Pharyngula

Here, everyone: homework!

Hey, everyone, you’re being asked for some help. A certain someone is going to be giving a talk to Hugh Ross’s group, Reasons to Believe, and he wants a list of common creations fallacies and good rebuttals. Remember, RtB is an old earth creationist group, so stuff about a 6000 year old earth is inappropriate.

Please consider taking the time to post a thread on your blog asking readers to submit their nominations for most common/most egregious fallacies or misunderstandings along with suggestions on how to combat them. You can mention me or not, as you think it would be appropriate/helpful. I am sure if you challenge your readership, their feedback would be tremendously helpful to me, and that could make a difference in the sort of impact my presentation has.

My number one gripe is probably general innumeracy. Anyone who treats the likelihood of the evolution of a protein as (1/20)# of amino acids doesn’t understand probabilities or the nature of the problem. It’s not short, but I’d point them at Ian Musgrave’s explication of probability and statistics.

Comments

  1. #1 Miguelito
    December 29, 2006

    The second law of thermodynamics makes evolution impossible. Response: the second law works if the system is closed, however the earth is an open system and the ecosystem gets all the energy it needs from the sun to power evolution.

  2. #2 quork
    December 29, 2006

    Into the lion’s den! FSMspeed to you.

    Evolution by natural selection is not “pure chance” or “purely random”. natural selection is anything but random.

  3. #3 Shawn S.
    December 29, 2006

    Don’t forget the old favorite:
    If we evolved from monkeys, why are there still monkeys?

    -Well, we didn’t evolve from monkeys, but we did have a common anscestor. Monkeys are our genetic cousins.

    Also prepare to refute Paley’s argument from design.
    There is no way the eye/ear/bat sonar/wolf-nipples could have evolved piece by piece. If you take one thing out of the system, it fails.

    -Give examples of primitive eyes (planarians for example, who have merely light sensing organs) that gave a survival advantage. Ask if anyone who wears glasses if they consider themselves with a better advantage at eluding prey than a blind person. Their eyes aren’t perfectly functioning, but it functions enough to give them an adavatage over someone who can only sense light. It goes back to natural selection.

    Refuting a young earth is the biggest issue because evolution is impossible if the earth is only 6000 years old. You better know everything there is to know about C14 dating techniques and other methods of determining the age of the earth and the universe. That’s the crux of their position.

    If you felt like it you could attack the manner in which they reached the conclusion that the earth is only 6000 years old. Even argue it using the Bible quirks. Someone correct me (PLEASE) if I’m wrong on this, but don’t the young earthers figure the earth is 6k year old by counting generations back to Adam & Eve? There are so many holes in this method that it should be easy to point them out, even if you have to point out that the Bible states that people lived hundreds of years. That, unfortunatly, might only grant you a few extra thousand years, which is still insufficient to allow for macroevolution.

    Don’t be afraid to go on the offensive, but be prepared.

    Good luck. You won’t convert the hard core, but if there are any fence sitters, you might at least get them to become more moderate loonies… :)

  4. #4 vhutchison
    December 29, 2006

    There are many sources for the requested material on several web sites, but one single good source is the book by Isaak Mark (2005. ‘The Counter-Creation Handbook’ published by Greenwood Press

  5. #5 Jen
    December 29, 2006

    “the second law works if the system is closed, however the earth is an open system and the ecosystem gets all the energy it needs from the sun to power evolution.”

    In addition, the second law is irrelevant to evolution anyways. People who fling around this canard are using a very simplistic view of evolution AND the second law, seeing evolution as some sort of “simple to complex” progression, and the second law as mandating that things can only “go” from complex to simple (all the while ignoring such facets of biology such as growth, reproduction, etc).

    Organisms MIGHT (or might not) become more “complex” throughout the evolutionary process, but this occurs through a slow system of reproduction and growth which obeys all physical laws. The laws of thermodynamics have nothing to do with this process.

  6. #6 bPer
    December 29, 2006

    Please pass on ‘good luck’ for all of us, Prof. Myers.

    I don’t know if it is too obvious, but I’ve always thought that if I faced such a challenge, I’d like to have a copy of the Talk.Origins Archive with me, for those instances where the opposition brings up something unexpected. If nothing else, it would provide a good checklist of prepared responses.

  7. #7 Greco
    December 29, 2006

    If we evolved from monkeys, why are there still monkeys?

    I have a better answer: if I descend from Italians, why are there still Italians?

  8. #8 Caledonian
    December 29, 2006

    Populations evolve because of the pressures the environment puts upon them, and just because one species evolves from a previous one doesn’t mean that it’s any better in an absolute or even a general sense than its progenitors, merely that selection pressures have shaped it in a new direction.

  9. #9 TheFallibleFiend
    December 29, 2006

    One thing to be wary of: Creationists tend to go to the most obscure thing they can find and make claims you can’t easily refute without access to an Internet connection and about 20 minutes. Even then, the information may not be immediately available.

    The argument that got me started on all this was 2LOT, but that’s already been mentioned.

    I’m also interested in the NS as “pure chance” argument, but that, too, has been taken.

    I’ll go with a newer one – one that I’ve only recently become aware of: the existence of 14C in coal deposits refutes our radiodating mechanisms. It’s not just about old-earth, mind you, it’s about the entire ordering that’s been discovered. The refutation is at http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/CD/CD011_6.html
    with the current best answer being “in-situ production of 14C” (by radioactive materials in adjacent rocks).

  10. #10 vhutchison
    December 29, 2006

    This requested information is available on several web sites, but a good single source is the book by Isaac Mark (2005. , The Counter-Creationism Handbook,
    published by Greenwood Press.

  11. #11 Belathor
    December 29, 2006

    Besides the obvious, evolutionists do not do very well in debate. That’s why the cunnest of them avoid debates. Having to put their complicated sytem of mumble jumble in a concise format to have the average person understand it is not their forte.

    Its a win-win situation for Creationists. It’s always been a win-win situation for Creationist.

    Ken Miller seems to do pretty well…

  12. #12 Unstable Isotope
    December 29, 2006

    I think one of the most common misunderstandings from creationists is the concept that all genetic mutations are harmful, which isn’t true. They also don’t seem to understand that natural selection only applies to traits that increase an organisms ability to propagate. That’s why many non-sensical traits can get passed along – such as gaudy peacock feathers.

    The 2nd law of thermodynamics one is very common. Also the misunderstanding of evolution leading to “better” animals. If you’re talking to young eathers, you should probably read up on carbon dating techniques and plate techtonics. I think they also have alternative theories on how fossils are made.

  13. #13 Caledonian
    December 29, 2006

    “Darwin recanted on his deathbed”

    Lady Hope never spoke with Darwin as he lay dying, and very likely never saw him at all before then, according to Darwin’s daughter, and Darwin never abandoned his scientific hypotheses.

    Even if he had, that changes nothing about the scientific merits of his arguments.

  14. #14 Art
    December 29, 2006

    More on the SLOT – on the off chance that the subject comes up, remember to pack along a bottle with salad oil and water. Shake it up – give it a really good disordering mixing – let it sit and be amazed at the spontaneous ordering of the mixture into two very neat and clean phases. Spontaneous order from disorder, before your own eyes!

    Be prepared to spend a few moments explaining hydrophobic interactions, and how the macroscopic attainment of order is actually driven by increasing entropy. (If time allows, further explanation as to how these same forces play a large role in biological systems, and then why life itself exists because of the SLOT and not in spite of it, and then why evolution obviously is enabled by the SLOT, all these topics logically follow. But that’s about a weeks worth of lectures, if one speaks fast.)

  15. #15 SEF
    December 29, 2006

    How come you didn’t give the TalkOrigins link, PZ?

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

    and the others:
    http://www.talkdesign.org/ (which is not working for me at the moment)
    http://www.talkreason.org/

  16. #16 Mary
    December 29, 2006

    Having to put their complicated sytem of mumble jumble in a concise format to have the average person understand

    If I was to attend a presentation on the recently solved Poincare Conjecture, I’d probably think that the discussion sounded like mumbo jumbo as well.

    Of course, rather than assume that the people discussing the problem are incorrect, I have enough humility to recognize that I lack the expertise to follow the matter under discussion.

    If I did want to sort out the “mumbo jumbo” it would be up to me to get the education necessary so that I could follow along.

  17. #17 J. J. Ramsey
    December 29, 2006

    Try this one: Day-Age Creationism: Genesis 1 got the order of events right.

    BTW, Hugh Ross has a pamphlet (the title of which I can’t remember since I threw it out a long time ago) that says that the unfolding of the creation events in Genesis 1 is recounted from the perspective of someone at the surface of the earth, which is purportedly why the verses saying the sun and moon were created “really” only meant that the sun and moon became visible.

  18. #18 Zeno
    December 29, 2006

    Yes, innumeracy is one of creationists’ biggest problems. They know almost nothing about probability and abuse it dreadfully. Too bad Fred Hoyle made that kind of abuse almost respectable with his silly “whirlwind in a junkyard” metaphor. Darn him.

    PZ mentioned amino acids. I’ve seen some creationists argue that life has to be a miracle because life on earth uses the left-handed isomers to the exclusion of the right-handed — so probability proves it couldn’t have happened naturally. Selectivity implies an intelligent designer.

    Silly, silly, silly.

  19. #19 Hank Fox
    December 29, 2006

    “It’s just a theory.”

    The word “strike” has a certain specific meaning to a bowler – the bowler knocked down all the pins on a single roll. It has a completely different meaning to a baseball fan – the ball passed through the strike zone without the batter hitting it. It has a third totally distinct meaning to a member of a labor union – workers walk out of the factory and refuse to work until their needs are met.

