If evolution is true, why do young earth creationists so often win public debates with evolutionists?

It’s sometimes said that evolutionists come out on the short end of public debates with creationists, and this is evidence that evolution is a weaker theory than scientists are generally willing to admit.

But think about it.

The idea that evolutionary scientists are weak debaters is simply false. They debate among other scientists all the time, and their arguments can be read in scientific journals. The reality is that young earth creationists are not able to put together arguments for their position that can withstand the scrutiny of a panel of experts—and so reach publication.

Hence it is the creationist, and not the evolutionist, who habitually fails in debate.

What creationists thus do is bypass serious debate in scientific journals and attempt to appeal directly to audiences whose scientific literacy is uneven at best. Sometimes evolutionists who are scientists will play along, and because of the technical nature of their disciplines, not be terribly convincing to general audiences. But if young earth creationism had anything of scientific merit to say, it would appear in scientific journals and would be debated there very carefully, in detail, and in the full light of print.

When plate tectonics was first proposed it had to fight its way for status, not through plate tectonics debates held in church auditoriums, but in science journals. Now it’s a well established explanation for how the continents have arrived at their current positions.

But I suppose that young earth creationists also reject plate tectonics, and think that it too must withstand scrutiny in the hothouse realm of the one hour debate format to maintain its scientific status, right?

Let’s get real. Here is a list of three things every fundamentalist must confront at some point in her or his life:

—The Bible is not inerrant.
—The earth is old and plants and animals have changed over time.
—Now what?

All the blue pipe smoke of young earth creationism and biblical inerrancy is designed to avoid an honest and complex reflection on that last question. Young earth creationism and biblical inerrancy are popular because they are easy, not because they are true. The facts regarding both of these matters—the Bible’s errancy and evolution’s truth—are readily and easily attainable, and yet they are ignored or protected from honest confrontation through ad hoc rationalization and sophistry. Apologetic arguments with regard to these matters are ways for fundamentalists to avoid confrontation with harder questions. They are forms of whistling in the dark.

About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
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48 Responses to If evolution is true, why do young earth creationists so often win public debates with evolutionists?

  1. Gunlord says:

    The idea that evolutionary scientists are weak debaters is simply false. They debate among other scientists all the time, and their arguments can be read in scientific journals.

    The problem is, however, that debates in scientific journals are a very different thing from public debates. Scientific journals are written, after all, while public debates are spoken–the kind of folks who can wipe the floor with their opponents in writing are often the kind of folks who get smashed in speech. That’s one reason for the greater success of creationists in public debate I can think of.

  2. ogatoprecambriano says:

    Good post Santi.
    And just for the record, although very Off Topic, this is one of those moments when I’m proud of my country! Guess what!

  3. ogatoprecambriano says:

    Now on topic.
    Crationists seem to “win” public debates toward lay audiences, because their job is much, by far easier, than those of Evolution Science. All they have to do is to drop the usual pack of lies, misrepresentations, distortions, and then sit to watch the evolutionist having a hard time trying to debunk all the bullshit, one by one. The problem is not that they have solid arguments, the point is that is much more easier to lie than to deconstruct the lie. Specially when the lie comes packed in (pseudo) scientific jargon, or heavy math. If you are not familiar with the math, and most of people don’t, Dembski’s bullshit about “specified complexity” seem sound. How can a lay person evaluate that?
    There is a reason why we go for experts.

    • santitafarella says:

      Gato:

      What you’ve described sounds a lot like Fox News! How do you wade through all the rhetorical and lawyerly obfuscation just to get back to square one? It’s not really a dialogue. It’s the deflecting of a monologue that holds its audience in contempt and knows what to say to shut down thought or oversimplify it.

      It’s Glenn Beck debating Paul Krugman on economics.

      —Santi

  4. krissmith777 says:

    Hey, I wrote a post on this a while ago myself.

    http://evolutionid.wordpress.com/2010/04/13/debates-between-scientists-and-creationists/

    Creationists tend to win debates because they have a natural talent for getting out a shovel and laying fertilizer out at extremely fast rates that it impossible to refute them even if they are all wrong.

  5. TomH says:

    I think that the reason that evolutionists lose debates against creationists is because they’re not practiced at debating evolution or examining it critically. In debate, it’s important to know the weaknesses of one’s position and to be able to compensate for them. Since evolutionists never examine evolution’s claims critically, they never compensate for its weaknesses very well, so they lose debates. Creationists, otoh, look very hard at the claims of creation models, of which there are many, so they do better in debates. Most of them at one time were evolutionists, so they are better able to look at the weaknesses of creationist arguments.

  6. santitafarella says:

    Tom:

    You act as if biologists and geologists who are evolutionists might not have had your trip in reverse (raised in a religious home, learned things were not as they seemed).

    People are not blank slates, and scientists are trained in critical thinking and the evaluation of evidence. They’re not like lay religionists who believe something because that is what they were always told.

    —Santi

    • TomH says:

      Santi,

      Wow, you are propagating several myths.

      Myth 1) Scientists are not creationists.

      Myth 2) Scientists are trained to evaluate evidence.

      Myth 3) Scientists are trained in critical thinking.

      Myth 4) Scientists don’t believe in evolution simply because that is what they were told.

      The reality is that funding controls what scientists say. Scientists generally will not publish anything controversial that might endanger their funding. This means that there are topics in science that are off limits. This isn’t restricted to merely the creation/evolution debate. Thus, evaluating evidence may be prohibited by science for controversial topics.

