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Feedback from November 1997
© 2005-2007 T. Wallace. All Rights Reserved.


From: Tony Walters

I have read your website (and the majority of the email comments to it) and I must say it is one of the best anti-evolution website that I have read to date. But I still have a problem with the roots of creationism-It is based on assuming the truth of Yahweh (I hope I am spelling this correctly) creating the earth, and then setting out to prove this through science. I know some scientists do the same thing with evolution, but all creationists base their research on this assumption. If you know an exception to this rule, please let me know-I honestly can't think of any non-religious scientist that thinks the world is 10,000 years old. My major point here is that you are starting with an answer instead of looking for one. You might think that, “Hey, isn't that what scientist do? Take a hypothesis and try to prove it?” Well, they do, but leaving the hypothesis open to DISPROVAL is also included.


Response from Timothy Wallace:

Thanks for your feedback and thoughtful questions. I've provided some brief responses below, to which you may want to reply with further questions or comments:

>>...But I still have a problem with the roots of creationism-It is based on assuming the truth of Yahweh (I hope I am spelling this correctly) creating the earth, and then setting out to prove this through science. I know some scientists do the same thing with evolution, but all creationists base their research on this assumption.<<

First, it seems to me that we have to remember what real science is (and isn't). By definition, the scientific process involves repetition, observation, and measurement. We can apply this process to all kinds of things and phenomena, and we can do it objectively, and we will come up with what I will call “scientific data”—the true facts deteremined by the scientific process.

Second, as soon as we decide to try and explain something about the data—something that is not necessarily inherent in the data itself—then we (all of us) must bring some presuppositions into the picture. In the case of origins, we are trying to explain matters of history (the past) by examining and classifying the data available to us (in the present). Both the evolutionist and the creationist must bring his presuppositions to bear on this process. It is an unfortunate—but popular—myth that scienitists in general (and evolutionists in particular) are “neutral" and completely objective in their analysis of the data.

Both the evolutionist and the creationist are interested in how the data fit their respective presuppositions, and both have as a fundamental aim the confirmation of those presuppositions. The question that must be asked is: Which set of presuppositions (or which suggested scenario) best fits the data—particularly while requiring the fewest modifications to the original scenario? (Occam's Razor is a scientific axiom that comes into play here, stating that the simplest explanation that fits the data is the best.)

It is here that an objective investigation yields the most interesting results. The Biblical creation & flood scenarios both predict and fit an enormous amount of scientific data without any need for modification of the “theory”—while evolutionist theorists have had to invent countless “explanations” and “sub-theories” to coerce the data and the theory to “fit” together, and they're still facing major problems, though many of them refuse to admit it (as I sought to demonstrate in my rebuttal to Mark Isaak's “Five Misconceptions” essay).

It is also worth remembering that the “scientific community” was not always dominated by folks who insisted that science and the Biblical Christian faith must be mutually exclusive. In fact, the majority of men who established most of what are today's scientific disciplines were Bible-believing Christians—and creationists. (Just let me know if you would like me to list them in a future communication.) In fact, it makes for some fascinating studying to trace the historical trends and roots of the present situation within the “scientific community”—demonstrating that perception and influence played a much greater role than scientific facts in the shift from science based in the Biblically-based notion of absolute knowledge to pseudo-science based in the baseless notion that man alone is capable of discerning for himself what is truth and knowledge.

>>I honestly can't think of any non-religious scientist that thinks the world is 10,000 years old.<<

Again, it seems to me that you are overlooking the fact that EVERY scientists has a “religious” view, even if he is an atheist. What you mean to say is:

“I can't think of any scientist who rejects the Biblical record as a credible source of historical or scientific information, who thinks the world is 10,000 years old.”
...When it would be no more reasonable if I were to say to you:
“I can't think of any scientist who accepts the Biblical record as a credible source of historical or scientific information, who thinks the world is billions of years old.”
[I would have more to say on the age of the universe here, particularly in connection with scientific methods of determining that age, but for now suffice it to say that many evolutionists admit that dating methods aren't nearly as unequivocal as they are made to appear.]

See, each scientist carries his presuppositions (even religious ones) with him. But IF—as the historical, orthodox, Christian faith maintains—the Bible DOES happen to be the infallible, verbal communication to man from the personal, living, infinite Creator of all that we see and know, then nothing would be more natural than to expect its contents—wherever it touches upon matters of history and/or science—to convey accurate information.

This is what the Christian creationist believes, and this is what the vast majority of scientists believed before the shift to exclusively naturalistic, mechanistic, materialistic science which took place only during the past century—again, not because of the facts, but because of popularized ideas and influential personalities. And, quite remarkably, while the modern “scientific community” rejects out-of-hand what the creationists write and say, the findings of creationist research have become increasingly embarrassing to evolutionists, who in turn strive even harder to suppress creationism as “religious” while insisting evolutionism is objective “science.”

>>My major point here is that you are starting with an answer instead of looking for one. You might think that, “Hey, isn't that what scientist do? Take a hypothesis and try to prove it?” Well, they do, but leaving the hypothesis open to DISPROVAL is also included.<<

An excellent point! Evolutionists are always demanding that creationists should “just disprove” (or falsify) evolutionary theory, if it's so wrong. But what escapes their notice is that more evolutionary pressupositions have ALREADY been falsified than have been proven, yet they cling tenaciously—nay, religiously—to their beliefs, regardless of how little real scientific data support them, insisting that the opposite of the truth is true!

