Why Is Evolution So Unpopular?

My fourth video on atheist-related matters. This video isn’t so much about atheism as it is about evolution. I talk about the misconceptions of evolutions and why so many people in America don’t believe in it.

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Here’s the transcript: Hello. I’m Al. I’m an atheist, I actively believe that supernatural gods don’t exist.

In my previous video, “What Science Isn’t”, I detailed the case that the intelligent design movement had motivations that were far more political than scientific.

Creationism never had the anywhere near the level of objective evidence that evolution provided, but creationism still sees popular support in the United States.

Although I’d like to go into the overwhelming evidence that evolution has, in this video I’ll detail my thoughts on why anti-evolutionism is so prevelant in America.

This video doesn’t touch on atheism as much as my previous videos, but I think everyone, atheists included, has a stake in seeing that our education system stays true to scientific principles.

Also, because this video is centered on religion in America, I’ll mostly be talking about Christianity instead of theism in general.

I think I have some good insights into why science comes under assault when it deals with things such as the origin of life.

As usual, I’d like you to think about the things I say, and if you have anything to say back to me, please leave a comment.

(caption: On our humanity)

The heart of my argument on why so many are disinclined to accept evolution is because they think that it reduces our humanity and somehow makes us less special.This idea of human exceptionalism isn’t treated lightly, and many people take it very seriously.

There are lots of things that separate humans from other living organisms:

We discover mathematical principles that describe the behavior of the physical universe.
We wear clothing.
(naked) We create language that can be used to express complicated and abstract ideas.
We worship gods.
We create poetry, art, and video blogs.
We invent incredible things like skyscrapers, airplanes, and spoon-forks, which we call sporks.

Many people feel that since evolution dictates that we descended from apes, in a way this destroys our own humanity.

Here’s a short clip from NPR’s Morning Edition radio show that I feel quickly sums up the feelings of many on the anti-evolution side. On August 4, 2005 Steve Inskeep interviewed former Pennslyvanian Republican senator, Rick Santorum. During this time the Dover Area School Board was in court for promoting creationism in the classroom, and Santorum commented on his thoughts about evolution’s implications:

(Steve Inskeep) “Why do what you see as holes in the theory of evolution, and there are scientists here on the air, that will disagree that the idea that there are really that many holes, but-”
(Rick Santorum) “I just think they’re wrong.”
(Steve Inskeep) “Why does that particular item of the academic curriculum concern you as a United States senator? Why would those holes matter?”
(Rick Santorum) “It has huge consequences for society. It’s where we come from. Does man have a purpose? Is there a purpose for our lives? Or are we just simply, you know, the result of chance? If we are the result of chance, if we’re simply a mistake of nature, then that puts a different moral demand on us. In fact, it doesn’t put a moral demand on us, than if in fact we are a creation of a being that has moral demands.”

I think Santorum’s statements are very typical of the popular misconceptions of evolution. And there are several interesting things he said that I’d like to point out.

But something I want to show first is an interesting thing Santorum didn’t say:

Just because he finds the idea of humanity being descended from previous species to be philosophically uncomfortable, that doesn’t refute the scientific evidence in support of evolution.

This logical fallacy is known as an appeal to consequence, in which one rejects an argument simply because it leads an uncomfortable consequence, regardless of the argument’s actual merit.

But Santorum’s philosophical implications of evolution are also misconceptions. Evolutionary theory and the process of natural selection are completely disinterested in human morality and purpose.

Wow, despite Santorum also being a slang word for the mixture of semen and fecal matter that results from anal sex, I’ve managed to say his name repeatedly without giggling.

(suppressed and strained straight-face)

A similar flawed entanglement of science and philosophy occured in the beginning of the last century with Einstein’s Special Theory of Relativity.

Heheh, get it? Einstein? Entanglement? Nevermind.

Relativity is a very unintuitive concept in physics, and most people didn’t quite understand it and applied it irrelevant areas such as human morality. There were many people who opposed Einstein’s relativity because they thought it implied an endorsement of moral relativism.

Not really. All it said was that light travels at a constant speed regardless of any frame of reference, which leads to time dialation, spacial contraction, and other phenomena as an object’s velocity approaches the speed of light. It also dictates that it is impossible for matter to travel faster than the speed of light in a vacuum.

Evolution isn’t quite as complicated, but it’s often misunderstood to imply that the development of humans from apes means humans are conscious-less, soulless animals without intellect or purpose.

Not really. All it describes is the gradual changes to the genes in a population in response to environmental pressures. It also dictates that over time new species arrise from these changes.

In the 1890s the term “social darwinism” appeared in the vernacular. It was term used by people colloquially known as “rich assholes” to justify racism, xenophobia, and widespread poverty. According to social darwinism, the upper class deserved their wealth because of their innate strength in climbing the social and finacial ladder. You could argue that the term didn’t have much to do with evolutionary biology, but at least it provided a convenient excuse to jail union leaders and use child labor.

(with overlay of handlebar mustache and monocole) Ha ha, inferior child, you will work in my coal mine.

“Survival of the fittest” was also misused as justification for eugenics, the philosophy that adovcates improving the human race through institutional intervention. Eugenics become unpopular in the 1930s and 40s when Nazi Germany decided to institute their idea of human improvement on a mass scale.

(wince)

All of this associates a lot of negative baggage with evolution, and while it has much to do with philosophy, politics, and sociology, it has nothing to do with biological science.

(caption: A supposition.)

I’m going to go out on a limb and make a supposition:

“There would be no popular controversy about the science of evolution and natural selection, if they did not imply that humans descended from apes.”

I think many people find discomfort with the idea that our ancestors of millions of years ago were primates, or single-cell microorganisms billions of years ago. And I think many theists are used to believing that their religion holds a monopoly as a source of moral behavior and values.

I disagree.

I don’t think we have a moral mandate because God said so. I think we have a moral mandate because our actions, nevertheless what we think, make a difference. We affect the people around us in material and emotional terms, and our actions set an example for others to follow.

We have a moral mandate to take responsibility because we are in the rare position among life forms on earth to think, reflect, and take consideration of consequence.
I think to fail to excogitate on our actions with our unique mental capabilities is tragic.
And we see the problems that arise out of this failure, both in problems of hurt emotions and damaged relationships, and in problems of brutal violence and conflict.

