Friday, December 09, 2005

An Index to Creationist Claims

I just stumbled across the amazingly comprehensive An Index to Creationist Claims:

Creationist claims are numerous and varied, so it is often difficult to track down information on any given claim. Plus, creationists constantly come up with new claims which need addressing. This site attempts, as much as possible, to make it easy to find rebuttals and references from the scientific community to any and all of the various creationist claims...

Since most creationism is folklore, the claims are organized in an outline format following that of Stith Thompson's Motif-Index of Folk-Literature. Sections CA through CG deal with claims against conventional science, and sections CH through CJ contain claims about creationism itself.


It has all the claims I've heard from creationists. Here are some of the claims that creationists have made to me personally:

Evolution is only a theory.

Evolution requires as much faith as creationism
If man comes from random causes, life has no purpose or meaning.
The odds of life forming are incredibly small.
Complex organs couldn't have evolved.
Evolution does not explain homosexuality.
The traditional peppered moth story is no longer supportable.
Macroevolution has never been observed.
No new species have been observed.
How do things know how to evolve?
All hominid fossils are fully human or fully ape.
The Cambrian explosion shows all kinds of life appearing suddenly.
Radiometric dating gives unreliable results.
The second law of thermodynamics prohibits evolution.
The universe is 6,000-10,000 years old.

47 comments:

CyberKitten said...

Nice one. I have a feeling that this could run for a while...............

asher said...

Well, not to start a real controversy but:

1. Recent studies show that humans and dogs share almost all the same chromosomes. We share almost all the same diseases and other medical problems which make dogs a great way to study cures. Does this have relation to our ancestry to apes?

2. Why was the term "natural selection" used instead of "survival of the fittest"?
(Hint..it has something to do with the "science" of eugenics.)

3. Althought evolution is a science, no university has a Department of Evolution. All the evolutionists were biolgists, or anthoropolgists or paleotologists, or some other science genre. I'm still waiting for someone to claim they have a Ph.D in evolution.

Sadie Lou said...

#3 is a good point.

dbackdad said...

Asher and Sadie,

#3, in addition to not being a good point, is also not true. Ohio State has a department of Evolution, Ecology and Organismal Biology. The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, UC Santa Barbara, University of Chicago, etc. have similar departments.

Besides that, I don't know if you would call it a "science". It's a scientific theory, not a whole branch of science.

Jewish Atheist said...

Recent studies show that humans and dogs share almost all the same chromosomes.

We're both mammals. We're less related to dogs than to apes, but much much more to dogs than to, say, ants, snakes, lobsters, or fish.

Althought evolution is a science, no university has a Department of Evolution.

As usual, asher, you have done no research before making claims which are easily shown to be false. (Well, it's literally true that most schools don't have a Department solely devoted to Evolution, but tons of them have "Evolution" or "Evolutionary Biology" in the title. Here is a list of some Universities and Departments:

Ohio has a "Department of Evolution, Ecology and Organismal Biology"

Chicago and UC-Davis have a "Department of Ecology and Evolution"

UCSB has a "Department of Ecology, Evolution and Marine Biology"


Princeton, Yale, Arizona, UCLA, Cornell, Rice, UConn, Brown, and Michigan all have a "Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology."

Harvard has a "Department of Organismic & Evolutionary Biology"

Asher, please, before you comment in the future, just do a simple google search.

Yaakov said...

>>Why was the term "natural selection" used instead of "survival of the fittest"?

I always thought to this was a reference to "artificial selection".

Shlomo said...

Natural selection and survival of the fittest are from two separate authors.

Herbert Spencer, a Victorian era British philosopher, coined the phrase 'survival of the fittest', when he joined his political and psychological ideas with Darwinism.

One assumes that natural selection and survival of the fittest are mutually inclusive, but that isn't necessarily so. Firstly, the definition of 'fitness' isn't agreed upon, and secondly, the 'selection' process isn't always tied to a genetic benefit, being subject to forces external to the apparent 'fitness' of the organism. We call that 'luck.'

David said...

