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Jul 27 2013

Historical and observational science

Dealing with various creationists, you quickly begin to recognize the different popular flavors out there.

The Intelligent Design creationists believe in argument from pseudoscientific assertion; “No natural process can produce complex specified information, other than Design,” they will thunder at you, and point to books by people with Ph.D.s and try to tell you they are scientific. They aren’t. Their central premise is false, and trivially so.

Followers of Eric Hovind I find are the most repellently ignorant of the bunch. They love that presuppositional apologetics wankery: presuppose god exists, therefore god exists. It’s like debating a particularly smug solipsist — don’t bother.

The most popular approach I’ve found, though, is the one that Ken Ham pushes. It’s got that delightful combination of arrogant pretense in which the Bible-walloper gets to pretend he understands science better than scientists, and simultaneously allows them to deny every scientific observation, ever. This is the argument where they declare what kinds of science there are, and evolutionary biologists are using the weak kind, historical science, while creationists are only using the strong kind, observational science. They use the distinction wrongly and without any understanding of how science works, and they inappropriately claim that they’re doing any kind of science at all.

A recent example of this behavior comes from Whirled Nut Daily, where I’m getting double-teamed by Ray Comfort and Ken Ham (don’t worry, I’m undaunted by the prospect of being ganged up on by clowns.)

According to Ken Ham’s blog at Answers in Genesis, Minnesota professor PZ Myers, who was interviewed by Comfort, said: “Lie harder, little man … Ray Comfort is pushing his new creationist movie with a lie. … What actually happened is that I briefly discussed the evidence for evolution – genetics and molecular biology of fish, transitional fossils, known phylogenies relating extant groups, and experimental work on bacterial evolution in the lab, and Ray comfort simply denied it all – the bacteria were still bacteria, the fish were still fish.”

But Ham explained that Comfort “asks a question something like this: ‘Is there scientific evidence – observable evidence – to support evolution?’ Well, none of them could provide anything remotely scientific. Oh, they give the usual examples about changes in bacteria, different species of fish (like stickleback fish) and, as to be expected, Darwin’s finches. But as Ray points out over and over again in ‘Evolution vs. God,’ the bacteria are still bacteria, the fish are still fish, and the finches are still finches!”

Isn’t that what I said? I gave him evidence, which he denied by falling back on a typological fallacy: the bacteria are still bacteria. What he refuses to recognize is that they were quantitatively different bacteria, physiologically and genetically. To say that something is still X, where X is an incredibly large and diverse group like fish and bacteria, is to deny variation and diversity, observable properties of the natural world which are the fundamental bedrock of evolutionary theory.

But the giveaway is that brief phrase “scientific evidence — observational evidence”. That’s where the real sleight of hand occurs: both Comfort and Ham try to claim that that all the evidence for evolution doesn’t count, because it’s not “observational”. “Were you there?” they ask, meaning that the only evidence they’ll accept is one where an eyewitness sees a complete transformation of one species to another. That is, they want the least reliable kind of evidence, for phenomena that are not visual. They’re freakin’ lying fools.

All scientific evidence is observational, but not in the naive sense that all that counts is what you see with your eyes. There is a sense in which some science is regarded as historical, but it’s not used in the way creationists do; it does not refer to science that describes events in the past.

Maybe some examples will make that clearer.

We can reconstruct the evolutionary history of fruit flies. We do this by observation. That does not mean we watch different species of fruit flies speciate before our eyes (although it has been found to occur in reasonable spans of time in the lab and the wild), it means we extract and analyze information from extant species — we take invisible genetic properties of the flies’ genomes and turn them into tables of data and strings of publishable code. We observe patterns in their genetics that allow us to determine patterns of historical change. Observation and history are intertwined. To deny the history is to deny the observations.

