Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Creationst Claims Part 1

Creationist Claims From EvoWiki.

Macroevolution has never been observed and no new species have been observed.

Depending on the definition, this may be true. Nevertheless, large-scale evolution is well-evidenced. Direct observation isn't the only way to confirm a theory in science. There have been observed instances of speciation. Of course, creationists will claim this is microevolution since they define the border between macroevolution and microevolution by the existence or non-existence.
· The honeysuckle maggot fly has recently been found to have directly arisen from a hybridization between the snowberry maggot fly and the blueberry maggot fly.
· In 1905, in his patch of Oenothera lamarckiana, Hugo de Vries discovered an unusual specimen, and found that he was unable crossbreed it with its parent-plants. He later named it O. gigas, and found that it had 2N=28, while its parent had 2N=14.

Created kinds are distinct and all kinds could fit on Noah's ark.

It is true that living things are naturally divided into kinds or species. The species designation is in fact the only natural classification are purely human constructions. Almost without exception, the most important naturalists and evolutionary biologists of all time have been taxonomists dedicated to the classification of kinds. Additionally, a large part of the work of evolutionary biologists is researching systems of classification that can reflect the evolutionary history of organisms or the field of systematics.

Evolutionary theory does allow for hybridization between closely related species, under those species concepts that allow for it. If the hybridization is frequent and prevalent, the component species are usually not designated good species. If the hybridization is infrequent, or only during special circumstances, while the separate species maintain their distinctive character, the speciation is considered true.

None of this invalidates the fact that a species can change through time, the process of anagenesis, or that sometimes they split into two, the process of cladogenesis, and that these two follow their own evolutionary paths.

Creationists' term of kind is rather vague, since it tends to be poorly defined.
What about diseases? They had to be carried as well, most won't survive in silty water. Which member of the crew volunteered to have their brain eaten, which is the only way to transmit Kuru? How about diseases that have a cycle less than 40 days?

Evolution requires as much faith as creationism.

Evolution has been directly observed in viruses, bacteria and smaller changes in animals and plants. It was observations of changes in beak shapes in the Galapagos islands that helped inspire Darwin's theory of evolution. We can use indirect evidence to make very strong predictions about occurrences in geology, astronomy and cultural anthropology, so we can in biology. There is a lot of this sort of evidence that supports the idea that evolution is the source of species.

Science as an Epistemology rests on certain philosophical assumptions about how the universe works. While its true that these assumptions might be false, it's hypocritical to only reject them in areas of science that creationists disagree with.

Evolution rests on scientific evidence. The only major assumption is that the scientific method is a good way to investigate the universe.
The only "faith" evolution requires is faith that any God which exists is not a deceitful trickster who goes around when you're not looking, stage-managing the Universe so that the physical evidence cannot be trusted.

Do you want to be descended from a monkey?

This is a wishful thinking fallacy. Creationist would not like it if asked if they wanted to be descended from dirt.

If man comes from random causes, life has no purpose or meaning.

This is an appeal to consequences, a straw man and a naturalistic fallacy

The goal of science is to explain the workings of the world. It makes statements about what happens and what causes those things to happen. Statements about what should happen and why those things should happen belong to the fields of philosophy and religion.

Science alone cannot provide a meaning to life. Criticizing a scientific theory for failing to provide ultimate meanings is missing the point of science. Evolution is not composed entirely of random causes. Even if evolution were composed entirely of random causes, how would that necessarily make life meaningless? Even if evolution were composed entirely of random causes, and even if this somehow did devalue human life and meaning, these negative consequences wouldn't disprove evolution.

Evolution is a religion.

The scientific theory of evolution does not say anything about values or meanings. Some people may add on such constructs to the theory, forming a separate philosophy that should not reflect on the theory itself.

It is true only if one accepts an overly-expansive definition of "religion", under which any number of unrelated things would count as "religions" as well.

The term religion is confused with what would be more agreeably called a ‘world view’. Any system of thought or perceptive will inherently be value laden and supported by various underlying assumptions of metaphysics. Thus while both modern science and Christianity are approaches to explain, interpret, and view existence, they differ in the supports and values on which they rest. While no perfect definition of religion, or science for that matter, is agreed upon, a clear demarcation of the underlying differences between the two generalized approaches can be seen in the questions that are asked. The questions of religion such as: Where do 'we' go when we die? What exists outside of existence? and, Who is God? are not so much unanswerable by science but more inapplicable as the religion’s underlying metaphysical conceptions inherent in such questions are not shared by the scientific perspective.

Science, as a way of viewing the world, may be a religion, but evolution in and of itself cannot be. While it maybe the case that evolution is *bad* science, such a claims would need to be submitted with evidence for peer review.

The Bible must be accurate because archaeology supports it.

