Friday, October 31, 2008

Top 10 so called myths about evolution part 4

Well the real 7th top myth (I accidentally labeled the 8th top myth as the seventh sorry about that) about evolution is that ape-human genetic similarities prove evolution.

Well in this case it depends on how you look at it. Creationists are right in pointing out that ape-human similarities don't necessarily prove evolution. But it is not simply the similarities but the pattern of these similarities which make evolution a better explanation. there is no reason not to assume that since humans and apes have the same retroviruses, Pseudogenes, junk DNA, and one of the human chromosomes is a fusion between two chimp chromosomes; they are therefore related. Creationists can rationalize this all by saying that God designed them with similarities, or that God purposely infected apes and humans with the same retroviruses because of some unknown purpose (yes they actually suggest this), and that pseudogenes have a function which has not been discovered yet (to be fair some pseudogenes have actually been found which do have a function). But that still doesn't refute the genetic similarity argument used by evolutionists.

P.S. Wow, this is the first month in which I've made more then seven posts since July; a new record!

P.P.S. Well anyways, good day.

Created Rationalist

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Top ten so called myths about evolution part 3

Now after a rather busy week we get to transitional forms. Then 7th top myth is that there are clear transitional fossils. Well if you creationists could remind paleontologists of that, it would be quite nice. one of the more extraordinary transitional forms is Tiktaalik with phalanges, a neck, and inner ear structures which appear half-way between land animals and fish. Also lets not forget our friends Archaeopterix and Microraptor. Also here are two videos about transitional forms, part 1 and part 2. The guy despite being a professing Christian is an especially rabid anticreationist which some of my creationist associates might find offensive but he does have good information.

Hence transitional forms is another scientific reason to become a theistic evolutionist.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Top 10 so called myths about evolution part 2

forgive me for being a little slow on this series, my next posts on this series will hopefully be more frequent.

Anyway this one is about homologous structures; the "evolutionist" myth is apparently that it proves evolution. Their counter-argument is that physical or genetic similarities does not prove two organisms are related anymore then the fact that two phones are alike means they are related. One person actually denied that the similar characteristics can also prove common design. I don't think the argument is invalid; it also logically follows that organisms without the the same structures would have greater genetic differences then organisms that do have the same structures and vice verca. The problem with this argument is deciding which similarities are due to common design and which are due to common descent. Mainstream creationists (AiG, ICR, and CMI mainly) think that all species come from larger more diverse kinds, so obviously you would have some organisms which are similar also due to common descent, so two different breeds of dogs being genetically similar due to common descent is not a problem for creationists. But what about say, chimpanzees and humans who are about as similar as two breeds of dogs? A theologically consistent special creationist would have to say that humans were of a different kind then chimpanzees, even though his scientific definition of a kind says otherwise. The question is how far can you go back in animals before you the kind level? If

If this aspect of creationist genetics were correct then should be large gaps in genetic similarity between two species from different kinds. For example; chimpanzees should be more like 90% or even 80% similar, not 98% similar.

My point here is while the common design argument is valid as far as logic goes, but it fails in the fact that the genetic similarities are more consistent with a non-creationist interpretation of the data. As far back as we go back largely unrelated organisms (such as dogs and bears) become more and more genetically similar to the point where they would classify as being in the same creationist kind. Following a creationist interpretation we have to make an arbitrary cut off point which has no other then a weak theological justification for it.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

A few tips for creationist tract makers

Now I really hate to sound like I am putting down other Christians, I'm not and try hard not to; what I am doing is helping out my fellow Christians who happen to be creationists make tracts so they'll look more credible. And one way is to mend their gospel tracts. The gospel tracts I am referring to are the ones directed at mainly atheistic evolutionists. Often they have things in them which would probably cause the audience these Christians are trying to reach to dismiss them as ingorant bible-thumping bumpkins, and that is rarely a good thing. So this is to help out those evangelical tract-makers who want to send high quality tracts to their client churches.

The one I am reviewing is from A.C.T.S. ministries and interestingly enough it is actually much better written then most creation/evolution tracks put out by Way of the Master or Living Waters ministries (Ray Comfort and Kirk Camoren's ministries) but it still has a lot of the things which I find would not impress the average biology student.

Consider the introduction;
"Please don't put this down until you have read it thoroughly. We've taken
the time to share these truths with you and ask that you keep an open mind just
as you did when embracing darwinism

Please understand that all the scientific theories about the origin of
life, as taught in the public school system, have been proven by science,
history and the fossil record to be wrong. Evolution, Big Bang and others just
don't fit.

Please, read on and we believe you will conclude that Mr. Darwin was not a
bad man, but he was very wrong"

Now whats wrong with this introduction? Two things;
1. It calls evolution "darwinism," I know this is a minor point, but most evolutionary apologists do not like this term. Darwinism is a group of ideas and notions not necessarily connected to evolution so it should not be used when referring to evolution. When a creationist says "darwinism" most evolutionists other then myself take that to mean the creationist thinks evolution is some sort of cult which its not (some evolutionists even go as far to think creationists think that they worship Darwin as their deity which unfortionately some creationists do) and the creationist is dismissed as an idiot (yes as rediculous as it sounds many evolutionary apologists do make that big of a deal about it) and being seen as bigger idiots then they are already stereotyped is the last thing creationists need.
2. Never, ever say the Big Bang talks about the origin of life. It does not, it doesn't even talk about the origin of the universe only what happened afterwards (that the universe expanded and stars and galaxies were formed, etc.). Most creationists speak of evolution as an umbrella term referring to a veriaty of naturalistic explanations concerning origins whether cosmological, biological, or geological. Most educated creationists understand that they are studied in different fields and apply to different topics but they use the word "evolution" to refer collectively to naturalistic origins scenarios. However to the evolutionists' ears this sounds like you can't tell the difference between cosmology and biology. And just from the very first few sentences of your tracts you will be dismissed as a scientific ignoramus.

