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Oct 30 2010

CFI Skeptics ‘welcome’ creationist Jonathan Sarfati, PhD

Once again thumbing my nose at the publishing guidelines for Canadian Atheist, I am cross-posting the summary I wrote on this event here. Readers should be aware that I was not present at any of the described events. What follows is my amalgamation of the impressions of a diverse group of skeptics working in different cities.

This past week, British Columbia was host to creationist lecturer Dr. Jonathan Sarfati, a PhD in chemistry who gave a series of lectures entitled “Evolution: The Greatest Hoax on Earth.” The title, while pithy enough on its own, is based on the title of the international bestselling book The Greatest Show on Earth by British biologist, professor and novelist Richard Dawkins.

Dr. Sarfati, founder of Creation Ministries International, asserts that evolution is a hoax based on his literal interpretation of the story of Genesis – in which God created the universe in 7 days about 10,000 years ago. One must admire the courage and temerity of a man who looks at pre-human fossils dated orders of magnitude older than that; rock formations dated billions of years old; and abundant cosmological evidence putting the age of the universe even older than the rocks; and says “nope, ten thousand – book says so.” Maybe ‘admire’ isn’t the right word…

What did we do?

Upon hearing that we would be paid a visit by such a luminary figure, British Columbia skeptics decided that if creationist propaganda was going to be spread around our fair province then audience members deserved to hear what the scientific evidence had to say. After all, forewarned is forearmed. Centre for Inquiry (CFI) Vancouver, in partnership with our colleagues at CFI Okanagan, the University of British Columbia (UBC) biology department, UBC Okanagan (UBCO), the UBC Freethinkers and the UBCO Skeptics contacted the venues where Sarfati was scheduled to speak – UBC’s Vancouver campus, The Pacific Academy in Surrey, and UBC’s Okanagan campus – and requested permission to set up an information table in the lobby.

The Pacific Academy, a privately owned venue attached to a Pentacostal Christian school (K-12) in Surrey, declined our request to set up a table. While we were understandably disappointed – especially given CFI’s past willingness to allow creationists to push their propaganda (usually in the form of “if there’s no God, how did all this stuff get here? Therefore, God.”) at our events – we recognized that private businesses have every right to hold whatever events they like. The Surrey event was attended by around 800 people of all ages.

We were able to prevail upon UBC to allow the presence of science within the morass of apologetics by reminding them of their obligation to present information that is consistent with the policies of the university. While creationism might be entertaining, evolution is a fact. We were lucky to be able to borrow on the heft and credibility of our colleagues within the UBC biology department.

The Vancouver lecture was not quite as well-attended, perhaps due to the fact that people in a university environment know a bit more about science than the general public. Many of the students we encountered there attended out of sheer curiosity – having heard about the evolution vs. creation “controversy” (only controversial to those within the creationist camp). They thanked us for being there to present the evidence, rather than… well, we’ll get to that later.

The UBC Okanagan lecture was again not quite as popular as the one held by the Pentecostal Church in Surrey. Our volunteers were present to provide some information to those who might not have a background in biology. Feeling a bit cheeky, some of us wore t-shirts that said “Creationism: a Philosophy of Ignorance”, referring to the argument from ignorance that Creationism is based on (“I don’t know how this works, therefore it must be God’s doing”). Our esteemed presenter wasn’t particularly pleased about that, but we’ll get to that in a bit.

Overall, our presence was welcomed by audience members. We were careful not to force information on people, preferring instead to wait for curious parties to come to us. We were not there to sell anything or to force an agenda, merely to make information available and give people a chance to pre-empt some of the more egregious lies inherent to creationism.

What happened at the lecture?

While the bar for creationist lecturers isn’t set particularly high, either in terms of evidence or persuasive arguments, Dr. Sarfati did his utmost not to clear it. Instead of presenting evidence for the truth of creation (which would be impressive, because there isn’t any), he instead presented a series of shallow, recycled and easily- (and oft-) refuted arguments. Some of the highlights:

