‘Argument Responses’ responses response.

Posted: January 6, 2009 in Atheism, Evolution, Religion, Reviews
Tags: , , , ,

2007-07-09-wheel_of_misfortune

The gaps! The gaps!

Some time ago, I created a separate page for this little blog of mine which I titled, appropriately, Argument Responses after proposing it in this entry. The reason for this was that the same old long debunked arguments kept coming from creationists who have demonstrated a lack of capability of doing any sort of research (instead of relying on long discredited sites such as AiG).   Rather than waste time manually typing out the same responses every time those arguments cropped up, a better alternative would be to simply copy and paste.  After all, if people are unwilling to take the time to do research why should anyone take the time to type what is basically the same thing out every time?

The overall response to the ‘Argument Responses‘ page was quite positive as can be seen in the comments there (and I tend to leave comments alone, whether positive or negative unless they’re nothing but abuse or spam).   Some people came up with objections and debated some points which was wonderful as it turned into a nice little conversation on various topics.  Looking through the past records/statistics of this blog, there was a criticism of much what I wrote which was not posted in the comments but instead done on another blog.  I shall take a few minutes to address what was written.

Sirius Knott writes in the comments of this entry on his blog:

Warning! Thoughtless Atheists Are Organizing For Ignorance

The title alone should give some indication of the mindset of the author, jumping straight to unsubstantiated insults.  Other poor habits that the author indulges in shall be demonstrated in the entry below.  Let us continue…

(On the matter of arguments appealing to the Laws of Thermodynamics):

This is a lovely red herring, especially “[You] can refute this argument simply by looking in the mirror; you were once a much simpler form of life and have since changed into a more complex one. If this argument were true, you would never have [existed].” An appeal to the development of a human being from zygote to fetus to babe to child to knuckle-draggin troglodyte to adult and so on as an increase in order. You speak of this as if it were a microcosm of what’sgoing on all around us. It isn’t.

thermo2Actually, it is.  It is an example used to illustrate the difference between an open and closed system and how the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics might apply to them.  It is also used to demonstrate the absurdity of the argument used, which basically states that entropy must always increase.  That in itself is a gross misrepresentation of the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics but let’s roll with it for now.  The 2nd Law applies only to what is known as a closed system, which rarely exists within the Universe.  An open system is one which receives energy from an outside source.

I can’t look around and see jellyfish turn into crabs to fish to frogs to reptiles to birds to monkeys to men.

Drink up!

Drink up!

That you can’t make such a direct observation is a wonderful thing.  If you could then it would mean that things were going rather badly and throw reality as we know it completely on it’s head.  Well, either that or something strange was introduced into your drinking water.

It’s a patently false analogy.  Why? Because we can observe men and animals all reproducing after their kind but we can only speculate that they had a common origin.

Is it only speculation? Not at all.  The available evidence clearly points to it being a supported Scientific Theory; from the genetic similarities between related species (see combined genomes in humans, as just one example), fossil records which paint a pretty clear genetic map and so on.

It’s a red herring because entropy doesn’t just deal with the loss of energy in a closed system. Entropy is also a measure of disorder or randomness in a closed system or the measure of the loss of information in a transmitted message [this latter definition is what we’re refering to when we note that entropy makes evolution impossible].

It would seem Sirius is making some strange appeal to Information Theory.  Various creationists have tried to produce work based on Information Theory including Werner Gitt, Lee Spetner and William Dembski but so far their works have been rather sound debunked by persons/experts such as Richard Baldwin, Tom Schneider and Ian Musgrave amongst many others.

And you guys spend so much time discussing this reductionist red herring you miss the point: In order for evolution to work, information must be present [in this case, genetic information] and this information must be increasing in order and complexity. But when we examine biology, we don’t see that. Each mutation is a loss in information, not an increase.

This is a long debunked claim which continues to persist despite large amounts of research which clearly indicates the opposite.  Mutations can, and have been observed, to add genetic information.  Examples of this include research performed by Lang (2000), Zhang (2002), Brown (1998).

