Dad vs. Bill

Here’s another from the annals of my father’s facebook adventures.

Bill says…

He does exist – if He didn’t none of this matters, including this discussion. Until science can create life from complete lifelessness, including creating whatever materials they need out of thin air evolution is a farce. Also, if God did not create us – how come a new, more advanced species has not evolved from human beings yet. And, when finite man starts questioning an infinite God, there’s a few questions He once asked someone in the Old Testament. I suggest you read Job 38-40 for some answers to your doubt.

Dad was not convinced.

Bill asks, “Also, if God did not create us – how come a new, more advanced species has not evolved from human beings yet?”

That’s easy…not enough time has gone by for that to happen, plus we are efficient enough that the need for that kind of change hasn’t occurred, and the environment has been stable enough to not demand that kind of change.

Let’s look at the first part: time. Modern humans evolved in Africa possibly from Homo heidelbergensis and migrated out of the continent some 50,000 to 100,000 years ago. The family Hominidae, or Great Apes, diverged from the Hylobatidae family 15 to 20 million years ago, and around 14 million years ago, the Ponginae diverged from the Hominidae family. So, that quesion of Bill’s is essentially, “Why hasn’t a 20 million year process happened in 75,000 years?”
The simple answer is that 75,000 years is a tiny fraction of the necessary time for the process.

Let’s look at demand for change. Our planet has been fairly stable for that 75,000 m/l year period, and everyone knows that evolution is driven by the need to adapt.

Last, let’s look at efficiency: We are at the top of the food chain. We are the alpha predator. There really isn’t anything driving us to evolve quickly.

That doesn’t mean humans are not evolving, however.

“In fact, the team identified more than 10,000 selection events (i.e., stretches of DNA bearing the marks of natural selection) that seem to have taken place in the past 80,000 years of human history. Interestingly, the researchers found that most of these selection events traced to the recent past, with the largest numbers having arisen in the last 10,000 years.”

http://evolution.berkeley.edu/evolibrary/news/080101_recenthumanevo

Instead of asking a frivolous question like that, just read up on evolutionary biology, genetics, anthropology, paleoanthropology, natural sciences, ontogeny, phylogeny, molecular biology, and the fossil record.

Bill fired back.

John, can you explain in simple terms How life started from nothingness. It is mathematically more likely that creationism is the proper way we got here than life just appearing out of nothingness. Intelligent design is much more likely. Also, with all the advanced technologies and advanced studies – how come nobody has found the “missing link” of the evolution chain? The answer is simple – Darwin was wrong. The Big Bang theory exists – God said let there Be and Bang it was. As far as your time frame goes there are several notable scientists that have also said we haven’t been around as long as claim – that time frame of millions of years is also but a theory. You can believe you came from apes from a chain of happenstance from an initial protoplasm pool that self created itself. For me I choose to believe I was created by an all knowing, all powerful God.

Dad retorted…

Bill, your questions are like asking, “We can fly airplanes. how come we haven’t flown to Alpha Centauri?” It is just too much of a process to explain the astrophysics, space limitations, physics, engineering, etc. to someone who doesn’t have a clue and isn’t interested in getting a clue. I can’ t give you a basic science education that you don’t really want anyway.

As to, “John, can you explain in simple terms How life started from nothingness.” We call this “moving the goalposts”. If you want to discuss evolution, let’s discuss evolution. If you want to discuss cosmology. then let’s discuss cosmology. But, you don’t get to hop back and forth like a cricket. Pick one and stick to it….if you understand the difference between the two, which I doubt.

Also, I don’t agree with your presumption of “nothingness”. We have absolutely no evidence of “nothingness”.

“It is mathematically more likely that creationism is the proper way we got here….” Bull. I’ll wager real dollars your math skills are abysmal and this is something you picked up at some apologist site. Not only is it empty rhetoric, it is something that isn’t mathematically calculable. Show me the math.

“Intelligent design is much more likely.” No, it isn’t. I realize that is your opinion, but you have no evidence on which to base that opinion. At least, I don’t find cancer in your DNA to be very intelligent. http://www.cbsnews.com/2100-18563_162-4580721.html

This question shows your total ignorance of biology and evolution: “Also, with all the advanced technologies and advanced studies – how come nobody has found the “missing link” of the evolution chain?” No one claims there is a “missing link”—except people who are biologically ignorant—but we do claim there are such things as “transitional fossils”, which is what I think you are trying to get at. Anyway, for humans, here are the top ten: http://www.livescience.com/11326-top-10-missing-links.html
For animals, here is a partial list: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_transitional_fossils

That was as difficult as using Google and Wikipedia.

