|Comment:||you ar a [expletive deleted] and a [expletive deleted]|
I've heard that it takes all kinds...
It gives me a special warm fuzziness to be a part of getting the reader in touch with his feelings.
this off a site saying that fish did not evolve into
amphibians. what do you make of it?
|Response:||The site is
Dinosaurs and More!, and the fish page is
"See why Fish could not have Evolved into Amphibians".
This site is already on our enormous list of links to creationist
In the talkorigins archive, the Sept 2002 POTM addresses fish fossils and the Coelacanth; and the Transitional Fossils FAQ has a section on Transition from primitive bony fish to amphibians.
The page you list contains two serious and related errors. Specifically, it states that the Coelacanth did not evolve, and it assumes that evolution should have the same effect on different species.
Modern coelacanths are quite distinct from their ancient ancestors. They belong to a lineage which had once been thought to have gone extinct about 65 million years ago (around the time of the great dinosaur mass extinction), and in the popular press this is frequently and erroneously presented as meaning that they are the same as ancient forms.
The first amphibians date from over 300 million years ago. That is, we already knew that coelacanths represent a distinct branch of the great evolutionary tree, evolving alongside the amphibians.
The rhipidistians are indeed considered a likely ancestor to the amphibians. They most likely had lungs; as did the coelacanth ancestors 300 million years ago. The coelacanth lineage evolved to fit a deep water niche (and they no longer have lungs), whereas the lineage leading to amphibians evolved for a terrestrial niche. Modern coelacanths are quite similar to fossils from 75 million years ago (though not identical), but overall their lineage shows considerable evolutionary change.
for the great age of the Earth (billions of years) is very
strong and well covered in sites such as yours. However
what exactly is the evidence for evolution, that animals
living evolved from previously existing ones?
|Response:||The following files in the archive are probably the most relevant to your question:|
|Response:||The following articles might also be of interest:|
|Comment:||This article Sex and the single monkey suggests that Darwin's theory of sexual selection is flawed. But I do not see the problem. Have scientists really thought all along that only females are selective about mates? The idea that males are also selective seems logical to me, and indeed reinforces the theory that evolution is in part driven by sexual selection. I also do not see the problem that homosexual behavior presents. It seems to me that this is a "problem" only if one views evolution as a perfect process (at least in terms of reproduction). Surely no scientist thinks so?|
|Response:||If you liked
The Economist you might like Pravda
-- Evolution Theory: Who Is Lying? even better!
In The Descent of Man and Selection in Relation to Sex Darwin spent 3/4 of the book presenting many hypotheses on sexual selection. Just among birds he pointed out several cases where larger female size and brighter plumage may have been selected for (the males being dull-plumaged incubators).
In my reading of Darwin I did not get the impression that he claimed sexual selection was of universal application. Ever since Darwin the relative importance of this form of selection has been debated within science.
The news stories came out of the AAAS meeting. This is the original press release: Sex and gender scientists explore a revolution in evolution. Unfortunately, I cannot find online any posters or abstracts of all the papers.
One of the attendees commented: "This may be better viewed as a refinement of Darwinian theory, rather than a revolution."
On the other hand, one of the presenters has a book coming out soon, and a little controversy is not always a bad thing.
|Comment:||What about the theory that states that life cannot arise from nonliving matter? So where did the living matter come from?|
statement, "life cannot arise from nonliving matter," is an
oversimplification of the theory of spontaneous generation,
which was finally laid to rest in the mid-1800s by Louis
Pasteur. Spontaneous generation supposed that given the
right conditions of rotting organic matter, and warmth, new
species or individuals of an existing species would arise
from nothing. The most commonly expected spontaneous
generators were worms, maggots and mice. Pasteur showed
that, for instance, maggots came not from the meat itself,
but from the eggs of flies laid in the meat. See A Visit to the
Institute for Creation Research--Part 7 for more
history on spontaneous generation.
Spontaneous generation is not the same as the study of abiogenesis, which investigates how the chemical precursors to life organized themselves into replicating molecules, primitive organisms, and eventually cells. See our articles on abiogenesis.
It appears that this question was answered in the February 1998, June 1999, July 1999, September 1999, November 1999, January 2000, and January 2002 feedbacks. I would advise all our readers to first use the search facility, conveniently found at the top and bottom of this page, to see if a question has already been answered on this site.
|Comment:||I am Christian student doing a paper for Anthropology. I realize that Christians have made some erroneous arguments about creationism. I actually ran across a Christian site that addresses false claims made by christians themselves and does its best to correct them. I wanted to find views on your website of Evolution and Creationism so I can fairly represent arguments from both sides. The writer of your site referred to an author of a creation pamphlet published, and condemned it for being mean spirited. Ironically, I found every other article with commentary from the writer of this site to be mean spirited and rude. I am a univerisity student writing a paper on something I am passionate about. Even I, an mere amateur and student, see the pointlessness of being judgmental and opinionated instead of being purely factual. I intend to leave out my cutting remarks. I visited the site with intent to consider challenges faced in Creationism. But, the site was so judgmental and crass that I found no education in it. If your goal was to turn off others (especially Creationists) from reading and actually considering challenges...well....you succeeded. Thanks. Monica Clark Western Washington University.|
|Response:||I am afraid
that I cannot respond in much detail to your comments,
since I cannot decipher the article to which you are
specifically referring. I searched the site for the
phrase "mean-spirited," and was only able to find three
references, none of which were referring to any works by
creationists. I should also point out that there is no
"writer of this site," as this archive is based on the
contributions of many authors.
I must admit I am quite confused by your statement that this site is judgmental and opinionated instead of being purely factual. For one, it seems to me that this site provides many facts, and more importantly, references to the primary literature where you can read about the facts for yourself. For another, I am not sure it is inappropriate to be judgmental and opinionated, when--and this is the catch--those judgments and opinions are based upon facts. That seems to me to be much of the point of science, to reach conclusions based upon the systematic examination of evidence. Science, in my opinion, really does have right answers and wrong answers, and no amount of sugar-coating or wishful thinking can turn one into the other.
Thank you for visiting this site, and I hope that you will return to explore further.
this archive should avoid being mean spirited or rude. New
submissions with such defects are likely to be rejected or
I am sorry you had a less than satisfactory experience. If anyone has complaints about articles in the archive, please indicate in feedback what file you mean. Critical feedback is appreciated, but without specifics we can't do much about it.
In 1993 I traveled to little village named Kamakuywa in western Kenya, near the town of Kimilili close to the Uganda border, within sight of Mt. Elgon. I was working with Habitat for Humanity building mud-and-stick houses, and I stayed for a week with the construction foreman named Reuben Nalyanya.
One evening as we were eating dinner, Reuben remarked that he thought the earth was flat. From where he lived, it looked flat. But he had heard other people claim that the earth was round, and he was intrigued by this idea. So he asked me if I could show him some evidence that the earth was round.
Well, how do you show that the earth is round when all you've got is a wooden bench and a mud hut with a corrugated iron roof? No telescopes, no scientific instruments. But it was nighttime, and we could see the stars shining brilliantly overhead. I told Reuben to look up and mark the position of the stars against the edge of the roof. One hour later, they had moved. So we have demonstrated star rotation. That observation is possible with a flat earth, but it fits better with a round earth. Reuben agreed, but wanted to see some more.
I pointed out that on a flat earth you ought to be able to climb a high mountain and see the whole thing, even see all the way back to America. Reuben had never heard of anyone seeing American from Kilimanjaro, but the "high mountain" example was outside his experience and not very convincing.
In the end, what convinced him was a simple fax machine. Now and then Reuben would need to travel to Kimilili or Kitale and send a fax to the United States, or receive one. From these experiences he knew that America was in a different time zone than Kenya, in fact many hours different. It's possible to have a few different time zones with a flat earth, but 24 hours' worth of time zones work out much better when the earth is round. By the end of our discussion he was leaning toward a round earth on that basis.
This little story doesn't have much to do with evolution, but it does illustrate that some people out there still believe the earth is flat because it looks flat from where they are. In this case Reuben was willing to accept another viewpoint, and was convinced of a round earth by some simple observations that he had not noticed before.
|Comment:||I believe that the flood waters you talk about are still pretty apparent today. They have been frozen up at the poles. Ask yourself a question if both the poles melted do you think there would be any land unsubmerged ?? You also fail to keep in mind that the plans for the ark were designed by the creator of the universe. Do you not think he could design a ship and then protect it. There seems to be alot of speculation about the remants of the ark being atop MT. ARARAT. I'm sure you will not post any of this because your main goal is to deny the existance of God in the first place. I assure you He doesn't need any man to prove he exists. But every man needs Him to exist. God have mercy on us all. No scientist will ever make a monkey out of me !!!!!! Them believing them selves to be wise became fools.|
post will not be censored. Others may learn from it.
(2) The existance of God is not an issue. Some of your claims might be.
(3) You asked " if both the poles melted do you think there would be any land unsubmerged ??"
The poles will not melt. However, if all the ice on earth were to melt (near the poles, Greenland ice cap, other glaciers) the total rise in sea level would be approximately 130 meters (less than 450 feet). The vast majority of land would remain above sea level, even though inundation would be devastating to many islands and low-lying areas. This has happened in the past, and no doubt will happen again in the future.
|Comment:||I do not want to bother you with another Hovind message, but I was hoping you could provide some specific examples of how he distorts or misrepresents facts. I am not trying to challenge you. I am simply sorting out what I believe.|
|Response:||Everything you might want to know (and likely much more) regarding Hovind can probably be found through our Kent Hovind FAQs page.|
|Comment:||Awesome Site! Thanks so much for your time in keeping this up-to-date and in answering questions.|
I love your site. I just wanted to say the "Posts of the Month" like the one for January that deal with personal journeys and are essentially about an individual's philosophy don't help your cause much.