Paleontology is often labeled a historical science, but it doesn’t have the pejorative sense in which creationists use it, and it is definitely founded in observation. For instance, plesiosaurs: do you think scientists just invented them? No. We found their bones — we observed their remains imbedded in rock — and further, we found evidence of a long history of variation and diversity. The sense in which the study of plesiosaurs is historical is that they’re all extinct, so there are no extant forms to examine, but it is still soundly based on observation. Paleontology may be largely historical, but it is still a legitimate science built on observation, measurement, and even prediction, and it also relies heavily on analysis of extant processes in geology, physics, and biology.

The reliance on falsehoods like this bizarre distinction between observational and historical science that the Hamites and Comfortians constantly make is one of the reasons you all ought to appreciate my saintly forebearance, because every time I hear them make it, I feel a most uncivilized urge to strangle someone. I suppress it every time, though: I just tell myself it’s not their fault their brains were poisoned by Jesus.

48 comments

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  1. 1
    jasonnishiyama

    They must just hate astronomy as all astronomical observations are historical due to the time it takes light to travel such large distances. Heck when you look at the Moon you’re seeing it as it was about a second ago and it’s basically on top of us astronomically speaking. By Hamian logic the Sun doesn’t exist because what we observe as the Sun is what the Sun was 8 minutes ago…

  2. 2
    jasonnishiyama

    Probably should have put quotes “” around “historical” in my last post…

  3. 3
    Mike

    It would be a lot more fun dealing with these brain-damaged cretins if they didn’t have an army of pig-ignorant drones behind them to give them encouragement to slough off the truth when we hit them with it.

  4. 4
    Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human.

    PZ, did it ever occur to you that you could be earning a lot more money? You already understand the logic used by creationists — hell, you understand what they are doing better than Hamm, Comfort, Behe, et al., do. You certainly know the way science works better than they do. And you are a damn sight better at presenting that information — teaching, provoking, aiding and abetting. You could make a shit ton (one kilopoop in Europe) of money by embracing the IDiocy, embracing the creationism, and using your knowledge of what the amateur charlatans are doing to rake in the real dough. You seem to understand the tactics and strategy of the creationists better than they do. And you know the science and communication part better than they do. You could sell out!

    Of course, that would mean abandoning your ethics, your morality, who you are, etc., and going over to the dark side, but think of the money?

    Then again, I’ve never thought that you were in it for the money.

  5. 5
    RFW

    Oh, look! There’s a dead body! With a knife in its back! And blood all over the floor! Clearly a murder has taken place!

    Creationist response: No, that’s historical, not observational. You weren’t there.

    Rational response: Call the cops!

  6. 6
    PZ Myers

    #4: Yes, I have thought about all the toys I could buy if I won the Templeton Prize, and I could easily write a best-selling book if only I’d sell out. Think what a coup it would be for Ham and Comfort if I announced that they’d won me over with their brilliant reasoning!

    But maybe I am in it for the money. That’s why I’m telling you all that you must SEND ME MONEY now, large quantities of it, or I will defect. See where you’re devotion to science has gotten you? I’m in the perfect position to stab you all in the back with the very science you use as a tool. I’m in a position to extort so much with the threat of betrayal!

    Except…there aren’t enough of you yet. Once I’ve worked atheism up to a more dominant position — once the country has become more than 50% godless, for instance — then will be my time to pounce.

    BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

    Oh, wait, was I monologuing again? Damn, we supervillains have to find a cure for that someday.

  7. 7
    grumpyoldfart

    …it’s not their fault their brains were poisoned by Jesus.

    Trouble is they are feeding the same poison to thousands of children who will grow up and do the same thing to their own children.

    There is nothing more pathetic than watching a Ken Ham video where he feeds anti-evolution jokes to his audience of children – and if the kids don’t laugh a parent will give them a nudge in the ribs to remind them that it is OK to poke fun at Science.

  8. 8
    osmosis

    As soon as historians start disagreeing with them, they’ll shit on historical science too. They basically just shit on anything they don’t like.

  9. 9
    barnestormer

    All we can tell from looking at a dead body is that someone died!