>"If man comes from random causes, life has no purpose or meaning"

This is the one that caught my eye because it's incredibly misleading. Let's not confuse evolution with naturalism. Nothing in evolutionary theory suggets that "man comes from random causes" unless one assumes that life itself does. Evolution only seeks to addresss life's progession.

Incidentally, I think this is why so many (sane) rabbinic figures aren't disturbed by it.

asher said...

Well,

Despite a "simple" google search my observation still stands: There is no "Department of Evolution" that exists. This despite the fact that evolution is science and explains our existance. You can get a degree in Comparitive Religion, Catholic Theology, Bible Interpretation and Yiddish, but you can't get a degree in Evolution.

It's also interesting that all those departments link evolution with ecology. What do these two have in common?

Dogs have the same number of chromosomes in common with humans as apes do. The other argument I've heard is that water, clouds and oxogen share the same molecular makeup. This proves........???

Eugenics was the theory that certain "races" of people are inherently superior to others. The white race, by dominating the black race in many spheres, proves that whites are superior. This leads to Nazi Aryan Superiority theories. The "Master Race" and the Ubermench (superman) .Again, there is nothing to prove this...it's just a theory.
The Eugentic Society of America later changed it's name to something a little more familiar to us: "Planned Parenthood" Oh, and one of the founders of this organization was Margaret Sanger who met with many Nazi leaders on this subject. "Survival of the fittest" was later dropped since it implied eugenics.

oracle25 said...

My comment only pertains to the response to evolution only being a theory. The response attacks creationism on the basis that evolution is beneficial in many fields of science. The problem is that Creationists do not say that all evolutionary ideas are false, only the basic "we all came from single celled organisms" insanity. The more scientists study the world and the universe the more evolution is disproved. In fact if any other theory in the history of the world had as many holes in it as evolution it would have been forgotten a long time ago. The only reason I can see for clinging to evolution is the fact that it is extremely important to Atheists, its the only way they can believe what they believe. But all this is irrelevant the fact is that macro evolution has never been observed (this would require an organism to become more complex and stay that way no matter what it's environment is like) and so is only a theory. In truth it's not even really a good theory because it requires many assumptions in order to explain a few facts. Also, if evolution did occur one would expect to find partially developed organisms, there are none. The transitional stages in evolution should have wiped most species out, because there partially developed organs and ligaments would have become an liability, or as one scientist put it "If a leg of a reptile were to evolve into a wing of a bird, it would become a bad leg long before it became a good wing."

Jewish Atheist said...

But all this is irrelevant the fact is that macro evolution has never been observed

Are you kidding me? Did you even read my post? You completely ignored the links for:

"macroevolution has never been observed," "Complex organs couldn't have evolved," and "Evolution is only a theory."

All of your objects have been answered. It's one thing to debate the answers, it's another to stupidly re-assert them after they've already been responded to. Seriously, read the linked page. It addresses all of your comments.

Jewish Atheist said...

objects == objections

oracle25 said...

Since I last posted I have read all of the given links, and I don't know what the heck your talking about. Those links do an excellent job of side stepping issues without giving any actual evidence, please don't try to pass off bad science as explanations for facts. Nearly all of this so called "evidence" that supports evolution is out dated and has been addressed on numerous occasions. I do want to thank you tho for showing me just how desperate you evolutionists are.

asher said...

oracle 25:
The evidence presented in that article were not "bad science" nor are they outdated. The author seems to say, "This is it. I have the answers." Kind of reminds you of "I'm the Mommy, that's why"
You should really address what exactly you find objectionable

oracle25 said...

Because evolution has never been observed, the theory of evolution requires as much faith as creationism does.

Source:
Morris, Henry M. 1985. Scientific Creationism. Green Forest, AR: Master Books, p. 4.

Response:
1. The theory of evolution is based on evidence that has been observed. There is a great amount of this evidence. When evidence is found to contradict previous conclusions, those conclusions are abandoned, and new beliefs based on the new evidence take their place. This "seeing is believing" basis for the theory is exactly the opposite of the sort of faith implied by the claim.

