My husband actually wrote this & posted on his facebook. Thought you all might enjoy reading it! =) FYI, we've recently de-converted from a very strict form of christianity. My mother-in-law(who is still clinging to hopes that we will come back around) talked my husband into going to a few sessions of a creationist seminar & on this session, Darwin & evolution was being 'dissed', I mean discussed.

Here's the link:
http://www.facebook.com/home.php#/note.php?note_id=162943752931&...

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So... you need a facebook account to read this... Here's the article minus the links he posted.

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Back to church I went last night, patting myself on the back for being such a good sport. Of course, I wasn't going to miss the night the preacher would tackle the great lie of evolution. I expected incredible heights of ignorance, but I was not prepared for just how high we would go...I should have taken my oxygen tank.

The title of the evening's presentation was, "Darwin's Claim that Defeats Evolution." I knew beforehand the title, and so of course knew exactly what the presentation would be about: the intelligent design club's pet argument, "irreducible complexity." I sincerely hoped the presentation and attitude of the preacher/apologist/evangelist/whatever would be as honest and intelligent as possible, given the circumstances. But I think I have forgotten just how misinformed preachers need to be to do what they do and how chock full of manipulation their messages need to be to have the desired effect upon their audiences.

It is worth pointing out that the title itself is one big fallacy (to be expected)... A person's "claim" "defeating" a scientific theory? Really?

If I am honest, there were moments when I actually wanted to just speak up and tell the guy he was an idiot. But I held my tongue because (a) that would be rude and (b) I continually remind myself that these people really do believe these things and I did, too. Still, this doesn't excuse the downright dishonesty and what I believe to be intentional misinformation I heard quite a bit of. I frankly do not think there was a single accurate statement the entire message, except for the preacher's description of what certain Bible passages say and of certain biological phenomena. But he couldn't really botch either of these because he was reading them from the respective texts.

Without further ado, I present to you what I endured. I will just number each of his points for clarity's sake and declare them "true" or "false," with an explanation:

1. Evolution is "just a theory."

TRUE but FALSE

The preacher began by pointing out this favorite mantra of anti-evolutionists. He flashed it in real big letters up on the big screens. Oh boy. This abuse of terminology is the epitome of everything "intelligent design" and "creation science" are: capitalization on ignorance. Laypeople do not understand scientific terminology, and so this is a lame attempt to stoke their cynicism.

It is true that evolution is a scientific theory, but in scientific nomenclature a "theory" is as authoritative as it gets. Theories never become "facts." A "theory" in science is an explanation that fits all the facts, makes accurate predictions, and has not been disproven to date despite numerous attempts and trials. Scientific "theories" that are called such even in popular speak include:

- germ theory: the theory that explains how people get sick because of microorganisms such as viruses and bacteria
- atomic theory: the theory that states all matter is composed of atoms
- theory of relativity: the theories (specific and general) that explain the structure of spacetime and the effects of matter upon matter (gravity)

In fact, relativity theory actually superseded the less accurate theory commonly known as "Newton's universal law of gravitation." Note that a "theory" replaced a "law." Why? Because nomenclature is just that: words we use for things. Usually, a theory that is essentially mathematical in nature will be called a "law." It really doesn't matter whether we call a theory a law or a system or a rule or an explanation. The point is that there is no imaginary division in science between "facts" and "just theories."

If we want to speak in plain, non-scientific terms, evolution is a fact. A cold, hard, obvious, undeniable fact. It has been observed, quantified, and substantiated in so many different ways that it is just ridiculous to deny. Any number of scientists will tell you this. And, if you don't believe it, I challenge you to spend just a couple of days researching the evidence for evolution. Don't go to Answers in Genesis or the Discovery Institute for "responses" to evidence you don't even really understand. Do the research yourself. Actually spend more than 60 seconds listening to an educated person explaining why evolution is so obvious. If you want straight-to-the-point stuff on a layperson's level, you could start here:

Proof of Evolution pt 1, pt 2, pt 3, pt. 4

Or here: Series on the history of the universe, the earth, and evolution

Or, go to Talk Origins and do some reading there. These are just a few links off the top of my head. If any creationists want more info or book recommendations, shoot me a message and I'll put together a better list. A good book to start with would be The Greatest Show on Earth, written for people just like you, which is being released tomorrow for your convenience. :)


2. Evolution assumes that life spontaneously generated

FALSE

Evolution has nothing whatsoever to do with the origin of life. Evolution explains natural selection, the process whereby lifeforms change over great lengths of time. An evolutionist could believe that early lifeforms were created by a magic fairy if he wanted.

