Brownback on Evolution

Meanwhile, writing in The New York Times, Senator Sam Brownback clarifies his views on evolution. Recall that Brownback was one of three Republican candidates to admit to rejecting evolution in a recent debate. He writes:

The premise behind the question seems to be that if one does not unhesitatingly assert belief in evolution, then one must necessarily believe that God created the world and everything in it in six 24-hour days. But limiting this question to a stark choice between evolution and creationism does a disservice to the complexity of the interaction between science, faith and reason.

Actually, I think the premise behind the question was that if one does not unhesitatingly assert an acceptance of evolution, then you are either a scientific ignoramus or are pandering to scientific ignoramusses. And let’s cut the pretense that there was any vagueness in the question. The issue is whether you think human beings evolved from ape-like ancestors.

So how should science, faith and reason interact?

The heart of the issue is that we cannot drive a wedge between faith and reason. I believe wholeheartedly that there cannot be any contradiction between the two. The scientific method, based on reason, seeks to discover truths about the nature of the created order and how it operates, whereas faith deals with spiritual truths. The truths of science and faith are complementary: they deal with very different questions, but they do not contradict each other because the spiritual order and the material order were created by the same God.

Translation: Science is based on evidence, faith is based on making stuff up. Doesn’t seem very complicated to me!

As for whether science and faith can contradict each other, that’s going to depend on what it is that you believe by faith. It is all well and good for Brownback to take for granted that God created both the material and the spiritual, but the fact remains that science has a way of undercutting the need to hypothesize that God created anything. What Brownback really means here is that when discoveries of science (i.e. evolution) contradict his preconceived notions of God (that he exists, is all-loving, and created the world with humans in mind), it is the science that goes out the window.

Moving on:

People of faith should be rational, using the gift of reason that God has given us. At the same time, reason itself cannot answer every question. Faith seeks to purify reason so that we might be able to see more clearly, not less. Faith supplements the scientific method by providing an understanding of values, meaning and purpose. More than that, faith — not science — can help us understand the breadth of human suffering or the depth of human love. Faith and science should go together, not be driven apart.

I have no doubt that these sentiments were crafted by one of Brownback’s advisors; it is the standard gibberish that gets trotted out by those seeking to reconcile faith and reason. I have no idea what it means to say that faith purifies reason, and it is simply an abuse of language to say that there is anything we “understand” by faith. And I haven’t noticed atheists having much trouble discerning the breadth of human suffering or the depth of human love.

The question of evolution goes to the heart of this issue. If belief in evolution means simply assenting to microevolution, small changes over time within a species, I am happy to say, as I have in the past, that I believe it to be true. If, on the other hand, it means assenting to an exclusively materialistic, deterministic vision of the world that holds no place for a guiding intelligence, then I reject it.

Translation: I’m a creationist.

Biologists will have their debates about man’s origins, but people of faith can also bring a great deal to the table. For this reason, I oppose the exclusion of either faith or reason from the discussion. An attempt by either to seek a monopoly on these questions would be wrong-headed. As science continues to explore the details of man’s origin, faith can do its part as well. The fundamental question for me is how these theories affect our understanding of the human person.

Translation: I think creationism should be taught in schools.

Brownback has quite a few more talking point to throw at you. He even whipes out the old canard about punctuated equilibrium: “There is no one single theory of evolution, as proponents of punctuated equilibrium and classical Darwinism continue to feud today.” A golden oldie! Haven’t heard that one in a while. Read at your own risk. One of these days maybe he’ll tell us what he thinks of the common ancestry of human beings with apes.

Comments

  1. #1 Kevin
    June 4, 2007

    Well we were waiting for this!

    “Translation: I think creationism should be taught in schools.” – That’s what I heard too. and the scary part is that I don’t think he’s just doing it for votes.

    Also another horrible review of the Ham Museum in the Arts section today you may want to check out:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/06/04/arts/04conn.html?_r=1&oref=slogin

    which prompted this letter. maybe it will be published.

    “In his Connections essay, Mr. Rothstein insults science and promotes creation myths by claiming they both involve faith, narrow viewpoints and false interpretations of data. He talks about how “old debates about Darwin”,” but fails to point out that there is NO scientific debate but only a political one, and gets it wrong about candidates being asked about “faith” in evolution. He attempts to create a false equivalence between actual science (even if it is about griffons et. al.) and the half-baked pseudo-science promoted by creationists but there is no scientist I ever heard from that would argue that early scientific or classical attempts to recreate animals from their fossils in any way “resembles” the deliberate lies and distortions peddled by Ken Ham and his museum. Creationists always attempt to gain a patina of rigorous inquiry while trashing the scientific method. No wonder these mythical “Darwinian Theorists” are so prickly!”

