jesus from the dead,’) and then told you that therefore God raised Jesus from the dead, you wouldn’t accept that. You would find all manner of reasons to disregard the critical scholars and historians acceptance of the data (by saying they cannot legitimately derive that conclusion from the data; these people are biased; these people are no authorities), or failing that discredit the reasons why the majority agrees to (a) through (d). It is after analysis of (a), (b), (c) and (d) that your opinion would be swayed, if at all. Similarly, it is on the arguments and reasons why evolutionists believe in evolution that should sway you to believe, or in failing to convince you, perhaps disbelieve. Not on the majority opinion!

Majority of opinion has very often been wrong in science before. That is a lesson you should know very clearly if you have done any research in history of science. Besides all this, if it turned out the majority of opinion actually was for the ID model, you wouldn’t accept that as proof of the truth of ID either. So its clear claiming expert opinion as a means of proving evolution is a fallacy best avoided. 

(2) ‘bulling’ tactics

Your claim is creationism and ID are propped up creationists and ID proponents by claiming they are bullied by the scientific establishment and prevented from being published by a faulty peer review system: a conspiracy is afoot, and lies are protected by the establishment. 

Now I did not cite any bulling tactics, nor did I use an argument like this at all. I did mention Ben Stein’s documentary, but this was to support the right to speak out without being called derogatory names, and for the responsibility of everyone to let criticisms of any theory to be heard. 

Your comments are therefore quiet disturbing. Any charge of the curtailing of academic freedom is deplorable and should be scrutinised with the up-most seriousness. Your quick dismissal is not engendering in this reader a confidence of your own “open mind.” The facts are there is a culture of scientific intolerance that pervades academia (especially American) towards critics of neo-Darwinian evolution. To support this I need only cite your own blog and your favourite satirical cartoons you have provided (very funny btw :-).

Your third mistake I perceive is here:

“Well, it’s too late to tell the truth. That would destroy the whole web of lies they have constructed. . . Of course these creationist propagandists see New Zealand Christians as the natural constituency for their propaganda. This constituency is more accepting because the more fundamentalist of them fear that modern science negates their faith. They also inappropriately feel that the harsh reality of natural history somehow has implications for how human society should work.”

Your clear that you think that creationists have constructed a big ‘web of lies.’ Not so clear on just what these lies supposedly are. It is incumbent on you to support your general aspersions of Christian belief or what the Christian community ‘inappropriately feel’ with specifics and then arguments if you have them. As I mentioned before the burden of the article was to show that evolution in no way speaks to the issue of God’s existence, but rather brings a very different challenge to Christian belief than the atheist charges. 

The assertion that Christians “inappropriately feel that the harsh reality of natural history somehow has implications for how human society should work” is unsupported and unjustified. As longs as evolution remains the standard for presuppositional naturalism, while the science (good or bad) is being trumpeted the philosophy will be smuggled in underneath. Evolution therefore constitutes a worldview that will influence how people think and fell about themselves and society at large. Eventually it will (if it hasn’t already) start to dominate the actions of people. 

Dr. Nathan Jastram says on the topic of evolution, if life is a product of random chance [blind, undirected evolution]; it doesn’t matter if we live or die; it doesn’t matter how we live and die; end-of-life issues like euthanasia and abortion become acceptable and we are no better than trout, dogs, cockroaches, chickens or salmonella. These are the logically consistent conclusions if evolution is the case.1 I can think of many more consequences to people and society that are not listed above. This does not mean to say that evolution is not true – just the unsavoury consequence if it is.

(3) Misquoting Gould

You claim I illegitimately used a quotation by Stephen J Gould that speaks of a lack of transitional forms in the fossil record. Even if I have, this does not invalidate the point of the section “The problem with fossils.” There are other quotes supporting the lack of transitional forms, as well as other problems in the fossil record other than the lack of transitional forms. 

But was I misusing the quote from Gould as you claim? 