Conversely, creationism is open to no less falsification process than evolutionism, yet the main line of attack evolutionists invariably use against creationism has nothing to do with the details of the data and how it fits the theory—rather they begin by crying “foul!” on the grounds that creationism is somehow “religious” while evolutionism is somehow not. But even if we were to accept that claim, the central question remains: Which set of presuppositions (or which suggested scenario) best fits the data—particularly while requiring the fewest modifications to the original scenario? Even if the best scenario happens to have “religious” implications, it would seem that an objective scientist would be interested in the results—and many are (who are not all creationists).

Regards,

TW

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From: Dan Courtney

I had the pleasure this evening of reading your comments regarding Mark Isaak's “Five Major Misconceptions about Evolution”.

I am by no means an expert on the 2nd law of thermodynamics, but it is interesting how both sides in this debate twist and distort this law for their own purposes. I must say I got a laugh out of your sarcastic comment about the ozone layer, and how the increase in energy would decrease the entropy. The irony is that eliminating the ozone layer would actually promote evolutionary changes!

The real turn off for me, however, is the fact that creationism makes no attempt to explain HOW. Evolution, on the other hand, is all about how the world has reached its current state, and what we can expect in the future.

I must admire you for being independent and bucking the overwhelming evidence and opinion regarding evolution. Might I suggest that you pick a position that is more solidly defensable and based on reality and logic - like say....Atheism.

Kind Regards,

Dan Courtney


Response from Timothy Wallace:

Thank you for your feedback regarding the “Five Misconceptions” essay.

>>I am by no means an expert on the 2nd law of thermodynamics, but it is interesting how both sides in this debate twist and distort this law for their own purposes.<<

I assure you that, if you were an expert, you would understand that in fact it is not “both sides” who “twist and distort” the 2nd law. This fact is understood by such experts as Ross, Wicken, Prigogine, Thaxton, Bradley, Olsen, Smith, Simpson, Beck, Angrist, Hepler, Blum, and Patterson (most of them evolutionists), which is why I bothered to document my essay with their testimony.

>>I must say I got a laugh out of your sarcastic comment about the ozone layer...<<

My reference to the ozone layer was not meant to be taken in a spirit of sarcasm, and I'm sorry if you were given such an impression. The statement was meant to be taken in its straightforward meaning: If simply adding raw solar energy to a system automatically reduced entropy, no scientist would object to the elimination of the ozone, since it would only mean a welcome increase in organized complexity. But ozone is known to shield us from various forms of significant harm inherent in solar radiation, not the least of which are directly due to mutations.

>>...eliminating the ozone layer would actually promote evolutionary changes!<<

This is only true if your definition of “evolutionary changes” is mainly limited to malignant and/or neutral mutations, which are the only varieties observed to happen in nature.

>>The real turn off for me, however, is the fact that creationism makes no attempt to explain HOW.<<

Perhaps you could clarify this basis for your disappointment: Exactly how WHAT?

>>Evolution, on the other hand, is all about how the world has reached its current state, and what we can expect in the future.<<

More accurately, evolution is ONE attempt to describe how the world has reached its current state, and the more I study the subject, the less confidence I am willing to place in evolutionism, which is precisely why I bothered to write the “Five Misconceptions” essay in the first place.

As for the future, I know of no leading evolutionist _scientist_ who claims to use evolutionism as a basis for proposing what our expectations for the future should be, although I'm sure a few scenarios have been conjured up in the imaginations of some evolutionist _writers_.

>>I must admire you for being independent and bucking the overwhelming evidence and opinion regarding evolution...<<

And of course I thank you for your generous admiration, but while I am well aware that my writings don't agree with the opinions of many, it isn't really opinions that matter. What matters is what we can truly know through the logical, reasonable, and antithetical application of the scientific method.

I have yet to encounter any “overwhelming evidence” that would return me to the fold of evolutionary thought. The evidence—that is, the empirical data—is what fascinates me the most, and as I have said, the more I examine it (and what has been said about it by both evolutionists and their creationist counterparts), the harder it becomes for me to subscribe to the evolutionist faith.

>>Might I suggest that you pick a position that is more solidly defensable and based on reality and logic - like say....Atheism.<<

I fear that you are quite serious in this statement. I would only advise you that I entered adulthood as an atheist, and have since found it to be the least defensible position of all, from a standpoint of reality and logic. Atheism is a declaration that “there is no God”—a claim that could logically be made only by someone with exhaustive knowledge. In my experience, persons who claim to have exhaustive knowledge are almost invariably quite arrogant and/or out-of-touch with reality.

An at least somewhat more defensible position, it seems to me, would be that of agnosticism. At least the agnostic admits that he doesn't know—though there may be some questions concerning his willingness to objectively examine the evidence so that he might learn ... and know.

Again I thank you very much for taking the time to share your thoughts with me, and I hope that my response has at least been of interest to you.

TW


[Note: A protracted dialogue with Mr. Courtney followed. However, because his focus moved swiftly away from the original topic (his “overwhelming evidence” never materialized), towards the faulty logic and error-ridden epistemology of atheism, it has not been included here.]

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From: Justin Bradford

After starting to read your essay on creationism, I was tempted to write a you a letter rebuking all of your ludicrous points. However, I quickly realized that you are more than brainwashed; you are delusional. Have fun in your little world of denial and ignorance, but keep it out of public schools. I would be ashamed to associate myself with a nation that considered polluting young minds with drivel like you have written.

I look forward to more of your delightfully insane ramblings,

Justin Bradford
justin@ukans.edu


Response from Timothy Wallace:

Thank you for your frank—and frankly derisive—feedback.

