by David C. Wise
Written 1990 February 02
Originally posted in the Science & Religion Library on CompuServe
On 17 November 1989, Paul Ekdahl [73317,1727] posted a multi-part message (starting with #147179) in the "Science & Religion" section of CompuServe's Religion Forum. In this message, he listed 23 points criticizing evolution, each of which I responded to in a multi-part reply. Since he has not acknowledged receipt of my reply and later expressed confusion over my methods of linking multi-part messages together, I have uploaded this file for him. Everyone else is welcome to read it. What follows is a copy of Ekdahl's original message with each point followed immeditately by my response to that point. Each of Ekdahl's points is numbered (except for his concluding statement, which should have been a 24th point) and starts in column 1. Each of my reponses is indented to column 5 and starts with the key word, "Response:". P.S. Paul, do please respond to my requests for more information/documentation in reference to your points #13 & #17 and to your concluding remarks. #: 147179 S15/SCIENCE & RELIGION 17-Nov-89 22:25:47 Sb: CREATION SCIENCE Fm: Paul Ekdahl 73317,1727 To: ALL THE SCIENTIFIC CASE FOR CREATION EVOLUTION HAS NEVER BEEN OBSERVED. 1. Spontaneous generation (the emergence of life from non-living matter) has never been observed. All observations have shown that life only comes from life. This observation is so consistent that it is called the Law of Biogenesis. The theory of evolution conflicts with this law by claiming that life came from non-living matter. Response: Darwinian evolution does not deal with the origin of life from non-life, which is called Abiogenesis, but rather with descent with modification from a common ancestor, which presupposes life and so conforms to Biogenesis. Abiogenesis extends the ideas of evolution and so depends on evolution, whereas evolution does not depend on abiogenesis. 2. Natural selection cannot produce new genes; it only selects among preexisting characteristics. Response: Of course natural selection cannot produce new genes. Whoever said that it could? However, its power to shape the gene pool must not be underestimated. Refer to Dawkins' discussion of cumulative selection (Ch 3 of _The Blind Watchmaker_) and my MONKEY program (in MONKEY.ARC in Library 15). 3. Mutations are the only proposed mechanism by which new genetic material becomes available for evolution. Rarely, if ever, is a mutation beneficial to an organism in its natural environment. In addition, almost all (perhaps all) observable mutations are harmful; many are lethal. Response: Most long-time residents (generationally speaking) of an unchanging environment should be optimally adapted to it, so most large-scale changes in their phenotypes should be maladaptive. Observable mutations are almost invariably such large-scale changes. Yet most mutations are never observed because they are small-scale changes. For example, a protein can undergo many changes in its amino acid sequence and yet remain fully functional. As these small-scale changes accumulate in a population's gene pool, they endow that population with greater variability to handle changes in the environment. 4. No known mutation has ever produced a form of life having both greater complexity and greater viability than any of its ancestors. Response: No single footstep has ever transported an individual a mile, but a thousand small steps would. Most viable mutations are small steps which accumulate to increase a population's variability (with natural selection providing direction). 5. Over seventy years of fruit-fly experiments, involving 2700 consecutive generations, give absolutely no basis for believing that any natural or artificial process can cause an increase in complexity and viability. No clear genetic improvement has ever been observed despite the many unnatural efforts to increase mutation rates. Response: Just increasing mutation rates (i.e. cause more large-scale changes) would have no effect in increasing complexity and viability, but would instead cause many more problems. Instead, you need to allow many small-scale changes and at the same time provide an environment that would select for certain of them. How many of these experiments met the basic requirements for natural selection?: "IF you have things that are reproducing their kind; IF there are sometimes random variations, nevertheless, in the offspring; IF such variations can be inherited; IF some such variations can sometimes confer an advantage on their owners; IF there is competition between the reproducing entities -- IF there is an overproduction so that not all will be able to survive to produce offspring themselves -- then these entities will get better at reproducing their kind. Nature acts as a selective breeder in these circumstances: the stock cannot help but improve." (A. G. Cairns-Smith, _Seven Clues to the Origin of Life_, pg 2) 6. There is no reason to believe that mutations could ever produce any new organs such as the eye, the ear, or the brain. Just the human heart, a ten ounce pump that will operate without maintenance or lubrication for about 75 years, is an engineering marvel. Response: Mutations alone, no, but when natural selection comes into play, change is swift and converges rapidly to an optimal form. The human heart was not designed all at once, but rather is a variation of many earlier models and so has a long history of development. By the way, many of our "engineering marvels" are designed in an evolutionary manner. 