2. The claim implicitly equates faith with believing things without any basis for the belief. Such faith is better known as gullibility. Equating this sort of belief with faith places faith in God on exactly the same level as belief in UFOs, Bigfoot, and modern Elvis sightings.

A truly meaningful faith is not simply about belief. Belief alone does not mean anything. A true faith implies acceptance and trust; it is the feeling that whatever happens, things will somehow be okay. Such faith is not compatible with most creationism. Creationism usually demands that God acts according to peoples' set beliefs, and anything else is simply wrong (e.g., ICR 2000). It cannot accept that whatever God has done is okay.


This does not even really address the whole issue, only a very, very small part of it. For instance, in order to believe in evolution you would have to believe that nearly everything in the universe was put in it's exact place by chance, such things include: the sun, moon, Jupiter, and the earth itself. There are ruffly 130 (from what I remember) functions in the universe that would have to be perfect (not almost perfect) in order for life to exist even here. To believe this could happen by chance actually requires more faith than creationism.

Jewish Atheist said...

For instance, in order to believe in evolution you would have to believe that nearly everything in the universe was put in it's exact place by chance, such things include: the sun, moon, Jupiter, and the earth itself.

You could believe that God put everything in its exact place and set up evolution. Evolution is the theory of how life has (and continues to evolve) not how it all started.

oracle25 said...

I believe you are referring to what is called 'Theistic Evolution", I have considered this but ultimately rejected it. The reason being that I believed (and still do) that there is more evidence to support creation than there is too support Evolution.

Jewish Atheist said...

The reason being that I believed (and still do) that there is more evidence to support creation than there is too support Evolution.

If that's what you believe than you should support creation. However, I think you are wrong about the evidence.

oracle25 said...

If you didn't than we wouldn't be having this discussion.

Jewish Atheist said...

I just don't understand what evidence we have on the creation side. For the evolution side, there are fossils, comparitive genetics, morphology, observation of evolving bacteria, mice, fruit flies, plants, and organisms in the wild. Dovetailing perfectly with evolution, there is plenty of evidence of an old universe -- distant stars, an expanding universe, geology, nebulae, etc. On the creation side, we have an old book of unknown authorship and some arguments from incredulity like the watchmaker's argument. Perhaps we could include stories of divine revelation on this side as well.

As I can see it, the evidence on the evolution side is hard -- it involves actual artifacts like living beings and fossils as well as actual numbers from the study of DNA and lab experiments. On the creation side, it's all hearsay and speculation.

Stephen (aka Q) said...

There are some very stupid arguments on your list. (I know, you didn't come up with them, some theist did.) But I think two of them have real merit, notwithstanding Mr. Isaak's bullet points to the contrary.

For the sake of space, I'll limit myself to only one:

If man comes from random causes, life has no purpose or meaning.

I think I understand what Mr. Isaak means when he says evolution is not about chance. So I accept the point that the assertion is worded badly.

Mr. Isaak says, in part, that life has meaning as long as I decide it has meaning. And I can't argue with the statement as far as it goes … but it doesn't go very far.

First, let's consider someone who is healthy and living in comfortable material circumstances. OK, that person's life may be pleasant and therefore "meaningful" in some sense of that word. Such a person may use her physical and financial resources to benefit others, and therefore give life meaning in a "higher" sense of the word (if you can tolerate the value judgements I'm making).

But let's take another, different case. Let's talk about someone who has a severe neurological disorder, or someone who might have been healthy but who lives in a poverty-stricken country and suffers chronic malnutrition. Such a person has no surplus resources to devote to making a meaningful life for himself; he can only attend to bare survival day by day.

How meaningful is life when it is reduced to scrabbling in the dirt to survive with virtually no prospect that things will ever improve?

From a Christian perspective — I won't claim to speak for non-Christian theists — life may still be meaningful. How so? Because "life" is not limited to what one experiences here and now. Life begins in the will of the Creator, who decided to call into existence the cosmos and everything within it. And life has a goal; it continues beyond death, where faith says there is legitimate hope of a new and better reality. ("There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain.")

Understand that this is one of the fundamental assertions of the Gospel: that suffering does not deprive life of meaning, but can have meaning in its own right. Here I know I am on safe ground if I add that Judaism agrees: suffering can have redemptive purpose.