      Science education is mostly about being taught formulas, not critical thinking. The reasoning that is taught, if any, is an argument for a well-accepted position. For example, the student may be expected to derive the second law of thermodynamics from quantum mechanical principles.

      Science education generally doesn’t require a course in philosophy of science. Thus critical thinking is optional in science.

      In most science classes, evolution is never looked at critically. Strong evidence against it is excluded. Hence, evolutionists are merely spoon fed evolutionism.

      If one is trained in both creationism and science, the movement from creationism to evolutionism is minimal. Otoh, if one is trained in science and evolutionism, the movement to creationism is not minimal. If one is untrained in science to begin with, the movement to either evolutionism or creationism is about the same.

      There are many scientists who are creationists. It is false to assert a false dichotomy between science and creationism. Evolutionists frequently defend evolution because of metaphysical commitments, just like creationists.

      • Gato Precambriano says:

        TomH

        Wow you are propagating several lies aren’t you?

        Scientists generally will not publish anything controversial that might endanger their funding

        Lie. History of modern science are full of controversial ideas been discussed. Creationism is no more controvertial as the shape of the Earth is.

        the student may be expected to derive the second law of thermodynamics from quantum mechanical principles.

        Utter bullshit, you clearly don’t f@#$%&ng know what you are talking about.

        Strong evidence against it is excluded.

        Because there are not, and there weren’t been in 150 years, liar.

        Science education is mostly about being taught formulas, not critical thinking.

        More bullshit. Do you work with science? What the hell do you think you know you ignorant?

        There are many scientists who are creationists

        More lies. What are you talking about? That silly list of so called “dissidents of Darwinism” that collect only about 700 signatures in more than a decade? Where only about 100 have something to do with Biologyw? That one? Wow, how significant.

        Evolutionists frequently defend evolution because of metaphysical commitments, just like creationists.

        Lie again. You’re just projecting yourself on the scientists. Sicentists defend Evolution because it’s true.

  7. Gato Precambriano says:

    Evolutionists

    they’re not practiced at debating evolution

    because they’re too busy doing Real Science. And as scientists and educators they try to teach honestly when debating, what leave them with a great handicap as the other side doesn’t have any commitment with honesty, Science or Education, and debates many times are just showbiz. It’s not about geting at the truth, it’s about to have the better performance.

  8. santitafarella says:

    Tom H:

    I don’t deny that the things you are bringing into play are there (metaphysical premises, concerns over funding, social conformity). To be human, afterall, is to adjudicate the politics of social groups and choose philosophical premises.

    BUT you are giving these factors far more emphasis than they warrant. To absorb your premise fully is to make rational advance impossible.

    In science, sociology does not trump methodology. To believe that it does is to be an irrationalist.

    I’m sorry to be so blunt, but I simply don’t believe, in the midst of all the dialogue and scientific experimentation that goes on among scientists, that if evolution and an old earth were bad ideas, that they would prevail nonetheless.

    And even on the terms of your social model, there are countervailing factors: one could wish to go down in history as the scientist who overthrew Darwin; one could seek funding from conservative sources that would give you the material resources to do the experiments that would prove Darwin wrong etc.

    In other words, to believe that a scientific community could create so hermetic a seal around itself that nothing changes within it is akin to positing a Bilderburger-style conspiracy within the heart of the scientific enterprise.

    This, obviously, is silly.

    And you can’t avoid critical thinking in science. The scientific method is critical thinking. You look at data, you generate hypotheses, you discuss with colleagues your reasons for thinking one hypothesis is better than another, you do experiments that lend evidence to (or disconfirm) your favored hypothesis, you dialogue again about where you’re at etc. etc.

    The methodology of science is on ouroboros: it’s a snake that bites its tail: one round of data collection, hypothesizing, and dialogue is followed by another round. In short, the method guarantees that good conclusions are likely to be reached and refined over time. And with the Internet, and a global community of scientists working on problems from very different cultural and religious vantages, there is a washout of sociological factors. Scientists know what journals to go to, wherever they live on the planet, if they think that they have discovered something important. And their colleagues then have at it.

    Science works precisely because it is a methodology based on common sense, critical thinking, evidence, and dialogue. It seeks to minimize sociological and nondata driven cultural static, not magnify it.

    What you have posited, Tom, is that science has been taken over by Trojan soldiers (unethical and motivated ideologues) hiding in a Trojan horse that they call “science.” It is exactly the opposite. Science, as a methodology, does everything it can to remove the eccentric, the personal, and the ideologically motivated from the analysis. It is a methodology based on universal reason. It is not perfect (because it is implemented by humans). But the methodology works, and it minimizes—more than in any other human endeavor—the static that you have fantasized is primary.

    —Santi

    • TomH says:

      Santi,

      Dude, you are quite the mythologist!

      Surely, I agree that critical thinking sometimes occurs in science. It isn’t necessary in order to do science, nor is it generally part of the training. Critical thinking is part of the training of philosophy, but not of science.

      There are lots of problems with science as an institution. People may present new ideas which the reviewer may not understand, so the paper is rejected. Politics may get involved, as in “scientific” people with an agenda may seek to get someone dismissed or cut of their funding. Ad hominem issues may arise, as in several cases in science, including local flooding (Bretz wasn’t degreed by a prestigious east coast university) and the archaeobacter hypothesis (the author wasn’t a biologist). Currently, the climate-change hypothesis for dinosaur extinction is verboten, as the main proponent of the asteroid theory holds the political high ground in science. Journals won’t touch the climate change theory.