In short, you have absolutely no knowledge of the mountains of evidence substantiating evolution, you just know you don’t like it. You say, “For me I choose to believe I was created by an all knowing, all powerful God.” Of course you believe that, but you have no evidence for it. Evolution has mountains of evidence. You should educate yourself about that evidence.

As to “You can believe you came from apes….” Common creationist ignorance here. Evolutionary Science–including genetics— said Men and Apes had a common ancestor. Not the same thing at all, actually.

Even The Catholic Church has officially deferred to scientists on matters such as the age of the earth and the authenticity of the fossil record. Do you think they wanted to? Of course not. It just reached the point where there was so much undeniable evidence that it was ridiculous not to.

Then bill took it to the next level.

Here’s a couple articles to reference – we all can find sources to verify our beliefs & comments – http://www.icr.org/article/493/ http://bjphill.hubpages.com/hub/Evolution-or-creation-A-look-at-probability http://www.pilgrimtours.com/creation/mathematics.htm and I know there are other studies out there on both sides of the fence, at some point it still boils down to belief

Somehow, that still wasn’t enough to win dad over.

Thank you for presenting additional evidence of your desperate willingness to pick up pseudo-science junk anywhere and post it without even minimal scrutiny. Your blogger’s examples don’t even approach proving what you both think they do.

You really need to read what Morowitz and Sagan said–go to his original work—instead of reading and quoting what some blogger says Morowitz said. In short, you need the context.

“Harold J. Morowitz, Energy Flow in Biology (p. 99), who reports that (paraphrased by Coppedge) “under ‘equilibrium’ conditions (the stable state reached after initial reactions have balanced), the probability of such a fluctuation during Earth’s history would be…1 chance in 10^339,999,866.” In particular, this is “the probability of chance fluctuations that would result in sufficient energy for bond formation” needed to make a living cell. This statistic is laughable not only for its outrageous size, but for the mere absurdity of anyone who would bother to calculate it–but what is notable is that it has nothing to do with the origin of life. For notice the qualification: these are not the odds of the first life forming, but the odds of enough energy being available for any life to grow at all, in an environment which has reached an effective state of thermal equilibrium–a condition which has never existed on Earth. It is obvious that in an equilibrium state, with no solar or geothermal input, it would be impossible for life to gather enough energy to go on. Who needs to calculate the odds against it? Morowitz was demonstrating a fact about the effects of maximized entropy on a chemical system, not the unlikelihood of life originating in a relatively low entropy environment like the early or even current Earth. The fact is that life began in, and has always enjoyed, an active chemical system that is not only far from equilibrium, but receiving steady energy input from the sun and earth. So this statistic has no bearing on the question of the odds of life.” http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/richard_carrier/addendaB.html#Morowitz

“Even Carl Sagan has been cited, from a book he edited, Communication with Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence (MIT Press, 1973), a record of the proceedings of a conference on SETI. Sagan himself presented a paper at that conference, in which he reports (pp. 45-6) the odds against a specific human genome being assembled by chance as 1 in 10^2,000,000,000 (in other words, the genome of a specific person, and not just any human). As a build-up to this irrelevant statistic he states that a simple protein “might consist” of 100 amino acids (for each of which there are 20 “biological varieties”) for a chance of random assembly, for one specific protein of this sort, of 1 in 10^130. He uses these statistics as a rhetorical foil for the fact that no human genome is assembled at random, nor did life have to start with only one possible protein of a particular, specific type, but that “the preferential replication, the preferential reproduction of organisms, through the natural selection of small mutations, acts as a kind of probability sieve, a probability selector,” so that one must account for natural selection in estimating the odds of any alien species existing elsewhere in the universe, and not just calculate the odds of random assembly like the examples he just gave. Nevertheless, Sagan’s words are used against him by Christians who grab at the numbers without paying attention to their context, or indeed to the fact that Sagan uses extremely simplified equations and assumptions.” http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/richard_carrier/addendaB.html#Morowitz

By the way, Dr. Carrier, the author of this, is a personal acquaintance of mine and a close friend of my oldest son.

