Facts, not Fantasy

Friday, May 13, 2011

15 answers for creationists

In the past few days there has been a new drive by Creation Ministries International in conjunction with Traditional Values Coalition called “Question Evolution” with the focus of restarting the whole Creationist vs. Evolution debate.
The idea is that recent religious conservatism has increased the chance that creationists can achieve something lasting to spread their superstition in our schools. To help with this they have constructed a leaflet with 15 questions meant to stump the “evolutionist”.

Evolution Does Not Work This Way! Goodnight!!!

Before we start, an important thing to remember is that there is no such thing as an evolutionist. There are scientists who believe in the scientific approach who understand evolution takes place and various mechanisms for it. The opposition are not scientists but people who are attempting to disguise religion under the guise of science to push their faith. They do not want to debate science, but want to squeeze their faith into the biology class rooms where it can be taught as a scientific fact.

HOW DID LIFE ORIGINATE?Evolutionist Professor Paul Davies admitted, “Nobody knows how a mixture of lifeless chemicals spontaneously organized themselves into the first living cell.” Andrew Knoll, professor of biology, Harvard, said, “we don’t really know how life originated on this planet”. A minimal cell needs several hundred proteins. Even if every atom in the universe were an experiment with all the correct amino acids present for every possible molecular vibration in the supposed evolutionary age of the universe, not even one average-sized functional protein would form. So how did life with hundreds of proteins originate just by chemistry without intelligent design?

Or it could be aliens!

We don’t really know. But chances are it originated as a single cell organism rather than the incredibly complex forms that we see today with fossil evidence indicating prokaryote. The earliest evidence for life dates to 3.5 billion years ago. By contrast the earth is 4.5 billion years old.

However we have a variety of hypothesis out there that all hold water and all show that biological molecules can form. However bear in mind that the earth had a billion years and the surface of an entire planet to generate life while we have had a few days or weeks and a large flask. Maybe such things take time.
It is however a more productive approach than saying “God Did It” (Or even the Christian God did it!) because there is a useful answer. We just don’t know it yet.

We don’t know how proto-cell structures worked but logic dictates they work similar to our cells since our cells are based of the same processes. Not all the proteins are present in bacteria and there are actually relatively few amino acids out there so chances of generation aren’t bad.
Creationists are being disingenuous here. Not knowing how something works doesn’t mean a god or magic is involved. I don’t know how Penn and Teller do their bullet catching trick, but I know there is a trick rather than the fact that they are wizards.

HOW DID THE DNA CODE ORIGINATE?The code is a sophisticated language system with letters and words where the meaning of the words is unrelated to the chemical properties of the letters—just as the information on this page is not a product of the chemical properties of the ink (or pixels on a screen). What other coding system has existed without intelligent design? How did the DNA coding system arise without it being created?
Few pints, a little plagiarism, some sexism and a whole lot of time.

The code is not all that. It’s a simple mechanism of 4 bases. Two purine (Adenosine and Guanine) and two pyramidine (Cytosine and Thymine). These are linked (Adenine to Thymine, Guanine to Cytosine)

Note the similarity of structure in general.

We cannot say for sure how DNA came about. DNA only lasts roughly 100 million years before it fragments. However due to it’s relationship with RNA we believe that RNA came first as RNA is easier to assemble and it does have a relationship with DNA.

Again, just because we do not know the answer now doesn’t mean the Judeochristian god exists and he is responsible for it. There may be answers in the future and indeed, the interference of God at this juncture seems to indicate evolution rather than creationism since we evolved from this juncture.

The universality of DNA code indicates a common ancestor for nearly all life. There are some variations but they are minor.

How could such  errors create 3 billion letters of DNA information to change a microbe into a microbiologist? There is information for  how to make proteins and also for  controlling their use—much like a cookbook contains the ingredients as well as the instructions for how and when to use them. One without the other is useless. Mutations are known for their destructive effects, including over 1,000 human diseases such as hemophilia. Rarely are they even helpful. But how can scrambling existing DNA information create a new biochemical pathway or nano-machines with many components, to make ‘goo-to-you’ evolution possible? E.g., How did a 32-component rotary motor like ATP synthase (which produces the energy currency, ATP, for all life), or robots like kinesin (a ‘postman’ delivering parcels inside cells) originate?