      30% of scientists surveyed admitted practicing some form of dishonesty in their publications. This ranged from omitting disconfirming results to overstating the conclusion.

      Ideologues occur in science, just like anywhere. Sometimes they gain the political high ground. Science doesn’t attempt to remove anything. You are propagating pop science myths.

      Ideas gain traction in science because of superior marketing. James Hutton’s idea about Uniformitarianism didn’t go anywhere until an attorney named Charles Lyell started marketing it.

      In some subjects, science is relatively benign. Science is most malignant when it comes to controversial topics, which may occur because someone stands to lose prestige/funding if a theory loses prominence.

      Sometimes it takes a funeral for science to advance, as someone else has said.

      For some controversial topics (e.g., evolutionism), science will likely stagnate because the metaphysics of the majority of scientists would suffer if the dominant view were questioned.

      Clearly, there are wide areas where malignancy doesn’t occur in science. However, controversy (threats to funding) tends to breed malignancy in science.

      Finding conservative sources for funding creationist projects occurs sometimes in a small way, but usually only for people who don’t seek funding in order to further a career in science. However, the issue isn’t really finding funding for (CAD) creationist projects, but that one’s funding for other projects may be cut off because of unrelated creationist research. The ideologues search for those who wander off the evolution reservation and intrigue against them with providers of funding.

      Many scientists don’t do experiments at all. Theoreticians in physics often merely apply mathematics to physical concepts. Your ideas about scientific method are really very mythological.

      • santitafarella says:

        Tom H:

        Okay. I’ll take the bait. What book do you recommend that you think makes the case that contemporary science is overwhelmed by sociological factors?

        And does your low view of scientists make you nervous about Switzerland’s Large Hadron Collider when it goes full throttle up?

        —Santi

      • Gato Precambriano says:

        As a matter of fact he should be nervous every time he uses a cumputer, cell fone, plane, elevator, goes inside a building, goes to see a doctor, makes medical exams, etc., etc. in fact if science is so spetacularly flawed TomH should be living in the woods by now shouldn’t he? And we would not be hearing nothing from him.

  9. Roger Salyer says:

    I have a hard time imagining Creationists–if I understand the term you are using–truly winning public debates over an Evolutionist. My knowledge of such public debates is that what counts as a proof or evidence is set according to standards of Baconian science. Much (though not necessarily all) of what the Evolutionist would argue is unassailable, while little the Creationist could say would meet the standard. How could the latter win?

    The only real debate would be in what counts as proof, evidence, knowledge, etc…

    The two are simply assymetrical positions. What I am curious about, are Evolutionists necessarily pantheistic? I don’t mean really theistic; I don’t expect any of them building a temple to Jupiter or Vishnu. But do many of them consider godhood (or whatever equivalent) to be necessarily immanent in Creation?

  10. Roger Salyer says:

    By the way, what the heck do you mean when you say, “universal reason?” Posited laws of the universe? The ability to quantify? The ability to ask a question?

    • santitafarella says:

      Roger:

      Reason, to my mind, is a human universal (though some do it far better than others).

      In other words, barring intellectual disability or brain injury, human beings have a universal capacity for reasoning with others: we can deduct, induct, experiment, offer reasons to one another, theorize, dialogue, analogize, make rhetorical appeals, dialogue with ourselves in solitude, calculate, and evaluate evidence.

      When we do these things systematically, as in Baconian science, we can arrive at reasonable public conclusions about the world that all people, whatever their cultural backgrounds, are likely to recognize as true (at least on the premises that we can agree upon). This doesn’t mean that we all start with the same philosophical premises—it means that we can all follow one another’s rationales (so long as we understand the premises that we start from). And if there is someone coming from a culture where reason is not being encouraged, it is nevertheless within the capacity of that individual to be self consciously taught the principles of universal reason (analogy, induction etc.) and then practice it with others in a community.

      Put another way: the methodologies of science are not culture-bound and contingent; they are things that all human beings, in all places and times, are able to practice.

      As a humanist, I believe that humanity—far more so than race or nation—is a meaningful and unifying concept. I think that neither nation, race, religion, culture, or history trump human universals—the universal human grammar of reason and liberty—in the human psyche. There are things that are universally shared, and they transcend provincialisms. Reason, the experience of free will, the desire for happiness (however that gets defined), an instinct for music and art, and the protection of offspring, are some of the human universals.

      I would offer dogs as an analogy. Dogs have “dog universals”: all dogs—large or small, long hair or short—like to fetch balls, bark at strangers, wag their tails, live in groups, and eat people food dropped from the kitchen table.

      —Santi

  11. santitafarella says:

    Roger:

    Here is how creationists win debates before lay audiences: they put up a slide of a frog; then they put up a slide of a prince; then they put 200 million years between them and say: “See, evolutionists believe in fairy tales.” Ha ha ha.

    The crowd laughs, the evolutionist stands up and says something, then sits down. The creationist stands up, puts the slide of a cell on the overhead projector and says: “Do you know how complex that thing is? It’s more complex than a jet liner. Did I mention this is complex? . . . [repeat the word complex ten times so the audience absorbs it] . . . Have you heard of a jet liner coming into existence all by itself? Do you know how complex a jet liner is? Did I mention that a cell is complex? . . .”