Our ancestory from millions of years ago doesn’t limit our intellectual capability to find solutions to these problems today.
It doesn’t impede our moral imperative to heal ourselves.
And, unlike what Rick Santorum says, it doesn’t remove purpose from our lives.

But many people don’t see it that way. And then evolution becomes an attack not only on our divine creation, but also one on our humanity.

And I think this is the reason there’s so much popular opposition to evolution.

I hope you consider the things I’ve had to say, and if you have anything to say to me, please leave a comment. A transcript of this video is available on my website at coffeeghost.net.

Take care, and thanks for watching.

39 Responses to “Why Is Evolution So Unpopular?”

  1. Kristi Says:

    What a relief to hear from someone else that values science! Very well said. I posted a link to this site on an atheistic forum I often post on http://www.atheist.net in response to a thread that asked if there were any good reasons to be an atheist. Thank you, and good work!

  2. bentrt Says:

    Whats your definition of science in this context. Science is commonly known to be testable, observable. Natural selection is observable, adaptation can be seen tested and speciation. But in order for evolution (GTE) to happen you have to have animals of a certain kind turning into something of different kind. e.g dinosaur to bird. Since we have never seen it happen (one kind into another) how is it science. We can’t test evolution one kind to another, single cell evolving into multicell organisms. We can’t test that. So therefore it is open to scepulation, interpretation, this isn’t science, Evolution molecules to man isn’t science. Secondly natural selection speciation, variation is not evolution. Evolution require increased amounts of information added to the genome, evolutionist say mutations did this. Natural selection works on the genes. An information increasing mutation has never been observed. Yet there would have to have been trillions for prokaryotic cells to turn into multicellular life to turn into sea life to turn to land animals. Moreover you said there is loads of evidence for evolution, you didn’t mention 1.

    This ape to man thing. Apes are totally different to us. A common ancestor would be less intelligent couldn’t walk like us etc. How does a common ancestor evolve to humans. Natural selection will only work with genes that are present. If there is no information/genes to create the complex structures of our ligaments in our knee to enable us to walk like we do, in the common ancestor, where is the genes gonna come from. Mutations can’t make new genes only alter present genes.

    Scientist say we are 97% similar, thats still 120million bases difference. There would have had to be 120million useful mutation that increased information in the genome to turn into a human. We haven’t even found one mutation ever that has increase information in a genome.

  3. DaveP Says:

    Al,
    Great site, I look forward to your next update.
    Dave

    bentrt,
    You seem to be making an argument based on your own misunderstanding of what evolution means. Natural selection and evolution, in the generic sense, are the same thing. Evolution is accepted in the science community as a biological fact. It’s true that new theories come out all the time chalenging or improving upon the details. But the idea that evolution does not occur, or is even in dispute, does not. The sort of talk that claims evolution is false is, usually, reserved to republican rallies and churches.

    Proof of evolution has, in fact, been found and demostrated in the microbial world. You don’t have to take my word for it though, take a few moments to read an issue or two of Scientific American and/or Nature. Articles are frequently published on the subject. Or pay a visit to your local college or university’s biology department. I’m sure they could explain it better than I can. (I doubt that you will do either one, but I hope that I am mistaken.)

    Secondly, I consider odd results of animal-husbandry/breeding/farming to be evidence of the potential for organisms to change very quickly. The fact that many of them are destroyed because they are deemed undesireable, does not make it less significant. I once heard that dogs, in dog breeding, never stop being a dogs. This is true but only to a point. Dogs are the result of an attempt to breed wolves. Unfortunately for the breeders, because of a lack of genetic diversity in the confined group of wolves, in just a few generations they stopped being wolves and became dogs. They breeders kept the dogs because they had more desireable traits than the wolves did. If these mutant/inbreed wolves were less desireable, and many of them were, they would have been destroyed.

    It should be easy to imagine that if the undesireable offspring(s) of dog breeding were allowed to live and reproduce, of the ones that are able to do so, that they would soon stop being dogs as well. Though it is likely the resulting creature would remain in the canid family, we would have a totally new animal.

    I think we both would agree that saying we are desended from horses is absurd. Likewise your assertion that we are not desended from the hominid group is also absurd. I’m guessing that you find the idea offensive somehow and therefore difficult to accept. I’m sorry for that. It was not my idea. That’s just how it is.

    Your argument as it relates to the lack diversity in the genome is absurd as well. You and I only had twenty six letters in the english language to get our point across with, yet we seemed to manage just fine with that paltry sum to arrange and re-arrange. Imagine what could be done with all the base pairs in the human genome.

    You seem to be a pretty smart person, but you also do not seem to open to ideas that conflict with how you excpect things to be. I don’t expect you to change your beliefs based on what I have said, but I do find it amazing the ammount of information that people will ignore just to have it fit with their viewpoint.

    I’m a logical person, if I am wrong, show me. I’m willing to consider it. Are you?

    (I appologize in advance for any spelling errors I may have made here)
    Dave

  4. bentrt Says:

    Dave i can’t believe you just said natural selection and evolution are basically the same. Natural selection is the mechanism for evolution with the help of mutations. They are not the same.

    Just because evolution is accepted as fact doesn’t make it fact. Yeah evolution is mentioned as fact but there are two type of evolution that are talked about as if it were the same thing. Macro and micro evolution. Micro (variation in a KIND of animal, speciation, adaptation) is fact, we observe it it can be tested. But macro (one kind of animal into another, dinosaur to bird) is not proven isn’t testable, isn’t observable. Scientists in evolutionary biased magazines mostly use equivocation between macro and micro evolution when covering articles. They say evolution but are not specific, this confuses people in think evolution is fact. Micro and horizontal change in a kind of animal is fact. Verticle change macro is not proven and hasn’t been observed. I have read load of articles i love to read about the evolution creation debate. I have been doing so for about 2 years.

    Can you please give me some of what you see is proven for evolution MOLECULES TO MAN, GOO TO YOU, NOT SPECIATION, VARIATION cos that not evolving in the orginal sense of the word.

    Of course magazines like nature, new scientist will say evolution. The people that write them are atheist and they will not support anything that implies a God. That doesn’t make the view true. Science can’t accept supernatural causes even if all the evidence points towards it because it can only explains things naturalistically. Science is not unbias, infact it starts with a bias.

    You said that animal- husbandry etc is evidence for animals changing. Of course animals change. Speciation, it can happen quickly but its the type of change that matters. Evolution one KIND of animal to another is a change that doesn’t happen. What does happen is what Bible said, animals reproduce after their kind. It require more faith to think otherwise.