Apparently by casually dropping industrial waste into sewers.

There is an entire field of genetics dealing with this. There are scientists called geneticists who deal with this topic and there are multiple proven models for gene expression including epigenetics. And the vast majority of mutations occur to non coding regions of DNA and there are silent mutations which occur since the many DNA codons (the triplet of nucleotides in a reading frame) code for the same amino acid.

DNA control mechanisms are simple and elegant rather than complex pieces as the creationists claim. And some mutations such as possessing a single copy of the sickle cell gene confer resistance to malaria which is a deadly endemic disease in large parts of the world. Some mutations include copy errors where entire genes are copied and altered. A lot of new proteins are mutations to existing proteins being repurposed to a different purpose. Bacterial mutations in particular are easy to see as they are often related to food source and resistances as the organism has a high generation rate allowing us to see many generations while our generation rate is slower and has only catalogued the human genome in the end of the 90s. 
ATP synthase is not a “Rotary Motor”. There is only one rotary motor in the wild. That is the bacterial flagella. There are many different kinds of ATP synthase that show it’s evolution.

In humans F0F1 is the ATP synthase, named after the two sub units that make up the molecule. The F1 particle also shows similarity to DNA helicase, the F0 subunit is similar to H+ powered flagellar motor complexes, featuring a ring of small alpha helix proteins that rotate relative to nearby stationary proteins using a hydrogen ion potential gradient as an energy source.

Kinesin is responsible for movement of organelles and are not “postmen”. They are responsible for mitotic and meiotic division. They don’t deliver messages anywhere but move organelles along the cell skeleton.
Goo – To You is a complete misnomer. We are still mainly goo of some variety or the other. From Saliva to Semen our entire lives are driven by goo of some sort or the other. Saying that we stopped being squishy is forgetting that we are stuck inside skin and held up by a rigid skeleton.

By definition it is a selective process (selecting from already existing information), so is not a creative process. It might explain the survival of the fittest (why certain genes benefit creatures more in certain environments), but not the  arrival of the fittest (where the genes and creatures came from in the first place). The death of individuals not adapted to an environment and the survival of those that are suited does not explain the  origin of the traits that make an organism adapted to an environment. E.g., how do minor back-and-forth variations in finch beaks explain the origin of beaks or finches? How does natural selection explain goo-to-you evolution?

Not to be confused with Goo on You.

Natural Selection is not about selection of information but by the natural process by which phenotypes are selected. A specific gene is not selected but survivors to situations are which carry a cocktail of genes. The same genes are not necessary for survival in a situation. 

Over time the reproductive advantage will become more common within the population. Any mutations to the advantage improving it will be further passed along. In addition if ecological niches are present the advantage may be concentrated in a specific way by selecting for specific traits. Eventually speciation may occur in populations of a single species specialised in two separate niches due to the genes for specialisation being more effective at obtaining a food source or due to ecological barriers creating different environments.

The Galapagos finches all show the same plumage but variations on size and shape of the beak resulting in many birds that are not the same species (AKA they cannot have young) that utilise various different food sources. On Galapagos the finches have taken up various roles from insectivore to cactus fruit eaters to parrot like creatures to scavengers and show adaptations to their beak and size to deal with these niches. Over time they have show speciation.

Every pathway and nano-machine requires multiple protein/enzyme components to work. How did lucky accidents create even one of the components, let alone 10 or 20 or 30+ at the same time, often in a necessarily programmed sequence? Evolutionary Biochemist Franklin Harold wrote, “we must concede that there are presently no detailed Darwinian accounts of the evolution of any biochemical or cellular system, only a variety of wishfulspeculations."
If even one pet is missing, none will get cake.

