|Comment:||I would like
to comment on the index of creationist claims, having
browsed it some. The CB400 items mention a
number of things about human behavior that creationists
claim are not or can not be explained by evolution. The
responses for these items then continue to provide known or
Correct me if I am wrong, but my impression is that the main point creationists are trying to make with these observations is that the theory of evolution is invalid because it does not explain certain things they think should otherwise be explainable by the theory at this time.
Their logic seems to be as follows. If the theory of evolution supposedly explains A, B and C, then it should also be able to explain X, Y and Z, but it does not do so very well or not at all. Therefore, it can not be a good explanation for A, B and C.
I think this point of faulty logic which creationists are trying to apply should be mentioned somewhere in the index, if not already, perhaps in the theory of science section.
|Response:||Good point. The argument you describe is akin to the argument from incredulity (which I have at CA100), but is different enough to deserve an entry of its own. I have added CA100.1: Evolution leaves lots of things unexplained.|
|Comment:||In the Index of Creationist
Linnaeus did *not* predate the Theory of Evolution by "two centuries." 1760 is *not* two centuries before 1859!
|Response:||Good catch. By the time this goes online, it should be amended.|
site. Thank you. Sufficiently rigorous but not beyond the
layman. An unmerciful pounding of the creationists. I felt
I am curious why five thousand years of breeding chickens has not produced a new species. We've induced evolution for sure. I'll bet if we'd set that as the objective five thousand years ago we'd have some new species by now. But we just wanted more eggs, and bigger size. Still, I'm surprised. Are you?
|Comment:||How do you explain the biochemical origin of life from non biological molecules? I have yet to hear a sensible explanation of how proteins were first synthesized without nucleic acids (which require enzymes for their synthesis). Also, what would happen to an active biochemical or biological researcher who openly denounced evolution?|
your silly sugestion that there is some Darwinist Mafia
that would "get" a biochemist for stepping out of line.
Three come to mind (Behe, Denton, Shapiro (in regards to
abiogenesis-see below) and they have had to suffer horribly
from tenure and grants.
The key word you are looking for is "abiogenesis," roughly equivalent to the origin of life. It is quite simple to point out that evolutionary biology is the study of life, and not the origin of life. And, there is no particular reason that evolutionary theory need be concerned with the origin of life.
I will briefly respond anyway. You clearly think that there is some sort of difference between 'living' molecules and 'non-living' molecules. This notion is called "vitalism;" as expressed in the eighteenth century this is the theory that there is something unique about life that required 'vital force.' Thus, living tissues could only subsist on the molecules from other living tissues that were thought to have "vital force." We can still see the strength that this idea had in the organization of undergraduate chemistry courses which typically start with a year of general chemistry followed by a year of "organic" chemistry. Two discoveries put an end to vitalism. First it was discovered that urea, clearly a product of life that 'must' have had vital force decomposed into quite ordinary water, carbon dioxide, and ammonia. More importantly, in 1832 Freidrich Wohler showed that synthetic urea could be made from ammonium cyanate, and this could be made from simple gasses. The variation of vitalism most popular with creationists is the theory of spontaneous generation. This is popular with creationists because it was debunked in the late 1800s when Louis Pasteur published (1862) his investigations on the sources of microscopic organisms found growing in various broths. Although there were challenges as late as 1872 (H. Bastian, The Beginnings of Life, London) Pasteur had finished spontaneous generation theories for once and for all. Many creationists misinterpret Pasteur's work as meaning that life can only result from a supernatural intervention. This is not a valid conclusion. Rather, Pasteur demonstrated that complex cellular life does not spring full formed into existence at the same time he disposed of the 'vital force' notion.
So, the molecules of life were known to be quite ordinary matter. Astronomers discovered that not only were these carbon compounds common throughout the solar system, they are common through out the universe.
The discussion of the earliest molecular catalysis, peptides, genetic material, and (don't forget) lipid membranes, goes far beyond what I am willing to write out for you. I will point out that there are many catalytic mechanisms in addition to enzymes.
Instead, here are some intermediate level books that provide good overviews:
Fry's book is my current favorite introduction.
The next two are more for historical interest.
See above comments about the Darwinist Mafia.
For people who don't have access to good libraries (How can you live?) here are some websites:
To get any where near the current research, you must use scientific journals rather than textbooks. I would suggest you read the following articles, and then work back through the reference sections to gain the background literature. I selected them as much for their references as their primary content.
|Comment:||I love you all|
|Author of:||Evolution and Philosophy|
|Response:||You say that, but they all do, and then they never call. Flowers and a movie - is that too hard?|
|Response:||I think they have commitment issues, John.|
|Response:||You're not getting my Bud Light.|
|Comment:||I am doing a research report on different theories on how the earth was created such as the Ancient Greek's theories. I was wondering if you had any knowledge, not so much on your opinion such as different theories that you know of. If not I was wondering if you could point me in the right direction.|
|Author of:||Evolution and Philosophy|
Toulmin, Stephen, and June Goodfield. 1962. The Fabric of the Heavens: the development of astronomy and dynamics. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Koestler, Arthur. 1964. The sleepwalkers: a history of man's changing vision of the universe. Harmondsworth: Penguin by arrangement with Hutchinson.
These are the standard works on ancient astronomy, although I note that Pecker's more recent volume is just out. Also check the following:
Blacker, Carmen, Michael Loewe, and J. Martin Plumley. 1975. Ancient cosmologies. London: Allen and Unwin.
Furley, David J. 1987. The Greek cosmologists. Cambridge ; New York: Cambridge University Press.
Pecker, Jean Claude. 2001. Understanding the heavens: thirty centuries of astronomical ideas from ancient thinking to modern cosmology. Berlin ; New York: Springer.
Wright, M. R. 1995. Cosmology in antiquity, Sciences of antiquity. London ; New York: Routledge.