7. There is no direct evidence that any major group of animals or plants arose from any other major group. Response: Depends on what you mean by direct evidence. If you would accept fossil evidence, then we have many sequences of transitional fossils which grade continuously from one species to another without break or from an earlier form to a later form (sometimes linking several successive species which cross from one higher taxon to another), many series of successive higher taxa (including the crossopterygian-amphibian, amphibian-reptile, and reptile-mammal transitions), and "isolated intermediates" (such as Archaeopteryx). Since it is the most famous example, let's take a closer look at Archaeopteryx. In the lecture notes from their two-model class at San Diego State University, _Evolution vs Creation_ by Awbrey and Thwaites (A&T) (Aztec Lecture Notes, 1981, page 25), A&T compare 27 features of birds, Archaeopteryx, and Coelurosaurs. In two features, all three groups were the same (eyes having sclerotic ring and scapulae having same shape). In two other features, birds and Archaeopteryx were the same and different from Coelurosaurs (body covered with feathers and fused clavicles [wishbone]). In 17 other features, Archaeopteryx is different from birds and the same as the coelurosaurs (femur, fibula, sternum, ribs, gastralia, cervical vertebra type, caudals, vertebral column, humerus, ulna, carpometacarpus, teeth, palate, snout (instead of a beak), occipital condyle and foramen magnum, anteorbital and external mandibular skull openings, and external nostril openings near the tip of the snout (instead of near the eyes). In 6 other features, Archaeopteryx is intermediate between birds and Coelurosaurs; those features are: Feature Flying Birds Archaeopteryx Coelurosaurs ------- ------------ ------------- ------------ Metatarsals Fused Partly fused Little fused Bones Hollow, pneumatic Hollow, not Some hollow, pneumatic not pneumatic Coracoids Long, narrower, Wider, rounded, Widest, rounded, free fused to scapula fused to scapula Pelvis Elements fused Unfused, simple, As in Archaeopteryx together and to triradiate. Pubis more vertebral column Pubis slightly forward-projecting to form rigid forward-projecting synsacrum. Pubis rearward-projecting. Orbits Large, incompletely Smaller. Bony Smallest. Bony surrounded by bone surround surround complete. complete (?) Braincase Greatly expanded, Moderately expanded Not expanded extensively fused fusion less not fused complete 8. All species appear perfectly developed, not half developed. They show design. There are no examples of half-developed feathers, eyes, skin, tubes (arteries, veins, intestines, etc.), or any of thousands of other vital organs. For example, if a limb were to evolve into a wing, it would become a bad limb long before it became a good wing. Response: You want to say "fully developed", but that implies that they are at the end of a series of changes. In a strong sense, they are and have been at every step of the way (again, I speak in the generational sense), so it makes little sense to talk of the earlier forms as being "half developed" except in reference to their present form. So by refering to their future forms, we can say that they are currently "half developed." As it is, most of the features you mention developed very early on and can be found "half developed" and fully functional in many invertebrate species. For example, we find the many stages of the development of the eye to exist and to function; the old strawman argument that all features of the vertebrate eye must be present for it to function at all (i.e. "what good is half an eye?") just does not hold. 10% vision is far better than none at all; in the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king. As for a limb evolving into a wing, it can still serve as a good limb while also serving as a barely passable wing (Note that the Archaeopteryx forelimb is not a fully developed wing). 9. The existence of human organs whose function is unknown does not imply that they are vestiges of organs from our evolutionary ancestors. In fact, as medical knowledge has increased, the functions of all of these organs have been discovered. The widespread absence of vestigial organs implies that evolution never happened. Response: True vestigial organs occur rarely or infrequently, so the appendix and tonsils are not, by strict definition, truly vestigial. Rather, we should look to teeth in embyonic whales (which are reabsorbed and replaced with baleen), side toes in horse embryos, and partly-formed hind legs on some indiviual sperm whales. But that's using the strict meaning of the term, i.e. that the vestige does not serve ANY function. Yet there are a number of structures which do serve some function even though they