Dear David, Sorry for the delay in getting back to you, it has taken a while to find a few minutes here and there to go over this. I look forward (patiently) to your response. > > We believe your argument is more true of evolutionists than > creationists. One could more easily argue that evolution is the creation > myth of secular humanism. That would be irrelevant. Most evolutionists are not secular humanists and the study of evolution is not in any way dependent on the tenets of that particular group. Evolution is also accepted by most Christian denominations, however the theory itself is not based on any particular faith. That is the fundamental difference that distinguishes it from creationism. > Could one not say that evolutionists falsely > claim that their opposition to creation is based on scientific grounds? That would be to grossly misunderstand the reason why scientists are opposed to creationism. Scientists have nothing against creationism as a religious faith (especially since many of them believe in God themselves.) The problem arises when those beliefs are falsely presented as being scientific, and the opposition to this misrepresentation is obviously on scientific grounds, the definition of science itself. > If we presumed to know the mind of evolutionists as your presume to know > the mind of creationists, we could say the real reason they adhere to > evolution is their desire to disprove the existence of a creator and the > consequent necessity of obedience to that creator. I am not presuming to read anybody's mind. The religious basis of creationism is clearly laid out in creationist books and publications. > The object of > evolutionists is to destroy Christianity and break free from its moral > shackles. This is what it comes down to--you believe in creationism because your concept of morality requires it, and anybody who doesn't follow the same line of reasoning must therefore be immoral. You claim that scientists choose to accept evolution in order to reject God and have a free license to sin. Do you have any evidence at all to support that rather nasty accusation? Are scientists more evil than other people? Do biologists sin more than physicists? Do you deny that there are practicing Christians who accept evolution? Do you consider them to be immoral? If I understand correctly, you claim that they are not only sinners by having accepted evolution, but that they have deliberately done so in order to freely commit other sins. > Most creationist organizations are religious organizations who freely > admit that their goal is evangelism. Some creationists organizations even > require an affirmation of basic Christian beliefs as a condition of > membership. Call this 'fine print' if you like, but what evolutionist > organizations admit that their goal is to rid the world of Christianity? Do you have any evidence whatsoever of any scientific organization whose goal actually is "to rid the world of Christianity?" Anything at all? A scientific organization that excludes Christians as members? On exactly what basis are you asserting that that is in fact their goal? Roving gangs of lab technicians burning down churches? > (Do you really think that the National Center for Science Education is > only interested in advancing science? Do you consider them 'honest'?) According to their web site, NSCE is "a nonprofit, tax-exempt membership organization working to defend the teaching of evolution against sectarian attack. We are a nationally-recognized clearinghouse for information and advice to keep evolution in the science classroom and 'scientific creationism' out." This seems like a reasonable description of what they do and I see no reason not to take it at face value. > > Evolutionists' emphasis on the "scientific" nature of the theory of > evolution and the "religious" nature of creationism is an artifact of the > political battle which is taking place in the U.S. over control of the > public school system. Of course, because that is what the issue is. The claim is made that creationism is scientific, and scientists must therefore respond by showing that it isn't. The important question is why such an absurd claim is even being made in the first place. > We disagree that creation scientists have a less honest concept of > reality than any other scientist. I did not say less honest, merely different. To a creationist it is wrong to exclude moral and theological considerations from their theory, whereas to a scientist it is wrong to label such criteria as scientific. Each is entitled to his own worldview. The problem is that the creationist's worldview is explicitly excluded from the public school science curriculum by the 1st amendment, and he therefore has to try to redefine science so as to include it. Scientists object to that. > You could just as correctly have said that, to an evolutionist, > reality makes no allowance for any supernatural aspect. Science does not allow for any supernatural aspect because it is based on repeatable observations which presuppose some sort of natural law. Whether or not that corresponds to all of reality is a philosophical question which science itself cannot address. To quote German evolutionist