Testing Evolution vs. Direct Creation

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An interesting video, worth sharing with those who claim that evolution is untestable and that the differences between mainstream biology and young-earth creationism are merely due to the same evidence being viewed through different lenses of presuppositions.

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  • David Evans

    Not bad for an 8-minute video. I thought the early parts were the best. I was expecting the “creation predicts gaps” slide to be followed by a more convincing account of discoveries that fill apparent gaps – Tiktaalik, perhaps, or the various “walking whales”. The latter would be particularly good because creationists used to laugh at the very idea of an intermediate between land animals and whales. The “T. rex is a big chicken” section was too rushed to convince.

  • TomS

    My own taste is, I don’t particularly care for this approach. It gives the impression that creationists actually have something definite to say; moreover it is very easy for creationists to respond, for any of those features of the world of life, that creationism accounts for them: “God can do that.” Or, as they have often told us, about living things sharing features in common, “That only shows that they have the same Creator.”

  • cameronhorsburgh

    It seems to me that the only science Creationism approximates is psychology.

    ‘Evolutionists’ spend their time developing new tools and calibrating them. For example, geologists and palaeontologists figured out the relationship between geological strata and the fossil record. Physics provided tools for dating those fossils and strata absolutely. Biologists were eventually able to add another layer of nuance (and fill in a lot of gaps) when they figured out how to rewind the genetic clock and match it to what the fossils were telling us.

    Most of the ‘hard’ sciences have something to add to our understanding of the story of life, and anomalies are welcomed as they provide a means to sharpen the tools at science’s disposal.

    Creationism responds to inconsistency in data by either impugning the character of people who point out anomalies in its position, or by attributing the problem to God. Either way, the question becomes one of motive, which is the domain of psychology.

    I’m sure a working knowledge of psychology is also useful in the art of huckstering, but I’m in a charitable mood today…

  • Dori

    “About 500 of these gigantic fossilized oysters were discovered 4,000 m (13,000 ft) above sea level in Huancavelica province, approximately 400 km (250 miles) south-east of Peru’s capital city, Lima.”

    “John Lambert came across a pliosaur fossil while building a fence in 1997”

    There’s a farm in eastern Montana where a woman riding a horse just found a triceratops’ bone on a trail. Her family and visitors have found over a hundred dinosaur bones without digging down to some layer.

    I could give a lot more examples of prehistoric fossils found without having to dig down to a certain layer. And according to the fossil record, buffaloes never lived in North America. And what about the so-called Lazarus animals like the Coelacanth, which the fossil records showed had been extinct for 66 million years, but were found alive in 1938. These geographic layers are a joke. Fossils are in different layers all over the place. Only a few places on earth even have layers.

    I’m surprised evolutionist want to talk about vestige organs. That’s a sign of losing something your ancestors had, not gaining something they didn’t. The Bible talks about creation wearing out, becoming less, in Romans 8. I’m also surprised they want to talk about natural selection. When natural selection happens, the best of the traits that are already there, survive and the rest die off. Then you don’t have more of a variety, but less of one as only some of the traits survive. Millions of years of natural selection would only make less diversity.

    I guess one could argue by vestige organs and natural selection we are becoming smaller and more efficient. But if the idea is to become smaller and more efficient, getting rid of everything we don’t need, then why didn’t we all just stay bacteria. They are easily the smallest and most efficient and most survivable complete life form. (Viruses are smaller, but not complete lifeforms) Being complex is fun, it makes it possible for us to use computers, but simple life forms are much greater survivors, as far as being able to continue their species. The microscopic water bears can survive pretty much anything, even a trip through outer space. Why hasn’t survival of the fittest made us all water bears? We are wimps.

    Where dinosaurs the ancestors of birds? Nobody has enough dinosaur DNA to tell. They don’t even know for sure if they were cold-blooded. There are several ways fossils can be made, but the vast majority are just rocks and sediments that filled in a cavity, like pouring plaster into a mold. There is nothing left of the original animal. Other than Medusa, there is no way organic material can turn into rocks. With fossils, it mostly just the body being replaced with rocks.

    If humans had tails, that would be handy. There would be no advantage to losing them. If we had real tails, it probably wouldn’t take us over a year to be able to balance well enough to walk. And maybe we could pick up things with them. So, if we had them and lost them, then that’s part of the curse of creation wearing out. But humans have odd growths coming out of various parts of their bodies a lot. They are only called evolutionary evidence when they are in the right place to be a tail.