Suggested reading for an example of an experiment/research which saw additional genetic information added can be read here: http://mbe.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/reprint/15/8/931.pdf

Also, by combining these two arguments, you’ve actually created a straw man. There’s actually two separate arguments here: The Third Law of Thermodynamics makes the universe [matter, life] impossible.

I am unsure how this conclusion was reached as the Third Law of Thermodynamics states: “If the entropy of each element in some (perfect) crystalline state be taken as zero at the absolute zero of temperature, every substance has a finite positive entropy; but at the absolute zero of temperature the entropy may become zero, and does so become in the case of perfect crystalline substances.

As you might imagine, that has little to nothing to do with the creation of the Universe and/or the Theory of Evolution.  Of course, this claim that life is impossible because of the Laws of Thermodynamics is rather odd since it can be easily seen to be false … by looking in a mirror.

Entropy [loss and corruption of information, if you’re still having problems keeping multiple definitions on task] makes evolution impossible.

This is the sun. It tends to be rather hot.

This is the sun. It tends to be rather hot.

This claim has already been shown to be false, as entropy only increases invariably in a closed system.  The planet Earth, so far the only confirmed place where life currently exists in the Universe, is not a closed system – it is constantly receiving more energy from the rather large ball of burning hydrogen in the sky known as ‘the sun’.

Now can entropy be increasing on a larger scale (the universe, for example) while order increases on a local scale?  Yes, of course.  It happens every single time a biological system grows (hence the example originally used).

Next part:

(In response to: The Argument: Which is Easier to believe? A creator being or that your ancestors will monkeys/rodents/jellyfish?)

Straw man. This has never been offered as astand alone argument without an appeal to evidence.

Oh, it has. I have seen it first hand plenty of times.  The only reason I do not link to the various times I have seen it on numerous blog comments is a matter of time.  Please note that it is presented in the form seen here as an amalgam version of the various wordings seen first hand across a wide number of blogs/web sites since it would be entirely impractical to list all the different versions floating out there on the world wide web.

You haven’t given the rest of the data being appealed to in favor of creation and against evolution. You’re oversimplifying this argument and in doing so you are grossly misrepresenting it. Or perhaps you’ve just never bothered to read it since you know better anyway, huh?

The argument should read, Given the evidence, which is easier to believe [i.e. — which makes more sense]?

Regardless of the form, it is no more than thinly disguised form of an argument from incredulity, which is a logical fallacy and holds no weight at all.  In other words, just because something is easier to believe it does not make it true.  Of course, a little proviso is not mentioned in Sirius’ reinterpretation; it should read something more like “Which explanation for specific events best fits the independently verified, empirical and accepted evidence?

Convenience/Ease of explanation does not enter into science, though some might be tempted to try to appeal to Occam’s Razor (which would be inappropriate since such an appeal would require introducing an unevidenced/unnecessary mechanism).

Next part:

(In response to: The Argument: No Transitional Fossils have ever been found.)

It could be argued that every fossil ever found is a transitionary fossil, but that would be a PRESUMPTION of the truth of Darwinism.

a classic example

Circular logic: a classic example

This response delves into the realm of circular logic, since the author assumes that the Theory of Evolution must be false to begin with, without starting from neutral ground and/or an objective viewpoint.   Evidence of this kind, which fits the accepted Theory, is completely acceptable as supporting evidence.

I can’t believe you’re still using the “whale evolution” argument. I fear this has went the way of the “horse evolution” argument. There’s not much to prop it up but presumption of evolution as truth.

Simple diagram of whale evolution

Simple diagram of whale evolution

The evidence for the progression of  Whale evolution is quite strong as shown by the work done by Gringerich (1983, 1990, 1994, 2001) and Thewissen (2001) to name just two.  To summarise as briefly as possible, a large number of specimens have been collected which include whales (ancestors) which include appendages both capable and incapable of land movement dated over a linear amount of time.

Note: In the response made there was no counter presented for the transitional fossils listed such as: Haasiophis terrasanctus, Pachyrhachis, Mososaurs, Pezosiren portelli, Runcaria and Halkiera (which is just a very short example/list of transitional fossils found thus far).

Next part:

(In response to: Evolution has never been observed.)