You can also find some material here.
|Comment:||This is not feedback on your arguments, but rather your tone. If you claim to be scientists, and impartial (just look to the data), why do you have such a hostile tone towards creationists? Because they do not agree with you, you depict them on your site to be inferior and stupid. Just take a browse through your FAQ and you will see what I mean. This is quite a ridiculous stance; and regardless of the validity of your arguments, I am immediately put on the defensive because of your derogatory tone. Perhaps you would do better trying to make creationists "see the light" if you did not try to make them all look like idiots? You complain about their hostility...what about your own?|
|Response:||I had a look
at the FAQ and I just
don't see what the reader seems to see. It looks very much
like a just-the-facts presentation of where we are coming
Compare our FAQ with some of the rhetoric that is archived in the invidious comparisons thread at the Antievolution.org discussion board. We are, comparatively, all sweetness and light.
page listing articles on
Link to it or copy it if you feel it would add to your site.
|Response:||Very nice. I've added it to the Other Links box on the thermodynamics page.|
though cells are not "infinitely complex," there are many
parts of the cell which are irreducibly complex. An
irreducibly complex system is one in which you cannot
remove or modify any of the system's parts without the
system ceasing to function. An example would be a
mousetrap. The problem with irreducibly complex systems is
that by their very nature it is impossible for them to
evolve. For evolution (or at least macro-evolution as
modern Neo-Darwinists think of it) is the excruciatingly
slow process of the forces of random variation and natural
selection giving rise to new structures through the
introduction and modification of parts.
Take the mousetrap for example again. Without all of its parts it performs no function at all. You could not lay down a platform and catch a few mice. Attach a spring and catch a few more mice. Attach a hammer and catch a few more mice and so on until you develop a mousetrap. Irreducibly complex systems are such that they could not possibly arise from evolution.
Now the question still remains whether we actually find these sorts of systems in organisms and, sure enough, we do and we find them, surprisingly at the most basic level of biological systems. A bacterial flagellum (you know, the little hair-like propeller that they use to swim) is an irreducibly complex system. The chemical system that clots our blood is at its most basic level is irreducibly complex. That's a particularly bothersome one because it is so necessary for survival that it's hard to see how it could come about by random mutation and natural selection. If you remove one step from the process then all of your blood will clot and you'll die immediately, remove another and you'll bleed to death from a paper cut or a nose bleed. You'll be like a walking water balloon.
There are lots more, like the chemical process that turns light into synapses in our brain, the system that targets proteins for delivery to sub-cellular departments (that is, the system that keeps any eukaryotic cell from starving to death) and lots more. The thing is about irreducibly complex systems is that, because they are what they are, they have to be designed to come about at all.
Well, that's enough for one night. I'll discuss the other complexities of the cell, what DNA's function really is (and why it's giving Darwinian biologists such a tough time) and respond to your drug resistant bacteria argument, your remark about the dogs (actually, I'll probably just pretend you were kidding about that one), your suggestion that evolution could be reduced to something like a law of physics and the odds against life arising at all, much less in multiple corners of the universe.
we've read Michael Behe too. The thing is, he's just plain
wrong. Evolution can create so-called "irreducibly
complex" structures by the following process: Structure A
evolves in such a way that it improves or supports
Structure B, then Structure B evolves so that it requires
Structure A to function.
You should read our large collection of articles and links on Behe's work. One of them lists published articles in scientific journals explaining the evolution of biochemical systems that Behe says couldn't have evolved. I would also recommend that you read H. Allen Orr's critique of Darwin's Black Box. Oh, and even mousetraps aren't irreducibly complex.
|Comment:||Please, I 'm
very interested in this subject and have an open mind.
Despite your many pages of Circumstantial evidence, I have
not seen either on your website or any other source, PROOF
of Macro-Evolution is either OBSERVABLE or REPEATABLE.
Thanks for your time, Starved mind Austin, TX
point to appreciate, right from the start, is that when
scientists speak of repeatable, they refer to
repeating an observation. As a simple example, suppose we
are studying an volcanic eruption which took place in the
past. We don't need to observe the eruption itself, or
repeat the eruption. We observe the traces it leaves
behind, in rocks and ash layers and so on. The observations
are repeatable, because anyone else can go to the same
location and get rocks for themselves, and repeat the
observations, or make new related observations to falsify
models developed by previous research.
Also bear in mind that the word proof in science refers to a test against empirical evidence or observations. This is the same kind of proof that is used in law and forensics and bar room arguments. It is not the same as the very specialized notion of formal deductive proof used in mathematics.
In the FAQ 29+ Evidences for Macroevolution, each of the evidences considered involves repeatable observations, and the associated discussion explicitly considers predictions, confirmations, and potential falsifications.
|From:||Joseph - St. Louis|
|Comment:||Questions for Chris Ho-Stuart: You've said that the solar system was not created by an explosion, that it WAS started by a rotating cloud of dust & gas, compressed under its gravitational field. I would be interested in your proof, not in probabilities. Many things can have a probability of 1 and a POSSIBILITY of zero. At any rate, What started the dust & gas to rotate ? What was the composition of the dust, ie were all the genetic codes for all life forms to come later on earth, already in the dust? ; and did DNA begin this way as well, from dust and gas? What types of gases were present? hydrogen, oxygen? ? and at what concentration levels did they exist? What " established " those gases in the solar system to begin with? I've got 100 more questions that evolutionists have yet answered, as well. Please keep in mind for future reference, evolution is a theory, not a fact. It's basis for promoting self-validity is deductive reasoning, taken from scientific study of nature. However, it is not an exact science, like mathematics. (Bonus riddle; explain the evolution of the yucca moth.)|
The feedback system is for feedback on material on the archive. Although we often answer general questions, that is not really the intent; and you should bear in mind that a feedback column is not suited to debate. If you are looking for a debate, you could try the talk.origins newsgroup. Your approach, however, is likely to provoke a hot reaction from some contributors there. You aren't being rude, but the questions are trite, and with a bit of effort you should be able to get a head start on answering them for yourself. Then, even if you remain dissatisfied with conventional scientific answers to these questions, at least you will be engaging at a non-trivial level.
A good idea is to read Welcome to talk.origins, then read the newsgroup for a week or so, and then post a question there, on one matter at a time. If you make a specific claim, give some defence of it, rather than just assertion. Check the post does not come across as insulting. If it does, you'll get insults back in return, and that does not help anyone.
OK. With that out of the way, here are some answers.