no longer serve their original function. For example, the pelvic girdle of whales still serve as an attachment for muscles and as a support for the reproductive organs, but it no longer serves as a connection for the hind legs. The human coccyx no longer serves as a tail, yet it does serve as an attachment for muscles. This raises an important point about creationist tactics. They will often shift between different meanings of a word, most often between a strict technical definition and a common everyday usage. By doing so, they can misquote an expert without having to change a single word. 10. There are many single cell forms of life, but there are no forms of animal life with 2, 3, ..., or even 20 cells. If organic evolution happened, these forms of life should exist in great abundance. None do. The evolutionary tree has no trunk. Response: This argument from Walter Brown (_In the Beginning: The Scientific Case for Creation_, 1987) was based on a description of Mesozoa, consisting of twenty to thirty cells jacketing a long cylindrical axial cell, as being the simplest form in the kingdom Animalia (_Five Kingdoms_ by Margulis & Schwartz, 1982). But this does not rule out the existence of life forms with 2-20 cells. Indeed, Brown's own source for this claim, Margulis & Schwartz, itself lists the kingdom, Protoctista, instead of Protista, because they recognize multicellular forms in that kingdom. From Brown's wording ("... animal life ..."), it appears that he was trying to exclude Protoctista from consideration and so his statement is misleading. He could just as truthfully and misleadingly have stated that there are no forms of elephant life with fewer than 20 cells. So what? 11. As an embryo develops, it does not pass through the adult stages of its alleged evolutionary ancestors. Embryologists no longer consider the superficial similarity that exists between a few embryos and the adult forms of simpler animals as evidence for evolution. The drawings by Ernst Haeckel, which led to this widespread belief, were deliberately falsified. Response: Another creationist strawman, since it portrays evolution as still taking a position that it clear no longer does. We know that, for example, human embryos do not go through the ADULT stages of other chordates. But they do recapitulate some of the features of the EMBRYOS of those other chordates, such as the six aortic arches, gill slits, notochords, and three progressive sets of kidneys (pronephros, mesonephros, and metanephros). 12. Stories claiming that primitive, ape-like men have been found are overstated. It is now universally acknowledged that Piltdown man was a hoax. The fragmentary exidence that constituted Nebraska man was a pig's tooth. Prior to 1978, the known remains of Ramapithecus consisted merely of a handful of teeth and jaw fragments. It is now known that these fragments were pieced together incorrectly by Louis Leakey so as to resemble portions of the human jaw. Ramapithecus was just an ape. The discoverer of Java man later acknowledged that Java man was similar to a large gibbon and that he had withheld evidence to that effect. Peking man is considered by many experts to be the remains of apes that were systematically decapitated and exploited for food by true man. Furthermore, Skull 1470, discovered by Richard Leakey, is more human-like and yet older than Java man, Peking man, and the Australopithecines. Detailed computer studies of the Australopithecines have conclusively shown that they are not intermediate between man and apes. The Australopithecines, which were made famous by Louis and Mary Leakey, are actually quite distinct from both man and apes. Lucy, a type of Australopithecine, was initially believed to have walked upright in a human manner. Recent studies of Lucy's entire anatomy, not just her knee joints, now show that his is highly improbable and that she probably swung from the trees. For about 100 years the world was led to believe that Neanderthal man was stooped and ape-like. Recent studies show that this was based upon some Neanderthal man who were crippled with arthritis and rickets. Neanderthal man, Heidelbery man, and Cro-Magnon man were completely human. Artists depictions, expecially of the fleshy portions of their bodies, are quite imaginative and are not supported by the evidence. Furthermore, the dating techniques are questionable. Response: I see you like to read Walter Brown. Piltdown: a deliberate hoax that was exposed by scientists who immediately published their results whereupon Piltdown lost its status. Nebraska: at a time every country wanted to have itself billed as the "Cradle of Mankind" the fossilized crown of a tooth was found while digging a well in Nebraska. It was wrongly identified as that of an anthropoid ape (which it did very much resemble), although there was some disagreement and controversy of it. A few years later, the same research team that had found "Nebraska Man" also found evidence that the tooth belonged to an extinct species of wild pig. They published their find and "Nebraska Man" was no more. Ramapithecus: no longer considered to be ancestral to humans. Peking Man: The only experts that