  • The second law of thermodynamics says that organization can’t increase in a closed system, therefore beneficial mutations cannot happen and evolution cannot occur. Never mind that the Earth is not a closed system, gets regular energy from the sun, and beneficial mutations have been observed to occur (a PhD in Chemistry really should know this)…
  • Science comes from Christianity (therefore… God?). Never mind that the Christian church repeatedly blocked scientific progress that was contrary to dogma, that science has explained many things that were supposedly divine “mysteries”, and that during the Dark Ages – when the church was at its height of power – it was the Muslim world that made the greatest contributions to science…
  • Noah’s flood explains everything, from the Grand Canyon to the divergence of species. Never mind the fact that contemporary floods don’t seem to have the magical properties of Noah’s flood, that building a ship capable of holding 2 of every animal in the world would require a level of technology we don’t even have today, and that there is no evidence anywhere of a flood that covered the entire world and then carefully planted specific types of animals only in certain places…
  • Fish float when they die, therefore they can’t fossilize, therefore fish fossils are evidence of being buried by mud slides from Noah’s flood. Never mind the fact that you do not need Noah’s flood to create mud slides that bury fish. It happens all the time. Never mind the fact that fish sink after their air bladders lose integrity, or that fish without bladders sink right away, or that fossil records are not the only – or even the strongest – evidence we have for evolution…
  • If you put a frog in a blender and turn it on, you’ll never see a live frog be reassembled. I’m not even sure if this one is worth taking on, and someone should probably call the SPCA.

After the lecture there was a Q&A session. Dr. Safarti wasn’t too pleased to see our volunteers in the first place (someone put a copy of Biology for Dummies on the podium – perhaps not polite, but certainly funny), and mentioned our insouciant t-shirts a few times in Kelowna. He became even more hostile when we pointed out some of the more egregious fallacies in his argument, interrupting the questioners, accusing us of trying to convert people to atheism (a big scary deal to Dr. Safarti), and assuring us that the answers were in one of his books, but he couldn’t answer it right now. The Vancouver event was attended predominantly by students and evolutionists, who did not respond well to these evasive tactics and cheered on those who took the creationist presenter to task for them.

Our reception was somewhat frostier in Kelowna, where the crowd was not quite as pro-science as in Vancouver. Our questions, rather than being met with tacit approval, were the cause of some consternation to the audience. One attendee, a professor of philosophy, attempted to demonstrate some of the logical problems with Sarfati’s arguments – an audience member threatened to put the professor in a head lock. Perhaps it goes without saying that we didn’t win any popularity contests there. Hopefully we got mentioned in a few church sermons the following Sunday.

Needless to say, Dr. Sarfati was not pleased to have people present who are aware of history, science, and basic logic. His hostility was not saved for skeptics either: he made many disparaging comments about atheists, Muslims, and made disparaging remarks about other Christians who believed in evolution. Perhaps being a jerk and a buffoon isn’t relevant to the fact that his presentation was frankly a big steamy pile of BS, but it certainly didn’t help his cause.

What did we learn?

The British Columbia branches of CFI are working on our “skeptivist” approach – bringing the tools of skepticism out into the open and engaging the public. We were lucky to have partners at UBC, as well as the support of the national branch of CFI. We were once again received positively by most of the audience at the event we attended – a reception we can at least partially attribute to being polite and non-pushy (being a good-looking group of ladies and gents probably didn’t hurt either).

People are understandably curious when someone tells them “the thing you’ve been taught is a hoax”. I’m sure that many of the attendees were either confirmed creationists for whom science is blasphemy, and more than a few were science-literate skeptics present at the lecture for a chuckle. Our mission was not and has not been, to convert the whole audience to one way of thinking; it was to present the actual evidence and allow people to make their own decisions. We are confident that after hearing “both sides” of the creation/evolution issue, reasonable people will choose the side with the evidence on its side over the one that relies on distortions and outright falsehoods to make its point.

Our information tables were visited predominantly by the people we were hoping to attract – science-weak university students who were there out of curiosity. They thanked us for being there, knowing that evolution is embraced by the scientific community but not being too sure about why. While skeptics and atheists are often accused of “preaching to the converted”, we were glad to have an opportunity to “preach” to those whose understanding of biology is less than full.

Dr. Sarfati is perhaps not the greatest challenge facing us in the creationist camp. While folks like Ken Ham at least have some kind of charisma, Dr. Sarfati has pictures of blended frogs and slander against non-believers. However, it is important to counter pseudoscience and fraud whenever it appears, particularly when it’s on our university campuses, no matter how unimpressive the speaker may be. We are happy to have been a part of this, and optimistic that we may have given people some things to think about.

