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Welcome, creationists, to Science Forums and Debate!

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Welcome, creationists, to Science Forums and Debate

 

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Please refrain from 'drive-by heathen-preaching', which is where you make one post scorning us for our 'belief' in evolution and then bugger off. This is a discussion forum, not a statement forum. We therefore ask that you stick around to discuss your points with us.

 

Drive-by heathen-preaching tends to merely occupy the moderators' time deleting them, and paints creationists in a bad light.

 

 

Purpose of this thread

 

This thread was written due to the number of creationists who visit this site to argue against evolution. Whilst this is perfectly ok (this is, after all, a discussion forum), I felt that, due to the posting quality (or lack thereof) of most of the creationists, it would be useful to have a thread to direct them towards, priming them for the debate and addressing a few issues which we have become weary of repeatedly explaining. So, here it is...

 

One thing to note: many of the creationists who have visited us previously have been loons, so I apologise in advance if parts of this post sound like I'm assuming that you're a loon.

 

 

Religion is belief in powers beyond the five senses; science is an evaluation of empirical knowledge

 

Neither needs to deny the other.

 

It'd be worth bearing this in mind: its generally not worth the effort of trying to convince a scientist to believe that what he logically knows to be a fact is incorrect; likewise, it is usually not worth the effort of trying to logically prove that a religious persons beliefs are incorrect. For a scientist, logic usually trumps belief; and belief trumps logic for a creationist.

 

Having said that, please do not confuse knowledge/logic with belief: please do not attempt to convince us to merely 'believe' that evolution is wrong, and please do not attempt to pass off your belief as evidence. Please bear in mind that this is a science forum: arguments against evolution should be logical/factual.

 

 

Before you post, please...

 

Read the forum rules.

 

read things you need to know.

 

 

Learn a little about how scientific arguments are conducted:

 

 

scientific procedure:

 

scientific procedure

 

 

hypothesis:

 

Blike's thread

 

 

Theories/models:

 

And explanation of an observed phenomena or process, which is consistent with observations made of that phenomena/process, and which is supported (and initially based upon) a collection of scientifically supported hypotheses.

 

 

citing/referencing:

 

Please indicate the source from which you got your facts.

 

Be careful that your sources are reliable and accurate, and do not be offended if someone demands a source: its part of the scientifically process which we are all subjected to.

 

How to cite and reference.

 

 

 

logical fallacies; what to avoid doing:

 

Here is a list of logical fallacies. They are invalid ways of applying logic. You may have your arguments rebuked by simple quotes of the name of the logical fallacy that you have committed (eg, 'appeal to tradition'). In which case, look the fallacy up, and either reword your argument so that it is not fallacious, point out why your original argument was not fallacious, or accept the rebuttal of your argument.

 

Note that the accusing you of circular logic doesn’t mean that the claims are false, just that, logically speaking, you must prove them in another manner.

 

Here are a few logical fallacies which visiting creationists have had difficulty understanding.

 

 

STRAW MAN

 

This is where you argue against a point which was never made, typically a warped version of what was said, which is easier to rebuke than the actual point which was made.

 

An example would be claiming that, were evolution real, and as natural selection is constantly improving us, we should (according to the theory of evolution) be perfect by now. As we're not, evolution is patently untrue.

 

This is a strawman because evolution does not claim that we should be perfect. We are continually 'improving', so to speak, in relation to our fitness to survive in our habitat. As our habitat is constantly changing, this makes 'perfection' hard to achieve. In addition, were we to attain perfection, we would more than likely lose it instantaneously due to our inclination to mutate -- losing this inclination to mutate would be losing our ability to adapt, and so we would hardly be 'perfect' for very long even if we did. So basically, the argument is attacking a claim which evolution doesn’t make, even by extension.

 

For another definition, click here

 

 

CIRCULAR LOGIC

 

Circular, or self-referencing, logic (AKA begging the question) may well be cited when you attempt to use the fact that god wrote the bible to prove that the bible is correct, and the fact that the bible claims god exists to prove that god exists.

 

The reason that these aren’t valid is pretty simply that you cant use two unproven things to prove each other -- and scientifically speaking, the bible and god are not proven (or disproven). At least one of them (god or the bible) would have to be proven independently of the other first.

 

For another definition, click here

 

 

 

And remember, testing an idea (eg, arguing against it, trying to pick holes in it etc) is part of the scientific process and nothing personal :) .

 

 

What evolution is (and isn't)

 

Right-ho, there’s a lot of confusion about this in the creationist camp. Basically, this is what evolution is:

 

 

 

The change in allele frequency in a population over time

 

 

 

Creationists generally define evolution thus:

 

 

Evolution is the process whereby humans came from nothingness, without the aid of a god.