If I was king for a day, all of the posts of the month would deal with the facts so to speak..........
Now that that small criticism is over....I LOVE THIS SITE! I am confident that the truth shall ultimately prevail.....
Rubystars is queen for a month. Did you notice the
"Each month the Talk.Origins Archive selects an article posted to the Usenet newsgroup talk.origins that comes closest to capturing what the newsgroup is all about. Whether that article is written by an evolutionist or a creationist, the Talk.Origins Archive Post of the Month should give you a taste of what it's like to participate in talk.origins. You can nominate a talk.origins post by replying to it with the phrase "POTM nomination" somewhere in the subject line."
I suspect that many people vote with their heart and, of course, they may also relate to the personal testimony of others. Knowing Wendy (Rubystars) from having spent many hours talking to her in a chatroom, I think her January post reflects the facts of her personal journey.
Having given numerous anti-evolutionists a link to her website, as an example of how a theistic evolutionist manages to handle faith AND science, I can tell you that it does help the cause. That is, if "the cause" is to help others to deal with the facts.
permission to reprint the Talk Origins FAQ in pdf format
for distribution on the web at no charge.
I've written, but no response. Either way, please let me know you're out there!
Seth Godin www.changethis.com
(I'm editor of changethis and a New York Times bestselling author)
your interest in the archive!
Copyright for articles remains with the individual authors, and they should really be contacted individually for permission to reproduce. There is no formal organization for the archive as a single group, and there is no scope, as I understand the matter, for a blanket permission to be granted.
However, I am not sure what you are proposing. The archive is already on the web, and many of the important files are already available in pdf, in particular most of the Must Read FAQs. The indexing and site map could stand some improvement to give easier access to the pdf files.
There is also a problem in that files in the archive do get modified from time to time, to correct errors, to keep up with progress in the field, or to link to other relevant information which has become available. The pdf files sometimes lag behind the html versions, and this problem would be exacerbated if the files are archived elsewhere.
Many FAQs already grant permission for non-comercial and education use; see the headers of the files to check. Actually placing the files on the web again in a new location, however, seems a bit beside the point and of little benefit.
|Comment:||First of all the readers of this page of information are not told of the names of the books by I. Velikovsky. Both Velikovsky and Sagan agree on the statement by the ancients that "Venus must have been born of Jupiter." I agree with Sagan that Venus did not " burp" out of Jupiter. When a sun goes nova the gravity has incrementally lost its grip on the sun's outer hot gases; and, incrementally loses its grip on the orbits of the planets and over a long period of time these planets can scurry off to another sun. Venus maight have done likewise. Cold and dark it came under the tidal forces of Jupiter, heated to near incandescence and THIS is when the ancients saw it. Seemingly everything Velikovsky predicted for Venus has since been vindicated by various probes and satelites.|
is peripheral to the main topic of this group; however in
the early days of the archive there was a certain amount of
interest in his ideas and so there is a fairly large
section of the archive on Catastrophism;
including a very old FAQ specifically addressing the many
problems in Velikovsky's book Worlds in
Also, Earth in Upheaval is listed in the Book Recommendations.
Basically, almost nothing Velikovsky actually predicted for Venus has been confirmed. For an indirect consideration, see Is Venus Young. It was written mainly in respond to Ted Holden, whose enthusiastic and often hilarious defense of Velikovsky was the main spur to development of this part of the archive.
A Google search of the talk.origins group will turn up a lot of discussion of Velikovsky's alleged predictions back around 1994 or so. Some of my favourites include his predictions that Venus would be populated with vermin, that Venus would be rich in petroleum gases, that Venus will be noticeably cooling, and that Venus' brightness is due in part to incandescence.
Velikovsky was remarkably ignorant about Venus when he first published. Attempts to resuscitate his ideas in less ludicrous forms have remained ludicrous.
|Comment:||One of the things lacking from the FAQs is the "symbolism of Genesis" FAQ mentioned that you wanted. Would it perhaps be a good idea to expand this into attacking the origins of the Bible from a purely historical perspective. (For this you would probably need a qualified priest!). For example, pointing out how they were passed by word-of-mouth and then written down by various people with particular identifiable writing styles. I realise that this website isn't a Bible discussion group, but I feel that an opportunity to point out the errors in the other side's literature is going amiss.|
|Author of:||Evolution and Philosophy|
|Response:||It has been
on the list of RFF (Request for FAQs) for a very long time,
but, as you note, a specialist is needed to write it.
Consider this: apart from the Protestant views of Genesis,
one need to cover also the Catholic, patristic, Talmudic,
and Muslim interpretations. And each of these have several
variant forms, as well as over time. It's a big task. A
theology student might be able to do a part of this, but
overall, it's a lot of work.
And Genesis is not really the issue here. Evolution is a scientific topic; the problem Genesis poses for science is non-existent. What relevance Genesis has is gained via those who think that it is a source of scientific knowledge, for whatever reason. Science and religion mostly have an agreement - science won't try to deliver morality or theology, and religion won't try to deliver science or facts about the natural world. In the end, opposition to evolution comes directly from those who will not respect that division of labor; and it doesn't much matter if it is on the basis of Genesis, the Q'uran or the Upanishads.
evolutionists say that humans and chimps were 99%
genetically similar, now read this and weep. We are not
that close, the 99% myth is dead.
New Scientist, a leading science magazine and a strong supporter of Darwinism, reported the following on the same subject in an article titled "Human-chimp DNA difference trebled":
We are more unique than previously thought, according to new comparisons of human and chimpanzee DNA. It has long been held that we share 98.5 per cent of our genetic material with our closest relatives. That now appears to be wrong. In fact, we share less than 95 per cent of our genetic material, a three-fold increase in the variation between us and chimps.
The "99%" Myth is Dead: Evolutionists Admit That Humans and Chimps Are Not Genetically Similar
|Response:||I am not
surprised by the sneering tone of one who appears to have
as his professor someone like Harun Yahya. If this is your
path to education in science you ought to become aware of
Harun Yahya (or his acolytes at that website) frequently rush onto one of their webpages diatribes against science. It appears that they do so based on popular media reports and without troubling themselves to read the underlying scientific publications.
In the case you have cited they provide a total of five references. The first two are to news sources (one at CNN is now unavailable, the other at New Scientist is). Had they bothered to follow up on the link provided by New Scientist thay might at least have seen and cited the abstract of the paper by Roy J. Britten in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences:
PNAS -- Abstracts: Britten 99 (21): 13633
"Five chimpanzee bacterial artificial chromosome (BAC) sequences (described in GenBank) have been compared with the best matching regions of the human genome sequence to assay the amount and kind of DNA divergence. The conclusion is the old saw that we share 98.5% of our DNA sequence with chimpanzee is probably in error. For this sample, a better estimate would be that 95% of the base pairs are exactly shared between chimpanzee and human DNA. In this sample of 779 kb, the divergence due to base substitution is 1.4%, and there is an additional 3.4% difference due to the presence of indels. The gaps in alignment are present in about equal amounts in the chimp and human sequences. They occur equally in repeated and nonrepeated sequences, as detected by Repeatmasker."
Britten analyzed less than one million base pairs of DNA sequence out of ~3.2 billion base pairs, or less than 1 in 3,200 of total DNA. It is an interesting study that confirms the ~1.4% difference between humans and chimps found in several other studies. However, Britten also discusses the differences in Indels (inserts and deletions) and "junk" DNA which is yet another kind of comparison. Doing so is controversial, as will be noted below.
To date, among mammals, only the Human and Mouse genomes have been decoded, and the actual work with both of these is far from complete. It will be at least several years before chimp and human genomes are "finished" so that a full comparison of all actual genes may be made. In numerous studies to-date, based on the analysis of varying amounts and types of DNA, including the study by Britten, roughly comparable results have been obtained. When full genomes of many species are available for detailed study, it will hardly matter what the percentage of differences are IF the geneological relationships are determined to be what we now think they are.
Carl Zimmer addresses this issue as well as the controversy over including Indel and junk DNA in such calculations. See his essay Searching for Your Inner Chimp which appeared in Natural History for December 2002 - January 2003.
Please also consider the fact that "news reports" often strive to make news, and not simply to report it. Compare the following two statements:
CNN: "Humans, chimps more different than thought" (According to Harun Yahya).
Britten: "We're not any more different than we were," says Britten. "But we see a bit more divergence than before because insertions and deletions are taken into account. It almost triples the difference."
Finally, the expression "more unique" requires no comment. But I couldn't resist.
|Comment:||I've been a
regular visitor to your site for a couple of years, now. I
reference your information, often for argument, but mainly
for my own education (I'm 63 and still a'larnin'). So, It's
about time I said: "Well done, guys!" And: "Thanks for your
|Comment:||I think when people look over the facts about evolution, they forget one thing, you cannot have life from non life. And then when people try to say, there is always the possiblity that there was this amazing incident that all of a sudden there was life from no life, then how is that different then believing in creationism? People also forget that fact that 9 of the 12 "human/apes" were actually large apes. And the last 3, were actually modern human beings, and not ape at all. I think people should start considering all the flaws rather then being ignorant and choose not to see.|
assertion that you cannot have life from non-life is
Once you accept that the bible is not strict literal history (which you can see at once in the matter of Earth's great age) you may see that the biblical creation stories speak of life from non-life; of living creatures from the earth, and of mankind from dust. I am presuming that you are a Christian, even though this is not mentioned in your feedback. Sorry if I assume too much. Note that science does not know exactly how life originated; though there is some useful progress on plausible models.