14 comments

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  1. 1
    grassrute

    To start, I confess I am not a scientist, but a layman as far as science is concerned. I am a Christian, but that doesn’t mean I believe science to be obsolete. I believe science, the study of things, reveals many awesome things about God’s creation.
    Although your article is interesting, it contains an error that compromises the integrity of the entire piece. Evolution is not a scientific fact. The closest it will ever be to that is a theory. To prove any theory to be true, (fact) the theory must go through the scientific method, namely:
    Observation/Research
    Hypothesis
    Prediction
    Experimentation
    Conclusion

    Considering you cannot experiment with the origin of any species, you cannot draw any sound conclusion supporting evolution. The next best thing of course is arcyology. You point to “pre-human fossils… rock formations dated billions of years old and abundant cosmological evidence putting the age of the universe even older than the rocks.” You are pointing to these things as proof when even the most brilliant minds don’t know how to interpret them. More recently one 80-million-year-old hadrosaur and two 65-million-year-old tyrannosaurs were discovered to have soft tissue still intact. A logical mind, upon this discovery, would then question the way fossils are dated. One Mary Schweitzer, assistant professor of paleontology at North Carolina State University states “We may not really know as much about how fossils are preserved as we think.” Every discovery seems to turn up more questions than answers.

    Your article further misleads when it reads “The Pacific Academy, a privately owned venue attached to a Pentecostal Christian school (K-12) in Surrey, declined our request to set up a table. While we were understandably disappointed – especially given CFI’s past willingness to allow creationists to push their propaganda (usually in the form of “if there’s no God, how did all this stuff get here? Therefore, God.”) You give the impression that evolutionist embrace discussion in an open minded fashion while Christian groups muzzle contradictory ideology. You would do well to admit that while in the public school system, Christianity and creation are not welcome while Canada’s Christian schools are required to teach evolution.

    Furthermore you state that “the bar for creationist lecturers isn’t set particularly high.” Although intended as an insult, this is almost laughable. Evolutionists are largely reluctant to debate creationist. There was however one very interesting debate between Christopher Hitchens and Douglas Wilson. As is often the case, no definite winner. http://www.collisionmovie.com/ Anyone claiming victory is simply making overstatements based on their worldview.

    Looks like you’re just as religious as I am. My faith offers answers to life’s questions and hope beyond this life. Your faith creates questions and will ultimately lead to a dead end. I don’t expect you will convert to Christianity upon reading this post, but you can at the very least admit the above errors.

    http://www.jesus-is-savior.com/Evolution%20Hoax/evolution-not_science.htm

    http://www.icr.org/article/bone-disease-simulating-ancient-age-pre-human-foss/

    http://www.icr.org/article/455/

  2. 2
    Crommunist

    A creationist troll! I feel… important.

    Do all creationists go to the same websites or something? Because you all have the exact same laundry list of fallacies to trot out:

    - Evolution is just a theory
    - Science is the same as religion
    - Here is 1 fact and an out-of-context quote, therefore evolution is wrong
    - Teach the controversy
    - Scientists are “afraid” to debate creationists

    I spent the whole weekend partying and playing music. Could some erstwhile reader please take a few minutes to point out why each of the above things is a waste of time and consonants? If not I will find 5 minutes tomorrow to do it as sarcastically as possible.

  3. 3
    Crommunist

    No takers, eh? *Sigh* Hooooookay, here we go.

    I am a Christian, but that doesn’t mean I believe science to be obsolete.

    How magnanimous of you to admit that science might still eke out some useful things… like the computer and internet connection you used to Google all of your information about evolution, and the fallacies you then (using the same science) posted on my blog. I realize science isn’t quite as useful as religion in matters of… hmm… um… jeez I can’t think of anything that humanity couldn’t have done without religion.

    I believe science, the study of things, reveals many awesome things about God’s creation.

    If you were wondering when I stopped taking you seriously, it was when you started a sentence with “I believe”.

    Considering you cannot experiment with the origin of any species, you cannot draw any sound conclusion supporting evolution.

    Dogs, bananas, cabbages, pea plants, fruit trees, flowers, guppies, bacteria, fruit flies, mice – just a cross-section of species that we already have done experiments with. The basic principle behind natural selection is essentially intuitive, but it has still been investigated time and again, and has been shown capable of building divergence within populations to the point where distinct species are formed – both in nature and in the lab.

    One Mary Schweitzer, assistant professor of paleontology at North Carolina State University states “We may not really know as much about how fossils are preserved as we think.”

    I’m really not sure what you think this contributes to your argument, other than the fact that at least one scientist admits that we don’t know everything. In the words of Dara O’Briain, “of course science doesn’t know everything. If science knew everything, it would stop.”

    You would do well to admit that while in the public school system, Christianity and creation are not welcome while Canada’s Christian schools are required to teach evolution.

    This is not precisely true. The proportion of time spent on each of the millions of “explanations” for existence is directly proportionate to the amount of scientific evidence that supports them. It just so happens that the giant turtle hypothesis, the great sneeze of Zeus hypothesis, the magic sky genie 7-day hypothesis and Last Thursdayism have exactly the same amount of evidence to support them – none.

