Darwin is on our Currency – Answers to Steve Ham for a Christian in Doubt


One of the major advantages of living in the UK is that we rarely have to put up with the actions of creationists. Any attempts by creationists to insert their particular variety of creationism in schools is roundly smacked down, and even in schools run by religious organisations you find that science generally is taught as science rather than applied theology.

Outside the government funded and Comprehensive and Grammar schools this may not be the case but even they are directly tied to qualifications such as the GCSE and A-Level equivalents all require the demonstration of science more than faith. “It was magic” is not considered an acceptable answer anywhere in the majority of public schools. It hasn’t stopped creationists trying but they haven’t succeeded. There is no political will to push the creationist viewpoint in any sizeable way in the country with Darwin on the currency. Outside of communities such as the Muslim community, creationist stances are rather in the minority even if most people don’t grasp the nuances of evolution.

He is actually on our most used note. The Tenner.

Which doesn’t stop the usual suspects from trying to weigh in. Honestly though? Considering the complete lack of success of creationism in the UK, I would think this is an attempt to try and raise money through the notion that there is a raging battle occurring in the UK. There isn’t; we already put Darwin on our currency, the fight is long over. This is just an attempt to try and raise a bit more money for their existing fight in the USA IMHO but it may be a genuine attempt to invade Stronghold Dawkins.

This article from Steve Ham was submitted by someone requesting I disprove this statement. The person asking is a Christian struggling with his faith and with reconciling the written word of “the gospel” with the reality of science. He was brought up to believe in this and specifically linked to this because he wanted to know if what Steve Ham thinks about the UK is true or not and what it means for us.

So teaching creation in non-state schools that receive government funding is allowed if creation is only taught in the religion class. Biblical creation must be kept out of the science classroom, where evolution must be taught as the most evidenced and supported “theory” of origins.

Yes. In a nutshell. Religion gets to stay in religious education and science gets to be science. My atheism is born out of an education system like this. Religious education for me was not instruction in religion but an analysis of faith.

It also helps that the Church of England’s grasp on our society is weaker. That the only religiously entrenched group we have in the UK is Islam and even they have a lot of nay sayers to the party line.

A theory requires an initial hypothesis that can be confirmed or denied through the application of observational science. Scientists are certainly able to collect facts about the evidence before them and study such things as mutations and DNA—and even notice similarities and differences—but they can never test unrepeatable events in the past. Even when scientists are able to observe natural selection, they are only observing what happens with genetic information that already exists.

Except this fails to mention one of the most important things about DNA being the method of information storage and that the expression of this information is what determines how we develop and what we become. It is the chemistry of evolution, the molecular means by which inheritance and therefore evolution takes place.

The DNA code is nearly universal (I believe there are a few bacteria which code slightly differently) but essentially outside RNA based viruses every other biological entity has the same universal code. It indicates not just a universal ancestor for humans but also a universal origin for all life. What Steve Ham wants is the exact replication of a past event in the way that you can replicate a physics event. By exact event I mean “why haven’t more human beings evolved”. Because a lot of people don’t grasp the fact that evolution is directed by the engine of evolution is the environment. The exact environment you are in changes your evolutionary pressures. The best example of this is our dogs. They are descended from wolves… Well modern evolutionary theory suggests that dogs and wolves are still effectively the same species with the house pet being a extreme sub species caused by our interference in the evolutionary process of the wolf. Dogs and wolves still breed true and produce viable offspring but they are on the way to speciation. And we have been domesticating them for around 20,000 years. But for most of that we were just letting them breed without any specific goal in our minds. When we started understanding the notions of inheritance we started breeding dogs with specific appearances and specific goals in mind creating the riot of variation that we see. If we continue without reintroduction of wolf DNA eventually the common dog will speciate and be something different to the wolf. The DNA code is testament to this and provides us a method of comparing such animals to see the differences of mutations over the year.

Humanity is like the “dog” species, except our “wolves” (AKA ancestors) are dead and extinct.

The DNA indicates that not only did we evolve from apes but if we go sufficiently far back we evolved from a common ancestor with bacteria.

We have come a long way baby.