Then Bill apologized to my dad for being duped by a quote miner and passing it off as fact.  Just kidding.  He whined about how dad was attacking him.

John I appreciate your intelligent personal attacks against me from saying that I need basic science lessons, that my math skills are abysmal, and that I don’t have an understanding of cosmology vs evoloution. I don’t believe I personally attacked you on any level. Your intelligence is showing through your needs to drop to that level. It seems (from Wikipedia) that there is a corelation between the 2 – “Cosmology is the academic discipline that seeks to understand the origin, evolution, structure, and ultimate fate of the Universe at large, as well as the natural laws that keep it in order.” If I choose to discuss both at the same time that is my right – if I choose to move the goalposts. I am sure you have doctorates in astrophysics, anthropology, mathematics, physics, biophysics, as well as doctorate thesis published on cancers and DNA, since you speak from such authority on matters that come from those fields. This thread originated on peoples personal beliefs on global warming and has resorted to personal attacks against my faith and my beliefs. I stated my personal beliefs on Global warming. I do believe I am entitled to my beliefs without being personally attacked by those that believe I lack intelligence.

Dad would have none of it.

Bill, when you ask questions which show you don’t have a basic science education and that require a basic science education to understand the answer, you shouldn’t be offended when someone points that out.

Yes, you can skip from evolution to cosmology, but your phrasing and timing of doing so indicate that you don’t know the difference. When you jump from one to the other for no apparent reason and appear to mingle them, it appears you cannot differentiate. Your statement shows that also, ” It seems (from Wikipedia) that there is a correlation between the 2-”…what is the correlation between cosmology and evolution (in the biological sense)?

Evolution: Biology
a. Change in the genetic composition of a population during successive generations, as a result of natural selection acting on the genetic variation among individuals, and resulting in the development of new species.
b. The historical development of a related group of organisms; phylogeny.

Cosmology:”Cosmology is the academic discipline that seeks to understand the origin, evolution, structure, and ultimate fate of the Universe at large, as well as the natural laws that keep it in order.”

Hint: in the definition of cosmology, it isn’t the biological definition of evolution that is used. It is the non-biological definition, “A gradual process in which something changes into a different and usually more complex or better form.”

My exact quote was, “I’ll wager real dollars your math skills are abysmal and this is something you picked up at some apologist site. Not only is it empty rhetoric, it is something that isn’t mathematically calculable. Show me the math.”
So, I didn’t say as you claim “that my math skills are abysmal”, but only that I would wager they are. I asked you to show me the math…and you didn’t. I said it was something you picked up at an apologist site..which it was, or at least the link you provided was.

I don’t believe you lack intelligence…but you certainly seem to lack basic evolution/biology information. If you want to complianthat I believe that, have at it.

As to “This thread originated on peoples personal beliefs on global warming ….”.  Why, yes, Bill, it did….but YOU–nobody but YOU—segued into the field of evolution. Here is your quote: “Until science can create life from complete lifelessness, including creating whatever materials they need out of thin air evolution is a farce. Also, if God did not create us – how come a new, more advanced species has not evolved from human beings yet.” Are you saying you can open the door and no one else can walk through it?

  • IslandBrewer

    I REALLY get tired of the assumption that humans are somehow more advanced biologically than, say, a chimp, or a mouse, or a cockroach. We’re different, bigger, smarter, cleverer, but none of these is actually the same as “advanced” or “complex” or “sophisticated” in any biological sense.

    Of course, that point would be entirely wasted on Bill. If he doesn’t even know basic biology or the difference between biology and cosmology, *sigh*

  • Andrew B.

    Bill: I want you to answer my questions!
    Dad: No, you want me to teach you biology.

  • http://pzer0.com Dan

    I… think your dad might be my new hero.

  • Stu

    Bill’s response carries a lot of weight, both for its general scientific accuracy and for its gusto. In this scenario I think it too harsh – consider when the other man references abiogenesis in his first reply. The response is to use toyish language to work in the catchphrase “moving the goalposts”. I mean come on this was the 3rd step of this conversation. A poised response could truly drive a wedge into the other’s line of reason. He seems to have just given account for organism diversity AND the initial appearance/development of organisms by the deity, the godhead, presumably Christian in nature. Well, we KNOW evolution is true, so whence organisms? Is abiogenesis legit? Well, just propose possibilities like polymer molecules, things are that strictly chemical. Only when those things come together in a a well-adjusted fortress (cell membrane) do we start to recognize the archaen, the prokaryotic, the eukaryotic, and it’s on from there.