I’ll bet that new misquito is still a misquito. And that fly is still a fly. Ach! It’s the return of the old Micro=Macro straw man. You guys always argue that it follows that change WITHIN a species implies common descent, that species have changed into different species entirely.

Demonstrates an ignorance of biology terminology and also a misuse of the Micro/Macro definition.  Macro Evolution, despite the uses put upon it by creationists, is defined as “evolution at or above the species level”.  As has already been listed, speciation has been observed on numerous occasions.

It is not predicted that, for the sake of example, a dog might turn into a horse.  Such an act might actually work as evidence against the Theory of Evolution if it happened in a short period of time (for example, a human life time).  Large scale changes happen on an almost geological time-scale.

And, once again, there are many examples of transitional forms which act as strong evidence for macro evolution, not to mention genetics and the like.

Again, you are PRESUMING that evolution is true when you make this claim of observation. It would be better stated that you BELIEVE you are observing evolution in action.

It is what the evidence indicates and the Theory of Evolution is the only scientific theory thus far presented which has been able to explain available evidence and stood up to critical examination.  Presumptions have nothing to do with it though it does seem to be a rather common catch-cry of the author for reasons which yet remain somewhat unclear, especially since it has no basis in reality.  Indeed, the Theory of Evolution has stood up to some of the harshest criticism any scientific work has had to endure and come out intact time and again.  Studies carried out independently, carried out from an objective and critical viewpoint, across numerous scientific fields (geology, biology, genetics, etc) have validated the Theory, confirming its status.

Next part:

(In response to: Evolution is not science as it can not be observed, falsified and/or measured.)

Darwin carefully stated his theory so as tomake sure it could not be falsified with endearing argument from ignorance [i.e.–given our lack of knowledge we can’t say it didn’t happen].

If nothing else, this demonstrates ignorance in the way that scientific theories are not solely based in the text which proposed them.  The Theory of Evolution has certainly been refined since Darwin penned his original works, which is perfectly acceptable by science.

As the Theory of Evolution stands, there are many ways in which is could be easily falsified/proven wrong.  These include identifying proper chimera type organisms, a static fossil record, or seeing organisms spontaneously being created to name just a few.

And since the fossil record completely contradicts his theory, he declaired that it was “imperfect” and so it could not be used to disprove his theory.

Obviously the fossil record as we know it today does not bare any resemblance to how the author interprets it.  He also provides no information to support his claim. Therefore, ironically, his own claim is unfalsifiable in the time available.  Science (be it genetics, medicine, biology, geology, etc) all recognises the Theory of Evolution as a fully supported Scientific Theory, likewise recognising that it is fully supported by the fossil record.

Anytime he saw an objection he either speculated how it might be overcome [can’t say he really established it as fact] or appealed to ignorance.

This is no more than an appeal to the ignorance that Darwin lived in as a product of his age.  Please note that in Darwin’s day the field of genetics and the existence of DNA was unknown.  The measurement techniques of fossils was relatively crude and so on.  In short, the author is aiming at a completely outdated source of information rather than, as he should be doing, looking at modern times.

Again, you can only say it’s been observed if you presume evolution is true and happening as we speak. The burden of proof is on your end.

The evidence is readily available in any science journal dealing with biology/geology/etc that you care to name that is accepted by the scientific community.  More transitional forms are found all the time, more predictions made by the Theory of Evolution are verified as scientific research continues.  Burden of proof has been satisfied many times over.

As for falsifiable… surely you jest.

Already addressed above, I won’t waste time doing so again.

We have found irreducible complexity.

As a small castle worth of various scientific awards have not been handed out to the discoverer of such wonderful phenomenon, it has to be assumed that irreducible complexity has not yet been found.  Nor have any independently verified journals reported on such a find.  All examples thus far brought forth of Irreducible Complexity (bacterial flagellum, blood clotting, immune system, as examples) have been found to be anything but.

You refuse to see it. And fossils are not dated by the rocks they’re found in; quite the opposite, the rocks are dated by the fossils they contain.

dated_strataStrata are dated through various means, which give independent results and have thus far been shown to be rather reliable (except in certain exceptional circumstances but this is not the place to even begin to list those).

