E-Mail Correspondence

Our Response to John's Third Letter

Dear John,

You certainly covered a lot of ground! In your last letter you talked about

Motives

Most of the first part of your letter still deals with the presumed motives of creationists. We tried to show how unproductive this is by illustrating how one could make similar questionable speculations about the motives of evolutionists. Clearly we failed to make our point. As a result, you made some rather specific accusations about my motives and beliefs. In particular you said,

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.

You have made all this up in your own mind. We haven't called anyone immoral, or accused people of sinning. We never said anything about relative sinfulness of practitioners of various branches of science. (We did make a somewhat tongue-in-cheek comment about the honesty of lawyers and politicians, however.) What we did say was that if one could speculate about why creationists hold their beliefs (as you have done again in the paragraph above), one could also speculate about why evolutionists hold their beliefs. As part of that exercise we tried to show that it is perfectly logical to conclude that if one believes that there is no personal, willful creator, then one would not feel any obligation to obey commandments that are alleged to have come from that creator. But just because it is logically consistent doesn't mean it is necessarily true. Some people don't think logically. They think emotionally. One can't know for sure why people do, think, or say the things they do, think or say.

Regarding the motives of the National Center for Science Education, you said,

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.

We agree that it is a reasonable description of what they do. We take it at face value that they are working as hard as they can to keep evolution in the classroom, defending it against valid scientific criticism (which they call "sectarian attack").

Christianity and Science

You stated this premise and then asked,

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?

Where did you ever get the idea that Christian creationists think questioning why and how things work (in other words, science) is wrong? Christian creationists have traditionally been very interested in science. I'm sure you've heard of some of them. Louis Pasteur, Isaac Newton, Johann Kepler, Robert Boyle, Charles Babbage, James Clerk Maxwell, Michael Faraday, Lord Kelvin, and Blaise Pascal, to name a few. Why did these Christian men take such an interest in science? You are asking us to speculate on motives again, which we feel is unwise. But lest you think we are ducking the question, we will point out that the commonly cited answer is that people who believe that the natural world was created by God tend to believe that one can learn about God by studying nature, which is sometimes called "God's second book." Doubtless this is not the reason why every creationist is interested in science, but it probably explains why some are.

Politics and the Classroom

You said,

Science does not claim that the supernatural doesn't exist, only that it doesn't belong in science class.

We aren't sure everyone would agree with the first part of your statement. People make claims--disciplines don't. Most of our friends who are atheists who do scientific work, would claim that the supernatural doesn't exist. Undoubtedly there are other people like you, who also claim to represent the scientific discipline, who would say that science does allow for the supernatural. So, it comes down to a decision of who's definition of science you accept.

We agree completely with the second part of your statement. The miraculous origin of life by an unknown natural process should not be stated as scientific fact in science classes. Neither should the miraculous origin of life by divine creation.

We marvel at your presumed legal expertise in your response to our reason for not using the courts or political system to fight against the theory of evolution.

> 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:

If you had seen how wrong so many television "legal experts" were when predicting the outcome of highly publicized trials (O.J. Simpson, Louise Woodward, William Jefferson Clinton, etc.) you might be less confident to predict the outcome of any American trial.

We simply don't believe that scientific truth should be determined by twelve people selected at random. We think truth should be determined by free expression of ideas in open forums. If evolutionists are going to present a theory of how life began, and why there are so many different life-forms today, then other people ought to be allowed to point out inconsistencies in the theory, and discordant data that has been ignored.

Evolutionary Biology

You said,

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.

First of all, the term "evolutionary biology" presupposes that the present species are the result of evolution, which must be accepted on faith. If all living (and extinct) species are just minor variations of many different created "kinds", then the whole concept of evolutionary biology takes on an entirely different meaning.

Second, the statement that "matter (as we know it) condensed out of the (highly ordered) early universe" is a religious belief, not a scientifically proven fact. Some people think it happened that way. Fine. Anyone can believe anything they want. You can believe it if you want to. But can you tell us why you believe it? What was the proof that convinced you?