(i) Gould was complaining about the ‘distortion and innuendo’ of his theories. I ask you now, how did I distort and/or give suggestive, disparaging remarks of punctuated equilibrium? Moreover, (ii) the quotation I used points out the extreme rarity of transitional forms (which was the point being made), as does the quotation by Gould that you used – “Transitional forms are generally lacking at the species level…” He then modifies his statement somewhat by saying “…but they are abundant between larger groups.2 And what are the abundant transitional forms between the larger groups? The species that in the fossil record appear not to modify. Put simply, the missing links are still missing. So its actually you (because of (i) and (ii)) who are illegitimately using his quotes. 

In the quote of Gould from Natural History, Vol. 86, he goes on to say, “…new species almost always appeared suddenly in the fossil record with no intermediate links to ancestors in older rocks of the same region.”3 It is true that this lack of evidence led him to amend evolution as gradual change to his model of punctuated equilibrium, but the point I was making was the same as Gould himself – that there is a problem with the fossil record due the lack of transitional fossils. 

To underscore the point, here is another quote from Dr. Niles Eldredge;

“…the smooth transition from one form of life to another, which is implied in the theory… is not borne out by the facts… No one has yet found any evidence of such transitional creatures… In the last decade, geologists have found rock layers of all divisions of the last 500 million years and no transitional forms were contained in them. It is not the fossil record which is incomplete, it must be the theory.”4

 

…continued on the next article Answering Objections to ‘The Argument from Evolution’ Part 2

Footnotes

1. Dr. Nathan Jastram [Concordia University Wisconson], Issues, Etc., (Podcast: 23 October, 2008)

2. Stephen Jay Gould, ‘Evolution as Fact and Theory’ (http://www.stephenjaygould.org/library/gould_fact-and-theory.html; Retrieved 24 October, 2008)

3. Stephen Jay Gould, ‘Evolution’s Erratic Pace,’ Natural History, Vol. 86, May 1977, p. 12.

4. Niles Eldredge, “Missing, Believed Nonexistent,” Manchester Guardian (The Washington Post Weekly), Vol. 119, No. 22, 26 November 1978, p. 1.

7 replies
  1. Heraclides
    Heraclides says:

    It took me a moment to realise that what you mean is that Ken was referring to your article, which you are defending, not defending posts on Ken’s blog. I think you might want to make this clearer for the sake of other readers.

    Before addressing your points, I’d point out that your entire argument in your original post is a straw man effort from the very onset, as no scientist would draw a straight line between “evolution is a well established scientific fact” and “proof that G-d does not exist”. As a matter of principle, I could just stop here and that’d be all I’d need to say, as with your argument being founded on a straw man statement, whatever followed would be moot.

    Firstly, as a practical matter, in the absence of evidence for, or to test that existence or absence of, the G-d (none is forthcoming…), the vast majority of scientists simply aren’t interested in the latter part of your straw man statement claims them to be.

    Other lines of evidence, i.e. outside of evolution, are brought by those few who try address the latter part, as Gould does. Scientists might say that a literal interpretation of the bible’s account of the origin of species is at odds with evolution, and, to be polite, seriously so, but that’s quite a different claim.

    Some religious people who insist on taking the bible literally, might extend this to make out that this claims that G-d does not exist, as opposed to conflicting with a literal interpretation of the bible, but that’s not a claim made by scientists, but a claim made by these religious people in response to their insistence/need that the bible be taken literally. I should take the opportunity to point out at this point, this is a key reason why creationists object to evolution: creation-taken-literally cannot co-exist with evolutionary theory, but the conflict is not with the bible per se, but with a literal interpretation of it.

    But that aside, quickly, point by point:

    1.

    Some people don’t have alternatives theories to put forward, but only argue against evolution. These people could rightfully be called anti-evolutionary, I think, as their argument only travels the negative route “against” the “opposition”, without any positive alternative.

