The Talk.Origins Archive: Exploring the Creation/Evolution Controversy

Selected Responses to the
September 1996 Post of the Month

Response by Austin Cline

John McCoy wrote:

> FAQ Archive ( wrote:


>: [Q.]   I thought evolution was just a theory.  Why do you call it a fact?
>: [A.]   Evolution is a change in the genetic characteristics of a population
>:        over time.  That this happens is a fact.  The theory of evolution
>:        describes the mechanisms that cause these genetic changes, thereby
>:        accounting for the diversity of life on Earth.  So evolution is both
>:        a fact and a theory.
>Truth: The definition of evolution differs according who is using the

If that is the "truth," then you should be able to provide some citations from people using it differently. You didn't. Does that mean you can't, or won't?

I notice you do not include the definition from the FAQ specifically dedicated to defining evolution. Is this another bit of dishonesty?

>The extremely broad definition of evolution simply means "change."
>Under that definition even creationists agree that evolution is true.
>However,  evolutionists often use this flexibility in the definition of
>evolution to say that "evolution is both a fact and a theory."
>Creationists agree that "genetic characteristics of a population change
>in a population over time" and this change, however, is limited. Dogs
>will always remain dogs, monkeys-monkeys, man-man. When creationists say
>that evolution is false, they mean macro-evolution. Macro-evolution means
>the change of one kind (ape-forexample) to another kind (man). Since
>there is no paleontological proof of macro-evolution, it is not a fact
>and doesn't qualify to become "theory" status, much less the "hypothesis"

Does the biological literature reflect this differentiation between "macro" and "other" evolution, or are you just making it up for propaganda purposes?

>: [U.]
>: [Q.]   Don't you have to be an atheist to accept evolution?
>: [A.]   No.  Many people of Christian and other faiths accept evolution as
>:        the scientific explanation for biodiversity.
>All creationists believe in "evolution" as broadly defined, but as I said
>above, most creationists reject macro-evolution.

The question, of course, is whether or not such a distinction is merited. In fact, there is no reason to believe that it is.

>: [Q.]   If evolution is true, then why are there so many gaps in the fossil
>:        record?  Shouldn't there be more transitional fossils?
>: [A.]   Due to the rarity of preservation and the likelihood that speciation
>:        occurs in small populations during geologically short periods of
>:        time, transitions between species are uncommon in the fossil record.
>:        Transitions at higher taxonomic levels, however, are abundant.
>This is misleading. At every point of so called "transitional" proof,
>scientists disagree. So who is correct?

What, exactly, is the nature of this disagreement? Can you cite any of it, or are you simply left with cliaming that it exists?

>: [Q.]   No one has ever directly observed evolution happening, so how do you
>:        know it's true?
>: [A.]   Evolution has been observed, both directly and indirectly.  It is true.
>Under the loose definition of evolution, evolution has been "observed,
>both directly and indirectly." For example, Darwin did observe diversity
>in finches. There is a diversity in humans. But no one has documented a
>finch becoming anyhing other than a finch, and a human becoming anything
>but a human, or a ape becoming anything but an ape.

And no one has observed a gas cloud becoming a star - but that is no reason to think that it doesn't happen. The circumstantial evidence is abundant in both cases.


>: [Q.]   Then why has no one ever seen a new species appear?
>: [A.]   Speciation has been observed both in the laboratory and in nature.
>Not true. Will be elaborated on in future post.

Right. Sure. We won't hold our breath.

>: [Q.]   Doesn't the perfection of the human body prove Creation?
>: [A.]   No.  In fact, humans (and other animals) have many suboptimal
>:        characteristics.
>The human body is perfect according to it's purpose. The humanistic
>evolutionists who wrote this FAQ is deceiving. Suboptimal is a subjective
>judgement. For example, if you defined man's inability to run 100 miles
>an hour as being "suboptimal" then man is suboptimal. If you defined the
>Panda's inability to fly, or use chopsticks as suboptimal, then it
>becomes "suboptimal."

Of course, that is not how "suboptimal" is defined. Maybe if you bothered to read the FAQ on this, you wouldn't be able to make that straw-man argument. Or was that the point?

>Secondly, creationism states that the second law of
>entropy has made humans "suboptimal." Thus, when the creationists define
>humans as being perfect, they mean relatively speaking. Compared to a
>camera, the human eye is extremely complex, and will, in many cases,
>outlast a camera.

What, exactly, does "relative perfection" mean such that it isn't self-contradictory?

>: [Q.]   According to evolution, life is a result of chance occurrence. Doesn't
>:        that make evolution wildly improbable?
>: [A.]   Evolution is not simply a result of random chance.  It is also a
>:        of non-random selection.
>Althought this is stated as fact, evolutionists still haven't been able
>to produce life in the laboratory, thus to say that life is a result of
>"non-random selection," begs the question.

Non-randomly produced order, however, is produced all of the time.

>If life is the result of
>"non-random selective processes, then one could, therefore, watch the
>chemicals use these so called mythical processes work to create life.
>Who wrote this faq anyway?

Chemicals use those processes to create order all of the time.