Natural Selection

You said,

It is well known that mutation and natural selection are not the only mechanisms of evolution.

In general, many of your statements would be much more accurate if you would replace "it is well known" with "it is widely believed." In this case, however, it might have been better to have said, "It is suspected in some circles that mutation and natural selection are not the only mechanisms of evolution."

It is difficult to construct accurate public opinion polls to determine what people actually believe because it is hard determine what sample space to use. It is a natural tendency for people to think that the people they come in contact with on a daily basis are "average" people, and so they must represent the feelings of the group. Apparently you know of many people who believe there are other methods of evolution, and think this is a valid representation of the scientific population at large. You may be right. You may also be wrong.

In our reading, and in our discussions, random mutation and/or genetic recombination filtered by natural selection is the only widely accepted method of evolution. Other methods are acknowledged as inadequately explored possibilities that might have merit. But we have no way of knowing that this is a representative sample of the entire scientific community.

The number of people who believe something is far less important than if the concept is correct or not. There once was an overwhelming majority of people who believed the Earth was flat, but that didn't make it true. So, let's not debate whether or not most people agree with your statement. Let's just try to determine if it is true or not.

The truth of your statement depends upon what you mean by "evolution." If you mean that temporary climatic changes have been shown to cause small changes in the sizes or shapes of plants and animals, and that these changes have persisted for several generations after the climate returns to normal, we think there is some support in the literature for such a statement. We recall reading articles that suggest this phenomenon is not adequately explained entirely by natural selection, but we are a little uncertain as to what the proposed alternative mechanism is.

If you mean that it is well known that other mechanisms of evolution are known to have created entirely new body plans, then we would have to disagree. We know of no mechanisms by which radically different forms of life have been observed to arise. Please educate us.

The Definitions of "Kinds" and "Species"

You said,

Furthermore, there is no scientific definition of "kinds".

There is no scientific definition of "life" either, but we presume it really exists despite the lack of a scientific definition.

There has been a lot of scientific research on "baraminology" (from the Hebrew word "bara", which means "created", and "min", which is generally translated as "kinds") in the scientific creationist community. Biblical creationists are, in fact, interested in how much "microevolution" has occurred in the created kinds (baramin). They are also interested in identifying just what the baramin are. You don't find these articles in Nature or Science because those journals won't publish them. Rest assured that work is being done to find a good, quantitative definition of "baramin."

The scientific definition of "species" isn't entirely flawless, either. A perfect definition of "species" would have the transitive property that if Critter A is the same species as Critter B, and Critter B is the same species as Critter C, then Critter A is the same species as Critter C. The common definition of "species" (which uses the ability to breed and produce fertile offspring) fails this test sometimes.

You said,

... 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.

A biology teacher once said, in my presence, that several kinds of trees were similar because there were in the same genus. I said to her, "Wouldn't it be more accurate to say that these trees are all in the same genus because they are similar?" She agreed, but I don't think she understood the point. The scientific classification system merely classifies things by similarity. That does not imply that they evolved from a common ancestor. One might believe, by faith, that things are similar because they evolved. One could just as easily believe that things are similar because a creator created them all to be similar. There is no scientific data to support either belief.

One can classify things any way one wants. Suppose scientists had decided that it is more useful to divide animals into "flying animals", "walking animals", and "swimming animals" than to use backbones and methods of reproduction, etc., to classify animals. It is obvious that a bat, a honey bee, and a hawk are all flying animals. A mouse is a walking animal. If this alternate classification scheme had been chosen, then a bat would be more closely related to a honey bee and a hawk (because they are all flying animals which supposedly all evolved from a common flying ancestor) than a bat is related to a mouse (which supposedly evolved from a walking ancestor).

The assumptions you make regarding evolution influences how you classify things. How you classify things influences your notion of evolution. There is a circular connection that it is important to recognize.

Uniformitarianism

You said,

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.)