    The “Wedge” and other documents openly say the aim is to “attack” evolution. All “theories” I’ve seen either amount to “if”, i.e. based on purely on possibilities, not evidence, or amount to pure fluffery based on stringing likely sounding things together in an extended game of bluff. (Yours is the latter.)

    The actual argument you present above for point 1 doesn’t address any claim you were being anti-evolutionary as far as I can see, but instead pokes at Ken’s claims for supporting evolution.

    2.

    I can’t see where Ken has made this claim of you: you don’t provide any quote and a quick skim doesn’t find one. Your original article does defend this sort of activity quite robustly, though.

    Challenging a theory honestly is fine if the claims can be substantiated, but to persist with them after they have repeatedly been shown not to be of substance, but wishful thinking, isn’t meaningful, is negative and is disruptive without anything positive being able to come from it. This doesn’t just apply to creationists, but also to others who persist with pressing unsubstantiated ideas on the science community by endless repetition of already disproven or obviously nonsensical statements (some of the natural health nuts, with their “amazing” treatments, are a good example).

    I can’t speak for Ken, but are the endless claims made by creationists of others or about various “scientific” things that simply aren’t correct. I’ve seen too many of these that prove to be at best inaccurate and at worst deliberately disingenuous to recount them, but suffice to say that there are huge websites set out to painstaking refute literally hundreds of false claims made by creationists. (False in that they can readily be shown to be false on evidence.) As one example: http://www.talkorigins.org/origins/faqs-qa.html

    “As longs [sic] as evolution remains the standard for presuppositional naturalism, while the science (good or bad) is being trumpeted the philosophy will be smuggled in underneath.”

    You’re “sneaking in” quite an assumption there yourself ;-)

    “Eventually it will (if it hasn’t already) start to dominate the actions of people.” You write this as if it is a negative thing, in effect confirming that “The assertion that Christians “inappropriately feel that the harsh reality of natural history somehow has implications for how human society should work” is unsupported and unjustified.” is correct by objecting yourself!

    3.

    Without bothering to quibble with the details, taking the fossil record on its own is a bit irrelevant, as it ignores the complementary science.

    (I’m short on time. I have to admit that I sometimes think that creationists’ arguments are intentionally long-winded and confusingly written to make them too time-consuming to refute!)

    4.

    My impression is that you take Ken’s remark to refer only to you, your quotation starts with “Creationists”, not you personally. At least that’s my reading of his words. If so, your objection is moot. (Either way, he is right, unfortunately.)

    “All these highly unlikely calculations apply to the chemical origin of life”

    Actually, some incredibly dubious maths has been applied by some creationists to evolution, too.

    The example from your article refers to a current organism, not the origin of life ;-)

    I’d add the example you gave seems a completely empty statement, it doesn’t seem to say anything at all, other than give roughly the number of base in the E. coli genome. Its says, “he E. coli genome is rougly 4 million bases long”. Well, OK, that’s news… (Its actually a bit bigger, but never mind.)

    It also doesn’t relate to or illustrate the statements preceding it, either. (e.g. “The arrangement in a protein is not just random – it means something.”) The length of the E. coli genome hasn’t much to do with proteins. I have to be honest and say most of what you write doesn’t really say anything when you look closer and seems to try leap between or “connect” totally unrelated things. All in all, it looks like bluffing hoping to fool the ignorant to me.

    5.

    “Charles Thaxton, Walter Bradley and Roger Olsen outline their equations for the work required to synthesis a protein containing 101 amino acids.”

    Even if I were to consider this work valid (not saying either way), it would be meaningless outside of the context of synthetizing a protein from random chemical reactions, which isn’t what cells do, so while it could potentially be an interesting abstract calculation, its meaningless with regard to biology. (And to be pedantic its not a calculation of the work required: work refers to energy, not probabilities or time; I have to infer from this that you are not familiar with chemistry, as you try make out you are-its too basic an error for a chemist, or biologist, to get wrong.)

    6.