    If by evolution you mean favoring of certain traits in certain times and places, then yes, I’m a believer. I also buy that creatures have lost things their ancestors had. But as for bacteria becoming more complex and gaining things that were not put there by their parent cells, then I don’t see the evidence or understand how natural selection, aka survival of the fittest, aka survival of the best adapted, would make them more complex when they survive just fine as they are. Given how fast bacteria can replicate, a person might witness over 50 thousand generations of bacteria in a single year and nobody has ever seen one become even a little more complex. Certainly, the ones that are already resistance to antibiotics survive and such genes are refined, but nothing new appears other than some genes that get turned on and off.

    If the Bible is true, then I predict that animals will reproduce according to their own kind. I also predict that mutations and gene copying will generally make a species worse, as though the original model was perfect and creatures have been wearing out ever since. I also predict that there will be scoffers of His word, that will increase in numbers as the end draws near. 2 Peter 3-7

    “3 knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. 4 They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.” 5 For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God, 6 and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished. 7 But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.”

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

      I am sorry to see that, as was true of me in my teens, you have found your way to certain deceitful sources. All of the above claims and issues are dealt with adequately in the mainstream scientific literature, and some of them have been discussed here on this blog in the past. This might be a good place to start: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/religionprof/2008/09/blogging-creationism-the-highlights.html

      But in the end, reading books by mainstream geologists, paleontologists, biologists, geneticists, and others is going to be the key to realizing that, on the one hand, you have been lied to by antievolutionists, and on the other hand, that mainstream science is not something that it makes sense to attack in the name of Christian faith.

      • Dori

        I looked at your blogs. Didn’t see anything that addressed why perfectly survivable bacteria would evolve to be less survivable complex creatures. Even highly atheist Chinese scientists have admitted bacteria have no reason to evolve. To create a whole new species there would have to be a very good reason that’s necessary for survival. Nor did I see how selecting some traits and letting others die causes more traits to appear. Ironically I did see mention of finding trilobite fossils without having to dig. That was one of the examples I could have given about how every thing is not divided into layers.
        Another irony is that I was more like you as a teen. I believed we evolved from bacteria and everything was related even though I also believed in God. My dad was a science teacher with multiple degrees and he taught in public high schools and a private college.
        I’m now 42 years old. I changed my mind a lot just by studying biology to be my own vet as much as possible since I have so many animals. I’ve read a lot of the evidence for and against evolution and there’s a lot both sides say that I don’t agree with. I don’t tend to easily agree with anything. Yes, I have heard from creationist, but I’ve heard from evolution supporters a whole lot more.
        I know my dad had a problem accepting that anything he didn’t already believe was true. One example – He told me dogs couldn’t see TV and that it had been proven. I believed him without question. My parents didn’t let me have dogs in the house. When I had my own husband, home, and baby, I invited my dad over to see my dog trying desperately to catch the rabbits on the Teletubbies. It was extremely hard for my dad to admit he may have learned wrong, and he only somewhat did. He said if dogs could see TV, it meant the whole scientific community was wrong.
        I don’t think Christian faith attacks evolution. People of all faiths debate about evolution and what it means and how much change can occur because of it.
        But I do want to say that I don’t believe that believing in or disbelieving in a literal interpretation of the creation story is what gets you right with God. I believe only Jesus can do that as nobody else, as far as I know, has even claimed that by dying he could pay for the sins of the world and we just have to accept the gift if we want it. But I don’t like to see creationist insulted, as though we don’t study or consider the evidence, but are just brained washed by the little bit of creationist information out there instead of the vast amount of anti-creationist information most of us have heard our whole lives. The majority isn’t always right and the way that leads to life is straight and narrow and few find it.

        • Dorfl

          He told me dogs couldn’t see TV and that it had been proven.

          I tried looking into this, and it turns out it’s kind of interesting. It seems that when an object (like a prey animal) is moving so fast that you or I would just see a blur, a dog can still see it fairly clearly. This has the side effect that if you’re watching a TV with a high enough frame rate that you perceive smooth motion, a dog might still be able to see that it’s really just a quick succession of still frames. If the frame rate is high enough though – which it will tend to be on newer TVs – the dog’s eyes will also be fooled into seeing moving shapes, just as ours are.