We don't have any good FAQs on formation of the solar system. I have commented on the matter in feedback, but without an indication of the month, I can't tell which feedback you mean.
Nobody thinks that the solar system was formed by an explosion, so let's just ignore that. Here is a good link for formation of the solar system. Any cloud of gas always has some non-zero angular momentum, and as a cloud compresses, basic physics means that it will spin more quickly to conserve that momentum. The initial composition of the nebula was mostly hydrogen, some helium, and traces of heavier elements. The heavier elements get concentrated as planets accumulate; and the models whereby this occurs are complex but still just basic physics. We can measure the composition of clouds of gas in star forming regions at the moment, and the kinds of numbers tend to be something like 90% hydrogen, 9% helium, and traces of other elements. Oxygen is the third most common element in the galaxy, but still only a fraction of a percent. (The link I have given leads on to some beautiful images of nebulae and regions of star formation in our galaxy.)
DNA was certainly not present. We are not sure how or when DNA first originated on earth, but it is most unlikely that the earliest living things used DNA. This is an area with more questions than answers: and we don't know how DNA first arose.
What establishes the composition of the dust and gases from which stars and solar systems are formed is the life cycle of other stars. Hydrogen and Helium is the basic material from which galaxies are made, and subsequently heavy elements are formed in supernova, and blasted out into space. That explosion does not mark the origin of the solar system. It marks end of a star, and the insertion of heavy elements into the clouds of the galaxy. We are made from the dust of ancient stars.
As for facts and theory. Evolution is a fact (or many facts) and it is also the theory which explains those facts. See Evolution is a Fact and a Theory. The FAQ also explains what the terms fact and theory mean in science.
I don't know why you are asking me about the Yucca moth. I'd never heard of it before now, but I've checked it out. It turns out that this is a spectacularly good example of co-evolution, and has been widely studied. The significance is mutual dependence between some of these moths and the Yucca plant, neither of which can survive without the other. There is a considerable literature on the evolution of these moths, going back to 1872! See Prodoxidae (The Yucca moth family) at the Tree of Life pages. This family includes many subfamilies of closely related moths, two genera of which are the "true" Yucca moths; both of which have many species in turn. There are many other closely related species and genera within this ensemble, and so they are very well suited for study of how the tight co-dependence with Yuccas and true Yucca moths evolved.
Modern creationists are now recognizing the need for considerable speciation in their models to account for living diversity to appear since the flood. The question arises; does the evolution of these moths fit within a creationist paradigm? If it does, then it is rather silly to raise them as a problem. If it does not, then it becomes rather a serious problem to explain how this tightly integrated mutual dependence was preserved in the flood.
|Comment:||I just got
my new Scientific American, with the article about the
Georgia 'Homo' fossils. I was trying to fit it into the big
picture and came across your site.
I am really impressed. You have a great deal of complex data presented in a rational way! Better than any textbook I have used.
Clifford B. (Kip) Sulham Lexington Community College, Kentucky
|Comment:||Evolution teaches a "tree" of life, i.e., each species came about as a result of prior changes that accumulated over time until a new discernable "branch" was formed, representing that new species. But the process prior to a new branch includes numerous "dead ends" that didn't survive, mutations that natural selection weeded out, variations that were alive for awhile but didn't make the cut. In short, had we been around to see the variety of not-quite-birds before "birds" broke away from their ancestor organism, there would have been lots of almost-birds...creatures that didn't have all the requisite parts to make it as birds. So if evolution is true, we should see the same thing now: lots of failing organisms that are "dead ends" that aren't going to make the next branch break: Human-plus, dog-plus, ant-plus, bat-plus...but we don't. People are all the same but for hair color, nose shape, etc. No one is "beyond" being a human; dogs differ as to species--of dog, but they aren't moving on beyond canine class. Where is the variety within species that will serve as the raw material to "naturally select" from? All humans look the same inside; occasional peole are never born who have a slightly improved version of liver, heart or lung, only defective ones. It looks very much as though no future "branch" is forming because no variety is sprouting up from which a "winning" version will emerge.|
|Author of:||Evolution and Philosophy|
committing a fallacy here known as "affirming the
consequent"; that is, you are defining kinds as what we
see, and then saying we don't see any half-this/half-that
kind. Well of course not, if that's how you define them.
But we do see species in the process of being born. We see species with forms that are so modified they seem to be of other species, and if we didn't know of the intervening forms that can progressively interbreed with each other, we would (and in some cases have) call the different species.
We see varieties of adaptations within species, and we see pretty much the sort of variety that evolutionary theory, by way of population genetics, tells us to expect.
We see species like the cheetah, which have undergone recent genetic bottlenecks. We see flocks of species like the finches of Galapágos, which are all similar in form, with special adaptations to local food sources.
It is not thought that most species arise by way of adaptation. Instead it is thought that adaptation happens after species become isolated from each other, although some species evolve by way of adaptation.
A well-written and informed overview of the issues can be found in
Schilthuizen, Menno. 2001. Frogs, flies, and dandelions: the making of species. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
You might be surprised exactly what it is we do see around us.
|Comment:||I find this site informational. I am a follower of Jesus and take His word literally(6 day creation). I also appreciate the natural laws and good science. I believe that if both sides are so sure that their science and models of orgin are the best then just let it all hang out and let us dumbies out here in the real world decide for ourselves. If your science leads to better management of some disease, great! If people who know spiritual matters find a cure for the runny nose, great! It's all religion to me. What's not religion is doing what you are doing for the betterment of mankind in the spirit of Jesus Christ. I know I sound like a simpleton, so sue me. This is my feeling on the matter and I could assume their are a lot of others who feel the same. After all no matter what we believe we are stuck on this planet together. Keep up the good work. Oh, I did write AIG a similar letter.|
on your site is exceptional in quality. I commend your
collective expertise and professionalism. However, for all
of TalkOrigin's well-presented and well-argued points, on
balance, I can not hold the theory of evolution with the
same esteem as I would electromagnetic theory, atomic
theory, or any similarly well-established theory.