Fallacies contained in this claim affirming the consequent and exclusion.
While some bits of the Bible have indeed been confirmed by modern archaeological research, some bits of Homer's Iliad and Odyssey have been confirmed by modern archaeological research. If the bits of the Bible which have been confirmed are reason to believe that all the Bible is accurate, the bits of the Iliad and Odyssey which have been confirmed are, by that same reasoning, reason to believe that all of the Iliad and Odyssey are accurate.

Bible is harmonious throughout.

Any "harmony" the Bible has is greatly enhanced after one comes up with rationalizations to account for what would otherwise be obvious contradictions. You can always come up for a justification for any discrepancy, the concept of the Bible being harmonious is almost circular. The official Bible was hand-picked by the Council of Nicea several centuries after the death of Jesus. When a group of established religious leaders is able to choose which books are a part of the Bible and which books are not, it is a simple matter to ensure that the theme and content are consistent throughout.

Records say civilization was man's original state.

Since we know humans existed before writing, I would be curious to see what exactly they recorded. Civilization is relative. Ancient Chinese, saw themselves as the sole civilization in the universe and all other races as either barbarians or subhumans.
Civilization does not prevent evolution from occurring, nor does evolution prevent civilization from existing, so this issue is entirely irrelevant to the theory.

Jesus refers to creation and flood as though they were literal.

This an appeal to authority fallacy.

Mark 10:6 is teaching about divorce. Jesus uses the Genesis creation story to illustrate his point in verse 9: "What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder." This point can still stand even if the reference verse 6 was allegorical. Just because Jesus refers to scripture, doesn't demonstrate that the scripture was intended to be taken literally.

This assumes that the texts of the New Testament accurately document Jesus' words. Not all people agree on this point; only those that do will find this claim convincing.

Genesis must be literal; it is straighforward narrative.

This suggests that the person has not actually read the Bible with all its poetry, metaphors or looked into the history of the various interpretations/redactions/translations. Even if the Bible were "straighforward narrative", this wouldn't tell us anything about its truth or otherwise.
The first and second chapters of Genesis actually give differing accounts as to the order that God made the various things. The Lord of the Rings is a straightforward narrative, but we all know it isn't historically true.

Haeckel's embryo drawings were proven wrong in 1874 and are still in biology books and human embryos don't have gill slits.

Frequent claim by the creationist movement as it proposes to cast into doubt the embryological evidence for evolution and common ancestry. However, it attributes a number of observations to Haeckel which he did not in fact make. Haeckel emphasized many embryological similarities in order to support his view of "ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny". This idea proposes that our embryonic development "replays" our evolutionary history. He emphasized the fact that our embryos had a series of gill arches early in development because by Haeckel's time, this was already a well-established observation made by Baltic-German embryologists Karl Ernst von Baer, Heinrich Rathke, and Christian Pander. It was Rathke, not Haeckel, who described the "gills" of chicken embryos. Similarly, it was von Baer who noted that, in the early stages of development, it was often difficult to tell the embryos of different vertebrate classes apart. The observations and principles of the Baltic-German school are the earliest foundations of modern embryology and are hardly in dispute.

As noted by Gilbert, Haeckel's views had already been disposed of by von Baer in the 1830s. Von Baer's ideas of a nested hierarchy of embryological homology was more Darwinian and was in fact the greatest influence on Darwin's use of embryological evidence. Haeckel's views of embryology and evolution are fundamentally non-Darwinian. Moreover, they in no way form the basis of modern developmental biology or evolutionary developmental biology. The presence of "gills" in all vertebrate embryos has been known since Rathke and have never been in dispute by any biologist, nor is the concept of embryological homology. It is dishonest to attribute the discovery of gills in vertebrate embryos to Haeckel, in fact, it is as dishonest as Haeckel fudging his drawings.

Haeckel's drawings should be removed because they are fraudulent and do not represent a modern view of evolution and development. However, the points about embryological homology should be discussed in biology classes and texts as they help students understand the mechanisms of morphological evolution.

Gill slits are simply the invaginations between the pharyngeal pouches. The pouches contain mesodermal tissue, the gill arches or gill bars. The term is correct because the slits make contact between the outside and the pharynx. Let's not succumb to creationism paranoia. The gill arches themselves were not actually discovered by Haeckel, but some three decades before Darwin by a Baltic-German embryologist Heinrich Rathke in his two-volume treatise on human and animal development. The existence of these structures is not in dispute.

Most experts now agree that Lucy was only an unusual chimpanzee.

This is a misrepresentation fallacy.

Most experts in the field do not support that statement at all. Lucy remains a premier example of Australopithecus afarensis (Johanson 1999). A creationist making the claim needs to back up the statement with some references.

If it truly were the case that "most experts agree" that Lucy was only a Chimpanzee, Lucy's genus classification would have been changed from Australopithecus to the Genus Pan, which is that of Chimpanzees. A unanimous or near consensus opinion would force a change in Genus classification. Lucy still remains in the Australopithecus genus rather than Pan and, as such, is testimony that Kent Hovind's statement is but a falsehood.