Brown cites are themselves creationists. Peking Man was identified as a Homo erectus and more findings have been made in Asia, Africa, and Europe. Java Man: The evidence is that Java Man was also Homo erectus. While its discoverer, Eugene Dubois, did later claim that it was a giant gibbon (apparently to disassociate it with other Homo erectus finds), he also claimed that Peking Man was Homo sapiens! Brown ignored an article by W.E. Le Gros Clark which discusses the many problems with these views of Dubois. Skull ER 1470: This skull is classified as Homo habilis, which is less advanced than Homo erectus, not more so as Brown claims. Also, there was disagreement over the age of its fossil bed, with some tests yielding as much as 2.41 million years and others as little as 1.87 million years. Further tests confirm the younger age. Computer Studies: These studies by Charles Oxnard of Australopithecus africanus and Australopithecus robustus in 1975 were not conclusive and did not take Lucy into account. Lucy: Lucy's anatomy, especially the pelvis, clearly shows that she could not have walked as a modern human does, but that does not exclude her from bipedalism, as Brown apparently tries to do by citing articles by Jungers, Cherfas, and Stern and Susman. Jungers clearly states that Lucy's anatomy was not incompatible with bipedalism, but that she would have a short stride and slow pace. Cherfas stated that although she was probably a proficient climber and did not walk upright exclusively, the evidence is still persuasive that she walked upright. Stern and Susman conclude that her bipedality "was not entirely modern-like", not that she was incapable. 13. Many fossils, such as fossilized jelly fish, show, by the details of their soft, fleshy portions, that they were buried rapidly, before they could decay. These observations, together with the occurrence of compressed fossils and polystrate fossils in Carboniferous, Mesozoic, and Cenozoic formations, are strong evidence that this sedimentary material was deposited rapidly--not over hundreds of millions of years. (Polystrate fossils are those fossils that traverse two or more strata of sedimentary rock.) Response: Doesn't the Pentatuch say that it took the Israelites 40 years to travel from Egypt to Canaan? Now if we take the distance they travelled and divide it by 40 years, we can determine what fraction of an inch they walked each day. That would be as ridiculous as insisting that the uniformitarian view requires absolutely strict adherence to a single constant rate of sedimentary deposit. Brief episodes of rapid depositing, as in a flood, present absolutely no problem for modern geology, nor should they. Could you please provide more information on the polystrate fossils? I have frequently come across them in the creationist literature, but have found no references given for them besides a single photograph in a _National Geographic_ magazine. In short, what do geologists say about them and what geological surveys have been made of polystrate sites? In short, what are the references on these things? 14. Bones of many modern-looking humans have been found deep in rock formations that were formed long before man supposedly began to evolve. Examples include: the Calaveras Skull, the Castenedola Skull, Reck's Skeleton, and many others. Still other remains present similar problems, such as: the Swanscombe Skull, the Steinheim fossil, and the Vertesszollos fossil. These remains are almost always ignored by evolutionists. Response: Calaveras Skull: discovered in 1866 in a mine dug into Pliocene strata, it was later found to be a recent skull taken from a nearby Indian burial ground and buried in the mine shaft, apparently as a practical joke (this confirmed by a death-bed confession, for what that's worth). Flourine analysis (the same that exposed Piltdown) performed on the skull in 1879 showed it to be recent and intrusive. Castenedola: found to be intrusive burials dating from the Holocene (about 25,000 years ago) rather than the Pliocene. Reck's Skeleton (AKA Oldoway Man): discovered in 1914 by Hans Reck, it was thought to be a mid-Pleistocene hominid. Later found to have been an intrusive burial. Swanscombe Skull, Steinheim fossil, Vertesszollos fossil: V is classified as Homo Erectus and the other two as early Homo sapiens. All three are considered transitional. What problem are they supposed to present? And besides, they are typically found in introductory physical anthropology textbooks, so how are they being ignored? 15. The vast majority of the sediments, which encase practically all fossils, were laid down through water. The worldwide fossil record is evidence of the rapid death and burial of animal and plant life by a catastrophic flood; it is not evidence of slow change. Response: Look again. The geologic record shows slow build-up of sediments as well as episodic flooding over an extended period of time with long periods of exposure out of the water, not of a single worldwide flood. The fossil record is very strongly biased toward organisms that had experienced rapid burial because that is very often necessary for preservation before fossilization. Also, restricting change to being very slow and absolutely uniform is a caricature of the uniformitarian view and a creationist strawman. 