Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Extinct Nuclides show an Old Earth

One of the signs that the Earth is old is the fact that many radioactive elements with relatively short half-lives (in the millions of years or less) no longer exist on Earth. (These are called "extinct nuclides").

The question is, why not?

Of course an OLD Earth is a perfect explanation.

**IF** a radioactive element with a half-life of, say, 15 million years (like Cesium-247) was created at the same time as the Earth - 4.5 billion years ago – then about 300 half-lives of that element would have passed. Therefore only 1/2**300 of that element would be expected to exist. That would work out to be NONE.

That's what we see.

On the other hand, if the Earth is only 6000 years old hardly any of that element should have decayed radioactively. So it should be fairly abundant.

A Young-Earth creationist web site at makes the argument very well. First of all the author says this about those elements:

"We know that these missing nuclides were once around because the evidence of their past existence is still in the rocks. In the past, these missing nuclides broke down into daughter nuclides until there was nothing left, so the reaction stopped. Today we still have the daughter nuclides in the rock, so we know that the parent nuclides were once present in the rocks. This is how we know them to be extinct."

So we are able to find the daughter elements, but not the radioactive elements themselves.

A small number of radioactive elements with short half-lives DO exist but those only exist because they continue to be created with well-understood processes.

The most well-known of these elements is Carbon-14 used for radiocarbon dating. But science has demonstrated that C-14 is continuously produced in the atmosphere.

Here's how that YEC web site explains it.

"Of the nuclide/isotopes that have short half-lives, only those who are being produced constantly are present in nature. Carbon 14 is a good example of a nuclide found in nature while having a short half-life. Carbon 14 is produced in the upper atmosphere. Beryllium-10 Manganese-53 and Chlorine-36 are also produced in the same way, so they are present in nature despite their having a short half-life.

All other nuclides/isotopes having short half-lives are not present in nature... So they are extinct nuclides."

So, in summary we find that we have strong evidence for the previous existence of radioactive elements with short half-lives (even in the millions of years) and NO evidence that they exist now.

None of them.

Even elements with half-lives in the millions of years.

The explanation of an OLD EARTH is perfect, even one that is easy to understand.

ON the other hand, this YEC site that I reference gives two possible explanations.

1. God is deceptive. God's basically testing the faith of the YEC. God made some things with apparent age - such as Adam and Eve themselves - but there is no explanation for why radioactive elements in the the Earth should not be present.

2. God created the Earth with pre-existing matter. In other words God found some very old rocks lying around somewhere and created the Earth from those old rocks. Specifically the web site says:

"when the first few chapters of Genesis are studied, it is clear that the word 'created' or 'made' does not exclude the possibility that preexisting matter was used... So using a literal reading of Genesis, we can understand that there could have been something here before Creation Week. The preexisting matter would be responsible for the rocks dating billions of years."

The alternatives:

1. An Old Earth - explains everything.

2. A Young Earth and a deceptive God.

3. A Young Earth, but a preexisting solar system with lots of older rocks that God used to create the Earth. (This explanation also implies a deceptive God.)

Obviously a rational person would select alternative 1. But creationists aren't rational.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Memorizing the Bible?

Mccording to the web page at the inaugural National Bible Bee was held recently. That is a contest to see who has done the best job of memorizing the Bible.

MY question: why?

Wouldn't a more useful contest be to see who could do a better job of analyzing the Bible? Wouldn't it be a much better test to find out who could write the best paper explaining the message in some passage in the Bible?

It's like memorizing how to spell a word. Knowing how to spell a word doesn't guarantee that you know what the word means. The word "antidisestablishmentarianism" is widely known as one of the longest words in the English language. Most people who have heard that word couldn't tell you what it means (even though the meaning can be fairly easily deduced by analyzing the word). Isn't knowing what something means more important than knowing how to spell it?

Similarly memorizing the first few verses in Ecclesiastes doesn't mean that you necessarily understand them. As a matter of fact if you are memorizing something you are probably NOT analyzing it. That would be too distracting.

I've always believed that one of the many bad things about believing in Biblical inerrancy is that it actually tends to actually DIMINISH the amount of thought and analysis given to the Bible. For example, if you believe that the book is inerrant, then you're generally not allowed to ask WHY something happened. The Bible says that it happened. Therefore it happened. End of story.

Why did God send a global flood rather than use some other method for killing all evil humans? You're not allowed to think about such things. God did it so it must have been the best way. Q.E.D.

Alas, Biblical literalism could be actually argued as anti-Bible as well as anti-God and anti-Christian.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Biodiversity - Part Two

Richard Dawkins explains the IMMENSE problems creationists have in explaining the diversity of land animals. But, possibly surprisingly, that problem also exists for aquatic animals - most specifically those that live in freshwater.

One problem for the flood, of course, is that no creationist that I've ever seen believes that Noah took any aquatic life forms onto the Ark. But, in fact, aquatic animals live in EITHER freshwater or salt water but, with very few exceptions, not BOTH. In fact many animals are very sensitive to the salinity level of the water. If you have a home aquarium in which you are planning on keeping salt water aquatic animals, you are given very specific instructions on what salinity level to keep the water at. Coral reefs are more sensitive than most other aquatic life forms.

For example, the web page at says:

"Maintain a salinity level of 1.019 – 1.022 for fish only aquariums and 1.025 – 1.028 if you have corals and/or clams."

Note how specific and narrow those ranges are.