However, the preacher made several false statements concerning abiogenesis (the origin of life). And he threw out the typical grand claims of improbability of cells forming and such. Of course, no molecular scientist in the world thinks entire cells formed spontaneously in their present state. Rather, there are solid, tested models and hypotheses of how replicating molecules (all that is necessary for evolution to take place) could have formed. (See here and here. Actually, the whole series from the first one is pretty good: here)

3. Evolutionists assume that all life came from one single cell

FALSE

As we already stated, abiogenesis has nothing to do with the fact of evolution. However, this is again wrong on both points. No scientist asserts that there was one single replicating molecule or that a replicating molecule was generated only once. (How would they know?) Of course, we know that if life formed on earth there must have been at least one because we are here.

4. Evolution is "faith-based" just like religion

FALSE

Evolution is science. Science asks questions and figures things out to find the answers; we practice science every day. This argument uses an idea of knowledge that nobody actually uses: absolute knowledge. Sure, we could say that we believe by "faith" that the earth revolves around the sun, or that we believe by "faith" that it is round and not flat or, believe by "faith" that it was NOT created 500 years ago with everything intact, including fake archeological artifacts. But that would be idiotic.

Knowledge is about probability. More evidence = higher probability. There are very few things we know in the silly "absolute" sense. There comes a point where we have enough evidence to say we "know" a thing, but we do not generally mean that we know it absolutely with not a single conceivable possibility that we are mistaken.

Religion, on the other hand, asserts that things are so. It makes no predictions, asks no questions, and seeks no answers other than the ones that have already been asserted. It spends its time attempting to refute the evidence that contradicts its claims and finding ignorance to capitalize upon.

5. Evolution and academia/scientists/teachers are like religion with the Bible; believers use the Bible as their authority while educators and scientists use textbooks

FALSE

This, like everything else the guy said, is inane. Any scientist who disproves or overturns a theory becomes front page news and likely wins a nobel prize. Books are written by people, and every scientist knows it. Scientists are seekers of truth; they want answers. Again, science is the very antithesis of religion. Religion claims to be undiluted truth in need of no alteration; science is the practice of figuring things out.

6. Darwin "began to doubt his own theory" via quote from Michael Denton

FALSE

Denton is an idiot and a liar. (Do a quick search for reviews on his stuff...first page I came across was this one.) Anybody who wishes may read Darwin's works, including Origin of the Species, The Descent of Man, and especially his autobiography. See for yourself.

More importantly, it is supremely annoying that creationists still think the theory of evolution has anything at all to do with Darwin. It doesn't, not anymore than gravity has to do with Newton or vaccination has to do with Pasteur or radiology has to do with Curie. It is incidental that these people were the first to popularize certain ideas or discover them. For Darwin's part, many before him put forth evolutionary theories (though none of them figured out the actual simple mechanisms involved as Darwin did). And Alfred Russel Wallace likely would have been given much credit for the theory had he not sent his paper on it to Darwin, essentially forcing Darwin's hand in finally coming out with Origin.

7. Scientists everywhere are seeing huge contradictions and problems in evolutionary theory

FALSE

These apologists essentially lie to their audiences, using phrases like "Scientists are now realizing" and "Many scientists" and "Folks in the scientific community..." They mislead their audiences by implying that a handful of cooks with religious motives (some of whom obtain their Ph.D.'s with the express purpose of being able to claim credibility) are actually a significant group of honest researchers. This couldn't be further from the truth. All you need to do is get a name or two and do two minutes of research on these guys to find out their own damn universities are embarrassed (if they teach) and that their peers laugh at their stupidity and ineptitude.