    Looks like you’re just as religious as I am. My faith offers answers to life’s questions and hope beyond this life simplistic “answers” to complex questions that are based on nothing but childlike reasoning and repeated assertions without proof. Your faith creates questions and will ultimately lead to a dead end and provides a mechanism for determining real solutions based on observable fact.

    Science is not religion. I fixed the rest of that sentence for you.

  4. 4
    Brian Lynchehaun

    Evolution is not a scientific fact.

    Practicing Biologists disagree with you. Teaching Biologists disagree with you. The consensus in the field of Biology is that Evolution is, indeed, a fact.

    Whether we have adequately modeled the fact of Evolution with the Theory of Evolution is a separate question entirely. The Theory of Evolution is to the Fact of Evolution as the Theory of Gravitation is to the Fact of Gravitation: an exceedingly close approximation such that there is very little empirical difference between the two.

    If you wish to continue to merely assert that it’s “not a fact”, that’s fine. Sticking one’s fingers in one’s ears and singing ‘la la la’ is a perfectly fine approach to life. Let us know how that works out for you.

    Considering you cannot experiment with the origin of any species, you cannot draw any sound conclusion supporting evolution.

    I wish to clarify a point:

    When you said that you were a layperson with regards to science, you meant that you are completely unfamiliar with science?

    You are aware that Evolution has absolutely nothing to do with the origin of life?

    What you are talking about is known as abiogenesis. Evolution explains/makes predictions about the progress of life once it has kicked off, but it has nothing to do with the change non-life to life. An acknowledgement of this fact would be nice, but I shan’t hold my breath waiting…

    You are pointing to these things as proof when even the most brilliant minds don’t know how to interpret them.

    This is, frankly, self-serving nonsense. All interpretation is with regards to a framework. You are disputing that the framework is correct, which (once backed up by rigorous knowledge of the subject) is a valid criticism. But your assertion here is merely an appeal to ignorance: we don’t know *for sure*, therefore we should reject the framework. Here’s a fun fact: we know that these rocks are 85million years old with the same certainty that you know that there is food in the refrigerator. Demands for a higher level of certainty than that are A) impossible to reach, B) ridiculous, and C) illustrate the double-standard at play when anti-scientific folk try to play with epistemology.

    A logical mind, upon this discovery, would then question the way fossils are dated

    Again, self-serving nonsense.

    A “logical mind” would question many assumptions, not only “the way that fossils are dated”: the materials the fossils were found in, how well that material can preserve organic matter over time, the kind of microorganisms that can be found in that material, the life-cycle of those organisms, etc, etc, etc, etc.

    Only someone with a self-serving agenda would A)only “question” how the fossils are dated, and B) pretend that raising a question is the same as discarding a methodology. I question the quantity of food in my fridge all the time: this is not the same as assuming that there is NO food in my fridge.

    One Mary Schweitzer, assistant professor of paleontology at North Carolina State University states “We may not really know as much about how fossils are preserved as we think.” Every discovery seems to turn up more questions than answers.

    Any chance of a link to that citation so we can see the rest of the statement that you didn’t cherry-pick?

    You give the impression that evolutionist embrace discussion in an open minded fashion while Christian groups muzzle contradictory ideology.

    I agree with you here. Ian would have been much better off to explicitly state that.

    You would do well to admit that while in the public school system, Christianity and creation are not welcome while Canada’s Christian schools are required to teach evolution.

    Of course.

    I’m slightly confused here: what place does superstitous nonsense have in our institutions of education? Given that the foundational ground of modern Biology is Evolution, and we’d like our children to be educated (as opposed to be left in their ignorance), then it’s necessary to teach the kids Evolution. Teaching them Christianity would only serve to increase their ignorance. Why not teach Twilight if we’re going to teach nonsense? At least it’s contemporary…

    Evolutionists are largely reluctant to debate creationist.

    Because, like your response here demonstrates, Creationists are largely ignorant as to what, exactly, Evolution is and isn’t. Creationists frequently think (like you) that Evolution has something to do with the origin of life. Another common tack is for the Creationist to start talking about the origin of the Universe (Cosmology) which, again, has zero to do with Evolution.

    As for my own personal case: once I discovered that Sarfati was coming to Vancouver, and had the terribly pretentious sub-title of “The man Atheists refuse to debate”, I emailed his organisation with an offer to debate. They declined, claiming that they only debate “prominent” Atheists.

    Why? Because they gain significant credibility by debating with smart, educated people. When debating amongst themselves, no credibility is gained.