          I think that there’s a moral here: Things tend to be complicated, and it pays to be sceptical when someone makes a simple, unqualified statement about what science says. Especially when it’s combined with an assertion that if that simple statement is shown to be false, that means that the entire scientific community is wrong.

          As a case in point, you mentioned earlier that you’re surprised that evolutionary biologists want to talk about vestigial organs and natural selection, as though you’ve gotten the impression that they are problems for the theory of evolution, that you’d expect them to want to tone down. I really recommend trying to look into what biologists are actually saying about those things, and about how it fits into the available evidence.

        • myklc

          Hi Dori! Bacteria live in reasonably narrow ecological niches. As these change over time, the bacteria must change or die. As the earth isn’t the same all over, we find different kinds of bacteria adapted to the environments they are in. If environments didn’t change, and the organisms were perfectly adapted to make the best use of those environments, then there certainly would be no selective pressure on them. I think part of what is important to understand is that changes to organisms happen all the time. It’s only when those changes confer an environmental or similar advantage (higher rate of reproduction is the environment can support a higher population) that the changes become ‘selected’.
          As for the fossils near the surface, it’s actually a similar mechanism – the earth isn’t the same all over. In different places there are different rates of deposition of new material. Erosion varies widely depending on the local environment and there are other mechanisms such as tectonic and volcanic upthrust which can even flip significant parts of the landscape. I live on the East coast of Australia and have grown up in sight of geological layers of sedimentary rock over coal, with some volcanic material scattered around from ancient vulcanism. The layers exist.

          • Dori

            The microscopic water bear can survive extreme heat, extreme cold, extreme drought, extreme flood, radiation, lack of oxygen. How are we more evolved in terms of survival of the fittest or more correctly called survival of the best adapted? Indeed, the more complex something is, generally the more of a specific environment it needs. Consider the blue whale could go extinct anytime, but we can’t put a dent int he population of rats no matter how hard we try. I live on a farm, I’ve tried.

            Natural selection can make more variety but only by taking things out, not putting them in. (It selects some things and not others.) Like if I have the color pink and could somehow start taking out the red, I would get new colors and more of a variety. But nothing new would have appeared. If a climate became hot, those that lost the genes for long hair would have the best chance of survival and breed the most until there’s a new short-haired variety. We certainly see cases where some traits are chosen to survive and the rest die off. I do selective breeding with animals. But to say that a creature can be born with something that neither of its parents put into it violates the scientific law that you can’t get more out of something than was put into it. Animals can be born with less which is why dark skinned people are known to give birth to every shade even albino. But genetically pure white people are not known to give birth to darker skin, hence the reason scientist believe the first humans were dark-skinned.
            Most varieties, perhaps even all varieties of dogs, are the result of genectic loss. That’s why the weak small chihuahua is not the ancestor or transitional link to the much more powerful wolf.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

            You should fact-check the widely-repeated claim ID proponents make about genetic loss and their lie that we do not see new genetic information appearing as a result of evolution.

          • myklc

            Hi Dori! Water Bears are multicellular organisms, we were discussing bacteria.

            There’s no ‘scientific law’ that says you can’t get more out of something than was put into it, not when it comes to life. It looks like James’ suspicion that you’ve been getting a lot of your ‘scientific’ information from really bad sources.
            Your statement about ‘genetically pure white people’ is confusing, there’s no such thing as genetic ‘purity’, just different mixes with certain similar traits.
            As you appear to have accepted my earlier comments about bacterial evolution and geology, I trust you’ll accept my decision not to follow as you move the goalposts.

          • Dori

            I really don’t understand that last sentence. What’s this about a goalpost?By pure white I meant they don’t have any dark-skinned ancestors close enough that the genes for making darker skin are still there. But dark skinned people don’t have to have lighter-skinned close ancestors to have lighter-skinned children. Their offspring just get less.
            Just about every creature can only survive in a few climates. Evolving to be more complex wouldn’t help bacteria survive in more climates. They can already survive more extremes than most other creatures.
            The law could be called perpetual motion or the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics. Technically, those laws don’t usually refer to living things, but they can. Both laws are about things becoming less and not more and are universally observed. Unless something is put there, it doesn’t just appear by itself.
            I know there are layers in parts of the earth. That’s obvious. But if even one fossil is found out of place, they can’t say that all fossils are in their proper layer.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

            As you seem to already know, but are not applying to this case in the manner necessary, living things are not closed systems (to which the 2nd law applies). And so (as anyone who has gone from being an embryo to an adult human can attest from human experience) the input of energy makes it possible to go from lower to higher states of organization and complexity.