Stratigraphic Principles are based on observed evidence and are a fundamental part of the study of geology.  We know, through observations and repeated experiments, how the different types of rock form and settle into different layers.  Barring incidents such as earthquakes and other upheavals, these strata generally stay organised/level without their order being changed/messed up.

Fossil records have been found, even on a global basis, to be relatively ordered.  Older ones being lower in the strata and newer specimens being higher/nearer to the surface (recognised since the 1800’s and confirmed repeatedly since, all the way to the current day).  This is known as Biostratigraphy and is related to fossil succession and principle of faunal (and floral) succession.  This forms one of the basis’ of the geological ages that science recognises as having of occurred in the Earth’s past.  Even before Darwin penned his works, palaeontologists recognised the existence of fossil succession and had a fairly good picture of the forms life had taken; all they lacked was a working Theory/mechanism for these changes.

Later, after the discovery of radiation and examination of the properties thereof, came radiometric dating which helped to support the evidence provided by the systems already mentioned and has been shown to be rather reliable in it’s own right – especially when combined with even more modern dating methods.

To assume any different would require a complete reworking of the entire field of geology would be absurd given all the evidence which currently supports it.

A rabbit fossil-bearing rock would be dated according to evolutionary preconceptions.

It's got big teeth and can leap...!

It's got big teeth and can leap...!

Drawing a conclusion from no evidence.  If a rabbit (a relatively modern animal) was found, for example, in a rock dated at 40 million years of age or amongst fossils of animals dated as such then it would indeed throw the Theory of Evolution into disarray.  Obviously no such remains have been found.

Next part…

(In response to: Evolution is only a theory.)

You just denied a heirarchy of truth make a scientific theory equal to a scientific law. Does your denialism know no bounds?

I am unaware of what version of science that the author follows but there is no such hierarchy in science, at least not in the way that he supposedly believes.

Scientific Theories are formed to explain observed facts and are not, as some assume naively, ‘laws in waiting’ or anything of the kind.

Let’s look at the main definition of a scientific law:

An empirical generalization; a statement of a biological principle that appears to be without exception at the time it is made, and has become consolidated by repeated successful testing; rule (Lincoln et al., 1990)

Now a scientific theory:

The grandest synthesis of a large and important body of information about some related group of natural phenomena (Moore, 1984)

This is beside the point. Being unobservable [the species becoming other species evolution, not the fly becoming a different variation of fly kind]

Which, as previously pointed out, is a gross misinterpretation of the term ‘speciation’.  See above for further explanation of this.

unmeasurable and unfalsifiable, it doesn’t even rate as a theory.

kaylaSadly for the author, it would seem that the vast majority of scientists are in direct opposition to this statement.  Every credible Journal, University (barring dens of ignorance such as Liberty University), Research centre and the like all recognise the Theory of Evolution.  It certain, as pointed out, meets all the requirements and definitions of a Scientific Theory;  It is observable, makes predictions, etc.

Naturalist scientists ignore the weaknesses in this outdated theory and continue to prop it up its sagging weight of disappointments because the alternative would allow for the possibility of the supernatural.

The weaknesses that the author, it can be assumed, refers to simply do not exist.  Are aspects of the Theory of Evolution currently debated? Yes, they certainly are.  These are very minor aspects of the Theory, however, relegated to no more than what could be regarded as minute fine tuning rather than anything that could possibly bring the Theory of Evolution into the realm of discarded scientific thoughts.  None of the basic principles are currently under any sort of accepted debate, that much is certain.

What are some of the current controversies with the Theory of Evolution? This is not the place to go into the technical lanaguage required for such discussion, nor is this particular entry set aside for an indepth look into such.  Instead I suggest starting with this Ars Technica article and simply exploring from there.

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Comments
  1. Thanks for this post, I’ll have to keep it bookmarked so I can link it when some loony throws up on my blog.

  2. GRacias por la informacion, ha sido de gran ayuda, yo me encuentro preocupado por la perdida del cabello.

  3. Cristero says:

    Every credible Journal, University (barring dens of ignorance such as Liberty University), Research centre and the like all recognise the Theory of Evolution. – fallacy argument

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