A lot of enzymes are structurally similar and would vary by mutation. A lot are folding variants.
To borrow an idea from Dawkins, each part of the sequence would improve the biochemical pathway until we have something similar to ourselves. We have had 3,500,000,000 years worth of life on this planet to do this. (In contrast catalogued human history dates back only 10,000 years... We have existed for less than 0.003% of the time life has existed on this planet.) Early organisms may not have been as efficient as we are so even a small change would have been seen as a big improvement. Infact we do lack some biochemical pathways which do not affect us as much. A good example is the Vitamin C pathway. No ape produces vitamin C while most animals do. It’s why lions don’t get scurvy while we do. We simply lost the ability at some point since it didn’t really confer any advantage to us since our ancestors ate a lot of fruit. It’s just that we “stopped eating so much fruit” and so started falling sick.

Many pathways show traits that seem interdependent but function albeit not as well without it. Maybe a couple of million years ago that would have been the difference between life and death? Feast or famine. Put it this way, when we worry about a 10th of a second at the Olympics, then in the game of survival a handful of ATP more or a new substrate to digest is all the edge we need to survive.

Richard Dawkins wrote, “biology is the study of complicated things that have the appearance of having been designed with a purpose.” Francis Crick, the co-discoverer of the double helix structure of DNA, wrote, “Biologists must constantly keep in mind that what they see was not designed, but rather evolved.” The problem for evolutionists is that living things show too much design. Who objects when an archaeologist says that pottery points to human design? Yet if someone attributes the design in living things to a designer, that is not acceptable. Why should science be restricted to  naturalistic causes rather than  logical causes?
This is what I look like atleast

There are variety of random things such as crystal formation that look regular but are infact generated randomly according to principles of the universe rather than divine. We follow those principles.
We are also shaped by evolution which explains our design. We have been “designed” by millions of years of natural selection to be brainy tool users. A lot of molecules assume naturally organised shapes because of the nature of the universe.

The pot has a potter, and human beings have evolution. Not some god as  there is no evidence for his work, not when evolution has left it’s clues everywhere and it’s evidence in DNA.

And science is restricted to naturalistic and logical causes. The presence of a magical being who can break the laws of physics at whim is not a logical cause. It is a deus ex machina to explain a difficult question without worrying about logic. If we suggest that magic exists then I require proof.  If we start discussing unnatural causes then we won’t achieve anything in science. You can say “God Created Humans” and people will nod along. But that doesn’t answer why we have the same DNA as the vegetables we eat. How come we are physiologically similar to mammals and how come chimpanzees share so much of our DNA and our skulls and hands look the same. It infact raises questions that require more magical answers. Evolution is elegant since it answers all the awkward questions and keeps answering them.

And there is no reason why the evidence resembles a pot or a watch or a baby kangaroo. You are attributing design to where there is none because we assume all regular events are artificial while living on a planet that rotates once every 24 hours.

How did cells adapted to individual survival ‘learn’ to cooperate and specialize (including undergoing programmed cell death) to create complex plants and animals?
Like this only with cells instead of robot lions.

There are three theories for this (theories because creatures exist fulfilling the hypothesis)
·         Symbiotic Theory – Rare, however we all carry and example of it. Mitochondria and Chloroplasts are endosymbionts and originate from bacteria that have amalgamated with our eukaryotic ancestors.

·         Syncitial Theory – The idea that some protista have multiple nuclei and that it is a short jump from multiple nuclei to further compartmentalisation resulting in multi cellular organisms.

·         Colonial Theory – This is the one with the greatest evidence. No less than 16 different times. Some protists under conditions form amalgams that temporarily behave organised by rudimentary cell signals. This can be as simple as incomplete cytokinesis which easily occurs. During the colonial stage different cells slowly begin to display different roles. These aren’t as drastic as true multicellular organisms but it is noticeable.

Asexual reproduction gives up to twice as much reproductive success (‘fitness’) for the same resources as sexual reproduction, so how could the latter ever gain enough advantage to be selected? And how could mere physics and chemistry invent the complementary apparatuses needed at the same time (non-intelligent processes cannot plan for future coordination of male and female organs).
This man says he knows all about it.