If you doubt any of that, call you local aquarium and say that you want to keep freshwater and salt water fish in the same tank along with a coral reef. Warn them ahead of time, however. They will probably literally fall on the floor laughing.

So **IF** the flood occurred as described in the Bible we should have seen pretty much all aquatic life would have died. At a minimum all coral reefs would have been destroyed. (Maybe a few salmon might have survived.)

We don't see that.

But, I'm here to talk about biodiversity.

Because all of the oceans are connected to each other we see salt water organisms all over. You can find a shark in any ocean.

But that is NOT true for freshwater fish. The reason is obvious - freshwater fish necessarily live in isolated waters. Even rivers don't run from Africa to Asia.

But **IF** there was a global flood and in the VERY unlikely event that it didn't kill all freshwater animals outright, then for a year they would have had the same ability to diversify that all saltwater fish have.

Evidently they didn't. There are many, many examples of freshwater organisms that stay in very narrow ecological niches.

Arguably the most well-known freshwater fish is the piranha. It lives in a very narrow ecological niche - the waters of the Amazon river basin.

Why would that be so if there was a global flood?

According to the Bible, the flood lasted a bit more than a year.

In a year piranhas would have been able to easily swim to Central America and places like Florida. Given a year, a trip to Africa would have been a reasonably leisurely swim. All of those places have the sort of climate that piranhas find ideal.

In fact, such swims should have been even more leisurely. That's because many, probably most, creationists claim that the plate tectonics that we see evidence for took place during the flood year. That means at the start of the flood Africa was actually connected to South America. It also means that piranhas and other fish wouldn't even have had to swim much at all. They should have been really carried along with the land itself.

But despite all of that, piranhas stayed in a relatively small geographical area.


Surely no answer will be found in the Bible.

Of course piranhas are far from the exception. They actually represent the rule. A very large percentage of freshwater aquatic organisms live in similar small niches.

One final related problem for creationists - why are there NO fossils of freshwater fish mixed in with salt water fossils? **IF** they lived together and **IF** the flood created the fossil record, what possible explanation is there for the complete lack of such fossils?

The unanswerable questions for the flood account in the Bible go on and on and on. That's no doubt why the ACTIONS of most creationists - which speak louder than their words - show that the DON'T actually believe in the flood of Noah.

Biodiversity - Part One

In his book "The Greatest Show on Earth", Richard Dawkins discusses the mountain of evidence supporting evolution.

One of the interesting points he makes is that despite the MANY other forms of evidence for evolution, undeniably the strongest evidence comes from the biodiversity of life, also called the geographical distribution of life - how species are nearly universally constrained to relatively small geographical niches. That CANNOT be explained by Biblical creationism and, because of that, is a topic that creationists really refuse to even discuss.

Dawkins makes his points primarily in chapter 9 of his book:

"It is almost too ridiculous to mention it, but I’m afraid I have to because of the more than 40 per cent of the American population who, as I lamented in Chapter 1, accept the Bible literally: think what the geographical distribution of animals should look like if they’d all dispersed from Noah’s Ark. Shouldn’t there be some sort of law of decreasing species diversity as we move away from an epicentre – perhaps Mount Ararat? I don’t need to tell you that that is not what we see.

"Why would all those marsupials – ranging from tiny pouched mice through koalas and bilbys to giant kangaroos and Diprotodonts – why would all those marsupials, but no placentals at all, have migrated en masse from Mount Ararat to Australia? Which route did they take? And why did not a single member of their straggling caravan pause on the way, and settle – in India, perhaps, or China, or some haven along the Great Silk Road? Why did the entire order Edentata (all twenty species of armadillo, including the extinct giant armadillo, all six species of sloth, including extinct giant sloths, and all four species of anteater) troop off unerringly for South America, leaving not a rack behind, leaving no hide nor hair nor armour plate of settlers somewhere along the way? Why were they joined by the entire infraorder of caviomorph rodents, including guinea pigs, agoutis, pacas, maras, capybaras, chinchillas and lots of others, a large group of characteristically South American rodents, found nowhere else? Why did an entire sub-order of monkeys, the platyrrhine monkeys, end up in South America and nowhere else? Shouldn’t at least a few of them have joined the rest of the monkeys, the catarrhines, in Asia or Africa? And shouldn’t at least one species of catarrhine have found itself in the New World, along with the platyrrhines? Why did all the penguins undertake the long waddle south to the Antarctic, not a single one to the equally hospitable Arctic?

"An ancestral lemur, again very possibly just a single species, found itself in Madagascar. Now there are thirty-seven species of lemur (plus some extinct ones). They range in size from the pygmy mouse lemur, smaller than a hamster, to a giant lemur, larger than a gorilla and resembling a bear, which went extinct quite recently. And they are all, every last one of them, in Madagascar. There are no lemurs anywhere else in the world, and there are no monkeys in Madagascar. How on Earth do the 40 per cent history-deniers think this state of affairs came about? Did all thirty-seven and more species of lemur troop in a body down Noah’s gangplank and hightail it (literally in the case of the ringtail) for Madagascar, leaving not a single straggler by the wayside, anywhere throughout the length and breadth of Africa?

"Once again, I am sorry to take a sledgehammer to so small and fragile a nut, but I have to do so because more than 40 per cent of the American people believe literally in the story of Noah’s Ark. We should be able to ignore them and get on with our science, but we can’t afford to because they control school boards, they home-school their children to deprive them of access to proper science teachers, and they include many members of the United States Congress, some state governors and even presidential and vice-presidential candidates. They have the money and the power to build institutions, universities, even a museum where children ride life-size mechanical models of dinosaurs, which, they are solemnly told, coexisted with humans. And, as recent polls have shown, Britain is not far behind (or should that read ‘ahead’?), along with parts of Europe and most of the Islamic world."


