Accoring to Aubrea Wagner, the 17 year old winner of the Christian World View essay contest in which students were asked to write an essay on the following theme:

Write a letter to Charles Darwin explaining why you believe biblical creationism is more plausible and reasonable than Darwin’s theory of evolution.

Aubrea’s essay is here in PDF form. The web site with other essays, the rules of the contest, and additional information is here.

I invite you to review this essay and comment on its veracity and validity.

Hat tip: Scott Lohman

Comments

  1. #1 Jesse
    March 13, 2010

    Saw the essay. She doesn’t seem to understand what a theory is, and note that one of her sources is Behe.

    She talks about insulin, and blood clotting, and basically says “it’s complicated, so there’s no way it could have evolved.” But she doesn’t look like she’s delved very deeply into the biochemistry of wither. I wouldn’t expect a 2th-grader to do too much of that, though. However, I would have hoped she understood that many genetic diseases (juvenile-onset diabetes included) may not kill you until after you reproduce, at which point, evoltionarily speaking, nothing matters.

    Then there’s the “micro- but no macro” meme, and the no transitional fossils one, (Tiiktalik, anyone?) the usual stuff. Pretty bog-standard, really.

  2. #2 george.w
    March 13, 2010

    I’m not sure the “incredible creator effortlessly spoke the entire universe into existence”. The bible says nothing about whether it was easy or hard. I think personally that he needed a sitz bath and some divine Preparation H afterward.

  3. #3 History Punk
    March 13, 2010

    “Mr. Darwin, I sincerely hope you will join me in
    worshiping the amazing Creator.”

    Aubrea, I think it’s a little late for that.

    More seriously, Jesse basically nailed it. She uses standard creationist arguments from standard creationist sources and comes to the creationist answer. A few token mined quotes are toss in for the appearance of both objectivity and to bolster her argument.

  4. #4 NewEnglandBob
    March 13, 2010

    Nearly every sentence in the essay is flawed. Every conclusion is either based on “I don’t see how, so goddidit” or the conclusion is ass backwards. The conclusion based on Type I diabetes screams out for a genetic flaw, but she hides from it.

    I would give this paper a D-. Its not an F because of the proper use of syntax and semantics and she knows how to site references properly.

  5. #5 Deen
    March 13, 2010

    This is one of those modern theologians that show that science and religion are compatible and Richard Dawkins is wrong, right?

  6. #6 Janice in Toronto
    March 13, 2010

    That’s just sad. The poor kid doesn’t stand a chance. Seems like child abuse to me.

  7. #7 MadScientist
    March 14, 2010

    Poor kid; her parents are making her the butt of all jokes.

  8. #8 gwen
    March 14, 2010

    I couldn’t get past the fifth page, the stupid hurt too much. I hope it’s not contagious! This girl doesn’t even have a basic junior high school understanding of science or the scientific method! If this is the best they could put forth. I REALLY don’t want to read the others!

  9. #9 DJ
    March 14, 2010

    I read the whole thing hoping to see some actual evidence for creationism. Of course there was none of that, just poor understanding, fumbling efforts to “poke holes”, quote mining, and use of noncredible sources to make the same piss-poor arguments that have been thoroughly debunked many many times before.

    This kid could get an “A” for composition though. The level of skill using appropriate grammar is as good as you can expect from any highschool student. Even so, the content deserves an “F”, a poor argument that doesn’t follow the title and contains no supporting evidence.

    I am interested in that whole “blood clotting” irreducible complexity comment. I honestly haven’t heard that one before. Guess its time to hit the talkorigins site again.

  10. #10 DJ
    March 14, 2010

    Re: bloodclotting

    http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/CB/CB200_2.html

    There it is, another creationist claim debunked with actual references to actual primary literature sources. Imagine that

  11. #11 Alan
    March 14, 2010

    All this essay demonstrates is that the church is deliberately misguiding their own children to create the next generation of sheep.

    BTW cosmology does not say the universe came from nothing, that meme is just highly effective religious propoganda. Science says we can trace it’s evolution back 13.7 billion years to the event horizon of a singularity. That event horizion is still with us and defines the boundry of the visible universe.