    You argument is dismissive and a strawman one at that. (Its silly to reply to accusing others of similar things as you do in reply, etc.)

    For example, to say (or imply) that scientists “adopt a provisional agnosticism-in-the-gaps” is a strawman statement. Scientists don’t fill in the gaps with unjustified assertions, that’s a key reason why they object to creationists doing just that with a “G-d of the gaps”.

    To wrap up, I’d add, with all respect, you seem to be quite unaware of how much is known in the various fields involved, or to even know much about science at all. With that in mind, you are in not in a position to speak for scientists. As I pointed out earlier, your “arguments” don’t really say anything if they are read with an understanding of the relevant sciences. They are disjoint bits that do not relate to one-another (never minding errors of fact). With that in mind, they seem either intended as bluff to fool those with no science background, or delusional self-justification of something you may well believe in it, but I can assure you is quite unreal.

    Your sources seem predominantly from “bible studies” types, rather than scientists if you take a moment to look them up. My point here, is that they aren’t speaking for scientists either.

    And for fun:

    “Since evolution is gradual change, and no evidence of gradual change can be found in the geologic record, is punctuated equalibia a recognition that evolution should be abandoned?”

    Mixing Darwin and modern evolution in an unjustified way. The gradual change is in the DNA sequence; the morphological forms can alter fairly abruptly.

    “What is more the supposed transitions, such as from reptile to bird are impossible.”

    Argument by supposition. Invalid argument.

    “Questionable transitional forms exist, such as the Archaeopteryx, however evolution predicts not a few but a whole host of intermediate forms.”

    Archaeopteryx has quite a few intermediates and is hardly (as) “isolated” as you claim here. Ditto for other species. You appear to have simply left them out or are ignorant of them (ignorant in the literal, not baiting sense). I’ll chalk it up to argument from ignorance. In any point, this “fossil gaps” arguments is moot, particularly as it only can work by ignoring all other complementary evidence.

    “Dr. Michael Denton, in his influential book Evolution: A Theory in Crisis”

    You might wish to try address these objections: http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/denton.html

    “One also wonders about poly-strata fossils, such as preserved tree trunks that run vertically through supposed millions of years of earth history.”

    Widely abused on creationist websites and widely stated correctly, talkorigins will have an explanation. Argument without checking easily verifiable statements for validity (and quite wrong).

    “The problem with soup”

    Evidence you don’t know the field. There is a LOT more to it and the field has long moved on ago. Arguing from ignorance (again) and with dated arguments.

    “This window is only 25 Million years, based on the presumption of a 5-6 billion yea[r] age of the earth, and the earliest fossilised life forms at 3.8 billion years ago.”

    5 billion – 3.8 billion equals… 1.2 billion, not 25 million. (And 6 billion -3.8 billion = 2.2 billion.) Opps :-) And I suspect you’ve quoted an age for the oldest rocks, not fossils. My understanding is that the oldest stromolites are more like 3.45 billion years old, which would leave you with 1.55 – 2.55 billion years to play with. Errors all over the place! :-) Clearly you didn’t bother check what you wrote.

    (On top of this, the science for the older of stromolites isn’t simple: they need to be treated with a little caution. Others are “only” 2 billion years old. The problems aren’t with the age per se, but with interpreting the specimens.)

    And on and on and on the errors keep coming, in almost every single paragraph! Realise why you can’t speak for scientists? You simply don’t know the science…

  2. Stuart
    Stuart says:

    Addressing your Preliminary remarks:

    A) It wasn’t a straw man argument as I didn’t say scientists claim evolution implies God does not exist. What I said was “it is a common taunt among combative-not theists (hence called atheists) that ‘if evolution is true, God does not exist.” Then I said, “If this is true, then we have an argument for atheism.”
    B) Your basically agreeing with me in the next few paragraphs.

