Monday, January 7, 2008

Creationism, Faith, Proof, and... Well, Does It Really All Mesh?

Despite tons and tons of scientific evidence, right-wing groups much like the ill-named "Family Research Council" spends much of their time and resources trying to scrape together enough "evidence" (READ: mis-read on purpose data to support preconceived silly notions) in an effort to "prove" the tales taken as history in the bible.

The latest round of "outrage" came in the form of an email entitled "Design Found, Intelligence Lacking in Latest Attack by Darwinians." Because, you know, that's what science is all about, right? Disproving a fairy tale! Despite the claims of the title of the article, they present no links OR names of the, and I quote, "peer-reviewed articles on the concept and the credentials of 700 doctoral-level scientists who have publicly questioned Darwinism." In other words, they know that if they tried to hold up any one of these "scientists" it could be blasted away by the common lay-person in a nano-second (which, of course, they would argue didn't exist as it isn't mentioned as a time period in the creation story).

The article follows here in its entirety:

The National Academy of Sciences and the Institute of Medicine have mounted yet another attack on the scientific theory of intelligent design, publishing an 89-page book titled Science, Evolution, and Creationism. The new publication falsely equates "intelligent design" (a scientific theory which infers the necessity for intelligent design from scientific evidence) with "creationism" (a term usually used for a theory of origins that begins with the Bible or some other religious text). It also lumps together concepts of microevolution within species (such as the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria), which are not controversial, with the more contested theory of macroevolution, which seeks to trace all existing forms of life to a common ancestor. It appears to dodge altogether the crucial question of how living things could have arisen from non-living things in the first place. It also slanders intelligent design as "unscientific" despite peer-reviewed articles on the concept and the credentials of 700 doctoral-level scientists who have publicly questioned Darwinism. Perhaps the biggest problem with the defenders of Darwinian evolution is that, ironically, they have reversed the roles in the supposed historical "war between science and religion," by declaring Darwinism to be inerrant dogma, and punishing its doubters by burning them at the academic stake.
Here's a clue about why microevolution (otherwise known as "adaptation on a small-scale) is EXACTLY the same thing as macroevolution: Macroevolution is nothing more than the accumulated sum of all the microevolutionizing that the species has been going through that has resulted in a distinct, new species.

Mind-boggling, isn't it?

I suppose we need to point out the differences between the terms before we can get into any lengthy (or not-so-lengthy, as the case may be) discussion as to why they are, at heart, one and the same.

Macroevolution: is used to refer to any evolutionary change at or above the level of species. It means at least the splitting of a species into two (speciation, or cladogenesis, from the Greek meaning "the origin of a branch", see Fig. 1) or the change of a species over time into another (anagenetic speciation, not nowadays generally accepted [note 1]). Any changes that occur at higher levels, such as the evolution of new families, phyla or genera, are also therefore macroevolution, but the term is not restricted to those higher levels. It often also means long-term trends or biases in evolution of higher taxonomic levels.

Microevolution: refers to any evolutionary change below the level of species, and refers to changes in the frequency within a population or a species of its alleles (alternative genes) and their effects on the form, or phenotype, of organisms that make up that population or species. It can also apply to changes within species that are not genetic.

Source: Macroevolution: Its Definition, Philosophy and History by John Wilkins
Despite what creationists would have you believe (and yes, "Intelligent Design" is just poorly disguised creationism...), macroevolution and microevolution and quantifiable, scientific terms which actually mean something--not just general lazy terms carried on the winds of whim.

Regardless, in science, there really is no "fine line" in which microevolution suddenly becomes macroevolution in all cases: at some point, however, science recognizes that a macroevolution has occurred when a species that used to be one and the same is now not interbreeding, cannot interbreed, and show distinct signs of being different.

For example, new species of plants arose via polyploidy (when the chromosome count multiplies by two or more) (de Wet 1971). One example is Primula kewensis (a new type of primrose), which was created when Primula verticillata and Primula florbunda (each with 18 chromosomes) interpollinated. The new flower, Primula kewensis has 36 chromosomes and cannot breed with either of its parent species, but can promote itself with itself, thus fitting the definition of a new species, having also the added benefit of additional chromosomes (meaning that the argument of creationists that all changes within genetic components are bad is a false claim). The new prim rose (pictured here) not only added to its genetic code beyond what was given it by its parents, it can now NOT go back and undo this! It can't even try to tone it down by continued breeding with its parent species! It is a NEW SPECIES. It is evidence of macroevolution.

Of course, creationists think that macroevolution only applies when dogs turn into fish and orangutan's turn into people! Not only is this a false use of the term (meaning that creationists think only when huge amounts of both micro- and macroevolution have occurred has macroevolution actually occurred) it shows a basic ignorance of very basic scientific concepts. And while creationists can continue to ignore vast amounts of evidence concerning both micro- and macroevolution (see here for 29+ evidences for macro [heavy reading, but well worth it!])