We think it would be more accurate to say that uniformitarianism was gaining acceptance when Darwin was a young man, but that's a nit that isn't worth picking.

"Uniformitarianism" is a belief that the Earth was shaped by constant, gradual forces (sedimentation, slow continental drift, etc.) that can be studied today. "Catastrophism" is the belief that the Earth was shaped by sporadic forces (volcanic eruptions, floods, etc.) that can be studied today. Catastrophism is no more, or less, scientific than uniformitarianism.

Age of the Earth

You claim that

The formation and age of the earth have nothing to do with biology.

You are correct, unless you are talking about evolutionary biology. The age of the Earth has nothing to do with how long it takes a robin's egg to hatch. The age of the Earth has a lot to do with how long it took the robin to evolve.

Scientific Journals

> 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.

Irresponsible statements like that are what cause people like Chris to get upset. Creationists don't refuse to publish their work in scientific journals. Scientific journals refuse to publish what creationists submit to them because of academic prejudice and oppression.

If you look at my list of technical publications on software development, you won't find any of them in academic publications (ACM or IEEE). They are all in commercial publications. I'll tell you why.

It has nothing to do with my views on evolution because the majority of my publications date back to long before I founded Science Against Evolution. There is no conspiracy against me because of anything I've published on this web site.

It has nothing to do with my knowledge of the subject matter. I have become internationally-known (at first just by my pen name, later by my given name) as an expert in the Ada programming language. I am one of the experts who participated in the refinement of the language in 1995. I have excellent experience and qualifications.

I'm not afraid of the criticism I might get if I published in a scholarly journal. I get plenty of criticsm anyway!

It has nothing to do with the quality of my writing. One of my articles became an "urban legend" on the Internet. The editors of commercial publications love my writing. I no longer have to submit an article to a magazine and hope they accept it. Editors call me and ask me if I am willing to write an article for them. I tell them if I will or not, and how much I want to be paid for it.

I was very flattered recently to read an advertisement for the Rethinking the Software Process CD ROM, which listed the "leading authorities" who had contributed to it, give me higher billing than Capers Jones. I admit that doesn't happen very often, but the fact that I was given higher billing than Capers Jones just once is significant! I even have a fan letter from Ed Yourdon framed on the wall over my desk.

So, why can't I get anything published in an academic journal? Because I only have a B.S. in electrical engineering from a less-than-prestigious university.

I don't generally complain about this because I would much rather be well paid to write articles in magazines lots of people actually read, rather than get paid nothing to write an article for an academic journal that a few people put on their bookshelves to impress other people.

The only reason I mention this is that I know from personal experience that publication in academic journals merely means that the author is a member of the Good Old Boys Club. If you have the right degree from the right university, and you haven't pissed anybody off, you can get published in the academic press. If you aren't a member of the Club, forget it. Creationists aren't members of the Club. They never will be. That's why you won't ever see their work published "in the literature."

Facts of Science

Thanks for finally answering our question.

> 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:

Order From Disorder

"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.

You really lost us here. What toys in airports create order from disorder?

Electromagnetism is not a "natural process." It is the result of someone consciously winding a coil of wire and forcing an electric current through it to take advantage of a natural law.

When we ran the ad about Cher thinking Mt. Rushmore was formed by natural processes, our favorite critic came to our Fourth Friday meeting to argue that it was formed by natural processes. He said that there was nothing fundamentally “unnatural” about a dynamite explosion, or a chisel striking a rock. Of course he is right about that. What he failed to see is that they were natural processes that were being consciously controlled. Everything that has been created “artificially” by man has been done using natural processes because that’s all man has to work with. It is the conscious application of a natural force that makes it unnatural.

A refrigerator, for example, creates order (on a local scale) by moving heat from inside the box to outside the box. But when you consider the heat flow that evaporated the water that caused the clouds that rained in the lake that flowed through the generator that produced the electricity to run the refrigerator, the overall effect is more disorder. In the same way, snowflakes don't violate the second law of thermodynamics. They are an intermediate ordered step in a complete process that produces disorder.