    I kind of want some YouTuber to make a creationist CSI, where the detectives rush to the scene, poke the body helplessly with their feet, shrug, and marvel at God’s mysterious ways before breaking for an early lunch.

  10. 10
    andersk3

    Creationist: Were you there? Did you observe the “transformation”?

    Me: Were you there? Did you see the creation, Jesus perform miracles, Moses split the sea?

    Creationist: The bible tells me so.

    Me: Oh.

    I know you shouldn’t answer a question with a question.

  11. 11
    Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human.

    That’s why I’m telling you all that you must SEND ME MONEY now, large quantities of it, or I will defect.

    Sorry. My money is going to Wilkes University and Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania.

    See where you’re devotion to science has gotten you?

    Er, historian here.

    As soon as historians start disagreeing with them, they’ll shit on historical science too.

    They arlready are. Have you missed the books proclaiming that our Founding Fathers were evangelical Christians who created a Christian Nation?

  12. 12
    raven

    The theory of evolution is both historical and observational.

    In any year, hundreds at least of evolution experiments are being run from petri dishes to outdoor enclosures of many acres. Not to mention the natural experiments when we give patients anticancer or antibiotic drugs a wheat field gets killed by a newly evolved strain of stem rust.

    Evolution is happening all around all the time and you can just see it.

    Evolution is also both a fact and a theory.

  13. 13
    Sili

    To say that something is still X, where X is an incredibly large and diverse group like fish and bacteria,

    means that I’m justified in blaming Ken Ham for the crimes of the RCC.

    Cuz they’re still Christians!

  14. 14
    Jeremy Shaffer

    Their insistence on being able to “see” evolution in action in order to believe it has always confused me since, in my (thankfully few) discussions with creationists, they also dismiss my atheism with the claim that I don’t believe simply because I can’t see their god in action. As is the case with alot of other words, I suppose the meaning of “see” changes from moment to moment as they require.

  15. 15
    kevinalexander

    Oh, wait, was I monologuing again? Damn, we supervillains have to find a cure for that someday.

    Also, in your villainous hubris you left exposed that one vulnerable spot in the fish tank apparatus that the hero will shoot, from the hip and swinging on a vine the bullet guided by Jesus.

  16. 16
    RickR

    grumpyoldfart @#7-

    Trouble is they are feeding the same poison to thousands of children who will grow up and do the same thing to their own children.

    Millions. This is primarily the U.S. we’re talking about, after all.

  17. 17
    blbt5

    What seems obvious to a creationist – fish are fish, bacteria are bacteria – is an illlusion equally obvious to a molecular biologist, and easily demonstrated. On a molecular level no two individuals are identical (not even twins or clones) so there are really no species at all but merely interbreeding populations. Thus no design, no “kinds” in a biblical sense. Can’t see evolution? One can’t not see it!

  18. 18
    theignored

    Ah geez, Ray Comfort….too bad Ham doesn’t seem to know or care just how bloody ignorant Comfort is of biology, the field that Comfort is criticizing:

    https://www.facebook.com/official.Ray.Comfort/posts/575792439107900

  19. 19
    theignored

    Ah, screw it….Ham would have no problem with a creationist ally being dishonest or ignorant: Here’s an example of Ham’s group being that way themselves:
    From this facebook post I posted and took some screenshots:

    Before my comment is taken down:
    http://i32.photobucket.com/albums/d27/kvarku/Ham2.jpg

    And after:
    http://i32.photobucket.com/albums/d27/kvarku/Lie1.jpg

    I had tried to straighten them out about Dawkins’ “alien” reference in “Expelled” but they don’t give a fuck about the truth.

  20. 20
    mattand

    Can’t one apply the “were you there?” question towards Ham, Comfort, et. al., regarding whether the stories in the Bible actually occurred?

    My understanding is that these fables were written down centuries after they allegedly happened. A lot of whisper-down-the-lane can happen to a narrative over the course of a few hundred years.