>>After starting to read your essay on creationism, I was tempted to write a you a letter rebuking all of your ludicrous points...<<

I would encourage you to succumb to your temptation, as I find a reasonable, rational dialogue over empirical science to be far more interesting (and nobler) than an exchange of insults and condescending remarks.

Since the balance of your communication contained no attempt to engage in a discussion of any of the points found in the “Five Misconceptions” essay, I am forced to assume that either you are incapable of offering an adequate rebuttal, or you prefer dogmatic ignorance to an intellectual discussion—or both.

In either case, you have my sincere sympathy.

TW


Response from Justin Bradford:

> Since the balance of your communication contained no attempt to engage in a
> discussion of any of the points found in the “Five Misconceptions” essay, I
> am forced to assume that either you are incapable of offering an adequate
> rebuttal, or you prefer dogmatic ignorance to an intellectual
> discussion—or both.

I was, and still am, under the impression that any rebuttal I might make on the topic would fall on deaf ears. There is already considerable scientific evidence to support evolutionary theories, but no scientific evidence to support the creationist view.
However, I will response to your essay as soon as I have the free time to do so. As a college student, I have little free time, but I think writing a proper reply could be beneficial to us both.
For now, let me say that dogmatic ignorance is exactly what science should work to fight against. I understand that my discipline does not have a perfect history in this respect, and I can see how that would affect your view. If evidence arose to fundamentally disprove evolution, then I would be the first to admit this failing and work to find another solution that accounts for the new observations. Any good scientist would do the same. Science and religion are not in competition. Science seeks only to describe what we see as best as we can. Religion does not have the same purpose. If we just gave up in our pursuit of knowledge and understanding, just because there may be a deity controlling everything anyway, human progress would cease.


Response from Timothy Wallace:

Thank you for your reply...

>>I was, and still am, under the impression that any rebuttal I might make on the topic would fall on deaf ears.<<

It still is not clear to me exactly from where you have drawn this impression. In any case, it doesn't seem reasonable to me that such an impression should be the basis for dispatching a few paragraphs of verbal derision as a substitute for any such rebuttal.

>>There is already considerable scientific evidence to support evolutionary theories, but no scientific evidence to support the creationist view.<<

We obviously differ quite widely on this point, which is exactly why I invite you to begin discussing some of the facts—the rubber-meets-the-road details—pertaining to this “considerable scientific evidence” to which you allude. I certainly don't claim to have exhaustive knowledge, but I have studied the details of many evolutionist claims, and have most often found that things are not always how they are popularly portrayed.

>>However, I will response to your essay as soon as I have the free time to do so. As a college student, I have little free time, but I think writing a proper reply could be beneficial to us both.<<

Your circumstances are noted and fully appreciated. If there is one thing I have learned from my own studies, it is that good research takes time, and mustn't be forced to fit any other agenda except the true aim of the research—which properly should be to learn the truth. Such a task is doubly burdensome for a full-time college student.

>>For now, let me say that dogmatic ignorance is exactly what science should work to fight against.<<

I agree with you here, and would only add that true science does exactly that. Not every scientist always practices—or is able to practice—true science, however. We ALL bring at least some presuppositions to the table with us. And poorly managed presuppositions can render the finest empirical data irrevocably skewed beyond recognition in the final interpretation.

>>I understand that my discipline does not have a perfect history in this respect, and I can see how that would affect your view.<<

Thus far you have not disclosed your “discipline” to me, so I can't see how it could have affected my view—in this dialogue, at least.

>>If evidence arose to fundamentally disprove evolution, then I would be the first to admit this failing and work to find another solution that accounts for the new observations. Any good scientist would do the same.<<

Here you've expressed a very reasonable perspective, for which I commend you. I would only ask that you reconsider the need for such evidence to “arise.” A tremendous body of evidence—that is, empirical data—already exists, which has been interpreted through both the evolutionist framework and the creationist framework.

New evidence, I have found, is not the issue so much as one's willingness to objectively view the existing evidence through the other framework. I can honestly say that I have spent a fair amount of time looking through both frameworks, and the more I examine both of them (looking THROUGH the respective frameworks perhaps, but all the while looking closely AT the EVIDENCE [the data, the facts, being interpreted by the respective frameworks]), the more doubt I find cast on the credibility of evolutionist thinking. And I assure you, I am not alone on this point.

>>Science and religion are not in competition. Science seeks only to describe what we see as best as we can. Religion does not have the same purpose...<<

Also here I agree with you, to a point. Surely science and religion are not—and should not be—in competition. Science, by definition, is knowledge—that is, true knowledge (as opposed to opinion, conjecture, theory, philsophical ideas, etc., etc.). Science (to rephrase your description) is the means by which man learns about the cosmos in which he finds himself a resident, and articulates what he has learned.

If religion has no valid, credible, historical, or rational connection with the cosmos and the knowledge to be gained from science, then not only does it not have the same purpose (as you wrote), but it is a futile thing and an utter waste of time, except perhaps for the false sense of comfort it would ostensibly provide to those who partook of it.

On the other hand, what if we were to suspend all disbelief and suppose for a moment that there were a verbal “religious” expression describing in rational, historical terms matters concerning the history of the cosmos, the history of mankind, and offering the only known set of cohesive explanations for the broad range of puzzles concerning man’s existence, history, quest for meaning, and his many complex human characteristics and problems?

And suppose this expression purported to be the personal, verbal on-going communication and record to man through history from man’s First Cause (i.e., personal Creator).  And suppose this record—under the scrutiny of objective scientific process and “reasonable doubt” examination of the evidence—not only were incapable of disproof by the evidence, but furnished a remarkably integrated framework through which the evidence could be better assimilated than the “conventional” or “popular” framework.