    Why would you think i would be offended by being decended from an ape. in order for us to have evolved from an ape we would have had to have at least 120million extra bases added to our genome thats alot of information. The only way evolutionists explain this is by the way of information increasing mutations. Yet since we haven’t even observed 1 information increasing mutation, your requiring alot of faith to believe we could evolve from apes which would require 120million of those type of mutations.

    I didn’t say there was a lack of diversity in the human genome. That would be silly since we as a kind vary so much. Skin colour face shape ect.

    You said i was smart, I’m not that smart. How can you infer that i’m not open to ideas. Evolution doesn’t conflict with what i expect there to be. In conflicts with what we actually observe. Its not new ideas i’m after its truth, and proof beyond a resonable doubt and from the research i have been doing about evolution, the fact that its poor science, only an interpretation, not fact, breaks the laws of biogenesis, 2nd law Thermodynamics, entrophy, didn’t happen in the past, isn’t happening now, is getting weaker with new scientific finds (this is just scratching the surface of the problem with evolution) its just a theory that is held onto as a reason to not believe in a God.

    I recommend you do some research to cos when you said the science magazines could explain better than you implies you don’t know that much about the issue.

    Finally lol, you say that your logical and if your wrong then your consider changing, thats a big statement are you really willing to think that your wrong in the first place?

    (don’t worry about the spelling we all do it , its not deliberate, I ve probs done it lol)

  5. DaveP Says:

    bentrt,
    So what you are saying, if I am understanding you correctly, is that because evolution does not provide a method to attibute to procces to a divine creator that it must be false.

    This, to me, seems to be a flawed approach. If the data must support an idea that was decided beforehand, a devine creator, then any data that contradicts that will be dismissed.

    I feel confident that if modern science was making verifiable claims that a higher being had been involved, you would be embracing and defending it. But because it, currently, refutes that line of thought, you insist that it must be false.

    I am an atheist, but that is only because I have never seen anything that would lead me to believe otherwise. This does not, however, imply that I am unwilling to consider a higher power involved in all of our lives. However, I suspect that you are unwilling to consider that absence of a higher power. And if you were willing to consider that point, you would stop judging scientific journals and papers that do not support, or at least don’t mention, a god.

    Consider this from a god’s point of view: Why would you punish your creations for not doing as they were told? Wouldn’t misbehavior be the fault of the creator and not the created? Furthermore, why (as a god) would you play favorites with your otherwise equal creations and encourage some of them to kill some of the others? This makes no sense to me. I have pets and I would never blame them for their failings. I certainly make an effort to control their behavior through training, but if they don’t do what I want them to do, I can only blame myself. Not them. How can any god’s failure to have me believe in him/her/it be my fault? Yet this is the lesson that Christianity, Judiasm, and Islam teaches. That my disbelief is my fault. Sorry, I don’t think it works that way. If it does, I suspect we are all doomed to burn in hell. Though I believe that is highly unlikely.

    So unless you are willing to suspend your preconcieved notions about a creator, I think we can agree to disagree. Otherwise I can’t trust your assertion that you are looking for the truth. You seem to have already placed restrictions on what the truth can be.
    Dave

  6. bentrt Says:

    “Otherwise I can’t trust your assertion that you are looking for the truth.” (Dave)

    When I said looking for the truth I’m not actively look for whether God exists or not. I mean it in the sense when scientist come up with stories of how homosexuality, rape and life evolved whether that is true or not. I’m not looking for whether God exist or not. That happened a long time ago. I think I have found it beyond and reasonable doubt. I believe in God because I don’t have enough faith to be an atheist. When ideas arise from the world of science, when it gets mentioned in journals etc I like to look at how they came to that conclusion and whether that conclusion is true or not.

    Sorry if made it seem that I was an atheist trying to find the truth with an extreme God bias lol. I’m not an atheist, not anymore.

    “This, to me, seems to be a flawed approach. If the data must support an idea that was decided beforehand, a devine creator, then any data that contradicts that will be dismissed.” (Dave)

    You have just shown why Historical science is flawed. In science they say that there is no God everything can be explained by natural forces (that’s the presupposition). Even if the evidence shows this is not the case (which it does) they won’t accept it because this science only accepts Naturalism. Any data that does contradict it is dismissed. This happens a lot when dating things. Many times when they date things they don’t get the dates they expected, so they say discard it. I didn’t say you should presuppose God exists and dismiss data, I say go where the evidence leads, and it leads to a God not goo to you via the zoo.

    “I feel confident that if modern science was making verifiable claims that a higher being had been involved, you would be embracing and defending it.” (Dave)

    You make it seem as if they would support a God if the evidence made it silly to believe otherwise but what you’re missing here is that science presupposition that everything can and will be explained naturally. Whether what we observe suggests a God doesn’t matter because they never will believe it because its not an option the only option is naturalism! Its a pre-determined conclusion, its bad science.

    “But because it, currently, refutes that line of thought, you insist that it must be false.” (Dave)

    It would never support a God whether the evidence did or not. Science is about explaining things naturalistically, testing observing. They can’t explain how we life began they never will because they are looking in the wrong place

    “I am an atheist, but that is only because I have never seen anything that would lead me to believe otherwise. This does not, however, imply that I am unwilling to consider a higher power involved in all of our lives.” (Dave)

    I’m a Christian. You don’t need to see God to know there is one. Here is one thing I bring to you. Everything that has a beginning has a cause, the universe had a beginning, therefore the universe had a cause. In your view what was the cause.

    “However, I suspect that you are unwilling to consider that absence of a higher power.” (Dave)

    You make it sound as if I was born a Christian. I was an atheist too. But then I saw the evidence that you said you haven’t.

    “And if you were willing to consider that point, you would stop judging scientific journals and papers that do not support, or at least don’t mention, a god.” (Dave)

    I love reading the scientific finding and information and researching, God doesn’t come into this it’s evolution that comes into this. They say evolution is fact. Yes it is but only one type and that’s micro evolution not macro. When I’m reading through the scientific findings I like reading the articles that talk about evolution and knowing what I know, you can see that they are mixing micro with macro all the time, evolution is faith not science.