    We sometimes use the same word to convey totally different meanings. Those meanings depend on the context – what we’re talking about.

    “Theory” is one of those words. It actually has several meanings, but two main ones come up in the evolution-creation controversy:

    It has a COLLOQUIAL meaning, a meaning we use in everyday speech, which is something like “a guess I just came up with.” (My “theory” about why my neighbor is suddenly not talking to me is that she’s mad at me for backing over one of her trash cans the other day.)

    It has a TECHNICAL meaning, a meaning which is so different it’s almost the opposite of the first one, anytime it’s used in connection with the science of evolution.

    When scientists use the word “theory,” they mean “a logical, well-tested, well-supported explanation for a great variety of facts.” (- National Center for Science Education)

    If we’re talking about bowling, we pretty much have to use the sense of “strike” that makes sense in a discussion of bowling. Otherwise we don’t communicate, we just confuse each other. It doesn’t matter if someone doesn’t want it to mean that – that’s what it means to a bowler.

    If we’re talking about the science of evolution, we pretty much have to use the sense of the word “theory” that makes sense in the context of science. Otherwise, again, we just confuse each other.

    When scientists talk about the “theory” of evolution, they mean just this: “A LOGICAL … WELL-TESTED … WELL-SUPPORTED … EXPLANATION … for a GREAT VARIETY … of … FACTS.”

    This theory, this explanation for a huge body of known facts – from fields as diverse as genetics, geology, anatomy, biochemistry, physics, radiochemistry, microbiology, plate tectonics, astronomy, paleontology, archeology, botany, oceanography, etc., etc. – is supported by a massive majority of scientists from all over the world.

    If we hear someone – say Ken Ham or Kent Hovind – use the colloquial meaning of the word “theory” – a guess – in a discussion of science, we pretty much have to conclude that they’re either less well informed than you and I are, OR that they’re deliberately trying to pull the wool over our eyes and take advantage of us for their own profit.

  20. #20 writerdddd
    December 29, 2006

    The idea that “micro” evolution can never add up to the emergence of a new species. The idea that “macro” evolution is giant leaps that change one species to another (which never happens according to creationists) while “micro”evolution is only small changes within a species (which is allowed by most creationists). While in reality, lots of little changes are what generally add up, with groups separated by geography and/or time, to cause species to bifurcate (geographical separation) or change into one new species (time separation).

    I’m no scientist, so I hope I didn’t butcher this idea. But I get so sick of hearing about micro versus macro evolution that I had to mention it.

  21. #21 Dan
    December 29, 2006

    Greco:

    I have a better answer: if I descend from Italians, why are there still Italians?

    I’ll do you one better: If I descend from my parents, why are my parents still alive?

  22. #22 Krystalline Apostate
    December 29, 2006

    Oh, hey! I got’s a REAL good 1 for ya!
    http://biblioblography.blogspot.com/2006/12/ligers-and-tiglons-and-ursids-oh-my.html
    Usually they demand some example of speciation, do they not? Lessee, old Earthers, Earth’s not an isolated system, if you hear that old canard about the tornado going thru a junkyard, that’s Fred Hoyle (an atheist! and panspermist), oh yeah, there WAS a prior universe, http://www.world-science.net/othernews/060514_bouncefrm.htm, oh, and Agrippa’s trilemma – “Munchhausen-Trilemma, also called “Agrippa’s Trilemma”, is a philosophical term coined to stress the impossibility to prove any certain truth even in the fields of logic and mathematics.”
    I’m curious if that last 1 can actually make their little heads explode (figuratively speaking).
    That’s about the best I can cobble up on short notice. Hope it helps.

  23. #23 J. J. Ramsey
    December 29, 2006

    Vampyroteuthis infernalis: “Since there is no such thing as a closed system any where, then you’re telling me that there’s nowhere on earth that the 2nd law works? BULLETIN!! The second law works fine in all systems, open or closed. More evolutionist horsepookey.”

    More creationist half-truth. Yes, the second law does apply to both open and closed systems. However, it is only in closed systems that entropy necessarily increases. Bets are off if the system is open. See here:

    http://www.skepticwiki.org/wiki/index.php/Second_Law_of_Thermodynamics

  24. #24 MartinC
    December 29, 2006

    Is the chromosomal fusion event that resulted in human chromosome 2 an example of micro- or macro-evolution ?

    Why do genomic sequences exactly match the evolutionary phylogenies determined though the fossil record ?

    Explain a logical reason for pseudogenes and endogenous retroviruses and repeat elements that appear in the appropriate genomic locations as predicted by evolutionary theory.

    Why do all living things on earth share the same genetic code ?

  25. #25 Michael Ralston
    December 29, 2006

    1) Ring species. They’re great fun!

    2) Crappy probability arguments: They all assume there’s no alternatives. But even if, say, there’s nothing similar to a flagellum that works nearly as well … what about something completely different? (Such as, say, the way amoebae move). Probability arguments all say “well, it’s one in x because there’s x ways it could be arranged”, but that assumes there’s only one – there’s always more. ALWAYS.

    3) I always enjoy dealing with creationist arguments by simply referring to the TO index of Creationist Claims for each point they bring up; but you’ll be guaranteed to need to go into more detail for rebuttals.

  26. #26 Hank Fox
    December 29, 2006

    Okay, I’m going to suggest this to the commenters:

    Pick something SIMPLE. Whoever’s making this address should probably focus on

    1) no more than three main points
    2) in arguments which are not highly technical
    3) in a non-confrontational “me and you are on the same side” tone, if possible.

    You won’t convince many of them. But you’re not there to talk to the closed-minded. You’re there to talk to the fence-sitters, however few of them there are. If you convince ONE person toward more openmindedness, this may have been worthwhile.

  27. #27 Scott Hatfield
    December 29, 2006

    PZ: As always, Pharyngula is the go-to place for people with issues, even puzzling folks like Peanut Gallery. I appreciate your time!

  28. #28 Carlie
    December 29, 2006

    “No one has ever seen a new species being formed”

    Just the first two examples that come to mind -

    Verne Grant, 1966, The origin of a new species of Gilia in a hybridization experiment. PubMed pdf link

    Testing the hypothesized origin of a hybrid species of sunflower by recreating it in the lab, Loren Riesberg and others. link

  29. #29 Carlie
    December 29, 2006

    Oh, here’s another link about the Riesberg lab, refuting the creationist claim that genes can only shuffle around or mutate worse. It’s a press release, but describes in plain language how different species can hybridize to create genetic combinations far superior to those of either original species.
    link

  30. #30 Carlie
    December 29, 2006

    How about “Evolution can’t be tested”?

    Two fabulous stories – one, the whale intermediates being found exactly when and with what features they were predicted, and two, the early fish with fingers, again predicted and found. Both easily accessible in the PBS evolution series, the show titled “Great Transformations”. a href=”http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/evolution”>pbs

  31. #31 Carlie
    December 29, 2006

    Hey! I swear I closed that tag. And, um, did it correctly in the first place, which I obviously didn’t. Sorry about that. Stupid not hitting preview button. I just get so excited about evolution that I can’t type!

    pbs

  32. #32 brightmoon
    December 29, 2006

    youre a biologist …then youre going to get the big bang /physics/cosmology/ paleontology questions ;)

    i get this crap all of the time

    1)time IS variable ..it changes in stronger or weaker gravitational fields (IOW youll age faster on jupiter)…dont mix that up with light being a constant

    2)youre gonna get the gills-are-now-lungs nonsense
    the difference between a lobefin and a tetrapod ..(roughly)is that tetrapods have necks

    3)how organisms speciate anatomically is commonly asked … they have very little idea how genes control gross anatomy (especially asked about vertebrates)and how the same genes control different limb formations in vertebrate species …the evolution of the 4 chambered heart is commonly asked as well

    4)misunderstanding phenotypic expression as purely mendelian inheritance …lamarckism really lives with creationists …they really dont understand that phenotypes are somewhat plastic …..youll have to explain epigenesis – a little

    with creationists its mostly, changes-are-just-bad = evolution

    also stated as

    mutations = cancer/deformity

    5)greater complexity mistaken for evolution (last time i looked at RTB they had an essay on aerobic bacteria being simpler than anerobes (the biochemical pathways are more involved in anaerobes -at least that was on the website then )

    you really HAVE TO get them to understand that evolution is not progress

    6) race ..explain that race is very poorly defined and can mean either subspecies OR polymorphisms

    define human “races” as polymorphisms ..explain that darwin probably meant subspecies when he said races

    7)you know that youre gonna get the abiogenesis and/or early life questions …andrew knolls book “Life on a Young Planet” is good and its easily read by a nonexpert … it gives the geological,paleontological and biochemical evidence for life BEFORE the cambrian explosion and after the Hadean ….brush up on those geological eras too

  33. #33 Corey Schlueter
    December 29, 2006

    “You can only get a dog from a dog”
    With humans and chimpanzees, we are both similar. You can get an ape from an ape, a primate from a primate, a mammal from a mammal, an animal from an animal and a life form from a life form.

  34. #34 brightmoon
    December 29, 2006

    you might have to brush up on the legal stuff (a little)

    flat out explain that religious dogmas are not necessarily scientific facts

    this following is from the evolution-is-a-religion crowd …..
    usually put as evolution-is-a-religious-belief-of-atheism and therefore this should not be taught in USA schools …..