    Addressing 1. on being anti-evolution;

    A) The ‘subtle distinction drawn here’ is dividing the science of evolution from the philosophical naturalism so often implied. You missed it. In refuting purely naturalistic evolution I do not have to discard the neo-Darwinian mechanisms, only supplement them with a intelligent designer.
    B) The original article was structured to refute two premises. The first was asking ‘is evolution true?’ There were four problem areas for a purely naturalistic evolution pointed out, and so the conclusion was there is good reason to believe that purely naturalistic evolution is not true.

    Addressing 2. ‘Bullying’ tactics.

    A) Ken was claiming creationists claim bulling tactics from evolutionists as an excuse that their papers aren’t published. I was saying I never claimed to do that.
    B) I never did that in the original article.
    C) See text under the title The ‘Expelled’ whopper
    D) “Eventually it will (if it hasn’t already) start to dominate the actions of people.”
    I give reasons as to why I think it is a negative thing where Ken does not give reasons as to why he thinks Christians are unjustified in thinking so. It’s his move if he want to support his claim. Ken’s Mistake #3 was a tangent to the project anyway.

    Addressing 3. Quoting Gould

    A) I think on this point I was the most to the point in the whole discourse. I’ve cut back the long-windedness.

    Addressing 4. Probability calculations

    A) You may be right that he is referring to other creationist and not to me specifically. I took it to mean that he was lumping me in with them though, so I dealt with it like he was addressing me. I agree that creationists sometimes argue with a straw man like he said.
    B) The E. coli example was not to say ‘look how long it is,’ but to demonstrate specified complexity where the sequence matters. The instructions would have to be followed precisely.
    C) I know its a current organism, but the point is (perhaps it could be clearer) that on the theory once a chemical reaction took place to form a self-replicating biological organism, perhaps like the E. coli, and its difficult to see how it could achieve non-triviality with chance alone.

    Addressing 5. second law of thermodynamics

    A) Its not talking about cells. Its still talking about the origin of life/cells, etc. So it is relevant. I should have been clearer – its talking about the configurational “coding” work.
    B) I know work refers to energy. You just got to read Thaxton to see what I’m talking about. :-) He does a way better job then me explaining. In the end you’ll see how the probabilities are calculated.
    C) The second law of thermodynamics was only one of five reasons in The problem with soup. The other four remain.

    Addressing 6.applying probabilities to special creation

    A) I can’t answer criticisms that aren’t developed. I don’t think it is straw man as I began (6i) with “It seems you are…” and (6ii) with “I think you are…” If it is a straw man, then let him give reasons why he thinks probabilities should be equally applied to acts of special creation. In the mean time I gave reasons as to why they should not in (6i) and (6ii).
    B) on “provisional agnosticism-in-the-gaps”: Its not a straw man because I was only heading off a potential criticism. It’s also not a straw man after dealing with Joel Hilchey’s comments.

    Final Remarks

    A) You’ve read the article with a scientists eye, which I appreciate, but the original article was chiefly philosophical and not scientific. I was arguing against an argument for atheism called “The Argument from Evolution.” I refuted the second premise (evolution is true) by showing there are good reasons to think that purely naturalistic evolution is not true. I then went on to argue that the first premise (if evolution is true, then God does not exist) was false. It sounds like you agree with me on that point at least.
    B) The errors of science you cite aside, I still don’t think anyone yet has done significant damage to my original four problem areas in evolution. The rest of the ‘scientific errors’ (if they indeed are errors) you cite are really only supplementary points to the broader problem areas I pointed out.

    C)
    >Your sources seem predominantly from “bible studies” types, rather than scientists if you take a moment to look them up. My point here, is that they aren’t speaking for scientists either.”

    I love to know who you are referring to exactly. Thaxton? Tipler? Yockey?

    D)

    >”This window is only 25 Million years, based on the presumption of a 5-6 billion yea[r] age of the earth, and the earliest fossilised life forms at 3.8 billion years ago.”
    >5 billion – 3.8 billion equals… 1.2 billion, not 25 million. (And 6 billion -3.8 billion = 2.2 billion.) Opps :-) . . . . which would leave you with 1.55 – 2.55 billion years to play with.