16. The public has been greatly misled concerning the consistency, reliability, and trustworthiness of radiometric dating techniques (the Potassiom-Argon method, the Rubidiom-Strontium method, and the Uranium-Thorium-Lead method). Many of the published dates can be checked by comparisons with the assumed ages for the fossils that sometimes lie above and below radiometrically dated rock. In over 400 of these published checks (about half), the radiometrically determined ages were at least one geologic age in error--indicating major errors in methodology. An unanswered question is "How many other dating checks were not published because they too were in error?" Response: No, it is the followers of "creation science" who have been misled concerning the practices of geology. Radiometric dating methodology includes independent testing to verify the dates obtained. When the dates agree, then the geologist has high confidence in the results. When the dates do not agree, then the geologist knows there is something wrong, so he determines what is wrong, why, and how to deal with it. Volumes have been written detailing such cases and telling geologists how to handle them. Creationists are well aware of this material since they rummage through it for "insoluable problems." But the established ages have been verified through such extensive cross-checking that geologists are very confident of them. By the way, if you try to date a 100-million-year-old object and you are off by a few million years, then your error would be about 3%, which isn't too bad. But if you try to date a 6000-year-old object and you are off by by 100 million years, then your error is a whopping 16,667%! Here you are objecting to a relatively low error, whereas your own position requires an extremely high error -- which isn't to be found. 17. Radiocarbon dating, which has been accurately calibrated by counting the rings of living trees that are up to 3,500 years old, is unable to extend this accuracy to date more ancient organic remains. A few people have claimed that ancient wood exists which will permit this calibration to be extended even further back in time, but these people have not let outside scientists examine their data. On the other hand, measurements made at hundreds of sites worldwide indicate that the concentration of radiocarbon in the atmosphere rose quite rapidly at some time proir to 3,500 years ago. If this happened, the maximum possible radiocarbon age obtainable with the standard techniques (approximately 50,000 years) could easily correspond to a true age of 5,000 years. Response: Radiocarbon is produced in the upper atmosphere through bombardment by charged particles, "cosmic rays." Many of these particles are deflected by the geo-magnetic field, so the stronger the field, the less radiocarbon is produced. That the level of radiocarbon in ancient times was much higher indicates that the geo-magnetic field had been weaker at that time (directly contradicting your claim #22 below), which has been verified by a number of independent means. Even worse, creationist claims require that dating methods yield ages that are too old (i.e. that everything is younger than we date them to be), but this error, if left uncorrected, does the exact opposite and yields ages that are TOO YOUNG. And could you expound on those "few people" who "have not let outside scientists examine their data" "that ancient wood exists which will permit this calibration to be extended"? It would be interesting to see if they actually exist and what their claims are supposed to be. 18. Radiocarbon, tiny spheres of discoloration produced by the radioactive decay of particles that are encased in various crystals, are strong evidence that the earth's crust was never in a molten state. Based upon the specific patterns seen in may of these rocks, it appears that these rocks came into existence almost instantaneously--in other words, CREATION. Response: You must be talking about the polonium halos that Robert Gentry had found in some Precambrian biotite in Canada. Since polonium has a very short half-life, Gentry concluded that the "basement rocks" of the Earth had to have formed instantaneously at Creation. An amateur geologist, Wakefield, went to Gentry's sites, examined the rocks in which Gentry claimed to have found the halos, and researched geological studies of the sites. He discovered that Gentry took his biotite from relatively recent igneous intrusions into pre-existing metamorphic rock (previously sedimentary). In other words, GEOLOGY. Efforts to enlist Gentry's aid in this research proved futile and when he tried to discuss his findings with Gentry, Gentry proceeded to re-invent geology. Wakefield concludes his article with: "Gentry's case depends upon his halos remaining a mystery. Once a naturalistic explanation is discovered, his claim of a supernatural origin is washed up. So he will not give aid or support to suggestions that might resolve the mystery. Science works toward an increase in knowledge; creationism depends upon a lack of it. Science promotes the open-ended search; creationism supports giving up and looking no further. It is clear which method Gentry advocates." ("Gentry's Tiny Mystery -- Unsupported by Geology" by J. Richard Wakefield, _Creation/Evolution_ Issue XXII, Winter 1987-1988, pp 31-32). 