But this is all just smoke and mirrors to a creationist, isn't it? Their beef isn't really with evolution. We have to be honest (even if the creationists don't): The biggest issue creationists have with evolution is the misguided notion that somehow it should speak to where life came from, when all Darwin was doing was explaining where the variety of life came from. But it is a logical question to draw from a discussion on the variety of life: where did this life come from?

Of course, creationists would have you believe god sneezed into some mud, and that miraculously it made a man. And when god realized his mistake in not doing a double-sneeze, he then had to amputate a rib from Adam (as apparently, in the beginning, there wasn't enough dust to go around to make a woman) in order to try to make his mistake at least a fun time for Adam.

Yes, god allergies are easier to believe than sound, reliable evidence and facts, isn't it?

Science has actually made some amazing headway into this question! The following are just a sample of the amazing amount of actual scientific links (READ: NOT to Answers in Genesis or any other pseudo-science site) about some of the theories and discoveries about where life might have come about: Really, this could go on forever. Is there any conclusive evidence yet? Of course not--and there may not be for some time! But I will tell you one thing conclusively--none of the evidence supports the God Allergy Hypothesis of Creationism!

As Douglas Adams once put it in his most brilliant of books, The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy,

"I refuse to prove that I exist," says God, "for proof denies faith, and without faith I am nothing."

"But," says Man, "the Babel fish is a dead giveaway isn't it? It proves you exist, and so therefore, you don't. Q.E.D.."

"Oh dear," says God, "I hadn't thought of that," and promptly vanishes in a puff of logic.

"Oh, that was easy," says Man, and for an encore goes on to prove that black is white and gets himself killed on the next zebra crossing.
You have to wonder though--these fundies that, instead of relying on faith like a child, twist and falsely present data in order to make their faith seem more "realistic"--do they actually have faith at all? Does their over-riding need to try to "prove their faith correct" actually negate the faith they are supposed to hold above all else?

10 comments:

C. David Parsons said...

The National Academy of Sciences and the Institute of Medicine do not have the last say on the subject of origins.

Against the backdrop of a nation embroiled in debate and legal battles over whether Intelligent Design or evolution, or both, should be taught in the classroom, The Quest for Right proclaims a
Day of Victory!

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mom said...

hello jason! here you go again! if you ask me people trying to prove anything when not one of these people where around at the start really has no idea. you have faith jason and it is in your science people that are trying to prove that there is no God and i have faith but i don't put it in the science people that are trying to prove there is a God. faith is believing in things that can't be proved. how God did it all could be like some scientists believe that is trying hard to prove no God. i don't have all the fancy words and i am not schooled in anything what you are blogging about but my faith in God does not need proof and i wish some of the money on both sides use to prove all this would put it towards doing some good where it counts instead of fooling around with trying to prove how the earth was created. i often wonder how some of these things are funded and yet we have no money to help our fire companies, our police force, the people that are sick and get turned away from hospitals because they have no insurance, and yet the money flows to worry about how something started out. i know there is a need for some science stuff but not to worry about things that they are sometimes are trying to worry about. i know i am on a soap box a bit and i am stepping off. i give you credit jason in doing all this research but your mom is not about to take time to read all this since my brain is thinking about the here and now not when the world was being made before people came along and really messed it up. :) love and prayers

Jason Hughes said...

Nice ad for trying to sell your book, Slappy.

Tell you what--send me a free copy, and I'll give you an honest, objective critique of what you have written, okay?

Tell me--what does it mean when you claim on the cover that you are a "Biblical Scholar and Scientist Extraordinaire"? What does it take to be a "Scientist Extraordinaire"? Is that a degree of some kind only recognized by people without a scientific background?

Tell me--what in your text books has ended the "debate" (such as it is), and why, if it has "abolished" the very foundations of science, could you only find one reverend and your publisher (a Christian publisher ["Tate Publishing & Enterprises, LLC, is a Christian based, family owned, main-line publishing organization with a mission to discover and market unknown authors." - http://www.tatepublishing.com/index.php], not a science book publisher) to talk about how wonderful your book is on your web site?

Hmm?

And to mom--I love you, but this science (the actual stuff, not Slappy's hair-brained pseudo-scientific babble) has helped the sick, poor and hungry many MANY times over. Finding out about the earth's beginnings and the origin of life are central to making life better for everyone. Almost every comfort, luxury, piece of food, brand of clothing--all of it is due to scientific research which helps to answer the big questionss of "why" and "how." It is not because science has the time to dispel myths and fables--it is because science is trying to find out "why and how." Nothing more. If god happens to die (again) in the process, so be it.