Evolution, as always, has a PERFECT explanation for all of this.

Where's the creationist explanation?

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Decreasing Speed of Light?

A creationist I was debating recommended that we look at the web site '' and comment on it.

I looked at it.

Like all other creationist web sites, it is a fraud. It is actually worse than some others.

The creationist didn't reference any specific page on that site, I get to choose which one I want to comment on. One of them discussed one of my favorite topics - the speed-of-light.

Specifically the web page at talks about 'evidence' that the speed-of-light has been diminishing historically. For support it quotes the work of Barry Setterfield. A diminishing speed-of-light would help to explain why there are stars many light-years from Earth if the Earth is only a few thousand years old.

I like this example because it shows that creationism is wrong but it also shows what a fraud creationism is.

Setterfield is a fraud. Anyone who would use his data is also a fraud. I can support those claims.

First, a bit of background.

The way that you measure the velocity of anything is to see how long it takes for that thing to move a known distance. You then divide the distance by the measured time and you thereby calculate the velocity.

The speed-of-light is VERY fast - 300,000 kilometers per second (186,000 miles per second).

If you are using the distance of 1 mile to measure that velocity, then you must be able to measure about 5 microseconds accurately in order to correctly calculate the speed-of-light. So you either need very long distances to measure over or you need a clock able of measuring very small time increments. Clearly with older technologies measuring the speed-of-light accurately is very, very difficult.

When people first tried to measure the speed-of-light they didn't have an adequate technology to measure it anywhere close to accurately. Galileo tried to measure the speed-of-light by putting people with lanterns on mountain peaks fairly far apart and tried to measure how long it took to have one person open his own lantern when he saw the distant lantern turned on. But human reaction time swamped the actual time required for the light to travel from peak to peak. Galileo determined that the speed-of-light was infinite.

Was it?

No. (Even Setterfield says that it was much less than infinite during Galileo's lifetime.)

It's just that with Galileo's methods, the margin of error was larger than the thing that he was trying to measure.

It would be like measuring the speed-of-light as 300,000 kmps +/- 10,000,000 kmps. The measurement gets lost in the error of the measurement.

As new technologies - particularly those associated with measuring time increments - have improved the error margin has diminished. But up until recently the error margin has still been significant.

But you can use data points with significant error margins to show any sort of trend, depending on the points that you pick.

For example, if the error margin is +/- 10,000 kmps then you might expect to see readings between 290,000 kmps and 310,000 kmps. If the error margin diminishes later to +/- 1000 kmps then you might expect to see readings between 299,000 kmps and 301,000 kmps.

If you look at ONLY the highest readings you see the measured speed-of-light going from 310,000 kmps to 301,000 kmps to 300,000 kmps. In that case it seems to be decreasing.

If you look at the lowest readings you see the speed-of-light going from 290,000 kmps to 299,000 kmps to 300,000 kmps. So it seems to be INCREASING.

Within that narrow set of data, you can see all sorts of different trends due really to nothing but the margin of error of the particular data points that you decide to use.

Enter Barry Setterfield.

What does he do?

He looks at the historical measurements for the speed-of-light and tries to find a trend. But he does so in a very fraudulent way.

There is a long explanation for Setterfield's fraud at but in summary Setterfield:

1. Ignores many data points

For example, in the 17th century, Christiaan Huygens measured the speed-of-light as 220,000 kmps. In that same century, in 1675 Ole Roemer measured it at 200,000 Kmps. Setterfield doesn't use those data points. Why not? Because they are LOWER than the current speed of light so that they don't match what he is trying to prove. As I show above, if you arbitrarily ignore anyset of data points you can show any trend that you want.

2. Setterfield can't match his own data to his claims.

Setterfield claims to have found a perfect match to a proposed curve showing c-decay. But even he admits that not one of his 38 data points (selected after ignoring those that he doesn't like) falls on his "perfect fit" curve.

Setterfield also has problems with statistics and other things. The web page I referenced goes into the details.

In addition, there are some common-sense reasons to reject Setterfield's data.

1. Setterfield has no objectivity whatsoever. He actually states in his paper that one of his goals is to reconcile "the observational problems of astronomy and Genesis creation .."

2. Both the Institute for Creation Research (ICR) and Answers in Genesis (AiG), two of the most prominent young Earth creationist organizations, say that this proposal has a number of problems that have not been satisfactorily answered and they both advise young Earth creationists against advocating the idea.

3. If Setterfield's curve is accurate then we should continue to see additional decay. We don't. The measured speed-of-light has not changed since at least 1975. In all that time technologies has been sufficient to measure the speed-of-light within a fraction of a kmps.

4. Relativity prevents any possible speed-of-light much larger than the one we measure now even in the past.

Einstein famously calculated that E = M * C^2. The 'C' in that equation is the speed-of-light.

Of course the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki show the validity of that formula on a macro scale. But that formula affects ANY atomic change. So when a radioactive particle decays, it releases energy at the rate of E = M * C^2. The energy released from each such a reaction is very small because the mass change is so small - sub-atomic. But the sum of all radioactive decay in the Earth's crust actually generates enough heat by the ration of E = M * C^2 to help keep the Earth from turning into a snowball.