    Assuming, of course, they actually happened at all (I’m looking at you, talking donkey in Numbers 22-23!)

  21. 21
    No One

    “All scientific evidence is observational”

    When I first heard the “argument” it’s the first thing that popped into my brain.

  22. 22
    Karen Maddening

    why can’t science prove that religion is a mental disorder that relies on an irrational belief backed by a book of fables? maybe it’s not a disease but people should be educated that this type of irrational thought often leads to irrational actions and that religious zealots can be potentially dangerous in proportion to their zeal (megalomania?).
    meanwhile, i am the kind of non believer who ignores religion as much as possible and will never fall into a trap of arguing with a believer. i do wish the rapture would come take them all away and leave the sane people behind, but that is as far as i can go.

  23. 23
    Ing

    why can’t science prove that religion is a mental disorder that relies on an irrational belief backed by a book of fables?

    Because it isn’t? This is roughly akin to “why can’t science prove the world was created as the Bible says!?”

  24. 24
    Amphiox

    why can’t science prove that religion is a mental disorder that relies on an irrational belief backed by a book of fables?

    Largely because science has demonstrated the opposite. Relying on irrational beliefs backed by books of fables isn’t a mental disorder, but rather part of the normal range of variation for the imperfectly evolved kludge that is the human brain.

  25. 25
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    Largely because science has demonstrated the opposite. Relying on irrational beliefs backed by books of fables isn’t a mental disorder, but rather part of the normal range of variation for the imperfectly evolved kludge that is the human brain.

    IIRC, the Manual:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diagnostic_and_Statistical_Manual_of_Mental_Disorders
    allows for “socially acceptable delusional beliefs”, like religion.

  26. 26
    Menyambal

    Yep, the http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diagnostic_and_Statistical_Manual_of_Mental_Disorders has a couple of entries that end with a religious exemption.

  27. 27
    mykroft

    Hmmm, observational data is inherently true. Then I guess the people who observed Mohammed rise to the sky on a winged horse and wrote about it were telling the truth. Islam is true history! The miracles in the Mormon Bible were written by people of the time; Mormonism is true history! The gods and goddesses referenced in the Hindu holy texts were written about by the people of the time; Hinduism is true history!

    If the Bible must be true because it was written by the observers at the time, the same must be true of all religions with holy books written by contemporaries of the savior/god/goddess/etc. of the stories. You would think that should kill their argument right there!

  28. 28
    Alex SL

    The presumed difference between observational and historical science really does not make a lot of sense. The moment I turn away from an experiment that I have observed, it becomes a part of history, and colleagues would have to believe me that it happened as I say although they were not eye-witnesses. If they don’t, they can try to replicate the experiment, but the moment after they have done that it also becomes historical. In a way, it is always about generating testable ideas and inferences to the most plausible explanation about what is in the past, and palaeontological ideas are no less testable than those from, say, mechanics.

  29. 29
    Merlin

    May I politely request that we leave mental illness out of this one? Unless, that is, we are compassionately trying to get help for these folks. I understand what is being said, but I do not feel that we need insult the mentally ill by comparing them to the likes of Ham and Comfort.

  30. 30
    Alexandra (née Audley)

    Karen:

    meanwhile, i am the kind of non believer who ignores religion as much as possible and will never fall into a trap of arguing with a believer.

    Well are you just so lucky that you don’t have any kooky friends/family/neighbors/coworkers/facebook friends/Twitter followers/acquaintances/exes/friends-of-friends/people who ride the same bus as you/whatever so you can avoid interacting with the religious!

    I hear the internet’s full of believers, too. *nods*

  31. 31
    johnharshman

    Historical vs. observational science makes no sense, since all science is observational. But there are distinctions you can make. You can reasonably talk about historical vs. — hmmm, I don’t think there’s a word for it: ahistorical? — science, the distinction being how long ago the events you’re trying to infer from your observations happened, i.e. thousands or millions of years ago rather than last Tuesday or a few seconds ago. And you can talk about observational vs. experimental science, in which the difference is that in the latter you intervene to set up the conditions under which you make your observations. But the distinction between historical and observational is purely creationist. And stupid.