Werner Heisenberg, "What we observe is not nature itself, but nature exposed to our method of questioning." (taken from the April APS News) If creationists insist that the "method of questioning" (science) is so wrong, why do they want so desperately to be a part of it? > Any argument > they have to make in order to justify that interpretation is acceptable > because, by definition, there is no such thing as the supernatural. No argument is necessary because science is, by definition, the study of natural processes and the word supernatural specifically means beyond such study. Science does not claim that the supernatural doesn't exist, only that it doesn't belong in science class. Some individual scientists do in fact believe that the supernatural doesn't exist (as is their right), but that is not a scientific conclusion. > We don't engage in political activity because we believe it is not > fruitful. [...] But if we > did want to fight the battle in court, we would argue that the dogmatic > teaching of the unproven, scientifically unsound, theory of evolution in a > transparent attempt to use the public school system to advance the secular > humanist religion is unconstitutional. And you would lose. This tactic was tried in Peloza v Capistrano: "John E. Peloza is a high school biology teacher. He sued the Capistrano Unified School District and various individuals connected with the school district under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. He alleges in his complaint that the school district requires him to teach "evolutionism" and that evolutionism is a religious belief system. He alleges this requirement violates his rights under the (1) Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment; (2) Establishment Clause of the First Amendment; (3) Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment; and (4) Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.(1) He also alleges the defendants conspired to violate these constitutional rights and attempted by harassment and intimidation to force him to teach evolutionism. He alleges they did this because they have a class-based animus against practicing Christians, a class of which he is a member, in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1985(3)." In a nutshell, the Court ruled that simply claiming that evolution is a religion does not make it one: "We reject this claim because neither the Supreme Court, nor this circuit, has ever held that evolutionism or secular humanism are 'religions' for Establishment Clause purposes. Indeed, both the dictionary definition of religion(4) and the clear weight of the case law(5) are to the contrary. The Supreme Court has held unequivocally that while the belief in a divine creator of the universe is a religious belief, the scientific theory that higher forms of life evolved from lower forms is not. Edwards V. Aguillard. 482 U.S. 578, 107 S.Ct. 2573, 96 L.Ed.2d 510 (1987) (holding unconstitutional, under Establishment Clause, Louisiana's 'Balanced Treatment for Creation-science and Evolution-Science in Public School Instruction Act'). Peloza would have us accept his definition of 'evolution' and 'evolutionism' and impose his definition on the school district as its own, a definition that cannot be found in the dictionary, in the Supreme Court cases, or anywhere in the common understanding of the words. Only if we define 'evolution' and 'evolutionism' as does Peloza as a concept that embraces the belief that the universe came into existence without a Creator might he make out a claim. This we need not do. To say red is green or black is white does not make it so. Nor need we for the purposes of a 12(b)(6) motion accept a made-up definition of 'evolution.' Nowhere does Peloza point to anything that conceivably suggests that the school district accepts anything other than the common definition of 'evolution' and 'evolutionism.' It simply required him as a biology teacher in the public schools of California to teach 'evolution.' Peloza nowhere says it required more." > > That the definition you quoted may actually be taught in some schools > > is certainly more horrifying to scientists than anybody else, and one of > > the reasons they are so opposed to creationist material entering the > > school system. > > We believe the definition we quoted is an excellent summary of > evolution as it appears in most textbooks. Here are the definitions used in the Arkansas law you were quoting: (a) ``Creation-science'' means the scientific evidences for creation and inferences from those scientific evidences. Creation-science includes the scientific evidences and related inferences that indicate: (1) Sudden creation of the universe, energy, and life from nothing; (2) The insufficiency of mutation and natural selection in bringing about development of all living kinds from a single organism; (3) Changes only within fixed limits of originally created kinds of plants and animals; (4) Separate ancestry for man and apes; (5) Explanation of the earth's geology by catastrophism, including the occurrence of a worldwide flood; and (6) A relatively recent inception of the earth and living kinds. (b) ``Evolution-science'' means the scientific