 

 

 

This is not the scientifically definition of evolution. For a start, the last bit ('without the aid of a god') is not part of the theory of evolution (see below). In addition, by defining evolution as every process that happened in the chain of events that, starting from nothing, resulted in mankind, you are including a lot of theories which are not covered by the scientist's definition of evolution.

 

You can still find many people who will discuss the other things here, but if you refer to them as evolution people will invariably get confused. Please bear in mind, then, that on this science forum 'evolution' pertains only to the change in allele frequency in a population over time, and the causes and effects thereof.

 

By the way, the correct scientifically term for the all the events stretching from the creation of the universe to the creation of contemporary species is 'natural history'.

 

what those other things are

 

With their relevant field.

 

The creation of the universe from nothing: the big bang (quantum physics)

 

The formation of the earth and sun: planetology (physics, astronomy, geology)

 

The creation of life from non-life: abiogenesis (biochemistry)

 

The creation of the different forms of life: evolutionary history (biology, phylogenetics, paeleontology)

 

The mechanism of the alteration/creation of the different forms of life: evolution (biology, genetics)

 

 

Learn a little about evolution before completely dismissing it

 

No-one is implying that you need to obtain a BSc(bio.) before you can comment on evolution; only requesting that you make an effort to understand what is said to you, and follow (and read) any links given, and -- mainly -- that you do not profess that the entire field is bull without understanding anything about it. As previously stated, no-one will deny you your right to believe whatever you want, by please do not pedal your beliefs as facts.

 

If you wish to prime yourself with a little basic knowledge of evolution, then read below.

 

Also, if you have a specific argument against evolution, it may be interesting to search for it here, where they have rebuttals of the more common creationists arguments.

 

 

 

Basics of evolution by Mokele

 

Evolution = change in allele frequency in a population over time

 

Natural selection = differential propagation of genotypes (due to differences in ability to survive, resist disease, find mates, etc)

 

Sexual selection = differential success in acquiring fertilizations between genotypes (a sub-set of natural selection)

 

Genetic drift = the effects of random chance on evolution, mostly seen in small populations and on genes with low frequency

 

Founder effect / genetic bottleneck = the isolation of a small random or nearly-random sub-set of a population, resulting in alterations in gene frequency due to chance.

 

 

The modern technical definition of evolution is "change in allele frequency in a population over time". In layman's terms, it defines evolution as genetic change in a population.

 

There are several consequences of this definition. One is that non-selective forces that affect gene frequency (often strongly) have been incorporated into evolution. This is fitting, since these forces have actually had great impact.

 

One is genetic drift, which is just the effects of random chance in a population. If you have two alleles, equally represented, but no selection acting on them, eventually one will vanish, just by chance, since animals die for non-selective reasons.

 

Another is the founder effect, aka genetic bottleneck, in which a small sample of a population survives a disaster or colonizes a new location. Because this sample is small, chances are that not all alleles will be represented and that the ratio will change. Think of it like having a bowl of red, yellow and blue marbles, where red and yellow are 48% each and blue is 4%. If you take a sample of 9, red and yellow probably won't be equal anymore, and you might lose blue entirely.

 

Then of course there's natural selection, the one we're all familiar with. However, it should be noted that it isn't progress towards perfection or even improvement in an absolute sense, but just adaptation to local conditions and selective pressures (environment, pathogens, parasites, etc). It can also prevent evolution. If you have a population with a bell-curve distribution of a trait, and the extremes are selected against, the mean value will never change.

 

There's also sexual selection, the competition for mates and fertilizations, which can actually run counter to natural selection (with survival-decreasing adaptations like the peacock's tail).

 

More:

 

Demo's thread

 

Radical Edward's thread

 

Glossary of terms

 

 

 

Evolution is not incompatible with the belief in a deity/deities

 

Whilst evolutionary theory is, generally speaking, incompatible with a literal interpretation of the book of genesis, it is not incompatible with religious beliefs per se.

 

The theory of evolution describes, scientifically, the mechanism by which life-forms change. Evolution makes no assumptions about why the universe exists in such a manner, or (strictly speaking) how the very first life arose. Nor does the theory of evolution eliminate the possibility that a deity(s) is guiding the process of evolution.

 

Furthermore, evolution does not state or imply that humans do not have souls. The subject of souls is not a scientific one, so science officially has no opinion.

 

Another common gripe with evolution is that it makes man 'less special'. All I have to say to that is that there was nothing special/distinct about the way humans evolved (compared to how other life-forms evolved); histologically, genetically, anatomically and generally all-round-physiologically, there is nothing to separate us from the majority of other animals (except in the way that all species are unique in some manner or another). And yet, we are the only animals which can utilise complex communication, use complex logic, build complex stuff, and have the biggest communities on the earth. There is lots that can be viewed as making humans distinct from other animals, which begs the question why? Why humans, and why only humans. These are questions that can be answered both scientifically and religiously. Basically, evolution could be viewed as making man less special, or it could not. Its a question of personal belief.

