Chris said: 'Science Avenger, if you can say "matter has always been", then I can say "God has always been" with equal certainty.'
Uh, no you can't, for the simple reason that you can't say with certainty that God has been just now, where I can do so for matter. You've got an epistemological burden I lack, and a big one.
"Where did the original pre-big bang matter come from? For that matter where did space-time come from? These questions are un-knowable."
Unknown perhaps, but unknowable? I'm not sure how that can be known, especially with questions so poorly defined (through no fault of yours). For instance, how do you even know any of these things came from anywhere? What does that even mean? It borders on gibberish.
"Evolution, on the other hand, requires unlikely things to happen routinely - and THAT violates the laws of statistics."
No, it does not. In the first place, there are no laws of statistics to violate. Second, there has never been a rigorous peer-reviewed mathematical proof of this claim, and indeed, the vast majority of those known (ie Hoyle's junkyard 747) make fundamental errors that would have made my intro-to-statistics prof cringe, like presuming all events are independent, or simply wallow in meaningless sciency-looking jargon (Dembski's CSI). None gained any traction with those experts, and for good reason.
And step back a moment. Mathematicians and physicists are smarter than biologists (just ask them). If there were a problem with evolution in their fields, no force on earth could shut them up about it. Yet no physics or math journal has ever come out against the theory of evolution. In short, all those arguments are bunk.
I rarely bother responding to anything Fabius Cunctator writes because he is obviously living in an alternate universe, but I thought this comment was worth examining:
FC: "The flaw of Evolution theory is that it cannot explain the origin of atoms or matter."
This is like saying the Pythagorean theorem is flawed because it cannot explain particle physics. It reveals a profound lack of understanding of the limitations of scientific theories, and how we much evaluate them within those limitations. Of course evolution can't explain the origin of atoms or matter. It was never intended to. Neither can the theories of relativity, Keynesian economics, or euclidean geometry. So what? For someone to condemn a theory for failing to explain everything is a daftness beyond redemption.
His other posts are loaded with similar, gargantuan mistakes. Read them only as a lesson for how out of touch with modern scientific thought a person can get.
Joel-de said: "DNA in humans is similar to DNA in animals because they serve a similar purpose. Once The Creator had designed the code for hair, would he re-do the code for each new creation?"
But "he" did redo it, many times, for many traits. Human eyes are not designed like octopus eyes, and in fact are inferior in some ways. Wings are designed differently in bats and birds. Worse yet, there are mistakes that were used in more than one place. Most mammals have a gene that synthesizes vitamin C, but in chimps and humans it is broken. Not different, not used for something else, busted, no bueno. Countless other examples abound. Further, as Ken Miller demonstrates here:
Humans have a gene that is the fusion of two ape genes. There is no way to describe this as anything but a natural screw up, not the work of a divine designer.
Your logic is sound Joel. IF we found every design of all parts in nature across all species to be the same, your argument would be plausible. But the facts betray you. There is nothing remotely resembling the common design you assert.
JD: "The objection is this: That the THEORY of evolution is taught as SCIENTIFIC FACT, and that there can be NO debate on the matter. If a child asks questions about the mathematical probability of life occurring because lightning zapped some chemicals in a puddle, he is told to shut up. If he tries to question the gaps in the 'evolutionary chain' he is told to shut up."
This sounds like urban myth to me. Show me a documented case of a child asking these questions being told to "shut up". If they were, the teacher ought to be fired, because the questions are legitimate and fairly easy to answer:
1) Evolution is a scientific theory, which means a great deal more than "theory" as you and your friends use it. It means it has been subjected to many falsifiable tests without failure and explains many facts. Theories stay theories. They never graduate to be called "facts".
2) No one is able to make very good estimates of the probability of life arising on ancient earth because we lack the necessary knowledge of the exact conditions on the planet at the time to do so. Anyone who claims they can is making claims beyond the facts and evidence, and are probably making many mistakes.
3) The notion that leading scientists think life began by lightning striking chemicals in a puddle is urban myth at best and an outright lie at worst. We really don't know how it all began, and you should be skeptical of anyone who pretends they do.
4) From what we know of the history of life, with it's slow genetic motion, motion of landmasses and water, changes in the environment, and the extraordinarily rare circumstances necessary for fossilization to occur, we can expect large gaps in what we are able to find. This is not a game where some giant adult placed all the puzzle pieces for us to find. Science is not that easy.
JD said: "If evolution was taught as a THEORY, and the teacher and textbook would be honest, and admit that it cannot be proven, and does not have answers for all questions, few if any parents would have an issue with it. We object to the INDOCTRINATION of our children into the false religion of Darwinism, which requires AT LEAST as much faith to believe in as Christianity."
Then none of you have any business ranting as you seem to be doing. Every textbook on the subject I've ever seen or heard about from a reliable source says all those things you demand. Evolution is a scientific theory. It cannot be proven because science does not deal in proofs. That's for the mathematicians and philosophers to worry about. Science deals in evidence, and evolution is the best explanation we've found for the evidence of biology. It does not have all the answers for all the questions and, in fact, as some of us are more than willing to show, it is downright silly to expect it to. It explains what it explains, nothing more. There is no such thing as a religion of Darwinism (if there is I'm a little pissed, cause I never get invited to the meetings), nor does evolutionary theory require any faith, certainly not on par with believing that the supreme being of the universe had himself killed to absolve us of a punishment he himself created (don't get me started).