As for humans and apes, our Fossil Hominids FAQ lists 19 hominid species, and gives a quick sample of the important fossils involved in their identification. What you choose to call human is a rather subjective choice, but there are at least two obviously ancient human species, which are not modern at all, and the others are at varying degrees of difference from modern humans and earlier non-human ancestors.
The archive also has a wonderful FAQ on contrasting views of six prominent creationists on six fossils from Homo erectus and Homo habilis. All agree that the fossils are either clearly ape, or clearly human. None agree on which is which; although as a general rule, you can make a good transitional series by sorting the fossils in order of the number of creationists who classify them as human.
|Comment:||My name is Andrew Hopkins. I'm fifteen and am a Christian. I go to a Christian school and believe in creation. I see nothing wrong with you stating that evolution is a fact except in going to a Christian school I have received small amounts of info. to support your view (which is why my bio. teacher is having us search for it), thus I would love anyone who can give me some info or a website to back this debate up to send it to me. Mostly I get junk mail which I usually just scroll through and delete, so if you could send me something recognizable that would be great so I don't just scroll over it! ~ Andrew|
the archive, Andrew. You will find a lot of information
here, but it can all be rather overwhelming, and some is
quite technical. This website does already back up the
debate and its views with considerable detail and copious
references to primary scientific literature. A starting
point is our list of Must Read files.
Your request is very general; and I am trying to think what is most likely to be useful or of interest for your school classes. One great website with lots of images and good information is the Museum of Paleontology at the University of Berkeley. There are beautiful and well organized virtual exhibits of all kinds of ancient life forms.
There is also their Evolution Wing, which I commend to your attention.
And, just for interest, this talkorigins archive is listed as one of their favourite places to look for further information!
|Comment:||You got this
I also have a question about the age of the earth, In 1770 George Buffon said the earth is 70,000 years old, in 1905 the earth was said to be 2 billion years old now it is said to be 4.6 billion years old, so the earth got old 4 years a minute?
And gave this response:
No, the earth did not get any older. Our ability to determine the age of the earth improved. There was no means of directly measuring the age of the earth until the development of radiometric dating a few decades ago. Previous estimates, like that done by Lord Kelvin, were based on other things, like the ...
All this reminds me of Mark Twain in _Life on the Mississippi_ where he noted that (due to humans cutting passages thru the horseshoe bends) the Mississippi was getting shorter by, IIRC, 1 1/3 miles a year. He then expostulated that unlike the estimates of (19th century) geologists, here was something measurable and predictable. He then extrapolated the length of the Mississipi in the Silurian period, when it was around a billion miles long, and looked to future centuries when it would be so short that St. Louis and New Orleans would merge.
It's a wonderful satire on the fallacy of thoughtless extrapolation and a bit of comic relief from the direfully serious creationists who insist, for instance, that since the earth's magnetic field is now decreasing, it must have always been decreasing and therefore yadda, yadda, yadda.
|Comment:||I'm sure you
have heard of Kent Hovind. You stated that the genetic,
fossil, anatomical evidence that supports evolution is
overwhelming. Kent has a $250,000 reward that has been out
since 1990 and anyone who can prove evolution has rights to
this money, why have you or anyone else not claimed this?
You could put this in FAQs or write back at your
indeed put this in our FAQs. And we have. Long ago.
Since you were (correctly) sure that we had heard of Kent Hovind, before sending feedback like this, you might try using our search facility to see if we had already answered your question. That goes for everyone, by the way.
fielded questions and insults from creationists for quite a
few years now, I would think that your staff long ago would
have added a new item for our monthly review,.......that
is, the "Insult of the Month". What I propose is that your
staff chooses from the silly creationist attacks in any
given month, and pick the one that is the most
offensive......and then you come up with an equally
insulting and offensive response........It would be quite
popular, you know, since Americans seem to insult each
other today at rates unseen through human history.
I, myself, consider it good clean fun when I can accuse someone of spewing forth comment that would suggest cranial capacity comparable to that of the species Australopithecus, or that they display the slow witted early hominid behavior of struggling with bipedalism, and the use of simple tools......or that they are envied because their protruding brow ridge, makes it uneccessary to spend their money on cheap, but expensive sunglasses. So, How about it? Let's add a little something to the TO entertainment section..........I'll be positioning my vestigial tail (coccyx) on the edge of my seat as I await your reply.
of this website are not Americans, and even many Americans
are not familiar with "doing the dozens" or other insulting
forms of sport.
Besides, it probably is not the best way to win friends or influence people.
|Comment:||I am curious about how patterns evolve such as the pattern on the king cobra's hood and the hourglass on the black widow. How do patterns evolve and not irregular markings. Some might say that only a Designer could create such patterns.|
Take a look in a kaleidoscope sometime. All you need is a line of symmetry and a little random noise to generate quite elaborate patterns -- no Designer or even a designer needed.
genius, in fact the guy who came up with the idea of
computers well before the technology was available to make
Turing proposed an idea he called "morphogenesis"
in which gradients of biological chemicals diffusing
through the developing embryo over time could generate
patterns easily. These rely, we know now, on genetic
signals which can vary slightly and, under the influence of
natural selection or sexual selection, end up generating
the amazing array of patterns we see on the wings of
butterflies and so forth. Here
is an example from an excellent online text on developmental biology - the
figure comes from section
Turing was once asked if he could generate the patterns on a zebra this way. "Yes," he reportedly replied, "but the whole horse is harder." Of interest is that the inventor of the idea of a computer never chose to characterize genes as computer programs. He also explained phyllotaxis (the spirals that develop on plants, particularly in some flowers) this way
Patterns are, as Paul noted, easy to generate; they are the outcome of a symmetry of some kind and the usual noise of the physical world. We find it easy to see patterns in things because we are pattern recognizers; we have entire parts of the brain devoted to facial recognition and so forth. What is surprising about patterns in the world is not that they are there, but that after you eliminate what we humans tend to over-recognize, that any remain at all. Turing's solution is one explanation for this and recent work in developmental biology backs him up entirely.
would just like to thank you all for this great site.
Earlier this year I wrote a research paper for my English
class that refuted the idea that creationism should be
taught in science classes (this site was heavily cited). To
help illustrate one of my points, I created the following
"Since the ideas of natural selection and chance are so central to evolutionary theory, let us consider a hypothetical situation to illustrate the point. Say, for example, that we have a species of mouse-like rodents that live in trees. The tails of these mice are long and straight and are used for balance. By chance, one gene in one mouse is altered. This mutation allows the mouse to move its tail more freely and even wrap it around branches and hang from them by the tail only. As a result of the mutation the mouse is more agile than its peers and is able to escape from danger and find food more efficiently. Because this new mutation allows the mouse to live a longer, healthier life, this mouse will also produce more offspring with the same beneficial mutation. These “super-tailed” mice will eventually come to dominate the population and insure that every mouse in the population eventually has this beneficial mutation. Conversely, if another mouse was born with a different mutation that resulted in a large, clumsy tail, this second mouse would have a decreased chance of surviving long enough to produce many offspring and pass on its disadvantageous trait. This is how nature “selects” which traits are passed on to the next generation and which are discarded. While this example may be over-simplified, the point is still the same: chance only plays a small role in evolution while natural selection is the real driving force behind the process."
It is too late for the paper, but I would greatly appreciate any constructive criticisms you might have to help me refine this idea in case I use it again in the future. Thanks for your time!
Joe Eggen, MO
remember the hypothetical nature of this discussion.
Generally speaking, your hypothesis sounds reasonable to
me. However, your initial premise, based on a single gene
mutation, does not. The evolution of a prehensile tail
would appear to me to be the kind of novelty that would be
called macroevolution. We would almost surely look upon
such a change as a significant generic character, and the
animal would be placed in a new genus.
Nature has already accomplished this in Prehensile Tailed Monkeys of the Genus Ateles. These New World monkeys differ significantly from their closest primate relatives in musculature, having a roughened hairless pad at the tip of the tail, and in other characters.
I'm just guessing, but I'd bet a number of genes, perhaps many, differ both within the genus and between Ateles and their genetic neighbors. A Google search turned up these two .pdf files which provide information on Platyrrhine Systematics and an analysis of genetic distances (based on accumulated mutations) in a study of Alouatta mtDNA combined data, using Ateles and Brachyteles as outgroups.
|Comment:||I want to
comment, as a Christian, on this so-called "Scientific
The attempt to pick and choose only those concepts in science that seems to support one's theological leanings, while rejecting or ignoring all the rest that don't seem to fit, is intellectually dishonest, irrational and unfair. I think that "Creationists" need to ask themselves something: Why do they feel so compelled to support their theological faith with a PHYSICAL argument? And yet are so uncomfortable with science that they so rabidly lash out against it (despite being modern-day beneficiaries of science in numerous ways)?
"Creationism", it appears to me, is nothing more than an attempt to use particular scientific concepts as elements of a "faith" in a schizoid bastardization of Cristianity wherein "science" is embraced as essential while simultaneously vilified as blasphemy. An intellectually bankrupt philosophy that has no predictive or explanatory power of its own, so has no choice but to try to validate itself by attempting to find fault with science, while not tolerating the reasoned scrutiny and scepticism of true science.
The limitations of human perception and comprehension are well known and acknowledged in science. Indeed, it is the very reason why science DEMANDS that experiments and observations be repeatable and intersubjectively demonstrable. I can't help but wonder why "Creationists" cannot bring themselves to acknowledge the same? Every single "Creationist" I've had a discussion with invariably holds their views to be inviolable and beyond criticism. Their arrogance, in fact, is their most prominent characteristic. How is such arrogance justified?