    This goes on for an hour or two. The evolutionist says things, but it’s too complicated or nuanced for the illiterate dumb asses in the crowd to absorb. In other words, the creationist wins because his arguments can be put into soundbites and they draw upon readily accessible analogies familiar from cartoons and advertising.

    It’s akin to the OJ trial in the late 90s: OJ was guilty as hell, but the jury couldn’t absorb expert testimony on DNA. All they saw is OJ raising his latex-gloved hand, trying to put another glove over it, and not really being able to.

    Johnny Cochran then said to the jury over and over: “If the glove don’t fit, you must acquit!”

    Visuals, Roger, visuals!

    —Santi

    • TomH says:

      “The evolutionist says things, but it’s too complicated or nuanced for the illiterate dumb asses in the crowd to absorb.”

      Or maybe, the evolutionist expects the audience to just beleeeve in his story. Maybe it’s the evolutionist debater who’s the dumb ass. There are powerful arguments that they could use (in the sense of persuading non-scientists), but they don’t use them, for some reason. Maybe they don’t feel adequate to explain arguments that are out of field for them.

      Gish, a powerful creationist debater, was able to make arguments about the probability of original protein production understandable. I would have attacked his arguments as only being compelling if the only mechanism was randomness. Of course, then the proper reply would be to ask what the actual mechanism was. Since evolutionists don’t have an actual mechanism for original protein production for anything serious, they are defeated quite simply.

  12. TomH says:

    Santi,

    You might check out http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0151008779?ie=UTF8&tag=thneyoreofbo-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=0151008779 or
    http://www.amazon.com/Betrayers-Truth-William-Broad/dp/0671495496/ref=pd_sim_b_4 or
    http://www.amazon.com/Slaughter-Dissidents-2008-publication-Bergman/dp/0981873405/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1277515658&sr=1-1

    I don’t have a low view of scientists. I’m just realistic about the fact that scientists put their pants on one leg at a time, just like everybody else. When it comes to controversial subjects, scientists are no more impartial and think no more critically than anybody else.

  13. TomH says:

    Oh, here’s an online paper abstracted from a book. http://www.uow.edu.au/~bmartin/pubs/92prom.html

    • santitafarella says:

      Tom H:

      Thanks for the links. I’ll look at them. Like every other human enterprise, once you know how sausage is made, etc.

      BUT my position right now is that your hyper-democratic and leveling view of scientists—“[they] are no more impartial and think no more critically than anybody else”—is wrong. The ethos of science is to work to be as objective as humanly possible and to get things right in the evaluation and interpretation of data (which is what critical thinking amounts to). Going to science on a matter is like going to the doctor. It’s something that humans do when they have to focus, gather evidence, and think clearly about options.

      And the ethos of the scientist in dialogue with other scientists is one of honesty and respect for the mind. The scientific enterprise, in ethos and methodology—and in all the good and truth it achieves—is probably the highest form of human communal nobility that we have. That scientists inconsistently live up to their own high ideals is not a reason to think that the enterprise itself is flawed or that it’s just another humdrum human activity that gets things wrong at about the same rate as other human activities get things wrong. Prior to Baconian science, the world was a far, far poorer place (intellectually and materially). Now, with Baconian science, the things that we can be confident about (in terms of how our world really is) has risen exponentially.

      The problem that I have with young earth creationism is that it has taken a retrograde epistemic method—look in the first three chapters of an ancient Bronze Age text, read those chapters for scientific information (even as they show genre markers for being poetic/literary constructions)—and then use your “findings” to critique and cast aspersions upon an epistemic method that actually works.

      To be a young earth creationist is to insist that the whole edifice that science has built up since the Baconian revolution is largely—in fact, spectacularly—wrong. Indeed, by the young earth creationist’s lights, in spite of the high hope that Francis Bacon placed upon the scientific method for getting at the truth of things, those high hopes have disappointed. A concerted effort to apply scientific methods to biology, physics, geology, and astronomy have yeilded paradigms that bear little to no relationship to reality. Reading the Bible literally, however, has achieved what science seems unable to: a true correspondence with reality. That is the young earth creationist’s thesis in a nutshell. By contrast, the genuinely parsimonious explanation for the tension between science and the biblical literalist is that the epistemic method practiced by the biblical literalist is simply wrong.

      —Santi

      • TomH says:

        Santi,

        You really are a master mythmaker. Nowhere in my scientific training was any kind of ethics brought up.

        Hyper-democratic? You are the one making a god of Science and a holy priesthood of its practitioners.

        As regards the method of YEC, it is epistemologically defensible, unlike common descent methodology. When one looks at the past, the proper discipline to examine it is history. The primary evidences of history are documents. Therefore, the YEC methodology is far superior to the common descent methodology. Sorry, you don’t know your epistemological rear from a hole in the ground.

        The Theory of Common Descent has no resemblance to reality. In pop science it’s essentially based on artists’ drawings which are totally imaginary and independent of any empirical evidence. Morphological and molecular trees are in conflict and the theories that the morphologists and molecular biologists use have minimal contact with reality.

      • Gato Precambriano says:

        So what you’re saying is that erery time we look at past events, we may only rely on documents. So it is your opinion that forensic evidence have no place in courts? Because crime investigation is pretty much to look and investigate past events right? So if somebody breaks into your house, kill someone, but nor leave nor makes a writen statement, or tape himself on video commiting the crime, and if none of the victims leaves no documents of any kind saying who the criminal was, but CSI guys were able to collect strong evidence leading to the criminal you’ll be the first one to jump on the defense to say that those CSI/forensic evidence cannot be taken into acount, right?