 

 

Examples of how deism and evolution can be compatible

 

The book of genesis can be viewed as allegorical

 

deux ex machina: evolution exists/happens, but is guided by god. This is a very slightly different version of evolutionary theory, but scientifically there is no reason why it couldn’t be the case.

 

It works like thus: imagine a dice is rolled. Whatever the outcome is, it will be unlikely. For example, if a three is rolled, there will only have been a 1/6 chance that that would happen -- ie, more likely than not that a three would not be rolled. Yet we accept the outcome as normal, aware that, unlikely as getting a three was, whichever outcome happened would be unlikely and so the unlikeliness itself is no reason to question its occurrence.

 

However, of all those outcomes, is it not possible that god caused the three to occur? Yup.

 

If the dice were rolled over and over again, then the high frequency of occurrence of the number three would tip us off as to something peculiar happening, but with just the one occurrence, gods' interference would leave absolutely no indications that things were being tinkered with.

 

The implications of this are as thus: the evolution of any given body-plan (including humans) by a process of natural selection acting upon random mutations is slim. Yet humans evolved with exactly this body plan. Are we surprised that we evolved to this plan, when the chances of us possessing this plan were so slim?

 

No. Because, whatever design we ended up with, the chances of getting that specific design would be slim (like the fact that whichever number the dice threw up would only have had the relatively small chance of 1/6), and so we don’t question the fact that this specific body-plan was unlikely to evolve.

 

But, just like the 'god forcing a three' example, there would be absolutely no indication were the hand of god to have guided our evolution to yield this specific end-result, and so it is entirely possible that he did.

 

deux in machina: The belief that all of the natural laws (including the ones that evolution follows) are created and upheld by a deity, whose essence basically keeps the universe 'ticking over'.

 

(its worth noting that Catholicism teaches a form of creation/evolution which basically combines the above three concepts)

 

really intelligent design: The belief that a deity had the uber-planning abilities to create a universe, including all of its energy, matter and laws, and furthermore to design aforementioned laws so that, completely unguidedly, they would result in the emergence of life. God then created the universe with a colossal explosion, and then watched his creation unfold, and life evolve as per his plans.

 

And there are more (see here and here for some more ways in which evolution and religion can be compatible). I'm not trying to convert you to any of the above beliefs, just demonstrating that the theory of evolution is NOT incompatible with belief in god(s), or belief in god(s) as creator. Its an issue which comes up repeatedly, and hopefully this post will save having to explain it again.

 

 

Some useful facts which most visiting creationists have been unaware of

 

  • Evolutionists are not all atheists and/or Satanists.
     
  • Scientist are not all atheists and/or Satanists.
     
  • Atheists are not all Satanists.
     
  • Evolution is not incompatible with the belief in deities, or the belief that a deity(s) created life, the universe and everything (see above).
     
  • Science itself is agnostic. To believe or not to believe, for every person, is a matter of personal belief. Some may base their decision not to believe on science, others may base it on something else. Others still base their decision to believe on science, and the wonders and complexities of the universe that it reveals. Basically, there is no reason, scientifically, not to believe in god; nor has science disproved god.
     
  • Virtually no-one accepts Darwinism anymore. Aspects of Darwinism have been taken, improved upon, and mixed in with modern genetics and Mendel's theories of inheritance, to form the 'modern synthesis', which is the current model of evolution.
     
  • We are well aware that the theory of evolution is a theory, and are not trying to convince anyone otherwise. If we were trying to hide the fact that it is a theory, then choosing to call it 'the theory of evolution' would have been a mistake. Inserting the word 'just' before the 'a theory' bit accomplishes nothing.
     
  • Science does not claim that humans evolved from apes or monkeys; rather, that humans, apes and monkeys share a common ape-like ancestor.

 

 

And finally...

 

I hope you enjoy your time here on science forums and debate. If you treat others politely and with respect, you will be treated likewise. You may receive some animosity due to the behaviour of previous creationists who have visited this site and behaved/argued poorly (and I'm afraid that, more-often-than-not, they do), in which case I apologise in advance and suggest that you request that they not pre-judge you based on the behaviour of previous visiting creationists.

 

Please do not feel offended if your threads get moved into the philosophy and religion or pseudoscience and metaphysics forum, as they will still more-than-likely be replied to.