Thermodynamics is a difficult subject. It weeds out a lot of engineering students because it is difficult to understand. But it stays in the engineering curriculum because it is necessary for engineers to understand the fundamental laws that govern how energy flow works.

But you don't have to be an engineer to recognize the inevitable results of the second law. At least one poet has seen it. Instead of calling it "entropy," he merely calls it "something."

Something there is that does not love a wall
That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it
And spills the upper boulders in the sun.
(Robert Frost)

Bolders don't naturally put themselves together into a wall. Walls do naturally fall down.

Origin of Life

"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.

Everything is made of chemicals. Carbon atoms in a lump of coal are no different from carbon atoms in a monkey. There aren't "living chemicals" and "dead chemicals." That's the point that you seem to be missing. Life is more than just chemicals.

Of course it is true that the chemicals in a living frog are no different from the chemicals in a frog that died a millisecond ago. We want to know, "What is the scientific method for making those chemicals in the dead frog cause the dead frog to come to life again?" It isn't enough just to get the right chemicals in the right place at the right time. Something more has to happen. All the right chemicals are in a recently deceased frog, but it doesn't come back to life because there is no natural process by which that happens.

Life naturally flows to death just as surely as heat naturally flows to a colder place and as surely as water naturally flows downhill. It is true that an external force can pump water higher, or extract heat from a cold place. But that is exactly our point. It takes "work" (that is, force acting along a distance) to overcome the natural tendency. Although we have solved the problem for hydraulic and thermal systems, we don't know any way to pump life back into a dead body. The doctors were unable to keep life from flowing out of Princess Di's body. That's why we have mortuaries.

One of the reasons why we can't pump life into death is because we have never observed any natural process by which it happens. If we had, then we could try to imitate the process.

Mutation and Natural Selection

"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.

What do you mean by "kinds." You said there was no scientific definition. If you mean that there is genetic evidence that two kinds (that is, varieties) of finches are related by genetic mutations, that may be true. (It may be also true that they are related by genetic combinations, instead of genetic mutations.) If you are saying that there is ample genetic evidence that crocodiles and sparrows are related by genetic mutations, that is an outright lie.

Comparison of DNA from various "related" critters sometimes produces very surprising results. Perhaps it is time to bump that subject up closer to the top of our stack of essays in progress.

Origin of Information

"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.

We agree that mutation and natural selection is an incorrect, but natural, explanation. Can you give one example of evidence that shows how any one of our own genes was created?

"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?

We could not find the article by Mulder, but we did find the Scully article in the Science data base.

R. Scully, S. Ganesan, M. Brown, J. A. De Caprio, S. A. Cannistra, J. Feunteun, S. Schnitt, D. M. Livingston;, Y. Chen, P.-L. Chen, D. J. Riley, W.-H. Lee, D. C. Allred, and C. K. Osborne
Location of BRCA1 in Human Breast and Ovarian Cancer Cells
Science 272: 123-126.

Unfortunately, the full text of the article wasn't available on-line. We presume you think he used some unusual technique to find BRCA1. Can you be more specific what your point about Scully's technique is?

Our point is that, in order to create new genes in the laboratory, it is necessary to use some "unnatural" (that is, supernatural) process to cut and splice genes. The genes would not cut and splice themselves together without the artificial (unnatural, supernatural) assistance of the scientist. The so-called "designer genes" require a designer because they don't occur naturally.

Other Evolutionary Processes

"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 on 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.

This is the second time in this letter that you have said there are other unspecified, well-known processes that play a part in the evolution of entirely new kinds of critters. Would you please enlighten us as to what they are?

Genetics and Information Theory

"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?

My everyday (well, four days a week, if you want to get picky) experience on my job involves signal processing and analysis. Sometimes noise corrupts the data. Whenever that happens, information is lost. If there is enough redundant information (parity bits, for example) some or all of the information may be recovered. But random bit changes never increase the information in a signal.