    Looks like you’re just as religious as I am

    That word (“religious”) doesn’t mean what you think it means.

    My faith offers answers to life’s questions and hope beyond this life.

    That’s patent nonsense. You have a bunch of wants that you claim to be fulfilled after you die. But if you bother yourself to study the history of ‘heaven’, you’ll see that the Christian conception of ‘heaven’ has changed significantly over the millenia, and it also varies from sect to sect.

    In short, you’re saying “from this nonsense that I made up, the following claims logically follow”, and you’re correct that your claims follow. But it’s still nonsense in the first instance.

    but you can at the very least admit the above errors.

    You first…

  5. 5
    Crommunist

    Let us know how that works out for you.

    Please don’t let me know. I don’t care. E-mail Brian.

    You are aware that Evolution has absolutely nothing to do with the origin of life?

    The comment was about the origin of species which evolution has quite a bit to say about. The assertion that we cannot, or have not, investigated and/or experimented with species diversion and origin is a false claim.

    I agree with you here. Ian would have been much better off to explicitly state that.

    Criticism accepted :P

  6. 6
    Brian Lynchehaun

    So I’m not sure what has happened to the formatting here (I suspect that grassrute) left an open tag in their post, but the upshot is that Crommunist is telling Brian to email Brian. While I do argue with myself from time to time, we’ve agreed to set aside our differences on this one. ;)

    While I did, indeed, miss that grassrute was specifically referring to ‘origin of species’, I’d contend that that’s not part of evolution either: Evolution puts the lie to the Essentialism that kicked off the idea of ‘species’ in the first place. There are no ‘species’, in any real, not-grouped-for-human-convenience purposes. Mules that can breed, and the offshoots of lions and tigers that can subsequently breed break pretty much any working definition of ‘species’ that there is. I’d prefer if that whole notion just went away, and was merely noted as an idea that helped us build up taxonomy until we realised that it was just, frankly, wrong.

  7. 7
    Crommunist

    I was telling grassrute, who is reading your comment, not to follow your advice to “let us know”, because I don’t care. She/he is welcome to tell you all about how it works, but skip telling me…

    As far as the origin of species goes, the insight into Natural Selection was published in a book called “On The Origin of Species”. Jerry Coyne provides a decent definition of ‘species’, which is any two populations that are separated by reproductive barriers; however, that one refers really to evolutionary biology rather than taxonomy. I share your view that ‘species’ definitions are largely essentialist.

  8. 8
    grassrute

    I hope I’m not too late to post a comment now that you’ve moved on, I’ve been under the weather the last couple days. No doubt you guys are experts in biology…nice job dissecting my post. You could’ve saved yourself some time by being more general, now I feel important.

    Crommy [WHY do people shorten my name? Do I call you 'Grassy'? No, because I'm not 7.] – “How magnanimous of you to admit that science might still eke out some useful things”

    I must not have effectively conveyed my appreciation for science. I find science fascinating and have a true appreciation for scientists. If it wasn’t for them:
    -life expectancy would be what? 45+
    -I would still need glasses or contacts to see anything further than an arms reach
    -I’d freeze my ass off riding my horse to work every winter morning

    “The assertion that we cannot, or have not, investigated and/or experimented with species diversion and origin is a false claim”

    I think it is rather clear that my simple point was evolution is not a fact and yes I also mentioned that it hasn’t been experimented with. I should have said “observed.” Now to clarify, I am referring to the macro level. Scientists haven’t and can’t observe this. If you are going to suggest you have observed it, without manipulation, you are either a couple million years old, or you have a time machine that I would love to borrow. If you are going to suggest that micro and macro are one and the same, not in the span of 6000 years it isn’t. Evolution is not based on fact, but rather, on philosophy. Scientists have spent the last 150 years trying to prove the theory applying numerous possibilities built on a pile of what-ifs. There are also many scientists using the same procedures who have “proven” the biblical account.

    Brian – “You are disputing that the framework is correct, which (once backed up by rigorous This is, frankly, self-serving nonsense. All interpretation is with regards to a framework. knowledge of the subject) is a valid criticism”

    I would point you to some of the work of your colleagues – yes colleagues – but you know how to use Google. You can continue this debate with them. Us dummies watching both sides of the debate believe the science that “proves” the biblical account. Sorry, I can’t resist, check out this debate

    “Here’s a fun fact: we know that these rocks are 85million years” Really? Some of your colleagues can attribute this to the flood. Water is heavy you know! [Bahaha, flood rock compression. Awesome!]