8. Irreducible complexity disproves evolution

FALSE

Finally, we get to the issue. Irreducible complexity is the idea that certain biological structures could not have evolved because they require all the parts present to function, and that there is no conceivable way they could have formed via slow, gradual alterations. Examples given included the bacterial flagellum, the eye, blood clotting, bombadier beetle defense mechanism, and cilium. (A couple of these examples are particularly ironic you'll notice in a moment...)

Firstly, the core argument of IC (irreducible complexity) is fallacious. Simply because a person can't conceive of how a structure could evolve doesn't somehow mean it didn't or couldn't. This is, I repeat, all religion does: it capitalizes upon ignorance. If there is anything in this world you don't understand, and the apologist finds out, you can be certain he'll claim it was done via god magic.

Secondly, the specifics of the argument are also quite arbitrary and odd. It makes just as much sense to say, "Hey! Here's a human. He has a head. Without his head, he couldn't survive. And half a head wouldn't do him any good, it wouldn't do him any good to have a brain with no head to put it in, etc. Therefore, he must have been made with an intact head." That is essentially the level of stupidity inherent in this concept.

Thirdly, all of the specific examples are empty. The bacterial flagellum, for instance, is NOT "irreducibly complex." In fact, before the IC poster child Michael Behe wrote his book, precursors had already been found. All of these examples and their various champions have been refuted again and again by the scientific community at large. For instance, for some insight into the Dover trial (the most recent schoolboard "creation vs. evolution" shindig) see here. For a conceptual illustration of how the flagellum could have evolved, see here. Examples of eye evolution and many others are readily available for any honest creationist to evaluate.

Fourthly, these examples are sometimes particularly ironic. For example, the beetle defense mechanism mentioned is how he maims or kills attackers. Is this something that the God of the Bible would have built into the little fella in the peaceful, death-free Garden of Eden? (Also ironic is the sheer number of beetle species alone...whether the creationist tries to fit them all on Noah's Ark or claim they all evolved in the last 4500 years...is serious problem #1,304,884,209 for Mr. Apologist.) And blood clotting... Really? Blood clotting in the Garden of Eden? The whole idea kindof captured my mind... Clearly, Adam and Eve couldn't die, so would blood clotting have originally just been an aesthetic mechanism or what? And the bacterial flagellum is, on any level, an ironic thing to attribute to the design genius of a loving god... Why? Well, see here.

Fifthly, the evidence for evolution is so overwhelming, claiming (alleged) areas of ignorance are 'holes in the theory' is like: a person claiming an intact and unmelted air condition unit brings into question the theory that a house burned down when the house is, in fact, lying in ashes.

9. Repeated claims that lots of things can't be explained

BOGUS

Not to beat a dead horse, but that's all creation science is. And it's why it is mocked by legitimate scientists and was emphatically spanked on the rear end in Dover. Pointing out that we don't know certain things is not science. It isn't even helpful. There was a time when we didn't know where the rain came from, what caused lightning, why the seasons changed, how plants grew, etc. And - wouldn't you know it - the shamans were right there to tell us it was all magic done by the gods. And they were full of shit. You would think that, by now, we'd have figured out that making up silly stories to explain things we don't fully understand is, well, silly.

10. According to the preacher, a non-Christian scientist approached him after one of his meetings and told the preacher that he, a teacher at a local university, agrees with everything the preacher is teaching and that it is all true. The scientist said that everybody in the scientific community "knows these things", that the theory is broken, and that science has "moved on." The scientist said the reason no one will admit it is because that would mean "admitting the possibility of intelligent design and letting god back in the door."

BULLSHIT

I think the preacher was lying through his teeth and made this anecdote up completely or blatantly lied about almost every part of the story. No "non-Christian scientist" would ever say such a thing. Why? Well, because it is simply untrue. And the level of ignorance required to believe it is astounding and sad. It is not an exaggeration to say this is the equivalent of saying "The earth is flat, and all the scientists know it." Every area of scientific inquiry has thoroughly validated evolutionary theory. It is one of the most valuable theories in science, and many scientific pursuits depend upon its various aspects (i.e. medicine, vaccination).

11. Evolutionary theory is "chock full of holes"

TRUE

If by "chock full of holes" you mean "proven beyond doubt."

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