I've yet to get unified definition of evolution even by evolutionists. As a scientist, I would be reluctant to accept the theory of evolution as an absolute fact considering it's amorphous definitions and controversies even among the faithful. In contrast, no such sniping or ambiguity occurs over the "law of biogenesis".
Among other things, I found the TalkOrigin "must read" archive pertaining to abiogenesis a gallant defense, but lacking substance. If the creationists are right, the arguments against abiogenesis and against plausibility of chemical evolution will grow ever more convincing (as they were to Nobel Laureate, discoverer of DNA, Francis Crick and others). The case against abiogenesis continues to grow, and I can't ignore these facts especially in view of the stature of the scientists who hold similar reservations.
I commend your effort, but I find the case for evolution very tentative at best, definitely not on the level of other established sciences.
I'm in the minority, but I thank you for your courtesy in letting me voice my dissent.
words, "evolution" has more than one meaning, including the
fact of biological change over time, the theory explaining
such change, the fact of common descent, and any change
generally. Each of these concepts (excepting possibly the
last) is well-defined, and the concepts, not the words, are
what matters. Trying to force a unified definition of the
word "evolution" would be no more appropriate than trying
to undefine alternate definitions of words like "bar" or
"rose." See also "Definition of evolution"
and references therein.
There is no "law of biogenesis." It is well established that there is no clear dividing line between life and non-life, and that life can and does come from non-life by reasonable definitions of the two. (For example, see the Hinton reference here.)
Abiogenesis is a hard problem, but there is no plausible case against it. The only attempts to discredit it are pathetic calculations of odds that fail to consider physical realities; see Lies, Damned Lies, Statistics, and Probability of Abiogenesis Calculations. Part of the problem with abiogenesis is that there are so many possible explanations to choose from.
Finally, Francis Crick and others of his stature hold no reservations that the theory of evolution is sound.
|Comment:||don't know if you know any, but i would love to see a creation website that is as full of facts as this page... keep up the good work|
|Response:||So would we.
An admirable beginning can be seen at this site:
I wish they would continue vetting the specious arguments from their site.
|Comment:||The definition of evolution that I have from Webster's dictionary describes evolution as the development of a species from a primitive state to a specialized state. Does this mean evolution is the morphing of a plant or animal? Your definition of evolution seems to be more of an explanation for variation in the species which of course is verifiable but not evolution as described by common textbook sources, at least from any definition I have ever seen. Why would the word change its meaning for the sake of Biology? Gene pools are nothing more than variations in the species aren't they?|
and most other dictionaries define the ordinary or common
meaning of the term, which is what dictionaries do. If you
look at a biological dictionary, however, you get a
different picture, one that reflects the usage by
biologists. Here's one from the HarperCollins Dictionary of
The word changed in biology because the understanding by biologists changed as they learned more. In fact, the modern view of evolution is not constrained by the ways the word was used in the past (Darwin actually referred in various ways to his theory, as "descent with modification" or "common descent").
Living things change over time, and sometimes they become more complex or specialised, and other times they become less complex or less specialised. There is no inherent "direction" to evolution. However, in another technical sense, things by definition evolve from primitive to advanced, because this means only that when a lineage changes, the older trait is called "primitive" and the later trait is called "advanced" or "derived". But the later trait might be a lessening of an organ or the loss of an ability, like the loss of sight in cave fish and insects.
shocked and appalled to see Wesley R. Elsberry sign off a
reply to a poster commenting on the shape of the Earth in
the October 2003 feedback with the phrase, "Yours in
The correct word is, of course, "pedantry."
I trust such errors will not be repeated in the future.
|Response:||If it's in
my dictionary, I'm likely to continue using it. And it
is in my dictionary.
Maybe next time I'll deploy "pedantism" instead.
Having been an Internet 'stalker' for about five years, I have yet to come across an Internet site as informative and as intelligent as this one. You people are doing a marvelous job, and, if there is a God (which I personally very much doubt), he/she/it could only be pleased with your scrupulous dedication to evidence, accuracy, and downright good manners. Keep up the splendid work.
feedback :- Wesley R. Elsberry Response: Open up the
February 2003 feedback and search for "spheroid". That's
not news to us, either.
Yours in pedanticism,
Pedanticism? Don't you mean pedantry? (I do hate to be pedantic, though I feel you are trying to set someone up for this) ;-)
There's no setup here. Pedanticism is a valid word, though perhaps less commonly used than pedantry.
|Comment:||I have been
a test engineer (BS Mech. Eng) for over 20 years working on
the Shuttle program, Spaced based lasers and Automotive
Airbags. I strongly believe in the law of Entropy as I have
seen it in operation many times. One instance of pushing a
wrong button demolished a million dollars worth of
stainless steel. I’m hoping someday my neighborhood
junkyard will defy the law of Entropy and evolve into a
747. I don’t claim to know the meaning of all things
or foolishly claim to be able to answer every question. I
do claim to have seen many evidences of a God, Creator,
Father in Heaven. It took much study, pondering, prayer and
putting the following challenges to the test. Anyone who
has a desire to know the truth can do the same. Millions
have done so. Millions have received an answer. These
people include Engineers, Scientists, Doctors, Farmers and
Hamburger flippers. They don’t have all the answers
but they believe there is someone smarter and wiser than
them who does. The Book of Mormon: 2 Nephi chapter 9 verse
28 says: O that cunning plan of the evil one! O the
vainness, and the frailties, and the foolishness of men!
When they are learned they think they are wise, and they
hearken not unto the counsel of God, for they set it aside,
supposing they know of themselves, wherefore, their wisdom
is foolishness and it profiteth them not. And they shall
I challenge anyone to put the following two scriptures to the test. If they do they will find the answers to the questions: Where did we come from, Why are we here, and is there an existence after we die?
The Bible: James 1: 5 If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.
The Book of Mormon: Moroni Chapter 10 verses 3-5 Behold, I would exhort you that when ye shall read these things, if it be wisdom in God that ye should read them, that ye would remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down until the time that ye shall receive these things, and ponder it in your hearts. And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost. And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.
May your life long quest for knowledge, understanding and wisdom be successful.
|Author of:||Evolution and Philosophy|
thought the Mormon faith accepted evolution. For example,
see this book
Evolution and Mormonism: A quest for
understanding, and you can also read an exerpt from
Brigham Young University has produced a lot of fine
based on the existence of evolution.