    (answer) religious beliefs can be taught IF they have a secular basis

    AND evolution is an easily observed natural phenomenon …. i usually find that evolution is more easily explained as a simple fact (observation)

    & of course, dogmas are not theories either

    8) point mutations usually arent really random … the genetic code prevents most harmful mutations ….because its degenerate (define degeneracy as symbols standing for more than one sound …like the 44 sounds of spoken english represented by the 26 letter alphabet)…more than one triplet codes for the same amino acid …. and the ones that do change dont change how this folds because of the differnt protein amino acid retaining the same hydrophobicity

    replacing a single protien amino acid wont cause most proteins to change much functionally

    RULE # 1 …creationists are only sometimes ignorant …not all of them are ignorant about SOME the details ( they usually still get them wrong)

    rule # X…. i can’t type, sorry

  35. #35 Manduca
    December 29, 2006

    I’ve been thinking for a while about a different approach: tell them that your purpose is to teach them some evolutionary theory, not to change their minds. Tell them that to argue for their position they need to understand the argument and the evidence used by the other side, and in your experience, most people don’t fully appreciate evolution.

    They already understand the need to consult experts (auto mechanic, plumber, lawyer, dentist) when they don’t know or can’t do something. Offer yourself up as the expert who will help them understand the position of the other side. Do not get sucked into arguments about the existence of god, or whether there are evil consequences to understanding evolution – you are not an expert on these topics. (Especially emphasize *understanding* evolution, not *believing in* it.)

    You probably need to teach some terminology, starting with “theory”, as previous commenters have suggested. I like the American Heritage Dictionary definition of theory, because it admits mathematics as well as science, lets you circumscribe the relevant field, and very clearly delineates the scientific meaning from the common one: “Systematically organized knowledge applicable in a relatively wide variety of circumstances, especially a system of assumptions, accepted principles, and rules of procedure devised to analyze, predict, or otherwise explain the nature or behavior of a specified set of phenomena.”

    Pick just a few topics, or let them make suggestions, and make it your modest goal to show them how the conclusion derives from the evidence. This would be best if there were multiple lines of evidence, and verified predictions. The 29+ evidences, from Talk Origins (http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/comdesc/) is excellent for this purpose. So is Dalrymple on the age of the earth (or Stassen at TO if you don’t have a copy of Dalrymple: http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/faq-age-of-earth.html).

    Good luck.

    P.S. Let us know how it goes – I’ve been toying with the idea of an “evolution-for-creationists” winter term course.

  36. #36 intepid
    December 29, 2006

    It seems to be out of fashion these days but what about pointing out that a creator still needs [an awfully large amount of] explaining, so it’s not a simpler or more obvious explanation for existence at all.

    Also, assuming the creationists believe the whole universe was created at the same time why aren’t we seeing the sky light up brighter and brighter all the time as light from stars further and further away finally reach us?

    And that last point I now realize would be useless to RtB because they happen to respect the big bang theory… so maybe someone can use it instead against a young earth creationist.

  37. #37 fuquier
    December 29, 2006

    Since they are old earth creationists, you may want to look at the Polonium halo argument, which seems to be one of their favorites.

  38. #38 DrBadger
    December 29, 2006

    Just to add to the young earth nonsense (sorry if this was mentioned before), but in order to not offend the creationists, the National Park Service won’t state how old the Grand Canyon is. See here.

  39. #39 DrBadger
    December 29, 2006

    I don’t think we can convert these people with facts or rational thinking.

  40. #40 Lurking
    December 29, 2006

    In my opinion, if you are debating at this level you need to go on the attack. Unanswered questions (no matter how obtuse) will go as a point for the other side-

    My experience with these things is that the Creationists argue thusly:

    There are two ways that the earth/humanity/etc could have happened:

    (1) The Bible’s version

    (2) Evolution/Big Bang/etc

    They then construct a bunch of straw men, and proceed to knock them down allowing the rubes in the audience to draw their own conclusion that (1) must be right because this aspect of (2) sounds ridiculous. Playing prevent defense, trying to guess the inanity of their attack is pointless. If you want to show them up, put them on the defensive- turn the tables.

    Attack the idea of a 6000 year old earth. Crush it.

    Attack it with biology.

    Attack it with Archeology.

    Attack it with Astronomy.

    etc, etc, etc.

    **

    This is not an enviornment in which the evidence will be weighed clearly. The real “winner” is the one that bleeds the otherside out.

    This has always been my problem with these debates. No matter how able the person debating evolution is to parry the attacks– the creationist non-assertions go unchallenged. These folks from Ham on down do well because they know that controlling the format of the debate is the key to looking good.

    As far as arguing affirmatively for evolution. Keep it simple. Use NON-LATIN, common names! People like learning about exotic animals/creatures but use latin and lose the audience.

    Coming from Rural Indiana, and from a non-science background (in a very Baptist family) i have found that things that work best is:

    (1) Vestigial Organs
    (2) Insects recovery from pesticides
    (3) Evolutionary losers: The Malaria/Sickle Cell thing is gold

    Feel free to disagree but that is my experience (of course I’ve had to compensate because I am not learned enough in Biology, Astronomy, etc).

  41. #41 Frank Schmidt
    December 29, 2006

    Go on the offensive: Challenge your opponent to accept or refute the following principles from the Interacademy panel, representing the major national and international science academies of the world

    http://www.interacademies.net/Object.File/Master/6/150/Evolution%20statement.pdf

    We agree that the following evidence-based facts about the origins and evolution of the Earth and of life on this planet have been established by numerous observations and independently derived experimental results from a multitude of scientific disciplines. Even if there are still many open questions about the precise details of evolutionary change, scientific evidence has never contradicted these results:
    1. In a universe that has evolved towards its present configuration for some 11 to 15 billion years, our Earth formed approximately 4.5 billion years ago.
    2. Since its formation, the Earth – its geology and its environments – has changed under the effect of numerous physical and chemical forces and continues to do so.
    3. Life appeared on Earth at least 2.5 billion years ago. The evolution, soon after, of photosynthetic organisms enabled, from at least 2 billion years ago, the slow transformation of the atmosphere to one containing substantial quantities of oxygen. In addition to the release of the oxygen that we breathe, the process of photosynthesis is the ultimate source of fixed energy and food upon which human life on the planet depends.
    4. Since its first appearance on Earth, life has taken many forms, all of which continue to evolve, in ways which palaeontology and the modern biological and biochemical sciences are describing and independently confirming with increasing precision. Commonalities in the structure of the genetic code of all organisms living today, including humans, clearly indicate their common primordial origin.

    They likely will stumble on the common ancestry issue.

  42. #42 dorkafork
    December 30, 2006

    Point out that the estimate of 6,000 years are generally based on James Ussher’s work, and James Ussher was not God. He did this work some 350 years ago, back when Christians also believed the Sun went around the Earth. Make creationism out as a bad interpretation of Scripture. Then discuss the science, and make the argument that if observation conflicts with interpretation, then the interpretation. Near the end, ask them which verses in the Bible say that man did not evolve. Ask them if Genesis 1:26-27 and Genesis 2:7 are the only verses discussing God’s creation of man. All the verses say is that God created Man in his own image, evolution doesn’t contradict that. Homo sapiens evolved from an ape-like creature, they obviously don’t look exactly like an ape-like creature. The verses say God created Man from dust. Point out evolution says essentially the same thing. Amino acids to simple life to slightly more complex life to a rat like mammal to primates to us. Say everyone talks about apes but what about the long line of animals apes evolved from?

    Make this a tiny part of the presentation, maybe bookend both ends with that sort of stuff. The only way you’ll make a dent is through Scripture. Facts and reason will be useless.

  43. #43 Hank Fox
    December 30, 2006

    Reminder of what PZ said in the main post:

    Remember, RtB is an old earth creationist group, so stuff about a 6000 year old earth is inappropriate.

  44. #44 AnInGe
    December 30, 2006

    I think Manduca above hit the nail on the head as far as the best tone to take: explain, don’t preach. If I were giving this talk, I would start out by explaining why the evolutionists almost always fair very poorly in these debates, and i would do so by displaying two books. The first would be the bible (and I would have a slide of the first page of the bible showing). In the left column of that first page are two tellings of the entire biblical story of creation, the two from different (some would say contradictory) views. The second book would be Stephan Jay Gould’s “The Structure of Evolutionary Theory”. 1456 pages to cover just some aspects of one particular arena of the scientific story of creation. One half of one page verses 1456 pages! The biblical stories are memorized by Sunday schooled children by time they’re five. The scientific theory takes almost 20 years of intense study just to get recognized as having some modest level of expertise. The biblical story is dictum: “This is the way it is!” Period. The scientific story is prolonged questioning, analysis, field work, research, etc., etc., etc. Of course the creationist can throw out some one liners that can’t be convincingly answered in an evenings talk. Nor can the evolutionist imbue the audience with all the background needed to fully understand their arguments in that forum. Only a smattering of h’ourdourves (sp?) can be served in that amount of time, and without time for the detailed recipe that produced the h’ourdourves.

  45. #45 Alec
    December 30, 2006

    I’m always surprised that the following argument is not more widely used – it’s a two-sentence home run that should be particularly effective with an old-earth group, as they may be less likely to take refuge in ludicrous arguments about all the fossils being from Noah’s flood.

    1. The fossil record shows that the kinds of animals and plants that we see on the earth now have not always existed.
    2. All animals and plants come from parents.

    That’s it. To deny evolution you have to deny one or both of these premises. Which one are you going to pick, and please defend your choice?

    Acknowledgment to Ian Johnston’s version of this at
    http://www.mala.bc.ca/~johnstoi/essays/courtenay1.htm.