  32. 32
    anteprepro

    So, basically, creationists don’t accept that it is possible to infer past activity/objects/states from present activity/objects/states. So basically they don’t accept induction.

    I suppose one could ask such a creationist why they don’t chop off their own limbs with a chainsaw. Because, were they there? How do they know that this is a bad thing? How do they know how it will feel? If someone has done it before and doesn’t recommend it, how do they know that it will be the same for them? How do they know that their limbs won’t grow back? Just because it’s never happened before doesn’t mean it won’t now. How do they know the Earth is round? Were they there? How do they know that the sun will rise tomorrow? How do they know that there are even still monkeys? How do they know that isn’t just pygmies and dwarves all the way down? You can’t prove a negative, you can’t prove it is wrong, you weren’t there, so anything goes.

  33. 33
    DLC

    I saw the Sun rise this morning. Ergo the sun exists. Ergo the Sun God exists, Ergo we must all worship the Sun God. All Hail Ra, Sun God!
    Oh wait. but I saw the moon last night too. So . . . All Hail Thoth! Moon God!
    Uh oh, there’s a storm just coming over the horizon. . .
    Dammit are there no end to all the gods ?

  34. 34
    David Marjanović

    There’s an IDologist from Canada in the ScienceBlogs version of this thread. I hope he comes back…

    So basically they don’t accept induction.

    …Don’t bring induction into this. Science doesn’t rely on induction.

  35. 35
    aggressivePerfector

    Hey, don’t mock solipsists. My best friends and I are all solipsists. We draw great comfort from one another.

  36. 36
    Ross Olson

    P. Z, you are indeed clever to imply that you gave definitive answers to the questions Ray Comfort raised, but they fell to the cutting room floor. Now people can believe that “P.Z Myers has dealt with those arguments” without further examination. Yet your explanation given above simply ASSERTS that small changes within kinds, extrapolated over geologic time, equals macro-evolution. Yet that is the claim that needs proof, not just paraphrase. The conclusion has to be that you are either diabolically devious or pathologically deluded.

    As an aside, a young Chinese woman whom we hosted a year ago when her husband came as a research fellow to the University said that she was an atheist before arrival but, following through on the implications, concluded that only purpose of life was waiting for death. After the ordinary kindness we show to all our visitors, she concluded that being shown love by strangers means there must be a God. Then seeing her hostess, my wife, deal with an amputation by trusting that God could use it for good, this young Chinese woman became a Christian — I call that a good.

    You, in contrast, are a happy atheist, apparently ignoring the logical conclusions that your individual life is meaningless and even free will is only an illusion.

  37. 37
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    Yet your explanation given above simply ASSERTS that small changes within kinds,

    Assertions backed by a million or so scientific papers found in places like this: University Library. That is the problem with creationists, they ignore the evidence for their presuppositions of an imaginary deity and a mythical/fictional holy book. The proof was there and backs up everything PZ said. There is no such evidence to back up Ray Comfort, who is deliberately ignorant of and dismissive, like you, of the science.

    You, in contrast, are a happy atheist, apparently ignoring the logical conclusions that your individual life is meaningless and even free will is only an illusion.

    Since your deity is imaginary, your holy book one of mythology/fiction, you are the one who is the delusional fool with a meaningless life. You refuted nothing, you showed nothing but inane and unsupported assertions. Not one whit of scientific evidence, as your opinion isn’t and never will be scientific evidence.

  38. 38
    Ross Olson

    Dear Nerd of Redhead, etc. etc. etc.(you have more titles than a member of the royal family):

    Have you examined FOR YOURSELF any of the evidence in university libraries? I never really did until I was away from the indoctrination of my pre-med and medical training and was challenged to re-assess. I was astonished at the flimsy case for evolution.