  2. #2 Science Avenger
    June 4, 2007

    Might this be the political issue that we can use to our advantage in the war against the defenders of darkness and ignorance? We already know a majority of Americans say they wouldn’t vote for an atheist for president. How many Americans would not vote for someone who denies evolution, or does a happy pretend dance around it like Brownback did? It would be interesting to see what politicians would do if they thought denying evolution would cost them 30% of voters.

  3. #3 Tegumai Bopsulai, FCD
    June 4, 2007

    The premise behind the question seems to be that if one does not unhesitatingly assert belief in evolution, then one must necessarily believe that God created the world and everything in it in six 24-hour days. But limiting this question to a stark choice between evolution and creationism does a disservice to the complexity of the interaction between science, faith and reason.

    Translation: He doesn’t want a false dichotomy.

    If belief in evolution means simply assenting to microevolution, small changes over time within a species, I am happy to say, as I have in the past, that I believe it to be true. If, on the other hand, it means assenting to an exclusively materialistic, deterministic vision of the world that holds no place for a guiding intelligence, then I reject it.

    Translation: He’s all for a false dichotomy, he just wants to draw the line of demarcation himself.

  4. #4 Tegumai Bopsulai, FCD
    June 4, 2007

    Since his alleged purpose was to clarify his position, why didn’t he clarify his position? He could have stated clearly whether he accepts:
    1) A 14 billion year old universe
    2) A 4.5 billion year old Earth
    3) Life on Earth at least 3.5 billion years ago
    4) Common descent shared by all life on Earth
    5) Including humans.

  5. #5 John Krehbiel
    June 4, 2007

    All in all, a pretty good example of why Gould’s non-overlapping magisteria is an unsatisfactory solution.

  6. #6 Science Avenger
    June 4, 2007

    When confronting them on the age of the earth, it’s best to phrase the question as to whether they accept an earth:

    1) Billions of years old

    2) Thousands of years old.

    It leaves them little wiggle room.

  7. #7 bigTom
    June 4, 2007

    While I easily acept that denying evolution will automatically lose 30% of the voters. I’m not so optimistic about the other 70%. Evolution denying is probably a big win with the Republican base. No Republican is likely to win even 5% of the reality-leaning block no matter what he says, so I don’t think Sam’s advisors think his answers are unduly risky.

    The Republicans have become so dependent upon the support of this group, that they have become trapped.

  8. #8 MPW
    June 5, 2007

    Kevin – that piece you link to is the second one in The Times in a couple of weeks, by the same cultural critic, stroking the Creation Museum. I just e-mailed this in:

    To the Editor:

    Re: “In or Out of Eden, One Man’s Unicorn May Be Another’s Apatosaurus” (Arts, June 4), “What I Think About Evolution” (Op Ed, May 31) and “Adam and Eve in the Land of the Dinosaurs” (Arts, May 24):

    In the past couple of weeks, The Times has published three different pieces more or less sympathetic to the distortions of evolution deniers.

    That a right-wing Republican like Senator Sam Brownback would make some creationist noises is no revelation. I was more surprised by the intellectual dishonesty displayed by cultural critic Edward Rothstein. Bizarrely, he treats creationist claims which he seems to know are false with kid gloves, while pushing the tired misrepresentation of evolutionary scientists who object to such dishonest tactics as dogmatists who “bristle at dissent or doubt.”

    Perhaps you would now consider publishing a commentary by someone with actual knowledge and training in the subject. May I suggest a scientist?

  9. #9 James Collins
    June 5, 2007

    If evolutionists want to end the arguments all they have to do is, get their brilliant heads together and assemble a ‘simple’ living cell. This should be possible, since they certainly have a very great amount of knowledge about what is inside the ‘simple’ cell.

    After all, shouldn’t all the combined Intelligence of all the worlds scientist be able the do what chance encounters with random chemicals, without a set of instructions, accomplished about 4 billion years ago,according to the evolutionists, having no intelligence at all available to help them along in their quest to become a living entity. Surely then the evolutionists scientists today should be able to make us a ‘simple’ cell.

    If it weren’t so pitiful it would be humorous, that intelligent people have swallowed the evolution mythology.

    Beyond doubt, the main reason people believe in evolution is that sources they admire, say it is so. It would pay for these people to do a thorough examination of all the evidence CONTRARY to evolution that is readily available: Try answersingenesis.org. The evolutionists should honestly examine the SUPPOSED evidence ‘FOR’ evolution for THEMSELVES.

    Build us a cell, from scratch, with the required raw material, that is with NO cell material, just the ‘raw’ stuff, and the argument is over. But if the scientists are unsuccessful, perhaps they should try Mother Earth’s recipe, you know, the one they claim worked the first time about 4 billion years ago, so they say. All they need to do is to gather all the chemicals that we know are essential for life, pour them into a large clay pot and stir vigorously for a few billion years, and Walla, LIFE!