  46. #46 James Fox
    December 30, 2006

    I don’t have anything to add about good rebuttals but you might find this interesting. I attended Sierra Madre Congregational Church about 15 years ago where Ross was some kind of a pastor. He gave a weekend talk to the college group about his ideas. The main thing I remember is him saying that the beginning of Genesis is told from the POV of God’s spirit hovering around the face of the earth, hence to that spirit it looked like plants did come before the sun. (Genesis says plants were created before the sun.)

    Also, on a more freakish note, he said the Genesis flood had to kill not only people but animals because the animals were infected by sin. He told a story of a friend who received a shirt from a witch. Somehow the friend figured that the shirt was infected by sin or evil or demons or something like that, so the friend put the shirt in a lit fireplace and it squealed. Ross seemed very satisfied that the friend’s account of the squealing shirt meant that the shirt was evil, and he used this to explain God’s need to destroy all traces of evil in the flood. It reminds me of the end of Time Bandits.

  47. #47 Bad Albert
    December 30, 2006

    One minor point you can mention: Even if you disprove evolution, you still haven’t proved creationism.

    Very little evidence for creationism is ever presented by these people. It’s almost always something against evolution. Demand things they can’t produce. Things like conclusive results of peer-reviewed experiments.

  48. #48 George
    December 30, 2006

    Ask them why they beleive their creator God, who intervened to make Earth’s first life forms, isn’t anything more than egocentric notion they stubbornly refuse to give up in the face of overwhelming scientific evidence for Dawinian evolution.

    Ask them why they insist on clinging to an outmoded worldview while the vast majority of bright, educated folks have moved on to something richer and more fruitful. Ask them why they aren’t thoroughly embarrassed by their stubborn unwillingness to wake up from their collective God-dream and face reality. Ask them why they insist on idolizing what a bunch of fallible human beings wrote in a book a long time ago. Ask them why they are wasting everyone’s time and exhausting everyone’s patience with their idiotic claptrap.

  49. #49 grendelkhan
    December 30, 2006

    I second the use of ring species. If someone says that there must have been a point where a non-human ancestor gave birth to a human, explain that “is-of-the-same-species” is not a transitive relationship. A ring species is a demonstration of this principle in space rather than time.

    I also highly recommend Dawkins’ one-line explanation of evolution, in response to “the result of random processes”, “it’s all just chance”, “we’re all just random nihilistic blobs” and other such nonsense: “Life is the result of the non-random replication of randomly varying replicators.”

    Skimming the site, there’s a list of positions held, which seems to be the sort of simplistic distortions of actual research you’d see over at Uncommon Descent. I’m not sure if one can get anywhere by picking one of them and explaining why it’s wrong. It’s likely to confuse at least some of the audience and make them think they’re being bamboozled, because darn it, it all seemed so simple in the first place.

    However, they do seem to consider Genesis 1 a good description of early history; it’s just that the “days” of creation weren’t actually days. Perhaps you might want to ask if they think that plants (Gen 1:11-12) are really older than the sun (Gen 1:16-17), or that birds have been around longer than “creeping things”, which I think includes worms and insects. Is it a bad idea to attack the Bible in this instance? I doubt you’d be making friends if you pussyfooted around doing so, so why not point out that, as a history of the universe, it frankly sucks?

  50. #50 Shalini
    December 30, 2006

    ‘Humans came form apes’ or ‘Was your grandfather was an ape?’

    http://scientianatura.blogspot.com/2006/12/did-humans-evolve-from-apes.html

  51. #51 grendelkhan
    December 30, 2006

    I second the use of ring species. If someone says that there must have been a point where a non-human ancestor gave birth to a human, explain that “is-of-the-same-species” is not a transitive relationship. A ring species is a demonstration of this principle in space rather than time.

    I also highly recommend Dawkins’ one-line explanation of evolution, in response to “the result of random processes”, “it’s all just chance”, “we’re all just random nihilistic blobs” and other such nonsense: “Life is the result of the non-random replication of randomly varying replicators.”

    Skimming the site, there’s a list of positions held, which seems to be the sort of simplistic distortions of actual research you’d see over at Uncommon Descent. I’m not sure if one can get anywhere by picking one of them and explaining why it’s wrong. It’s likely to confuse at least some of the audience and make them think they’re being bamboozled, because darn it, it all seemed so simple in the first place.

    However, they do seem to consider Genesis 1 a good description of early history; it’s just that the “days” of creation weren’t actually days. Perhaps you might want to ask if they think that plants (Gen 1:11-12) are really older than the sun (Gen 1:16-17), or that birds have been around longer than “creeping things”, which I think includes worms and insects. Is it a bad idea to attack the Bible in this instance? I doubt you’d be making friends if you pussyfooted around doing so, so why not point out that, as a history of the universe, it frankly sucks?

  52. #52 grendelkhan
    December 30, 2006

    Ah, crap; I’m sorry about the double-post. Go ahead and delete the second copy; MT gave me some kind of error message, and I thought it had choked on my brilliant verbiage.

  53. #53 601
    December 30, 2006

    For what it’s worth, I just posted this over at RD.net in response to Harris’s “God’s Enemies Are More Honest Than His Friends”

    I agree that “atheist” is an unfriendly moniker, but as the underdog in this contest, we can rarely set the frame of discourse.

    Fear is the prime mover for most people, and fear of death probably tops the list (no surprise, since fear of death is very “naturally selected” through evolution for obvious reasons).

    Challenging the faithful on their post-mortem fantasies is for them a psychological death blow.

    For example, if one tries to convert an atheist to a theology she could listen with interest, ask questions, and honestly consider the option.

    In contrast, even suggesting a sub-supernatural belief system to the believer evokes a fight or flight response.

  54. #54 Fred Schreiber
    December 30, 2006

    The Fingerprint of God by Hugh Ross presents a design argument based on the improbability of so many physical constants being so close to the “right” values that make life possible. Ross bored and talked over the heads of his largely devout and scientifically illiterate audience at my university some 15 to 20 years ago. But it was obvious that he thought the argument was terribly important. I think that he may have been trying to make the argument that old-earth creationism was more “scientific.” I’ve never understood how probabilities could be calculated with a sample size of one universe. That never seemed to occur to Ross. Ross just listed one constant after another and described the physical consequences of different values. Since so many values have to be what they are, they couldn’t have occurred by chance. How is that calculated?

    As some others have pointed out, Ross is fond of probability calculations for a specific polypeptide sequence. He makes the standard error of calculating the formation of the polypeptide all at once instead of the stepwise formation described by biologists. If he is trying to show evolution of proteins is impossible, why doesn’t he calculate the probabilities of the biological model instead of his straw man version?

    Ross also calculates the improbability of life evolving. He ignores the difference between equilibrium thermodynamics of closed systems and the nonequilibrium thermodynamics of open systems. It is hard for me to figure that a physicist of his training could be ignorant of the difference. Ilya Prigogine won a Nobel prize for showing how systems became more complex if they were open systems that were pushed far from equilibrium by an input of energy (life getting energy from the sun for instance).

  55. #55 Ed Darrell
    December 30, 2006

    This one only works with financially literate people, especially investors:

    You know those heartless SOBs on Wall Street? They don’t invest in businesses with ideas that don’t work.

    Well, check out the stock market. Genentech, whose business is applying evolution theory to develop new pharmaceuticals, has been a real darling over the last two decades. So are all the pharmaceuticals, and the pesticide manufacturers (see the story on Monsanto’s tracking of evolution on Jonathan Weiner’s Beak of the Finch). Same with agriculture.

    In contrast, there is not one publicly traded company that relies on a creationist/ID view of science to make money in biological products of any sort. Not one.

    Most of the people in any audience who have retirement plans are trusting in evolution to work for them.

    Somebody will respond that all the work those companies do is “intelligent design,” but you should point out “artificial selection” fits better — and that means Darwin was right, since it’s using the same tools nature uses, with different selection.

    Except the genetic engineering, which is done using evolutionary principles to do the cutting and to figure out where to cut.

    It’s not a big winner, but it’s true and accurate.

  56. #56 Inoculated Mind
    December 30, 2006

    James Fox – I’m interested to hear more about what you heard Hugh Ross lecture about. I’m reviewing his latest book. It would be interesting to see what he said years ago and compare it to what he said today. Please email me at karl AT inoculatedmind DOT com

  57. #57 Ritchie Annand
    December 30, 2006

    Remember, no 6,000-years-old bits here. This is a passel of old-earth creationists we are talking about here.

    For fun and amusement, you can see what young-earthers think of Hugh Ross. Answers In Genesis has a whole page devoted to Ross’ wrongness from the point of view of a young-earther.

    Here is another list of Hugh Ross beliefs.

    It’s fun watching Ross argue with Humphreys. Oh my goodness. Humphreys is one of those entertaining people who claim that the Earth started as a sphere of water, and arguing that even though the magnetic moment would have been zero, God did not need to keep it there, and then argues from the zero plus God-added magnetic moment amount.

    So, there will be fewer claims to contend with, but there will be claims to contend with.

    A few more articles against Ross from the anti-creationist side of things: here, here, and here.

    Talkreason.org has a number of articles on Hugh Ross, which can be perused.

    I’d love to find out the outcome of this. This is really walking into the lion’s den. I hope it’s a semi-private event, since this is actually dealing with an entirely “unfriendly” audience (is it not?).

    Best of luck, forethought and ability to think on your feet to you.

  58. #58 G. Tingey
    December 30, 2006

    Keep it simple, and go onto the attack.

    I think PZ has said something similar to this (below) previously…..

    Creationists and I-iots fall into two, non-exclusive classes:
    They are either….
    LIARS
    or
    FOOLS (includint the ignorant, who have been misinformed)
    or
    BOTH OF THE ABOVE.