In genetics it is well known that information is contained in the sequences of four kinds of base pairs in a DNA molecule. From a theoretical standpoint, there is no difference between a message encoded using base pairs and binary bits. Random changes do not produce new information.

We are doing some original research examining the information content in known gene sequences using the same techniques as electrical engineers routinely use in digital signal processing. It isn't ready to publish yet.

Apes and Man

"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.

Calling a man an ape does not make him one. (Although we must admit the process has been attempted more than once on the school playground.)

Mutation and natural selection provide an incorrect, unverified, natural explanation. We asked if there was a correct 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.

DNA sequencing sometimes produces some really strange relationships. In the editorial pipeline is an essay about the "troubling" molecular evidence that contradicts conventional wisdom regarding the relationship between gnetales and angiosperms; the relationship between turtles, alligators, and snakes; and the molecular clock discrepancies for times of divergence. Until we publish that one, we can only refer you to what we already have written about the failure of genetics to confirm conventional belief.

If someone had told you that chimps are more like humans than they are like gorillas before the DNA "evidence" was known to you, would you have believed him? Do you now think a turtle is really more like a snake than an alligator because of the recent findings? Or did you always think turtles were more like snakes than alligators? Don't such unusual findings make you question the validity of the analysis? Don't you do any sanity checks?

We presume that you were referring to the study that claims to show a 97% similarity between human and chimp DNA. In other words, they say there is 3% difference. In other words, human and chimp DNA sequences differ by only about 90 million base pairs. And it apparently seems reasonable to you that 90 million arbitrary changes to chimp DNA just happened to create a human?

"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.

Does differing in 90 million locations qualify for being different genetic codes? How different does it have to be?

It seems to us, it is the evolutionists who are fixated on the "missing link" between ape and man. Creationists are the ones who point out all the millions of missing links between all the other kinds of critters. Creationists certainly have not forgotten that evolutionists claim there are numerous missing links between slim mold and humanity; but thank you for pointing that out again. What are the links between slim mold and vertebrate fishes? What are the links between fishes and mammals? What are the links between mammals and apes?

Age of the Earth

"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.

We've written several articles about isotopic ratios of rocks before. We probably will again. You simply can't tell how old a rock is by measuring the ratio of minerals in it, even if they are radioactive, because you don't know how much of the mother and daughter material was there to begin with.

Growth rings go back only thousands of years, not millions of years, so they can't be used to prove the earth to be billions of years old.

"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?

In 1913, it was 500 million years old. In the 1960's I was taught in high school that the world is 2 billion years old.

"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.

Good guesses. You missed helium concentration in the atmosphere, formation of river deltas, decay of natural plutonium, deceleration of the earth by tidal friction, various mineral concentrations in the ocean. We will be getting to some of those in future newsletters. We can only publish a limited number of words per day. (And we have to take time out to answer letters--not that we are complaining.)

"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?

It is hard telling, since U.S. courts are notoriously unpredictable.

What Should Be Taught

Thank you for responding to our invitation to tell us what should be taught regarding evolution.

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.

We agree completely with everything up through 4a. Then it starts to fall apart.

Breeders have determined that there is a limit to how much variation there is in any particular gene pool. We agree that it is difficult to predict this limit in advance, but sooner or later it is reached. For example, farmers like to breed cows to produce more milk. Is there a limit to how much milk they can produce? We think so. Do we know what it is? No, but we are sure it is less than 1,000 gallons per second. Probably a whole lot less than that.

Seriously, milk contains about 150 calories per cup. That's 2400 calories per gallon. Suppose a cow eats 15000 calories a day. If she is 100% efficient she can produce 6 gallons a day. That is a clear physical limit she cannot evolve past.

Statement 5a is a consequence of statement 4b. Stated mathematically, 4b is a necessary condition for 5a. Since 4b is false, 5a must be false, too.

