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Debating creationist - evolution and genetics


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If this is a wrong subforum - move my thread.

 

I need a person (people) who is well versed in genetics and theory of evolution to help in a debate against creationists - it looks like I have implicated myself in a discussion without enough knowledge so it would be weird if it turns out that TOE losses to creationists.

 

If you are interested - PM me.

Edited by SlavicWolf
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I got banned on that board for insulting their deity, so the discussion takes place without me. This thread has no purpose now. You may delete it, close it or leave it open as you wish.

When you debate with creationists (much like when you debate with climate change deniers or anti-vaccers or GMO opponents, etc.) you might be convincing OTHER readers or listeners who are just watchin

Moontanman, I believe you have misread Pears position, almost totally. He was explaining the fact that there are a range of beliefs to which the term creationist, or creationism can be applied. These

You take a couple of chickens and put one with a team of 10 creationists and one with a group of 10 evolutionists. If the evolutionists can evolve their chicken into a duck before the creationists create a duck out of their chicken then they win, otherwise if the creationists can create a duck out of their chicken before the evolutionists can evolve their chicken into a duck, then they win.

Edited by Trumptor
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Well, the result wouldn't be the same species as the ducks we see today, but over time, why wouldn't a chicken's legs, beak, and everything else be able to be naturally selected over and over and over until it looks like a duck? It may take centuries, but still. Look at all the different dog breeds that were created from the grey wolf in such a short period of time.

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People may be interested in the general sense, but not in this particular case. Not personally interested in debate by proxy, just speaking for myself.

 

Better to just educate yourself on the common debate points. Rational Wiki has a bunch of them in easy format. Knowledge of the different logical fallacies can also help.

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One question:

One user has remarket that we share 50 percent of our genes with bananas and 97-8 percent with fruit fflies (Drosophila) and that it does not denote common descent. I find both statements, especially the latter, suspicious. Can a knowledgeable persone explain this?

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I was just having some fun:) Actually, I remember one of these creationists coming to our university when I was going for my undergrad. Our awesome Biology Professor wanted us to hear from the "other" side, so invited a creationist to give a lecture during one class period. It was almost laughable at the reasoning he gave for many things. Predictably, someone asked about dinosaurs fossils, and his "logical" explanation of dinosaur fossils was that God put them in the Earth to test our faith.

 

Somebody much more knowledgeable than me needs to chime in on why we share so many genes with fruit flies. I heard that we also share a ridiculous amount of similar genes with yeast. I only had a couple biology classes and this question never came up. I think most living things will share genes to some level or other and that fruit flies are usually chosen for research because of their short life spans so many generations can be studied in short periods of time.

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Most people do not enjoy these "discussions" as there is usually a distinct lack of knowledge that has to be cleared before any discussion could start.

Do to various reasons, creationist are resilient to information, however.

With regards to the genes, that discussion is mostly worthless, if one does not understand the nature of genes and how e.g. similarities are assessed.

All human share the same genes, for example, but there are different allelic variances. That being said, all organisms share a large amount similar genes, though the precise number is not clear as we do not know the precise number of genes in humans either (estimates are in the order of 20-25k).

But the large overlap between organism is very much expected for evolutionary reasons as most higher eukaryotes for example have very similar basal metabolic activities, cellular structure etc.

Another thing to consider that fruit flies only have about 15k genes. So if all of them were homologous to human genes it would account to roughly 60% of the human genes. This just highlights that these comparisons without proper context are pretty much worthless.

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Ok, thanks for your answer.

 

The problem we have on that board is that declared evolutionists seem to be not qualified enough to discuss the theory (I speak for myself as well). It is only now that I realized that defending evolution requires extensive knowledge of not only the evolutionary theory itself but also of genetics, history of life on earth, even geology and chemistry which at the first glance may seem to be completely unrelated to it. As the creationists post some scientifically sounding arguments (one of them or a guy whom they quote claims he has a Ph.D in genetics) and then beat their chests claiming that they have all the evidence to refute "pseudo-science".