    “food in the refrigerator” Who put the food there? My wife tells me she did, I believe (that B word again) her, taking her at her word. Some Crommy comes along and says “No, it evolved from some molecule that resulted from a bang” I am naturally going to believe my wife as I have no good reason not to. Crommy says “but, if this and if that, then maybe this” Huh? My wife has integrity, always looked after me and never let me down. I believe my wife. (rather bold, my wife representing God in this metaphor)

    “You first” takes some audacity to suggest I must admit my errors. Evolution is the new idea that goes against traditionally held opinion. The onus is on the evolutionists to prove their theory. Mocking those who hold to traditionally held views will not convert someone like me. It’s not likely to make you a welcomed participant in a debate either, just in case you were wondering why you weren’t wanted.

    “But your assertion here is merely an appeal to ignorance:” from one evolutionist, and then from another “Please don’t let me know. I don’t care. E-mail Brian” Pure genius.

    “But if you bother yourself to study the history of ‘heaven’, you’ll see that the Christian conception of ‘heaven’ has changed significantly over the millenia, and it also varies from sect to sect.”

    The biblical account of heaven hasn’t changed. What sinful people do with that account changes nothing. The infamous early Church of Rome, I assume, is one of the sects you refer to with their teaching of purgatory. What do you expect when any group, be it a church or other governing authority, doesn’t let the laypeople read the bible for themselves. When using anything from religious history to support your argument, base it on those Christians who have remained faithful to the bible, like you want scientists to be to their textbook.

    God is the creator of all things to the last detail including what you observe in science along with its limitations. God however is not bound to science. Go through the bible, there are many examples of extraordinary things happen that are scientifically impossible. Amazing what happens when God intervenes and interrupts the natural order of things. If this were not so, there would have been no miracles, of which I believe all in the biblical account to have happened. One more thing, it’s six days, not seven.

    http://www.allaboutcreation.org/radiometric-dating.htm Oops, I forgot, you don’t care.

    TTFN

  9. 9
    Crommunist

    As Brian surmised, it’s clear that you don’t really understand evolution at all. Evolution was not an idea for which evidence was then sought – it is the result of looking at the evidence that exists. Saying “show me the evidence for evolution” means that you don’t know anything about biology, genetics, ecology, molecular biology, biochemistry, anatomy, etc. ALL OF THESE FIELDS support the evolution framework. Every single thing in there is “evidence for evolution”. It’s no great shame not to know biology – it just means you should probably not lead with your chin when it comes to debating people who DO understand it.

    Scientists have observed, in real time, the gradual change from one species form to another. We also have records kept over time, as well as gene mapping techniques, that can tell us exactly when the species shared a common ancestor. Genetics doesn’t have to support evolution – it could look entirely different. The fact that it does support a theory that was developed before we knew what a gene was is strong support of the evolutionary account.

    That is the difference between creation “science” and actual evolutionary science – real science derives its conclusions from the observed evidence. Creationism sets its conclusion first and then cherry-picks, back-fills and tortures the evidence to support that conclusion.

    I have no idea what that thing with your wife and the fridge is about. If you’re invoking a literal interpretation of the Bible then you’ve got some HUGE fences to clear. If the Bible were true, the evidence that we find today would support its claims. The evidence does no such thing – no evidence of a nomadic tribe wandering the desert, no evidence of Jewish enslavement in Egypt, no evidence of zombies rising from the graves after Jesus died, no evidence that Jesus lived in the time claimed (since the time claimed is itself self-contradictory).

    Evolution is the new idea that goes against traditionally held opinion. The onus is on the evolutionists to prove their theory.

    *Sigh*. Read the evidence then. Don’t just say it doesn’t exist. There’s shit-tons of evidence. Nothing you’ve raised so far hasn’t been answered and proven false a thousand times before. You invoke “traditionally held opinion” as though it has some relevance, or that it stands up as a fact. If “traditionally held opinion” was worth anything, you’d still be freezing your ass off on your horse, as you so illustratively put it.

    When using anything from religious history to support your argument, base it on those Christians who have remained faithful to the bible, like you want scientists to be to their textbook.

    Again, you assume that scientists are the same as religious folk. If everyone stuck to the textbook, there would be nothing for scientists to do. We want scientists to stray from the textbook – they just have to have actual evidence for their divergence. Every single Nobel prize has gone to someone who did something differently. Nobody gets rewarded for parroting already-discovered ideas – unless it’s a Templeton prize.

    This really isn’t an evolution blog. I’m not a biologist – just a guy who bothered to pay attention in science class. I’m sorry you can’t say the same.

  10. 10
    Brian Lynchehaun

    No doubt you guys are experts in biology.