    Oh, you don’t believe the ‘original’ Mother Earth recipe will work? You are NOT alone, Neither do I, and MILLIONS of others!

  10. #10 Stanton
    June 5, 2007

    James, please explain to me how, in your logic, the inability to create a living cell “from scratch” disproves the observed and document lineages of fossil organisms such as brontotheres, trilobites, snails, ammonites and brachiopods, or living organisms such as flies, fruit trees, corn, wheat, orchids, dogs, pigs, pigeons and goats?

    Also, if you could get your smug head out of the sand, you’d realize that scientists have already been able to create and recreate self-replicating strands of RNA, as well as recreate protein-synthesizing apparatuses, normally found in the cytoplasms of cells, in test tubes for several years now. That scientists have not yet been able to synthesis membrane-bound cells does not mean they never will, especially since they’ve only been at this for only 50 years or so.

    Then again, because you only have your grandiose arrogance coupled with your grandiose self-imposed ignorance, and what your pastor told you about how science allegedly works to support what you say, you’re probably going to dismiss this, too.

  11. #11 Ronald L. Cote
    June 5, 2007

    Scientists and evolution
    Evolutionists would have you believe that only �true� scientists believe in their hypothesis. Further, the point is stretched that disbelief in evolution disqualifies one as a scientist regardless of the scientific discipline. This often results in assertions that �most� scientists believe in evolution. From that irrationale, they are then free to state that, since they define the criteria for who can and can not be considered a �scientist�, then according to their own established criteria, a scientist who does not adhere to their beliefs cannot be considered a true scientist and, therefore, is not counted. They can then state that a huge percentage of scientists believe in evolution, because those who do not believe are not counted or considered.
    This typifies evolutionary logic, like 1+1= 9. When one faction determines that it can make and change its own rules, then nothing is sacred. This goes along with their propaganda that belief in evolution is the foundation for all science. One is lead to believe the false notion that all science can not exist without evolution. Nothing is further from the truth
    Being a scientist (biologist) and having been a member of a NASA team of scientists that developed the �backpack� (Portable Life Support System) used by astronauts on their mission to the moon, and subsequently working on research and development of artificial heart and kidney devices, I can attest to there being two distinct categories of scientist. There are the applied scientists and the academicians.
    Applied scientists are those employed by R&D companies that use their scientific knowledge to develop useful products. This type of scientist earns a salary predicated on his application of scientific principles that contribute to the development of commercially viable products. Evolution plays absolutely no role in his performance. There are no Evolution Departments at Pfizer, Ford, Microsoft and Kodak.
    In the other camp are the academicians, those who have scientific credentials that are employed in the field of teaching at various academic levels. These are the scientists whose salaries are based on the support of mandated evolutionary teaching. Those in academia are captive to what they are told to teach. They often are members of such professional associations as The National Science Teachers Association whose avowed purpose is to perpetuate the teaching of evolution. Associations are popular for the benefits provided to members. The fear factor, peer pressure and the influence of the association weighs heavily on teachers and are compelling reasons to voice support for evolution. It�s quite simply the very real incentive to be an advocate-is the paycheck
    And so the major difference between the two groups. The applied scientist cares less about evolution. It has absolutely no impact on how he develops the new drug, widget or spacecraft. He may or may not be an evolutionist and it has no effect on his job performance.
    Not so the academician! The myth of evolution must be perpetuated and made believable. His livelihood depends on at least claiming to be allied with and in agreement with his evolutionary brethren. His future depends on it!
    Let us not fail to consider also that evolution is big business. It supports and justifies major national associations, television channels and programming, sales of magazines and textbooks, museums etc. A lot is at stake and they can not afford to have their sacrosanct myth eroded any further. This accounts for the passion displayed when anything (Creation Museum) threatens their hypothesis.

  12. #12 ken
    June 6, 2007

    Ronald…My own experience is that engineers, mathematicians, programmers, etc., are often very skilled at compartmentalizing their beliefs. You can be an excellent mathematician and still hold any number of loopy, paranoid views.

    On the other hand, a biologist or biochemist, “applied” or not, needs to keep his feet close to the ground to pick up any signals that the real world might be sending. Acceptance of evolution also requires some ability to see how beautifully the interlocking puzzle pieces fit together…the engineer might get stuck analyzing a single connection.

  13. #13 MartinM
    June 6, 2007

    They can then state that a huge percentage of scientists believe in evolution, because those who do not believe are not counted or considered.