    In lay terms I think it can really drive a useful wedge to proffer these scenarios. In argument, it is less often the case to have overt admission of wrongness; the battle of ideas smoulders over time in the minds.

    Then again, I am not a more famous contrarian, or activist, or prominent atheism proponent, and I would probably have gone mad by now.

    • Baal

      It’s important when dealing with apologists to comment when they change what they are talking about. Apologists have an evil penchant for changing what you’re talking about constantly. It’s really unfair to throw up a new canard constantly rather than admit anything or try to agree about the prior point of discussion.

      • Randomfactor

        I would think the appropriate response is, “If you’re willing to concede that I’m right on evolution, THEN we can move on to abiogenesis.”

        • Amyc

          That’s what I tend to do. I used to debate all the time on a friend’s* fb page with one person in particular. It finally ended because I told him I wouldn’t argue with him anymore if he kept changing the subject for no reason. I told him “I’ll continue having this discussion, if you can promise me complete intellectual honesty. Basically, if you change subjects that means that you have conceded the point of the last subject. I will agree to do the same.” He never agreed, so I just started adding this line every time I responded to one of his frequent subject changes: “I’ll assume since you didn’t address anything I said and you changed the subject again, that you concede that part of the argument and we are now moving on to the next one.”

  • Baal

    “That doesn’t mean humans are not evolving, however.” <–this is a really important point.

    I've had grad students in various life sciences get this wrong. Evolution, you don't get to opt out.

    • Rob

      Evolution, you don’t get to opt out.

      Can I send you the bill for my vasectomy then? :-p

      • Randomfactor

        Well, modern travel has pretty thoroughly nixed the geographic isolation that’s a major factor in speciation. Of course, we’re quite likely going to have to give up a lot of that travel soon, so…

  • Zach

    The only thing that doesn’t really evolve is the arguments from religious people.

    • advent-gred

      give it a few hundred thousand years.

  • Zinc Avenger (Sarcasm Tags 3.0 Compliant)

    That “missing link” drivel is enough to drive me batty. It’s like creationists saying there’s no number between 0 and 10, and every time someone brings out a number like 5.2 they say “But there’s no number between 5.2 and 10!”

    • http://faehnri.ch/ eric

      Densely ordered sets were created by those atheist mathematicians!

    • ButchKitties

      It’s even worse than that. If you bring up 5.2 as a counterexample they say, “Now you have TWO sets of missing numbers. Before you were just missing a set between 0 and 10, but now you’re missing the set between 0 and 5.2 and the set between 5.2 and 10.”
      They’ve managed to mutate Zeno’s paradox so that every transitional form we find increases the number of missing links.

  • http://faehnri.ch/ eric

    Oh man.

    He does exist – if He didn’t none of this matters, including this discussion

    Wishful thinking.

    Until science can create life from complete lifelessness, including creating whatever materials they need out of thin air evolution is a farce.

    Until science can create a star from hydrogen that isn’t going through fusion, the solar system is a farce.

    when finite man starts questioning an infinite God, there’s a few questions He once asked someone in the Old Testament. I suggest you read Job 38-40 for some answers to your doubt.

    There were times Frodo doubted himself, I suggest you read The Return of the King of the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

    Man, I kinda wish some of the fundies I know on Facebook would get into it with me.

    • Randomfactor

      If there’s no cop to see you rob the bank, it still matters.

  • Otrame

    I think I am going to make a t-shirt: “JT’s Dad is my hero.”

  • http://yetanotheratheist.com TerranRich

    I’m reminded of the Futurama “missing links” scene where Prof. Farnsworth trots out about 20 or so missing links until he’s finally stumped, and the gorilla he’s talking to claims victory.

    “I don’t want to live on this planet anymore.” :-|

    • bbqburrito

      Excuse you, Dr. Banjo is an orangutan, as were his father and grandfather before him

  • Derek

    Does JT’s Dad have his own blog somewhere? I always try to find it so I can read more than what makes it to WWJTD, but alas, it remains hidden from me. =(


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