What I have just described, asking you only for a moment to consider, is the essence of what happens when the historical, orthodox, biblical Christian faith is used as the framework and basis for evaluating the available evidence.  Now, I know there are many people who deny this vehemently, but they are not the ones who have been able to manage their presuppostions long enough to give the matter a reasonable and fair examination.  They aren't even willing to try—which ipso facto disqualifies them from speaking on the matter with any authority (which they happily profess to do nevertheless!).

Now, all of that was to bring us to a place where I can say this to you:  If you are truly willing to engage in a friendly dialogue concerning the “nitty gritty” details of science vis-a-vis these two very different perspectives on origins, then you are to be commended, and you may well learn some things that you didn’t expect to learn.  Needless to say, I would expect that I might also learn some things.

On the other hand, if our respective purposes—either individually or collectively—were to shove our respective opinions down one another’s throats, then I think you would agree that we would be wasting precious time—and I assure you, I don’t have THAT much more to spare than you do.

>>If we just gave up in our pursuit of knowledge and understanding, just because there may be a deity controlling everything anyway, human progress would cease.<<

Finally (and I trust that by now you realize this), I am not advocating the giving up of any pursuit of knowledge—especially on account of “a deity.”  Rather, I advocate a whole-hearted pursuit of knowledge, because true knowledge (not the least of which is that which is brought to light by means of the scientific process) never has—and never will—contradict the absolute truth that testifies of a purposeful and sovereign, personal Creator of both the cosmos and mankind.  The more I study, the more convinced of this I become.

As I have said, a rebuttal from you—particularly concerning more details than generalities—would be welcome.  I do not interpret your need for time as a sign of weakness; your have a busy schedule and your own priorities.  However, I would appreciate hearing from you if a dialogue is among your interests and/or intentions, so that I may know whether to expect to hear from you again or not.

TW


Response from Justin Bradford:

This is another follow-up to your previous letter. At the end, I address a few points from your essay. Due the lengthof your essay, I'm just going rebuke a few things at time, and we'll see how things go.

> >>I was, and still am, under the impression that any rebuttal I might make
> on the topic would fall on deaf ears.<<
>
> It still is not clear to me exactly from where you have drawn this
> impression. In any case, it doesn't seem reasonable to me that such an
> impression should be the basis for dispatching a few paragraphs of verbal
> derision as a substitute for any such rebuttal.

Let me clarify something first. Are you a creationist? It is my understanding that you are. If so, then you are attacking a science because you believe it is not being scientific, and in exchange, propose a theory based entirely on religion, and not science. How can you attack evolutionists for not being objective when you believe in a theory completely subjective?
That is why my initial response was so derisive. Now I would like to apologize for such an insulting tone, but nevertheless, I still believe what I wrote.

> If religion has no valid, credible, historical, or rational connection with
> the cosmos and the knowledge to be gained from science, then not only does
> it not have the same purpose (as you wrote), but it is a futile thing and
> an utter waste of time, except perhaps for the false sense of comfort it
> would ostensibly provide to those who partook of it.

That is an excellent description of my view of religion.

> On the other hand, what if we were to suspend all disbelief and suppose for
> a moment...

We have a problem here. I don't want to suspend my disbelief. I want something you can show me that I can understand. Testaments of faith written a hundred years after the incident by the pupils of the supposed authors who reportedly knew someone who claimed to be the son of god do not count.

> And suppose this record—under the scrutiny of
> objective scientific process and “reasonable doubt” examination of the
> evidence—not only were incapable of disproof by the evidence, but
> furnished a remarkably integrated framework through which the evidence
> could be better assimilated than the “conventional” or “popular” framework.

That is no doubt the very end objective of science: to explain everything. Unfortunately, it will not be happening soon, so we just have to continue along our current path. We describe what we can observe and adjust the theories to account for new observations that deviate from the theory. Sometimes, the theory becomes extremely complex, until someone else comes along and gives us a fresh new perspective (Copernicus and Kepler come to mind) that still incorporates all of the observed evidence.

This is the scientific method. You are free to give up in the name of God's omnipotent control over us anyway, but that's not terribly productive. Think of evolution (or big bang, etc) our observation of God's control of the universe. Science can't compete on a metaphysical level, because we can only go as far as we observe, while religion is free to move beyond the very realm of human comprehension.

> Now, I know there are many people who deny this
> vehemently, but they are not the ones who have been able to manage their
> presuppostions long enough to give the matter a reasonable and fair
> examination. They aren't even willing to try—which ipso facto disqualifies
> them from speaking on the matter with any authority (which they happily do
> nevertheless!).

I believe many of them vehemntly deny this because it is hypocritical. You're saying that the evidence doesn't support the theory, so give up on it, believe in this god and these stories about how it made everything. Can you seriously consider this a rational alternative?
Religion and science cannot be mixed like this. Religion exists to give a metaphysical meaning to life, not to explain the natural events we see. You are dealing with a subjective and objective view. One is taken on faith, the other on observation. How can you possibly combine the two like you are trying?

> On the other hand, if our respective purposes—either individually or
> collectively—were to shove our respective opinions down one another's
> throats, then I think you would agree that we would be wasting precious
> time—and I assure you, I don't have THAT much more to spare than you do.

As I have said before, I do not expect to have any effect on your viewpoint, nor do I expect that you will have any on mine. However, just the possibility of understanding your rationalization for your beliefs would be extremely interesting to me. I simply cannot comprehend your view at this point, but I would like to try.