Perhaps I am ignorant, but I don't see how an atheist finds meaning in such a life as I have described. I know, if you have the brilliant intellect of a Stephen Hawking, you can live a meaningful life despite a severe neurological disorder. But he is the exception to the rule.

Why is euthanasia increasingly a mainstream idea? Because — apart from God — once suffering takes hold, meaning flies out the nearest window.

Mr. Isaak can claim that life has "meaning" only if the concept is stripped down, defined as something far less than Christians have in mind when they say that life is meaningful.
Q

Jewish Atheist said...

I agree that life in the absence of God has no single Meaning. However, each person has his or her own meaning or meanings to life. Maybe atheists would probably fight to the last breath to stay alive. I do support euthenasia for the mentally competent, though, since ultimately I think it should be their decision, not mine.

Stephen (aka Q) said...

JA:
A quick response to this remark:
I just don't understand what evidence we have on the creation side.

The Christian answer (and the Jewish answer) is, all of creation is evidence of the Creator's existence. (I'm sure you already know this — I don't mean to talk down to you.)

The hard evidence is that the cosmos exists; and within the cosmos, some beings are living; and of the living beings, some possess consciousness and personality.

Secular science offers an explanation for how all these things came to be. The religions of the world offer a different explanation.

Both worldviews draw on the same data — they just account for it differently.
Q

CyberKitten said...

Ah... the 'Meaning of Life Argument' again....

How can life possibly have meaning without God....?

Well... We can give it its own meaning - with each individual giving their own life meaning - or it can indeed be 'meaningless'. Afterall, how many of us have judged that others have meaningless lives? A life spent high on drugs is meaningless - right? A life spent in the vain pursuit of wealth or fame is meaningless too....?

But who are we to judge anothers life choices?

And what if life IS basically meaningless... So what? We feel the need to give our lives meaning because we are self aware. Do dogs & cats wonder about the 'meaning' of their lives? Do the birds wonder too? Probably not. But we 'know' that we're alive and we know we're going to die some day - so what do we do (or at least try to do) give our lives some meaning. Religion is (just)one method of doing that.

CyberKitten said...

On a slightly different topic Q said: Both worldviews draw on the same data — they just account for it differently.

Maybe they do - but are both views equally valid? Obviously I think not.

oracle25 said...

JA: most of the evidence you mentioned only pertains to micro-evolution. For instance, the finches Darwin observed on the Galapagos islands (which for some reason that is beyond me is still being taught in schools) did not become more complex, there genes were merely reorganized as the generations went on in order to suit there environment. When those finches returned too there country of origin they also reverted back to there previous form. As to your remarks about an old universe, I would rather not address this personally because it would take to long. I will however give link to a site which can explain it better than me. I will say however that there is plenty of evidence to support creation, the scientist who wrote the above link is a former evolutionist who saw the truth about creation.

oracle25 said...
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oracle25 said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
oracle25 said...

Hmm, well for some reason my link isn't working, the site is http://www.creationscience.com/AstroPhysicalSciences

Jewish Atheist said...

oracle25, I've had this argument too many times to get into it again. Just realize that the only people who believe in Young Earth Creationism are religious fundamentalists. No real scientists believe in that. Just think about it. With your own eyes, you can see stars that are millions of light-years away. That means, by definition, that the light must have been travelling for millions of years.

oracle25 said...

Except for the fact that light is consistently slowing down (if you had gone through that link you would know this). Believe me I've heard all your arguments before too. For a long time I was an old earth creationist and believed many of the same things.

Jewish Atheist said...

Huh. It looks like there really is some scientific discussion about whether the speed of light has changed. I didn't know that. Note that even other creationists don't believe that Setterfield (who is the creationists I assume you're referring to) could be right about the rate of decay of c, since "If his formulation of the changes were true, then there should have been 417 days per year at the time of Christ and the earth would have been melted when God created Adam due to the tremendous heat generated by the extremely rapid radioactive decay during the creation week." (Morton, G. R., Slusher, H. S., Bartman, R. C., and Barnes, T. G., (1983). Comments on the Velocity of Light. Creation Research Society Quarterly. 20:63-65.)