The most primitive form of sex may have been one organism with damaged DNA replicating an undamaged strand from a similar organism in order to repair itself. An alternative is that sexual reproduction originated from selfish parasitic genetic elements that exchange genetic material (that is: copies of their own genome) for their transmission and propagation. 

There are also theories involving Viral Eukaryogenesis and the Neomuran Revolution.
Many protista have meiotic “sex” as we do. They show our origins. Worm Sex is Exciting Stuff.
There are benefits to sex that aren’t available to mitosis and fission. For starters you can produce greater genetic variation and novel phenotypes that can aid survival and speciation. You are less prone to deleterious mutation. You can produce larger organisms. In exchange you don’t have so many divisions.
There is also the benefit of encouraging the development of more complex control systems in multicellular organisms which are a lot more resistant to predation than uni-cellular ones.

Darwin noted the problem and it still remains. The evolutionary family trees in textbooks are based on imagination, not fossil evidence. Famous Harvard palaeontologist (and evolutionist), Stephen Jay Gould, wrote, “The extreme rarity of transitional forms in the fossil record persists as the trade secret of palaeontology”. Other evolutionist fossil experts also admit the problem.
What use is half a prong?

All fossils are transitional fossils... They are a stage in evolution. Not all animals that die are fossilised and only few are found. We have archaeopteryx, why shouldn’t there be more that we simply have not found yet? All fossils are rare. We are technically "transitional". 

There are around a 124 T-Rex fossils discovered. Most are just a few teeth and fragments of skulls. Not one fossil is complete. Our picture of the creature has been assembled by composite. And that is the most famous dinosaur EVER. If someone asked even a child to draw a dinosaur that is what we would draw because it is arguably the most physically powerful predator to walk the planet and the model skeletons strike awe into people every day. And we don’t even have a full fossil of it despite the fame it has garnered. 

We know transitional forms exist, the issue with creationists is that they would want the entire fossil record to be present before they admit to the fossil record being fine.

HOW DO ‘LIVING FOSSILS’ REMAIN UNCHANGED OVER SUPPOSED HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS OF YEARS, IF EVOLUTION HAS CHANGED WORMS INTO HUMANS IN THE SAME TIME FRAME?                                                                                Professor Gould wrote, “the maintenance of stability within species must be considered as a major evolutionary problem.”
Being rugby tackled by australians is
technically evolutionary pressure

Hardly, if there is no pressure to evolve then there is no reason to evolve physically. We can only detect physical changes and have no idea of any soft organ changes over time in “living fossils”. Why should a crocodile change when it is so good at hunting anyways? At best the changes are colorative and biochemical and maybe in size as opposed to major changes.

And there are changes in “living fossils” too. The crocodile shape is conserved in Crocodiles of various sorts (nile/freshwater/salties) and in caiman and alligator. However the Gharial shows adaptation beyond the basic crocodile shape.

If everything evolved, and we invented God, as per evolutionary teaching, what purpose or meaning is there to human life? Should students be learning nihilism (life is meaningless) in science classes?
I am sorry your altruism and heroism is the product of god and
 not your own inner strength. Give that back!

Evolution is not blind chemistry. Selective pressure directs it.

There is no purpose to life bar survival. However humans make their own purpose in life to give it some meaning since each of us can give different answers to the meaning of life.

Smart animals survive better than stupid ones and humans especially are reliant on the usage of tools to survive. More intelligence means better tools. Over time we started using our tools to shape our environment. The spear and fire to keep us safe and hunt our prey. Intelligence and the Mind are chemistry as we can alter those using drugs we understand such as alcohol.

Altruism is present in many other species and enhances survivability of the society as a whole. For the most part the altruist rarely loses out on survivability. Altruism for instance goes down when people cannot afford to be altruistic but the behaviour is ingrained into humans because we are a social animal. We are altruistic to people we know and are close to socially thanks to this.