  59. #59 James
    December 30, 2006

    Try the Cold War as a metaphor:

    Capitalism works through a disparate group of businessmen, each acting in their own interest. There is no central plan, each businessman tries out different ideas, the successful businesses grow and thrive, the bad ideas result in businesses. The result is development and growth.

    Communism doesn’t accept that this is plausible and instead beleive that a system as complex as a modern economy must be planned ie designed by a single authority. Communist economies are inevitably less successful than capitalist ones by any standard you care to employ.

    When dealing witht he Christian Right this may have some persuasive power. After all if you beleive in free market capitalism you have to beleive in emergent complexity, whether you realise it or not.

  60. #60 Shawn S.
    December 30, 2006

    …old earth creationists… oops. I totally misread that.

    I’d have to go with the arguments that scripture doesn’t prohibit the concept of evolution. “Evolution is just HOW God did it.” Even the Paley argument isn’t necessary. If the evidence shows this is how we came to be, then why object? It’s silly to assume we know better than God how he does his job. Right?

    It’s still silly, but if they’re just evolution deniers then it’s also about the science. Most of their arguments are from personal incredulity and misunderstanding of probability.

    I also would have to agree with the posters who suggest taking the offensive. Evolution supporters are almost always on the defensive it seems…

    Atheism is so much saner. I feel like the lunatics are running the asylum so often these days. At least since I got better. I used to be a new age wacko. :)

  61. #61 truth machine
    December 30, 2006

    The second law of thermodynamics makes evolution impossible.

    If the 2LoT were a problem, then growth would be impossible — how could seeds turn dirt into trees?

    The 2LoT argument is creationists using misunderstood science to argue with scientists — like quote-mining, it’s a fundamentally dishonest exercise, and the best rebuttal is shame.

  62. #62 truth machine
    December 30, 2006

    If we evolved from monkeys, why are there still monkeys?

    -Well, we didn’t evolve from monkeys, but we did have a common anscestor. Monkeys are our genetic cousins.

    That’s not a very good response; we could have evolved from monkeys, and there could still be monkeys.

    It’s better to get at the absurdity of the question. Suppose there were only monkeys, but half of them suddenly turned into humans — then there would be both monkeys and humans. Why then think that evolution, which is much more indirect change that doesn’t involve any organism turning into another, should result in no monkeys? Perhaps it’s because humans are “superior” to monkeys and so all the monkeys would perish. But evolution or no, monkeys have not all perished, and the theory of evolution does not hold that, at any point in time, there is only one “fittest” species on the planet.

    Of course, understanding such rebuttals require that one be able and willing to think logically — and there’s good reason to think that doesn’t hold for RtBers.

  63. #63 truth machine
    December 30, 2006

    “Refuting a young earth is the biggest issue ”

    “One thing to be wary of: Creationists tend to go to the most obscure thing they can find and make claims you can’t easily refute without access to an Internet connection and about 20 minutes.”

    “Besides the obvious, evolutionists do not do very well in debate.”

    “Why do all living things on earth share the same genetic code ?”

    “Ask them why”

    “To deny evolution you have to deny one or both of these premises.”

    “Most of the people in any audience who have retirement plans are trusting in evolution to work for them.”

    “Try the Cold War as a metaphor:”

    “I’d have to go with the arguments that scripture doesn’t prohibit the concept of evolution.”

    How can we expect to persuade creationists with reason when so many of us have so much trouble reading and comprehending what we write to each other?

    a list of common creations fallacies and good rebuttals. Remember, RtB is an old earth creationist group

  64. #64 Mike Haubrich
    December 30, 2006

    Here is an odd claim that Ross posted on his site in 2003. His short article does reference the early development and brightness of Sol and that fact that it had 6 to 7 per cent more mass. I have read it through twice, and I not specifically clear on his conclusion, let alone how he arrivee at it:

    A Brighter Young Sun

    Here is his conclusion in the last paragraph:

    “A greater temperature variation allows for a much higher diversity of bacteria at the time of life’s origin. Increasing the diversity, abundance, and stability of life on Earth previous to three billion years ago shortens the time window needed to prepare Earth for humans and human civilization.”

    I am struggling with how he decided that this is a difficulty for the emergence of multicellular eukaryotes 560 million years ago, as he doesn’t reference or provide anything that shows why 2.5 billion years of evolution is not long enough to allow an evolutionary change leading from prokaryotic life to multicellular eukaryotes.

    The article makes no reference to the Sun’s luminosity variation between the Cambrian Explosion and the development of hominids, and so that particular time frame is not affected at all by his claim.

    In the index to creationist claims, claim CE311 addresses the shrinking Sun claim of the YEC’s and the second response acknowledges the variation in luminosity variation of early Sol.

    “The 7 percent change described above assumes no feedback system, but the earth’s climate feedback systems are complex. In particular, the greenhouse effect and albedo could moderate the temperature further. On the early earth, it is likely that greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane were commoner than they are today.”

    I would like to see him present this question and ask for more detail.

  65. #65 Unstable Isotope
    December 30, 2006

    One thing that has worked for me in explaining evolution is the idea of antibiotic-resistant bacteria and flu shots. This is something most people understand and have experienced. It’s easy to explain how the antibiotics kill almost all of the bacteria and that only the very hardy ones survive. These survivors multiply and then we get drug-resistant populations, which tend to displace the one vulnerable to drugs. The reason we can see it is because the reproduction of bacteria is very fast on our human time scale. This is evolution at work. I also say if you don’t believe in evolution, you can all take penicillin and you never need a flu shot.

  66. #66 lo
    December 30, 2006

    Here is my contribution, flawed full with typos a bit incoherent, but the point is clear, and it does not cover original research only what is taught on accredited universities and is in textbooks.

    http://www.rationalresponders.com/forum/sapient/atheist_vs_theist/3707

  67. #67 lo
    December 30, 2006

    in universities of course :) anyhow it is a bit sloppy… for the sake of time.

  68. #68 Patrick
    December 30, 2006

    I haven’t seen my personal favorite yet: Random mutation and natural selection can’t create new information. This one is well-refuted on EvoWiki in the topic “Evolution of new information.”

  69. #69 palmira
    December 30, 2006

    As a physical chemistry I specially like (as utterly ridiculous) the «quantum mechanics» answers denying evolution, the Big Bang and so on :-)

    Some particularly amusing sites (this one, Project Creation, states that the red shitf and the background radiation, this year Physics Nobel Prize, are manipulation of the evolutionists)

    Creationworldview proposes an even funnier theory for the red shift, based on the second law of thermodynamics:

    7-The Second Law of Thermodynamics says that all things degrade spontaneously over time. Why should light be different from any other physical entity in the universe? If light is subject to the effects of the Second Law then perhaps light has become “tired” over the 6,000 years since creation. This might cause light to “slow down” in its frequency, which in turn would appear to us as red shift.

  70. #70 palmira
    December 30, 2006

    OOps, messed up the first link on the previous comment:

    http://www.projectcreation.org/creation_station/station_detail.php?PRKey=78

    I laughed myself out with this «primer» on quantum mechanics, that, among others, offers the readers pearls like:

    «Mystery cloaks these computational steps, although the results agree closely with experiment. The Schrodinger Equation cannot be derived from theory; it simply “works.”» or «It is no wonder that some scientists remain skeptical of the entire subject. »

    Here:

    http://www.icr.org/index.php?module=articles&action=view&ID=434

  71. #71 palmira
    December 30, 2006

    But the star is the oxymor named Common sense Science that ignores all 20th century science and goes back to the good old «classical» science that «permits one to integrate his religion and science and have a consistent approach to life».

    This one is devoted to a holy war against Epicurus and its atomistic ant atheist worldview as:

    «The atomistic view is not universally accepted, but is opposed by the Judeo-Christian worldview with its underlying assumptions, the chief of these being the Law of Cause and Effect».

    And so

    «Atomism is incompatible with Judeo-Christian principles because atomism views matter as independent of God, either because it exists from eternity and denies creation by an Intelligent Designer, or because its motions and events are independent of control by a Sovereign Being.»

    These pseudo-scientists publish in waht they say is a peer reviewed journal called Creationist Research Society Quarterly :-)

    One of them, Thomas G. Barnes, is the one quoted by the Young Earthers as having scientifically proved that Earth is no older then 25 000 years. Once again based in XIX century science that he twists.

    Here you can find the ridiculous theory torn apart:

    http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/dave_matson/young-earth/specific_arguments/magnetic_field.html

  72. #72 George
    December 30, 2006

    Ask them why they need a bunch of fancy “reasons” to believe.

    Flat out believing was good enough for the shepherds, it worked for the Inquisitionists, it should be good enough for today’s up-and-coming, backwards-and-proud individual.

    Why muck it up with a bunch of made-up, invented reasons that mesh very, very badly with science?

    Ask them if they would be willing to change the name of the site to: Beliefs for Believing, or Belief Means Never Having to Say Your Wrong.

  73. #73 Bunjo
    December 30, 2006

    If you get the multiple questions in one breath a la Kent Hovind:

    “Why isn’t the ocean saltier, and why are there still monkeys, and why isn’t the moondust deeper, and why are there no intermediate fossils…”

    there is no way you can answer all this briefly. So ask the questioner which of his or her questions is the most important one (accept no fudging on the issue) and dismantle that one fully. Then you can ask which is the next most important one and so on. This means you get time to answer one question properly and are not seen to have aknowledged the validity of the others by default.

  74. #74 MarkP
    December 30, 2006

    I’d stay away from technical scientific ideas unless asked. These people wouldn’t be creationists if that was persuasive. It all sounds like mumbo jumbo to them.