  12. #12 psweet
    March 14, 2010

    What’s really sad about this is that, had she actually paid attention to her sources, she might have seen that Darwin actually had a more meaningful and complex relationship with his God than she does. He actually had to think about that relationship, and what the world he saw meant about it, and he was able to do so.

  13. #13 William Paysinger
    March 14, 2010

    I may be wrong, but I was under the impression that it took a bit of time for things to fossilize. How long ago did this supposed great flood take place?

    Creationist should stick to pure faith for their argument. Any scientific claims tend to just make them look uneducated.

  14. #14 Katharine
    March 15, 2010

    Creobots of all ages are cretins. :P

  15. #15 Jordan Maeding
    December 9, 2010

    Well my atheist friends, well done on making the standard atheist comments based on the standard atheist arguments with the same arrogant patronization that is so favored by your community of “free thinkers.” It truly is refreshing. Someone having to critically think contrary to what her country’s schools teach is your definition of narrow minded? Since you all seem to be knowledgeable in your critical analysis of her sources I’m interested to hear what your sources are.

  16. #16 Aubrea Wagner
    December 11, 2010

    First of all, I want to thank you all for all of your comments. I have no problem with your sharing your opinions, but I would like to ask that you not jump to conclusions.

    Janice in Toronto and MadScientist – I just want you to know that writing the essay was totally up to me. My parents didn’t care if I did it or not.

    Some of you have commented that I didn’t delved very deeply into science here. I know. First of all, there was a word limit that I had to abide by…I had to cut my essay down quite a bit. And second of all, science wasn’t the issue. If you even read what I had to write about, you will understand that it was a LETTER I had to write – not a scientific treatise. I needed to explain why I thought that creationism is more plausible than evolutionism.

    Jesse – I understand that many genetic diseases may not kill you right away. For example, I was 11 when I got Juvenile Diabetes. I believe that I had it the entire summer before it was diagnosed since I felt terrible all summer. I believe my argument was explaining why I thought it wasn’t feasible for a person to be evolved without Betta cells. I don’t believe that a person could live even until they were able to have a baby if they didn’t have betta cells to start with.

    William Paysinger – You are correct. Most of the time it does take a lot of time for things to fossilize, but in events like a flood, a volcano, or another catastrophe, things fossilize quite quickly (as in a few hours).

    Gwen – “I couldn’t get past the fifth page, the stupid hurt too much.” Since there are only five pages, I will take your comment as a complement. Thank you.

    NewEnglandBob – You said that my arguements are flawed. Please enlighten me how. I want to know!

  17. #17 Greg Laden
    December 11, 2010

    Aubrea, thanks very much for commenting. Hopefully the individuals to whom you responded will respond.

    I’d like to say a word or two about fossilization rates. We actually don’t know a lot about how fast fossilization happens because the experiments needed to figure that out have been difficult to design and implement. Normally, rotting happens quickly so one theory is that fossilization must happen quickly when it does happen, and that’s probably true for many instances. However, we can also show that many fossils got to the mineral state they are currently in millions of years after the organisms existed, meaning that there were multiple stages of fossilization (it is rare that one can see this, but it has happened.

    Technically, a fossil is an organism (or part of an organism) that has undergone complete “diagenesis” meaning that every molecule of the original organism has been replaced with a mineral. However, mammalian bones (and other bones, but I mostly know about mammals) can “fossilize” by simply having the protein phase removed (chemically, often) with the apatite phase left behind. Apatite is mineral, and when that is all that is left of the bone, it is like a fossil where the organism brought its own minerals. That can happen very quickly. It can be reproduced in the lab in minutes, and it can be observed to happen in “the wild” in years.

    Then, over a longer period of time, this Apatite can be replaced, molecule by molecule by other minerals.

    It is important to remember that “fossilization” is really many different processes, and in fact, the study of the fossilization of a given bit of ex-living thing is itself an important way to understand past environments and paleohistory.

    In short, it’s complicated. It can happen fast, it can happen slowly, and there are people who’s entire professional efforts are focused on this one thing. So, all of the statements made above by Aubrea AND William are somewhat silly oversimplifications. Like summarizing, say, all of epidemology or neurobiology or something with a sentence or two. Except we probably know less about fossilization.