All of the standard arguments you give here, from the venerable 747 in a tornado, to the "law of entropy," are covered in this site. If you cannot find them by browsing, use the Search.
|Comment:||I don't know how you folks continue, month after month, year after year, to refute patiently the nonsense sent your way by the Bible-bangers--but I sure am glad that you do. Your site is an extraordinary resource. Thanks for all of your hard and careful work, and hang in there!|
|Comment:||I think it's cheap that you just insist on creationists being liars when in fact (and I checked) many of their claims are substantiated. If people on either side of the fence would degrade to this inane behavior, maybe we should also call Stephen J. Gould a liar when he said that "transitional fossils" don't really exist (which is what led him to punctuated equilibria in the first place).|
I don't think that there is any place on the TalkOrigins Archive that claims either that (1) all creationist are liars or (2) that every statement of some particular creationist is a lie. But I am curious as to the content of the claim that "many of their claims are substantiated." I'd like to see a few examples, since this doesn't correspond to my experience. My experience is that either the antievolutionist is echoing a comment from a legitimate biological researcher (usually with inappropriate spin), or is mistaken in one or more premises of an argument, or is simply repeating a falsehood.
An example of the case where one or more premises in the argument is false is thoughtfully provided by the reader. Did Stephen Jay Gould ever say that transitional fossils don't really exist? No, of course not. Did a concern about non-existence of any transitional fossils lead Niles Eldredge and Stephen Jay Gould to propose "punctuated equilibria"? No, of course not. The reader should consult the FAQ on punctuated equilibria here for more detailed information about punctuated equilibria and its theoretical underpinnings.
It is an unfortunate fact that the antievolutionary literature is replete with falsehoods. It is completely legitimate in discourse to point out the discrepancy between what antievolutionists say and what is real. That an antievolutionist might say that the sky is blue when, in fact, the preponderance of light reflected from the sky has wavelengths between those of green and ultraviolet does not mean that the speaker can be counted upon as a generally reliable source of information.
idea: There are biblical references to God condemning
mankind (or rather womankind) with painful childbirth as
one of the punishments for "eating the forbidden fruit." I
have come to the understanding that most other species'
(horses, giraffes, even monkeys!) offspring simply 'drop'
out of mom. No pain or hardly any pain. Whereas humans
experience great pain and anguish during normal childbirth
(not speaking from experience mind you. I'm only 16, and
moreover, I'm MALE!) Could evolution (in whole or part) be
God's punishment to mankind? Is it possible that the theory
of evolution and the theory of God's creation of all BOTH
be true? I believe this warrants further insight!
I enjoy your website! It is MOST interesting!
Yours, Jeff Jimison
|Author of:||Evolution and Philosophy|
|Response:||I agree. This warrants further insight. But thanks for the compliment.|
|Comment:||I have been a student of science all of my life, fascinated by all of the sciences. I am especially interested in the universality of the idea of evolution (it seems nothing can go untouched by this principle). I applaud you on your excellent and extensive work contained on this site. Your many articles help to feed my hunger for knowledge. Please keep up the excellent work!|
|Comment:||Dear Team: I
was wondering if any of the talkorigins team would agree
with me that youmg earth creationism is just pure
skepticism. Earlier in the year I did a short philosophy
course were I learnt that there were realists (people who
accepted reality) and skeptics (those who doubted reality).
Since young earth creationists doubt what they see (the
universe was created with the appearance of great age,
etc., i.e., it is not really old but only looks old!), I
was wondering if this could be classified as the same as
On a different note I was looking through some old church leaflets recently and noticed that Dr David Menton (USA) of AIG fame had visited my church. Can anyone enlighten me as to what his ideas and views are. He seems very well-qualified and there is a lot of info on his web site. I did look in the talkorigins archive but could find nothing (he has spoken on everything from the origin of eyes to the age of the universe!).
Finally the article on determining distances of astronomical objects is really excellent. A few years ago I successfully completed and passed the Open University course on astronomy and planetary science (level 2). All the methods mentioned were covered in the OU course (S281). This essay is a must read for anyone who belives in a 6,000 year old earth! It is Astronomy more than anything else that makes me refuse to accept young earth creationism as a basis for man's origins (when we look at the night sky we are seeing what was - not what is).
|Author of:||Evolution and Philosophy|
skepticism came in several flavors: pyrrhonian, or total,
and practical. And the motives for skepticism also matter.
Descartes' skepticism was intended to provide a firm
foundation for science. But usually, the sort of
"skepticism" shown by creationists is not intended to
increase certainty in our knowledge, but reduce it.
Creationists "doubt" only when it suits them. They are not consistent, like the classical skeptics, and apply the same doubt to all knowledge - just to that knowledge that interferes with their favorite interpretation of the Bible or other scriptures.
Instead, I would say that the philosophical school with which creationists have the most in common is the postmodernist movement, in which there are no facts, no rational principles and nothing but the Text. This is a popular philosophy for those opposed to "modernism", which is a general term applied to modern technology, science and ideas that offend someone's own views.
|Comment:||I think that
your web site needs to have less more information due to it
is hard to read and understand the information....
katherine hope you can update it a little more and also you need to add more pictures.........
|Author of:||Evolution and Philosophy|
|Response:||It can be overwhelming, but if you just want a short answer to a challenge to evolution, try Mark Isaak's Index to Creationist Claims.|
Ho-Stuart said something in October's feedback in response
to a red herring on the coelacanth (or is that a red
"Evolution is not something you can ever halt."
In general, I understand and would agree. However, what are the general thoughts on evolution and natural selection vesus the modern human society? With medical science and modern morality, people who would have died at childbirth or soon thereafter are living and bearing their own children...does this counteract natural selection by making it non-natural or is this just another level of it?
I can't seem to find much material on thoughts about evolution in homo sapiens, so I would appreciate your thoughts.