    And I don’t think you understand the seriousness of the second charge I made — if you are just molecules in motion, your thoughts and words have no necessary relationship to truth but represent past and present molecular pathways taken by sense impulses on their eventual way to motor activities.

    Ross

  39. 39
    Rey Fox

    Yet your explanation given above simply ASSERTS that small changes within kinds, extrapolated over geologic time, equals macro-evolution.

    Small changes add up to big changes? Seems pretty logical. Seems like the burden is more on you to show where the barrier beyond which small changes cannot add up any more, and what evidence you have for this.

    Then seeing her hostess, my wife, deal with an amputation by trusting that God could use it for good

    God has gotten so good at healing other sicknesses and injuries ever since modern medicine came on the scene, why can’t he heal amputees?

    As an aside, a young Chinese woman whom we hosted a year ago when her husband came as a research fellow to the University said that she was an atheist before arrival but, following through on the implications, concluded that only purpose of life was waiting for death. After the ordinary kindness we show to all our visitors, she concluded that being shown love by strangers means there must be a God.

    Clearly not a very thoughtful atheist. And, of course, all this consequentialist talk has nothing to do with the validity of any scientific theory. But anyway, Ross, what is your purpose that religion has conferred upon you? How do you figure it is superior to any other purpose one can get out of life? Does “purpose” and “meaning” have to be defined by some external being in order to be valid?

    Then seeing her hostess, my wife, deal with an amputation by trusting that God could use it for good, this young Chinese woman became a Christian — I call that a good.

    Why?

  40. 40
    Ross Olson

    Dear Rey Fox,

    Since this blog seems to have been abandoned by the jackals, there may be usefulness in dialoguing.

    If you were actually up to date on the literature, you would realize that the barriers have indeed been demonstrated. Thousands of generation of fruit flies and millions of generations of bacteria produce only variations of the original kind. Selective breeding of dogs can produce bigger and bigger until you reach the limit — and in the process lose some of the adaptability. If you want a hardier plant, you have to take two varieties — each farther out on the branches of variation — and get a hybrid which represents something closer to the original stock. And by the way, dogs continue to be dogs even though wolves, foxes and others are part of the original kind. Horses and zebras are similar. (Sorry, no unicorns.) .

    We now also know that the the so-called junk DNA is actually essential regulatory material. Those apparent “broken pieces” are used to block messenger RNA for down-regulation. And changes in the genome become even harder to believe in that there are frame shift genes (like writing a book, moving the word spacing 2 to the right and finding a completely different book that makes complete sense.) There are also genes in some places on the “anti-sense strand” originally though to only be the template for reproducing the sense strain. That is like writing a book, reading it backwards to find a completely different book that makes complete sense — a mega-palindrome.

    Does this look like the result of chance, time and the laws of physics? We already know that time tends to degrade information — entropy rules. And please don’t say that energy from the sun makes up for it. Raw energy destroys complex structures. Compare two things in the sun, a live plant and a dead fish. The plant has a complex mechanism for converting CO2, H2O and sunlight into carbohydrate and oxygen. The dead fish has all the macromolecules to produce life, but doesn’t!

    To me this all looks like the work of a super-intelligent designer. And if you say He made mistakes, the Bible explains that the original perfect creation was spoiled by human disobedience and the world we live in is messed up — yet God even uses the suffering to allow people to seek Him as they run out of human solutions. And He will restore the original creation in the end, but it will not be shared by those who suppressed the truth. (Romans 1:18-20)

    So faith in evolution is contrary to the best evidence and by ruling out the supernatural a priori, a person removes any possibility of finding out if he is wrong.

    If you are really interested, look up http://www.tccsa.tc

    Ross

  41. 41
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    Have you examined FOR YOURSELF any of the evidence in university libraries? I never really did until I was away from the indoctrination of my pre-med and medical training and was challenged to re-assess. I was astonished at the flimsy case for evolution.