    Excuse me for pointing out the blatantly fucking obvious, but if those who do not believe are not counted or considered, then 100% of all scientists believe in evolution. Now, got any actual evidence that surveys of scientists systematically exclude creationists, or are you just lying through your teeth?

  14. #14 hoary puccoon
    June 6, 2007

    Ronald L. Cote– It may be true that there’s no evolution department at, say, Microsoft. But what about Exxon? The Center for Disease Control? The US Agricultural Extension Service? All of those organizations, and many others including all medical schools, must use the facts of evolution to do their job. Oh, the Ag Extension guys may soft-pedal their link to evolution by telling farmers the noxious bugs are “developing” resistance to a particular pesticide. But they know perfectly well what they’re really talking about is the bugs EVOLVING resistance. That’s how far evolution has come– farmers who are biblical literalists and sincerely believe evolution is ‘just a theory’ have to apply it every day as an accepted fact just to stay in business. And if you want to argue that farmers are a bunch of ivory-tower academics– then you obviously don’t know the same farmers I know!

  15. #15 MartinM
    June 6, 2007

    It may be true that there’s no evolution department at, say, Microsoft.

    Although their research division works with both genetic algorithms and genetic programming, I believe.

  16. #16 Science Goddess
    June 6, 2007

    Hi James: What’s missing from your “Mother Earth” formula is an energy source. Like UV radiation, solar radiation, heat, other forms of bombardment of the early earth. And after a “few billion years” of stirring, I don’t believe that you’ll be around to observe the outcome!

    SG

  17. #17 Stanton
    June 6, 2007

    So, Ronald, how does your long, rambling and incoherent speech disprove the fact there are literal libraries’ worth of documented examples of evolution?
    Your magic speech is going to make all these flies and fossils disappear?

  18. #18 hoary puccoon
    June 6, 2007

    MartinM– Yeah, I suspected Microsoft might have an evolutionary angle, too. The whole concept of things evolving is just to useful to leave in the ivory tower.

  19. #19 Ronald L. Cote
    June 6, 2007

    To Stanton-my speech was coherent enough to elicit several comments. The volume of written material is hardly a measure of its validity.
    To MartinM-the genetic makeup of an organism has nothing to do with evolution, foul language does seem to be a precursor to a display of ignorance, however.
    To hoary-There are no evolution departments there either. My son is a senior scientist with the Natural Resource Conservation Service (USDA). No evolution departments there , either!
    To Ken-much to your diappointment,I can assure you that belief in evolution as a prerequsite to application of science is wishful thinking. What interlocking pieces?

  20. #20 Stanton
    June 6, 2007

    The volume of written material is hardly a measure of its validity.

    Uh, what alternate dimension are you from?
    Do realize that foul language tends to be a display of extreme frustration.
    Handwaving evidence as being unnecessary, on the other hand, is a classic hallmark of ignorance.
    Only arrogantly ignorant people are capable of handwaving away libraries.
    Can you please explain to us why you think that evolution is a myth even though there have been literal thousands of experiments conducted and being conducted as well as millions of pages of reports written concerning it?

  21. #21 Ronald L. Cote
    June 6, 2007

    Stanton, to explain further, you can not measure the credibilty of data with a ruler. There might be as much, volumetrically, written to support intelligent design and creationism as on evolution. Who cares, it isn’t about volume and quantity, but truth. Also when attempting to have intelligent debate, only arrogantly ignorant people call others arrogantly ignorant. But foul language and name calling are trademarks of the typical evolutionist, and as you state, a display of frustration. Evolution remains a myth because even after zillions of years, there is no proof where proof should abound. I enjoy these blogs and hope some knowledge is exchanged.

  22. #22 Stanton
    June 6, 2007

    I am perfectly justified in labeling you as being arrogant and ignorant, given as how you handwave away physical evidence and documentation of physical evidence of evolution occurring, claiming “truth.”
    Please explain why things like the documentation of the sympatric speciation of the hawthorne fly, as different populations become isolated from each other as they attack different host trees, or the documentation of increase in size and growth of horns in anatomical comparisons of brontotheres from Eotitanops to Brontotherium do not count as evidence.
    As far as I’ve read, all you’ve provided absolutely no evidence beyond “I said so, that’s why.” And do realize that “I said so, that’s why” does not count as evidence in Science.

  23. #23 Stanton
    June 6, 2007

    So, what sort of “truth” can you provide that disproves the “myth” of evolution?
    A population of kangaroos that have been living in Turkey for the past 4000 years since they were stranded at Mount Ararat by Noah?

  24. #24 Science Avenger
    June 6, 2007

    only arrogantly ignorant people call others arrogantly ignorant

    I know you are, but what am I?