Fairness demands evolution and creation be given equal time and teach the controversy.

Fallacies include false dilemma and appeal to pity and equivocation.

The statement is an appeal to false bisection. It is not the case that differing points of view must be included in teaching with equal weight, irrespective of their objective merits. Different hypotheses, theories and conclusions have objectively differing merit based on reasoning applied to the available evidence. Teaching of science must necessarily favor those hypotheses, theories or conclusions which have such greater merit, and discard hypotheses, theories or conclusions not supported by reasoning applied to the available evidence.

If this argument were valid, every other pseudoscience could also demand equal time with the scientific theories and hypotheses which are taught. The result would be that mainly questionable world views and pseudoscience would be taught in school instead of knowledge which is based on good science.

In fact, it would be remarkably unfair if in public schools time would be wasted for learning pseudoscience like creationism instead of preparing students by teaching good science for a world in which science is constantly becoming more important. In this case, this would be in particular unfair against students which could not afford expensive private schools where no time is wasted with pseudoscience, and which would then have even more advantages. Also, in the age of globalization and global job markets, students would have a disadvantage compared to students of other countries where proper science is taught.

It would be unfair to allow Creationism to bypass the scientific process and directly enter public science education when the theory of evolution has successfully gone through that process and continues to be supported by the world's experts.

Would Creationists like it if the Star Wars concept of midi-chlorins created life or that we were cloned by extra-terrestrials?

Scientifically, there is no controversy. Creationism is pseudoscience, and the theory of evolution has no scientific rival. It might well be a good idea for schools to teach students about the creation/evolution controversy. Since this controversy is basically political, it follows that the best classes in which to teach it would be those dealing with political science or social studies. There is clearly no reason to consider 'teaching the controversy' in biology classes, any more than any other political controversy ought to be presented in a biology class.
It should not be a goal of the education system to teach falsities along with truth. Teachers should not, for instance, teach that the holocaust happened, and then give "equal time" to holocaust deniers. If one wishes to teach critical thinking, taking all viewpoints to be equally valid is not the way to do it.

Darwin was racist, evolution is racist, Darwin's work refers to preservation of favoured races and Hitler based his views on Darwinism.

Fallacies contained in these claims include an abusive ad hominem, poisoning the well, appeal to consequences, naturalistic fallacy, theoretic fallacy, straw man, equivocation and guilt by association.

Regardless, what does this have to do with whether or not his theories are valid?

Darwin was remarkably egalitarian, in as much as he was a staunch opponent of slavery and had compassion for members of other races.

Since this Creationist argument is implicitly dependent on the proposition that the racism of a theory's proponents is a valid reason to reject a theory, it is worth noting that a number of prominent Creationists have been racist. The list includes Louis Agassiz, who denied that blacks and whites were even of the same species; George MacCready Price, who held that Negroes were a degenerate form of homo sapiens; and Henry Morris, who, in 1976, argued that the "genetic character" of "Hamites" is such that they are often "displaced by the intellectual and philosophical acumen of the Japhethites and the religious zeal of the Semites".
Darwin in The Descent of Man (chapter 7), after much consideration, concluded that all human races were probably the same species. He used the word "sub-species" for races, to designate that there were different varieties which did not differ significantly enough to be considered independent species. He thus undercut one of the major arguments for racism.

Racism is an ideology of value. It places different value on people of different race. While many racist ideologies may depend on some version of Darwinism, this does not mean that they are its logical consequence. Theories do not address fundamental values.

Some racists often misuse evolution as an explanation for the "superiority" they believe some races to have over others. Their belief, though, is usually held for reasons independent of this explanation. Evolution is completely devoid of racism; it is not even possible to be both a racist and an evolutionist. Since all races are currently surviving and reproducing, they are currently well-suited for survival on this planet.

"Race" to a 19th century naturalist simply meant differing populations. To be very specific, human races are not discussed at all in Darwin's first book on evolution, nor is human evolution. So any claim that Darwin was "racist" for the title of the book would suggest that he was "racist" concerning pigeons, or pigs, or mollusks, three of the more common examples given in the book.

Even if the connection between Darwin and Hitler were true, the consequences of a world view are irrelevant to its truth.
A particular person's misuse of a scientific theory does not invalidate the theory anymore than someone's misuse of scripture would invalidate religion.

Hitler abused science to justify his abuse of religion. In other words, his views were not based on Darwinism, but rather his distorted religious beliefs. Darwinism appeared to support his case, so he twisted it to fit his purposes.

Were you there?

This is a slothful induction fallacy and is equally effective against creationists.

Past events often leave evidence that can be found in the present. Techniques can be developed to extrapolate from findings. This is the basis of a great deal of science, industry, economics, and human interaction. This argument makes all human acts of logical deduction, intuition, extrapolation, and analysis meaningless. "Yes, I was." How do you know it's not true? Were you there?

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