FYI, the newest scientific research http://www.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=dn6092 seems to suggest that c may have INCREASED over the last 12 billion years. Note that they're still talking in the tens of billions rather than in the thousands.

Stephen (aka Q) said...

Cyberkitten:
are both views equally valid? Obviously I think not.

Congratulations, you've passed Logic 101. Both views can't be equally valid.
Q

CyberKitten said...

Q said: Congratulations, you've passed Logic 101. Both views can't be equally valid.

Thank you.

So - how do we decide between them? How do we determine which view point is invalid?

At last... we seem to be progressing rather than going around in circles.........

Stephen (aka Q) said...

JA:

There's a second assertion that I agree with:
The odds of life forming [spontaneously] are incredibly small.

The assertion is true, a simple statement of fact. Atheists should be honest enough to admit as much.

I intend to quote Donald Johanson here, because I cannot claim to be very knowledgable with respect to science. Note that Johanson is not a Christian apologist, but a paleo-anthropologist — the discoverer of "Lucy", the fossil remains of one of our human ancestors.

In the book Blueprints, Johanson discusses the famous Urey-Miller experiment. He begins by observing:

Twenty different amino acids are the bricks that make organic skyscrapers. They are the subunits of the infinitely larger and more complicated molecules that are proteins. Proteins are what constitutes living tissue. It is a long trip from bricks to skyscrapers, from amino acids to proteins. To build a proper protein there must be a proper agency to bind thousands of amino acids into a precise chain and then hold them together.

The "agency" Johanson has in mind is RNA. It is RNA that binds amino acids together in a precise sequence. Johanson points out that Miller's experiment produced no DNA, but only a few nucleotides that might join chemically to form a very short strand of RNA. (Please note the word "might".)

This is a problem from an atheist's perspective. No laboratory-made DNA has ever been bigger than a dozen or so nucleotides long. In fact (according to Johanson), there are good chemical reasons why the chains are never any longer.

Johanson says that when RNA arises spontaneously under labratory conditions, it tends to break up. The maximum length of labratory-made RNA is about 150 nucleotides long. He comments, such short fragments of RNA are too small to contain useful information for making complex enzymes and other proteins.

Cell walls would aid in the process by creating a sheltered environment for longer chains to form. But cell walls are also complex: their emergence must have presented pre-biotic chemistry with some dreadfully difficult problems.

Thus the assertion, the odds of life forming spontaneously are incredibly small, is a simple statement of fact. I'm even less of a mathemetician than I am a scientist, so I wouldn't presume to calculate the odds. The point is, there are obstacles en route to the formation of complex chains of molecules (RNA, enzymes, and DNA). As far as anyone has been able to demonstrate to date, those obstacles are simply insurmountable.

Does this argument prove that God exists? No. Johanson is an atheist, as far as I know.

But the argument does speak to another of the assertions you list: that evolution — or rather, an atheistic account of the origins of living beings — requires a leap of faith.

I am content to agree that my religion requires more faith than your atheism. It is axiomatic that religion requires faith. But atheism requires a leap of faith, too; or, rather, several of them.

Where did the first particle of matter come from? How did life emerge from inanimate matter? How did human consciousness arise?

To say that each of these developments took place spontaneously involves three very large leaps of "faith". The odds of any one of those developments occurring spontaneously is vanishingly small.
Q

Jewish Atheist said...

Q,

I agree that "the odds of life forming spontaneously are incredibly small." However, if "incredibly small" means one in a billion, and we assume that there are billions of Earth-like planets in the universe (which seems, if not obvious, than at least reasonable) than we would expect life to have arisen more than once. Also, keep in mind that there was at least a billion years for life to have arisen on Earth, which means it could have failed hundreds of billions of times before getting it right.

As far as anyone has been able to demonstrate to date, those obstacles are simply insurmountable.