In then next section they talk about transitional forms between humans and apes. The problem with the next section is that the first part is a bit of an argument from personal incredulity (I can't imagine apes evolving into humans because they're to different) you want to watch out for that one. An argument from personal incredulity is basically stating you lack the of the ability to imagine something happens proves it did not happen; it is not a good argument and simply makes you look illogical and at best, unimaginative. If you want to make anymore then a comedic impression on an evolutionist leave those arguments out.

The next is to actually research your arguments before you use them. The second point of the tract consists of them talking about how radiometric dating is false. They simply give a few examples of radiocarbon dating giving off wild results. All the of the stated examples (a freshly killed seal being dated at 1300 years old, a living mollusk being dated at 2300 years old, and a shell on a living seal being dated at 27,000 years old) even if these count they only disprove radiocarbon dating, which only is used to date thins younger then 60,000 years. It does not disprove the accuracy of Potassium-Argon dating, Rubidium-Strontium dating or other methods used to date rocks that are actually millions of years old. Also all the examples can be explain by natural processes (because of more C14 in certain deep waters sea creatures can get more C 14 then usual thus making them look much older then they actually are). I should also add radiocarbon dating has been used to date the dead sea scrolls to have been written before Jesus' time, this means that we know from comparing the dead sea scrolls to modern day bibles that Christians didn't alter the text to make it appear more consistant with the New Testament.

In their third point about the fossil record the conclude by saying most scientists have abandoned Darwin's theories. This is simply not true, and shouldn't be propogated; yes a small number of scientists do oppose Darwin but they make up less then 1% of the scientific community, thats hardly most of the scientific community. If you say this the evolutionist may think you are lying (creationists have a rather nasty stereotypical trate which is lying) and your tract will be ignored.

Final suggestion, at the end of a tract, don't immediately launch into a discussion on the ten commandments and how your going to hell and need to be saved. The evolutionist reader whether atheistic or not will take this as a scare tactic (which is especially bad if you have a really bad tract going along with it) and dismiss you as religiously motivated scaremongers. Instead I would suggest simply ending it with the suggestion of there being a God and that God possibly being the God of the bible, then directing them to a source for more information. It makes you sound less like a cult and more like an evangelist.

Now to A.C.T.S. ministries I'd like to say keep up the good work but try to do a better job with your creation/evolution tracts.

And to Way of the Master; shape up.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Top 10 so called myths about evolution

This is a response series to the AiG web article series Top 10 myths about evolution. Myth 10 is apparently that computer programs prove evolution.

While it is true that it doesn't necessarily prove anything. Computer simulations however do help to visualize concepts such as natural selection creating new species. What they do prove is that that random mistakes can generate meaningful information. Thus even if it does entail a rigged results thats not the point. The point is that random mistakes can generate order if controlled by natural selection; hence evolution.

It is interesting that the picture they use to illustrate the point depicts the evolutionist program designer as being 100% biased against God. Of course this is not accurate since many evolutionists myself including believe in God and agree with evolution. While I have no philosophical problem with creationism or Intelligent Design I have yet to see evidence of it in nature. As I have said before once I get good evidence I will wholeheartedly become a creationist against all odds.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Religulous; the atheist equivalent of expelled

Most of those reading this blog have heard of the movie Religulous which came out on October 3. I haven't actually seen the movie so this won't be a comprehensive review. If I do review it, the review will be on my other blog Apologia Physis. This is just a passing comment on Elles's review. Her review was the first positive review I've seen; other reviews I read were from Christian sources so I will admit I am a little biased. But from what I have heard of the video (even from the one positive review) it doesn't seem to anything of substance.

He goes to people who are not equipped to defend their faith in the first place and butchers them on spot. And to prove faith is not reasonable, rather then going to noted religious scholars such as Alister McGrath or religious apologists such as Lee Strobel, Normon Geisler, Josh McDowell or J.P. Holding who deal with these kind of problems with the faith as a profession (although I do disagree with them on certain scientific and theological issues) Maher goes to people who not onlu are unable to answer challenges to the faith but also have misconceptions about it. It is a tragedy how many Christians are unprepared to give a reasonable defense of their faith (I doubt some of my fellow Christians would be able to answer Maher's questions). He also seems to go out of his way to find the nuttiest religious believers possible to make religion look insane.

Also I don't see what his problem is with believing the world is going to end; even most atheists agree that eventually sun will consume the earth and the solar system will be destroyed one day. And that the universe will reach an ultimate fate in the distant future; why isn't Bill Maher laughing at Alan Guth or Carl Sagan? It seems very unfair that he would single out religious believers who believe in an eschatology for ridicule

Also I obviously think that the "grow upor die" theme is just a little harsh.

In summary I think its obvious Maher meant it to be a parody, but in doing so didn't make himself look good.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Is it possible for evolution to inspire faith?

That is an interesting proposition; it is true that the granduer of evolution can create a religious experience in some people while it creates the opposite feeling in others.

An interesting article discusses this idea of evolution being something which can lead one to God, however being that it comes from Emmergent Village, which is a hub of the Emmerging Church I would take what they say with a grain of salt.

Being a Christian who believes in evolution, I see it as a method of creation which God invented to allow for the emmergence of life and what he wanted, other sentient beings to have a relationship with. Although I do not believe evolution would inevitably lead a man to God anymore then it would inevitably lead a man to atheism, evolution does have religious implications nonetheless.