  14. TomH says:

    Santi,

    Gato brings up the question whether denying part of science (in point, the controversial, low-confidence areas like Common Ancestry) necessarily requires denying technology. As Nancy Cartwright explains, that ain’t necessarily so. One may view science as a tool that inadvertently helps us to discover useful technology (the instrumentalist view).

    My epistemic position is that parts of science are real (e.g., the Maxwell Equations) and parts are imaginary (e.g., Common Ancestry). Another part of my epistemic position is that technology helps to justify that the science behind it is real. Thus, I am not a total instrumentalist.

    As the Gato view applies to the Common Ancestry question, he views science as some kind of monolith–if one denies any theory in it, one necessarily denies the whole kaboodle. Therefore he attempts to exclude creationists as anti-science. If one is going to be consistent and use this position with integrity, then one must necessarily consider all new theories which contradict established theories as being anti-science. This may create a nice little sterile system which serves to protect evolutionary doctrine, but it is hardly useful for scientific research.

    • santitafarella says:

      TomH:

      Your admission that technology supports science’s epistemology is a nice concession (such as it is). I presume that you also agree that organic brain conditions (as opposed to demonic possession) are responsible for, say, split personality disorders. I also presume that you agree that hurricanes are wholly accounted for by physical forces, and that science can predict their direction better than any priest or minister (and that God is not merely mad at us when one comes ashore). Yes, science does seem to accord with reality, doesn’t it? And when applied for technological purposes, it works.

      But here’s something you’ve missed: science is also predictive and falsifiable. That’s what makes it powerful as well. And both of these elements of science are true of evolutionary theory as well.

      One of the strengths of evolution is that it has predictive capacity. Indeed, evolution’s predictive capacity is akin to technology confirming science: when things accord rather nicely, or when predictions come to pass, you are probably in the realm of reality.

      Evolution predicts that you’ll never see a rabbit (let alone a human being) in 100 million year old sedimentary rock, and, of course, you never do.

      You can nitpick, Tom, but the broad outlines of the evolutionary narrative are predictive and falsifiable. That’s why scientists overwhelmingly accept evolution, not because they are biased or conforming to social pressure.

      Sometimes the simple explanation is best: the biblical writers of Genesis didn’t know what they were talking about; the global community of scientists using the scientific method, and applying an enormous amount of collective brainpower, rationality, and debate to our origins, do. Their narrative, built up over the past century and a half, is largely in the ballpark.

      But who will you believe? When it comes to whether the earth is old (or not) and whether plants and animals have changed over time, will you believe Bronze Age religious literary stylists or the 21st century scientific community?

      I’m sorry, Tom, but the right answer seems to me a no-brainer.

      And it would be a no-brainer to you as well if the book that we were talking about was found, say, in an Egyptian tomb only recently, or if it were Genesis that got lost 2700 years ago (and not the Epic of Gilgamesh, with its Genesis-like flood story about Utnapishtim).

      —Santi

      • TomH says:

        Santi,

        “Your admission that technology supports science’s epistemology is a nice concession (such as it is).” What’s this codsbollux? First, this has always been my stated position, which I have stated before, so your faux surprise is strange…. Second, this isn’t any concession. Again, your statement is very strange. Finally, “science” has no epistemology as such, being so heterogeneous. Please don’t confuse my epistemic position with some “epistemology of science.”

        “I presume that you also agree that organic brain conditions (as opposed to demonic possession) are responsible for, say, split personality disorders.”

        Sorry, I don’t agree with several assumptions in your statement: 1) psychiatry is reliable, 2) that there is no mind-brain duality, and 3) that just because A can cause B, that B is necessarily caused by A. That’s illogical.

        “One of the strengths of evolution is that it has predictive capacity. Indeed, evolution’s predictive capacity is akin to technology confirming science: when things accord rather nicely, or when predictions come to pass, you are probably in the realm of reality.”

        You clearly don’t understand what is meant by “predictions” in “science.” We say that the theory predicts the data even after we have already collected the data. The meaning of “predict” is generally the same as “accords with.” Occasionally a risky prediction is made. Mostly, the “risky” predictions merely accord with the data better than the predictions of other theories. The predictions really are significantly off from the data in every case (Einstein’s eclipse, the CMBR prediction, the K-T extinction, etc.)

        “Evolution predicts that you’ll never see a rabbit (let alone a human being) in 100 million year old sedimentary rock, and, of course, you never do.”

        Berthault’s theory predicts the same thing. Big deal. Seriously, evos come up with no brainer answers for an obvious reason….

        “You can nitpick, Tom, but the broad outlines of the evolutionary narrative are predictive and falsifiable.”

        Except that time and time again, the risky predictions have been falsified by trials, but the data have been saved by modifying the theory. Thus, there is no truly falsifiable test. (I don’t buy into Popperian ideas about theory truth anyway, so your argument is irrelevant to me.)

        “Sometimes the simple explanation is best: the biblical writers of Genesis didn’t know what they were talking about; the global community of scientists using the scientific method”

        Wow, how anti-intellectual your statement is! First, who decides who the scientists are? Second, what is “the scientific method?” More philosophical codsbollux.

        “…and not the Epic of Gilgamesh, with its Genesis-like flood story about Utnapishtim…”

        Now you’re adding theological/literary codsbollux to all the other…um…nonsense.