Again, if the odds were around one in a billion, we wouldn't expect any of the lab experiments so far to have generated viable RNA. The fair test would be to set up an Earth-sized lab and let it run for a billion years. Obviously, that's impossible, but it isn't fair to compare a short-run expriment in a single test tube (or whatever) to an entire planet (or billions of planets) over a billion years.

But the argument does speak to another of the assertions you list: that evolution — or rather, an atheistic account of the origins of living beings — requires a leap of faith.

You imply this, but I'd like to state it more explicitly: this has nothing to do with evolution. I agree that there would be a leap involved in stating that life absolutely spontaneously generated without intelligent interference. I don't claim to be 100% sure there is no God, as such a claim is impossible on the face of it. However, given your agreement that religion requires more faith than atheism, it seems like it makes sense to believe in atheism.

It's like the quote, "I don't have to prove God doesn't exist to be an atheist; I just have to think the evidence of God is similar to that on the question of werewolves."

To say that each of these developments took place spontaneously involves three very large leaps of "faith". The odds of any one of those developments occurring spontaneously is vanishingly small.

One more point is that nobody knows what the odds are here. How did the first particle exist? How can we say what the odds were on that happening spontaneously? -- we have no idea whatsoever how it happened to begin with. I covered the "how did the first life-form" start. And as for "how did human consciousness arise?" well, we know the answer to that one, even if we don't understand the details -- evolution.

Stephen (aka Q) said...

JA:
I appreciate the respectful exchange of views. One small additional comment, in response to your final sentence —

I think you're assuming that consciousness is a function of bodily processes. I tend to think of consciousness, personality, and mind as something more than that — as a "spiritual" attribute unique to human beings. This is the meaning of the theological assertion that human beings are created in God's image.

If you're right, consciousness could be a product of evolution. But I still think such an assumption constitutes another leap of faith, since it is by no means obvious that consciousness is just a sophisticated trick of the brain.
Q

oracle25 said...

Ja, the odds are more than one in a billion.

Jewish Atheist said...

Q:

I appreciate the respectful exchange of views.

Me too. :)

I think you're assuming that consciousness is a function of bodily processes. I tend to think of consciousness, personality, and mind as something more than that — as a "spiritual" attribute unique to human beings.

I base my assumption on the fact that other animals seem to have a sort of consciousness that is similar in some ways and different in others. Moreover, the farther away an animal is from us in evolutionary terms, the more different their consciousness appears to be. For example, apes have a lot of the same cooperation and problem-solving skills that we have, and even rudimentary language ability. Dogs, while less intelligent than apes, are pretty intelligent social creatures. Once we leave the mammals, we may find animals that are pretty intelligent, like some birds, but their consciousness seems even more different. All of this lends support to the idea that consciousness arises out of evolution. Where does your reasoning come from?

Oracle25:

Ja, the odds are more than one in a billion.

What are they? Where did you come up with the numbers?

Stephen (aka Q) said...

JA:
I had encountered that argument about consciousness before, but I had forgotten it until you raised it again. And it's a good argument. I confess that I don't have a carefully reasoned response.

C.S. Lewis suggested, perhaps semi-seriously, that we could draw theological conclusions from the human proclivity to tell jokes about sex and excretory functions. He observed that animals experience no embarrassment about these necessary bodily functions, but human beings do. From that, he inferred that human beings have an innate sense that we are more than mere animals; that it is incongruous for our "higher" spirit to be coupled with these beast-like bodies.

Not a compelling argument, I know, but it at least points in the same direction as my thoughts.

I need to do some serious study of the data before I can hope to provide a more adequate answer. But I'm not sure what data are available; science still has only a rudimentary understanding of consciousness. Which means both of our positions must remain speculative.
Q

Stephen (aka Q) said...

Oracle25 / JA:
I certainly can't calculate odds, but this morning an analogy popped into my head.

JA, imagine you're standing in a room, flipping a coin and allowing it to land on the floor. Sometimes it lands heads up; sometimes, tails up.

How many times would you have to flip the coin before it landed on its edge?

I'm responding here to your idea that our sample size (re RNA forming spontaneously) is too small. Let's imagine billions of people flipping coins on billions of planets over one billion years. Would the coin land on its edge even once?