Olorin said...

The Family Research Council tract says the NAS booklet "also lumps together concepts of microevolution within species (such as the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria), which are not controversial, with the more contested theory of macroevolution, which seeks to trace all existing forms of life to a common ancestor."

Physicists seem to have the same problem. The easily observed force that makes an apple fall to earth is given the same name as the highly questionable force that holds planets in their orbits. They should call the first "microgravitation" and refer to the second as "macrogravitation."

Jason Hughes said...

LOL!!

mom said...

hello jason! my brain is tired from dealing with other things going on with more heart issues but i will try to explain what i mean about this science stuff (which my brain is not good at since i think my gift is helping others in the heart issues). :) i didn't mean we don't need science at all but it seems like sometimes they are more worried about if they find out God made it all it would be horrors for them all. i believe God made everything and how He made it is how He made it. i really don't think they should stop looking into how its made but let a place in thier heads for anything. you are putting limits on yourself when you don't let yourself open to maybe it could be made by God. not one person looking for how things where made where at the beginning. i am saying maybe some of the money we spend to look into this should not be spent towards looking at how it is made as much or by who but what we can do with what we have. maybe next time i won't comment at all on this. :) since i really don't care anymore. :) trying to keep you kids straight and trying to get all my projects done is taxing my brain enough. so, believe what you want i know in my heart what is right. :) yes, i used the KNOW word. :) be careful what you comment back to me your birthday present is not in your hands yet. :) snort!! love and prayers

mindflame said...

Creationism is bad Christianity and bad science. Science is process of gathering information. Even if you follow that process correctly you can be wrong for a time until more complete information become available. But it has been a very helpful process.

Creationism is like hearing the answer to an algebra question is 12 and trying to make it equal 12 even though you don't even know how to factor and haven't figured out the first variable yet.

But spiritual knowledge is something else. People who want Genesis to be a science or history lesson miss the point. That does not mean I don't think it is true. I think it is the truest telling of the really important part of the human experience that people through history could have understood.

I am sure you can agree that detailed discussion of biology and astrology that would not have made since to a scientifically minded person through most of history would have been of little use to humans through most of history.

mom said...

hello jason! my brain is tired from dealing with other things going on with more heart issues but i will try to explain what i mean about this science stuff (which my brain is not good at since i think my gift is helping others in the heart issues). :) i didn't mean we don't need science at all but it seems like sometimes they are more worried about if they find out God made it all it would be horrors for them all. i believe God made everything and how He made it is how He made it. i really don't think they should stop looking into how its made but let a place in thier heads for anything. you are putting limits on yourself when you don't let yourself open to maybe it could be made by God. not one person looking for how things where made where at the beginning. i am saying maybe some of the money we spend to look into this should not be spent towards looking at how it is made as much or by who but what we can do with what we have. maybe next time i won't comment at all on this. :) since i really don't care anymore. :) trying to keep you kids straight and trying to get all my projects done is taxing my brain enough. so, believe what you want i know in my heart what is right. :) yes, i used the KNOW word. :) be careful what you comment back to me your birthday present is not in your hands yet. :) snort!! love and prayers

mom said...

hello jason! here you go again! if you ask me people trying to prove anything when not one of these people where around at the start really has no idea. you have faith jason and it is in your science people that are trying to prove that there is no God and i have faith but i don't put it in the science people that are trying to prove there is a God. faith is believing in things that can't be proved. how God did it all could be like some scientists believe that is trying hard to prove no God. i don't have all the fancy words and i am not schooled in anything what you are blogging about but my faith in God does not need proof and i wish some of the money on both sides use to prove all this would put it towards doing some good where it counts instead of fooling around with trying to prove how the earth was created. i often wonder how some of these things are funded and yet we have no money to help our fire companies, our police force, the people that are sick and get turned away from hospitals because they have no insurance, and yet the money flows to worry about how something started out. i know there is a need for some science stuff but not to worry about things that they are sometimes are trying to worry about. i know i am on a soap box a bit and i am stepping off. i give you credit jason in doing all this research but your mom is not about to take time to read all this since my brain is thinking about the here and now not when the world was being made before people came along and really messed it up. :) love and prayers

Olorin said...

The Family Research Council tract says the NAS booklet "also lumps together concepts of microevolution within species (such as the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria), which are not controversial, with the more contested theory of macroevolution, which seeks to trace all existing forms of life to a common ancestor."

Physicists seem to have the same problem. The easily observed force that makes an apple fall to earth is given the same name as the highly questionable force that holds planets in their orbits. They should call the first "microgravitation" and refer to the second as "macrogravitation."