          • Dori

            Calories make things grow, perhaps too much with a lot of humans, but they don’t contains genes needed to give a worm leg. An embryo already has all the needed genes at the time of conception. Otherwise, a dog that lives long enough might grow wings. That would be neat.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

            Please tell me that you are not so incredibly badly informed about evolution that you think that a worm suddenly growing a leg, or a dog suddenly sprouting wings, is what biologists mean by “evolution”… :-(

          • Dori

            Of course I’m not that stupid.
            Even if creatures didn’t get all the genes needed to create a leg at once, they would still have to get the genes in order for them to be there even they are just getting a few every generation.
            Sorry, you seemed to imply that because embryos grow, genes are added to them making them more complex. That would imply that that the more something grows,the more complex it would be and the more features it could gain even if the genes weren’t already there.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

            If I seemed to you to imply that, then I would encourage you to stop reading pseudoscience that keeps you from being able to participate meaningfully in a conversation about science, and read instead mainstream scientific works.

          • myklc

            As James so aptly says, 2nd law of thermodynamics does not apply in open systems with external energy inputs. The universe is closed (unless God adds something). This brief article is explanatory:
            Skin Colour? This article is useful:
            Geologic strata – when 99.99% of a fossilised species is found in a particular layer, it’s determinative. Yes, sometimes things can be dug/washed or otherwise disturbed from their original place. Just because I find a spoon in the knife spot in the drawer doesn’t mean that the drawer doesn’t work, it means the spoon is out of place.

          • Dori

            I read the article about thermodynamics to see if would tell me anything I hadn’t already heard. (My dad was a science teacher in public schools.) I liked the last part of the article that says this implies the universe started out in order.
            The earth regularly receives rocks from outer space and of course the sun, while running out of energy itself, still has plenty of heat, light and energy to keep adding to the earth. But heat, light, and energy, do not contain the genes to create a brain or any genes for that matter. The sun, though very necessary for life, does not contain life. Only on Toy Story and other such shows can matter just come to life.
            I was raised to believe in all the usual evolutionary teachings and God, so I can understand that some people would believe God has been adding to life over time, but I don’t see how it could happen naturally. I was what some would call a theist evolutionist. Lots of things challenged my faith, but the main thing was I hated to think God called a world full of suffering and death good. He promises to restore the earth to how it was before sin. I would hate to think that would be a world full of suffering and death. I’m a vegetarian animal lover so even animal death would bother me.
            I don’t know the percentage of fossils found out of place, but I’ve heard it said many times that if even one signal fossil were found out of place it would blow the whole theory of evolution. I guess they’ve changed to say if most fossils are found out of place it blows the theory.
            I don’t know why anybody who knows about fossils would give them such credit. The fossils lack evidence that humans and chickens lived together. For everything that’s fossilized, there are not telling how many billions of things that aren’t. I have game cameras around the place to monitor predator activity. I have seen lots of photos of different animals. But if all I had to go by were the animals that left behind an image, I would assume there are no squirrels, crows, armadillos, or many other common animals on my place at this time.

          • myklc

            Hi Dori! It’s interesting you say that you’d heard the explanation about thermodynamics before, because your earlier comments suggested that you assumed the 2nd law applied. You seem to think that we believe that life just happened, which is not the case. I know I, and I presume James, both believe that God has an ongoing and active relationship with creation. That, as the bible says, He is the creator of all things. What we’re really arguing about is how we understand Genesis – what type of book it is.
            However, there is plenty of current research that demonstrates how an increase in ‘information’ can happen in biological systems. Much of the research is decades old and easy to find. Here’s a starting place:
            Fossils again? Science says nothing about the absence of animals in your farm, it only examines what is found. Similarly, although scientists might speculate about the status of species that for whatever reason don’t appear in a particular area (say they’re looking at a place where sharks had previously existed, sharks can be proven to exist after, but no shark fossils are found in a particular fossil bed), science itself is just a tool we use to examine information.
            You said you’re unfamiliar with moving or shifting the goalposts.