    Gee, arrogant doctor who thinks they know everything. The case is rock solid, unless, of course, your dismiss it without citing any SCIENTIFIC evidence to do so. And, if you are a doctor, then you would know evolutionary theory predicted the rise of antibiotic resistant pathogens. Your word alone isn’t making a case, nothing but opinion.

    And I don’t think you understand the seriousness of the second charge I made — if you are just molecules in motion, your thoughts and words have no necessary relationship to truth but represent past and present molecular pathways taken by sense impulses on their eventual way to motor activities.

    Gee, lots of bullshit that explains nothing. Typical from arrogant fools.

    If you were actually up to date on the literature, you would realize that the barriers have indeed been demonstrated. Thousands of generation of fruit flies and millions of generations of bacteria produce only variations of the original kind.

    And speciation, the inability to reproduce with other lines of flys, has been demonstrated. Your KINDS is nothing but religious bullshit, and are not recognized by science. Typical creationist lies and bullshit, without one whit of scientific link to show you are right.

    Does this look like the result of chance, time and the laws of physics? We already know that time tends to degrade information — entropy rules. And please don’t say that energy from the sun makes up for it. Raw energy destroys complex structures.

    Gee, a scientific illiterate who doesn’t understand entropy. And a creationist. Color me shocked, shocked I say.

    To me this all looks like the work of a super-intelligent designer.

    Again, your OPINION without evidence is dismissed without evidence. There is no designer, you haven’t demonstrated it exists, just make presuppositional noised that it must exist. If you have real scientific evidence, present it. But anything religious or your inane religious idea can’t refute the science. Only more science refutes science.

  42. 42
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    Oh, and Ross, how did your “designer” come to be. “Eternal” bullshit is for presuppositionalists, who have nothing to show, and tacitly are conceding they have nothing.

  43. 43
    Ross Olson

    I like discussing issues with people who disagree with me — if they understand what logic and evidence are. You are able to miss them when they stare you in the face, apparently because you don’t like the conclusion. If you showed any real inclination to learn, I could show you that antibiotic resistance is nearly always a loss of information and the resistant bacteria are actually less fit in the wild and only have an advantage in the presence of the antibiotic. And regardless, they are still bacteria.

    I am saddened that your attitude is not rare and P.Z. Myers considers it a triumph for education to facilitate that end result. Have you ever thought about the possibility that you might be wrong? What would it take to convince you?

    I was an evolutionist and turned based on the evidence — it is hard to back off a strongly held and loudly proclaimed opinion. It comes down to a choice between saving face and finding the real answers. And this question has even bigger implications.

    Goodbye,

    Ross

  44. 44
    Owlmirror

    Well, if that “Goodbye” is for real, there’s not much point in asking this, but:

    Ross Olson, do you accept the scientific truth that the Earth is about 4.5 billion years old, and the universe is about 13.8 billion years old?

  45. 45
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    You are able to miss them when they stare you in the face, apparently because you don’t like the conclusion.

    No, nothing is staring us in the face. Your deity is imaginary, existing only between your ears, and you alleged holy book is nothing but mythology/fiction. You are the one who can’t/won’t face the truth.

    . Have you ever thought about the possibility that you might be wrong? What would it take to convince you?

    Physical evidence for your imaginary that would pass muster with scientists, magicians, and professional debunkers as being of divine, and not natural (scientifically explained), origin. Equivalent to the eternally burning bush, showing stupornatural activity. Nothing else short of that will do.

    I was an evolutionist and turned based on the evidence

    No, you turned based on religion, not evidence. The evidence is solid, with a million or so scientific papers. Compared to ZERO for your imaginary deity.