    You forget the time constraint is also being crunched from the other end. You have to allow time for the earth to cool down and seas to form, etc. 25 million is the estimate given by Thaxton.

  3. Heraclides
    Heraclides says:

    “A) It wasn’t a straw man argument as I didn’t say scientists claim evolution implies God does not exist. What I said was “it is a common taunt among combative-not theists (hence called atheists) that ‘if evolution is true, God does not exist.” T

    Expand it to all people, then. The same argument applies, its illogical, literally. With that in mind, this is an excuse by saying “I wasn’t addressing scientists” (when you were actually), but is moot anyway as the argument itself is illogical.

    “Then I said, “If this is true, then we have an argument for atheism.”
    B) Your basically agreeing with me in the next few paragraphs.”

    No, I didn’t: don’t try speak for me, thank you.

    Much of your reply isn’t really not worth replying to, in particular as frequently you have not actually replied to much of what I wrote, but rather given empty “pointers” that say nothing or written about something else. In many you don’t answer my points at all! In some of these cases you either side step it, or simply repeat your original position, which isn’t addressing anything i wrote.

    1A: No I didn’t. Don’t try speak for me, thank you. I can speak for myself.

    1B: Doesn’t address anything I wrote.

    2B-C: Not clear what you are referring to; you need to give quotes or some leader.

    2D: Doesn’t address what I actually wrote, replies to something else instead.

    3: No attempt to address what I wrote, so nothing to say, of course.

    4B: It doesn’t do that either. I would take it from this you really, really haven’t a clue. ALL it says it long it is. Length says NOTHING about complexity. That you don’t understand this just illustrates that you don’t understand the science.

    4C: It doesn’t illustrate that either; what you’re introducing in your reply is new (its not in the original). Replying to your new statement: you’ve chosen to take a very different “path” than life did: life did not take a huge leap from “chemicals” to “an organism like E. coli“. As such it could not be a comparison of like with like. You’ve done this elsewhere too.

    5A: Irrelevant & side-stepping. Proteins of any real length don’t form outside cells. Shares the fault of what I addressed in 4C, too.

    5B: You obviously didn’t in your original post. Be a man and just accept you erred, eh? What you are really saying in the subtext is that you are copying things you don’t understand.

    5C: Point conceded for once, you still go on to try to excuse yourself!

    6A: I was replying to “To head off the criticism…” You’re writing about something else that what I was.

    6B: That’s a ridiculous excuse! :-) You’re saying here that a straw man argument, isn’t straw man argument if its used “heading off a potential criticism”. It doesn’t matter how its used, its still straw man argument! Subsequent comments won’t change it either.

    Final Remarks (FR):

    FR-A: Side-stepping, my point stands: trying to make your argument “philosophical” doesn’t change what I wrote. What “second premise”?; you need to make yourself clear. And AGAIN try to speak for me… don’t. You are not right and I don’t need to be spoken for. Putting words in others mouths is a very cheap way to argue. You certainly didn’t refute “evolution is true” and asserting something by fiat doesn’t make it right.

    FR-B: A series of excuses, trying to brush aside valid criticism without addressing them. To me this reads as that you’ve given up and are resorting to dismissing out of hand.

    FR-C: It doesn’t really matter, my point is quite clear. A relevant issue is that while the citations might “look” like science, in practice these authors don’t speak for the science community.

    FR-D: This is plainly an excuse. I replied to what you did write: I don’t presume to invent things you might have written. I can’t possibly “forget” a thing you didn’t write. My point about subtraction and age of rocks v. fossils stands, as does your not checking what you wrote. The new material in your reply doesn’t work for you either, I’m afraid. The oldest rocks of today, are from substantially AFTER the earth cooled, so there is no scope for “crunching” the times, as you put it.