 

And please feel free to stick around after your argument against evolution has ended. You will undoubtedly be an asset to the religion and philosophy forum, and you may learn a little more about science, even if its only in a 'know your enemy' kinda way ;)

 

Last thing: remember that, as a creationist, you represent creationists as a whole: insanity, stroppieness, hypocrisy and failure to grasp simple concepts will not improve the light in which creationists as a whole are viewed. Inversely, sanity, reasonableness, refrainment from hypocrisy and the ability to grasp (but not necessarily accept) simple concepts will go some way towards reversing the bad image that the majority of the previous visiting creationists have left us with.

 

---------------------------------------------------

 

If you find yourself repeatedly having to explain something to the visiting creationists, feel free to add a reply to this thread so we can link to it

 

My thanks to Phi For All and Mokele for their help in creating this post

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"Evolution is just a theory. It can't be proven" (I realize Dak addressed this point above, but it can't be clarified enough, sadly.)

1. Its both a fact and a theory. Populations of organisms change over time. This is a fact. Evolutionary theory is a cohesive attempt to explain how this fact happens.

2. A theory is of course, not simply a guess. Theories are essentially works in progress arrived at through rigorous testing.

3. Since theories are works in progress, they are indeed not proven. They must remain so to make room for new discoveries.

 

"There is no way life could have evolved as it is through pure chance."

Chance does indeed play a big role in evolution, but natural selection, it's most important mechanism, is not random.

 

"Evolution violates the second law of thermodynamics."

The second law of thermodynamics states that entropy (disorder) cannot decrease in a closed system. Since an organism is not a closed system (closed systems are merely an ideal) as energy from the sun comes and goes, evolution does not violate this law.

 

"Creationism should be taught in public schools as an alternative to evolution."

1. Creationism is essentially an aspect of Christian religious scripture. Thus, teaching it in school is in violation of the American constitution.

2. Science is not a democratic process. There are no "sides" of a story with scientific theories. The one that best fits the evidence wins, thats it.

 

"Ockham's Razor states that simpler theories are more valid over complex ones. Evolution is complicated; creationism is simple."

This is an oversimplification of Ockham's razor. It actually states that the theory with the least amount of terms is valid between two or more competing theories that make the same predictions. It is essentially a way to remove redundant terms in an explanation.

 

"Evolution is ruthless and leads to immorality."

1. Nature is indeed ruthless. Thats just the way it is. Welcome to the real world.

2. Scientists don't pass any moral judgement on the phenomena they describe. If it leads to immorality, it doesn't mean that evolution isn't a valid theory.

 

"Debate continues about evolution. Doesn't this mean it's not a good theory?"

Scientists don't debate the fact that evolution occurs. All debate centers around the finer aspects of the theory. Dissent and debate among the scientific community is healthy and leads to the sharing of new ideas. This is a good thing.

 

"There are problems with evolution, so the whole thing is wrong and creationism wins."

1. No one disputes the fact that there are things we don't yet know. However, if science simply admitted defeat every time a mystery was encountered, there would simply be no such thing as science.

2. Theories are not airtight. Thats why they are called "theories". Theories are works in progress.

3. Anything we don't yet know is not proof-positive of divine intervention.

4. If evolutionary theory was falsified tomorrow, creationism wouldn't be viable automatically. There may be more than 1 other option.

 

"You are being closed-minded for not considering creationism."

Being closed-minded about theories with no evidence is a healthy scientific mindset. Are modern evolutionists also close-minded for not accepting Lamarckism?

 

"So and so, PhD is/was a creationist. If he/she could believe it, it must be true."

Appeals to authority don't prove anything. Opinions an individual may hold can be wrong. Aside from this, 99% of scientists accept evolution, so one can just as easily (and more effectively) argue for evolution with this method.

 

"You know the Piltdown man was a hoax."

Yes and it was proven to be just that 50 years ago. It is no longer considered anything but an embarassing moment in bioanthropology textbooks. I might add it was also revealed by other scientists, which is a good example of how science works. Scientists are human; they make mistakes, get excited and leap to conclusions just like anyone else. But they will usually admit they are wrong and everyone moves on.

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I'll make this big and bold and annoying, so everyone will ignore it comepletely. If you are creating a thread on Creationism or Intelligent Design, or are posting to a thread about Creationism or Intelligent Design, you MUST run a SEARCH THIS FORUM (far right, type in Creationism or Intelligent Design as applicable) and read through what has already been posted and/or refuted.

 

If you do not do this and end up posting the same old non-scientific ideas (yes, this is a science forum) filled with fallacious arguments and mangled science, the thread/post WILL BE DELETED. Furthermore, if this was the only reason you joined up and you continue to try to post along these lines, you will be deemed inconsistent with our purpose and YOU WILL BE BANNED.

 

If you have run the Search, read the appropriate threads and still feel you have something new and worthwhile to bring up, feel free to post it. Frankly we would welcome new insight, but are too overworked and underpaid to deal with the same old garbage ad infinitum, ad nauseam, so such will be trashed ad libitum.

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