I cannot fathom how any reasonable person can possibly hold that their views are above scrutiny as long as they are a human being themselves. To insist that they understand the issue of "God's Domain" so well that they can judge and condemn science for it's "encroachment" upon it is to me beyond absurdity. It's why the saying of Thomas Henry Huxley in 1860 still seems so appropriate:
"Extinguished theologians lie about the cradle of every science as the strangled snakes beside that of Hercules."
And snakes they are, for throughout the history of mankind theologians have always attempted to use whatever means they have at their disposal, including delusional fantasies, misrepresentations and outright lies, to control and manipulate others. Brazen authoritarians that invariably demand the personal, intellectual and physical surrender of the masses, blasphemously using God's name in vain in the process. And which has routinely lead to death and destruction on massive scales through the ages whereever and whenever such mystics and flim-flam artists have held direct political power.
In view of our mental foibles and limitations, the Scientific Method is the single most spectacularly, almost unreasonably successful secular paradigm yet devised by mankind to ascertain truth and fact. It doesn't depend upon myth, theology, superstition, wishes, hopes, prayers and desires to do so. It is STRICTLY secular, and has nothing to say about theology. It is in another dimension, entirely, orthogonal to theology. The Gospel of Salvation and Grace doesn't depend on our limited perceptions and attempts at modelling physical phenomena in the least. Trying to bend the science dimension over into that of theology is to deny the reality of scientific knowledge and success and to collapse the intellectual edifice upon which it is built. Which inevitably leads us right back to the old dark ages of ignorance and superstition, right back to Crusades and Inquisitions and Witch Hunts. Where every human vice finds fertile ground within which to prosper.
Jesus never demanded that we abandon our rationality in order to follow him. WHEN ARE "CREATIONISTS" GOING TO UNDERSTAND THAT????????
Manning (Feedback, February, 2003) asked why ocean salinity
has not risen significantly over time. In addition to the
answer provided, consideration should also be given to the
great thicknesses of salt deposits found in sedimanetry
sequences around the world. Where ocean circulation is
restricted, hypersalinity can result, leading to the
precipitation of a variety of salt minerals. This can be
seen in restricted basins around the world today. Over
time, large volumes of precipitated salt can develop.
Salt deposits hundreds to thousands of feet thick are found the world over. In the U.S., the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant near Carlsbad, New Mexico, disposes of radioactive waste in thick salt beds half a mile under ground. The nation's Strategic Petroleum Reserve is held in caverns dissolved out of salt domes, great columns of salt thousands of feet in length. Salt deposits around the world represent a tremendous amount of sodium chloride that has been extracted from sea water throughout geologic history, helping keep overall ocean salinity relatively constant.
|Comment:||I find the white-on-black text on your main pages difficult to read, especially the block on the home page. It would help a great deal to make it slightly larger. I assume that is the introductory page for many newcomers, so you should make it exceptionally easy to read.|
your feedback on this point. Legibility is always an issue,
since if the documents cannot be read, they cannot be
We have been undertaking a campaign (slowly but surely) to make the archive pages as accessible as possible, through the use of standards such as stylesheets and XML. One of the primary contributors to this Archive, Tero Sand, was a quadraplegic who used a mouth control to access the Internet, so accessibility is and should continue to be a goal of this archive.
That said, I would like to point out that most modern Web browsers give users the ability to change the fonts and colors on the Web pages viewed. For instance, I am currently using Internet Explorer 5.5 on Windows 2000; under the "Tools" menu, one can select "Internet Options," which has buttons for "Fonts" and "Colors" that allow a user to change these options, and an "Accesibility" button that lets a user override the choices made by a Web site. If you have a different browser, try looking through that browser's "Options" or "Preferences" selections, or look the topic up in the browser's online help. Your mileage may vary.
|Comment:||To whom this
may concern / editor,
I am grateful for the information I have gleaned from this site. I appreciate your honesty in your "Welcome" page and the statements regarding the purpose for the site.
I am a creationist who believes the opposite of the mainstream views (the age of Earth, global flood, Darwinian evolution). However, I am often shocked at the "arguments" members of my camp use. I am also equally shocked at the same by members of your camp. Misquotes, out-of-context quotes, faulty science, name calling, generalizations, etc. should not be tolerated, by either side, in a valid discussion of the issues.
Your site has helped me to stay on the "straight and narrow", as it were, in my attempts to deal honestly and fairly with the topic.
|Comment:||I thought you might be interested in the email I sent to a presenter on my local radio station. Neil, I was interested in your faith in evolution (regarding top heavy sheep). I have no religious beliefs, or that aliens visited the earth in the past, but I do not believe in evolution (now there's a paradox). You seem even more certain than Darwin, who at the end of his days admitted that his theory did not stand up to close examination. You would probably say as a non believer in creation, there can't be any other answer, and that evolution is a fact. And what about the evidence? The evidence is vague, and there is very little of it, all of a dubious nature. Like the people who believed in a flat earth, it is so easy to go along with an established point of view (especially when the majority have the same belief..and is presented as a fact). When you consider that all the mammals are supposed to have evolved from a small rodent like creature at the time of the demise of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. and that ape-humanoid divergence probably occurred 6 to 10 million years ago, there should be some fundamental changes taken place over the last six million years. There have been none??? Nor will there be. Interestingly you could take a so called cave man,and in six months teach him to read, write, drive a car and acquire a taste for Eastenders. Also you could take a modern man and woman and put them back in an ancient culture and they would be regarded as unskilled, stupid and of poor quality. In closing look at the whale, elephant, and field-mouse, and say, they are my cousins (related to you, albeit a long time ago). You might think them to be yours, but they are not mine. Robert Fletcher Eastbourne p.s. Not expecting this to be commented on.|
of Darwin having doubts about evolution near the end of his
life are entirely false. The stories are apparently a
fantasy deliberately invented by a Christian evangelist, Lady Hope.
We most certainly would not say that as a non believer in creation, there can't be any other answer than evolution. That gives entirely the incorrect impression, in two important ways. First, many evolutionsts do believe in creation; they just do not believe Genesis is a literal account of events in history. Second, evolution stands on its own, as the clear implication of all evidence; not as a kind of default alternative. There were several other competing models proposed by scientists back in the early days, and Darwin's model was the one which became accepted, because it was the one which was supported by the evidence.
The evidence for evolution is extensive and unambiguous; have a look in the archive. Some other feedback this month lists a few especially relevant files on evidence.
There have been drastic changes over six million years, if you accept the origins of humanity as a drastic change. Yes we are perfectly obviously still very similar in form to the great apes. Even the word "ape" means "imitate"; they were called apes because they were so much like humans.
In short, you are intimately related to all of life, and your rejection of your relatives is ill founded.
|Comment:||I've searched and searched the entire archive and cannot seem to locate your $250,000 offer to prove the Earth is flat! I am beginning to think you're not serious about this whole spheroid Earth thing. Perhaps it is all a clever rhetorical ploy. Great site, keep up the good work. The Feedback section is quite possibly one of the most entertaining things on the internet today.|
|From:||Clyde W. Burnham, Ph.D.|
|Comment:||The recent find in Russian Georgia of an early hominid fossil elicited the comment from a scientist that "they should have left it in the ground." This statement underscores the fact that Darwinism is a vigorously maintainewd firewall against scientific objectivity. I once believed that science is the search for the truth despite whatever conclusion it may lead to. However, in my time, I have seen too many examples of "cover up the truth, the laymen are here!" behavior in the scientific community. Evolution is true, but the nit-picky alledged "facts" pertaining to evolution asserted as truth by the scientitic community render it questionable at best. Example: A tooth attributed to an early hominid is eventually discovered to be from a peccary. Before the discovery of the truth "the experts" had developed a physiology and had even chosen a scientific latin name for it. Scientific "expertise" is neither omniscient, nor impersonally objective as it would have us believe. Want to see the cat set among the pigeons? A discovery of nano-technological artifacts have recently been made in Russia (c. Narada, Khozim, and Balbanju Rivers in the eastern Ural Mtns.) If they are authentic ("the experts" no doubt will charge "fakery") this is of great importance. They know their timeline for human history is flawed and they fear that hard evidence will enevtually come to light proving it to be so. I have often wondered what sorts of evidence thay have allowed to remain buried that might otherwise provide the truth -- the real truth, that is.|
scientist said "they should have left it in the ground."
Well, some scientists have a sense of humor after
Professor Burnham suggests: "This statement underscores the fact that Darwinism is a vigorously maintained firewall against scientific objectivity," and "I have seen too many examples of "cover up the truth."
Did the professor read the paper published in Science on 5 July 2002 or the many "publication for laymen" cited at the bottom of this FAQ Fossil Hominids: Skull D2700.
Science follows the evidence wherever it leads, even when new facts require that old hypotheses be re-examined. Tongue-in-cheek humor over the possible implications of a new discovery is an indication of humility, not a coverup. The folks who found the fossil bought a lot of champaigne to celebrate their discovery. Then they analyzed and reported the facts so that other scientists could argue over their interpretations of those facts.
This is cause for yet more celebration. Care to join the party?
|Comment:||I found a website by a local Creationist. If you want to read it in depth it is www.sixdaycreation.com. I may have found a confusing definition of a "kind" at this site. It says that a kind is not a genus or species, but is rather determined by chromosome count. I somehow don't think this is a defensible definition, as there are plants that are notorious for changing chromosome counts, and I am fairly sure there are unrelated species out there with the same number of chromosomes. He also quotes the sad shape of the fossil record by stating he is quoting from "Creation Study Group, March 1994; A Field Guide to Dinosaurs". A small sample: Over 100 human skeletons 10+ feet tall. Supersaurus - shoulder blade & leg bone, possibly a Diplodocid. These samples are supposed to prove evolution has it wrong and the Bible is strictly correct. Am I missing something? As far as I can tell this fails as evidence disproving the theory of evolution.|
you expect at a website that makes the claim that:
"Macroevolution would be seen when the number of
chromosomes changed within a genetic continuum. This has
NEVER been observed in nature."