> Rather, I advocate a whole-hearted pursuit of knowledge, because true
> knowledge (not the least of which is that which is brought to light by
> means of the scientific process) never has—and never will—contradict the
> absolute truth that testifies of a purposeful and sovereign, personal
> Creator of both the cosmos and mankind. The more I study, the more
> convinced of this I become.

I would like to know of any source of knowledge besides observation. I personally cannot think of a single one. Now, as for the absolute truth of this creator: it is entirely irrelevant until it's something observable and useful. You can think of science through your perspective, but it is still a religious view and not a requirement for science.

The only knowledge you have of the Christian God has been passed down almost two thousand years, transcribed, translated, and probably edited an uncountable number of times. And that's assuming the initial author wasn't just an insane lunatic. This is your proof?

The reason Islam was founded (according to their prophet) was because Jews and Christians had distorted the original religious message so badly. Until God explains things to me personally or publishes a paper explaining everything (in observable terms, of course) religion and Creationism are not science and should not be taught in public schools.

Topic #1: Genetic Variation

Genetic variation within a gene pool is introduced via genetic mutation, virus remains, plasmids, transposons, etc. All sorts of biochemical events can cause the change of protein expression or function. You seem to imply that is something besides evolution.

Let's take HIV for example. There are all sorts of strains now present. Now you would argue that they were always present. They have been present since they mutated from the initial form. Their frequency becomes more common as the new traits allow it to infect more efficiently.

Or how about bacteria? Antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria are becoming increasingly more common. Penicillin works by destroying the cell wall of a bacterium. Most resistant bacteria simply mutate to not transport the antibiotic into the cell. But let's say that a new antibiotic was developed that used a very common and important transporter necessary for cell growth. Now if the transporter is lost, the cell dies, so that defense doesn't work very well. Now it gets hit by this ultraviolet light which rips apart a section of DNA and in the repair process an extra nucleotide is inserted. This results in a frame shift (or substantial changes in protein structure). Now this old protein helped build the cell wall by linking strands of some amino acid together, and the new one links different amino acids. The result is still a structurally sound cell wall, but of a different composition so the antibiotic can't interfere with its construction. Also, say its pilus structure can no longer bond to this new cell wall, so this new bacteria can't conjugate with other bacteria like it. (A pilus is a tube which connects to neighboring cells and transfers genetic info) So this cell forms a new colony, possibly starting from a single cell, which is no longer compatible with non-mutant forms of the bacteria. Eventually there will be many of these cells (assuming they are fit for the environment) through genetic mutation, a gene pool will begin to develop. This gene pool is distinct from the nonmutant bacteria. The exact same steps apply to larger life forms, such as animals and plants, but the progression is on a slower scale.

And then there are computer simulations to further demonstrate evolution. Simply simulate a environment with organisms which are described by genes subject to mutation and conjugation. Very quickly you will have a new organism far better suited to its environment. This is obviously a simplification, but it definitely shows evolution occuring. Have you ever heard of genetic algorythmns (GA)? A set of GAs has instructions to before a task. They all do the task, and are then evaluated based on their performance (akin to natural selection. The bad ones starve, the good ones mate). After a while, you have an extremely efficient solution. Was this solution in the starting gene pool, as you said all observed “evolutions” really are? It isn't.

As for the fruit flies, try observing them for a few thousand years. Then maybe you'll see some substantial evolution. It's a time frame problem.

How do you explain genetic correlation? We can fit evolutionary trees based on fossils to genetic correlation samplings, as in simians have extremely similiar genes to humans, but not as much with frogs. Funny, the fossils seem pretty similar too.

Or how about mitochondria? These are interesting in that, while subject to some mutation, it is relatively small. You can trace mitchondrial similarities along family lines very easily. That was how they proved the supposed Anastasia was just a fake, using mitchondrial comparisons to a distant cousin.
Mitochondrial similarites follow the theoretical distribution patterns of early man, and subsequent migrations (or you could just look at skin color and facial structure; there seems to be a pattern there to). This is also the basis of the Eve hypothesis. We probably are all descendents of the same woman (or possibly a small group).

If this isn't evolution, what is it?

Topic #2: Order vs. Organized Complexity

There are numerous examples of order from complex systems. For instance, most organic molecules have left-handed chirality, the universe is predominantly matter as opposed to antimatter. These are complex systems. They probably dwarf the brain in terms of complexity.

However, you try to present a difference between order in a physical systems and order in biological systems. So life is organized complexity Let's the brain as an example. It is capable of storing information in its complex system. It is apparently random, yet an ordered and organized structure develops from it (consciousness).

Now how exactly is the interaction of the organic compounds floating about in water any different than the interaction of neurons or even atoms of matter throughout the universe. It might even be statistically more likely for man to evolve than for the universe to end up mostly matter, although neither seems likely to occur by pure chance, nor can either really be calculated.

Something cause organized behaviour to be exhibited in complex systems. That could be because they are all thermodynically more stable (ie. organization in complex systems might actually be lower energy than no organization in complex systems). This seems contradictory to our understanding of thermodynamics, but we can't really begin to comprehend the reactions involved in a complex system, so it's difficult to tell. There can be any number of explanations for the cause of this organization, possibly thermodynamics, possibly a god (would this make chaos theory a religion? :). But that is really irrelevant to this discussion, since either way, it looks very likely that whatever the controling force, evolution was the pathway.

These were two of the most important topics. Evolution has most definitely been demonstrated, and complex systems result in organization all of the time, so the development of highly ordered and organized life forms really isn't that unlikely.
You seem to be blurring topics in an effort to create ambiguities and uncertainities where there are none.

Justin Bradford justin@ukans.edu

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Response from Timothy Wallace:

Thank you very much for your well-written and detailed further response to the “Five Misconceptions” essay.  I particularly appreciate the more civil tone which you employed this time.