evidences for evolution and inferences from those scientific evidences. Evolution-science includes the scientific evidences and related inferences that indicate: (1) Emergence by naturalistic processes of the universe from disordered matter and emergence of life from nonlife; (2) The sufficiency of mutation and natural selection in bringing about development of present living kinds from simple earlier kinds; (3) Emergence by mutation and natural selection of present living kinds from simple earlier kinds; (4) Emergence of man from a common ancestor with apes; (5) Explanation of the earth's geology and the evolutionary sequence by uniformitarianism; and (6) An inception several billion years ago of the earth and somewhat later of life. First of all, this parallel two-model approach could only have come from a creationist source, and the so-called definition of evolution is clearly just a point-by-point "opposite" to the Genesis story. (1) The origin of the universe has nothing to do with evolutionary biology. Furthermore, the universe did not emerge from matter, but rather matter (as we know it) condensed out of the (highly ordered) early universe. (2-3) These statements are redundant, the first simply being a strawman for the creationists to assert is impossible. It is well known that mutation and natural selection are not the only mechanisms of evolution. Furthermore, there is no scientific definition of "kinds". (4) This is silly, because to a scientist all species are related. It is no less obvious that man is an ape than that man is a mammal and a vertebrate. This statement is simply an emotional red flag for creationists. (5) Geology is not biology, so this is irrelevant. If "evolutionary sequence" means the layering of strata in the earth's crust, this was well-established long before Darwin. "Uniformitarianism" is not a process, it is simply the principle that the earth was shaped by forces (volcanos, earthquakes, glaciers, floods, etc.) that can be observed and studied today (as opposed to the supernatural one-time event claimed in the creationist version.) (6) The formation and age of the earth have nothing to do with biology. "Somewhat later" doesn't mean anything here other than "more than six days." > There is > absolutely no creationist influence in the biology texts we quote, Then there is no reason for them to use such a lame definition, and I honestly hope that they don't. > As you know, we don't debate the Bible. We do try to debate the facts > of science, but we have a really hard time of it. No kidding. > We challenge people to > tell us specifically what scientific fact they disagree with, and get no > response. It is hard to have a scientific debate when the other side > won't respond. True. Unfortunately creationists refuse to publish their claims in scientific journals which are the accepted forum for scientific debate. They prefer to spout vague generalities in front of audiences which are unlikely to provide an appropriate response. However, since their cause is political it is only the response to their legal arguments which is really relevant. > For example, in our last letter to you we asked what scientific facts > we had misstated or misinterpreted. You didn't tell us any. That was not the point of my letter. > Instead, you > disagreed with what you perceived our understanding of the legal basis for > the decision in the Arkansas case to be. You were significantly misrepresenting a court decision of which the text was freely available. > We hope you understand now that > we both agree that the court decision was based on constitutional issues > rather than scientific ones. Obviously, that's what the court is there for. The scientific issues were settled over a century ago. > That, however, was peripheral to the point > in our original essay, which was that the theory of evolution would also > have failed to meet the criteria the court used to determine if creation > is 'scientific' or not. And in that essay you grossly misrepresented the theory of evolution by using the creationist caricature from the Arkansas law rather than an accurate scientific definition. > What specifically are the facts of science > that are not on our side? OK, you asked for it. Let's have a look at your essay which started this exchange. Here is a sampling of some of your statements which are either extremely misleading or patently false: "What natural law creates order from disorder? [...] There are no such natural laws." Unless you are claiming that evolution violates the 2nd law of thermodynamics (which would also be false), there are numerous natural laws, such as gravity and electromagnetism, which produce order all the time. There are toys on sale in airports which make use of this. "How many spark-in-the-soup experiments have to fail before evolutionists will admit that organic chemicals can't form living cells? If Louis Pasteur's experiments didn't falsify life from nonlife, then nothing will." The fact remains that living cells do consist entirely of ordinary chemicals. Pasteur disproved the spontaneous generation of existing species, but did not address the origin of life itself. To say he did is like claiming that Newton disproved