Note that the energy released is proportional to the square of the speed-of-light. So **IF** the speed-of-light was ten times higher at some time in the past, then the amount of energy released from each radioactive decay was 100 times (C^2) higher. Simply put, any significant increase in the speed-of-light (and Setterfield actually says that it was 'infinite' in 4000 BC) would melt the Earth's crust.

This is especially ironic because another claim that some creationists make in order to explain away radiometric dating is that radioactive decays were SIGNIFICANTLY more frequent in the past. That claim would only increase the negative effects of a larger speed-of-light.

The bottom line: creationists cannot be trusted and the web site supplied by this creationist is worst than most. At least the ICR and AIG don't use this particular fraudulent argument (though they use many others).

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Merely a Matter of Interpretation?

The web page at addresses one of the points that creationists often raise. You often hear them say:

"There are two ways to interpret the data. Evolutionists interpret it one way and creationists interpret it another."

The implication is that both interpretations are equally valid.

In fact, that is an incorrect way of how science works. As the web page says:

"In part, it [creationism] rests on a twisted Baconian vision of science that creationists adhere to. In this scheme, science is a process of gathering facts about the world, and letting those observations reveal underlying causes. Facts, in this system, are primary, and theory is secondary – mere interpretation. Creationists, in this vein, often say that they and real scientists use the same observations, but simply interpret them differently because of differing 'worldviews,' and there's supposedly no scientific way to say who is right.

"In science as we practice it 400 years later...

Roger Bacon died in 1294 so it's actually been more like 700 years.

" works the other way around. Bacon's reliance on induction proved impractical and error-laden. This isn't to say Baconian approaches are never useful, but their applicability is limited. A more general approach requires you to start from a theory. That theory (with miscellaneous auxiliary hypotheses thrown in) lets you generate certain predictions about what will happen under specific circumstances. You then either create those circumstances in the lab, or find a natural setting where those conditions apply, and you see whether your prediction bears out. If so, the theory stands. If not, you examine both the auxiliary hypotheses and the theory itself, testing various aspects of those propositions until you find out what was wrong.

"In this system, theory is central, and observations are inherently suspect. A given observation may be wrong for any number of reasons, from measurement error to biased sampling methods to faulty premises about what to measure. A theory explains results, and gives you a sense of what to look for and how to understand what you see. At the end of the day, that's a better reflection of how even Bacon operated."

Someone who says that it is simply a "matter of interpretation" doesn't understand science.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Why Creationists Don't Love God

I have contended for a very long time that creationists don't love God at all. When I make that contention, creationists dismiss it and claim that they actually love God.

But they don't.

We know that because actions speak louder than words.

The Christian web site and specifically the web page at is titled "Actions Speak Louder Than Words". It gives this example of professed love vs. actual love:

"For example, a husband may assure his wife that he loves her, yet he is often late coming home from work and he seldom calls to inform her. When she questions him, he insists that he had to work late, or run an errand, or see a friend, or something. She explains to him that it is important for her to know when he will be late so she can plan dinner accordingly. But he fails to call again and again, and meal after meal is spoiled. While his words say, 'I love you,' his actions say, 'I couldn’t care less about your wishes or your feelings.' And she believes the actions above the words."

So a person's actions may show that they don't love something even when their words say that they do.

Similarly the words of creationists say that they love God, but their actions show that they actually don'tlove God at all.

The actions that show this are those that endorse a belief system that is only consistent with a God who is cruel, deceptive and not very competent.

Probably the worst of these characteristics is cruelty.

A creationist that I have been arguing with agrees that God did indeed kill babies when he did things like send a global flood.

That makes God cruel. Period.

If you call someone cruel, you don't love that person.

That same creationist has tried to defend God’s actions like this:

>> And as humans they are condemned under the inherent sin

>> nature. They are not innocent, except for the difference

>> betwen adults and them. But they are not innocent either.

>> Adam and Woman were innocent.

The creationist is arguing that God is justified in killing babies because babies deserve to be killed. They are "guilty" of original sin.

That argument is evil and perverted.

What this creationist is unable to see - as is the case with most creationists - is that the thing that he actually loves IS the Bible. Even more importantly, he loves his own interpretation of the Bible.

He doesn't care about God. He cares ONLY about the Bible. The idea that the Bible may NOT be the inerrant word of God never even enters his mind.

His interpretation of the Bible tells him that God did such cruel things. Therefore he is unable to ask himself whether they really took place. Doing so would mean questioning his interpretation of the Bible.

He doesn't think to even ask himself whether these stories diminish God. Clearly God's character has no importance to him. The ONLY thing that he values is his interpretation of the Bible.

God has no relevance whatsoever!

I don't mean to pick on this single creationist since that is the view of ALL creationists. They don't really care about God at all. All they think about is THEIR interpretation of a book.

In other words, they are primarily only thinking of themselves.

In the example I gave at the start of this post, the husband may have actually believed that he loved his wife. He might have passed a lie detector test. But his actions show us that he didn't.

Similarly creationists may actually believe that they love God. They may even pass a lie detector test. But their actions show us that they don't.

Actions speak louder than words. If there is a God and God is watching, God knows how evil and anti-God their actions are.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Proof that Creationism demands a belief in a Cruel God

Here is a valid logical argument:

People who "design" cruel systems are justifiably considered to be cruel themselves.

Creationists believe that God designed nature.

Nature is a cruel system.

Therefore creationists believe that God is cruel.