  25. #25 Stanton
    June 6, 2007

    Ronald, if Evolution is a “myth” like you claim, then can you explain why the green flowers of the New Zealand fuchsia, Fuchsia excorticata turn red within a day of being pollinated, or why Wolbachia bacteria tend to feminize or kill their male insect hosts?

  26. #26 Richard Simons
    June 6, 2007

    I see James Collins has produced his standard sarcastic piece saying that if scientists knew anything they should be able to produce living organisms in the laboratory. He has posted this in numerous places. However, as far as I can tell he has never paid any attention to any of the responses but is permanently stuck in his rut.

    Ronald L. Cote: You claim to be a biologist. Instead of just ranting about how awful academics are, let’s hear some of your arguments from biology in favour of creation or ID. Presumably you have a plethora of them you are anxious to share. You are a biologist, aren’t you, and not just trying to sell us a line?

  27. #27 hoary puccoon
    June 7, 2007

    RL Cote– I think you missed my point. Work with evolution has come so far that people can apply it the same way I apply the principle of the internal combustion engine. I get in my car and turn the key without understanding the physics of what’s going on under the hood.
    I’m willing to believe there is no official evolution department at the Natural Resource Conservation Service. But I find it hard to believe they aren’t using concepts like extinction of species– which was at one time a completely radical idea, and considered quite a threat to biblical literalism. Just because you don’t call something evolution doesn’t mean it isn’t evolution.

  28. #28 MartinM
    June 7, 2007

    foul language does seem to be a precursor to a display of ignorance, however.

    Yeah, I thought you might use that to avoid actually answering the question. I’ll take it as a ‘no,’ then; you have no evidence that surveys of scientists exclude creationists, or that there are more creationist scientists than surveys suggest. You really were just lying through your teeth.

  29. #29 hoary puccoon
    June 7, 2007

    RL Cote: I think you misunderstood my point. Evolutionary theory has come so far that it’s used every day, the way I use the internal combustion engine– I can turn the key in my car without any understanding of the physics under the hood.
    The Natural Resource Conservation Service (USDA) may not have a department labeled evolution, but I’ll bet they use concepts like extinction of species that are not only part of evolutionary theory, but that were once considered radical challenges to the literal interpretation of the bible.(If you don’t believe me, go back and read about The Great Chain of Being.)

  30. #30 SLC
    June 9, 2007

    Re Ronald Cote

    Mr. Cote states that the fact that Microsoft and other companies don’t have departments of evolution proves that the theory of evolution is wrong. Well, these same institutions don’t have departments of elementary particle physics either so I guess that Mr. Cote will now argue that this theory is also wrong.

  31. #31 Ed H.
    June 12, 2007

    To SLC
    Mr Cote was saying one does not need to be an evolution scientist to work there. That your science doesn’t have to be evolution based.
    You guy not only define the criteria, but you also redefine arguments. Stick to the point Cote was making and you lose.

  32. #32 Kevin
    June 12, 2007

    “Mr Cote was saying one does not need to be an evolution scientist to work there. That your science doesn’t have to be evolution based.”

    Nice move! flip the issue on its head!

    In the real world, when studying animals and viruses and other living things, knowledge of and application of, the TOE is very usefull.

    When doing metalurgy or room-temp superconductors, not so much.

    When programming I find it very useful to follow the release notes and see where the code changed in response to selective pressure in its environment. That doesn’t make me an “evolution scientist” (whatever that is) but it does make me a better programmer.

