email - April 2004

A Fool and His Ideas

Ever since we installed a spam filter that automatically deletes all email with foul language in it, we have gotten a lot less hate mail! Thatís too bad in a way because it deprives us of the opportunity to show you what evolutionists really think. Before we installed the filter, we did notice a definite correlation between the number of curse words and level of stupidity.

Fortunately, Herbert managed to keep a civil tongue, so we can share with you his reaction to last monthís feature article on Comparative Anatomy. His email is long, so we will intersperse our comments in it.

Subject: (no subject)
From: Herbert
Date: Tue, 13 Apr 2004 19:01:21 EDT
To: comments@scienceagainstevolution.org

He is lucky we even read the email. Generally we donít open email with no subject line because it usually is an advertisement for sexually oriented material. I canít explain why I didnít just delete this one because it had no subject line, but for some reason I opened it.

If you want to send us an email that we are likely to read, donít put a subject line like ďHiĒ, or anything that begins with ďRe:Ē or ďFwd:Ē Give it a subject line that is clearly related to evolution. Avoid subject lines that look like they could be spam.

Your web-site is a joke. The arguments about homologous and analogous structures show a lack of understanding about basic principles of biology and ecology. It is obvious that the limb bones of a bat are similar to the limb bones of other mammals. The limb bones of whales and dolphins look stunningly like the limb bones of humans. The reason that all mammals have similar limb bones is they inherited those bones from a common ancestor.

We understand the basic principles--we just donít believe them.

Nobody disputes the fact that these bones look similar. The difference between Herbert and creationists is that Herbert has such a closed mind that he is incapable of seeing that there are at least three possible reasons for the similarity. Specifically, the bones might be similar because of (1) dumb luck, (2) a common ancestor, or (3) conscious design.

Dumb luck seems unlikely to us. Just before we went to press we got another email from someone who uses mathematics to argue that random chance is capable of producing such things. If we can write an explanation that people without a mathematical background are likely to understand, we may address it in a future newsletter. Suffice it to say that my experience with random processes and information theory leads me to discount this explanation.

Likewise, inheritance from a common ancestor seems unlikely because it is inconsistent with what we know about heredity.

Conscious design is a plausible explanation because examples of similar designs are all around us, as we showed in last monthís essay.

The difference between us and Herbert is that we are willing to admit that homology could be the result of evolution or design. Although these common features are consistent with common design, they do not prove the existence of a designer.

Herbert is convinced that evolution is the only reason for similarity, without having the evidence to support that confidence.

It is perfectly logical that a flying squirrel which is a placental mammal [which is the common type of animal, having a womb in which the babies develop], is similar to a similar flying squirrel type animal found in Australia which is a marsupial [which is the kind of mammal, like a kangaroo, that has a pouch in which the baby develops]. Both are occupying similar niches in the environment, in which evolving flight would give them an advantage. However, these animals are not closely related. This is convergent evolution because they are evolving similar adaptations for similar niches in two different places.

Suffice it to say that we have a somewhat different definition of ďperfect logic.Ē

Why does Herbert think the two flying squirrels are not closely related? Why is he so sure that a placental flying squirrel did not evolve into a marsupial flying squirrel, or vice versa? A placental flying squirrel evolving a pouch is no more ridiculous than two unrelated squirrels independently evolving the ability to glide a short distance. Evolutionists must believe that some mammal evolved the first pouch. What makes him so sure that it wasnít the flying squirrel?

Herbert has been told that the environment can drive evolution, and he believes it without stopping to think about it.

He has no proof for anything he has said. He just has stories that he has been told, which he simply accepts by faith. Since he has faith, he doesnít need any proof.

Take the amazing Darwin's finches, for example. You have finches, which have evolved adaptations which mimic woodpecker adaptations. Other finches have evolved adaptations that resemble warblers. Why? Certainly woodpecker finches are not as perfectly adapted as woodpeckers. Warbler finches are not as well adapted as warblers. The reason we see woodpecker finches and not woodpeckers is because very few birds made it to the islands. A group of finches obviously arrived at the island, and having no competetion for insects, flower nectar, or other food not normally eaten by finches, evolved adaptations to exploit these unoccupied niches.

Everything Herbert states as fact is nothing more than supposition. Sadly, Herbert doesnít realize the difference between speculation and fact.

If your argument is that God created the finches as they are, then why didn't he just make a Galapagos Woodpecker instead of finch trying to become one?

That isnít our argument at all. Despite that, he canít help bringing religion into a scientific discussion.

Furthermore, if he had read last monthís email (about why males have nipples), he would have known that psychology is the only branch of science that can even attempt to provide motivation answers. We won't go over that ground again this month.

And by the way, have you ever heard of DNA testing? Why is it that all the Galapagos finches have similar DNA, more similar than to any other group of finches? The answer is obvious. The Galapagos finches share the same DNA because they shared a recent common ancestor.

Of course we have heard about DNA, and love to point out the fierce battle between microbiologists and paleontologists because DNA analysis often produces family trees that differ remarkably from traditional taxonomy.1

Furthermore, he displays his ignorance of the creationist position when he implies that creationists donít think all the Galapagos finches have a common ancestor. Herbert has never been taught the difference between variation and evolution.