  4. Stuart
    Stuart says:

    Hello Heraclides,
    I want to first thank you for attacking my arguments and not attacking me. Your thoughts are spelled out clear (for the most part) and thoroughly, ensuing the conversation be a constructive one. Thank you also for leaving your comments.

    A) It wasn’t arguing a straw man as I wasn’t misrepresenting anyone in the atheistic argument. The atheistic argument is logical. That is clear from the flow of the premises. The atheistic argument is not sound. That is clear because the premises are not true or more likely than their contradictories. On that point you do agree with me. You say in regard to premise 1 (that if evolution is true God does not exist):
    B)
    “Scientists might say that a literal interpretation of the bible’s account of the origin of species is at odds with evolution, and, to be polite, seriously so…”

    Look at what I say in the original article:

    “It seems clear that it is not so. At most, if evolution is true, all it would mean is that a certain literal interpretation of Genesis 1 is incorrect.”

    Again you say:

    “Some religious people who insist on taking the bible literally, might extend this to make out that this claims that G-d does not exist, as opposed to conflicting with a literal interpretation of the bible, but that’s not a claim made by scientists, but a claim made by these religious people in response to their insistence/need that the bible be taken literally”

    Look at what I say in the original article:

    “Yet even if the Bible’s creation account demands a literal interpretation, then all that would follow is that the Biblical doctrine of inerrancy is false. . . that God’s existence is not something that is at stake.”

    I also quoted Howard Van Till in this regard.

    1: The pertinent point I believe you haven’t yet grasped is this: Refuting purely naturalistic evolution is not refuting evolution. I was refuting purely naturalistic evolution. Not evolution.
    1A: I never spoke for you.

    2B-C: refers to 2A
    2D: It does address the paragraph you wrote. Its a side issue anyway, and Ken’s move if he wants to take it.

    3: I was addressing what you wrote in the parenthesis about being long-winded.
    Ken’s objection was about misquoting Gould on the fossil record. I showed that it was Ken that was misquoting Gould and not me. You have more to say on the fossil record I know, so when you do please do not assert by fiat ‘complimentary science,’ but deal with specifics.

    4B: I just flat out disagree. Please explain what you think complexity means.
    4C: You skirting around the real issue. How can anything achieve non-triviality naturally?

    5A: Using the law of biogenesis to explain the origin of life is odd, if that’s what you’re doing.
    5B: I did know work refers to energy, but that’s not the real issue. I will be a man and say I had trouble writing that portion of the refutation, and not only because it was late when I did. I was going to quote Thaxton at length but he used symbols that would not transcribe into WordPress which this blog uses. I chose in the end to summarise. I’m willing to concede you think I did a shoddy job. You should really read Thaxton! I provided the web-site in the footnotes to the article.
    5C: It wasn’t a concession. I believe you misread it. It refers to the original section in the article “Argument from Evolution” where there are 5 problems with the chemical origin of life from a pre-biotic soup. If one falls, that doesn’t matter as it was independent of the other four problems. In short, the general problem still stands.

    6A: Sorry for the confusion. I think its Ken’s move anyway.
    6B: No. A straw man argument is a fallacy based on misrepresentation of an opponent’s position. In “heading off a potential criticism” I was not misrepresenting anyone’s position. Ergo, its not a straw man.

    FR-A:
    “Side-stepping, my point stands: tying to make your argument “philosophical” doesn’t change what I wrote.”
    Addressing scientific inaccuracies is valid, and everyone’s welcome to do that. But you have to remember I didn’t write a paper for a science journal or a dissertation on why people should reject evolution. I wrote an article about the atheistic argument, and the existence of God.

    “What “second premise”?; you need to make yourself clear.”
    I believe I was clear. The “second premise” is in the parenthesis for your ease. It was “evolution is true.”

    “And AGAIN try to speak for me… don’t. You are not right and I don’t need to be spoken for. Putting words in others mouths is a very cheap way to argue.”
    I was talking about the first premise which was “if evolution is true, then God does not exist.” I made it very clear that this premise was false. I certainly didn’t put words in your mouth (you put the words in your own mouth), see the first point A) above in this comment.