        Oh, gosh, I ought to believe the atheist liars who are pretending to be scientists but have no technological evidence to support their stories about events supposedly millions of years in the past and need an origins myth over the evidence from a Perfect Witness. Righhhht.

  15. TomH says:

    Gato,

    You are correct that I don’t accept forensic evidence. It’s actually quite easy to manufacture forensic evidence. The police do it frequently. Wealthy and creative criminals likewise have the capability to do it.

    • Gato Precambriano says:

      TomH

      Fine. So you don’t accept forensic evidence on the basis that it can be manufactured but you accept what a Bzonze Age Book, that was man made itself, says about our origns, no matter what? On what grounds may I ask? I mean, what you are talking about man? Scientific/forensic evidence is not reliable because man can made it up, but ancient books with stories that ancient men made up are? Is to much to ask for some…coherence?

      • TomH says:

        Well, let’s look at your argument. We must discount all ancient books because they contain stories that ancient men made up. On that basis, we must discount the origin of the species and mendel’s work on genetics, because those are ancient books. Or, if you argue that they are too new, we must discount all ancient books about history, if men make stuff up. Therefore, we ought to also discount present day science articles and books, because men make stuff up. So, age is no reason to discount books, but forgery is always a possibility that we must guard against, whether in books or forensic evidence.

        Is there a reason to believe the books? I would argue that confirmation of results by a different research group is reason in science (although parallel systematic error is a possibility). So why should we believe Genesis 1-11? The traditional argument is that 1) Moses put his seal of authority on Genesis in toto, 2) that God validated Moses’ authority with the miracles that constituted the plagues of Egypt, among several miracles, and 3) that the Jewish remembrance of Passover every year authenticates the Exodus history, as it’s ridiculous to believe that Jewish families in the Diaspora could have invented the same story. Now there’s also an analysis of the internal evidence by Damien Mackey which sounds compelling. http://www.specialtyinterests.net/Toledoth.html

  16. Gato Precambriano says:

    Ok then.
    1) Mohammed put his seal of authority on the Q’uran in toto
    2) God validated Mohammed’s authority with micracles including Mo’s ascention to Heaven in a Winged Horse
    3) the muslim celebration of Ramadan every year authenticates the Q’uran as it’s ridiculous to believe that all muslims families have invented the same story.

    And I pretty much think almost the same, or something very close can be said about the Book of Mormom, or about the Bagavadguitá.
    What leave us with a deep flawed epistemology: your own. Oddly simply refuse to apply to your religions view the same standarts you use for science.

    • TomH says:

      First, most of Mohammed’s “miracles” are fulfillment of a “prediction” that he would win a battle. No reason to believe that God was involved, unlike the plagues of Egypt.

      Second, who saw Mo’s ascension into Heaven? Oh yeah, Mo dreamed it. A miracle? Not. Just a dream. Contrast that with the plagues of Egypt, which the whole nation of Israel witnessed.

      Ramadan is a religious discipline. Passover is a reminder of an historical event. The same? Not. It’s not hard to imagine a religious discipline being added to families who were part of Mo’s original following. It’s also hard to imagine them accepting fantasy accounts in the Koran of stuff that they actually witnessed. So, I think that the parts of the Koran that had a lot of witnesses need to be accepted as historical. It’s also hard to imagine a Passover celebration being accepted by Israel when they were in the desert if the nation hadn’t actually witnessed the occurrence of the original Passover and the plagues.

      The Mormons don’t have eyewitnesses of the Golden Tablets, so we discount their historicity. They don’t have substantiating miracles and their theology contradicts preexisting theology in the Bible big time, yet they claim that the Bible is inspired by God. They have a big contradiction and no real witnesses, unlike the Passover.

      Don’t know much about the Bhagavad Gita. Hindu manuscript? The Hindu religion isn’t big about historicity, as I recall. Rather, it claims that reality is an illusion. Kind of hard to do any western style testing on its claims. So, you’re left with believing without evidence, unlike the Passover.

      Your comparisons are bogus. You didn’t even bother to test your comparisons, did you?

      I think that it’s pretty clear that you don’t do much critical thinking. You’re strong on imagination, though.

  17. TomH says:

    Santi,

    You think my comment was weird? I think that your comment is utterly unbelievable!

    You might want to check out the following review of the DVD: http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/240200

    Especially note the part about the lack of pig bones in Judean settlements over a large geographic area. Frankly, the DVD looks like more academic “story-telling.”

    Oh, regarding the book, we’ve been over this ground before. Roddy demolished Finkelstein and Silberman. http://moses.creighton.edu/JRS/2001/2001-7.html

    The minimalists are hardly in ascendancy in archaeology.

    • santitafarella says:

      TomH:

      The Apologetic Press link adequately and fairly covered the DVD’s content, and offered alternative explanations for some of its claims, but my question for you is this: have you seen it? Or is it adequate to have your information about the documentary second-hand?

      As for saying that anyone has “demolished” Finkelstein, that is ridiculous. Once again, you are doing what you do with evolution: straining out the gnat, but swallowing the camel. The broad outlines of how the Hebrew Bible came together (as discovered by archeology) do not accord with a literalist understanding of the biblical text. Deal with it.

      I sometimes think that biblical apologetic moves are akin to running a maze. So long as there is a logically possible route connecting bible literalism with the evidence (however strained or improbable), that is the path one’s little intellectual mouse follows, declaring victory for the preservation of the possibility that literalism is in accord with reality.

      But just because something is logically possible, it does not follow that it is the best (or most plausible) thesis for taking account of the evidence.