    “Why would you punish your creations for not doing as they were told?” (Dave)

    Why do we punish people (i.e. put people in prison) because they murdered someone and therefore didn’t obey the rules of the state. If there was no consequence to doing something bad then there would be no reason why you couldn’t do that bad thing and that would cause chaos. God gave the choice whether to obey him and have a life with him. The world was very good at the beginning there was no sin, but because humanity decided we didn’t want God in our lives and humanity wanted to be gods, we disobeyed God. Humanity knew the consequences, the wages of sin were death (God and sin don’t go together). God being the judge of the crime he had to show us the consequences. We knew disobeying meant death so God gave us what we wanted. But because God is so loving he doesn’t immediately punish us. God takes action to remove the consequences of man’s sin, and provided a way to remove the punishment altogether.

    “Wouldn’t misbehavior be the fault of the creator and not the created?” (Dave)

    That would imply that God created us to sin and misbehave. Sin only entered the world once Adam made the choice to, this choice is made available because if it wasn’t we would be forced to obey God we would be doing it of obligation. We’d be like robots and that would be one mean God to do that. Because of that choice Adam made it affected the whole of the world, and the rest of humanity the sin made us sinful and now God is giving us what we wanted. Every human being on this planet deserves to be thrown into hell at this very moment. Every second we spend alive is only by the grace of God. Even the most terrible misery we could experience on this planet is merciful compared to what we deserve.

    “Furthermore, why (as a god) would you play favorites with your otherwise equal creations and encourage some of them to kill some of the others?” (Dave)

    Your implying that we are indeed equal and for that to be the case we could have had to evolved from animals. But we aren’t equal to other creations. We were created in God likeness, in his image and we have moral law set in our hearts. We are a distinct kind of animal not related in anyway to apemen. In the beginning the world was very good there wasn’t death and suffering. We weren’t supposed to eat other animals, nor were other animals supposed to eat each other. Only after the fall did death begin to affect the whole of creation.

    “This makes no sense to me. I have pets and I would never blame them for their failings.”(Dave)

    When you get a new Dog they don’t know what failing is! You have to show them what is right before they can fail. If you don’t show them what is right then it is your fault if they fail. This Pet thing is completely different to the relationship we had with God at the beginning. God didn’t have to train us to know what was right. We knew if we went against God then there would be consequence not just for Adam and eve but for the world and the rest of humanity. Yet though we knew what was right and wrong be decided we knew best and went against God. We knew the consequence; it is our fault not Gods. We caused our self this predicament. God being a righteous judge is giving us what we wanted and the consequences.

    “How can any god’s failure to have me believe in him/her/it be my fault?” (Dave)

    It’s not God fault. God has clearly enough shown that the world is created. In your heart you know what’s right and wrong. God has given the Bible to show his existence and he gave Jesus to show he existed. If God appeared to every person when they were 18 years old and said ‘Hi I’m God, this is all the evidence you need’, it would go beyond God’s intentions of giving us the choice to believe him. You would be believe because God just appeared before you. Your free will would be negated. God has given enough evidence beyond a significant doubt that he exists, but not so much that your free will isn’t hampered.

  7. DaveP Says:

    bentrt,
    As I said before, I think we can agree to disagree. I do think that your argument in favor of a god contradicts itself, but if you want to believe in a supernatural entity, it’s not my job to stop you. You have every right to do so. However flawed I may think you are for doing so.
    I have a channel on youtube now and will be posting some of my own videos soon. Feel free to stop by.
    http://www.youtube.com/profile?user=BillDaCatt
    Dave

  8. neuro Says:

    hahaha i love how apologetics use the micro and macro evolution bullshit. it’s totally indicative of their lack of understanding of evolution. with that kind of thought, there is no hope for higher learning in religion.

  9. BENTRT Says:

    so how does evolution work then? How would you account for information to increase in a genome, so that you can go from molecules to man. You obviously know the answer, care to share.

  10. Max Says:

    I agrre with you. I think that some people need a god to succsed in life. it offers hope, and rules to people with a crude logic.
    Good work, keep it up ;)

  11. Dustin Says:

    As an atheist of 25+ years I also have misgivings about evolution. I don’t necessarily disagree with it completely but I find it taken as gospel by professional and amateur thinking people everywhere.

    I cannot deny that evolutionary ideals have added immeasurably to science or that its an elegant explanation (both of which mean a great deal) but still some things bother me.

    Natural Selection

    Again and again people use the term natural selection and evolution synonymously when they simply are not so. Natural selection has been resoundingly proven. But all “Natural selection” means is that nature favor/disfavor something it will flourish/suffer. There is however, no clear evidence that blue whales were once single celled organisms. Its the nature of the beast that something which takes millions of years to observe will not be observed.

    We do know that unnatural selection, or rather human selection has not been able to create species change two species incapable of creating offspring with each other aside from the exception where size differentials prevent copulation.

    Lack of Fossil Evidence

    There should be millions if not trillions of fossils that document the change of one species to another. Though what little fossil evidence we do have does not deny this possibility there should be fossils that chronicle the hundreds of thousands of baby steps that one species made towards becoming another.

    Evolutionists had a problem with this too, and thus punctuated equilibrium was born. Punctuated equilibrium basically suggests that evolution happens really fast in short chronological spurts.

    To me this seemed scientifically disingenuous. “My theories lack evidence, so here’s a new theory as to why they lack evidence without any evidence that the new theory is true either”.

    Okay there is SOME evidence for for P.E. but its about as sparse as the fossil record itself

    Lastly there is blood clotting and the eye. Two incredibly complex systems each involving 20+ parts almost all of which are useless until all of them are brought together. There are several elements of blood clotting that would be instantly fatal or negative survival traits if evolved independently.

    I’d love a real explanation of this.

  12. Michael O'Neil Brown Says:

    Yo La Tengo!

    :)

  13. BENTRT Says:

    I agree dustin. Also i love it when you ask how the eye evolved and they say from a light sensitive patch. How did the light sensitive patch ‘evolve’ and the ability for the creature to understand what it is seeing and to take action in response to that picture. The light sensitive patch is super complex itself.

  14. DaveP Says:

    OK Bentrt. I’ve thought about this for a few weeks and I have a question for you.

    Why is it not possible for your god to have done it? Isn’t the world and the universe spectacular enough for you? Does it have to fit into a particular viewpoint to be attributable to your deity? Seems like you are trying to make your god smaller than he needs to be to have created the universe just the way it is. Would he not be – just as amazing and wonderful?