19. Geological formations are almost always dated by their fossil content, especially by certain index fossils of extinct animals. The age of the fossil is derived from the assumed evolutionary sequence, But the evolutionary sequence is based on the fossil record. This reasoning is circular. Furthermore, this procedure has produced many contradictory results. Response: The relative ages of the strata were worked out long before Darwin and were not derived from any assumed evolutionary sequence but from direct observation. These direct observations included all characteristics of the strata, which included distinctive fossils peculiar only to certain strata, the index fossils. Not only was biostratigraphy NOT based on any assumed evolutionary sequence, but a major contributor to biostratigraphy, Baron Georges Cuvier, was a creationist and an outspoken ANTI-EVOLUTIONIST (Lamarckian, of course). Indeed, the evolutionary sequence, the so-called "Ladder of Life", was worked out before Darwin by CREATIONISTS, such as Linneaus, who classified existing species and grouped them according to their relatedness. The fossil record, protein studies, and other independent means of comparing the relatedness of different species largely agree with the work of these creationists. Creationism doesn't explain why they should appear to be related; evolution does, quite simply and directly. 20. Practically nowhere on the earth can one find the so-called "geologic column." In fact, on the continents, over half of the "geologic periods" are missing, and 15-20% of the earth's land surface has less than one-third of these periods appearing in the "correct" order. Even within the Grand Canyon, over 200 million years of this imaginary column are missing. Using the assumed geologic column to date fossils and rocks is fallacious. Response: This is another creationist strawman. The geologic column is a compilation of many geological surveys from around the world. It is an artificial construct which was never expected to be found in nature (it would have to have been underwater during all of the earth's geological history -- even now). This does not diminish its validity. Geologists have no trouble with it; only creationists do. 21. The rate at which meteoritic dust is accumulating on the earth is such that after five billion years, the equivalent of over 16 feet of this dust should have accumulated. Because this dust is high in nickel, there should be an abundance of nickel in the crustal rocks of the earth. No such concentration has been found on land or in the oceans. Consequently, the earth appears to be young. Response: The standard source for this claim is Pettersen's 1960 collection of dust filtering down onto a mountain in Hawaii. He used the nickel content of the dust to determine how much of it was meteoric in origin and he had picked the mountain in Hawaii to avoid contamination from heavy industry. He estimated there to be 5 - 14 million tons of meteoric matter raining down on the earth each year. As it turns out, his samples were indeed contaminated by heavy industry in the Far East, which inflated his results (I recall something to the order of 50,000 tons being the accepted amount). The effects of industry on such measurements can be seen in ocean bottom corings, in which the nickel content has increased dramatically in the past century (in the same article). Another standard source is from Harold Slusher, formerly of the ICR, who used a _1976_ NASA document ("well into the space age") to show that about 214 million tons of meteoric dust fall onto the earth each year. Not only did he misrepresent the date of that document, _Meteor Orbits and Dust_ written in 1965 ("even before the first Apollo flight"), but he misquoted it in order to include terms in his calculations which inflated his results by a factor of one million. 22. Direct measurements of the earth's magnetic field over the past 140 years show a steady and rapid decline in its strength. This decay pattern is consistent with the theoretical view that there is an electrical current inside the earth which produces the magnetic field. If this view is correct, then just 25,000 years ago the electrical current would have been so vast that the earth's structure could not have survived the heat produced. This implies that the earth could not be older than 25,000 yrs. Response: Thomas Barnes used measurements of the dipole component of the earth's magnetic field, which did show a decrease over time, but ignored measurements of other components of the field which show a corresponding INCREASE (this is even ignoring a possible toroidal component within the earth). This would indicate that instead of a massive loss, there was a transfer of energy from one component to another. When plotted, the measurements of the dipole component fall on a straight line segment. Instead of extrapolating the dipole field