 

So a help of a knowledgeable person would be more than appreciated - creationists often panic badly when such a person shows up.

Edited by SlavicWolf
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Well, I would think that people qualified in the field of evolutionary biology wouldn't use the term evolutionist to describe themselves, so there's that to consider.

 

I find it hard to believe that the creationist argument could sound scientific, but it doesn't really matter. As CharonY mentioned, I think the lack of response here is because the sorts of discussions you reference are very rarely discussions at all and there's almost always no point to them. A lot of members here will have had their fair share of them at SFN alone and in my own experience, they get very old, very fast.

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Not responding at all is the worst thing once you have engaged in a discussion. As I mentioned,, one of the discutants supposedly has a degree in genetics/molecular biology (or they copy arguments of a one), so debating them is tough if one of your opponents wants you to describe the process of speciation down to molecular level and is easily capable of distinguishing copied arguments from original ones. They say that chromosomal fusion causes nothing but cancer and want me to describe the evolution beggining with abiogenesis and ending on complex organisms, all using scientific data. As I am not good enough, I (and other proponents of evolution) are unable to do this.

Edited by SlavicWolf
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Not responding at all is the worst thing once you have engaged in a discussion. As I mentioned,, one of the discutants supposedly has a degree in genetics/molecular biology (or they copy arguments of a one), so debating them is tough if one of your opponents wants you to describe the process of speciation down to molecular level and is easily capable of distinguishing copied arguments from original ones.

I disagree. You're practically never going to convince someone on this topic as people who enter into creationist/evolution discussions very rarely enter into them for the purposes of genuine discussion and learning. Some do, most don't. I fail to see how walking away from a pointless discussion is the 'worst thing,' when your only other option is to argue basic points ad nauseum. Unless all you're trying to do is sharpen your debating skills (though surely there's a less irritating way to do that?)

 

Whether or not someone has a degree in something is not particularly relevant to your discussion and you really don't need to discuss mutations that result in speciation at a molecular level to see why the creationist argument is bunk. There are a lot of threads here on SFN that discuss this, so perhaps you could look those up? CharonY and Arete would probably be able to direct you to those better if you can't find them (I'm currently working from my phone/iPad).

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One question:

One user has remarket that we share 50 percent of our genes with bananas and 97-8 percent with fruit fflies (Drosophila) and that it does not denote common descent. I find both statements, especially the latter, suspicious. Can a knowledgeable persone explain this?

 

As CharonY points out, the usually quoted figure for genomic homology between Homo sapiens and Drosophila melanogaster is around 50-60%.

 

The fact that higher Eukaryota shares a good portion of genetic material *should* be unsurprising, as a majority of intracellular structure and metabolic pathways are common across the group. Most scientists would consider the presence of shared genes, encoding shared proteins, which have shared function across an organismal group to be strong evidence of (you probably guessed it) shared ancestry. The level of convergence required to achieve the level of commonality in coding, structure and function is shown relatively simply to be statistically near infinitely improbable. Evolution from a common ancestor is clearly the most parsimonious explanation for observed genetic and functional similarity.

 

As such, I'd probably be confused if someone were to argue that "Humans and bananas share 50% of their genes. Therefore evolution is wrong and Creation is right." because to me, it strongly supports the opposite, but then most creationist arguments tend to rely on logical fallacy or misrepresenting/misinterpreting scientific results and thus shouldn't make sense to an educated, rational thinker.

 

It also goes against almost all known examples of phenotypic convergence, which generally arises through completely different genetic pathways.

 

It's also far from the only piece of evidence for evolution we have. It's tough to find many threads where the topic is discussed without descending into logical fallacy and subsequently locked, but here's a couple of links which might help give you some info.

http://www.talkorigins.org/origins/faqs-evolution.html

http://www.scienceforums.net/topic/79338-christian-vs-atheists/

http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/

http://www.scienceforums.net/topic/68167-how-did-evolution-get-it-right/

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Creationists have honed their arguments concerning evolution to make them sound reasonable to believers; thus, arguing evolution is futile. Perhaps a better argument is, "Science works." Without science there would be no International Space Station, no airplane, no automobile, no telephone, no television, etc. Physics has learned about the atom, and E=mc2, including radiation. Radiation is used to date things via radiometric dating, which has established the age of rocks and earth to be over 4 Billion years. If science were wrong, the airplane, automobile, telephone and television wouldn't work.