black holes. Woehler on the other hand did prove that there is no difference between chemicals from living and non-living sources. "Certainly mutation and natural selection bring about limited variation in existing kinds; but there is no evidence that mutation and natural selection have ever brought about a new kind from simple earlier kinds." Whether or not you accept the conclusion, there is ample genetic evidence that existing "kinds" are related by genetic mutations. To say that no evidence exists is an outright lie. "There is no natural explanation of how new genetic information required to produce complex kinds from simple earlier kinds comes from natural mutation and natural selection." Mutation and natural selection, regardless of whether or not it's correct, _is_ a natural explanation. There is ample evidence showing how new genes are created, even within our own genome. "In these experiments the 'gene jockey' plays the role of an intelligent designer using a 'supernatural' process." In what way does gene-splicing make use of supernatural processes that are different from the usual chemical properties of DNA molecules? Do Scully and Mulder know about this? "Will evolutionists ever accept that new kinds arose through any natural process other than mutation and natural selection? [...] Now we are starting to hear theories about how bacteria can somehow consciously make their offspring evolve to resist antibiotics, so maybe Lamarkian evolution just lost a battle and will eventually win the war. Surveys and news stories that we have reported upon in the past say that some good scientists are rejecting evolution of purely scientific grounds." It is already well-known that there are other processes besides mutation and natural selection. To say that this is "rejecting evolution" is nonsense. Saying that bacteria act consciously is also nonsense, as is saying that this is a revival of Lamarkism. It is interesting however the way in which you specify that this does not come from creationist sources. "Modern understanding of genetics and information theory shows that new kinds can't arise from existing kinds." This is just out-and-out false. Would you care to share some of this "modern understanding" with those of us who work in the field? "There are no natural laws that turn apes into men. [...] Is 'Emergence of man from a common ancestor with apes' correctly explained by natural law? No. How can it be, since there are no such natural laws?" Men _are_ apes according to natural law. Mutation and natural selection provide the natural explanation. "Is 'Emergence of man from a common ancestor with apes' confirmed by tests in the empirical world? Absolutely not." In fact, the DNA of humans and chimps has been sequenced and compared. Chimps are more closely related to humans than they are to gorillas. "Is 'Emergence of man from a common ancestor with apes' falsifiable? What experiment could anyone do that would prove, to the satisfaction of an evolutionist, that men and apes did not evolve from a common ancestor. If you know of one, we would love for you to tell us what it is." Genetic evidence that humans and apes did not share the same genetic code would do it. It would be pretty tough to show that humans and apes (and pigs) are not all vertebrates, but lots of things could in principle show that humans had closer relatives than chimps (bonobos, actually). This fixation on apes comes from creationists. Humans and slime mold also have a common ancestor, but I guess it was sufficiently long ago that creationists have forgotten about it. "The young-earth interpretations of geological evidence tend to be as good, or better, than the old-earth interpretations, so one really can't say that the old-earth explanations have been confirmed by laboratory tests." This is just plain nonsense. Measuring the isotopic composition of rocks is a laboratory test, for starters. So is counting growth rings. "Evolutionists are always accepting new dates for the formation of the earth [...]" Such as? Other than increased precision, when was the last time the accepted value changed substantially? "There is abundant evidence for a young age of the earth." Let me guess, salt concentrations in the ocean? Decaying magnetic field? Exponential population growth? Moon dust? Niagara Falls? Just name one. "Those few tests it does pass, it passes more by our generosity than by its own merit. If we felt more argumentative, we could probably prove in a court of law that they don't really pass those tests either." And which court would that be? Sorry to have to be so blunt, but like I said, that was a particularly bad month. Usually you tend to be a little more subtle. > You have said that the definition of the theory of evolution we quoted > has its origin in the Institute for Creation Research. We don't care where > the definition came from, as long as it is accurate. You should care. It wasn't accurate, and doing a little homework could have saved you some embarrassment. > We feel it does > capture, in a few sentences, the gist of what is being taught in U.S. > public schools. If you believe something different is (or should be) > taught, then please accept our invitation to