Morality comes from living as a social group. Morality is needed to make society function so rules are drawn up to make a specific society function without turmoil. Groups without such rules are more fractitious and prone to infighting than groups with rules and hierarchy. Morality is basically just a way of making people get along with each other. Most of morality is to ensure that society works the way it does.

Otherwise by Christian creationist logic, murder was acceptable pre-judaic time and not deemed a crime across all society unless done by due authority and under situation. Impossible to build all those pre-mosaic civilisations without that such as the Egyptians. Many stone age hunter gatherer groups have those rules but they are less moral and rule bound than more socially developed groups of people because as our society gets more inclusive our morality expands. So while a tribe is relatively close minded our nations are not and hence we see an evolution of morality.

Christianity is based of Judaic tribal beliefs and has no part of this argument since a lot of the beliefs of the bible if implemented would damage society since we have exceeded the scope of the bible’s grasp on the world. It seems barbaric because we have progressed far beyond it's idea of morality. 

WHY IS EVOLUTIONARY ‘JUST-SO’ STORYTELLING TOLERATED?           Evolutionists often use flexible story-telling to ‘explain’ observations contrary to evolutionary theory. NAS (USA) member Dr Philip Skell wrote, “Darwinian explanations for such things are often too supple: Natural selection makes humans self-centered and aggressive—except when it makes them altruistic and peaceable. Or natural selection produces virile men who eagerly spread their seed—except when it prefers men who are faithful protectors and providers. When an explanation is so supple that it can explain any behavior, it is difficult to test it experimentally, much less use it as a catalyst for scientific discovery.” 

I have The Game to thank for this.

Because at different stages of human society different traits were useful. The self centred aggressive dick was useful during our early years where we needed power mad bastards who wanted to kill mammoth. We are at our cores aggressive and self centred WHEN forced to be, for example if society breaks down eg. War and Famine and Natural Disaster.

Nowadays we don’t want such violent people running around because our society is primarily peaceful. We aren’t built on conflict but on resolution. We cannot be aggressive because being aggressive does not create a useful society. The irony of Tigers is that we have gone from prey, to predator to protector simply as a testament to how our society has grown in power.

Dr. Philip Skell has no bloody clue of how evolution works and is a signatory on the Discovery Institute. Listening to his ideas on evolution is like listening to Ayn Rand for ideas on charity.

Dr Marc Kirschner, chair of the Department of Systems Biology, Harvard Medical School, stated: “In fact, over the last 100 years, almost all of biology has proceeded independent of evolution, except evolutionary biology itself. Molecular biology, biochemistry, physiology, have not taken evolution into account at all.” Dr  Skell wrote, “It is our knowledge of how these organisms actually operate, not speculations about how they may have arisen millions of years ago, that is essential to doctors, veterinarians, farmers ….” Evolution actually hinders medical discovery. Then why do schools and universities teach evolution so dogmatically, stealing time from experimental biology that so benefits humankind.
Scientific Breakthroughs often involve public nudity.

The same Dr. Marc Kirschner who works on evolutionary systems and pointed out that the lack of understanding of evolution has caused the spread of multiple resistant strains of bacteria? The man works for Harvard Medicine, he is not a creationist. His COMPLAINT is that a lot of biology has been going independent of evolution and we would go a lot faster if we took evolutionary theory into account.
Molecular biology involves genetics. A lot of molecular biology and biochemistry is about different proteins. Physiology has been advanced by animal experimentation and that only holds true if human beings and mammals are similar enough to each other to learn from mammals as models. Otherwise it would be like cutting open a coconut and stating that you understand human physiology.

Speculation of how organisms have arisen has driven huge increases in medical science. It is not mere chance that the development of modern medicine coincided with the formation of biology as a genuine science rather than as the relaxed hobby of rich pastors.

Knowing evolutionary routes is VITAL in determining novel antibiotics and is the very basis of experimentation. Not to mention the vital role of genetics in various disorders. Yet again we see quote mining and usage of pro-creation scientists (who make up less than 0.01% of the scientific community).