This is utter nonsense. Polyploidy is well known in plants and in tree frogs. Variations of it (giving a variety of new chromosome counts) is known in Appalachian salamanders and many other species/genera. A Google search on Jefferson Salamander will yield interesting information. This FAQ provides more information on polyploidy and other forms of Speciation.
I suspect that the author of that website well knows that very few of the readers inclined to believe him will do any research.
questions: how drastic of a change do you consider
reasonable from mutation? Whenever I see frogs with legs
sticking out of their heads, I am reminded of the power
mutation has to make changes.
My second question is a little more technical that I haven't seen asked before (but I'm sure has been answered somewhere): why are humans the only animals that have to wipe? Does it have to do with the bipedalism?
1) Frogs with legs sticking out of their heads (although, strictly speaking, I haven't seen that specific error) aren't the result of mutations. They are typically a consequence of developmental errors, often due to teratogens in their environment.
2) Ever watched a cat lick itself clean? How about visiting a farm and taking a look at the backside of a few cows and sheep?
|Response:||I think you
frogs with extra legs sticking out of their backside.
This is probably not due to a mutation.
However, the common phenomenon of cats with extra toes is due to mutation.
|Comment:||Many people - AiG especially - say that Archaeorapter was a hoax. But since it was actually two authentic skeletons pushed together, by nature not a people, isn't it a honest mistake?|
Answers in Genesis are correct. Archaeoraptor was a
deliberate hoax, and the two fossils were not pushed
together by nature.
Archaeoraptor burst into the public eye with a front page coverage in the November 1999 issue of National Geographic, before normal scientific review had been conducted. It was publically queried as a fake within days, and officially recognized as a fake by all concerned within a few months. National Geographic, rightly, is horribly embarrassed by the fiasco.
The story of events leading up to publication is told in "Archaeoraptor Fossil Trail" by Lewis M. Simons, in the National Geographic October 2000 issue. Simons was given the task by the magazine editors of finding out just how and why National Geographic went so horribly wrong. His report makes amazing reading. Simons describes it thus:
Basically, the fossil was not found by scientists, but was found as two fossils and combined into one by farmers and/or fossil dealers in China. It was sold at a bazaar-style gem and mineral show in the USA to the owner of a small dinosaur museum in Utah; who then contacted a paleontologist friend for help in writing a scientific paper, who in turn contacted National Geographic.
But when the paleontologist first saw the fossil in March, he immediately suspected it was not quite right. Somehow, however, his concerns failed to get through to the magazine. Papers on the find were sent to both Nature and Science, which are major peer reviewed journals; and they were rejected. Concerns being felt by those involved failed to be adequately shared. National Geographic, which had been acting on the assumption that the fossil would have been reported in the scientific literature before their own release, was left out on a limb; a limb which came crashing down almost as soon as the magazine hit the newstands.
It would be churlish to blame the Chinese finders and dealers for this hoax. They generally receive only a fraction of what fossils are really worth. The aim of the original constructor of the composite was quite likely not simply to deceive, but to present material with the best possible appearance for market.
Creationists, of course, have had a field day with this hoax. The Answers in Genesis article, for example, concludes with a broad hint that other fossils like Sinosauropteryx are hoaxes as well.
The two cases are not remotely comparable. There have been four fossils of Sinosauropteryx found. We know who found them, and where they were found. They are subject to intense scrutiny. There is no comparable fragmentation of the slab holding the best specimens.
The truth is that there have been a series of spectacular fossils found in China, which have clearly established a linkage between dinosaurs and birds. Even "Archaeoraptor" is legitimately a part of this. The two parts are an ancient bird, and a tiny non-avian dinosaur; the smallest non-avian dinosaur known and of major interest in its own right.
Almost all scientists now recognize birds as direct descendents of theropod dinosaurs. There is really only one notable hold out remaining -- Alan Feduccia, who opts for a less direct relationship by an older common ancestor amongst the thecodonts; but as the evidence mounts Feduccia's model is becoming more and more idiosycractic.
A final caution; note that Archaeoraptor is not the same as Archaeopteryx.
might be interesting in the latest identification of the
parts of "Archaeoraptor."
Nature Science Update carried this news story: Fossil Forgery's Front Half Revealed.
The reseach paper by Zhou, Z., Clarke, J. A. & Zhang, F., was published in Nature 420:285 (2002). Here is the abstract: Archaeoraptor's Better Half.
An editor from Gold Web Sites has reviewed your site and given it the Gold Web Site Award. Your site is now listed on Gold Web Sites.
Gold Web Sites are quality web sites that present interesting content in a user friendly manner. Only the very best sites earn the Gold Web Site Award and get listed.
If you'd like to display the award on your site, you can choose from two different sizes:
If you have other sites you'd like reviewed for the Gold Web Site Award, you can submit them at Gold Web Sites
Regards, Gold Web Sites Editor
|Response:||That's some good company you've honored on your website. Thanks for taking the time to write.|
The Gold Web Site award is now noted on the TalkOrigins Archive Awards page.
|Comment:||I find it interesting that you claim to explore the creation/evolution argument while never once giving any thought to creationism but simply bashing it and those who propose it while failing to answer many of the questions creationists propose.|
for your feedback. Unfortunately, you do not ask any
We give considerable thought to creationism, and try to provide useful articles which answer many of the questions raised; and we keep adding new ones. In this feedback column (which really ought to be for feedback on the website) we spend a fair bit of time answering questions from anyone with a question to ask. If you have a genuine question to which you would like an answer, first of all see if it is already addressed in the web site (use the search facility). If it is not addressed, feel free to ask.
|Comment:||A number of
posts in this and other sites crow about how 'for all
Science's knowledge' we've been unable to recreate life in
a lab. How an artificial cell construct fails to replicate,
even though it is a 'perfect' reproduction.
But how long have we been trying, realistically? It's clear that any attempt to create life before we understood genetics would have failed, and that only goes back to what, the 1950's? Is there anything else like that?
I realize it is impossible to guess at what we don't know about life and life forms, but when was the last discovery about life and replication that, like DNA, made it clear that all previous understanding of the process was incomplete? That showed that any previous attempts would have been failures?
I guess I'm asking about the upper limit for possible man-hours spent trying to create life, as we know it, from scratch....
Then compare that to the hundreds (thousands, if Daedelus counts) of years spent trying to copy birds and master powered flight....
|Comment:||I am looking for any information (such as a book or essay) which details vestigal features in animal life today. I find vestiges one of the strongest pieces of evidence for evolution and would be delighted to find a lengthy piece catalogueing them. Your site lists a few, which I appreciate, but I would be fascinated to see more examples. Any suggestions? Thank you in advance.|
|Response:||I know of no
book dealing with the subject of vestigial or rudimentary
organs, nor of any website dealing comprehensively with
them. Perhaps someone else does know of such a text and
will respond. Darwin of course mentioned them. In
Darwin's Ghost by Steve Jones (Almost Like a
Whale in the UK) a number of them are mentioned, spread
over 8 pages.
Several FAQs here mention them and may collectively present a larger list:
The Origin of Whales and the Power of Independent Evidice Vestigial hips.
29 Evidences for Macroevolution: Part 2 Morphological vestages.
Creationism and the Platypus Vestigial teeth.
Horse Evolution Vestigial toe or nubbin.
Plagiarized Errors and Molecular Genetics Vestigial genes.
Carl Zimmer's essay The Rise and Fall of the Nasal Empire was published in Natural History for June 2002. In it he tells about most of our olfactory genes being "broken" or vestigial.
I hope this helps.
|Comment:||This is what
a creationist wrote:
Venus: Venus has several very high and tall mountains, including one called Maat Mons. Venus being relatively close to the sun and thick atmosphere has an average temp at 900 deg F. temperatures such as these would, quite understandably, make the rocks of these mountains weak and tar like. Only if the subsurface rocks were cold and hard could these weak mountains defy gravity and stay erect. This allows us to draw to conclusions which contradict major evolutionary assumptions. First, evolutionists assume planets grew (evolved) by rocky debris falling from outer space, a process called gravitational accretion. heat generated by a planets worth of impacts would have left the rocky planets molten. Venus was never molten. had it been, it's hot atmosphere would have prevented it's subsurface rocks from cooling enough to support it's mountains. So Venus did not evolve by gravitational accretion. secondly, evolutionists believe the entire solar system is billions of year old. if Venus were billions of years old, its atmospheric heat would have "soaked" deeply enough into the planet to weaken its subsurface rocks. if so, not only could Venus's crust not support its mountains, the hot mountains themselves could not maintain their steep slopes. Venus must be relatively young.
Temperatures: Heat always flows from a hot body to a cold body. If the universe were infinitely old everything should have the same temperature. because temperatures vary, the universe is not infinitely old. Therefore, the universe had a beginning. (a beginning suggests a Creator) I think this argument also applies to the idea that the universe is young. Billions of years should be long enough for the temperatures to even out because of the natural property of heat flowing to colder spots to eventually even out temperature. for example, a hot glass of water set in room temperature: the heat in the water would flow into the cooler room. The heats would equal out, the water getting cooler and the room heating up equal to the amount of heat energy in the cup. this argument would apply to space, the planets would have over a billion years time (which is unimaginably long) had enough time to distribute all the heat energy equally. this implies the universe is relatively young. I have other reasons why the universe must be young, but I'm tired now, I need sleep. I'll email you again later after you come up with some more evolutionist "proof" why these are lies.