intensity back in time along a straight line, Barnes extrapolated back EXPONENTIALLY. Ironically, such a blind extrapolation into the past using a constant rate is exactly what the creationists accuse scientists of doing, yet Barnes does it here (as does Morris in his human population model -- see the "Bunny Blunder") with apparent impunity! Also, Barnes performed his extrapolation despite a wealth of independent data which show that the dipole field has fluctuated in the past, growing more and less intense. You yourself provided some of this data in your claim #17 above in which you showed that the level of radiocarbon was much higher about 3500 years ago. The dipole field had to have been much weaker then to have allowed more cosmic radiation in to produce that much radiocarbon. This directly contradicts Barnes' claim. 23. Since 1836, over one hundred different observers at the Royal Greenwich Observatory and the U.S. Naval Observatory and the U.S. Naval Observatory have made direct visual measurements that indicate that the sun's diameter is shrinking at a rate of about .1% each century or about five feet per hour! Furthermore, records of solar eclipses indicate that this rapid shrinking has been going on for at least the past 400 years. Several indirect techniques also confirm this gravitational collapse, although these inferred collapse rates are only about 1/7 as much. Using the most conservative data, one must conclude that had the sun existed a million years ago it would have been so large that it would have heated the earth so much that life could not have survived. Yet, evolutionists say that a million years ago all the present forms of life were essentially as they are now, having completed their evolution that began a thousand million years ago. Response: This claim was written by creationist Russell Akridge who took it from the
abstractof an article by Eddy and Boornizian. The observed shrinkage does not apply to the entire solar mass, but only to the sun's outer layers. Eddy himself stated that the observations "seem to imply that the sun is oscillating in some way." Furthermore, the "shrinkage" obtained from data collected between 1850 and 1937 only amounts to 0.25 seconds of arc, the same amount as the standard error of the observations. Other studies also fail to obtain rapid shrinkage rates but instead show that the solar diameter oscillates with a period of about 80 years. In this claim, Akridge commits the same error as Barnes and Morris; he takes a small set of data and uses it as a constant rate to extrapolate his conclusions far back in time. [Ekdahl:] Evolutionists still believe life began spontaneously out of a chemical mixuture found in primordial seas, sparked by lightning. However, one can calculate the mathematical probability of such an event occurring and it is simply impossible-even with a chemical soup ten times the size of the earth and over millions of years. Response: The problem with most probability arguments lies in their premises. In order to calculate the probability of an event, you must first construct a mathematical model of that event. In doing so, you must be sure that your assumptions are correct and that they do indeed model the event. Otherwise, you end up calculating the probability of something entirely different and irrelevant. Case in point: a standard creationist probability argument calls for the spontaneous formation out of its constituent parts (drawn from a set of 20 amino acids) of a modern protein consisting of 124 amino acids in one very specific amino-acid sequence. The probability of such an event is incredibly small (2.9 E-167), but this has nothing to do with evolution. For one thing, restricting the protein to one single highly specific amino-acid sequence is unwarranted and artificial. Only a very few sites on a protein require a specific amino acid; many sites can have any of one, two, or more kinds of amino acids and some sites can have any of all 20 amino acids available. A protein will retain its function and functionality even after many different amino-acid substitutions; for example, chicken lysozyme differs from human lysozyme by 51 of its 130 amino acids, yet both proteins are unmistakably and fully functionally lysozyme (by the way, chimpanzee lysozyme is identical to human lysozyme, so the ICR claimed that this shows chickens to be more closely related to humans than are chimpanzees [huh??]). This correction alone would bring the probability up to about 3.05 E-12. For another thing, the idea of an end-product forming spontaneously is not only completely foreign to evolution, but it is much more conducive to the ideas of creation. An evolutionary model would involve an ancestral primitive protein, a mechanism for producing copies (that are similar to, but slightly different from the parent protein), and a feedback mechanism to evaluate the protein copies and to select certain of them to make the next batch of copies (e.g. natural selection). Basically, the difference between the creationists' model of protein production and the evolutionary model is the difference between single-step and cumulative selection. In single-step selection, each