Great site, by the way.
|Author of:||Evolution and Philosophy|
believe that natural selection has ceased with medical
science. I believe this is misguided. Merely because we
have intervened in evolution doesn't mean evolution ceases
- it is now a process in which medical science is part of
For example, if a gene that would previously have killed its owners - say, phenolketonuria - is now dealt with so that the bearers no longer die, then in fact medical science has changed the fitness of that gene. But the gene is still relatively more or less fit than other genes, and the populations in which it is found will continue to change or maintain gene frequencies.
There is nothing that is not "natural" in this case. Medicine happens via natural processes, and like all natural processes it has its limits. We will find that there are cost:benefit tradeoffs in any medical science, and so populations will adapt to those tradeoff points. And it has ever been thus. Humans and a lot of nonhuman species care for their old, their weaker members, and of course their children. This changes the fitness of those organisms, allowing them to survive (and reproduce) when they otherwise wouldn't. Human sociality, like other animal sociality, is itself an adaptation.
|Comment:||I know you are not going to publish this feedback because it is negative; however, i think you all are very unfactual. I only read one of your FAQ's and the answer. I read the one about shouldnt the perfection of the human body prove creation. Your answer was that they have many suboptimal characteristics. Well that word doenst even make since in the sentence, which doesnt say alot for you all. But any ways, things like tables and chairs are good things to prove my point. They both have four legs, and can be made outa wood. However they are completly different objects, with different purposes. They were created in different ways. Get my point? don't be so thick headed, look at the reality and look at the science of life. - Kelsie|
contains its own answer. Tables and chairs serve their
designated purpose admirably. A table is a well-designed
structure. The human body- and by extension all organisms-
suffer from some design flaws. A fine example is the human
appendix. This organ, which once served a real purpose, has
lost its main function (as a chamber for digesting
cellulose). It would never have been left hanging around in
a perfectly designed organism. As it is, the appendix
sometimes becomes obstructed, and in the time before
abdominal surgery, it almost always resulted in death.
Orchids provide another, and less dire, example. Orchids are pollinated almost exclusively by insects. They have evolved stunning shapes and colors to attract these pollinators to the flower. But orchids' flowers are still made out of the same petals and sepals as other flowers. They have had to "make do" with the equipment they had. A truly efficient design would almost certainly have included some better way of getting the insects to pick up the pollen.
You guys rock, really helped out in my school work! Especially this : http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/list.html, is really useful.
Thanks for all the work!
site. I am a New World archaeologist and I get very
frustrated with the wealth of anti-evolutionary thinking
that exits. The real problem rests in the fact that
explaining the truth, especially for complex subjects, is
difficult to do in quick sound bites. Instead, when people
- like creationalists -make simplistic, common-sense type
of arguments, they are often better received than
complicated answers. The simple answer is that common sense
is only common, it ain't always correct.
When I try to explain how I know that an artifact is a certain age, I run into this problem because the answer is based on literally over 100 years of research, excavations, and analysis. So when I pick up a spear point and say it's 8000 years old, the person asks "how can you tell from that one piece of stone." Well the reality is that it's not just information from the one stone, it's the knowledge that the same artifact has been found thousands of times from dated contexts or stratigraphic positions. Once we (archaeologists) look at the bulk of the data, we can start to see patterns.
Sites like this, that take the time to spell out pro-evolutionary arguments, are essential for the continued support of scientific research in America. Keep up the good work.
Matt! I was once a productive archaeologist. I once had a
promising career, until I succumbed to the Evo/Creato
debate. Now I am but a pitiful shell, reduced to reading
obscure papers far from our beloved field in order to
refute even more obscure creationist's lies and
Thanks for your kind words.
|Comment:||I think that it is important to question the already known, and to generate new ideas about the universe we live in, but the two ideas of evolution and creationism are incomparable, to me. The evolution theory is true science, based on theoretical knowledge, and proven by experiments, however I consider creationism to be pseudo-science. It is wrong to put the two ideas on the same level, because they are not just different arguments, but completely different ways about thinking about things. Personally, I think that the only way you can believe in creationism is to have faith, because either way, it can't be proven.|
|Response:||Many of those who maintain this site share this view of creationism. You touch on a point that John Wilkins discusses in more detail in the Evolution and Philosophy FAQ. You might also find interesting the following articles:|
discoveries are made constantly in science, and
evolutuionary theory can potentially be modified (and even
discarded... well, the Creationists can dream) on any given
day when new discoveries are made, so posting scientific
stories of this nature would keep the site up to date.
Additionally, news about the political and social
implications of the CvE debate should also be shared for
I suggest a news section on this website. I think it should have two separate forums, one for relevant scientific news and one for news on the social and political events. It would be most helpful because even though such thinsg are posted in the newsgroup, sifting through the hubris there is a daunting task.
I realize that you are all (probably) unpaid and do this when you can as a labor of love. You can probably set up a system where people merely submit links to online news stories and a moderator can just approve or deny them with a single click, not unlike a message board where all posts need to be reviewed. That allows others to do the bulk of the work, but still maintains quality control.
I would even volunteer my time to help this cause, if needed, though I warn you that I am far from technologically savy. I could help moderate a system once it's set up fairly easily, but setting it up isn't my bag.
Many thanks for your continued service to the internet community!
Brian O'Neill Columbus, OH
volunteers who keep this site up don't necessarily check it
on a regular enough basis for any news items to be kept
current enough to actually constitute news. There may be
some room for news blogging along the lines you suggest;
we'll definitely consider your suggestion.
That said, I should point out that the National Center for Science Education does a good job of tracking news items related to the creation/evolution debate. You can access those items from NCSE's home page, as well as their Press Room. NCSE also has an e-mail mailing list for the latest news. These might satisfy what you're looking for.
|Comment:||I had been
aware of the Talk Origins website for a few years and
recently I decided to comb over it and check it out. There
is a lot of great information and resources on the site. In
fact, I find little that I disagree with.
With that said, I must object to the emphasis that is placed on biology, after all, the site is called Talk Origins, not Talk Darwinism. With such a broad topic as origins, you must equally incorporate fields such as physics, astronomy and philosophy. Now, I’m aware that these disciplines have a presence on the site, but they pale in comparison to the emphasis placed on the “creation/evolution debate.”