What do I say to that? please tell me as soon as possible!!! I am in a debate with her, but I don't know what to answer to that question. What shall I say?
|Author of:||Is the Planet Venus Young?|
"Only if the subsurface rocks were cold and hard could these weak mountains defy gravity and stay erect." All wrong. To begin with, the mountains are not "weak", nor is there any real reason to think they should be. The creationist simply assumes without merit that the surface rocks "quite understandably" should be "weak & tar like" at such temperatures. "Understandable" perhaps to someone who is unfamiliar with the thermal & mechanical properties of rock. But in reality, 900°F is quite a low temperature for rock, and one would not in fact expect them to behave in any other way than rock. The surface rocks of Venus would not become "weak & tar like", even if they were subjected to such temperatures for billions of years, which they certainly have not been. Furthermore, rock behaves quite differently under pressure than it does on the surface. The subsurface rocks will remain quite viscous, and easily have the strength to hold up the mountains of Venus, even at much higher temperatures than 900°F. There is simply nothing physically correct about the creationist's claim.
"Venus was never molten. had it been, it's hot atmosphere would have prevented it's subsurface rocks from cooling enough to support it's mountains." Not at all. In fact, heat escapes through the atmosphere of Venus, such that it's surface has cooled from a molten state, to it's current temperature, in about 500,000,000 years, which is the "evolutionary" age for the exposed surface of Venus. There is no way an atmosphere as cold as 900°F could keep the surface of Venus hot.
"if Venus were billions of years old, its atmospheric heat would have "soaked" deeply enough into the planet to weaken its subsurface rocks." Heat does not "soak". It moves, as our creationist has already told us, from hot to cold. And the speed with which it moves depends very much on the physical properties of the material it's trying to move through. Heat moves very slow through rock, and would not move far anyway, since the subsurface rocks are already much hotter than is the atmosphere (but as I said before, they don't get "soft" under pressure at such low temperatures). Since the surface is already at the same temperature as the atmosphere, and since heat can't "soak" into a hotter subsurface, the heat remains in the atmosphere, where it eventually radiates away.
In all three cases, the creationist argument is in direct contradiction to what we know about the physics of rocks, and the thermal properties of Venus. For a comprehensive study of Venus see the books Venus (1983) and Venus II (1997), both in the Space Science series from the University of Arizona press. Everything you could possibly want to know about Venus (alomst) is in at least one of these books.
"If the universe were infinitely old everything should have the same temperature." Well, evolution does not necessarily claim an infinitely old universe. But that should not prevent us from pointing out that the creationist is already treading on thin ice. This assertion might be true, and it might not. It isn't enough to say that the universe is infinitely old, but one must also say something about its internal physics. Consider for instance, a universe such as our own, evolved to the point of having black holes in thermal equilibrium with their own Hawking radiation. Everything is not at the same temperature, and it will remain so forever.
"Therefore, the universe had a beginning. (a beginning suggests a Creator)" Indeed, a beginning might suggest a creator (though it certainly does not require a creator). But there is no aspect of evolution, cosmological or biological, which in any way interfere's with the notion of a creator, so I fail to see the relevance of the point.
"Billions of years should be long enough for the temperatures to even out because of the natural property of heat flowing to colder spots to eventually even out temperature." Why? The creationist has decided that it "should" be so, but it is fair to ask why it should be so. In fact, it should not be so. billions of years is not even close to the time it takes for heat to move from hot to cold. Our current best estimate for the age of the universe is about 13,500,000,000 years. But a low mass, M-dwarf, main sequence star, will sit around happily fusing hydrogen into helium, for about 100,000,000,000,000 years. Notice that this number has 5 more zeros tacked onto it, beyond the current age of the universe. So we have to wait, until the universe is about 10,000 times older than it is now, before we even lose the current generation of red dwarf main sequence stars. And since there will be more of those stars born in the future, it will surely be much longer than that before we have to worry about the universe falling into "heat death" (the cosmologist's phrase for the condition brought up by the creationist.
"the planets would have over a billion years time (which is unimaginably long) had enough time to distribute all the heat energy equally." Not much of an imagination, I'm afraid. We already pointed out that the universe is about 1.3x1010 years old, and small red stars hang out for about 1014 years. But we can expect heat generating processes to go on for as long as, hold on to your hats, an astounding 101076 years! That's a number so large I can only write it in exponential notation; in a universe which could only hold about 10123 protons, how would I write so many 0's? The creationist's intuition & imagination fall far short of the standard set by common reality.
See Time without end: Physics and biology in an open universe, Freeman J. Dyson, Reviews of Modern Physics 51(3): 447-460, July 1979; The Five Ages of the Universe: Inside the Physics of Eternity, Fred Adams and Greg Laughlin, Touchstone Press, 2000.
be you don't have actual answers that you advise to avoid
Debates and the Globetrotters Copyright © 1994-1997 by Eugenie Scott [Last Update: July 7, 1994]
|Response:||Could it be
that "Anonymous" simply couldn't understand the entire
presentation made by Eugenie Scott in Debates and the
She not only mentioned avoiding debates in some cases, but also how and what to debate in order to be most effective. As a frequent debater herself, Ms. Scott is eminently qualified to advise others.
Look at what you will find in a search of Ms. Scott's website at the National Center for Science Education
|Comment:||One of your FAQ answers refers to the Earth being 4.5B years old. This is now out-of-date, and apparently the earth is considerably older than that. I don't have better estimates at the tip of my tongue. See the popular books by Stephen Hawking, etc. It would probably be good to change that figure in your FAQ page, etc. Bill Burley|
|Response:||The FAQ is
correct. (But please don't be put off letting us know of
problems! Your feedback is still appreciated and very
The age of the Earth is 4.55 billion years old, and this is known with a precision of about half a percent. There has been no credible alternative age presented, and over the last three of four decades the only real change has been increasing precision. See our FAQ Changing Views of the History of the Earth.
I guess you may be referring to new measurements of the age of the Universe which came out just last month (in February 2003). NASA's Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP) released results used to obtain a new estimate of 13.7 billion years +/- 0.2. The age of the Universe is a more difficult problem than the age of the Earth, and this result is not as secure as the many times confirmed measurements relating to the Earth. But it is a major advance, it is consistent with previous results, and the new precision is unprecedented.
|Comment:||I have a
couple of questions regarding Kathleen Hunt's excellent
"Transitional Vertebrate Fossils FAQ". The first question
concerns the documentation (of species-to-species
transitions. My question is this: If, as I understand
correctly, there is confusion (or at least differing
points-of-view) about the ordering of and branching of
hominid species (for example, is H. erectus a dead end or
not), why do think we are certain of the nature of the
phylogenic tree for sections of the perissodactyl lineage?
Is the portion of the fossil record which supports
Gingerich's analyses so exceptionally complete that this is
possible? According to Hunt, one needs specimens separated
by a few tens of thousand years to make this determination.
Does this rate of temporal occurrence exist for a
perissodactyls but not for hominids?
The second part is more of an observation. I find the quote "For instance, mammal evolution does not seem to have led inescapably toward humans, and does not show any consistent discernable trend (except possibly toward increased body size)" difficult to believe. I can certainly think of several trends, such as increasing body size, increasing specialization of dentition and limbs, increasing brain size and complexity, as well as others. I am interested in your comments on this.
Yes, there is more data (fossils) available for horses than for hominids. I'm not sure how temporally fine-grained the horse fossil record is, but Niles Eldredge considers the horse fossil record to be every creationist's worst nightmare.
As far as trends are concerned, there is a difference between a trend which may apply to one or more lineages within the mammals and a trend which can be said to apply to mammals in general (that's the "consistent" constraint). One of the trends suggested by the reader, that of "increasing specialization in dentition and limbs", is counter to what is observed in delphinid evolution, which now have conical teeth in all positions and have reduced limbs to fins in the fore and no limbs in the rear. The delphinids might be invoked as an example of a lineage where "increasing brain size and complexity" applies, but as Lori Marino's work on encephalization quotients shows, EQ in delphinid lineages studied has been static for about the last 15 million years, IIRC.
compiled a list of SCIENTIFIC DATING METHODS from
scientific Internet resources. It includes both relative
and absolute techniques. Some are more accurate than
others; some are used often, others not so often; some are
new with greatly developing potential usefulness while
others remain relatively undeveloped; some overlap others;
some that began as a variations of others have achieved
independence; and some are usable only in conjunction with
others. Those that are radiometric are independent of
chemical and other environmental considerations such as
temperature. All tend to agree with each other, to
correlate and interlock. All that are under active
development are improving in accuracy. My anti-evolutionist
friends aren't in the least impressed, however. Is there
something psychological going on here?
•Algal microfossil analysis (in
I am impressed. I am sure there is something
psychological going on with the creationists' denial, but I
don't understand it. However, the dating methods make some
impression on at least some of them, because they have
created arguments against some of these (e.g. massive
radiation during Noah's flood somehow mucked up radiometric
methods). I have never seen them deal with the consistency
of different methods.
Another method for your list, albeit not applicable to earth, is cratering density.
difficult to know why your friends remain unimpressed.
Perhaps when you tell them that some of the methods you
list are "experimental," or that "some are better than
others," they sense a problem or see a loophole in your
argument. Do you offer them web references for each of
these methods or only the list that you presented here?
There are a number of
Dating Methods FAQs and Articles available in the
Having encountered the same problem many times, I prepared a webpage covering 20 Dating Methods. In some cases it has helped to convince others as to the reasonableness of dating methodologies, relative or absolute. In other cases the amount of material overwhelms persons who are looking for simple answers that require little or no reading.