>>Due the lengthof your essay, I'm just going rebuke a few things at time, and we'll see how things go.<<

That is fine with me.  (However, it seems to me that “rebut” would be a more appropriate word than “rebuke” for your purposes, based on your context.)

>>Let me clarify something first. Are you a creationist? It is my understanding that you are. If so, then you are attacking a science...<<

It has never been my purpose to “attack” science.  What you perceive as an “attack” on “science” is perfectly reasonable criticism of a highly biased interpretation of carefully selected emprirical data, not science itself.  There is a big difference between these two, without which science becomes simply a relativistic hodge-podge of equivocal opinions that prove nothing.

>>...you...propose a theory based entirely on religion, and not science.<<

It seems to have escaped your notice that everyone has a religious/philosophical view—even an atheist (whether he will admit it or not).  And being human, none of us is capable of divesting ourselves 100% of our religious/philosophical presuppositions as we examine and interpret the empirical data and evidence available to us, though good science demands that we allow our bias to have the least possible influence for the sake of objectivity.

The notion that the practice of “science” is a pristine, unbiased, and completely objective thing is thus an unrealistic—albeit pretty—picture foisted on the general public by those who believe man's science is somehow infallible and beyond criticism.

>>How can you attack evolutionists for not being objective when you believe in a theory completely subjective?<<

Again, I assure you that my aim has never been to “attack” science or evolutionists, but to focus specific criticism on the highly-biased, hardly-scientific conjectures of evolutionist theory.  Now, as for your accusation that I too am guilty of subjectively believing in a different theory, I wouldn't be honest if I denied that there were at least some subjectivity on my part also.  But in order to justifiably accuse me of not controlling my presuppositions, you must demonstrate with some specificity (i.e., using my own words) how my subjectivity has led me to a less than reasonable interpretation of the data.  The mere accusation by itself is tantamount to mud-slinging, and I make it my aim neither to engage in—nor to encouarge—this practice.

>>That is why my initial response was so derisive.<<

So, you are to be excused for hurling derision and insults because you didn’t like your victim’s theory and believed that he was human enough to be guilty of the same subjectivity that is common to everyone?

>>Now I would like to apologize for such an insulting tone, but nevertheless, I still believe what I wrote.<<

In other words, “I’m sorry I insulted you, but I still meant it”?  This is a remarkable brand of courtesy you have, Mr. Bradford.

>> >If religion has no valid...<

>>That is an excellent description of my view of religion.<<

Mine too.  (My studies in science, epistomology, history, and philosphy have convinced me that there is a tremendous difference between “religion” [man's effort to define and appease his subjective perception of “god”] and historical, orthodox, biblical Christianity [simultaneously the most history-based, scientifically and philosophically tenable account of man, his origin, purpose, and destiny, and the provision to man by his Creator of that which man needs to know in order to understand the same, and take appropriate action to fulfill his intended purpose, should he desire to do so].)

>>We have a problem here. I don't want to suspend my disbelief...<<

That’s remarkable.  You seem to insist that I share your belief in evolutionism, suspending my own disbelief (for the sake of objectivity), yet you refuse to practice the same objectivity in order to reasonably consider my position.  Sounds rather one-sided to me...

>>I want something you can show me that I can understand...<<

What you understand depends on what you are willing to consider. You cannot consider yourself a fair and objective student of the evolution/creation issue without a deliberate act of your will, mind and emotions, determining to tentatively suppress any personal bias as you carefully consider the truth or falsity of the respective interpretations of empirical data.

>>Testaments of faith written a hundred years after the incident by the pupils of the supposed authors who reportedly knew someone who claimed to be the son of god do not count ... The only knowledge you have of the Christian God has been passed down almost two thousand years, transcribed, translated, and probably edited an uncountable number of times. And that's assuming the initial author wasn't just an insane lunatic.<<

These statements betray what can only be a personal ignorance on your part concerning the facts of history and the doctrines of historical, orthodox, biblical Christianity—particularly pertaining to the Scriptures. What you say here amounts to the standard college-level justification for dismissing the Bible and all it says, based on absolutely no personal objective, in-depth research whatsoever.

Do you now wish to suggest to me that your analysis would also happen to be a “scientifically” executed one?

I have examined the religious/philosophical perspectives inherent in the views and words of such men as Erasmus and Charles Darwin, Charles Lyell, William Smith, James Hutton, Robert Chambers, Alfred Wallace, Thomas Huxley, Ernst Haeckel, Jean-Baptiste de Lamarck, and the many others found behind the history, birth and popularization of modern evolutionism. A fair and objective study of this complex subject would demand this, and so I make it my purpose to know what I write about concerning the historical and scientific relevancies of evolutionism. It seems to me that the same could be expected of you, should you wish to make statements concerning a perspective other than your own.

>> > And suppose this record—under the scrutiny of
>> > objective scientific process and “reasonable doubt” examination of the
>> > evidence—not only were incapable of disproof by the evidence, but
>> > furnished a remarkably integrated framework through which the evidence
>> > could be better assimilated than the “conventional” or “popular” framework.

>>That is no doubt the very end objective of science: to explain everything...<<

You seem to have completely missed (or ignored) my point here—which I suppose is at least consistent of you, considering your previous comments (which I addressed immediately above): Contrary to popular belief, the Christian philosophy/system of thought not only doesn't oppose science, but in fact lends itself to better scientific scrutiny than does evolutionism. Perhaps you chose to overlook this point on account of incredulity (“he can't possibly have meant that”), but I reiterate it here to stress the challenge that faces you if you wish to truly and objectively discredit creationism on the basis of the empirical facts and the natural laws known to man.