  33. #33 Ronald L. Cote
    June 12, 2007

    Statements by fellow bloggers appear to indicate that many processes in nature, such as speciation, adaptation, hormonal or other biological responses are examples of evolution and indeed are part of its definition. Evolution, I would argue, must however mean “change in form” and refers to life originating from non-life and then one species eventually becoming another and another as a result of time, chance and natural processes. I would argue further that in order for incredibly complex organisms and interrelationships of life as we see it to have resulted from such a process, we would have to disregard (or put aside) the scientific probabilities and indeed the very nature of living organisms and ecosytem processes. Science, in its proper and true form, should be a search for truth, with proper safeguards in place (like statistical probability evaluations that state the percent chance of occurrence of a test result event being chance or not) conduction of peer reviews etc. An example, to me, is that it has been stated publicly by an astrophysicist, that there are 201 facets about the earths location, relating to its position to the sun, that must, and are, in place, or the earth could not support any life whatsoever.
    The bottom line is that there is no proof or hard evidence, in the fossil record or in recent scientific observations, of anything changing into something else whereas it should be evolutionists’ crowning bit of proof, but it hasn’t happened. The occurrence of surrogate observations such as speciation, adaptation etc. seem to be the biggest guns in the evolutionist’s repertoire.
    To hoary- the successful use of evolution theory as a basis for natural resource research management in every day is not occurring. In fact, some of the biggest recent breakthroughs in the reversal of desertification (loss of bio-diversity) in seasonal rainfall environments (60% of the earths land surface) and the handling of herds of grazing animals have come about with no use of evolutionary theory principles. What product do you use that owes its existence to faith in evolution??
    To Martin- I wish to express my views and experience regarding creation/evolution and keeping the debate on a civil plane, why the name calling? You don’t agree with me so you call me a liar which I view as unfair.
    To Stanton- is the change in color of a fuchsia plant evidence of evolution ? Is the statement about Wolbachia also evidence? I don’t understand the examples you stated and their tie to the theory of evolution.
    To Richard- Yes I am a real Biologist. You might want to consider the extremely complex organ called the eye with its millions of cones and rods. iris, cornea, muscles but the eye of itself cannot provide sight without the optic nerve and the specialized portion of the brain dedicated to sight. They all need to operate in consonance or there is no sight. To compound an already complex situation there is a second eye that needs to be coordinated to the other in order to provide binocular vision. The only way sight could occur is for all elements to be in place and functional together. But you would still adhere to eyesight being evolved over long periods of time. Einstein, perhaps the greatest mind,stated that most of his life’s work was the pursuit of understanding how God “did it”.
    It is truly astonishing that so many accept evolution as fact based on such trivia as a change in color of a fuchsia, an appendix, beak size in finches, Wolbachias killing their hosts, changes in habits of the hawthorne fly, fruit flies, ad infinitum, where none have indicated change to something else only variation. Basing your belief on such inconsequential minutia that proves nothing versus denial of the eye witness account of the Creator, is truly amazing.
    Each of you who wants desperately to adhere to evolution, in spite of its scientific improbability, could perhaps benefit from realizing that the strong trait of human nature is to see what we believe instead of believing what we see.
    There is validity to the adage, “The truth will set you free”. The dilemna is that we only have but a short lifetime in which to determine what is the truth. The consequence for this decision, in turn, determines how we are to spend eternity. Pretty heavy stuff!

  34. #34 Science Avenger
    June 12, 2007

    Ronald Cote equivocated thusly: Evolution, I would argue, must however mean ‘change in form’ and refers to life originating from non-life and then one species eventually becoming another and another as a result of time, chance and natural processes.

    No, no a thousand times no. Evolution is the theory of how life forms change. Abiogenesis is the theory of how the first life form came to be. They are fundamentally different problems, as a moment’s reflection should make obvious. Just think of life forms as falling dominoes. The theory of how one domino falls after the previous one is falling is fundamentally different from what caused the first one to fall.

    The fact that your creation myth declares the origin of all life to be instantaneous doesn’t shift that assumption onto modern scientific theories. Posit gods or aliens placing the first life form on earth if you like. It changes evolutionary theory not one whit.

  35. #35 Science Avenger
    June 12, 2007

    Ronald parroted thusly: there is no proof or hard evidence, in the fossil record or in recent scientific observations, of anything changing into something else.

    [yawn] Tiktaalik is not only a transitional form, it was found recently EXACTLY WHERE THE SCIENTISTS PREDICTED IT WOULD BE. One has to be rigid in the extreme to not be persuaded by such evidence. If you need more, check here, where many many transitional forms are documented.

    You don’t agree with me so you call me a liar which I view as unfair.

    When someone says there are no transitional forms, he is either ignorant or lying, it is simple as that. If the shoe fits…

    Yes I am a real Biologist.

    Right, and I’m Albert Einstein.

    You might want to consider the extremely complex organ called the eye … all [parts] need to operate in consonance or there is no sight.

    Polly want a cracker? This argument has been debunked repeatedly. Watch my favorite version here. You gonna start blathering about bombador beetles next?

    Einstein, perhaps the greatest mind,stated that most of his life’s work was the pursuit of understanding how ‘God did it’.

    Typical creationist quotemining (ie lying). Here is what Einstein said about that:

    “It was, of course, a lie what you read about my religious convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated. I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it.”

    It is truly astonishing that so many accept evolution as fact based on such trivia as a change in color of a fuchsia, an appendix, beak size in finches, Wolbachias killing their hosts, changes in habits of the hawthorne fly, fruit flies, ad infinitum, where none have indicated change to something else only variation.

    No, what is truly astonishing is that you people keep parroting these lies, despite how readily accessible proof of your lying is. And then you complain about being called liars. Hysterical, really.

  36. #36 Kevin
    June 12, 2007

    “Evolution, I would argue, must however mean “change in form” and refers to life originating from non-life”

    ha ha ..

    and then you would be incorrect….