In my experience the best single reference to offer Young Earth Creationists is Radiometric Dating: A Christian Perspective by Dr. Roger C. Wiens. While this is a lengthy discussion of the subject (and should be read in full), the material beginning at page 19 demolishes most of the YEC claims frequently encountered on creationist websites. I have seen marvelous results when I have been able to convince someone to actually read Dr. Wiens' page. Wiens helps reasonable people to modify their worldview without attempting to attack or destroy their faith.
In some cases at least several of the dating methods on your list are combined within one on my list. I would be happy to receive a collection of links discovered through your research if you have time to share them.
|Comment:||If you guys are right about evolution we will never know when we die, but if the Bible is correct, Hell is sure going to be hot!!!! It's your gamble.|
feedback implies that our ideas on the age of the Earth or
the nature of relationships between different species is a
central matter upon which personal salvation depends. Most
Christians (including young earth creationists) consider
that personal damnation or salvation turn upon other
The threat of Hell in this instance is plainly aimed at people who are already believers, to make them fearful of examining their beliefs. For people who do not believe in God, or who do not believe God behaves as our respondent suggests, this is merely a repellent false theology.
The good news is that you will not be damned for having a mistaken view of the history of life and of the Earth. You are free to consider the evidence honestly and without fear. If you can cast fear aside, you have a far better chance of seeing clearly.
for listing TheologyWeb on your
Sincerely Dee Dee Administrator
Please note, however, that listing your site does not constitute an endorsement. There are some truly dreadful sites in that list; we find that the words of creationists are often their very own best rebuttal.
|Response:||That site, however, is an open discussion forum on biblical exegesis, and there are both literalist young earth creationists and more critical interpreters who have no problem with the science. While the site admin may be a young earther, some of the interlocutors show more knowledge.|
|Comment:||Hi i'm a 16
kid who goes to school at kansas city christan school, a
privet and christan school. everyone at the school are
young earth creationest, and that is what i belive too, and
we have to wright a papaer on creation vs. evoulotion. this
is an interestion topic. It's funny because i am not really
on the outside looking in, and i think evolution is kind of
funny. There is so much evidence aginst it, but there is
alot for it to. The only thing that evolution can't come up
with is how do you get information from matter. they are
two different things. and another thing is irrudusable
complexatiy. like the bactiral flagela. With out all of the
parts how can it work? It needs all of the parts two work.
How can something like that evoleve. you can't start with
one part and then get another, because one peice with out
the other is just wasted space. and there is no need of it.
I just want to know what any evolutionests have to say on
the topic of irredusable complexity and try to explain how
you can get infromation from matter
irreduceable complexity, this archive has a number of
articles on this topic under the heading, "Irreduceable Complexity and Michael
Behe." One of the best responses to Mr. Behe's
arguments on irreduceable complexity is H. Allen Orr's review of
Darwin's Black Box that ran in Boston
Review. From that review:
After discussing some possible solutions to this dilemna, Orr makes clear one actual evolutionary answer:
Another review by Don Lindsay discusses three ways in which irreduceable complexity can evolve: 1) Improvements become necessities, 2) loss of scaffolding, and 3) duplication and divergence.
Regarding flagella specifically, scroll down to the "Flagella and Cilium" section of Publish or Perish: Some Published Works on Biochemical Evolution.
I'm not sure what is meant by "getting information from matter." Matter has information associated with it, not the least of which is its mass, position, and momentum. We get this information by measurements. I suspect, though, that the reader is asking about the creationist assertion that "evolution cannot create new information." This is simply nonsense, and results from a fundamental misunderstanding of information theory. For instance, there is an obvious increase in information that occurs when a gene duplicates and the two copies undergo independent mutations leading to two genes with different functions.
|Comment:||I am somewhat bothered by the misleading content of the internet, and I believe it may in some way contribute to the difficulty you are having with this site. The first 6 hits in a search on google for "creation vs evolution" gave me 4 creationist websites, this website, and one website that seemed indeterminate. There was one sponsored link, to apologeticspress.org which is also creationist. To any person who attemtps to do research on this, and who lacks knowledge on the subject, they are more likely going to find themselves at a creationist website without the knowledge or ability to see the fallacies in the creationist arguements. Though I admit there are some very simple and introductory faqs on this site, perhaps something even more simple, and visually appealling even, something more entertaining, might help to make the "fence-sitter" more interested in reading all the valuable knowledge in these archives. This would especially help children who are doing research, who upon opening a page and finding it for the most part text- based, are likely to try different hits from their search. I know this is yet more work for the few wonderful volunteers who maintain this site, but I think this would be a valuable addition to your archives.|
|Response:||I agree with
the reader on this point, and have been concerned for some
time about how this archive can best address those with
little or no exposure to evolution or the
evolution/creationism controversy. I think that this
archive would be well-served by an "Evolution for Dummies"
section with corresponding illustrations, something that
proceeds even more step-by-step than our Introduction to
Evolutionary Biology article. I have actually been
considering creating just such a thing in the next few
months, though I may not be the most qualified for the job.
A difficult task for this archive, as well as for those writing about science or other technical or complicated topics, is determining how best to strike the balance between simplification and accuracy. My tendency is to think that sacrificing accuracy for the sake of simplification can be useful to illustrate basic principles, so long as one also makes clear that there's more to the story. My view may be the minority view of this archive's contributors, however.
In any case, I think that what you propose is a good suggestion, although one that may be difficult to implement, given the volunteer nature of this archive. Any science writers reading this are more than welcome to contribute, and if any readers are aware of grant money to bring this off, please let us know.
the sunspot cycle do have a noticeable, short-term effect
on the rate of C-14 production inasmuch as sunspots are
associated with solar flares, which produce magnetic storms
on Earth, and the condition of the earth's magnetic field
does affect the number of cosmic rays reaching the earth's
upper atmosphere. (Carbon-14 is produced by energetic
collisions between cosmic rays and molecules of nitrogen in
the upper atmosphere.) Sunspots have absolutely nothing to
do with the rate of C-14 decay, which defines the half-life
of that radioactive element
Because of the effect on the rate of production, would there not be varying amounts of Carbon-14 in objects throughout the sunspot cycle, skewing the age of items? Since over thousands of years the smallest difference in Carbon-14 atoms would make a difference in the age derrived from the object. Please clarify if this is not fully correct.
|Author of:||Creation Science and the Earth's Magnetic Field|
|Response:||There are quite a few things which cause the rate of carbon-14 production in the atmosphere to vary with time; this is why uncalibrated dates are always referred to as "C14 years" or "uncalibrated" years, so as to distinguish them from real "calendar" years. But not to worry. There are well devoped methods for taking the natural variability into account, and transforming C14 years into calendar years. See, for instance, the Calibration and Corrections pages, from the Radiocarbon Web, sponsored by the radiocarbon laboratories at Waikato university in New Zealand, and Oxford Univeristy in England.|
|Comment:||just a question if i may. if evolution is real and we did come from apes, then why aren't the apes now a days turning into humans?|
"Turning into humans" is not a predetermined or even necessarily desirable end result for evolution. Every lineage evolves in its own way, shaped by accident and constrained by its own history and adaptation to local conditions.
Other apes are evolving just fine, as are we. We're just all going in our own, different directions.
|Comment:||About two years ago I started investigating evolution from a neutral, instead of polemic, point of view. I quite quickly lost my creationist beliefs. I'm still fascinated by evolution and am considering becoming a high school biology teacher. My main fear, though, is that I will be hindered from teaching evolution freely. I cannot see how one can teach biology without teaching evolution with all it's implications. Is anti-evolutionism a widespread problem for high school teachers? I live in Chicago, IL. by the way (not Kansas, thank God!).|
or opposition to the teaching of evolution differs from
school district to school district. Indeed, within a school
district the emphasis can be different from school to
school or within classrooms of the same school.
You will find much information and support for the sound teaching of science at:
National Center for Science Education
National Science Teachers Association
National Association of Biology Teachers
The last two organizations have chapters in Illinois from whom you can probably glean much local information.
Hi, Chris. I"ve just been reading your excellent intro to evolution to help my son critique the myth of racial origins that occurs in Malcolm X's autobiography. (Yes, I thought you'd like that.) Just a literary note. The idea of a great chain of being actually predates Linnaeus by some centuries. It was a commonplace in the Renaissance, and its history and intellectual implications are discussed in a famous book of literary criticism called The Great Chain of Being, by Lovejoy. I think his initials were H. O. Lovejoy, but I can't be sure.
Thanks for your clear intro. I learned a lotl.
Cleo Kearns Center for the Study of Religion Princeton University
not read the Feedback - in fact some suggest he is a
mythical figure like Paul Bunyan or Bill Gates - but I can
address the great chain issue.
The book you are referring to is
Lovejoy, A. O. (1964 (1936)). The great chain chain of being: a study of the history of an idea. Cambridge, Mass., Harvard University Press.
Arthur Lovejoy was a brilliant historian of ideas (a discipline that fell into disfavour for various reasons until recently), and he contributed also a lot to the following useful book:
Glass, B., O. Temkin, et al., Eds. (1959). Forerunners of Darwin, 1745-1859. Baltimore, Johns Hopkins Press.
A text that covers more recent research on the Great Chain is
Kuntz, M. L. and P. G. Kuntz, Eds. (1988). Jacob's ladder and the tree of life: concepts of hierarchy and the Great Chain of Being. American university studies. Series V, Philosophy. New York, P. Lang.
The Great Chain arose out of the views of Aristotle as amended by the late Neo-Platonists such as Porphyry. In essence, it was the view that there is an ascending scale (the scala naturae) from simple Being (Esse) through Motion, Growth, Sensibility, and Reason, through to the heavens and Incorruptibility. The classical statement of it is to be found in the works of Raymond Lull, or Lullius, just before the Reformation, about 1515.