    “You certainly didn’t refute “evolution is true” and asserting something by fiat doesn’t make it right.”
    I agree that asserting something by fiat doesn’t make it true. I don’t believe I did though. I concluded that based on the four problem areas I expounded upon, there are good reasons to think that evolution is not true. That is not saying evolution is not true. I did try to argue that purely naturalistic evolution is not true. I’m willing to bet you disagree on that score.

    FR-B: No, in putting your claims about scientific errors aside I was dealing with the issue you raised philosophically. Take for instance “The problem with soup” section. There were five independent problems raised. In pulling down one, you’re still left with four. Pull down four your still left with one.
    What you need to do is stop asserting by fiat (as you accused me of doing), and stop referring to ‘complimentary science’ offhandedly and cite specifics reasons why such-and-such is not the case.

    FR-C: That is weak! I just can’t convince myself that the likes of Thaxton and Tipler are not representative of the scientific community. Tell me who you are referring to when you say these people are “Bible study” types. In any case, discrediting the sources is using the genetic fallacy.

    FR-D: “…which would leave you with 1.55 – 2.55 billion years to play with.”
    Plot out the 6 billion years of earth’s history. To get the window of opportunity for life to arise you need to find the earliest life (we’ll take your 3.5 billion), and you also need to allow for the earth to cool, seas to form, etc… We have two converging boundaries (not just one). One boundary is running backwards from the present to the first fossil, the other is running forwards from the formation of the earth to the conditions sufficient to produce life. There is significantly less than 1.55 – 2.55 billion year time period like you say. My original statement holds even if I didn’t spell it out for you.

  5. Heraclides
    Heraclides says:

    Your opening statement ascribed to people an argument (position) that they don’t hold.

    Referring to later material doesn’t change the statement: its still there saying the same thing. I said that whatever you say after that would be moot in my first reply ;-) You seem to think that you can “excuse away” straw man statements.

    Several times you claimed that some things you wrote do address things I wrote, when told you they don’t. That’s getting very close to being disingenuous, as only I can be the judge of my intentions. In my experience, its common for creationists to “read their own meanings” in what others write, which may be your problem.

    4B: You claimed its was about “length”, not me: its your homework to do, really. I can certainly defend it, but why should I spend my time on something when its clear to me that you haven’t tried to get it right yourself? Most people I know when pointed out that they got something wrong, go off and check for themselves. Its not hard to find the correct information on this, so I’ll leave it as a homework exercise. (I’ve given you some useful leads already.) You really owe it to yourself to proper meanings first, not defend them after-fact-the-fact by “demanding of others” that they show otherwise, y’know ;-)

    4C: Don’t accuse me of what you are doing yourself, please :-) My statements were quite clear. I did not skirt around anything: I quite directly pointed out that your new take on it wasn’t right either.

    5A: I did nothing of the sort, which should be quite obvious. I wrote a short, simple statement that illustrated that you were (again) trying to compare with something that didn’t happen, making the comparison moot, as in the earlier case (hence my reference back to it). I said nothing about wider issues, I just illustrated the error you were making.

    6B: You have ignored what I wrote: all I can do is ask that you read what I wrote. (See the start of this reply, too.) If its straw man statement, its straw man statement. Preceding it with “just to head off”, etc, will not “undo” it.

    FR-D: Piling excuses on top of previous excuses ;-) Re-read my previous point on this, please. There is no way for you to “compress time” as you want to because the age of the rocks you referred to are from substantially AFTER the events you want to have happened after these rocks were formed.

    I’ve ignored some points as I can’t be bothered dealing with some: there is a limit to silliness that I can be bothered with… ;-)

  6. Heraclides
    Heraclides says:

    Just so you don’t waste time, I might leave it at that. I think I’ve said what I need to anyway.

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