>>This is the scientific method. You are free to give up in the name of God's omnipotent control over us anyway...<<

Thank you for allowing me such a generous freedom. However I see no need whatsoever to “give up” science in the name of anything—particularly any attributes of God. On the contrary, in my experience, proper application of the scientific method, and—where that isn't applicable—objective analysis of the exisiting evidence, only serve to support the historicity of the biblical record and the scientific implications contained therein. Otherwise I would gladly dispense with my confidence in both the Bible and the wonderful heavenly Father of whom it testifies.

>>...Science can't compete on a metaphysical level, because we can only go as far as we observe, while religion is free to move beyond the very realm of human comprehension.<<

You make an excellent point here.  Religion does indeed often go beyond human comprehension, as we are told simply to accept various dogmas without any hope for a rational basis.  Biblical Christianity doesn’t force this kind of thinking on men, the highly popularized caricature of the same notwithstanding.

>>I believe many of them vehemntly deny this because it is hypocritical. You're saying that the evidence doesn't support the theory, so give up on it...<<

It is by no means an act of hypocrisy to abandon a theory which contradicts the best established natural laws known to man, and which 150 years after its popularization remains hotly disputed at even its most rudimentary points by those found within the ranks of its own proponents.  So yes, I am saying that the evidence doesn’t support the theory, and yes, I am saying it deserves to be abandoned...

>>...believe in this god and these stories about how it made everything. Can you seriously consider this a rational alternative? Religion and science cannot be mixed like this...<<

...I am not however suggesting that irrational theistic beliefs ought to be blindly substituted for irrational atheistic beliefs.  Quite to the contrary, the rational alternative to evolutionism, when objectively considered, is contrary to neither the laws or knowledge of science, nor to the biblical record.  It is an arbitrary (and erroenous) presumption that naturalism, atheism, amoralism, mechanism are all requisite attributes of science, when in fact this notion has only been foisted on students of science and the general public during the past century or so.  A careful study of the history of science will adequately substantiate this for you (though you may have to look beyond the possibly biased resources provided in your present environment for the full picture, since much modern “science history” [being subservient to the prevailing philosophy] paints only a philosophical naturalist’s picture of even the recent past).

>>Religion exists to give a metaphysical meaning to life, not to explain the natural events... You are dealing with a subjective and objective view. One is taken on faith, the other on observation. How can you possibly combine the two like you are trying?<<

Religion yes, but biblical Christianity no.  A religious/philosophical perspective that cannot be objectively substantiated in the natural world is grossly inadequate and should be discarded with the same dispatch as a similarly inadequate “scientific” theory.

>>As I have said before, I do not expect to have any effect on your viewpoint, nor do I expect that you will have any on mine. However, just the possibility of understanding your rationalization for your beliefs would be extremely interesting to me. I simply cannot comprehend your view at this point, but I would like to try.<<

Here we come to the crux of the matter:  I can honestly say to you that I have examined—and continue to examine—the claims made on behalf of the evolutionist perspective.  I do this with as much objectivity as I am able, not condemning anything out-of-hand, but preferring to study the various claims personally to the best of my ability, and/or research the published support and/or criticisms from qualified practitioners and/or respected authorities in the appropriate disciplines.

Also, having myself once been an atheist (then an agnostic), evolutionist, and naturalist, I can honestly say that I do not subscribe to the bias of my choice because of ignorance concerning the opposing point of view.

Can you honestly say the same things about your examination of the creationist perspective?

More importantly, while you may not comprehend my viewpoint, your expressed willingness to do so is commendable, and is really all that is necessary, providing you are truly willing to work at it.  On the other hand, if your position is such that you have already made up your mind that no evidence—no matter how significant—will persuade you to reconsider your position, then we are both wasting precious time with this dialogue.  The choice is yours.  But it would not be prudent of me to continue much further in our correspondence (much as I would truly like to) if we are not mutally committed to objectivity and fairness in reason, rationality, and judgement.

>>I would like to know of any source of knowledge besides observation. I personally cannot think of a single one.<<

If observation were the only source of knowledge then I would venture to say that you do not know that genes exist, because you have not observed them firsthand; that you do not know the identity your real mother or father—or (for that matter) anything concerning that which took place preceding the emergence of your own self-awareness, since you observed nothing before that time.

See?  The vast majority of what you consider to be “knowledge” is based on your confidence (a.k.a. trust, or faith) in the ability of others to accurately observe and record knowledge, which you have subsequently accepted.

>>Now, as for the absolute truth of this creator: it is entirely irrelevant until it's something observable and useful.<<

Now, it certainly cannot be said to be reasonable to accept the greater part of one’s knowledge based on that which has not been personally observed, and then reject out-of-hand the mere notion of a Creator based on that which has not been personally observed, adding insult to injury by arbitrarily demanding some preconceived subjective “usefulness” of the very Person whose existence one is willing to deny based on the alleged absence of personal observation.

>>You can think of science through your perspective, but it is still a religious view and not a requirement for science.<<

As I have said, everyone has a religious view, through which everything (including science) is interpreted.  And you are correct in saying that science doesn’t require a religious view, but that is not to say that men are capable of divesting themselves of their presuppositions as they approach matters of science.

>>Until God explains things to me personally or publishes a paper...<<

That you do not take seriously even the notion that there is a God is obvious here.  You arbitrarily award yourself the right to demand that your Maker communicate with you on your terms only, denying even the plain evidence He has placed before you by your very existence and the incredible complexity and design of the universe in which you find yourself—evidence which, if properly understood, and not denied in the name of naturalistic pseudo-science (i.e., evolutionism), would lead you to seek further communication (on His terms) from Him, which He would then provide.