It sounds to me like you've all been whipped into a frenzy over a myth, and no, I don't mean the gods. No textbook that I've ever seen says anything about evolution being "proven", nor that it is anything but scientific theory
JD said: "Life did not come from non life. Life has ALWAYS existed, and will always exist. The universes have always existed, and always will."
That is an article of faith, not science. The best scientific evidence suggests the universe is ~14 billion years old, the earth ~4.5 BYO and life ~2-3 BYO, and that is what should be taught in science class.
JD said: "God did not create this world 'out of nothing'. He organized the raw, chaotic matter that was in this part of the galaxy into our solar system. He then transplanted plants, animals, and Adam and Eve from another world onto this one."
Interesting religious faiths, and ones you have every right to believe. But you do not have the right to expect a public school teaching children of various (and no) faiths to teach such a thing, nor to alter their science curriculum because it runs afoul of it.
JD said: "Humans should not be classified as 'primates'. The various types of apes are one 'kind'. Humans are unique. We are not part of any other 'kind'."
This is rhetoric with no science to back it, and as such does not belong in a public school science class. Humans are 99% chimp, we are not unique.
Chris said: "Sorry - I meant the laws of probability (LOP)."
I knew what you meant, I'm not keen on semantic games, but the answer is the same - there is no such thing as "the law of probability". It's just a fiction made up by someone looking for a sciency-sounding word to attack science with. Nonetheless, I'll try to address your comments that contain it.
Chris said: "The junkyard 747 is a good analogy for abiogenesis, but not evolution afterwards."
You have no way of knowing that. No one has nearly enough information to do so. And given that we already know about self-replicating nonorganics like crystals, I'd say it's a worse than 50/50 bet.
Chris said: "What DOES violate the LOP is when multiple unlikely things have to happen at the same time to cause a major re-design of an already fit system...
The odds of that many mutations, together with all the expression controls, all happening at the same time in the same animal are astronomically small."
But you have no way of knowing that such is required! Evolution doesn't occur by several major things happening all at once. It happens by gradual multiple changes over long periods of time. Your argument is just a more sophisticated version of "why doesn't a dog give birth to a cat?". No one said it should.
All the details you posed, and all the examples you, or anyone else gives, makes assumptions you can't possibly know, about function, time, cooption, everything. Evolution is not a unidirectional, step by step, constant function process. Parts are routinely coopted for different functions, some parts serve multiple purposes, amd a whole host of other possibilities I couldn't begin to list in such a small space. Pretending you can somehow retrace the exact path it took and make a probability calculation is sheer fantasy.
All you've done (at best) is pose a problem for evolutionary scientists to solve. At worst, you've composed a nonproblem that's already been solved in a way you never began to imagine (have you even looked at the scientific literature on the subject? My bet is you haven't).
I know it is frustrating to go to all that trouble typing all that out only to have me brush it aside, but I do not do so whimsically. I do so because this is the crucial problem most people doubting evolution have. Such problems, regardless of how they are presented, merely fall into the category of "what we don't know yet". And as I've mentioned previously, there are such questions in all sciences, not just evolution. That doesn't give anyone intellectual warrant to dismiss the theory, any more than it would give someone warrant to dismiss mathematics because for so long no one could solve Fermat's proof.
Now if you could show something in nature that is impossible to evolve, then your argument would have some mettle. Creationists have been trying this for years, the bombardier beetle, the bacterial flagellum, the clotting system, the human eye (which is a real laugh given how poorly designed our eyes truly are). All have failed to withstand the scrutiny of science, and the proof is out there for all to see.
Chris: "And that's just one example. I could give you thousands."
And they'd be just as impotent in saying anything about the reality of evolution.
AndifNot said: "No, [a documented case of a child asking these questions being told to shut up] IS true...a district judge [in Cobb County Georgia] prohibited ... a sticker on science textbooks which stated: "Evolution is a theory, not a fact, regarding the origin of living things. This material should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully, and critically considered."
My goodness, you think that's the same as telling a kid who asks a question to shut up? That's a reach Yao Ming would have a hard time making.
AIN said: "Why the fight by evolutionists to keep the sticker off the book?"
As Ken Miller (Biology instructor at Brown and devout Catholic) explains here:
Those stickers singled out evolution for special treatment for religious reasons. No such sticker was required for any other science. This also gave students the false impression that other sciences didn't require critical examination.
Miller's suggestion was for a sticker to be put on all books that said:
"This book contains information about science. Science is built around theories which are strongly supported by evidence. EVERYTHING in science should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully, and critically considered."
The creationists of course, didn't like that one bit.
AIN said: "Opposition or criticism to evolution is still silenced elsewhere in selected localities around the country."
I'm still waiting for evidence one that your claim is anything more than an urban myth
"BTW- Interesting handle. Why does science need an AVENGER?"
Because it is under attack by people who either don't understand it, or who desire its demise because it offends their religious sensibilities, and I figured scientists had enough to do without having to fight those battles we layman are capable of fighting. This thread is a perfect example.