(Ironically, the creation/evolution debate has almost become irrelevant in any ultimate sense. As far as origins are concerned, I think that many would agree that contemporary scholarship has passed the issue of origins—at least in the ultimate sense—to astronomy and physics. The biologist has little to offer in understanding the Big Bang and the development of the early universe.)
So, why is all of this important? Well, no one would respectfully put forth a site called socialsciences.com and address broad social issues by only utilizing a single discipline—say anthropology, for example.
I guess what I’m getting at is this: I have a problem with a site that primarily engages in the biological discussion of evolution while at the same time frequently addressing issues of theology. As a theist, I find that this type of approach only serves to confuse the masses.
In determining what role God plays in origins (if any), one absolutely must incorporate many disciplines. If a website that purports to seek the truth about origins contains only refutations of creationists’ ignorance, then is it primarily seeking the broad truth about origins, or is the site’s agenda not so broad after all?
Consider this, I suspect many are familiar with a philosophical proposition know as the Kalam Cosmological Argument. This argument has, in recent years experienced an explosive revival thanks to the reigning Big Bang paradigm and a philosopher named William Lane Craig. It argues that God exists because the universe must have a cause. Sounds like origins to me. But when I searched your site for the words Kalam and Kalaam, my search yielded zero results. I plugged in Craig’s name as well as “first cause” and only got a handful of tidbits, but not much.
I do not believe that the Talk Origins site offers much attention to these types on non-biological arguments and as such it fails to represent the dialogue that is being exchanged in the scholastic world. Many do take the Kalam argument seriously, among them are critics like Quentin Smith—who’s name only yielded one result on your site.
So, what do I propose? Well, how about either a broader approach to origins or a name change.
|Author of:||Evolution and Philosophy|
|Response:||This is an
excellent idea! Only one problem - we are all volunteers,
and none of us are experts in everything (or admit to
thinking that, anyway).
So, how about you write up that FAQ, and post it to the Usenet group talk.origins.
|Response:||I hate to
intrude on Dr. Wilkins' amusement, but I suggest that you
review the very clear descriptions of the TalkOrigns
Archive's function. For example, from the opening page:
and, "What is the Talk.Origins Archive?"
William Lane Craig does not fit well with any of the defining criteria for T.O. Archive submissions which are focused on the observable Universe and the consequent, logical inferences that can be scientifically considered. Miracles are not generally considered "testable" or "scientific."
While Rev. Craig's positions at various evangelical Christian institutions, such as Biola:
(AKA Bible Institute of Los Angles where: "Biola is the only university in the United States where all undergraduate students take 30 units of comprehensive Bible classes taught by the finest Christian scholars. Every class - from art to sociology, biochemistry to political science - is taught from a solidly biblical worldview.") does not a priori exclude his relevance to Talk.Origins, Rev. Craig's published work fails badly as an empirically testable scientific premise:
However, it is highly unlikely that his supernatural cosmology can sustain the rigorous challenge of scientific review. Therefore, it is best that he stay in the safe cloister of fundamentalist institutions. I would be very surpised if you can find some plausible presentation of Rev. Craig's theology that would be appropriate for the TalkOrigins web pages, but by all means, give it your best shot.
Perhaps the foucus of the Archive is narrower that you (or I might wish), but as the recent textbook controversies in Ohio, and Texas illustrate, the masses as you call them, need some clear information to counter creationist's bamboozle.
|Comment:||What is the point of having a website that supposedly talks about the creation/evolution controversy if you have only one side to every argument posted? And yes, I'm writing about bias. I think it's sad that all you can bother to post is evolution because it's supposedly the "mainstream" idea. Do you have any idea how many people support creation or intelligent design? I guess it's not worth arguing with you all, you've already made your decision.|
misconception is prevalent, especially among Americans. The
misconception to which I refer is the belief that there are
two (and only two) equally valid sides to any debate. But
science doesn't work this way; in science, the weight of
the evidence determines which ideas are valid and which are
not. Scientific ideas become mainstream not because
scientists are all eggheads in lab coats who move in
lockstep, but because the evidence clearly favors the ideas
that become mainstream.
And such it is with evolution. The scientific debate over evolution ended over a century ago, solidly in evolution's favor. Scientific debate over evolution now turns on which mode of evolution is important in which circumstances.
We are well-aware of how many people support creationism or intelligent design. Indeed, if it were confined to a few individuals, there would be no need for this site.
We are also well-aware of creationist arguments. Indeed, one can find links to them scattered throughout this site and on our links page. Not only have we taken the time to present creationist arguments, we have done so by providing links directly to their arguments, so that we cannot be accused of misrepresenting those arguments.
|Comment:||Are you aware of this site? http://www.evolutiondeceit.com This site claims to completely refute evolution. Does it? Or is it the same old creationist lies that have been already disproven. I wouldn't know, because I haven't really taken the time to read it thoroughly, but the author rants about Piltdown Man and thermodynamics, two favorite targets for creationists. This seems to lower the site's credibility, IMO. Anyway, I want to congratulate you for running such a great site. I am a 15 year old high school student and I read your site often. You would be amazed how many times at school when I mention evolution and someone makes the old "If we came from monkeys then how come monkeys still exist" comment. I would tell them about this site, but then I wonder what the point is. If the actual science and research presented on this site can't change the mind of a creation scientist like "Dr." Hovind, then it definitely wouldn't change the mind of your average high school student.|
|Response:||Dear me. I
would hope that we would have a much easier time changing
the minds of high school students. They're not nearly as
crusty and set in their ways as Mr. Hovind undoubtedly is.
A response I enjoy to the "Why monkeys?" question is this: "If my sister and I have the same parents, then why is my sister still alive?"