>: [Q.]   Doesn't evolution violate the second law of thermodynamics? After all,
>:        order cannot come from disorder.
>: [A.]   Evolution does not violate the second law of thermodynamics.  Order
>:        emerges from disorder all the time.  Snowflakes form, trees grow, and
>:        embryos develop, etc.
>Snow flakes are not complex enough, trees grow from seeds that are
>already complex. We are talking about the origin of life here, and this
>faq evades the question.

The FAQ directly addresses the question: namely, that evolution does not violate the 2nd law of thermodynamics. If you understood that law (a stretch, I know), you'd realize that it says nothing about how much order is possible. Thus, your statement that snow flakes are not complex enough is simply untrue. Furthermore, the 2nd law also says nothing about already-complex-systems being exempt, thus a complex seed growing into a more-complex tree is also not exempt. Thus, both the tree and the snowflake remain violations of the 2nd law of thermodynamics.

Notice that you didn't address the FAQ devoted to this where more information is contained.

>: [Q.]   Didn't Darwin renounce evolution on his deathbed?
>: [A.]   The Darwin deathbed story is false.  And in any case, it is irrelevant.
>:        A scientific theory stands or falls according to how well it is
>:        supported by the facts, not according to who believes it.
>Whether or not he did or not is irrelevant. Darwin died at a time when
>their was a lack in scientific knowledge. Thus, Darwin believed evolution
>according to the LITTLE known facts that were evident at the time. That
>is faith - the abscence of facts.

What facts, exactly, did he not have that we have now that would result in the conclusion that he shouldn't have accepted evolution? Einstein accepted his General Theory of Relativity even though it was a while before experimental evidence was able to confirm any of it - does that mean his acceptance was faith?

>: [Q.]   Where can I learn more about evolution?
>: [A.]   You might start with the FAQs.  If, however, you want a
>:        better understanding of evolution, a library would be a more
>:        place to look. The FAQs listed below provide some good references.
>contact me after reading all this garbage and I can supply you with
>additional refutation.

The "garbage" is your response, here.

>: [Q.]   How do you know the earth is really old?  Lots of evidence says it's
>:        young.
>: [A.]   According to numerous, independent dating methods, the earth is known
>:        to be approximately 4.5 billion years old.  Most young-earth arguments
>:        rely on inappropriate extrapolations from a few carefully selected and
>:        often erroneous data points.
>Actually, the reverse is true. Evolutionists rely on the methods that
>guarantee and old earth and carefully ignore the evidence to suggest that
>it is young. Evolutionists also make assumptions in their estimates. For
>example they assume that: 1. In various dating methods that the daughter
>product were not in the rock from the beginning, and it could have been
>the case.

Is that why various methods all come out about the same? There just happens to be enough of those products in the same rock to give the same results in several different tests?

> 2. That uranium decay rates do not vary.

Without evidence that they do, there is no reason to assume that. Besides, that's why other methods are used - extra confirmation is always good.

>There is evidence to
>suggest that it could have.

Provide it, then.

>3. That decay rates exist in closed systems.
>Actually, heat, leaching and other factors can and do skew the results
>big time.

But do they skew the results of all the tests by the exact same amount? Amazing - please present your experimental evidence of this. It will just rock the scientific community. You'll be famous.

>: [Q.]   But radiometric dating methods rely on the assumptions of non-
>:        contamination and constant rates of decay.  What if these assumptions
>:        are wrong?
>: [A.]   Isochron dating techniques reveal whether contamination has occurred,
>:        while numerous theoretical calculations, experiments, and astronomical
>In otherwords, if you can't rely on radiometric dating, rely on other
>techniques that rely on assumptions to verify other assumptions. This is
>the  typical circular argument.

Of course, that isn't relevant if totally different assumptions are used in the new tests. However, if you have problems with those assumptions, you should provide critiques of them, rather than simply complain that they are assumptions. We are also assuming that an external world exists at all, but I don't see you whining about that - thus, it obviously isn't assumptions per se that bother you.

> observations support the notion that decay rates are constant.


>: [Q.]   I heard that the speed of light has changed a lot. This means
that light
>:        from galaxies billions of light years away might not be billions of
>:        years old.  Is this true?
>: [A.]   Barry Setterfield's hypothesis of a decaying speed of light was based
>:        on flawed extrapolations from inaccurate measurements, many of which
>:        were taken hundreds of years ago.
>At any rate, evolutionists ASSUME that the speed of light has been

At any rate, there has never been any reason to think that it isn't constant. There really aren't any Creationsist researcheres any more who think that it has been decaying. It has been so thoroughly debunked, it has become an embarassment. The fact that you'd support it reveals you to be a particularly unsophisticated supporter of Creationism.

>: [Q.]   If the Earth is so old, doesn't that mean the Earth's decaying magnetic
>:        field would have been unacceptably high at one time?
>: [A.]   No.  The Earth's magnetic field is known to have varied in intensity
>:        and reversed in polarity numerous times throughout the planet's history.
>NO. There is much in the assumptions made regarding "polarity reversals."

No, there is evidence in rocks.