Biblical creationists also observe and teach about natural selection, but that observation confirms our worldview, which leads us to expect to see variation within created kinds. There is no known observable process for increasing information in the genome to account for molecules-to-man evolution. Praise God that we have a historical record in Scripture, which clearly teaches that God made each creature “according to its kind,” and observational science is consistent with this.

There is no such thing as “molecule to man” evolution. The notion is utterly laughable. What Steve is invoking is a concept of abiogenesis.

Abiogenesis is the event that began life. It has absolutely nothing to do with evolution. Evolution is the process by which original life diversified into the ecosystems of the planet. It’s like arguing about the chemistry of covalent and ionic bonds against someone who insists that these do not cover nuclear fusion. To invoke this is an argument just shows a colossal failure to grasp biology.

Second, the article also reports how humanists are concerned that creationists will find ways to circumnavigate the law so they can teach “creationism” as science. Christians also have a wonderful response to these concerns. We are not trying to teach “creationism” as science. Our desire is to teach science as science and to define science properly. I have often heard my brother Steve ask people a question when he is confronted with a query about science. He asks them to define science, and then I hear him eloquently explain the key differences between operational science and historical (origins) science.

No. His goal is to teach the “controversy”. The equivalent would be forcing Christians to teach the Eight Fold Path as a valid alternative.

Or teach atheism from the pulpit as a valid and equal alternative to Christianity. I figure that Christians don’t appreciate when we apply science to their beliefs and it would be a crying shame if we started demanding that we teach the controversy.

The historical origins of science can be damned. Historical science is tremendously slow due to the lack of cohesion and willingness to cooperate. Modern science founded on the concept of scientific method and the cooperation rather than the competition of those involved has produced a system that is far superior.

Consider the progress of Chemistry and Physics. Those two sciences have existed as sciences for millennia, their body of work contains progress but it is often slow… The mountain of work they possess is astonishing but what is astonishing is how much of it is relatively recent due to the nature of scientific thought and the improvements to the way we do science. The change from dogma to reason is one of the main reasons for this.

Now consider Biology. Biology as a science mainly grew out of the early thesis on evolution and naturalism. The theological categorisation of god’s wonder suddenly grew wings. Biological innovation and understanding grew at a frankly astronomical pace until our current day. Biologists grasped science. Lest we forget doctors too grasped science. My art is a product of biology but the weapons of healthcare are provided by the armourers of physics and chemistry. Early doctors were “fucking quacks” by our standards, for all the high tech claims of the homoeopath they fail to grasp the power of our diagnostic tools or the chemistry of medicine. MRI Machines work through magnets so powerful that we could probably pin the average juggalo by their piercings to it and then mock them for their terrible choice in music and dress sense.

The giants whose shoulders modern medicine stands on grasped biology and the scientific principles that we hold true today in the field of medicine are all based on the acceptance of biology as a fact and as a whole the entire science is based on evolution and it’s principles.

This is also on our currency.

Now our ancestors did this on some core level, but that’s a survival strategy. Any animal that doesn’t take advantage of observable phenomenon better have a lot of offspring to offset the mortality rate. We can see science in the behaviour of other animals. Problem solving with tools isn’t unique to humans, but it is our entire survival strategy. Animals have figured out tool use the most astonishing IMHO is the raven which can analyse a problem and construct tools to solve the problem. It may not be as adept at using them as us but it is still pretty impressive. While other birds would attempt to dangle from a branch to peck at a nut on a string the raven would haul the nut up and steal it whole sale. While other birds would try and fail to pull a seed out of a hole the raven will take a nearby stick to try and pull it out. If it is given a bendable metal rod it will actually construct a hook to lever the seed out.

The raven decides on this by scientific principle. However not all ravens know this because ravens do not have a universal communication system nor do they do experiments like we do.

Our dogs sit, roll over and shake based on not understanding the action but understanding that doing the action will provide a tangible reward. That is what historical science was. They did things often because they made sense but without any concept of the underlying principles because it was rewarded. We however would analyse why rolling over nets us a treat. That is the difference between modern science and “historical scientific endeavour”.