That is actually a valid logical argument. If the premises are true, then the conclusion is necessarily valid.

So let's examine the premises.

In regard to the first premise, I can even bring out the Adolf Hitler analogy.

I don't believe that Hitler personally ever killed a single Jew. Yet who gets, quite jusifiably, blamed for the Holocaust?

Adolf Hitler.


Because Hitler was personally responsible for the "design" of the Holocaust. (He didn't "design" all of the details, but the basic concept was surely his.)

Therefore, as that example clearly illustrates, "designers" who "design" cruel systems are justifiably considered to be cruel themselves as is the case with Adolf Hitler.

The second premise is: Creationists believe that God designed nature.

Since "nature" is a shorthand way of referring to the living things on Earth, that is surely true. Creationists truly believe that God "designed" nature.

Many creationists contend that God created a perfect nature - one that was not cruel - but that the fall of man caused nature to degenerate to what we see now through a series of "micro-evolutionary" steps.

That is a fallacious argument for two reasons.

First, nature is the cruelest to non-human creatures that live in nature. Things like parasitic wasps don't attack humans. Most of the parasites in nature attack organisms other than humans. Since the creatures that DO suffer are innocent of the fall of man, then **IF** they are being punished, the "designer" is cruel for designing a system that punishes innocent creatures.

Second, a simple case of "micro-evolution" DOES NOT and CANNOT explain much of what we see in nature. My favorite example remains heartworms. They cause pain and suffering in dogs. Dogs surely feel pain.

Yet heart worms are transported from host to host by another parasite - mosquitoes. It is impossible to even hypothesize what the original heatworm "kind" was and how they "micro-evolved" into what we see today.

Therefore that "explanation" by creationists is invalid.

The third premise is: Nature is cruel.

In a poem written about a decade before "The Origin of Species" was published, Tennyson famously talks about "Nature, red in tooth and claw".

More than half of all species of organisms on Earth are parasites. The vast majority of them cause pain and suffering.

We also see other examples of cruel things in nature such as male lions killing all of the young lions in a pride when they take over that pride.

Therefore all three premises are valid.

If you are a creationist and believe that God "designed" nature, then you are obligated to accept the belief that God is cruel.

If you are NOT a creationist then you DON'T believe that God "designed" nature. In that case premise 2 is false and you are not forced to come to the conclusion that God is cruel.

But, to emphasize, creationists, necessarily, believe in a cruel God

If creationists dispute this argument, they must explain which premise is false and explain why. If the say that nature has only gotten cruel since the fall, then they must explain a hypothesis for where heartworms came from in the Garden of Eden.

If they cannot show that one of the premises is wrong, then the conclusion is valid and creationists believe in a cruel God.

Logic doesn't lie.

Monday, October 5, 2009

More Hypocrisy by ID Advocates

In a discussion on another debate forum, I came across another example of hypocrisy by Intelligent Design advocates.

Judge John E. Jones III made the decision in the Dover, PA, court case. That decision went against the Intelligent Design advocates.

The Discovery Institute, the primary Intelligent Design spokesgroup, issued this statement about the decision:

"'The Dover decision is an attempt by an activist federal judge to stop the spread of a scientific idea and even to prevent criticism of Darwinian evolution through government-imposed censorship rather than open debate, and it won't work, said Dr. John West, Associate Director of the Center for Science and Culture at Discovery Institute, the nation's leading think tank researching the scientific theory known as intelligent design."

Activist federal judge?


BEFORE the Dover, PA, trial here's how William Dembski viewed Judge Jones on his blog:

"Judge John E. Jones on the other hand is a good old boy brought up through the conservative ranks. He was state attorney for D.A.R.E, an Assistant Scout Master with extensively involved with local and national Boy Scouts of America, political buddy of Governor Tom Ridge (who in turn is deep in George W. Bush’s circle of power), and finally was appointed by GW hisself. Senator Rick Santorum is a Pennsylvanian in the same circles (author of the 'Santorum Language' that encourages schools to teach the controversy) and last but far from least, George W. Bush hisself drove a stake in the ground saying teach the controversy. Unless Judge Jones wants to cut his career off at the knees he isn’t going to rule against the wishes of his political allies. Of course the ACLU will appeal. This won’t be over until it gets to the Supreme Court. But now we own that too.

"Politically biased decisions from ostensibly apolitical courts are a double edged sword that cuts both ways. The liberals had their turn at bat. This is our time now. We won back congress in 1996. We won back the White House in 2000. We won back the courts in 2005. Now we can start undoing all the damage that was done by the flower children. The courts have been the last bastion of liberal power for 5 years. It was just a matter of time. The adults are firmly back in charge. The few wilted flower children that refused to grow up will have to satisfy themselves by following the likes of Cindy Sheehan around ineffectually whining about this, that, and the other thing. They’ve been marginalized."

Dembski is clearly encourging Judge Jones to be "activist",but to do so in the direction of HIS side of the debate.

Mysteriously, this blog entry vanished after the Judge'sdecision. Fortunately before it was removed a number of people copy-and-pasted it into other web pages that still exist. A Google search found more than 60 examples. For example it can be found at:

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Yet More Evidence that ID doesn’t make any predictions

In a recent book titled "Signature in the Cell"), “design theorist” Stephen C. Meyer discusses 12 predictions made by ID. None of them are valid.