    You have to speak their language. Have stark simple counterexamples to creationist mythology on hand:

    Evolution violates common sense? Common sense is not always right. Contrast the earth revolving around the sun vs. what common sense tells us.

    Scientific conspiracy? Scientists get ahead by having the latest new thing to overturn old theories. Einstein vs Newton, etc. No one gets ahead staying with the tried and true.

    Quotes? Remind then that creationist authors often take scientists’ quotes out of context and often present them as meaning the opposite of what the author intended. They can relate to this, it’s their favorite excuse for Biblical error.

    No design without a designer? What’s a snowflake? Crystals? Rocks sorted on the beach by size?

    747′s don’t reproduce and pass on changes in structure to their offspring.

    If God created all these “kinds”, why do horses, sheep, humans, dogs, cats, llamas, camels, pigs, monkeys, alligators, hippos, bears, etc., all have four limbs, with digits on the ends, two eyes, one nose, one mouth, and two ears, all in basically the same place on their bodies? Why do all our knees bend the same way (Ostrich “knees” are really ankles). Why don’t we have horses with 6 eyes, dogs with a nose on their back, centaurs, a pegasus, or a monkey with fingers on the end of his tail? All of these things would be useful, doesn’t God have any imagination?

    Irreducible complexity? That’s STUPID design. Look at what people design. They put in redundancies so that if one part breaks the whole machine doesn’t stop working.

    Good luck and please report back on your experience.

  75. #75 island
    December 30, 2006

    The second law of thermodynamics makes evolution impossible.

    I think that this lame argument is convoluted by other factors that people don’t really consider. For example, the entropy of the universe is far, far lower than any modeled expectation that we have ever been able to produce from normal turbulence driven structuring derives.

    “Is Our Universe Natural”
    http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v440/n7088/abs/nature04804.html

    But it boils down to a, uh, (cough), multiverse, vs. an as yet unidentified stability mechanism. So there is no god in the details without an equally unfounded leap of faith beyond the natural stability explanation, even if we’re it, and even if that means that we’re not here by accident.

    Click on my name for a better explanation.

  76. #76 MartinC
    December 30, 2006

    I was going to suggest talking about how recent evidence on the frequency of Copy Number Polymorphisms provides strong evidence that genomic and hence gene duplications are much more frequent than hitherto imagined – thus providing ample material for further mutation, and development of entirely new genes.

    But then again this is actual science and you are most likely to be talking to a group of antiscience zealots.

    Why dont you try to ask them about the biological basis for sex if it isnt to aid evolution ?

  77. #77 J. J. Ramsey
    December 30, 2006

    Patrick: “Random mutation and natural selection can’t create new information.”

    There’s another, possibly older, variant on this one, which is that random mutation and natural selection are contradictory, because “selection” implies a selector, who is not random. I suppose that another variant that one might see is that that random mutation and natural selection are contradictory, because “selection” is non-random.

    Unstable Isotope: “One thing that has worked for me in explaining evolution is the idea of antibiotic-resistant bacteria and flu shots.”

    But the obvious counter to that, especially from old-earth creationists, is “Oh, that’s just microevolution.”

    MarkP: “No design without a designer? What’s a snowflake? Crystals? Rocks sorted on the beach by size?”

    Strictly speaking, that’s order, not design. Of course, the same can be said for biological complexity as well.

    Side note: Antony Flew in his salad days pointed out that the flaw in design arguments in general, regardless of whether or not they pertain to biology, is that one cannot infer that something is designed simply because it is ordered. (Would that he remembered that in his old age.)

  78. #78 Keith Douglas
    December 30, 2006

    Hank Fox: “Theory” also has a precise meaning within logic and mathematics – viz., a set of propositions closed under a deductive consequence relation. I should think this is how it should be used elsewhere, to avoid the wishwashiness of the other two uses, but I’m not much of a linguistic prescriptivist.

    As for the “assignment”:

    Claim: “Isn’t evolution by natural selection just a tautology?”
    “No, because fitness is determined independently of fecundity.”

    (Fill in the rest.)

  79. #79 Satan
    December 30, 2006

    If you take the advice of most of these people, you are going to be really off-base and make an idiot of yourself. Obviously, none of these people have ever read RTB material.

  80. #80 Ed Darrell
    December 30, 2006

    That last commenter has good advice:

    Read the RTB materials. See if you can find someone who has heard their presentations, or get their slides, and see what their arguments are, and tailor your rebuttals precisely to what they say.

    RTB also is on the outs with a few creationist organizations. RTB isn’t gonzo enough, or radical enough, or young Earth enough, or they don’t burn the right incense, or something. Get those criticisms, and understand them — because RTB is likely to claim they are “scientific” simply because the hard-core, young Earth creationists reject them.

    Rejection of one argument is not evidence that a second is valid, remember.

    And, smile, have fun — make sure to throw in a few pictures of your family outings, so they know you’re human and don’t normally eat babies for breakfast.

  81. #81 j
    December 30, 2006

    “That last commenter has good advice.”

    Hehe. It would have been too awkward to say, “Satan has good advice.”

  82. #82 Molly, NYC
    December 30, 2006

    The Reasons to Believe website has a list of Top 10 Scientific Discoveries of 2004 [yes, 2004] that Support RTB’s Testable Creation Model, which might be a source of some of of their talking points.

    That said, it makes me crazy when a scientist tries to refute ID with scientific arguments, like you and your opponent were a couple of physicists debating string theory. Honey, you’re a scientist. Those guys are scam artists. If you confuse the two, what’s the audience going to do?

    The best defense is a good offense. In this case, it’s as simple as leveling with the audience:

    [OTHER GUY pulls some polysyllabic, audience-baffling pseudo-science out of his ass, daring you to refute it.]

    YOU [addressing audience]: Folks, you see what he’s just done? I know most of you don’t follow this stuff. Heck, I can barely follow it myself and I got me a PhD and everything. But that’s the point–Most scientists, when they’re talking to people who aren’t really into science (like I expect many of you aren’t) throw some effort into making the subject as simple and accessible as possible.

    Brother Hugh here is trying to do the opposite: to make it sound like his position is more science-y than it is. Admittedly, it sounds great if you don’t know anything about science. Again, people who buy his arguments are almost never science types. And notice: He’s not throwing any effort into convincing people who are. You think he’s going to give this presentation–heck, any presentation–to some professional science conference, the triple-A-S or the AMA or any of those guys? No, look around. This is it. This is his pitch. You folks are as science-oriented an audience as he’ll ever try to convince.

    We make that point a lot–that scientists almost never support ID–and just to be clear, we’re not saying this because we think we’re such hot stuff. The point is, it doesn’t work on scientists for the same reason a scam based on selling the Brooklyn Bridge doesn’t work with people from Brooklyn.

    But going back to my point, if he made it sound as simple as possible, like real scientists do, what would he have?

    “Blah blah blah, and then a miracle occured.”

    I’m sure many of you believe it happened that way. But believing something so adamently that you start with your conclusion and then trying to come up with jazz like this to support it, afterwards, isn’t science.

    Everyone is inclined to believe the things they want to believe. Which is why real scientists design their experiments to keep that from being a factor. That’s why you have double-blind experiments in medicine–you need that objectivity to know what’s true. That’s why ID isn’t real science.

    Believe me, if there was anything to ID, real scientists would be thrilled.

  83. #83 Coin
    December 30, 2006

    Long version of this post:

    The two creationist fallacies which always rankle me most– and incidentally two of the fallacies which old-earth creationists like RTB are likely to be peddling– would be:

    1. Use of the word “information” without clearly understanding what that means. Creationists often form arguments based around “information”, but either (a) have no specific definition of “information” that they are using (b) they have a definition of “information”, but the definition is not mathematically rigorous or is not the same definition of “information” that mathemeticians use (c) they equivocate, using the word “information” in the sense of some definition they just made up, and then claim that this proves something about the kind of “information” that mathemeticians use.

    This often goes with:

    2. Claims that the human mind is not subject to the laws of physical reality. Often a creationist will say that “information” or “thermodynamics” makes it impossible for some thing or other to be done. If their claim was that the thing in question therefore has to have been done by a supernatural entity outside of physical reality, that almost might make sense. However usually they instead of mentioning the supernatural, jump to the conclusion that this must have been an “intelligent” entity– and often, the thing in question is something that humans do. For example a creationist might say that a painting contains too much “information”, and therefore it might have been created by an “intelligence”. The implication is that “intelligence” does not follow the same physical laws as mindless processes do. The obvious problem is that just because something is intelligent does not mean that it is exempt from the laws of physics; the human brain has to follow the same laws of thermodynamics that a rock does. (And if the creationists disagree and actually really think that humans have a “soul” or something of the sort and it gives them magical powers, then they should state this upfront.)

    Short version of this post:

    Any time a creationist uses the word “information”, they’re speaking gibberish. “Information” means something mathematically precise, and mathematical concepts like that don’t work unless you follow the rules of math precisely– which creationists don’t. Anytime William Dembski or Werner Gitt tells you something about “information”, they’re lying.

  84. #84 bk
    December 30, 2006

    I don’t know why you would even want to waste your time with them, as no amount of fact will change their minds. But, since your going, maybe look at some archives of where they have claimed that their “testable creation model” predicted something, and rip it apart. (I’d offer some specific help but I’m not a biologist.) From what I’ve seen of the RTB site, the “model” predicts EVERYTHING (which of course means it predicts nothing).

    Good luck.