    Claiming that “God did not do it that way” (not your words, but it seems to be your point), implies that your god is not powerful enough to have done the job that the evidence points to. I think that “120 million extra bases added to our genome” (your words) would be an easy one for a god of unlimited power.

    Sure there are gaps in what we know, but that has never been a secret. You can’t make any discovery and know everything about it instantly. In fact those gaps are embraced as new paths to explore for new information and new insight. Just about any description of anything is inadequate to describe it thoroughly and completely. Science has never claimed to have all the answers, and no scientist will claim that any hypotheses or theory is the ‘last word’ for any topic. There is always room for improvement.

    Cultures evolve, religions evolve, societies evolve, the laws of states and nations evolve, and scientific knowledge evolves. Evolution simply describes that things change, and science only tries to explain how that happened.

    I don’t recall if you have ever said it, but many people who think like you have said or implied that scientists are trying to deceive us. Any insight as to what they would be trying to hide? What would be the motive for that be?
    Couldn’t it be that they don’t care what the answer is and therefore have no agenda? I have always understood that a good scientist will follow and report the evidence as they see it, even if they don’t like the answer.

    Finally, I have an article for everyone to read. It is written by Terry M. Gray, he is both a scientist and a Christian. I think you may find it interesting.
    http://www.asa3.org/evolution/irred_compl.html
    For more information and articles, here is his homepage.
    http://www.chm.colostate.edu/grayt/

  15. Ellwoodblues Says:

    hmm.. Well it seems that a counter argument to the ” an eye is too complicated to have evolved” is, “why are some people born blind but still have eyes?” If the entire organ is so complex so that it could only have spontaneously appeared then how can only one small part of an organ be broken yet the entire organ still exists?

    As to why there might not be alot of fossil evidence, my unprofessional response is that fossil’s are flukes anyways, a rare occurance in the larger scheme of things. I doubt that there would be any real evidence that you had ancestors 1000 years ago if we solely based our observation on the fact that we don’t find that many preserved corpses from 1000 years ago (when you think of how many people were around at the time.)

  16. BENTRT Says:

    “Why is it not possible for your god to have done it? Isn’t the world and the universe spectacular enough for you? Does it have to fit into a particular viewpoint to be attributable to your deity? Seems like you are trying to make your god smaller than he needs to be to have created the universe just the way it is. Would he not be – just as amazing and wonderful?” (DaveP)

    No where did i say that God created the Universe just the way its. Things aren’t exactly the same now as when God made it, for various reasons. Size doesn’t come into God since he is outside space time and matter, size doesn’t apply. Even if it did he wouldn’t have to only be big to make the universe.

    “Claiming that “God did not do it that way” (not your words, but it seems to be your point), implies that your god is not powerful enough to have done the job that the evidence points to. I think that “120 million extra bases added to our genome” (your words) would be an easy one for a god of unlimited power”. (DaveP)

    I’m claiming that God didn’t use evolution because he says he didn’t!
    And I agree adding, miraculously, 120 million extra bases and the information that that produced would be easy for God but sadly seems impossible/high improbable in nature by chance and time.

    “Sure there are gaps in what we know, but that has never been a secret. You can’t make any discovery and know everything about it instantly. In fact those gaps are embraced as new paths to explore for new information and new insight. Just about any description of anything is inadequate to describe it thoroughly and completely. Science has never claimed to have all the answers, and no scientist will claim that any hypotheses or theory is the ‘last word’ for any topic. There is always room for improvement.” (DaveP)

    Funnily Evolution isn’t the average theory. When new evidence arises that places Evolution in a bad position the evidence is just dismissed/ignored. You have to be open to the possibility that it is wrong sadly in Origins science no matter what present or future discoveries arise that show Evolution, in a molecules to man sense, to be wrong it is never discarded and wouldn’t be until another theory still removing the existence of God is invented first. As you said and I agree there is always room for improvement but with molecules to man evolution no one questions the actual Evolution theory, even though no-one knows how it works. For example when they are debating did we come from a primordial soup or from outer space they never have the option of maybe life never evolved at all.

    “Cultures evolve, religions evolve, societies evolve, the laws of states and nations evolve, and scientific knowledge evolves. Evolution simply describes that things change, and science only tries to explain how that happened.” (DaverP)

    You have to use that word evolve carefully. Yes cultures evolve, religion supposidly evolved (though they there is no evidence of how) but culture don’t evolve into scientific knowledge or vice versa, they are still cultures or its still scientific knowledge. In order for us to evolve from an ape like common ancestor it’s like saying cultures evolved into state laws it just doesn’t happen. We/I am not against the mechanisms of natural selection/speciation etc that bring about ‘change’, we see it all the time different birds, dogs, cats etc. It’s the type of change that supposedly turned dinosaurs into birds molecules to man that is the problem (sometimes called macroevolution but should be called vertical change)it doesn’t happen now nor is there real evidence it happened in the past. To evolve a feather is baffling same with how a dinosaur would evolve the complex lung system of the birds. One kind doesn’t evolve into another.

    “I don’t recall if you have ever said it, but many people who think like you have said or implied that scientists are trying to deceive us. Any insight as to what they would be trying to hide? What would be the motive for that be?” (DaveP)

    Secular Science believe it or not is not unbiased. It starts with a bias, that there is no God. God in science is not an option everything has to be explained naturalistically. You said “Couldn’t it be that they don’t care what the answer is and therefore have no agenda?” Yeah they don’t care what the answer is as long as it doesn’t involve a God. Secular ORIGINS science doesn’t go where the evidence leads. I don’t think they deceive they are interpreting the evidence into their ideology which has become the mainstream one… Darwinism, doesn’t make it the correct one. True science is going where evidence leads observing/testing, not deciding what the cause is before the evidence says.

    “I have always understood that a good scientist will follow and report the evidence as they see it, even if they don’t like the answer.” (DaveP)

    I’d like that to be the case but it is rarely happening now. Evolution and Darwinism is being drummed into people these days. Scientist that disagree with evolution wouldn’t be able to write articles in reputable science journals, they would lose scholarships, Job, get mocked etc.