  18. #18 NJ
    December 11, 2010

    Jordan Maeding @ 15:

    same arrogant patronization

    Projection. It’s what you do.

    The entire point was that she (Aubrea) was not critcally thinking; she was parrotting boilerplate creationist arguments that have sat in the refuse pile of science for decades.

    The sources you seek? Start here: http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/index.html

    It provides an intentionally brief analysis from a mainstream perspective, but with links and references to textbooks and the primary literature.

    If you want to challenge a point, pick one, learn about it from the original sources, then discuss it. But arguments from assertion or from personal incredulity carry zero weight.

    Oh, and ‘atheists’? Not all who understand why evolution and an ancient Earth are the conclusions of good science reject the idea of a God. If you have been taught this, you’ve been lied to.

    Aubrea Wagner @ 16:

    And second of all, science wasn’t the issue. (…) I needed to explain why I thought that creationism is more plausible than evolutionism.

    Welcome to a long moribund thread! Most people here will be as polite and reasonable in response as you are in your questions. The section I quoted above, though, illustrates the problem. If you want creationism to be more plausible than evolution (there is no such “-ism”, despite what you might have been taught), science is the entire issue.

    You have to show that a creation-based explanation of the observed features of the natural world is objectively superior to the currently accepted explanations that include evolution and an ancient Earth and Universe. That’s how science works.

    A quick scan of the Talk Origins section I linked to above will illustrate where the bulk of your essay went off the rails. If you want to discuss further (and I would encourage you to do so), pick one topic and make a case. One or more of the posters here will respond.

  19. #19 William Paysinger
    December 11, 2010

    “Most of the time it does take a lot of time for things to fossilize, but in events like a flood, a volcano, or another catastrophe, things fossilize quite quickly (as in a few hours).” – Aubrea Wagner

    Supposing rapid fossilization is possible, it could not happen in a few hours. Being buried in ash or sediment does not constitute fossilization. Regardless, supposing perfect conditions could render something stone in an arbitrarily short amount of time, the following would still not be explained.
    * Independent dating of sediments via any number of techniques.
    * Multiple layers of fossils. Sometimes each layer preserves an entire ecosystem, which would have taken decades to establish.
    * Large number of fossils, beyond what the earth could support at once, showing multiple generations were necessary.
    * In-place marine fossils on mountains, showing that the mountain must have risen since the fossil was deposited.
    * Reworked fossils, showing that a mountain must have risen and eroded since the fossil was deposited.

    For further reading I suggest this well compiled paper:
    Non Catastrophic and Modern Fossilization
    by Glenn R. Morton
    http://home.entouch.net/dmd/fossilization.htm

  20. #20 NJ
    December 11, 2010

    Uh, Greg….?

    Apatite.

  21. #21 Kim
    December 11, 2010

    Sad. Very sad. I guess she either will become stay at home mom who home schools her kids, or goes of to a Christian College where they continue to build upon her ignorance. I guess that if that makes her happy, that is what she should do. Just sad!

  22. #22 Jesse
    December 11, 2010

    Aubrea — been a while since you wrote the thing. Anyhow, the big honking flaw in the argument yo make — or lack thereof.

    “If the betta cells were absent or evolving, how could someone have survived?” is the question you ask. You are making the old creationist argument that a complex system can’t be built up from less complicated parts.

    In the case of insulin and the sugar metabolism, all organisms (well, most of them anyway) metabolize sugars to make energy. The whole ADP to ATP sequence is a piece of that, IIRC.

    In any case, your assumption form the question is that the whole system would have operated from scratch — as though there were some goal to evolutionary processes to get the end result. So, looking at that system, you’d say, “Well, how can that be as an incomplete system like it won’t work with those functions.”

    An you’d be right if that were the only possible function. I’m no biochemist. But I do know that

    a) the betta cell system could just as well have had a completely different purpose in creatures related to us but older lineages. For instance, humans use calcium for bones inside our skeletons. Molluscs use it for shells. We are actually descended from a common ancestor, which is why we use calcium compounds for structural integrity at all. Iron would be much better, and we can metabolize it, and you’d think a god creating things from nothing would do a better job, you know? Iron bones would be a much more efficient solution.