  85. #85 Satan
    December 30, 2006

    Quote:
    “Again, people who buy his arguments are almost never science types. And notice: He’s not throwing any effort into convincing people who are.”

    Wrong again bucko. RTB regularly schedules events at secular college campuses and they pack out the house. I hate when that happens!

  86. #86 Carlie
    December 30, 2006

    But normally, those college campus auditoria are not filled with the science majors, except those there to heckle. In many cases, they’re not even filled with anyone associated with the campus at all. They’ve just rented a nice big hall that happens to be on campus, so that everyone can feel all cerebral and they can turn around and claim that the school supports them.

  87. #87 PZ Myers
    December 30, 2006

    Yes, I’ve been to creationist talks in auditoriums at St Cloud State and UMTC that were packed to the rafters — and there was maybe one student for every 100 people, and faculty were even scarcer.

    I was also told by one administrator that they were constantly annoyed by these people. They would get lots of requests (ummm, demands) to have these talks in science buildings, because of the cachet. And they had to let them do it, because they can’t discriminate against religious groups, even when their message is explicitly anti-science.

    It’s actually a real shame that the only reason many people have seen the inside of a college science lecture hall is because they’re there to hear some fraud lying for Jesus.

  88. #88 Pierce R. Butler
    December 30, 2006

    grendelkhan, Mike Haubrich & Molly, NYC have the right idea: go to reasons.org and scout what Hugh ‘n’ Fuz are peddling. In particular, check out the mp3s, especially the one where Hugh Ross came up against Eugenie Scott, to get a feel for how they respond to reality-based comments.

    Are you experienced with debating fundies? If not, pls put the factual material to one side and spend the majority of your time consulting with those who are, and watching tapes of such confrontations. The key factor here is getting the audience on your side; technical expertise is secondary at best.

  89. #89 Dodd
    December 30, 2006

    I’m seeing a lot of “us vs. them” in this discussion, but are y’all sure that’s really accurate? Is it possible that this lecturer and his audience have some common beliefs?
    Here’s how I’d start my lecture:
    Science is all about questions, and uncertainty. Let me ask you a question. Is there anything I could say, anything I could discover that would shake your certainty that God exists?
    [Resounding NO]
    Well, we’re in agreement then.
    But in the past, people were certain that to truly believe in God, you had to believe that the sun orbits the earth, because, as the center of Creation, earth must be the center of the universe. We think that’s kind of silly now, but it wasn’t silly to them.
    [See where I'm heading?]
    Now, let me suggest a question that you should ask me: is there anything that could shake my certainty that evolution did happen, is happening, and will continue to happen?
    The answer is “Sure! Lots of things would do it.” In undisturbed sedimentary rock layers (like at the Grand Canyon) find me one raccoon fossil UNDER a dinosaur fossil. Show me a vertebrate skeleton that has some feature that’s totally different from every other vertebrate skeleton that’s ever been. [Can you think of others?]
    That’s the thing about scientists – we’re always looking for uncomfortable facts, just to prove ourselves wrong. People of faith don’t need to do that, of course, just as we don’t need to look for evidence that we’re right.
    Yes, this is just a long version of Science tends to be falsifiable; God is not. Don’t challenge their faith!

  90. #90 Satan
    December 30, 2006

    Quote: “Is there anything I could say, anything I could discover that would shake your certainty that God exists?” This has already been tried and the answer was not what was expected. They’re not as stupid as most the people on this blog. Do what I tell you. After all, I am your boss!

  91. #91 David Marjanovi?
    December 30, 2006

    In undisturbed sedimentary rock layers (like at the Grand Canyon) find me one raccoon fossil UNDER a dinosaur fossil. Show me a vertebrate skeleton that has some feature that’s totally different from every other vertebrate skeleton that’s ever been. [Can you think of others?]

    Be careful with your examples. A Mesozoic raccoon would of course be a major surprise, but it wouldn’t outright falsify evolution; it could be explained away by claiming that the mammalian fossil record is quite a bit worse than we already used to think. Likewise, many vertebrate skeletons have features that are different from all others; you’re probably thinking of vertebrates with, say, more than four extremities (like your average dragon — 4 legs, 2 wings), but say so.

  92. #92 David Marjanovi?
    December 30, 2006

    In undisturbed sedimentary rock layers (like at the Grand Canyon) find me one raccoon fossil UNDER a dinosaur fossil. Show me a vertebrate skeleton that has some feature that’s totally different from every other vertebrate skeleton that’s ever been. [Can you think of others?]

    Be careful with your examples. A Mesozoic raccoon would of course be a major surprise, but it wouldn’t outright falsify evolution; it could be explained away by claiming that the mammalian fossil record is quite a bit worse than we already used to think. Likewise, many vertebrate skeletons have features that are different from all others; you’re probably thinking of vertebrates with, say, more than four extremities (like your average dragon — 4 legs, 2 wings), but say so.

  93. #93 David Marjanovi?
    December 30, 2006

    Now, a Precambrian raccoon…

  94. #94 David Marjanovi?
    December 30, 2006

    Now, a Precambrian raccoon…

  95. #95 Molly, NYC
    December 30, 2006

    Satan – Is it your belef, then, that merely being on a college campus imbues people with some understanding of, or enthusiasm for, science? Have you ever been on a college campus?

  96. #96 grendelkhan
    December 30, 2006

    Well, Molly, it certainly imbues people with enthusiasm for beer… and those stupid goddamn trucker hats. And sweatpants with writing along the butt.

  97. #97 Molly, NYC
    December 30, 2006

    grendelkhan – Silly, that comes from going to Walmart.

  98. #98 Coin
    December 30, 2006

    grendelkhan – Silly, that comes from going to Walmart.

    Being a college student necessarily means going to Walmart.

  99. #99 Torbjörn Larsson
    December 31, 2006

    What annoys me most is the often used false dichotomy that if evolution would be false, creationism is proved. YEC/OEC doesn’t rely solely on this, but ID does. (Because in order to give positive testable predictions they would have to describe the designer and give away that it is religion.)

    PZ mentioned the large number mistake. A related probabilistic mistake used is the perspective mistake, a variant of the Texas sharpshooter fallacy. A texan shoots at the side of the barn (a certainty, old hypothesis), when paints a target (low probability for hit, new hypothesis).

    Often used as: Life exists (a certainty, old hypothesis), what is the random probability for assembling a cell (low probability, new hypothesis)? (As PZ’s reference noted, we don’t know yet.) The planet system contains an earth, what is the random probability to get size et cetera correct? The physical parameters are compatible for life, what is the random probability for finetuning?

    The point is that we don’t know these probabilities because we don’t know what the hypothesis is yet.

    And creationists often ask the wrong question because they ask for a reverse probability. For example, even if life could have low probability given a naturalistic universe, this doesn’t automatically mean a naturalistic universe has the low probability they want.

    the entropy of the universe is far, far lower than any modeled expectation

    Not any more. Eternal inflation has naturally explained the initial low entropy and the arrow of time for quite some time. ( http://arxiv.org/PS_cache/hep-th/pdf/0503/0503195.pdf ) Until these models are ruled out, this isn’t a question which raise concern. (And I have never heard a creationist raise this point, BTW.)

  100. #100 Torbjörn Larsson
    December 31, 2006

    What annoys me most is the often used false dichotomy that if evolution would be false, creationism is proved. YEC/OEC doesn’t rely solely on this, but ID does. (Because in order to give positive testable predictions they would have to describe the designer and give away that it is religion.)

    PZ mentioned the large number mistake. A related probabilistic mistake used is the perspective mistake, a variant of the Texas sharpshooter fallacy. A texan shoots at the side of the barn (a certainty, old hypothesis), when paints a target (low probability for hit, new hypothesis).

    Often used as: Life exists (a certainty, old hypothesis), what is the random probability for assembling a cell (low probability, new hypothesis)? (As PZ’s reference noted, we don’t know yet.) The planet system contains an earth, what is the random probability to get size et cetera correct? The physical parameters are compatible for life, what is the random probability for finetuning?

    The point is that we don’t know these probabilities because we don’t know what the hypothesis is yet.

    And creationists often ask the wrong question because they ask for a reverse probability. For example, even if life could have low probability given a naturalistic universe, this doesn’t automatically mean a naturalistic universe has the low probability they want.

    the entropy of the universe is far, far lower than any modeled expectation

    Not any more. Eternal inflation has naturally explained the initial low entropy and the arrow of time for quite some time. ( http://arxiv.org/PS_cache/hep-th/pdf/0503/0503195.pdf ) Until these models are ruled out, this isn’t a question which raise concern. (And I have never heard a creationist raise this point, BTW.)

  101. #101 Pete Buchholz
    December 31, 2006

    Having read some of their site, I’m not entirely clear on their view of the Biblical Flood. One common fallacy that creationists use is that a flood could have happened. My oft repeated challenge to the creationists is as follows:

    1) Where did the water come from?
    2) Where did the water go?
    3) Why does the rock record show absolutely no data suggesting a global (or even extremely large) flood happened?

  102. #102 island
    December 31, 2006

    the entropy of the universe is far, far lower than any modeled expectation

    Not any more. Eternal inflation has naturally explained the initial low entropy and the arrow of time for quite some time.

    Well, I certainly do hope that you’ve corrected Sean Carroll for writing that crap into Nature and the hep archives.

    Date: Tue, 13 Dec 2005 22:04:17 GMT

    Except that neither of us was talking about inflation, per se.

  103. #103 Tom McCann
    December 31, 2006

    Can I recommend a very worthwhile book which examines the role of quantum theory in reducing the vast odds against self-replicating molecules occurring. It is by a fellow Northern-Irishman called John Joe McFadden. The book is called Quantum Evolution and is an attempt to show how quantum phenomena can greatly reduce the odds of the improbable.