There is a significant difference between observable, testable, and repeatable science in the present—which is used to put men on the moon, build space shuttles, and find cures for diseases—and historical science—which makes assumptions about the unobservable, untestable, unrepeatable past, such as the origin of humanity or how long a fossil has been buried. Christians should understand that we all have the same observational science and that the most reliable account of the past comes from historical documents given by a Witness who was there. Christians have a reliable historical record from our self-existent, eternal God who has revealed the history of creation in His Word.

The cures for diseases are based on evolutionary principles. We understand how bacteria function and their evolutionary origins. We have to because a medicine that affects a protein system common to both us and bacteria is not a very good drug. It’s why anti-virals have such side effects… The virus utilises the mechanisms of our body so any medication that works on it has to affect us and anything that affects us gives us side effects.

The actual complaints about fossils is that Steve Ham honestly believes the world is 6000 years old give or take a decade which is news to me since the religion I don’t believe in (Ex-Hindu to any new readers) has a 6000 year old history with some of the oldest texts referring to texts that no longer exist. It’s the oldest continuous religion on the planet outside of traditional animism.

Jehovah (AKA the Christian god) is not a reliable source of information.

[important]

You should give Avicenna some money and a bacon double cheeseburger with some sort of cheese that has a name. Also you should totally make him the Emperor of the Planet

– The Tooth Fairy, Santa Claus, Big Foot, Abominable Snowman and Gary Busey

[/important]

I think my source is pretty reliable too. I don’t want to mess with Santa Claus.

There is no evidence for Jehovah. There is no evidence for anything that the Bible claims are true bar some cursory history things. The Bible is not a textbook any more than Harry Potter is an acceptable guide to the history of the United Kingdom no matter how much we wish it to be.

Third, when it comes to historical science, there is no difference between education and indoctrination. If a school chooses to accept government funding and communicate to children that evolution is real history and creation is a religious story, then that school is effectively agreeing to indoctrinate children with a secular religion of our day. At this point, it seems like the only schools that have freedom for Christian education in England are ones that do not rely on government funding and take a foundational stance on the authority of God’s Word.

No. We can test discoveries that were made historically. Hero’s formula still stands today, we still teach it as mathematical fact despite being historical. We still teach displacement based on the supposed moment of absolute serendipity and nudism that Archimedes had. Because these principles hold “true” historically and we use their principles to make things work like our submarines. Just because a historical achievement is taught as fact in classrooms doesn’t mean we do not demonstrate it.

We demonstrate evolution through comparative biology in schools. By showing taxonomic animals and noting similarities and differences we help kids realise that there is a relationship between species. We also give them a basic understanding of DNA and RNA. Basic mind you, we save the real stuff for university.

However evolution is a fact, like gravity or indeed the Archimedean Principle. The fact is that the DNA is hard proof that evolution occurred along with the supporting evidence from things such as fossils (which Steve thinks are flood related or are tricks) and the various evidences for the life span of the Earth. Steve would have to throw out the entire concept of Radioactivity and the entire field of Geology not to mention History of people outside the Judeo-Christian sphere in order to give his stance even the most remote chance of being true.

And even then it raises massive questions such as why there is no empirical proof of his god despite the phenomenal level of near constant interference that such a god would require to make Steve’s world a reality. Or how the world exists the way it does with the diversity and spread of such life if we all effectively originated from Noah around 4000 years ago.

If tomorrow a cataclysm were to occur and we lost sum total of all knowledge, then science will recover. It will take time but they will discover exactly the same processes. Religion will not develop the same way. There will be no second “Jehovah” or “Jesus”. You will have to worry about the Second Coming of L. Ron Hubbard or something equally silly.

Because of the attack on the Word of God in our education systems (and many other areas), the next generation is asking crucial questions about the origins of life, age-dating methods, dinosaurs, and many other subjects—including the very meaning of human existence. They are essentially asking whether the Bible can be trusted. These are not just children in non-Christian homes but even those who are brought up in theologically conservative homes. These children go to school, where evolution is presented as fact, and then they go to church, where biblical history is sadly portrayed as mere “Bible stories.”