>What mechanism would cause the reversals? Evolutions haven't come up with
>a sufficient explanation yet.

Evolution doesn't address such reversals - that is the province of geologists. If you have a problem with such lack of geologic explanations, take it up with them.

>: [Q.]   Isn't the fossil record a result of the global flood described in the
>:        Book of Genesis?
>: [A.]   No.  A global flood cannot explain the sorting of fossils observed
>:        in the geological record.  This was recognized even prior to the
>:        proposal of evolutionary theory.
>Yes it does. The sorting is explained by the diffrent environs of which
>the plants and animals had lived.

Then explain it. In detail.

>Evolutionists, here, ignore contridictions in the fossil record. The
>Matterhorn, for example, is old strata on top of young strata.

For one thing, you don't believe that the strata are of varying ages since you don't believe in such an old earth and you believe it was all laid down at once - thus you are being hypocritical. However, you are also lying: such issues in the fossil record are not ignored, not even in the FAQs.

>: [Q.]   What about those fossils that cut through multiple layers?
>: [A.]   They have natural explanations: tree-roots that grew into soft,
>:        underlying layers of clay, and fossils found in inclined strata.  They
>:        can also be observed forming in modern environments.
>Close, but no cigar. Fact. Many of these so-called trees don't have
>roots. Evidence shows that they were ripped out of joint and deposited.

Then provide that evidence, including pictures.

>Evidence shows that trees, when dislodged, will stand vertically in the
>water due to various factors, and will be deposited upright. Ripped roots
>are evidence of this removal.

You just said that there aren't any roots. Which is it, really?

>Now, fossils found out of place in the
>fossil record are always assumed to have been caused by "natural
>explanations." In other words by ASSUMPTIONS.

Um, considering that it can be observed to happen now, that isn't a stretch of an assumption.

>In other words, evolution
>can never be proved wrong because secondary explanations will always be
>invented to explain the contridictions.

Of course, Creationism can never be proven right since there isn't any evidence for it in the first place.

>: [Q.]   What about those human footprints that appear next to dinosaur
>:        footprints?
>: [A.]   The "man-tracks" of the Paluxy Riverbed in Glen Rose, Texas were not
>:        man tracks at all.  Some were eroded dinosaur tracks, and others
>:        were human carvings.

That is only irrelevant if you don't make the claim about the prints. Many do, and it is just as asinine as the idea that the speed of light is decaying.

>: [Q.]   Didn't they find Noah's Ark?  I saw something on TV about this.
>: [A.]   The producers of America's 1993 CBS television show, "The Incredible
>:        Discovery of Noah's Ark," were hoaxed.  Other ark discovery claims have
>:        not been substantiated.
>: [U.]
>Most creationists will say that the ark has not been found yet.

If they are gullible enough to believe that it existed at all, yes. So?

>: [Q.]   The odds against a simple cell coming into being without divine
>:        intervention are staggering.
>: [A.]   And irrelevant.  Scientists don't claim that cells came into being
>:        through random processes.  They are thought to have evolved from
>:        more primitive precursors.
>The key word here is "thought." That is faith. These primitive precursors
>are nothing but fiction and imagination. Evolution is proved, for there
>were "primitive precursors," that we "thought" up to be true.

More "primitive" forms of live - like virii and the creatures recently being given their own, new, kingdom - are known.

>: [Q.]   Creationists are qualified and honest scientists.  How can they be
>:        wrong?
>: [A.]   The quality of an argument is not determined by the credentials of its
>:        author.  Even if it was, a number of well-known creationists have
>:        questionable credentials.  Furthermore, many creationists have engaged
>:        in dishonest tactics like quoting out of context or making up
>:        references.
>Like Duane Gish Phd in biochemistry? Evolutionists tend to attack the
>person rather than to attack the ideas. Nonetheless, here is more slander
>material from evolutionists.

The fact of the matter is, a number of them do have questionable credentials, even if Gish doesn't. The fact of the matter is, creationists do quote out of context. Evidence of both of these things is not slander, but truth. Had you read the FAQs, you'd realize that.

>: [Q.]   What about Immanuel Velikovsky?  Didn't he show that the Earth has
>:        experienced a lot of major catastrophes?
>: [A.]   No, he simply claimed that certain written legends must have described
>:        real events.
>No creationist takes Velikovsky seriously. It is the typical evolutionist

Um, what's your point, you dip? This group isn't about evolutionists vs. creationists! It's about discussions about origins, and many peple who come here do take Velikovsky seriously, including people who support some form of Creationism. Thus, it is relevant to mention them in the FAQ. If you weren't so egotistical, you wouldn't expect everything in the FAQ to be addressed to you.

>: [Q.]   Where can I find more material on the Creation/Evolution debate?
>: [A.]   Contact the National Center for Science Education (, or
>:        see the archive and its "Other links" page.
>In other words, consult a biased source for your information. Then spend
>your time losing debates on using this material.

If your material were used, one would lose debates.

Article originally posted September 8, 1996

Return to the September 1996 Post of the Month

Home Page | Browse | Search | Feedback | Links