tell us what it is. What should be taught is the scientific theory of evolution, which goes more or less as follows: (1) a) There is diversity within species (interbreeding populations). b) This is continually fueled by mutation, crossover, drift, gene duplication, horizontal transfer, etc. (2) More individuals are born than are able to reproduce. (3) a) Reproductive success is not random, but depends on individual traits. b) These traits are (at least partially) inherited. (4) a) This, along with environmental changes, reproductive isolation, founder effect, etc., is the basic mechanism by which the gene pool of a population changes over time. b) There is no known limit to this process. (5) a) All current species do in fact share a single common ancestor. b) This is shown by the genetic relatedness of all living species, as well as their geographical distribution and the fossil evidence of now-extinct ancestors. > Lying may win battles, but it won't win a war. A lie will fool some > people for a while. But when they discover it is a lie, then you lose the > battle you had won, and forfeit any chance of winning any more battles > because you have no credibility. That is the practical reason for not > lying. (Of course there is a moral reason, as well.) This is essentially the advice of St. Augustine, which goes back long before the modern scientific era. I would encourage all creationists to think about it very, very carefully. ``If they [the infidel] find a Christian mistaken in a field which they themselves know well and hear him maintaining his foolish opinions about our books, how are they going to believe those books in matters concerning the resurrection of the dead, the hope of eternal life, and the kingdom of heaven, when they think their pages are full of falsehoods and on facts which they themselves have learnt from experience and the light of reason?'' - St. Augustine > In essence, you are asking us to prove that creation scientists are > stupid to exonerate them from dishonesty. The word "stupid" was taken from the quote (thanks for looking that up by the way) but is not really appropriate. The issue is a lack of knowledge, not a lack of intelligence. But yes, in essence, that is what it boils down to. > We won't do that because we > believe creation scientists are neither stupid nor dishonest. They merely > have a better understanding of reality than evolutionists do. Again, I'm only claiming that creationists and scientists have different concepts of reality. Saying that one or the other is better is a value judgement that obviously depends on one's own beliefs. Creationists are only dishonest (or ignorant) when they claim to speak for scientists or claim that their beliefs are scientific. > We believe, for the most part, that evolutionists are neither malicious > nor stupid. We believe instead that they have been poorly educated. By what standard? Do you not consider a Ph.D. in biology to be the accepted standard of education in this field? What do you suggest in its place, other than a test of religious faith? Who is actually doing original research in biology these days? > We believe that when people are > presented with the data, and told the evolutionist interpretation of the > data, and told the creationist interpretation of the data, they will see > that the creationist interpretation is the more reasonable explanation of > the data. If you really believe that, why don't you simply present a stand-alone creationist interpretation of the data? Why bother attacking evolution at all? If there is a scientific creationist interpretation that can stand on its own merits (rather than on the bible), that doesn't depend on what evolutionists may or may not think, and makes useful testable predictions about future discoveries, please accept my invitation to share it with the rest of the world. > We appreciate your desire to understand why people think what they > think. [...] We have > wondered why it is that our neighbors (engineers and scientists who work > in the defense industry) tend to be politically conservative and believe > in creation, while university professors tend to be politically liberal > and believe in evolution. > Perhaps the difference is that engineers are brought back to reality > more often than professors. [...] This is known in the talk.origins newsgroup as the Salem hypothesis, namely the observation that creationists who claim to have academic credentials generally turn out to be engineers rather than scientists. There are a number of theories to explain this tendency, of which yours is one. One could also argue that engineers are more inclined to accept black-and-white rule-based explanations whereas as scientists are more likely to think abstractly about the underlying mechanisms. Whatever the reason, it is an interesting trend. > Yet, they tend to hold remarkably > different political and religious beliefs. This is an important point. Creationists consider this issue to be part of a political and religious package, whereas as scientists do not. > I personally have built infrared seekers for three different guided > missiles. [...] I have a very hard time believing > Richard Dawkin’s fanciful story about