  37. #37 Kevembuangga
    June 15, 2007

    Richard Simons : I see James Collins has produced his standard sarcastic piece

    Since it seems really standard I propose a standard rebuttal which I already posted at mixingmemory, feel free to reproduce and amend ad libitum : < ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    James Collins : Build us a cell, from scratch, with the required raw material, that is with NO cell material, just the ‘raw’ stuff, and the argument is over.

    This is a very reasonable argument AGAINST design, hugely complex systems CANNOT be designed.

    But if the scientists are unsuccessful, perhaps they should try Mother Earth’s recipe, you know, the one they claim worked the first time about 4 billion years ago, so they say.All they need to do is to gather all the chemicals that we know are essential for life, pour them into a large clay pot and stir vigorously for a few billion years, and Walla, LIFE!

    You obviously have no idea of the amount of information possibly encoded in the smallest quantity of matter, nor of what duration means.
    Have you ever heard of Avogadro’s number?
    For 18 grams of water this means more than 600000000000000000000000 molecules of water, each of which can be in a slightly different state than another (necessarily so for its physical location), which makes for an unmanageable amount of information just to describe the “current state” of those 18 grams of water.
    This is even more unimaginable for more complex molecules like proteins.
    Except at a temperature of zero kelvin all molecules are agitated and undergo brownian motion, however molecules ARE NOT BILLARD BALLS or grains of sand, chemical bonds make or break hapazardly and some bonds and also complex patterns of bonds are more stable than other, i.e. once set they will not easily break unless the temperature goes outside their stability range (usually up to higher temps), therefore they are bound to SURVIVE and thus complex molecules are necessarily CREATED out of which some longer time scales purposeless selective process can further sort out the “winning” combinations i.e. just those which happen to last longer because they benefit from self-reinforcing feedbacks which favor their own reproduction.
    THAT’S IT.
    So uneducated morons (not even at the level of Wikipedia) “know it all” because superstitious psychotic tribesmen wrote down “sacred texts” of various kinds which actually ALL boil down to : “We are baffled by this so it must have been done by someone much more clever than us”.
    More clever, yeah!

    As for durations, do you know that a billion years is 1000000000 years and this means 10000000 more than an (optimistic) 100 years human lifespan?
    Can you figure out how many “events” occur at a molecular level (at a time scale of nanoseconds or picoseconds) during such a time span in billions tons of matter?
    Hapazardly, yes, but this is NOT in the range of the sunday lottery than you are probably thinking of in your wonderment about “stir[ing] vigorously for a few billion years [into a large clay pot]“.

    Oh, you don’t believe the ‘original’ Mother Earth recipe will work? You are NOT alone, Neither do I, and MILLIONS of others!

    Sure, a very good argument : “Eat shit, hundreds of million flies can’t be wrong!”

  38. #38 Stanton
    June 16, 2007

    To R. Cote,
    If you actually attempted to read about the New Zealand fuchsia, you would know that its green color serves to attract the local birds to serve as pollinators, and that it turns red soon after pollination in order to discourage its pollinators from wasting pollen on an already-fertilized flower.
    And if you actually read about Wolbachia, you would know that it can only be spread from mother to child, so that those Wolbachia strains that exert a greater feminizing affect are more likely to be spread.

    Then again, given as how, according to you, this “trivia does not count as evidence” for some reason, how exactly does “the truth will set you free” and worrying about eternal salvation explain the natural world and the fossil record better than actual observations?

  39. #39 Stanton
    June 16, 2007

    Actually, Mr. Cote, can you explain how casually dismissing evidence as being mere “trivia” is an example of being set free by the truth, and not, say, reinforcing one’s own ignorance?
    Also, can you explain how it’s more important about worrying about the Next Life than trying to figure out how this world works? How is that an example of being set free by the truth, and not, say, a recruiting slogan for a death cult?

  40. #40 Ronald L. Cote
    June 17, 2007

    To Fellow bloggers,
    To the delight of some, I expect this to be my last blog. Throughout my discourses, I have tried to make the point clear that evolution is the antithesis of Creation. One is directly counter to the other and there is no room for a compromised position. Either there is a God who Created the Universe and all that is in it or that God does not exist and the magical power of natural selection accounts for all of nature, a natural phenomenon needing no design only pure chance producing life from non life provided by the mystical power of random selection and the magic of time.
    Only one can be true. If it was to be evolution, the evidence taken over these billions and millions of years should be overwhelming, filling our museums to the breaking point with incontrovertible, irrefutable proof. We should not need concern ourselves with finding and guessing at the significance of a piece of bone, a fuchsia turning color, a tooth, piece of bone, finch beaks, fruit flies etc. As compared with what should exist, these tiny portions of trivial “proof” are such a poverty of evidence in the never ending search for ‘the missing links”.
    It would seem that logic would dictate that a thinking person would surmise that with so little evidence for evolution, that the alternative should, at least be a consideration. Of course many of you seem to have your mindsets pretty well established and even without intense scientific investigation, you cling to trivia, remain staunch in your belief because evolution better suits your lifestyle. If you need evolution to support your atheism, then such is the case, remember that denial changes nothing
    So be it from my trying to open minds that are closed shut. You have the free will to make the choices that suit you, and I hope that those choices become those that matter in eternity. The time is short, the choices profound and the consequences are dramatic. The choice is yours, All the best, Ron