I also would like to point out that their are many churches (presbyterian, methodist, catholic, episcopalian) who are totally opposed to the teaching of creationism in the schools. Why? Because many churches do not have a problem with the theory of evolution, as long as God is driving the process. After all, why would God make it so that living things could not adapt to changing enviornments? How do you know that evolution isn't the way that God creates?

There he goes, bringing religion back in again. What does it matter if some churches accept evolution or not? Is something true just because a church accepts it?

This paragraph also shows his ignorance of the position of the major Biblical creationists (for example the Institute for Creation Research and Answers in Genesis). Both those organizations, and others, teach that God did create living things so that they could adapt to their environment.

Your website reminds me of the church clerics 500 years ago who insisted that the earth was the center of the universe because the bible said so. Poor Galileo was forced to denounce his scientific evidence or the church would have executed him for his "evil" ways. The church had 500 years to finally admit they were wrong about Galileo.

We wonder what it is about our web site that causes this memory association. When have we ever argued against evolution using a Bible-based argument? When have we ever persecuted anyone?

Darwin's ideas about evolution have a long ways to go. [huh?] And lastly, have you ever heard of antibiotic resistance and pesticide resistance. Natural selection is fact in these cases, not theory.

If Herbert had read our February, 2004, essay, Sex and the Single Bacterium, he would know that we have heard about antibiotic resistance, and he would know why it isnít proof of evolution.

Herbert was apparently so stirred up by our web site, he wrote again two days later.

Subject: (no subject)
From: Herbert
Date: Thu, 15 Apr 2004 20:29:43 EDT
To: comments@scienceagainstevolution.org

A few corrections. Bacteria can produce beneficial mutations in as little as 2 days when subjected to antibiotics in laboratory tests. Bacteria will reproduce sexually by conjugation when they are under stress like this. The bacteria will exchange genetic information as fast as possible with many other bacteria until eventually the right combination of genes is obtained that enables them to survive the antibiotic. This is not rare, in happens at alarming rates and is a huge medical problem. The same thing happens with insects and pesticides. The new gene in these bacteria can actually be identified in their DNA.

If he had read Sex and the Single Bacterium he would know that is almost exactly what we said. The antibiotic resistance comes from other bacteria that already have the needed genes. Which means that the antibiotic resistance doesnít appear out of thin air. The genes already existed. The theory of evolution requires the creation of new genetic information, not the appropriation of pre-existing genetic information from another source.

Furthermore, he doesnít understand the difference between a ďbeneficial mutationĒ and a ďcreative mutationĒ. The theory of evolution requires creative mutations, not merely beneficial ones.

My other point of concern is your insistence that their is no scientific evidence that the earth is old. Problems with radioactive dating were said to be that there is no known starting amount of material and therefore you can't accurately determine the age. It is not necessary to know that because you are measuring the proportion of radioactive material to the daughter isotope, which only can be formed through the decay process.

If this last sentence is true, then one must believe that all lead came from the decay of uranium. How do you know that lead wasnít created (either by God or by an exploding star) as lead in the first place? How does he know that all lead came from the decay of uranium?

If you have a rock that is 4 grams or 40 grams, it makes no difference. You can still determine the age of the rock through determining how much of the daughter isotope is present as compared to the parent isotope of potassium 40 for example.

It is true that the absolute amount of material isnít important. All that matters is the ratio. Scientists can measure the present ratio. The problem is, they have no way of knowing what the initial ratio was, so they canít tell how much the ratio has changed (if at all) due to radioactive decay.

Also, isn't it true that various church leaders have hired scientists to conduct radioactive dating tests on the dead sea scrolls which were confirmed to be of an age that would authenticate them? Is this correct?

I canít name the scientists who have used carbon 14 dating to date the dead sea scrolls, nor do I know their church affiliation, if any; but I have no doubt that carbon 14 dating has been done on the dead sea scrolls.

Unlike the other forms of radioactive dating, carbon 14 is the only one that can be calibrated. Thatís because its half-life is so short that it works on objects whose age can be independently verified through historical records. Therefore, one can determine the change in carbon 14 in the atmosphere over the past few thousand years of recorded history, and compute dates for the past few thousand years accurately.

Carbon 14 brings up the interesting problem for evolutionists. If the Earth were older than 30,000 years, the carbon 14 ratio in the atmosphere would have stabilized by now, and there would be no need for the well-known correction factors. This suggests either (a) that the Earth has existed for less than 30,000 years, or (b) some event happened in the last few thousand years that significantly affected the atmosphere, changing the amount of carbon 14. If the latter is true, then all carbon 14 dates computed before this significant event are incorrect.

Herbert has no idea how radioactive dating works. Perhaps he should read Radioactive Dating Explained.

When is a Fool not a Fool?

Had this not been the April Fool newsletter, we would not have use "Fool" in the title of this column. We donít believe Herbert is any less intelligent than the average person. His problem doesnít have to do with intelligence--it has to do with education. He is typical of the kids who have been taught half-truths about evolution. If he were not typical, there would not be any point in printing his email.

Herbertís email illustrates why Science Against Evolution needs to exist. Without us, people like Herbert will be taught "scientific" nonsense in public schools and on public television, and naturally think that the theory of evolution is a viable theory. Herbert isn't a fool. He has just been brain-washed all his life.

Fortunately, the truth is coming out. People are starting to realize that the theory of evolution, like the fabled emperor, has no clothes. Science is against evoltution.

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Footnotes:

1 We have discussed the discrepency between DNA and evolutionary expectations in the essays below.