    Good post DaveP

  17. Atheism is not nihilsm « The Myriad Says:

    [...] The Bible is not the only source of morality. And I’m grateful for that. If we all lived by it’s exact words we’d be stoning our children, keeping slaves, and letting guests fornicate with our wives and daughters. Where might an atheist, then, get his or her moral sense? Albert Sweigart has already said it best: [Evolution is] often misunderstood to imply that the development of humans from apes means humans are conscious-less, soulless animals without intellect or purpose. Not really. All it describes is the gradual changes to the genes in a population in response to environmental pressures. It also dictates that over time new species arise from these changes. [...]

  18. BENTRT Says:

    Of course the Bible isn’t the only source of morality God sets whats right and wrong on our hearts. Every human has this unexlainable thought that killing is wrong/ death is a bad thing. Stealing isn’t a good thing to do, we have the erge to help. People make up there own morality also and/or try and supress the morality that they have set in their hearts.

    If you lived by the exact words of the Bible with out knowing the context, customs of when particular passages were written and whether they relate to us or not then you would be quite foolish. The fact the post said that if we kept to the exact words of the Bible we would keep slaves shows that (to be honest) the writer doesn’t know the context and customs. Slavery back then isn’t based on the slavery we associate now. Slavery was purely to benefit the poor and was voluntary, do some research.

    Where might an atheist, then, get his or her moral sense? You never really answered that you just gave a definition of evolution. I guess i can give an answer. You get your morals prodominently from God, but you also change/supress those to match popular opinion, and person satification/comfort and taste, and you’ll say you got it from evolution too.

    Since there is no really evidence we evolved from apes the quote is pretty pointless. The whole ape to human thing is based on assumptions that common appearance homology/histology means common annestry that doesn’t prove anything. Oh and not only does no one know how evolution works those missing links are still missing.

  19. Dustin Says:

    Elwood,

    I don’t really understand what “blind people born with eyes” had to do with the complexity of the eye evolving over time. Can you elaborate further please?

    In hope to shed more light on my position:

    Let us imagine that 3 billion years ago some fish is born with a single, useful element of the eye. Nature favors this fish and thousands of years later, every member of this species has this same element of the eye.

    One glorious day 100,000 years later, one member of this species is born with a lens. Since a lens is utterly worthless without a retina this confers no advantage to fish’s ability to survive or reproduce.

    It is therefore highly unlikely that this trait would be carried on long enough for the next element of the eye to randomly befall this incredibly lucky species.

    If you insist that its possible over billions of years for a species to have a lens to one day be born with a retina, you might be right. But without an optic nerve it still is utterly worthless.

    But even after that we need angle structure, aqueous, choroid, ciliary body, conjuctiva, cornea, extraocular muscles, eyelids, iris, lens, macula, pupil, retina, sclera, tear production and vitreous.

    So I hope we can at least agree that whether actually impossible or not, the path of the eye is very difficult and time consuming. But this brings us to a second quandary. Since the eye is present in nearly every complex creature on the face of the earth there are two possibilities:

    1. The eye evolved incredibly quickly in an ancient species that is an ancestor to millions of other species. Since species could branch out into other species a lot more quickly than a single species could likely evolve and eye, this brings us to option two.

    2. Millions of species individually (yet almost identically) evolved an eye.

    Neither seems very possible.

    I’ll try to respond to the rest of your post later Elwood

  20. Owen Higgins Says:

    YOu’re brilliant… though a little fast for my liking. I know I would watch 20 minutes or two videos of your ideas if they were at a slower rate,

    You make excellent observations..

    regards

    Owen

  21. BENTRT Says:

    To add to the eye dilemma, let’s start with the photoreceptor patch at the beginning.

    That patch is highly exposed to x-rays, UV-rays, infection. It would be easy for the patch to become useless in a few months due to excessive mutations as there is no protection. You might say well the skin doesn’t suffer that much and its open to UV, well there are 4 things to consider. 1) Skin sheds every few days so any mutation that affect that cells is irrelevant (eye cells don’t shed) 2) People get skin cancer so skin is affected at times. 3) Skin has melanin (a pigment that protects again UV rays) eye cells don’t 4) Skin doesn’t have the complex structures that could be easily manipulated by UV like Rods and Cones cells in the patch would have.

    Secondly that photoreceptive patch is HIGHLY complex involving many things that are require at the same time to be useful.

    This is what I mean by complex:-
    “When light first strikes the retina a photon interacts with a molecule called 11-cis-retinal, which rearranges within picoseconds to trans-retinal. (A picosecond [10-12 sec] is about the time it takes light to travel the breadth of a single human hair.) The change in the shape of the retinal molecule forces a change in the shape of the protein, rhodopsin, to which the retinal is tightly bound. The protein’s metamorphosis alters its behavior. Now called metarhodopsin II, the protein sticks to another protein, called transducin. Before bumping into metarhodopsin II, transducin had tightly bound a small molecule called GDP. But when transducin interacts with metarhodopsin II, the GDP falls off, and a molecule called GTP binds to transducin. (GTP is closely related to, but different from, GDP.

    GTP-transducin-metarhodopsin II now binds to a protein called phosphodiesterase, located in the inner membrane of the cell. When attached to metarhodopsin II and its entourage, the phosphodiesterase acquires the chemical ability to ‘cut’ a molecule called cGMP (a chemical relative of both GDP and GTP). Initially there are a lot of cGMP molecules in the cell, but the phosphodiesterase lowers its concentration, just as a pulled plug lowers the water level in a bathtub.”

    It’s fallacious to argue that 51 percent vision would necessarily have a strong enough selective advantage over 50 percent to overcome the effects of genetic drift’s tendency to eliminate even beneficial mutations.

    Thirdly that one receptive patch would contain pages of encyclopedic information coded on the DNA. How does that coded information arise my natural processes, there is no know way in nature for information to increase in a genotype, your having to place a lot of faith to say that it happened long ago.

    Fourthly even if the creature evolved that light sensitive patch it would be useless if the creature’s brain couldn’t process the information. The brain would have to simultaneously evolve, pathways to and from the patch, develop response centers in that creature’s brain, with the development of that evolving patch and at some stage that evolving patch was useless so the brain would be evolving, with a future goal to be to make sense of the information the eye has yet to produce. Not to mention pages and pages of information are required to construct that patch and brain centers and nerves and yet evolutionist don’t know how information can increase in the genome.

    Finally, if the brain of that creature did indeed do the above this is ignoring the fact that the body has to react to that stimuli. The creature would have to evolve complex effectors in the muscle to respond to the potential dangers in the appropriate SUBCONSCIENCE way.