      It’s silly, really. At some point, a bad thesis has to give way to reality. I don’t think, for example, that you can name one contemporary book on archeology—written after 2000 by a serious, respected archeologist—that defends the existence (for example) of an Exodus from Egypt in exactly the way that the Bible describes.

      Not one. Why is that?

      Obviously, it is because there is simply no evidence that the Exodus occurred. Zip. Nor is there any evidence that, for example, Jericho was inhabited with intact walls at the time of the presumed entry of the Israelites into Canaan (and hence nothing to be knocked down by Joshua’s armies).

      What we have in the Hebrew Bible are largely etiological narratives (“Daddy, what happened to Jericho’s walls?”; “Why do women scream so loud in child birth?” etc. etc.). The tribal daddies, not really having a clue, told the community stories. These stories are not history. They are just stories. Most archeologists have moved on about this. They don’t try to force the archeological slipper onto the literalist foot anymore because they have overwhelming evidence that it simply doesn’t fit.

      —Santi

      • TomH says:

        “have you seen it? Or is it adequate to have your information about second-hand?”

        I am not yet convinced that it is worth spending time to watch. Anything from Nova is *very* speculative.

        But to my main criticism. You don’t offer online links to support your claims, which can be checked out easily. That’s bad manners.

        “As for saying that anyone has “demolished” Finkelstein, that is ridiculous.”

        BWAHAHAHA. Did you even bother to read Roddy’s review? “Next, the resulting shift in the chronology of corresponding strata at other sites creates more problems than it solves. In order to maintain the proposed chronology Finkelstein is forced to stamp out fires; those he cannot stamp out are simply ignored.” ” Thus, as it stands, proponents of the conventional chronology appear to be putting forth the strongest and most cogent arguments.”

        Your little rant about the lack of confirming evidence from extra-biblical sources is very weak. You are basically asserting that some Israelite authors created the Pentateuch out of thin air. However, there’s a biblical imperative that prescribes that: “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.” This would include writing books and ascribing their content to divine inspiration. Based on what we know from history, we should expect some sort of major discussion among the Jews about introducing some books out of thin air.

        There ought to be some sort of documentary evidence to support this assertion. The evidence is lacking. Therefore, Exodus wasn’t introduced out of thin air. The book of Exodus is primary and sufficient evidence, as this kind of story could not survive long in the Israelite society if it lacked historicity.

        However, maybe there was embellishment and the story just grew over time. However, the reverence with which Jews regard their holy books speaks against alterations. So, we must reject the embellishment theory.

        What are the main reasons for rejecting Exodus? 1) the lack of confirming evidence from extrabiblical sources and 2) a naturalistic metanarrative. We’ve seen from the past the problems with 1) with regard to the existence of the Hittites, Pilate’s title and existence, etc. The second reason is also unpersuasive.

        Exodus is a rock. Attacks on Exodus just don’t hold up. Sorry.

        Don’t know why you put the arbitrary 2000 restriction on books. Hoffmeier’s 1997 book is the latest from a conservative that I know of. Articles are more on point and up to date than books. If you looked, you might be able to find up-to-date articles from conservative authors. Sorry, not up on the Exodus question. You might check out the Merneptah Stele. It seems to be important for a late date. http://www.bibleandscience.com/archaeology/exodus.htm
        “These stories are not history. They are just stories.”

        No, what you are saying is a just-so story based on the naturalistic metanarrative. Sorry.

  18. TomH says:

    Correction: “prescribes” should have been “proscribes”

  19. I’ll believe in Darwinism if someone can SHOW me a SERIES of just 100 FOSSIL PHOTOS, where I can OBSERVE any creature evolving into a different creature. That shouldn’t be too hard for Darwinists to come up with. After all, isn’t the fossil record a photo album of billions of fossils, that represent millions of years, that prove evolution is a fact??

    Just 1 fossil doesn’t prove evolution ever happened. There needs to be a SERIES of them, SHOWING the transformation of 1 creature evolving into another creature. I think, just 100 FOSSIL PHOTOS can prove it. The only problem is… there isn’t any evidence in the fossil record, of any intermediates ever existing. It’s for this reason, Stephen J. Gould and Niles Eldredge came up with the Punctuated Equilibrium idea… where gradualism is not longer needed to prove evolution.

    I guess, a reptile can just lay chicken eggs now… LOL!

    Anyway… SHOW the FOSSIL PHOTOS as described above, or a reptile laying a chicken egg, and I’ll convert to Darwinism. An Archaeopteryx fossil doesn’t prove evolution ever took place… you can’t prove an Archaeopteryx ever had offspring, so that’s why I need a SERIES of just 100 FOSSIL PHOTOS.

    I won’t hold my breath… silly Darwinists.

    • @Darwin’s Myth

      And yet, you seem to accept religion, which has FAR freaking crazier ideas, without a single shred of real evidence. No pictures, reproducible tests, nothing. You have a book based on fragments of copies of copies .. all of dubious authorship, all accounts from the author’s only, unchallenged by skeptics, and unknown if there was even a single eye witness to what is written.

      It does take big brass balls to call Darwinists silly when you believe such absurd and ignorant shit though .. I guess you have that going for you.

      • So, you’re going to accept evolution blindly, without those needed transitionals, just because I believe in Christianity? That’s poor science.