Statement 5b seems to be unfounded generalization. What is "the genetic relatedness of all living species"? Does the fact that they are all carbon-based life forms necessarily imply that they have a common ancestor? We don't think so.

What does geographical distribution have to do with evolution? Just because all the kangaroos are in Australia doesn't prove they evolved there. In fact, it would be strong evidence for evolution if kangaroos suddenly appeared in Nebraska. That could be proof that prairie dogs can evolve into kangaroos.

The fossil record shows abrupt appearance of all kinds of critters. In some cases, (sharks, bats, frogs, etc.) the fossil record shows hardly any change at all over supposedly many millions of years. If those rocks really were that old it would show that critters don't change. (In other words, they don't evolve.)

Educational Standards

> 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?

The medical doctors who bled George Washington to death to cure his laryngitis met the accepted standard of education in their day. Scientists are always bragging about how much more they know today than they did yesterday. Tomorrow they will look back at how little they know today and shudder. If scientists really thought they knew all the answers, they wouldn't do any research at all.

This comes back to our belief that the major scientific breakthroughs in the next few years will come from creation scientists because they are willing to approach the evidence unhindered by evolutionary bias. Creationist geologists will come up with better explanations of how the rocks were formed because they aren't trying to force the data into an explanation that involves millions of years. Creation biologists won't waste their time trying to figure out how simple kinds evolved into other kinds, and concentrate on variations in species.

Our Approach

> 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.

Excellent question. We hope we have an excellent answer.

There are many organizations that do present stand-alone creationist interpretations. (We started to list them, but decided not to because we didn't want offend any of them by inadvertently leaving them off the list, or listing them last.) They do an excellent job of showing how the data fits with a creationist model. It is unnecessary to duplicate their efforts.

We are aware, however, that some people (for whatever reason) want nothing to do with Christianity. Since these people typically believe that the Bible is nothing more than a human document written to give power to priests and oppress women in a male-oriented culture, arguments from scripture don't carry weight with them. Furthermore, they have been educated in a public school system that has told them that "evolution is a fact." Consequently, as it says on our home page, our objective is to make the general public aware that the theory of evolution is not consistent with physical evidence and is no longer a respectable theory describing the origin of life. We feel that presenting the evidence against evolution will open minds by freeing them from evolutionary prejudice. Once people realize that evolution isn't an undeniable fact, they will start searching for alternate explanations. We are sometimes criticized for not providing that alternate explanation, but we feel there are plenty of other organizations that are more than willing to provide that explanation.

Salem Hypothesis

> 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.

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.  ... Whatever the reason, it is
an interesting trend.

We are gratified to know that others have also noticed the same tendency we have.

How Life Began

> 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.

We hoped it would be laughable.

It is difficult to say what scientists generally believe about the origin of life on Earth. We don't think the situation has changed much since our February 1998 essay on How Life Began. Scientists don't agree on how it happened because they have never been able to do it in the laboratory. Therefore, they have to believe, by faith, that it happened by some natural process. There is just as much diversity in the beliefs of these scientists are there is diversity in Christian denominations. This isn't surprising, because however life began (by miraculous divine creation or miraculous natural process) it must be accepted by faith. If there was scientific proof of how it happened, there would not be so much controversy.

> 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.

Your imagination is faith, whether you realize it or not. You have to accept this by faith because there is no experimental proof.

> 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.

But evolutionists have to believe that some population of something (not necessarily reptiles) must have evolved into a population of birds. This must have happened slowly or rapidly. There is no evidence that it happened slowly. That is, there is no clear fossil sequence of things evolving into birds. Linguists can, however, trace the evolution of Latin into Italian (and French, and other languages, too). So the analogy fails.

You say that no sane person would claim that it happened in a single generation. We would like to agree, but we don't want to start name-calling.

> 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.
We would not characterize the description of evolution you provided as "dishonest." But we would feel comfortable in describing the last portion of it as "factually deficient."

Sincerely,
John

Sincerely,
Dave

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