    This isn’t even close to the amount of problems there are with this one light sensitive patch and we haven’t even detailed, in-depth, the problems of developing the actually eye yet.

  22. neilmarr Says:

    Your argument hasn’t evolved, Bentrt, but your spelling and grammar certainly has,. Wonder why. Neil

  23. BENTRT Says:

    In fact the only bit I copied and pasted was the complex proteins and their interactions in the eye part. I do know some of the information in those two paragraphs. The rest of my post is completely my own knowledge and contribution and I check my posts using word before I post them. Also I do Human biology and I find the eye and evolution debate really interesting. If you call grammar like … stimuli, genotype, genetic drift, x-rays UV- rays, rod and cones complex I guess you could say that’s true but not when you have studied the topic throughout your academic years and find the topic enjoyable.

  24. neilmarr Says:

    I see. Thanks. Neil

  25. BENTRT Says:
  26. neilmarr Says:

    ***It’s not God fault … God has given the Bible to show his existence and he gave Jesus to show he existed. If God appeared to every person when they were 18 years old and said ‘Hi I’m God, this is all the evidence you need’, it would go beyond God’s intentions of giving us the choice to believe him. You would be believe because God just appeared before you. Your free will would be negated. God has given enough evidence beyond a significant doubt that he exists, but not so much that your free will isn’t hampered***

    Ah, BENTRT. I see. Thanks. Neil

  27. Mark Says:

    I recently stumble on your blog, and first off, I would like to say thank you. I am not per se a atheist but, I do like to hear other peoples points of views, and I suppose that I stand somewhere in between both views. I was raised catholic. I went to catholic school for 13 years actually k-12. I was a altar boy even. What drove me from the church/school was the way things were taught and handled. not neccesarily god, or lack there of.

    What I really dont understand is why you, Bent, are so against the ability of a single cell to have millions of years to evolve and change into something else. yet you will readily accept the fact that god created the earth in 7 days. So to speak. It’s ok for god to have made people, as complex as they are, but its not OK for it to have happened on its own, over the course of millions of years. of the course of uncountable births and deaths of organisms.

    Natural Selection is really nothing more than having a creature who has a specific trait that helps it to be better suited for its environment to thrive, or out reproduce, or squeeze out some less suited creature.

    Evolution on the other hand is the actual change in a creature. Look at the Galapagos for 100′s and more prime examples of this. Birds of the same species who when presented with a change in thier environment, so that bird A could eat seeds, but bird B had no access to the same seed. Therefore when Bird A found itself someplace with no seeds, it had to evolve into something that could deal with its environment. Yes, its a very base example, and not really the best example. More of a general idea.

    I see no reason why humans/ape/mammals could not have done the same thing.

    If you look at recent studies into dinosaur bones, you will be able to find that they are finding bones from later in certain periods that are nearly identical to birds, but on a much larger scale.
    http://uwnews.washington.edu/ni/article.asp?articleID=3527

  28. BENTRT Says:

    “…why you, Bent, are so against the ability of a single cell to have millions of years to evolve and change into something else. yet you will readily accept the fact that god created the earth in 7 days”. (Mark)

    Just call me Ben. I’m gonna have to post three posts because I can’t fit the reply into one due to the character limit. Well I’m against it for a number of reasons some are because it doesn’t seem to have happened in the past it’s not happening now and doesn’t seem possible in the future. It’s not remotely possible mathematically or chemically for a single cell to arise from molecules let alone single cells ‘evolving into something else’. I don’t believe in millions of years of Earth history since the conclusion back in the C19th was arrived at not by scientific evidence and there is no real scientific evidence now that the Earth is millions of years old its just assumptions. There is no evidence of animals evolving from one kind to the other (required by evolution theory).
    Its ok for God to have done it because it seems possible, requires less faith and there is more convincing evidence for it. Secondly because God said he done it that way and I trust God rather than men who are fallible.

    “Natural Selection is really nothing more than having a creature who has a specific trait that helps it to be better suited for its environment to thrive, or out reproduce, or squeeze out some less suited creature”. (Mark)

    I’m not against natural selection (literal Bible believing creationists aren’t). It’s required and you see it all the time.

  29. BENTRT Says:

    “Evolution on the other hand is the actual change in a creature. Look at the Galapagos for 100’s and more prime examples of this. ” (Mark)

    I’d have to disagree with that definition. Anything can change. Dogs change, finches change but it’s the type of change that matters. The ‘General Theory of Evolution’ (GTE), which was defined by the evolutionist Kerkut as ‘the theory that all the living forms in the world have arisen from a single source which itself came from an inorganic form’ requires changes that increase information content in a creature. The finch example you gave was natural selection working on the alleles (for beak shape) of the finches it doesn’t explain how the genes of how to build the beak came about and it doesn’t show that the finches were turning to anything other than a finch (one kind to another). They will be finches and will produce finches for ever so it isn’t really evidence for the GTE and isn’t an example of true evolution. GTE requires information increasing mutations of which have never been found.

    “I see no reason why humans/ape/mammals could not have done the same thing”. (Mark)

    In order for Apes to evolve into humans a different type of change is required. The mutations that will affect apes will have to add information to their genetic code (Genotype), there is no known mutation or way to add information to a genotype. There is no real evidence to suggest that apes evolved into humans. We know however that natural selection works on the alleles of our genes like the example you gave above with finches but this doesn’t give us any reason to assume that single cells can evolve into multi-cell organisms and that ape can evolve into humans. The example you gave isn’t Evolution in the original sense of the word.

  30. BENTRT Says:

    “If you look at recent studies into dinosaur bones, you will be able to find that they are finding bones from later in certain periods that are nearly identical to birds, but on a much larger scale”. (Mark)

    And the bone webpage doesn’t prove anything. For one dino to bird evolution is assumed (though there is no know way for this to occur nor a good mechanism is proposed) so when they find a homologous (similar) structure i.e. the bone structure they say it’s evidence for dino to bird evolution. So hang on they ASSUME dino to bird happened with no knowledge of how/no mechanism/no real evidence that it happened and when they find the structures that are similar to dinosaurs and birds they ASSUME that’s because dinosaurs evolved from birds, this isn’t evidence for dino to bird evolution no more than when they say apes look similar to us so we must have evolved from an ape like creature.