I think that the most interesting one is this:

“If an intelligent (and benevolent) agent designed life, then studies of putatively bad designs in life - such as the vertebrate retina and virulent bacteria - should reveal either (a) reasons for the designs that reveal a hidden functional logic or (b) evidence of decay of originally good designs.”

In other words, if you find bad designs in nature ID is falsified.

That actually seems to have an intuitive appeal and would make sense.

But we have a problem! That’s because possibly the LEADING “design theorist” – William Dembski – says that we are taking liberties if we assume that the designer is incapable of bad designs.

Dembski wrote a book titled “The Design Revolution”. In Chapter 6 of that book (titled "Optimal Design") Dembski writes:

"The word intelligent has two meanings. It can simply refer to the activity of an intelligent agent, even one that acts stupidly. On the other hand, it can mean that an intelligent agent acted with skill and mastery. Failure to draw this distinction results in confusion about intelligent design,"

"The intelligent design community understands...the intelligent in 'intelligent design' simply as referring to intelligent agency (irrespective of skill or mastery) and thus separates intelligent design from optimality of design.”

Note, in particular, that Dembski specifically separates “intelligent design” from “optimality”.

Clearly the claim from Meyer is contradicted by the statements from Dembski. If the test proposed by Meyer was found to be falsified, he would surely simply invoke what Dembski says and shrug it off.

One final point, since Dembski says that the “intelligent design community understands” this, I can only presume that Meyer is not a part of that community.

Friday, September 18, 2009

The Bible as a “cook book”

One of my arguments against considering the Bible to be inerrant is that it really diminishes the amount of study that people give to it.

Consider Wikipedia as an example. Wikipedia is easily accessible and has articles on just about every sort of topic. So it is a frequently accessed source for quick information.

But many people, particularly conservatives, consider Wikipedia to be fallible. They point to the fact that many of its authors may not have strong academic credentials and even claim that the web site has a subtle, liberal and anti-religious bias.

So because of these perceived flaws, researchers are advised that each article should be examined and perused with a bit of skepticism. If anything is seen on Wikipedia that appears to have any liberal or anti-religious bias they recommend that additional references be used.

Contrast this with how encyclopedias were used before the Internet. Anything like the Encyclopedia Britannica was considered to be effectively inerrant. If you used it as a reference you simply copied the words you read with no need to look at it with skepticism.

So a lack of infallibility leads to additional thought and analysis.

Cook books are another example. If a well-known chef writes a cook book – maybe Julia Child for example – then most readers consider the book to be inerrant. They make the recipes without any real thought. If the cookbook says add a cup of water, people add exactly one cup of water.

There are, however, people who don’t look at such cookbooks as infallible. They look at them as good initial guides, but they think about the recipes. One cook may decide to, on their own initiative, add a chopped jalapeno because they like a bit more spice than the author of the cookbook recommended.

So, once again, we see that considering a book to be fallible increases the amount of study and thought that we give to it.

I believe that is also true of the Bible. People who consider it to be infallible may spend lots of time reading it and even memorizing it, but are they really thinking about it?

I think not.

Look at something like the Biblical Commandment: You shall not covet anything that belongs to your neighbor..

I think that a Biblical literalist would read that, file it away in their memory somewhere and move onto the next commandment.

But someone who is not a Biblical literalist might ask themselves, “Is that really a sin? Surely it is wrong to steal from my neighbor, but is it wrong to ‘covet’ my neighbor’s 52 inch, high-definition TV? I might work harder to be able to buy a TV like that.”

Regardless of the final conclusion that they arrive at, surely the non-literalist is giving the matter much more thought than is the Biblical literalist.

A recent book supports this argument. The book is titled The Unlikely Disciple: A Sinner's Semester at America's Holiest University. The author is Kevin Roose. Roose was a student at Brown University. He decided he wanted to learn more about the culture of evangelical Christianity. So he transferred to Liberty University for a semester.
Here’s a passage from the book:

“Absolute truth exists. At Liberty, unlike many secular schools, professors teach with the view that there is one right answer to every question, that those right answers are found plainly in the Bible, and that their job is to transfer those right answers from their lecture notes to our minds. It's a subtle difference in ideology, but it makes for big changes in teaching style. Most of my classes use workbooks -- thin, self-published transcriptions of the professor's notes with one or two words blanked out per sentence. As the professor teaches, his notes appear on PowerPoint slides, and we fill in the missing words in our workbooks.”

So students at Liberty don’t make their own notes during a lecture – something that would involve more thought – they simply fill in the blanks, a process that is more associated with memorization than actual thought.

A comment on this process can be found on the blog titled “Evolutionblog”. On the web page
Jason Rosenhouse, an associate professor of mathematics at James Madison University adds these comments:

“The irony here is that at every creationist conference I have attended, the alleged desire of dogmatic, left-wing, secular professors to indoctrinate their students has been a major theme. “Indoctrinate” seems to mean teaching anything that conflicts with their own idiosyncratic interpretation of the Bible.

“Roose is mistaken in describing Liberty's attitude as a subtle change in ideology from what most professors at secular colleges do (or at more moderate Christian schools, for that matter). What Roose describes is the polar opposite of what most professors do. You can count on one hand the number of college professors who see their job as the communication of knowledge from the brain of the professor to the brain of the student. We bristle at the very thought. Our goal is to get students to think for themselves. Sure, we want to communicate certain facts about our subject, and we don't want students to end up as little relativists who think anything could be true so long as enough people believe it with enough enthusiasm. But our main desire is for the students to make a good argument in defense of what they believe and to think critically about whatever subject is before them.”