    Are you kidding? I’d barely pass a high school exam in biology, I reckon, nevermind being an ‘expert’.

    I am someone who studies Philosophy, with emphasis on Philosophy of Science (and Ethics). If you could stop making assumptions about me, and who my ‘colleagues’ are, I’d appreciate it.

    I think it is rather clear that my simple point was evolution is not a fact

    Re-asserting your point doesn’t make it so. Those people who are, indeed, experts in biology operate according to the notion that it is, indeed, a fact.

    Science (seriously since the 1950s, at least) has operated according to the idea of ‘Falsification’: if you have an idea, you test it. If your experiment demonstrates an error in your theory, you throw out (or, at least, modify) the theory. Reality is always right, theory is potentially ambiguous.

    The Theory of Evolution allows for the generation of thousands (upon thousands) of ideas in specific circumstances. Those ideas have been tested incessantly since the 1850s (the 18 here is not a typo, neither is the 19 up above). The modern Theory of Evolution is what is left of the initial ideas of Darwin after the experimental evidence is in.

    Evolution, as we understand it, is a fact. Evolution is a theory in so far as ‘the sky is above us’ is a theory, or ‘there are other planets in our solar system’ is a theory.

    In short, go read up on the topic. You may find “Only a Theory” to be an interesting read. As I’m sure it’s important to you: it’s written by a Christian (Kenneth R. Miller), who is very Christian, and is also a biologist (and a good biologist at that).

    But, as always, this is your choice: to read and be educated, or to remain ignorant.

    Now to clarify, I am referring to the macro level. Scientists haven’t and can’t observe this

    I’m sorry, but this doesn’t make any sense.

    1) This is a holdover from the original essentialist nonsense that kicked off the whole ‘species’ crap in the first place.

    2) You’re just wrong on this point. Again, the choice is to read and be educated, or to remain ignorant: http://talkorigins.org/faqs/faq-speciation.html

    If you are going to suggest that micro and macro are one and the same, not in the span of 6000 years it isn’t.

    I find that number suspicious. As in: it’s the number that the complete nutjobs who think that Young Earth Creationism is true like to pick out. Are you a complete nutjob?

    Evolution is not based on fact, but rather, on philosophy.

    I agree! :D

    Oh…

    Wait…

    You made that as some sort of negative point?

    Bub, everything worth discussing is based on Philosophy. Only nonsense that is made up out of nothing (like Christianity) isn’t based on Philosophy.

    Scientists have spent the last 150 years trying to prove the theory applying numerous possibilities built on a pile of what-ifs.

    Right. Welcome to science.

    What was your question?

    There are also many scientists using the same procedures who have “proven” the biblical account.

    Ah, now, seriously. We were getting along great, and then you just had to break out some bullshit.

    There is not (or has ever been) a single scientist on this planet who has, when using scientific methodology, *proven* the Biblical account.

    I’ll be a little more generous with your claim:

    There is not (or has ever been) a single scientist on this planet who has, when using scientific methodology, shown evidence for the Biblical account.

    There have been many people with scientific backgrounds who have obscured the truth, used false methodology, twisted evidence, ignored counter-argument (and counter-evidence) and outright lied about claiming to have “proven” the biblical account.

    But you couldn’t be talking about them, right? I mean… You wouldn’t be presenting liars, cheats and those who bear false witness as people who have “proven” the biblical account? Bearing false witness is bad…. right?

    Would you care to name some of the folk that you are hinting at?

    Michael Coren show

    I’ll get to that over the weekend, it’s nearing bedtime now.

    I would point you to some of the work of your colleagues

    Assuming that you are talking about evolutionary biologists (and/or geologists): yes, they absolutely *do* know how to interpret these things. Would you mind referencing who you are quoting? I can, indeed, google, but the only folk who deny this stuff are the batshit crazy Young Earth Creationists. No scientists debate/deny this stuff. Just morons. So if you’ve read/heard an *actual* *genuince* scientist debate/deny this, I’d like to know who it is that you’re talking about. Otherwise you’re just being vague and evasive.

    Some Crommy comes along and says “No, it evolved from some molecule that resulted from a bang” I am naturally going to believe my wife as I have no good reason not to.

    A) It’s Crommunist, not “Crommy”.

    B) No, he didn’t say that anywhere.

    C) No, no biologist would say that either

    D) No, no scientist would say that.

    I’m sorry that you misunderstand Evolution so much as to claim that such blatant nonsense would be uttered by a scientist.

    “You first” takes some audacity to suggest I must admit my errors.

    It’s audacious of me to demand that you admit your errors?