        The billions of fossils are better evidence for the Worldwide Flood, because the intermediates are there, just as Stephen J. Gould admits. Polystrate trees, folded rock, closed clams on mountains, fossilized soft bodies creatures, are all evidence the fossil record is residue from the Genesis Flood.

        Bible prophecy proves the Bible’s sources are divinely inspired. We have been seeing end times prophecies (i.e. the rebirth of Israel and its prosperity, the massive worldwide violence and increased wickedness of men hearts, etc.), and many other prophecies taking shape before our eyes. The Bible prophesies the war between Iran and its allies against Israel in the latter years (Ez. 38,39)… it’s right on schedule. I have the evidence, you have the imagination.

        An overactive imagination (i.e goop evolving into man) is pseudoscience, not real science. Observation is needed, not imagination.

        Just the presence of Carbon-14, with the half-life of 5700 yrs., proves that millions and billions of yrs. is a hoax… diamonds, which are pushed as being 2 billion yrs. old, has Carbon-14, proving they are actually less than 50,000 yrs. old. Even fossils have Carbon-14. T-Rex dinos discovered with soft-tissue present, debunking millions and billions of yrs.

        Let me know when you or anyone else can figure out what the recipe is for a seed, a sperm cell, or an ovum cell, and how they can be created from nothing?

        Near Death Experiences is also strong evidence for Hell and Heaven… as there have been millions of Americans (i.e. Don Piper (pastor), Howard Storm (atheist), etc.) who have had the experiences and changed lives after being brought back… after they’ve been pronounced brain dead.

        The Holy Bible was written by 40 different faithful men, who lived in different centuries, and yet, their writings harmonize with each other, proving the words were given by God (2Pet.1:20,21).

        Creation proves the existence of God, and there will be no excuse (Romans 1:20) for those on Judgment Day, who say,”There is no God!”

      • Typo… “the intermediates AREN’T there, as Stephen J. Gould admits…”

      • @Darwin .. the necessary “transitionals” ?? That alone shows how woefully ignorant you are of evolutionary theory. All species are transitional. How can you doubt evolution when you can walk into a biology lab and over the course of a semester conduct an experiment that SHOWS evolution of bacteria?

        http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn14094-bacteria-make-major-evolutionary-shift-in-the-lab.html
        http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/11147751/ns/technology_and_science-science/

        Ah, and the Bible is proof of the Bible. Obviously, you are as delusional as TomH. What you DESIRE to believe is greater than what you can see, test and prove on your own. The next time that you or a loved one enters the hospital, be sure to tell the doctors that you are a Creationist and that evolution is not possible so they should treat you with plain ole 1940s antibiotics – you know, the is virtually ineffective today because bacteria have evolved resistance to it.

      • Darwin's Myth says:

        Those links are a failure in proving evolution. Bacteria becoming resistant is caused by mutations, not the adding of NEW DNA info. Mutations cause a loss in DNA info. If anything, this is de-evolution.

        Your caterpillar link doesn’t prove evolution. It’s an example of variations, not macroevolution. Tell me when you have evidence that a reptile has ever evolved into a bird.

      • Darwin's Myth says:

        “ah, reading the Bible is proof for the Bible”

        Just like reading Dawkins or Darwin is proof for evolution? The Holy Bible goes further… it proves itself with end times prophecies that we can OBSERVE happening in our lifetime. Macroevolution has yet to give any observable evidence from the fossil record.

        With your weak attack against the Bible, and without giving a very good defense for darwinism, only proved you have no favorable evidence for macroevolution in the fossil record or in nature… good job.

      • If you see no difference between scientific data being used to generate a theory and a book where NOTHING in it is verifiable, even authorship, then you are delusional.

  20. Those links don’t show the necessary transitionals, that prove any creature evolved into another creature. You need MANY transitionals to prove a reptile evolved into an Archaeopteryx… you can’t just say, here’s an Archaeopteryx, so that magically proves evolution. There needs to be an OBSERVABLE transition… you can’t see that with a single fossil.

    Antibiotics has to do with real science… not the pseudo-science of darwinism. That’s is such a silly evolutionist talking point. Before you say it… computers don’t prove darwinism, either! And… neither does the Universal Law of Gravity.

    • You can’t prove evolution by showing bacteria mutating into more resistant bacteria… they’re STILL bacteria. Mutations are a deleting of info, not the addition of NEW DNA info. If anything, it’s de-evolution, just the opposite of darwinism.

      You didn’t prove evolution by showing different colored caterpillars… that is variations… not macroevolution, which is needed for darwinism to be proven true.

  21. You are obviously not interested in the reality and the plethora of scientific evidence that shows evolution. You should read REAL scientific data from the plethora of universities instead of the ignorant BS from creationsciences.org.

    Here is a link to the fossil record of one species evolving into another:
    http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/faq-transitional.html

    Here is another, that describes more processes and common genome:
    http://anthro.palomar.edu/evolve/evolve_3.htm

    Here is another:
    http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/comdesc/

    Pictures from the fossil record that show differences as a species evolved.
    http://www.fossilmuseum.net/EdResources/FishImages.htm

    The fossil record shows numerous examples of different species with slightly different characteristics as one species evolved into another – macro evolution. The FACT is that ALL of the evidence we have supports macro evolution. There is NOT ONE PIECE of evidence to the counter.

    How you can look at all this and not agree that evolution took place can only be explained by religious indoctrination. All this evidence of the fossil record is somehow not enough. But a book of fragments of copies of copies, with unknown authors somehow has you believing in God. Your double standard is laughable and ignorant to the extreme.

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