It was adopted by Descartes, Leibniz, Bonnet and Buffon, and most famously by Lamarck, who made the ladder itself into a temporal sequence, predetermined in its course, more or less, from simple creatures through to complex humans. Humans were always at the top of the biological version, of course.
If you are interested in how the notion of race developed, I suggest a volume
Voegelin, E. (1998). The history of the race idea: from Ray to Carus. Baton Rouge, Louisiana State University Press.
which covers the biological period from the 17th century to the late nineteenth.
me? Another creationist wrote this to me. his words are [in
block quotes] and mine is normal. [The formatting that
Terry used has been changed to make it readable.]
An interesting set of questions, but completely irrelevant to the origins of life. Now is a good time for me to point out that many people believe in a God who created the universe, and just set it in motion (commonly known as Deism, or "God as the Watchmaker"). Needless to say, this reconciles the theory of evolution (as well as the rest of modern science) with the above questions, and it is a perfectly reasonable hypothesis. The only reason I (and many others) find it unsatisfactory is because it is unnecessarily complicated, and I am a firm believer in Occam's Razor. Nobody's claiming that the explosion itself created order.
It just started the expansion that we now witness with our telescopes. What created the subsequent "order" of the universe was the laws of physics and chemistry, which cause matter and energy to interact in certain ways. The absurdity of this argument can be illustrated when one realizes that similar methods can be used to prove the impossibility of, say, a snowflake forming (much less the billions of snowflakes that regularly appear).
Again, we are dealing with the fact that matter is governed by a certain set of physical and chemical laws, and that is what allows these things to happen.
an interesting set of questions, and again, completely irrelevant to evolution. These have more to do with cosmology and philosophy than with the origins and evolution of life. Even if we decide to believe that the physical laws of the universe were created by an intelligent entity, this still does nothing to disprove the massive quantities of evidence favoring the theory of evolution by natural selection (i.e., we're back to Deism).
Houses and cars have different components that help with it's task, but the parts would not be under the same self-organizing physical and chemical forces that the first organic hydrocarbons were. But, of course, this proves nothing. It is a completely false analogy. It's not only because of 'living cells' that I say it cannot be compared. You see, you assume that their had to be an INTELLIGENT design for these things to happen. I will take the house you mentioned. Say there was a junkyard. A tornado comes by. It would be impossible for the junk to become a house right? But say millions of tornadoes would pass by millions of times over billions of years. And say these tornadoes had a specific way of throwing house parts around (an order). And say the parts had things that would pull itself together to form a whole. And say the parts wanted to survive, and the only way they could survive was to form a house. And there you have it. A house was build without intelligent design.
The universe was the laws of physics and chemistry, which cause matter and energy to interact in certain ways.
First of all, it is not atheists who assume these things. It's astronomers and cosmologist. They have so many evidence supporting a big bang that it is considered a scientific fact. What caused the explosion was a chemical reaction.
We just have to include a lot more hydrogen
and a few intermediate steps: 1. The hydrogen coalesces to form stars.
2. The stars fuse the hydrogen into heavier elements. 3. The stars eventually die and explode, scattering the elements they have created. 4. Repeat above steps several hundred billion times, probably more. 5. The scattered matter through the universe forms into clouds and nebulae, which eventually form planets. Other elements develop into more complex hydrocarbons, the precursors of organic molecules. 6. Hydrocarbons end up on planets, either from the beginning, or afterward, via meteoric bombardment (or both). 7. Self-replicating molecules form from those hydrocarbons (via those same self-organizing laws of physics and chemistry). 8. The self-replicating molecules evolve into cellular, then multicellular, life. 9. The life evolves into intelligent beings (like us). 10. The intelligent beings make cars and houses and computers.
There are to many evidence supporting the big bang. About 99% of scientist believe there was a big bang.
We don't have to prove what was before the big bang. It is in fact unprovable.
Your guess is as good as mine. Now, we can say it was a god, or we can say something like: It came from the fall of a higher dimension or a super-universe. Both holds water. Non can be disproven.
Could you please give a detailed reply to his arguments? Thanks in advance
guessing, but I suspect no one else responded to this for
much the same reason that I did not the first time around
(much the same post was made in the April Feedback prior to
the March file being made available).
There are two problems. First, it is impossible to keep track of who is saying what. Let me suggest that if you post such a "discussion," that you use separate paragraphs for each person and label them:
Secondly, this might not be the best place for such an exchange, with criticism by third parties. Why not take this to a discussion board where others are permitted to join the discussion?
[During file maintainance during September 2003 it was discovered why, besides poor formating choices, Terry's feedback was so unreadable. He used < and > symbols to indicate what the creationist quoted. This resulted in much of what his feedback being intepretted by browser software as unknown HTML markup tags and thus was not displayed. - Mike Hopkins]
|Comment:||you stupid loser you have too much time. get a life|
|Response:||What, and miss on the pleasure of answering such educated responses?|
|Comment:||My questions are taking from regards by different scientist, and Evolution based magazines. Regarding the question of how life orginated, astronomer Robert Jastrow said: "To their chargin [scientist] have no clear-cut answer, because chemists have never succeeded in reproducing nature's experiments on the creation of life out of nonliving matter. Scientist do not know how that happened" "Scientist have no proof that life was not the result of an act of creation" In regards to the eye, brain, and ear. Their complexity is far more than the most intricate man made device. A problem for evolution has been the fact that all parts of such organs have to work togather for sight hearing, and thinking to take place. Such organs would have been useless untill all the individual parts were completed. So the question is: Could the undirected element of chance that is thought to be the driving force of evolution have brought all these parts togather at the right time to produce such elaberate mechanisms? Darwin wrote: "to suppose that the eye could have been formed by evolution, seems I freely confess, absurd in the highest degree" A century has passed since then, and what has been learned about the eye shows that it is more complex than he understood it to be. If this is so for the eye, then what of the human brain? Since even a simple machine does not evolve by chance, how can it be a fact that the more complex braid did? Robert Jastrow also said: "It is hard to accept the evolution of the human eye as a product of chance, it is even harder to accept the evolution of human intelligence as the product of random disruptions in the brain cells of our ancestors"|
for bringing up two of my favorite subjects.
If you will use the search function here you will find many FAQs on the subjects you touch upon: abiogenesis, origin of life, complex organs, eyes and so forth.
The origin of life is outside the scope of evolution, which could begin only after replicating life arose (by whatever means). To grasp the basics of evolution you might wish to read What Evolution Is by Ernst Mayr. It is a fine introduction to evolution.
Science cannot investigate the supernatural or address questions of supernatural creation. It can investigate the possibility that life may have arisen by natural processes. A review of Origins of Life Research is available here. The book The Spark of Life provides an overview of the field.
You then jump forward a few billion years to the era of multicellular life and the origin of complex organs. Confusing the issue by bring in machines, chance and "random disruptions" does nothing to divert from the real issue, that of argument from incredulity. Because one does not understand how a process might work does not invalidate the observed process.
As for evolution of eyes and what Charles Darwin really had to say on the subject, you will find the quote you provided in context at Darwin on Eyes. The full text is provided from both the 1st and 6th editions of Origin of Species including the evidence he presented to support his hypothesis. Many links are also provided which substantiate and further expand upon Darwin's views.
|Comment:||The flood the Ark the Animals the Whole thing was under the control of God, He could have put all the animals in a match box had he so desired, Science tries to put God in a test tube, this cannot be done, the created can never equal the creator, so man can never equal God. I respect honest science, evolution, is not honest science. Man wishes to get around God, and his judgments, Evolution is the chosen way. It will not work. Fred L Jones|
|Author of:||Evolution and Philosophy|
|Response:||I, and I
suspect many others here, have no objection to this view -
if there is a God who can act the way classical theists
believe He can act, then he can do pretty much whatever he
wants to do.
But science is the process - all to human, to be sure - of using evidence to draw conclusions. Evolution is how the living world looks to have been created, whether or not God created it in situ. He wanted us to draw some conclusions scientifically. This is not a rejection of God as such; it is the task of science to explain phenomena according to the evidence. To do otherwise is not to do science.
If you or anyone else wishes to teach your children that God created the world is some way that is contrary to the scientific explanation, that is your right. But do not call it science, as the "creation science" proponents do. They not only want to teach special creation, they want to do so by twisting and warping the evidence. The evidence is clear - life evolved. At least teach your children the facts when you teach them the theology. Your theology will be the stronger for it, and they will not be inclined to reject it later when they find out that the facts are what they are.
variation makes an individual member of species better
adapted to its enviorment, how might that variation affect
the individual's reproduction?
And how does the environment "select" organisms
|Author of:||Evolution and Philosophy|
questions, and asked of Darwin and his followers right
after the Origin was published.
Suppose that the variation makes it less likely to succumb to disease or famine than its colleagues; it follows, as a matter of arithmetic, that organisms with that variation will be more likely to leave descendants over periods that include those stresses, than those that lack it.
It isn't about survival as such. Survival is all very well, but only, from an evolutionary perspective, if it leads to more progeny relative to the other members of the population. If a variant allowed the individual to survive indefinitely at the expense of sterility, then only one member of that species would have that variation. If a variant had a shorter life but had more progeny live to reproduce themselves, then many members would end up having it.
All advantage from mutations and variations is relative.
Now, how does the environment "select"? It suggests that the environment is an agent, doesn't it? In fact, Alfred Wallace objected to the phrase "natural selection" for just that reason. But this is the selection of a filter, like a sieve. A sieve "selects" out the larger particles and allows fluids and smaller particles to go through. Natural selection is that kind of process. No agency, just the actual processes making it more or less likely that variations will make it through the filter to the next generation.