The words of Christ speak to this: “Seek and you shall find ... If any man is willing to do His will, he will know whether the teaching is of God, or whether I speak from myself ... To him who has shall more be given, but to him who doesn't have, even what he has shall be taken away”

>>Genetic variation within a gene pool is introduced via genetic mutation... You seem to imply that is something besides evolution.<<

Indeed, I do not imply it, I declare it!  There is a significant and unequivocal difference between the variable potential that exists within a gene pool (=genetic variation [e.g., brown, black, blonde hair, brown, blue, green eyes, etc., etc.]) and random, mutational changes (=errors [e.g., cancer, birth defects, sickle cell anemia, etc.]) caused by external effects.  While evolutionists love to call genetic variation “micro-evolution” it does not qualify as evolution as defined in the context of “macro-evolution” (which is often erroneously extrapolated from the presumption that genetic variation is “micro-evolution”).

This matter was addressed in some detail in my essay, to which I would refer you for the balance of my position.

Your fascinating, detailed examples of microbe variations and viral mutations does little to substantiate evolutionism, since bacterial variations leading to resistance have not been unequivocally established as mutational, as opposed to due to the inherent genetic potential already present within an organism's gene pool, and you start and end with the same organism in every case.  Variation within organism kinds is a fact of life, but it proves nothing concerning the alleged evolution of one organism into another.

>>And then there are computer simulations...<<

Computers and software are both made only by the design of the intelligent agent of man for the purpose intended by man. It is thus ludicrous to suggest that they—or anything they do—qualify as evidence that something came into being without the aid and purpose of an intelligent agent.

>>Have you ever heard of genetic algorythmns (GA)?...<<

I'll have to study this argument in greater detail before I can respond to it fairly.

>>As for the fruit flies, try observing them for a few thousand years. Then maybe you'll see some substantial evolution. It's a time frame problem.<<

Now that's a reasonable suggestion ... not! Saying it's a “time frame problem” is simply excusing evolutionism from yet another failure to manifest itself in the observable evidence.

>>How do you explain genetic correlation?...<<

How do you explain the fact that directions for assembling Fords, Chevys, Dodges, and Toyotas all call for many of the same types of components, made of the same kinds of materials, in the same quantities, same or similar colors, with the end in mind that many of the complex system components serve in simlar capacities, yet each is made only in its respective plant, and never in that of a competitor? The answer to both questions (yours and mine) is that designers were involved in both processes, who employed knowledge in designing different complex assemblies, yet with many very similarly functioning components.

>>Or how about mitochondria? ... This is also the basis of the Eve hypothesis. We probably are all descendents of the same woman...<<

Are you now arguing from the evolutionist perspective or the creationist perspective??

>>There are numerous examples of order from complex systems.<<

The existence of order and complexity or “order from complex systems” (it isn't completely clear what you mean by this) is not the issue, but rather the claim made by evolutionists that complexity can arise from chaos.

>>...Let's the brain as an example. It is capable of storing information in its complex system. It is apparently random...<<

On what basis do you assign to the brain the attribute of being “apparently random”?

>>Now how exactly is the interaction of the organic compounds floating about in water any different than the interaction of neurons or even atoms of matter throughout the universe. It might even be statistically more likely for man to evolve ... nor can either really be calculated.<<

You must ignore a significant body of statistical and practical data produced by both evolutionists and non-evolutionists in order to make a statement like this. It sounds good on paper, but holds no water vis-a-vis objective statistical analysis.

>>Something cause organized behaviour to be exhibited in complex systems.<<

Agreed, although I prefer the more reasonable “SomeONE caused...”

>>That could be because ... (ie.organization... might actually be) ...This seems contradictory to our understanding of thermodynamics...<<

That which one would like to think “could be” and “might actually be”—but which truly does indeed contradict the laws of thermodynamics, is most certainly a matter of faith and/or wishful thinking, and not the result of a scientific analysis.

>>...There can be any number of explanations for the cause of this organization, possibly thermodynamics...<<

Exactly how?

>>...But that is really irrelevant to this discussion, since either way, it looks very likely that whatever the controling force, evolution was the pathway.<<

And on what basis to you make this statement? Because from the evolutionist viewpoint “evolution is true”? Then where is the science-based evidence in support of such a notion?

>>Evolution has most definitely been demonstrated, and complex systems result in organization all of the time, so the development of highly ordered and organized life forms really isn't that unlikely.<<

These are awfully bold statements to tack on to the end of a message which offers no substantiation whatsoever. I would challenge you to justify such claims, knowing that they otherwise qualify as nothing but dogmatic propoganda—the same kind of stuff that prompted me to write my original essay in the first place.

>>You seem to be blurring topics in an effort to create ambiguities and uncertainities where there are none.<<

This has not been my intention at all, and if you will point out the specific places where it seems I have done this, I will make every effort to better articulate my position and clarify any ambiguities or uncertainties that it may seem I have sought to create, for which I offer in advance my respectful and humble apologies.

TW


[Note: Mr. Bradford took up his criticism three months later, in February 1998.]

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From: Don Morris

Bravo, Tim. For the most part, a well thought out and prased rebuttal for one of the most singularly insulting pieces of “science” I have ever seen.

As is typical, one can determine who is the serious scientist by the quantity and quality of the logic presented.

Am working on a few models of my own, and will try to bounce them off of you on completion.

Don Morris
BS, Physics ISU 1995


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