how > biological eyes could have developed independently (more than 40 different > times) by chance mutations and natural selection. This is what is called the argument from personal incredulity, that anything you don't understand must not be true. I don't doubt your skill as an engineer, but if you knew a little more about biology the process would not seem so mysterious. > Nearly every > manufacturing mistake (mutation) we made in our prototype seekers caused > them not to work at all. In very rare cases the mistake merely made them > work very badly. Eyes could not have evolved over billions of years by > mutation and natural selection because every part has to work before the > whole can work. That may be true of missiles, but it is not an accurate description of living organisms which are capable of reproducing. The eyes of currently living species actually show a very wide range of functionality. > That is my belief, based on practical experience. You are entitled to your belief, but it is not shared by biologists. > > We must come back to your basic point about honesty. You say that > creationists aren't honest about their faith, despite the fact that it is > in the 'fine print'. It is not their faith which is dishonest. They have every right to believe whatever they like. It is their claim in court--that their goal in passing laws such as the one in Arkansas is to present scientific evidence rather than to promote their religion--which is dishonest. The whole concept of "scientific" creationism is a deliberate misrepresentation of the true nature of their faith in creationism, which they do state in their own publications. > We counter that evolutionists are the ones who won't > even admit in fine print that the theory of evolution is the creation myth > of their secular humanist religious faith. Such an "admission" would be false. Most scientists are not secular humanists (I'm not, for example) and in fact come from a wide variety of religious backgrounds. Secular humanists do refer to evolution in their Humanist Manifesto (as is their right), but that postdates the theory itself and has no bearing on the rest of us. Likewise, just because the Pope accepts evolution it doesn't mean that all evolutionists are Catholic. > Creationists believe, by faith, that Jesus, Lazarus, Dorcus, and a few > other people were raised from the dead supernaturally. Evolutionists tend > not to believe that. Some do, some don't. It depends on their religious beliefs. > As we understand the evolutionists' position, it is > as follows: There are no 'supernatural' processes. Everything that > happens must be explainable by natural processes. There is no natural > process by which a dead body can come back to life. Therefore, dead > people could not have been resurrected. You are mistaken. Here is a more accurate description: Science cannot describe supernatural processes. Everything that can be studied using the scientific method must be explainable by natural processes. There is no natural process by which a dead body can come back to life. Therefore, there is no scientific means to evaluate the claim that people have been resurrected. Scientists who choose to believe in resurrection do so by religious faith, the same as creationists. > But evolutionists believe, by faith (not experimental proof), that > chemicals came together by an unknown natural process and formed a dead > cell. Then that dead cell came to life by an unknown natural process. No, scientists generally believe that the first cell was the product of a system of self-catalyzing chemical reactions which developed the geometrical pattern of a liposome enclosing a molecular template. The idea of some randomly-formed dead cell (Frankencell) suddenly getting the spark of life is a laughable creationist caricature. > Then this dead cell evolved into every living thing on this planet through > the natural processes of mutation and natural selection over a long period > of time Every living thing on this planet has a common ancestor, a species of prokaryote (living at the time, I would imagine) which was itself the product of a long process of evolution. > One must accept these articles of faith to be an evolutionist. No, it suffices to understand them and be capable of discussing them intelligently. > One must accept these articles of faith in spite of the overwhelming > scientific evidence that chemicals don't form cells, All the cells I know of are made up of chemicals. > things don't come to life naturally, Chemical reactions do occur naturally, and no aspect of life has ever been found that does not consist of chemical reactions. > and that birds don't hatch from lizard eggs because > creatures always reproduce 'after their kind'. No sane person would claim that they did. That makes as much sense as claiming that Julius Caesar woke up one morning speaking modern Italian. Populations evolve, not individuals. > Yet the evolutionary > articles of faith are taught in school as 'science'. Don't you consider > that dishonest? Not if it is done correctly. It is the creationist strawman description of evolution which is dishonest. Sincerely, John
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