SCIENCE INVOLVES EXPERIMENTING TO FIGURE OUT HOW THINGS WORK; HOW THEY OPERATE. WHY IS EVOLUTION, A THEORY ABOUT HISTORY, TAUGHT AS IF IT IS THE SAME AS THIS OPERATIONAL SCIENCE?                                        You cannot do experiments, or even observe what happened, in the past. Asked if evolution has been observed, Richard Dawkins said, “Evolution has been observed. It’s just that it hasn’t been observed while it’s happening.”
Darwin also knows what they tasted like.

Evolution is a fact. We have seen many species show different allele frequencies over generations indicating the ability to respond to the environment.

It is a fact that all life descended from a single common ancestoral gene pool. This is seen due to the universality of the genome and various other mechanisms that are common to all creatures. We have evolved, the theory of evolution is trying to explain this.

Facts do not go away when scientists debate rival theories to explain them. Einstein's theory of gravitation replaced Newton's, but apples did not suspend themselves in mid-air, pending the outcome. And humans evolved from ape-like ancestors whether they did so by Darwin's proposed mechanism or by some other yet to be discovered.

Karl Popper, famous philosopher of science, said “Darwinism is not a testable scientific theory, but a metaphysical [religious] research programme ....” Michael Ruse, evolutionist science philosopher admitted, “Evolution is a religion. This was true of evolution in the beginning, and it is true of evolution still today.” If “you can’t teach religion in science classes”, why is evolution taught?
If you haven't realised the theme yet... Science looks prettier with clockwork!

To readers the whole quote is

“Darwinism is not a testable scientific theory, but a metaphysical [religious] research programme And yet, the theory is invaluable. I do not see how, without it, our knowledge could have grown as it has done since Darwin. In trying to explain experiments with bacteria which become adapted to, say, penicillin, it is quite clear that we are greatly helped by the theory of natural selection. Although it is metaphysical, it sheds much light upon very concrete and very practical researches. It allows us to study adaptation to a new environment (such as a penicillin-infested environment) in a rational way: it suggests the existence of a mechanism of adaptation, and it allows us even to study in detail the mechanism at work.

When speaking here of Darwinism, I shall speak always of today's theory - that is Darwin's own theory of natural selection supported by the Mendelian theory of heredity, by the theory of the mutation and recombination of genes in a gene pool, and by the decoded genetic code. This is an immensely impressive and powerful theory. The claim that it completely explains evolution is of course a bold claim, and very far from being established. All scientific theories are conjectures, even those that have successfully passed many severe and varied tests. The Mendelian underpinning of modern Darwinism has been well tested, and so has the theory of evolution which says that all terrestrial life has evolved from a few primitive unicellular organisms, possibly even from one single organism.”

I think it speaks for itself here. The evidence is clear. The universality of DNA is concrete certainty that we all evolved from the same original gene pool. The theory to explain how we got here is what we debate now. Mendellian genetics is what is well supported but there are grey areas that we will clear as we do more research into the field.

Creation Ministries International are at best deluded, at worst they are luddites trying intentionally spread irrational religious nonsense in order to encourage a world view of their particular brand of sky fairy.

The idea is that evolution is a complex biological theory which they refuse to accept solely because it means that their world view of being special flowers created by a their brand of deity is not true. Rather than change their view to match the facts they wish to change the facts.

They do this by spreading doubt in people who “don’t know any better”. They are undermining our teachers to spread lies and a complete lack of understanding. They are disingenuous, quote mining to twist words of evolutionary scientists to convince people to follow their ways.

Ultimately do people seriously think that “God Did It” is an acceptable answer to a real question? That we can seriously accept Magic as the answer to any question (Even Magnets!). Evolution is an incredibly elegant system and an incredibly logical one. And should evolution not exist, it doesn’t mean that a Judeo Christian god exists. But evolution does exist and the proof is as plain as the noses on our faces.

Remember Evolution is a fact. The theory tries to explain the fact in the same way that Gravity is both fact and theory. No matter how we twist it, the evidence is there and is concrete in our own DNA. We are all evidence of evolution.   

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