  31. neuro Says:

    bent,

    Have you attended a college or even high school biology or math class? You are clearly not a scientist because of your lack in understanding the scientific method and proof. Assumption proofs are commonly known as indirect proofs, furthermore, it appears you are merely picking stuff out of text left and right.

    In your arguments I find nothing but a thought process limited by the literal interpertation of “observation.” It’s ironic, because you propose to believe in something unobservable and yet you’re hypocritical in your attempts to apply the same label to evolution as completely lacking observable proof… or are you implicating two different definitions of “observable?”

    Here, let me help you:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_method

    For you, the scope of “change” and selection appears to span less than a few hundred years. It’s ok though, because I understand the natural human lack of understanding when it comes to the idea that progressive selection occurs over a span of thousands or millions of years… we just don’t view time in that way unfortunately.

  32. BENTRT Says:

    I do Human biology

    I do claim to believe in something unobservable. I just don’t believe in unobservable Evolution defined as ‘the theory that all the living forms in the world have arisen from a single source which itself came from an inorganic form.’ (Kerkut) I believe that God made us with no observable proof, and you believe (i’m guessing) that molecules managed to form life with no observable proof.

    I’m not against selection happening over time. I’m not against natural selection working on the alleles of species. I’m not against speciation or variation in a kind of animal. I just want to know how you know that that selection can create increasing amounts of information that can lead us to believe that one kind of animal can turn into another and how you know they have been millions of years worth of time!

  33. John Says:

    Dig the video. Just ran across it on…oh, I forget now.

    I particularly like the reasoning on why we have a moral imperative to act ethically, even if there isn’t a toga clad magical spirit with long hair and a list of who’s naughty and who’s nice living in the sky who tells us what not to do.

  34. Jonathon Says:

    Have fun burning in hell. =)

  35. Jim M. Says:

    Jonathon:
    Sir. can you or maybe one of you other
    theist’s explain for me this HELL thing
    and all about the burning part of it?
    The fun part seems contradictory to the
    effect.

    P.S. The Video’s ACE’s

  36. RandomReponse Says:

    This is a great running conversation! So much has been said already so I will try to centralize my thoughts… May or may not be successful. First of all, Al, I found your video on The Gadfly’s Myspace page. Rock on. Thank you for your thoughts and this webpage. What you are doing makes a difference. Now for the content…

    My initial comment is directed to bentrt. I really dig a portion of the stance you are taking. I just learned about the difference between macro and microevolution. Equivocation is used all the time with evolution concerning these two distinctions. This meaning-ambiguity obscures the real topic of conversation. That is, in any given argument about evolution/creationism, on what scale are we standing? Are we addressing “goo to you, via the zoo” (as you amusingly put it) or a phenomenon of [mere] speciation? Science is certainly hard-pressed for cold, hard evidence showing that macroevolution is as modern science thinks it is. However, I think that if microevolution sheds any light on the possibility of macroevolution, it would be due to this: Macro. could emulate the process of the micro., simply on a much larger scale. It wouldn’t be quite as simple as this. But when we look at nature systemically, we see that parts come from wholes, or that the larger is built up by the smaller. We see the world in subdivisions. Consider the following series: subatomic particles, atoms, molecules, DNA, genes, alleles, chromosomes, nuclei, organelles, cells, tissues, organs, organ systems, organisms. (To those picky theorists out there, I left out strings on purpose because they are not observable/falsifiable yet) This series may be incomplete. But we can see that each member of the set is roughly a subdivision of the next member. Perhaps we can see micro’s relationship to macro in this way: micro as an extremely tiny subdivision of macro.

  37. RandomReponse Says:

    Now I imagine bentrt’s initial objection would run something like, “We are still lacking evidence for an information-increasing-genome-mutation.” To this, I assert tentatively that emergent properties might have something to do with these huge leaps and changes suggested by macroevolution. Emergent properties can be conceptualized if we think about what happens when you pile sand up. If you were to begin piling sand, the grains would initially bounce and spread, then begins piling on top of one another, creating a hill. The grains would land and stay put, providing foundation for subsequent falling grains. But at one point, a single grain would hit the pile and a landslide would ensue. This landslide provides the type of sudden and drastic changes needed for information increasing. A term for this phenomenon is ‘synergy’. I can see this explanation as problematic for two reasons. One: it is normally an engineering or programming concept and so does not have a big precedent as far as I know in the biological world. And two: we would have to work out an explanation for how emergent properties could happen collectively in such a way that entirely new species could result from such a change. In other words, how would emergent properties occur intersubjectively without negating the potential for reproduction?” Also, my incrementalist conjecture still lacks the explanation of HOW IT HAPPENED. Well this is a shortcoming of science itself. But, following in Al’s footsteps, I am going to point out another logical fallacy that bentrt needs to beware of. This is the appeal to ignorance. This fallacy is commited when someone argues that something is false just because it hasn’t yet been proven true, or vice versa.

  38. RandomReponse Says:

    One last thing that I’d like to point out is that the human perspective is extremely myopic. We can only observe changes in phenomena up to a certain level of analysis. When we theorize about macroevolution, we are entertaining the prospect of a process, the scale of which is so gargantuan (love that word…) that because of the current limitations of our perceptive and cognitive abilities, it makes sense that we will see holes in evolutionary theory at this point; or that we have an incomplete fossil record. Too, the temporal scale of macroevolution would be so large, that we would have to expect entropy and decay to take effect on its evidence (again, like the fossil record). But upon examining evolution on a smaller scale, we can sharpen our focus on the details and see ‘smaller’ evolutionary phenomena, such as speciation. At any rate, modern evidence is much more objectively explicit in favor of evolution than it is in favor of the creationist explanation that ‘God can do whatever he wants.’

    To this, bentrt might reiterate that science takes a fundamentally limiting assumption, which narrows its explanatory power to such a level where it can only explain things in natural terms. It has no room for the supernatural. This is an intriguing and valid point. There are always starting assumptions. But this is so with any scientific experiment. Basically, you have to assume something somewhere or you can never get started. And while science cannot explain everything, it would simply be asinine to say that science has not gotten us anywhere based on these assumptions. It has explained or at least provided credible natural hypotheses about many worldly phenomena, previously thought to be supernatural. The examples of this are multiplicitous and I won’t provide examples now because I have run out of space on this entry.

  39. John Kellner Says:

    Dude you kick ass. What a thinker you are. Everyone Let’s figure out a way to make AL big!!

    Keep well AL,

    John

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