The problem is Steve wants his god to be inserted into all education. He wants god to be a valid hypothesis while sprouting various things as evidence for his god. The thing is god is a terrible answer to the real questions of life. It is not an answer. It is the equivalent of shouting SHUT UP. The evidence is often laughably weak in the scientific sense. And no, the Bible cannot be held to be true solely because it names real places in it.

For a long time we thought lightning and thunder were the domains of our gods. If we banned research into electricity because it was “sacred” then where would we be now?

Both the atheist natural view of the world and the religious view is based on faith. Atheists have faith that everything has a natural explanation that can be discovered through hard graft and science. Just because something isn’t understood now doesn’t mean it works by magic. When the first people tried to measure the speed of light they thought it was instantaneous but a few bright sparks said that the speed of light was so fast that they couldn’t measure it with the tools that they had. That is science.

Religion is faith in a god.

The difference between the two world views is that science starts with faith and finds evidence to build on the initial premise while faith is all that’s needed for religion. It’s why science progresses while religion drags its heels and often has to be forced to move forward. Because religion has thought it has had the sum total of knowledge at its fingertips since the first men believed in the first monsters.

The fundamental creed of science is that the universe is natural and that we don’t know everything. There could very well be a god. But so far there is no evidence. Until someone can provide evidence we will keep our faith that the world works through scientific methods.

Now you can ignore all of this evidence that science has acquired and believed in a god. We aren’t stopping you but you have to realise why religion fears science. Because they fear that science doesn’t have a boundary. That every boundary they have set has ended up with science breaking it and winning. Science is terrifying to someone who says they have all the answers because it shows you how much you really do not no.

There is no shame in saying that you do not know. There is however shame in saying that you don’t want to find out. It’s something I noticed in a lot of extremely staunch Christians, Muslims and Jews. I believe that this is due to the attitude the Abrahamic faiths take to Knowledge. Knowledge is dangerous and part of the original sin. To people from traditions outside Islam, Christianity and Judaism you find that knowledge is either something humanity wrested from the gods or was given as a gift. To Christians it is part of original sin. To Hindus it is part of the creation of man and is as important to us as air, food or water. Since knowledge is dangerous to the Abrahamic faith it needs to be watched carefully lest it harm us and who better to be a keeper of knowledge and to guard it’s cage than priests. Which is why we ended up with the Dark Ages. It’s also why we ended up with the current Islamic dark age.

These crucial questions have been repeatedly answered. Steve Ham just doesn’t want to find out. The people who believe in creationism have to ignore these answers because they are not the answers they want to hear. They are the bitter truth that the Bible is not a literal document. That it is allegory and is meant to be used as such rather than a operating manual for life. That their belief system is on the same level as what they have been saying about every other religion on the planet. That they don’t have any answers and that we as humans are alive on a tiny planet in a tiny solar system in a massive galaxy in a universe full of them. And that all the answers exist outside in the real world rather than the metaphysical world of a god.

It is the fear of being irrelevant to society. It is the fear of change. It is the fear of knowledge that they don’t understand.

It is the fear of the dark, but rather than learning to light a fire, religion would rather we sit in the dark so that the monsters stay real.

Reason, Science, Skepticism, Logic, Mathematics and Humanism are the foundations of modern civilisation. It has helped us move forward so much. We aren’t finished, we know nothing. There is a universe of knowledge to learn. Humanity is the only species of animal that will torture itself to see if something can be done and to do something people said was impossible. We climbed Everest because it was there! If a god existed we would be cheeky and crazy enough to go ask him to prove his capacity because that’s how we got this far. Not by accepting the explanations but by breaking things and finding out how they worked so that we could learn and apply that knowledge.

And we wouldn’t be like this if all we were interested in doing is doing the bidding of something that doesn’t exist.

Comments

  1. slc1 says

    Conflating evolution and abiogensis is a common mistake made by creationists, either through ignorance or malice. I like to think of it this way, the origin of the universe is a problem in physics, the origin of life, defined as the appearance of the first replicators, is a problem in chemistry, the evolution of life is a problem in biology.

    We have a pretty good handle on the origin of the universe (e.g. due to a transient discontinuity in the quantum vacuum which set off the expansion and the big bang) and a very good handle on the evolution of life (namely random mutation and replication errors operated on by natural selection and genetic drift). Currently, we don’t have much of a handle on the origin of life, although there are a number of hypotheses out there.