Keep reading, thinking, and questioning.
|Comment:||Yours is an excellent site, generally displaying a laudable intellectual honesty while unafraid to confront Creationism in a robust manner. I take issue, however, with pages referring to ‘Dr’ Kent Hovind’s tax troubles. While the guy spouts palpable nonsense which demands rebuttal, and his dubious academic qualifications are fair game when considering the weight to be given to his claims, it is simply not relevant to crow over his non-academic foibles. Many scientists may be guilty of all manner of crimes, including those involving dishonesty, but it wouldn’t render their science any better or worse if unrelated to their work. I suspect Creationists wouldn’t hesitate to discredit someone in this way, but it’s that kind of attack-on-all-fronts approach that makes me back away slowly when they start ranting. Don't alienate waverers with these same tactics. He's a simple enough target on the issues. Driving a bus through the holes in Hovind’s arguments is much more fun when you occupy the moral high ground.|
|Response:||There is an
on-again, off-again debate amongst some of this site's
maintainers about the extent to which this site should
present material such as Kent Hovind's tax troubles (which
appear to be entirely of his own making, by the way) and
other issues not directly related to the creation/evolution
controversy. You have summarized that debate admirably.
In my opinion, the bankruptcy court's decision in In re Hovind is telling of Hovind's veracity generally, and thus at least of marginal relevance in judging his veracity on topics related to evolution. His efforts to avoid paying taxes are not relevant, but his fairly blatant misstatements under oath to the bankruptcy court — such as saying he had no assets when county public records clearly showed that he did — show at least some disregard for the truth.
There's far goofier stuff to be found on Hovind, such as can be found in Escambia County's public records. We have not included that information in our Hovind pages because it is not relevant to the discussion.
|Comment:||I have a
comment. In the October feedback “savannah”
wrote: “However there is one thing that i wish to be
added to this site to the benefit of everyone...i want
there to be just one big topic on horses and their
evolution, featuring pictures. i would find this very
helpful...yet i am still pondering over the horses
evolution and i am in dire need of some info”
Wesley R. Elsberry wrote: “I'm sure that we'd like to have that, too.
Unfortunately, unless we can convince Bruce McFadden to contribute a super-FAQ on horse evolution, it is not likely to happen. Pictures are an especially difficult bit.”
Ok, I agree. However, you may look here. The Evolution of the Horse
|Comment:||I have no
question, just a commentary.
As an evangelical Christian I am embarrassed about the way that many of my fellow Christians approach the subject of evolution.
All too often they are guilty of sloppy scholarship. All that they "know" about evolution theory is what they read in books (or on websites) by people opposed to evolution theory. They don't take the time to read books or websites by people supporting evolution theory.
If I were to use their kind of "scholarship" in a college class, I would fail the class.
For the record, I am neither an evolutionist nor a creationist. I am a legoist. I don't need to be a creationist to promote the Christian faith. Indeed, I probably share the Gospel more often than creationists who constantly debate evolutionists.
Thankfully TalkOrigins is an example of good scholarship, even if some people don't agree with with the results of that scholarship.
[P.S. If you want to know what a legoist is, contact me by e-mail.]
|Comment:||Here is a
short analogy to try to explain to laypeople what the
Second Law Of Thermodynamcs entails. It is a difficult
concept for most people to understand. It is also a subject
that is misused by creationists ad nauseum. Hopefully, the
example used here may help laypeople grasp what this law
really means and how it impacts the evolutionary process.
An Explanation of Entropy
The way to view entropy is very easy as the example below will show.
Let’s say that you have $100 in your bank account. You also are out of work and do not have a job. You live in a closed system. If you had a job, you would be living in an open system. The problem with any system is that it takes money to stay alive. So, you are constantly spending money. When you spend this money, you accomplish certain things; i.e. you buy food to eat, you purchase goods and services, you pay bills. But the undisputable fact is that you are expending money and none is coming in, right? If you keep spending, you will go broke and you will eventually die of starvation. There is no way around it in a closed system.
The universe is also a closed system. Any energy that is expended creates a certain amount of work, but the majority of it is “lost” to us for constructive purposes. The total amount of heat/energy in the system is dissipating and the universe will eventually cool off completely; wind down like a clock. Stop moving.
In your bank account, the balance keeps going down. Nothing whatsoever can ever make it increase. That is a fundamental law of nature, known as the Second Law of Thermodynamics. However, from time to time, as I noted above, you buy food with your available money. When you eat that food, what does it do for your body? It increases your energy, it builds muscle and bone, and it heals any wounds you have through turning that available energy into useful work. So, if I were simply looking at my body, I would be tempted to say, “Hey, my body is becoming more energized and more organized through ingesting that food. That cut I had on my hand is healing. My blood sugar is increasing and my energy level is rising. I am breaking the Second Law of Thermodynamics because things are becoming more organized.” I might even mow my lawn or wash the dishes because I have more energy (work).
But don’t be mistaken. The Second Law has not been broken. No new energy has entered the system. In fact, in order to get that burst of energy from eating that pizza, you spent more money and your bank account has decreased even more. Temporarily and in a miniscule fashion your personal life has become slightly more organized; i.e. you were able to heal your wounds, increase your body’s energy and do some constructive work. But the drain on your bank account inexorably grinds on.
Here you have a perfect explanation of how evolution (more organization) can exist in a closed system, albeit very slightly and temporarily, where all total available energy is becoming more and more disorganized and inaccessible. Evolution creates order and requires work. This is available to us because of apparent inexhaustible energy supplies, like our sun. But realize that eventually, even our sun will grow cold – in 5 billion years or so. That is entropy rearing its ugly head. It just has very little impact on us because we only live 70 or 80 years.
|Comment:||Even though I am on the creation side, as a scientist and someone who seeks truth, I have to commend you for pointing out common errors by the creationist side. We should listen to our very knowledgeable and intelligent critics. The quote mining section was a very revealing read, and I will know what not to cite! Much appreciated. I commend that you offer links to creationist sites. Let knowledge advance, the truth will set us free.|
Could you please give me some references to observed events of positive selection after gene duplication?
Thank you and best regards.
|Author of:||Evolution and Philosophy|
these are inferred, as by the time we are able to observe
that the gene duplication has occurred and spread to a
proportion of the population or species, any selection that
has occurred is, by definition, in the past. However, of
the 554 references I had returned in a search on PubMed for
"gene duplication" and "selection", this one looks like it
might match your request. There are others, but I recommend
you go to PubMed and do your own search.
Castillo-Davis, C. I. and D. L. Hartl (2002). "Genome evolution and developmental constraint in Caenorhabditis elegans." Mol Biol Evol 19(5): 728-35.