  41. #41 Science Avenger
    June 17, 2007

    Ronald Cote said: Either there is a God who Created the Universe and all that is in it or that God does not exist and the magical power of natural selection accounts for all of nature

    Or maybe God just created the universe, and everything in it was a by-product of that, about which he couldn’t give a shit. These blatantly false dichotomies are really tiresome.

    There is nothing magical about natural selection. In some ways, it is pretty mundane.

    the evidence taken over these billions and millions of years should be overwhelming, filling our museums to the breaking point with incontrovertible, irrefutable proof.

    We have overwhelming evidence, and all one needs to do to see it is look. It’s not like there is a lack of documentation. Proof is not the realm of science.

    Of course many of you seem to have your mindsets pretty well established and even without intense scientific investigation, you cling to trivia, remain staunch in your belief because evolution better suits your lifestyle.

    As with most of your posts, this is an assertion in dire need of evidenciary support. It seems quite clear that the people biased by the perceived implications of this argument the most are those on the creation side of things. Personally, I’ve never met a person who accepted evolution and thought it was philosophically important. It’s just another scientific theory, without moral content. Contrast that to the creationists who become apoplectic at the idea that their 2,000 year old quaint book of tales isn’t 100% solid irrefutable fact. You can push the bias issue if you like, but in the court of public opinion, you’re going to lose.

  42. #42 Jason Kreul
    June 18, 2007

    And yet I somehow feel a little dumber just having read this entire thread to the end. Sorry I thought the whole eyeball thing had been explained away with Darwin’s finches and such so many years ago. I keep forgetting the influence of the Discovery Institute’s money and organization I guess.

    Oh well, might as well stick our heads in the sand, say global warming is a marketing ploy, buy a Hummer and wait for God to save us. He will you know…he sees you when you’re sleeping…he knows when you’re awake…he knows if you’ve been bad or good…oh shit, wrong guy?!! Bummer. I guess we are all doomed to the christians ignorance.

  43. #43 Stanton
    June 18, 2007

    As with most of your posts, this is an assertion in dire need of evidenciary support. It seems quite clear that the people biased by the perceived implications of this argument the most are those on the creation side of things. Personally, I’ve never met a person who accepted evolution and thought it was philosophically important. It’s just another scientific theory, without moral content. Contrast that to the creationists who become apoplectic at the idea that their 2,000 year old quaint book of tales isn’t 100% solid irrefutable fact. You can push the bias issue if you like, but in the court of public opinion, you’re going to lose.

    Who needs evidence when all of your metaphysical needs are satisfied by participating in a death cult that holds the physical world to be worthless?

  44. #44 alex
    June 29, 2007

    Im not an educated person as most of you seem to be. So you can easily blow off what i say with a “you sure are ignorant” or some other comment. Everytime you bring up one species turning into another evolutionists say “well thats not evolution”. Hmmmm I have a hard time becuase everytime someone makes a point you seem to shift. I guess you evolutionists like to evolve your beliefs. A simple question for the evolutionists…. Did man come from apes? Should be a simple yes or no.

  45. #45 Stanton
    June 30, 2007

    Everytime you bring up one species turning into another evolutionists say “well thats not evolution”.

    Do realize that ONLY THE CREATIONISTS ARE SAYING THAT IT IS NOT EVOLUTION. If you were actually paying attention to the thread, it is the death cultist Ronald Cote who is dismissing evidence of evolution in favor of “truth.”

    Hmmmm I have a hard time becuase everytime someone makes a point you seem to shift. I guess you evolutionists like to evolve your beliefs.

    Do realize that in science, views are often forced to change because new evidence comes to light. Absolutely no scientific progress can occur if scientists refuse to change their points of view when new evidence appears.

    A simple question for the evolutionists…. Did man come from apes? Should be a simple yes or no.

    Do realize that humans happen to be apes, and that humans share a common ancestor with chimpanzees around 7 million years ago. If you’re trying to build into that moronic Creationist trope of “If we’re descended from apes, why are apes still around?” do also realize that that particular statement is as idiotic as claiming “If I’m descended from my father, why is my father still alive?”

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