    (edited – Avicenna edited this to correct an error pointed out by the OP himself)

  2. Rodney Nelson says

    <blockquote[W]hen it comes to historical science, there is no difference between education and indoctrination. If a school chooses to accept government funding and communicate to children that evolution is real history and creation is a religious story, then that school is effectively agreeing to indoctrinate children with a secular religion of our day.

    Many creationists see evolutionary biology as a competing religion. Their particular flavor of Christianity teaches one thing, biology teaches something contradictory, so evolution is also a religion. They’re wrong for philosophical reasons The difference between dogma and the scientific method escapes them.

  3. Andrew G. says

    The DNA code is nearly universal (I believe there are a few bacteria which code slightly differently)

    Yes, including vertebrate mitochondria, where AGA and AGG are “stop” rather than arginine, UGA is tryptophan rather than “stop”, and AUA is methionine rather than isoleucine.

    Significantly, these kinds of variations only arise in situations where they are evolutionarily possible: small genomes where the frequency of occurrence of a given codon might drop to zero or near-zero, allowing the code substitution to occur without major consequences. Even the nature of the variations is significant; in the “standard” code, there are only two cases where xxA and xxG code for different amino acids, and those are UGA/UGG (stop/tryptophan) and AUA/AUG (isoleucine/methionine).

    (It might actually have been more suspicious if there were not any such variations in coding, because that might indicate that the transcription mechanisms were too highly conserved to have evolved the way it appears they did.)

    (and now I’m wondering why my spill chucker knows “methionine” but not “tryptophan”)

  4. Pierce R. Butler says

    If Ham is spinning the standard creationist line – which he seems to be, as his spiel lacks any trace of originality – his sneers at “historical science” are aimed not at historical practitioners of science (such as Hero, Archimedes, Galileo, Newton, or even Darwin), but at those who use scientific methodology to understand past events.

    To these creos, “real” or “observational” science is limited to what can be started, processed, and finished in a laboratory. You can measure the ongoing breakdown of a radioisotope and its accumulation of byproducts, and they’ll allow you to call that science, but tallying up the byproducts to calculate how long the process has been underway is “inferential” and “guesswork” according to “preconceived biases,” and anyone who does that and dares to call it science would, in a Hamarchy, be spanked and sent to bed without supper.

    Thus they conveniently reject not only evolutionary biology, but also geology, archaeology, paleontology, cosmology and all the many other disciplines which contradict their holy doctrines by violating the puerile sacred heckle: “Were you there?”

  5. says

    The Creos think that any human development outside of a scientists is not science. So they don’t grasp observational developments of early humans. Things like the discovery of iron would have been due to building charcoal fires on iron rich soil and then finding the metal beads. The process would be slowly refined, but eventually you get iron. We are doing the same thing to get our iron today but on a massive more efficient scale.

    They would consider ours science but find it more apt to claim that the original discovery was some sort of “divine intervention” rather than “Guys getting super lucky”.

    @Andrew G – I am more intrigued as to why your spell check knows Methionine but wrote Spill Chucker…

    Honest truth? I know about the bacteria thing, I was just too lazy to go find out the names! Thanks for writing it up!

  6. Zme says

    @Pierce #5:
    …by violating the puerile sacred heckle: “Were you there?”

    To which, the correct answer is “YES. I didn’t see you”.

  7. smrnda says

    Since I grew up in the states, even though I wasn’t Christian I was exposed to the basic notion that knowledge, or curiosity, is a pretty dangerous thing and that an ideal existence is one which is almost Zen or Stoic – an individual with no thoughts, feelings of their own and mindless obedience. This seems more pervasive with the fundamentalist brands of Christianity and Islam in particular. Creationists take this to the extreme where circular reasoning is dressed up as ‘presuppositionalism’ where assuming the entire Bible is true is represented as equal to say, the Peano postulates in mathematics.

    Glad to know the UK this nonsense doesn’t fly, but science gets subverted to ideology in the States all the time, whether it’s legislators demanding that science teachers treat the Bible as a textbook or that doctors should like to women seeking abortions.

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