    Anyhow, in the case of betta cells, one could certainly envision an imperfectly-operating system that allows you to live just long enough to reproduce. It’s worth noting that just because a genetic condition is rare and sometimes fatal, it doesn’t mean it will disappear because often the genes that do that to you are used in other things. For instance, sickle cell anemia genes confer resistance to malaria. Put them together and you get the disease, but carriers of the gene will thrive. (This is waaay oversimplified).

    Diabetes genes could serve a similar function. Maybe there is some advantage to having one copy but not two. I don’t know enough about it to gie a detailed explanation, tho, and be sure it is correct.

  23. #23 Jesse
    December 11, 2010

    BTW Aubrea — the other issue is that you take as a given that God exists. I don’t. But scientists, as a rule, can’t make that assumption, at least w/r/t physical laws. That is, you can’t say “I don’t get this, maybe a supernatural, unexplainable being did it, end of story.”

    ANd you have to ask why it is that scientists have had so many real-world successes. The treatment for your diabetes, for instance, would make no sense whatsoever outside of a theory of evolution. There would have been no way to test out anything.

  24. #24 jaf
    December 11, 2010

    I went to a Christian college and I am/was an atheist.

    Then again, I started doubting at age 11 or 12.

    There is still hope for her. She just has to learn that science is about learning and discovering–hypothesis testing–>trying to disprove your hypothesis. It is not about proving yourself right. (Well, you kind of do that by failing to falsify your hypothesis.)

    I went to a Christian college and majored in biology. Nearly all of my science professors were great and professional. (A few were religious but only one was pushy about it, and even he was middle-of-the-road.)

    It’s hard to argue that we make our own decisions when we are children and teenagers. We somewhat do, but we are very much conditioned by our upbringings. It’s tough to say whether or not her parents played a role in her decision to write this essay.

    I also want to reiterate what someone else said above: evolution is not an -ism. An “-ism” is a belief system. Science is not a belief system. (Nor is atheism.)

  25. #25 Brian
    December 12, 2010

    I agree with most of the comments made so far, but I thought that this:

    Since there are only five pages, I will take your comment as a complement. Thank you.

    was a classic.

  26. #26 Brian
    December 12, 2010

    Oh, and also:

    I was under the impression that Type I (so-called “juvenile onset”) diabetes was primarily an autoimmune phenomenon,while Type II was the more genetically-linked form.

  27. #27 Greg Laden
    December 12, 2010

    Brian, both types have a genetic component. The genetic componant of “Juvenile Onset” might be especially interesting, though I’m not sure what the absolutely current thinking on this is. Some time back it was thought that children who had this had siblings with a genetic tendency to have a fecundity linked to fewer miscarriages. Thus, birth spacing goes down for adults carrying this gene, even though some of their offspring have a disease that may kill them before they reproduce.

    Thus, some irony in the fact that we are talking about this at all.

  28. #28 Jesse
    December 12, 2010

    Something else I thought of today. One of the things creationists always bring up is how complex systems seem to work so well together. But I could just as well say that they don’t.

    Take your digestion of food. Pretty efficient system — until just one component goes awry. For instance, any number of little bugs can convince your intestinal fauna and flora to go on vacation, and that leaves you with massive diarrhea and vomiting. In some cases you dehydrate and die.

    OR ecosystems. SO many are relatively delicately balanced. One major shock and boom! It goes away. For instance, change the pH or chemical balance of seawater by more than a bit and all kinds of bad stuff happens to a reef, or even a typical tide pool area (I am from Boston, and boy, did we get a lesson in that!)

    SO many systems are jury-rigged and only work under a relatively narrow set of circumstances. God did a pretty poor job of things, it looks like.

  29. #29 James Davis
    April 9, 2011

    I don’t get, why someone still asks for “evidence” of creation. BOTH theories takes “faith” to believe, simply because we were not there at that moment. My main point is this. something cannot come from nothing. therefore the “source” which is God has to be self existent, self reliant and eternal to create all that we have today. For me, its just common sense!