My opinion is, No it wouldn't, though I can't prove it. My reasoning is, what is impossible remains impossible no matter how many times you attempt it.

Arguably it is impossible for a chain of RNA longer than 150 nucleotides ever to form spontaneously. According to Johanson, there are "good chemical reasons" (whatever that means) against it.
Q

oracle25 said...

It's interesting you bring DNA and RNA up because I just finished watching a movie called "Unlocking The Mystery Of Life: The Case For Intelligent Design" which basically follows the journey of the scientists who developed the theory of Intelligent Design (who were mostly evolutionists before this study). I have had this movie sitting around my house for a while but never got around to finishing it. It is a wonderful movie which gives a clear case for design. One that I found particularly interesting is the theory of how we recognize design. It states that we recognize design by a) small probability and b) by specification. For instance there is a small probability that Mt. Rushmore was created by chance because it is specified to the faces of American Presidents. The same is true with so many things in life mostly with art work. The same is also true with the complexity of life it is a) unlikely that life was just put here by chance, and b) true that all organisms were designed with specific functions. This is how we recognize design, nobody would say that stone hedge was put there by chance, somebody had to design it. If this is true in things that are (when compared to the complexity of life) relatively unimpressive how much more shouldn't it be true for the created world and universe?

Jewish Atheist said...

Q:

I agree that Lewis's argument (the argument from poop jokes) is not compelling. :)

My opinion is, No it wouldn't, though I can't prove it. My reasoning is, what is impossible remains impossible no matter how many times you attempt it.

This is of course true. What's debatable is whether the spontaneous generation of life was impossible. Calling anything impossible rather than extremely improbable carries a significant burden of proof, I think. Not being a biochemist, I'm not really sure what's necessary for the simplest possible life form, but I can imagine a relatively short string of amino acids which is capable of reproduction -- for example if it's shaped in such a way that when it encounters other amino acids those attach to it in a way that they mimic it, then I could easily see life evolving from that relatively simple molecule.

oracle25:

I agree with you in principle that we recognize design by specification and low probability. However, your characterization of evolution as "random" is unfair. Nobody claims that eyes were spontaneously generated. The whole purpose of Darwin's theory of natural selection is to explain that evolution is NOT random. In a sense, eyes were "designed" by natural selection -- animals with better eyes survived to reproduce more than those with worse ones. (I posted about the evolution of the eye before.)

How the first life got here may or may not be improbable (we simply don't know what was involved) but it certainly wasn't specified. The first reproducing molecule could have been one of millions of possible molecules. Complex organisms are also unspecified in that evolution didn't have to generate monkeys or people, it just happened to end up with us. Rather than being compared to Mount Rushmore, it's more like a mountain that had four intricate shapes that didn't match human faces. It's sort of like the difference between flipping ten heads in a row and flipping HTTHTHHTHT -- they're equally improbable, but not equally "specified." The second wouldn't lead you to suspect intelligent interference.

oracle25 said...

Th eye is a good example of what I'm talking about. Even if the eye could evolve in it's first stages the organism would have considered the beginnings of the eye useless and than discarded it and NOT pass it on to the next generation. So the eye evolving argument is a moot point.

Jewish Atheist said...

oracle25:

Clearly you didn't look at the previous discussion I linked to. It clearly shows that not only are the "first stages" of the eye possibly useful, they actually exist in organisms that are still around today. Primitive eye spots are much better than nothing since they tell the animal at least which direction the sun is. Eye cups are better, since they can see a bit of movement. Pinhole eyes are better, since they allow some focusing. Eyes with lenses are even better. Etc. Please click on the picture in that link to see various forms of eye from different organisms.

oracle25 said...

Each of those requires several different components. At some point there must have been an first component that would not have been useful to said organism and so would have been discarded.

Jewish Atheist said...

The first "component" is simply a light-sensitive cell or cells. The next component is the exact same thing, except slightly indented. The next is indented more, like a cup. Then the indentation starts to close, like a pinhole camera. Then the layer of transparent cells over the pinhole holds water, like a lens. Which, exactly, is the necessary component which is not useful?