  46. 46
    Ross Olson

    Because you did not seem to recognize it, I repeat the evidence and reason that I offered youand to which you did not respond:

    If you were actually up to date on the literature, you would realize that the barriers have indeed been demonstrated. Thousands of generation of fruit flies and millions of generations of bacteria produce only variations of the original kind. Selective breeding of dogs can produce bigger and bigger until you reach the limit — and in the process lose some of the adaptability. If you want a hardier plant, you have to take two varieties — each farther out on the branches of variation — and get a hybrid which represents something closer to the original stock. And by the way, dogs continue to be dogs even though wolves, foxes and others are part of the original kind. Horses and zebras are similar. (Sorry, no unicorns.) .

    We now also know that the the so-called junk DNA is actually essential regulatory material. Those apparent “broken pieces” are used to block messenger RNA for down-regulation. And changes in the genome become even harder to believe in that there are frame shift genes (like writing a book, moving the word spacing 2 to the right and finding a completely different book that makes complete sense.) There are also genes in some places on the “anti-sense strand” originally though to only be the template for reproducing the sense strain. That is like writing a book, reading it backwards to find a completely different book that makes complete sense — a mega-palindrome.

    Does this look like the result of chance, time and the laws of physics? We already know that time tends to degrade information — entropy rules. And please don’t say that energy from the sun makes up for it. Raw energy destroys complex structures. Compare two things in the sun, a live plant and a dead fish. The plant has a complex mechanism for converting CO2, H2O and sunlight into carbohydrate and oxygen. The dead fish has all the macromolecules to produce life, but doesn’t!

    To me this all looks like the work of a super-intelligent designer…

    So faith in evolution is contrary to the best evidence and by ruling out the supernatural a priori, a person removes any possibility of finding out if he is wrong.

    If you are really interested, look up http://www.tccsa.tc

  47. 47
    Owlmirror

    Ross, if all you want to do is preach, there’s no point in discussing anything. You want to be a superstitious creationist, so all you do is regurgitate superstitious creationist distortions of biology and evolution.

    No, I am not going to look up a creationist propaganda site. It will have nothing new, especially going by your old, tired, stupid, and long-debunked creationist nonsense.

    If I want to know about evolution and biology, I will read actual works on evolution and biology. I’m sorry that you’re so closed-minded that you prefer superstition to science.

    Why don’t you answer the question I asked @#44 above?

  48. 48
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    If you were actually up to date on the literature, you would realize that the barriers have indeed been demonstrated

    This is a non-sequitur. Kinds is a RELIGIOUS definition. It doesn’t carry over to science where term species is used. Speciation has been demonstrated.

    Does this look like the result of chance, time and the laws of physics?

    Absolutely. There is no need to invoke your imaginary deity, which exists only between your ears.

    We already know that time tends to degrade information — entropy rules. And please don’t say that energy from the sun makes up for it

    Actually it does. Closed system versus open system. I have taught introductory thermodynamics.

    Raw energy destroys complex structures.

    Non-sequitur, as it also allows complex structures form by providing energy to allow the free energy for a process to be negative, meaning it will occur.

    To me this all looks like the work of a super-intelligent designer…

    You can claim this, but it is an evidenceless claim and will be dismissed as such until you provide conclusive physical evidence for one in the form of an eternally burning bush or equivalent. Which I noticed you evaded like you know you have nothing, since you copied verbatim previous posts.

    So faith in evolution is contrary to the best evidence and by ruling out the supernatural a priori, a person removes any possibility of finding out if he is wrong.

    There is no faith about evolution. ToE has a million or so SCIENTIFIC paper backing it up. Your imaginary deity has none. It is a scientific conclusion, no faith. You, on the other hand, have no evidence. Nothing to show you deity exists outside of your mind. So, if something doesn’t exist, why look for it. You aren’t and can’t make sense until YOU supply the real evidence your deity isn’t imaginary. And that must come from outside of your mind, or any site that believes the babble isn’t a book of mythology/fiction.

    Care to repost again, thinking it will change our responses? Nope. Show real evidence, not handwaving and buffoonery.

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