    I don’t mean to merely echo you, but wtf?

    It’s audacious of me to demand that you admit your errors????

    It’s basic [expletive deleted] courtesy to [expletive deleted] admit when one is in [expletive deleted] error!

    Evolution is the new idea that goes against traditionally held opinion.

    Yup. Just like giving votes to women, allowing them to own property, and making slavery illegal. All of which (depending on the country) happened after Darwin.

    So, grassrute, are you prepared to make the argument that “Freedom for Blacks is the new idea that goes against traditionally held opinion”?

    I’ll bet you’re not. Know why? Because you recognise an invalid argument form, but only when you disagree with the statment. When you agree with the statement, you’re happy to accept the invalid argument. You can read and be educated, or remain ignorant: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Appeal_to_tradition

    The onus is on the evolutionists to prove their theory.

    They have. I’m sorry that you haven’t bothered to understand it. If, perhaps, you got off your ass and tried to understand it (start here: http://talkorigins.org/faqs/faq-misconceptions.html ), you’d actually have a clue as to what you’re talking about.

    It’s not likely to make you a welcomed participant in a debate either, just in case you were wondering why you weren’t wanted.

    Interesting notion. I’ve been involved in public debates. I’ve been invited to speak publically on Ethics. I am currently assisting in coaching a team of Philosophy students at a local university, who will be going down south to the US to compete in an intercollegiate debate competition.

    I don’t say this as a defensive measure.

    I say this to illustrate how, yet again, you have no freaking idea what you are talking about.

    http://www.brilyn.net/portfolio/

    The biblical account of heaven hasn’t changed.

    That’s an interesting notion. You appear to be ignorant of the bible.

    Please tell me, chapter and verse, of the biblical account of heaven.

    What sinful people do with that account changes nothing. The infamous early Church of Rome, I assume, is one of the sects you refer to with their teaching of purgatory. What do you expect when any group, be it a church or other governing authority, doesn’t let the laypeople read the bible for themselves. When using anything from religious history to support your argument, base it on those Christians who have remained faithful to the bible, like you want scientists to be to their textbook.

    I’m sorry, but this is just bullshit, pure and simple. I’ve refrained (admirably, I think) from expletives throughout the whole post, but this is beyond my threshold.

    Grow up. Stop being an ignorant child. Stop pretending that those kids ‘over there’ are bad kids because they think that you should cut the egg at the wide part, while you think you should cut the egg at the narrow part.

    It’s a fucking fairy tale that simply isn’t true. Don’t whine at me with this “oh, but *we’re* the true Christians, not them”, when you’re just both making this shit up as you go along.

    Grow. Fucking. Up.

    [My money says that this is where grassrute decides that they're going home and taking their ball with them. Damn my potty mouth....]

    Go through the bible, there are many examples of extraordinary things happen that are scientifically impossible.

    On this, we agree in full. Unfortunately, you don’t seem to understand that because of that, you have zero reason to believe the bible.

  11. 11
    grassrute

    Your tone causes me to believe your motives stem, not from a love of science, but a hatred for creationists. I will still read the links you provide for entertainment purposes.

    Before I take my ball and go home, can I finish with one quote by Nobel prize winning evolutionist George Wald? “When it comes to the origin of life on this earth, there are only two possibilities: creation or spontaneous generation. There is no third way. Spontaneous generation was disproved 100 years ago, but that leads us only to one other conclusion: that of supernatural creation. We cannot accept that on philosophical grounds; therefore, we choose to believe the impossible: that life arose spontaneously by chance.”

    It’s been fun, I will continue reading your blog.

  12. 12
    Crommunist

    Quotes aren’t evidence, but thanks for the… um… thank you. There’s definitely more than two possibilities, but it’s a very nice quote.

    I hope you do continue reading. There’s very little biology, but something tells me you’re not going to like anything I have to say about religion :P

  13. 13
    grassrute

    That’s okay, I don’t just read material I agree with. And sorry for calling you Crommy, won’t happen again.

  14. 14
    Brian Lynchehaun

    Your tone causes me to believe your motives stem, not from a love of science, but a hatred for creationists.

    The only tone present in text is the tone that you attribute.

    I do not hate creationists. I despise, however, mindlessness. Vapid, empty-headed nonsense annoys the crap out of me.

    Before I take my ball and go home, can I finish with one quote by Nobel prize winning evolutionist George Wald?

    Why?

    Do you understand how irrelevant that is? Do you understand how mindless it is to think that “hey… these people say stuff I agree with… I *must* be right!” is?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Appeal_to_popularity

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