    See this page for reviews: http://www.surrey.ac.uk/qe/Reviews.htm

  104. #104 island
    December 31, 2006

    The book is called Quantum Evolution and is an attempt to show how quantum phenomena can greatly reduce the odds of the improbable.

    The least action principle reduces them to NA.

  105. #105 MpM
    December 31, 2006

    You might want to start with a basic question…
    “Which Creation story am I debating…. Genesis? The Four Creations of the Hopi Native Americans? the Record of Ancient Kings (Japan)? Brahma the Creator (India)?”

    Then, for the remainder of the debate, every time someone points out that Evolution is just a theory, not agreed on by all scientists, you can point out that Creation suffers far greater inconsistencies than Evolution.

    If they go to the “Unkown Designer” as a last resort, you can laugh it off, pointing out that they are truly in a minority, even amongst Creationists. (I’ve never met one that actually BELIEVES in an Unkown Designer.)

    You cannot disprove Creation Theory, because it is not a theory. You can however, conflate their arguments with nonsense alternatives that few in the audience will embrace. Now that their Creation Theory is put in perspective with other world mythology, contrast that with observation and measurements… Evolution. At a minimum, you will get some folk questioning.

  106. #106 Alec
    December 31, 2006

    I’ve been looking more around Ian Johnston’s web pages and can’t recommend them highly enough to anyone involved in debating these issues or just thinking about them. He makes the case absolutely clear, in a very calm, rational, non-belligerent way. I particularly like the way he keeps concepts distinct that often get muddled in the heat of debate: e.g., the observed facts of evolution are not the same thing as the Darwinian explanation for the mechanisms of evolution; allegorical interpretations of Genesis are not the same thing as literal ones; intelligent design is not (necessarily) the same thing as special creation; disagreements between evolutionary biologists are not the same thing as disagreements about the basic validity of evolution; disproving one theory is not the same thing as proving another; etc. Check them out at
    http://www.mala.bc.ca/~johnstoi/essays/courtenay1.htm.
    http://www.mala.bc.ca/~johnstoi/essays/courtenay2.htm
    http://www.mala.bc.ca/~johnstoi/essays/creationism.htm
    I don’t know anything about Ian except for the little biographical information on his web site, but my hat is off to him. Your reader who is preparing to debate RTB should run, not walk, to these pages.

  107. #107 Dale Stanbrough
    December 31, 2006

    I agree with Molly from NYC. You need to attack the style of arguments more than you attack the position being advanced. I watched through a number of Kent Hovind videos, and he is very slick. He constantly bombards you with “facts” (a la the Gish Gallop).

    Instead of trying to play catch up, you need to make fun of his style of argument.

  108. #108 Torbjörn Larsson
    January 1, 2007

    Well, I certainly do hope that you’ve corrected Sean Carroll for writing that crap into Nature and the hep archives.

    I think you have to be more specific. Carroll and Chen has a cosmological model explaining the initial low entropy in a pocket universe in a similar manner as eternal inflation. “We therefore believe that inflation does provide natural initial conditions for the universe we see, once we place it in the proper context of a larger spacetime that is stubbornly trying to increase its entropy.” The difference is that they criticize the usual reasoning behind the randomly low entropy proto-inflationary patch for the multiverse. ( http://preposterousuniverse.blogspot.com/2004/10/arrow-of-time.html ; http://arxiv.org/PS_cache/gr-qc/pdf/0505/0505037.pdf )

    Assuming this critique is what you are referring to, I’m not sure if their reasoning is considered to refute semiclassical eternal inflation, or that it even apply for causal patch eternal inflation where the patches should invalidate the assumptions behind their probability argument. It is also hard to tell if it applies to Linde’s infinitely old eternal inflation multiverse since initial conditions could be taken as pushed out of the model.

    But such critique wasn’t the point anyway. You said that there were no models explaining the observed entropy, and I pointed out that there was. Thanks for bringing up Carroll’s model to support this point, since I forgot it.

    intelligent design is not (necessarily) the same thing as special creation;

    Well, Johnston seems to think interventionism is compatible with evolution (theistic evolution). That is a specious argument since any intervention means a special creation has taken (will take) place. Theistic evolution is also creationism, albeit it accepts actual science.

  109. #109 Torbjörn Larsson
    January 1, 2007

    Well, I certainly do hope that you’ve corrected Sean Carroll for writing that crap into Nature and the hep archives.

    I think you have to be more specific. Carroll and Chen has a cosmological model explaining the initial low entropy in a pocket universe in a similar manner as eternal inflation. “We therefore believe that inflation does provide natural initial conditions for the universe we see, once we place it in the proper context of a larger spacetime that is stubbornly trying to increase its entropy.” The difference is that they criticize the usual reasoning behind the randomly low entropy proto-inflationary patch for the multiverse. ( http://preposterousuniverse.blogspot.com/2004/10/arrow-of-time.html ; http://arxiv.org/PS_cache/gr-qc/pdf/0505/0505037.pdf )

    Assuming this critique is what you are referring to, I’m not sure if their reasoning is considered to refute semiclassical eternal inflation, or that it even apply for causal patch eternal inflation where the patches should invalidate the assumptions behind their probability argument. It is also hard to tell if it applies to Linde’s infinitely old eternal inflation multiverse since initial conditions could be taken as pushed out of the model.

    But such critique wasn’t the point anyway. You said that there were no models explaining the observed entropy, and I pointed out that there was. Thanks for bringing up Carroll’s model to support this point, since I forgot it.

    intelligent design is not (necessarily) the same thing as special creation;

    Well, Johnston seems to think interventionism is compatible with evolution (theistic evolution). That is a specious argument since any intervention means a special creation has taken (will take) place. Theistic evolution is also creationism, albeit it accepts actual science.

  110. #110 Torbjörn Larsson
    January 1, 2007

    To be more correct, theistic evolution accepts the results of actual science. It is the naturalistic model they can’t bear.

  111. #111 Torbjörn Larsson
    January 1, 2007

    To be more correct, theistic evolution accepts the results of actual science. It is the naturalistic model they can’t bear.

  112. #112 island
    January 1, 2007

    Torbjörn,

    You said that there were no models explaining the observed entropy

    No, I didn’t say that. I said that the entropy of the universe is far, far lower than any modeled expectation that we have ever been able to produce from normal turbulence driven structuring.

    But you hacked that last part right out of the context, before ignoring what I wrote about the multiverse option.

    Thanks for bringing up Carroll’s model to support this point, since I forgot it.

    Um, the paper was linked in my first post, and I swear, every time that I talk to you, it’s like you read less of what is written before deciding that you’ve got it all figured out.

    I also said that leaves us with either, an infinite sea of possibilites, or an as yet unidentified structure mechanism… that eliminates all other possibilities.

    But multiverses and eternal inflationary speculations do not supercede the most apparent implications of the evidence, unless you can prove that it is real or at least, really relevant and necessary to the ToE, and/or/maybe a valid proven theory of quantum gravity.

    Until you can do that, the **most apparent** implication of the evidence is that we are relevant and necessary to the structure of the universe, but that is not an argument for god, nor intelligent design… WAS my point.

  113. #113 Torbjörn Larsson
    January 2, 2007

    That is a specious argument since any intervention means a special creation has taken (will take) place.

    I’m wrong, since special creation should refer to entirely supernatural creation. This is more like assisted creation.

    island:

    No, I didn’t say that. I said that the entropy of the universe is far, far lower than any modeled expectation that we have ever been able to produce from normal turbulence driven structuring.

    But you hacked that last part right out of the context, before ignoring what I wrote about the multiverse option.

    Yes, I did that since the initial low entropy is neither explained nor discussed with structuring. If you are thinking of gravitational structuring and 2LOT, theoretical physicist John Baez has a simple description why it isn’t a problem. ( http://math.ucr.edu/home/baez/entropy.html.)

    the paper was linked in my first post,

    I could not get access, so I didn’t see the connection. This time I happened to press the pdf option, and find that it is downloadable though the “full text” option asks for $$$. Go figure.

    Until you can do that, the **most apparent** implication of the evidence is that we are relevant and necessary to the structure of the universe,

    Nothing in the paper you linked to supports this. Indeed, there is no such hypothesis discussed in physics which it should be if it is **most apparent**.

  114. #114 Torbjörn Larsson
    January 2, 2007

    That is a specious argument since any intervention means a special creation has taken (will take) place.

    I’m wrong, since special creation should refer to entirely supernatural creation. This is more like assisted creation.

    island:

    No, I didn’t say that. I said that the entropy of the universe is far, far lower than any modeled expectation that we have ever been able to produce from normal turbulence driven structuring.

    But you hacked that last part right out of the context, before ignoring what I wrote about the multiverse option.

    Yes, I did that since the initial low entropy is neither explained nor discussed with structuring. If you are thinking of gravitational structuring and 2LOT, theoretical physicist John Baez has a simple description why it isn’t a problem. ( http://math.ucr.edu/home/baez/entropy.html.)

    the paper was linked in my first post,

    I could not get access, so I didn’t see the connection. This time I happened to press the pdf option, and find that it is downloadable though the “full text” option asks for $$$. Go figure.

    Until you can do that, the **most apparent** implication of the evidence is that we are relevant and necessary to the structure of the universe,

    Nothing in the paper you linked to supports this. Indeed, there is no such hypothesis discussed in physics which it should be if it is **most apparent**.

The site is currently under maintenance and will be back shortly. New comments have been disabled during this time, please check back soon.