So, yet again, we see evidence that Biblical literalism tends to reduce the amount of thought that is given to matters of theology, science and everything else.

Monday, September 14, 2009

"Reused Components" in Nature

I received this comment from an Intelligent Design creationist.

>> Shared pseudogenes in chimps and humans is not evidence
>> for evolution because humans design with common components.

There are many problems with the "shared components" argument of ID advocates.

First, some of those shared components are failed components. For example, pseudogenes in chimps and humans don’t work. That's why they are called "pseudogenes". Intelligent human designers don't reuse components that don't work in multiple designs. It would be irrational to do that.

Second, there are only shared components in places where evolution would predict that they would be shared.

Example: dolphins and porpoises share the same environment as sharks and are comparable in size. So why don't they share the component we call "gills"? Being able to breathe in the environment in which you live is surely an advantage over having to return to another environment frequently. Imagine humans being required to stick their heads in a bucket of water every hour or so.

In fact, if dolphins are unable to return to the surface, such as when they are caught in fish nets, they drown. Sharks don't drown.

So why didn't the "designer" reuse the gill "design"?

Evolution has an explanation for this. That explanation is that cetaceans (whales, porpoises and dolphins) evolved from land mammals that had lungs. Cetaceans developed adaptations for living in water - such as the movement of the "nose" to the top of the head and the ability to "hold their breath" for very long times. But to redevelop gills like those in a distant common ancestor would have required far too many specific mutations to expect that it could ever happen.

In other words, gills in cetaceans would falsify evolution.

But we don't see gills. You would presumably expect an "intelligent designer" to reuse that component.

Third, one of the reasons that human engineers reuse components is in order to save costs. If Chevrolet engineers reuse the same bolts as Cadillac engineers General Motors can purchase those bolts in larger quantities, thereby lowering the cost per bolt.

There are no demonstrated cost savings in using different DNA nucleotide sequences. So this would not be a factor.

Fourth, the ONLY other reason that human engineers reuse components is because of reliability. If you use a component over and over again, eventually it is "burnt in" and just about all design flaws have been removed. So if you reuse that component it will most likely work reliably.

But in fact, all engineers that I've known would prefer NOT to reuse components under these circumstances. If an engineer is instructed to reuse a component You generally will hear a very unenthusiastic comment like, "I suppose I can get that to work". In the electronics industry the switchover from vacuum tubes to transistors and other solid state components was delayed longer than it should have been simply because the engineering managers were reluctant to switch to new components when they had components that had been "burnt in" over many years.
If it was up to the engineers themselves, the switchover would have taken place much sooner.

An "intelligent designer" - especially if that "designer" is an omnipotent, omniscient God - would not be constrained by this factor either.

The bottom line - we would EXPECT to see very few reused components in nature if it is intelligently designed. The ones we see can all be explained by evolution and only by evolution.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Things That Would Falsify Evolution

Evolutionists claim that evolution is science because it meets the modern requirement for something to be considered to be scientific: it is testable and potentially falsifiable.

Creationists argue that isn’t true. They say that evolutionists can always find some explanation for all of the fatal flaws that they see in evolution.

But that’s only because the “flaws” they identify either aren’t valid or don’t address the core requirements of evolution.

But such falsifiable tests exist.

At the web page Dr. Douglas L. Theobald, who is a professor of Biochemistry at Brandeis University, lists more than 29 strong pieces of evidence for macro-evolution. For each one of those, he lists things which, if found and verified, would potentially falsify macro-evolution. Those falsifications of evolution are scattered over a number of different web pages. I thought that it would make sense to compile a large number of them into a single document. In total the number of specific things that he lists that would falsify evolution is probably over 100.

So that’s what I’m providing here. Where I use quote marks I am quoting directly from the web site I reference above.

The most important claim of evolution is common ancestry – all life descended from a single common ancestor. Some of the related hypotheses around that – things like “punctuated equilibrium” – if either confirmed or falsified wouldn’t falsify evolution itself. So all of the potentially falsifiable evidence mentioned here relates to that common ancestry claim.

One thing to emphasize is how specific these potential evidences are. An example: a mammalian fossil in pre-Cambrian rock is specific both in the type of fossil and in the type of rock.

Neither Biblical creationism nor Intelligent Design can be falsified. But some of their advocates will suggest things that will falsify their ideas. But their proposed evidences are always very vague.

I had one ID advocate tell me that ID would be falsified if scientists could produce life from chemicals. That wouldn’t REALLY falsify ID, but look at how vague it is!

What is “life”? There’s some debate about whether viruses are alive. If viruses were created from chemicals in a laboratory, would that count?

The problem with such vague requirements is that they give the person making the claim an easy opportunity to back out on their offer. Scientists are NOT going to produce Albert Einstein from chemicals. With a requirement as vague as the ones proposed, anything less can and will be surely disputed.

I don’t include the more technical examples (such as molecular evidence called Transposons and Redundant Pseudogenes). Those examples are very valid indeed, but too complex to be easily explained.

Shown below is a list of pieces of evidence provided by Dr. Theobold which, if found, would falsify evolution. In some cases there are many possible examples of the same type.

1. Descent from a Common Ancestor Requires certain Common Characteristics in the DNA of all Organisms on Earth

This evidence involves DNA. DNA consists of varying sequences of varying lengths of only four different nucleic acids: adenine (abbreviated A), cytosine (C), guanine (G) and thymine (T). All life on Earth consists of these nucleic acids. This is something that we would expect if all life is descended from a single common ancestor.