attempt to achieve the end-result is independent of the others -- i.e. the end-result must be achieved in a single attempt; if that attempt fails in any way, then the process must start over again from scratch. In cumulative selection, each attempt to achieve the end-result is dependent upon the previous attempt -- i.e. the results of the previous attempt provide the starting point for the current attempt. Cumulative selection better models Darwinian evolution and life itself; single-step selection has nothing to do with how evolution, or life for that matter, works. Probability models based on the two methods differ greatly; the probability of success with the cumulative selection is vastly greater than with single-step selection. In a simple problem of generating the Roman alphabet in alphabetical order out of randomly selected letters, single-step selection has a probability of 10^(-36) which only increases to 10% long after 10^20 attempts (or millions of billions of years on a computer). Cumulative selection can solve the same problem within 20 seconds and with a probability of over 99.99% within 80 attempts. Repeatedly, consistently, without fail. The point of this is that an evolutionary model for protein formation would not assume the final form of the protein to have formed first, but rather would start with a simpler protein which is still functional albeit not very efficient. Then through generations of cumulative selection, a more efficient form of the protein would evolve. Another evolutionary model would start with a copy of one existing protein and have it evolve into another protein with a different function, as alpha-lactalbumin evolved from lysozyme. For more information on cumulative selection, read Chapter 3 ("Accumulating Small Changes") of _The Blind Watchmaker_ by Richard Dawkins and my MONKEY.ARC file in Library 15 (which discusses the probabilities in greater detail). Another problem can arise if you assume a deterministic process to be probabilistic. For example, the probability of two nuclei getting close enough to each other to fuse is deemed so remote as to be near impossible. Yet it happens quite regularly (or else we wouldn't be so concerned about thermonuclear warfare). Many chemical reactions that would require enormous amounts of time to complete if left to themselves occur very rapidly in the presence of a catalyst. To treat such events as purely probabilistic would be a grave mistake. So, does your "chemical soup" (assuming that scenario for sake of discussion) form proto-proteins through deterministic processes or by just randomly jumbling amino acids together? Sidney Fox's work with proteinoid microspheres ("Creationism and Evolutionary Protobiogenesis" by Sidney Fox, _Science and Creationism_ edited by Ashley Montagu, 1984) suggests the former. Proteinoids are polymer molecules that are like proteins, but which are not produced by organisms. Another term for them is "thermal proteins" because they form when amino acids are heated. Even though sets of amino acids are polymerized rapidly in the laboratory at temperatures of 150 - 180 degrees C, experiments have repeatedly shown that proteinoids form in longer periods of time at temperatures lower than 65 C. The presence of catalysts also helps to speed up the process. When these proteinoids come in contact with water, they form microspheres within which enzyme-like, hormonal, photocatalytic, and cytophysical activity has been observed and catalogued. They can also utilize ATP to form internucleotide and peptide bonds. This microsphere activity has been criticized for being weak, but it does nonetheless exist and provides grist for cumulative selection's mill. Whereas the earliest studied microspheres of acidic proteinoids dissolved easily at pH 7, microspheres which combine acidic and basic proteinoids persist over a wider pH range and can withstand hot water. This is the kind of microsphere that makes peptides from ATP and free amino acids and catalyzes the synthesis of internucleotide bonds. Their proteinoids will form simultaneously in seawater from highly undersaturated solutions. Some of the oldest microfossils display a closer resemblance to microspheres than to primitive algae. It has been found that proteinoid solutions break down in the open air because they serve as a food source for microorganisms. But solutions of aseptically prepared microspheres and their proteinoids will persist without appreciable deterioration in the presence of water and remain active for periods of up to six years (at which time the experiment was arbitrarily terminated). They have also displayed great stability when subjected to light and heat. Now please expound upon your own mathematical model for "chemical soup." What are your assumptions? How did you develop your model? How did you arrive at the probabilities? Are any of your probabilistic events actually deterministic? In short, what are you really modeling? Finally, instead of blindly taking the word of "creation science", try finding out what science really says.
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First uploaded on 1997 July 02.
Last updated on 2011 August 02.