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One approach that sometimes works is to challenge the integrity of their source, rather than the contents of their rhetoric.

 

Their "arguments" are disguised blobs of politically motivated deception rather than reason from evidence, and a more direct confrontation with their ground can have greater effect - don't cede the frame or position.

 

Creationists seldom think up their own arguments, and all of their common sources contain a few simple and well-stomped falsehoods whose continued repetition (continued presence in the source) reveals a lack of integrity. A claimed contradiction between the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics and Darwinian evolution is one. The claimed necessity of a "first" something - first woodpecker, first whale, first human, first cell - is another. There are a couple more, not sophisticated, not difficult. These revelations of source character do not require expertise in molecular genetics or anything else.

 

This approach avoids the problem of "winning" an argument with an endlessly wide-ranging and shifting dust devil of claims and demands for justification from misconstrued whatever, and the observation of the nature of their sources works over time - those falsehoods will continue to be there, every time they revisit, and that engages their thoughts whether they will or no - they can end up casting their own doubts, doing the work of burning a hole in the fog for you, despite themselves.

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Ok, thanks for your answer.

 

As the creationists post some scientifically sounding arguments (one of them or a guy whom they quote claims he has a Ph.D in genetics) and then beat their chests claiming that they have all the evidence to refute "pseudo-science".

 

 

I find it hard to believe that the creationist argument could sound scientific, but it doesn't really matter.

 

SlavicWolf mentioned one claims to have a PhD in genetics. Given this seems incredible, but I have personally had a genetics professor who used to work in a fairly prestigious medical college that was a Creationist (he has a PhD in genetics). Part of the Creationist playbook is to sound scientific enough to fool laymen. If you have the scientific background, training, or have studied it enough their arguments are obviously word vomit, but to most people the use of jargon is enough to convince them the argument is science. Watch or read any advertisement for alternative medicine, herbal supplements, or damn near everything and you'll hear sciencey sounding jargon that doesn't really mean much of anything, but it sounds good enough to fool a lot of people.

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SlavicWolf mentioned one claims to have a PhD in genetics. Given this seems incredible, but I have personally had a genetics professor who used to work in a fairly prestigious medical college that was a Creationist (he has a PhD in genetics). Part of the Creationist playbook is to sound scientific enough to fool laymen. If you have the scientific background, training, or have studied it enough their arguments are obviously word vomit, but to most people the use of jargon is enough to convince them the argument is science. Watch or read any advertisement for alternative medicine, herbal supplements, or damn near everything and you'll hear sciencey sounding jargon that doesn't really mean much of anything, but it sounds good enough to fool a lot of people.

 

Well, I guess I really meant sounding scientific to the scientifically trained. Poor choice of phrasing on my part. I'll definitely concede that their marketing scheme (often) successfully employs the use of science-y sounding words to make them appear accurate to someone who doesn't know any better. Videos explaining the 'science' behind how homeopathy works are prize examples, as you elude to.

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I've begun having doubts as whether debating creationists makes any sense at all. Most creationists have no intention to learn anything at all and two people have already told me that when creationist begin to lose the debate, they simply delete the posts.

 

Live debates seem to be no better, the most common creationist strategy is not to actually debate but to flood the opponent with such an overwhelming barrage of pseudoscience and logical fallacies that the opponent is unable to refute them all on time and this, combined with the use of scientifically sounding language and pompous style of presenting oneself, gives an impression of winning.

 

The most important weak spot of creationists is that they all seem to rely on a preprepared set of arguments and are incapable of discussing anything else. So any attempt to discuss evolution outside of that set automatically causes them to panic and flee in disorder...

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