“Based solely on the theory of common descent and the genetics of known organisms, we strongly predict that we will never find any modern species from known phyla on this Earth with a foreign, non-nucleic acid genetic material. We also make the strong prediction that all newly discovered species that belong to the known phyla will use the "standard genetic code" or a close derivative thereof. For example, according to the theory, none of the thousands of new and previously unknown insects that are constantly being discovered in the Brazilian rainforest will have non-nucleic acid genomes. Nor will these yet undiscovered species of insects have genetic codes which are not close derivatives of the standard genetic code.”

Creationists insist that this is evidence for a common designer since human designers also reuse components. But the motives of human designers for doing so are not relevant to an intelligent designer.

As an engineer for more than 40 years I can surely confirm that human engineers often reuse components. They do so for two reasons.

First, it can lower costs. If, for example, the engineers who design a model of a car for Chevrolet use the identical bolt used by the engineers who design Cadillacs then General Motors can purchase those bolts in larger quantities from the bolt manufacturer. That will lower the cost of each bolt thereby lowering the cost of the car (especially when this is done with many components).

This factor isn’t relevant in living things. There’s no extra cost associated with using different nucleotides in DNA other than the four that we see.

The second reason why human engineers reuse components is because of reliability. Once a design component has been used over and over again it’s been “burnt in” (to use the phrase favored by engineers). To use a completely new component risks new human design flaws – things which haven’t been tested through extensive use. Such a new design is much more likely to be recalled than one that has been proven to work over and over again.

Most engineers actually are unhappy with this factor. When asked whether or not they can get a particular component to work, you will often hear them say something like, “I suppose I can get that to work” – a comment noticeably lacking in enthusiasm. As an Electrical Engineer for many decades, I can confirm that the switchover from vacuum tubes to transistors and other solid state components took longer than it should have and longer than the engineers would have preferred simply because technical managers were unwilling to take the risks of adopting a new technology that might have been unreliable.

Note that any omnipotent, omniscient God wouldn’t be troubled by this. An omniscient God would create no design flaws. Therefore based on our experience with this factor, we would actually expect that God would NOT reuse components.

It might very well be the case that plants might work better with a different set of nucleic acids than would animals. But that’s not what we see.

2. The “Nested Hierarchy” of living things required by common descent predicts common genetic characteristics above the DNA level

Evolution predicts that common characteristics wouldn’t end at the DNA level. We should see other shared characteristics at a higher level as well. But these might depend on when the common ancestor of various organisms lived.

Chimps and humans share a common ancestor. So chimps and humans should share characteristics of that common ancestor. But it is not necessarily the case that earlier common ancestors – such as the common ancestor of all primates – necessarily have all of those same characteristics.

“…the predicted pattern of organisms at any given point in time can be described as ‘groups within groups’, otherwise known as a nested hierarchy. The only known processes that specifically generate unique, nested, hierarchical patterns are branching evolutionary processes. Common descent is a genetic process in which the state of the present generation/individual is dependent only upon genetic changes that have occurred since the most recent ancestral population/individual.”

Because of that there are many potential pieces of evidence that would falsify evolution.

“…some nonvascular plants could have seeds or flowers, like vascular plants, but they do not. Gymnosperms (e.g. conifers or pines) occasionally could be found with flowers, but they never are. Non-seed plants, like ferns, could be found with woody stems; however, only some angiosperms have woody stems. Conceivably, some birds could have mammary glands or hair; some mammals could have feathers (they are an excellent means of insulation). Certain fish or amphibians could have differentiated or cusped teeth, but these are only characteristics of mammals. A mix and match of characters like this would make it extremely difficult to objectively organize species into nested hierarchies. Unlike organisms, cars do have a mix and match of characters, and this is precisely why a nested hierarchy does not flow naturally from classification of cars.”

3. Transitional Fossils should appear in the fossil record in the proper chronological order and at the proper times.

This only makes sense – an ancestral species should appear before its descendents.

This source of evidence is complicated by the imperfections in the fossil record and the fact that an ancestral species may live on after the descendents appear. Grandparents often co-exist with their grandchildren. In the same way that parents and grandparents don’t necessarily die when children are born, there is no need for all Archaeopteryx to become extinct the moment that later, more modern birds appear.

But where there are many millions of years between ancestors and descendent, the fossil record should be clear regarding the order of appearance. In the same way that we might expect grandparents and even great-grandparents to coexist with their grandchildren and great-grandchildren, we would never expect an ancestor from ten generations ago to co-exist with us. That fact allows very specific, potentially falsifiable predictions to be made.

“Based on the high confidence in certain branches of phylogenetic trees, some temporal constraints are extremely rigid. For example, we should never find mammalian or avian fossils in or before Devonian deposits, before reptiles had diverged from the amphibian tetrapod line. This excludes Precambrian, Cambrian, Ordovician, and Silurian deposits, encompassing 92% of the earth's geological history and 65% of the biological history of multicellular organisms. Even one incontrovertible find of any pre-Devonian mammal, bird, or flower would shatter the theory of common descent.”

In other words, the discovery of a mammalian fossil in pre-Cambrian rocks would falsify common descent and thereby falsify evolution.

4. Any Vestigial Organ should be similar to something that was functional in an ancestor.

While there is some debate about the existence of vestigial organs with some creationists arguing that things like the appendix are actually functional, there is little dispute that some organs are vestigial. Sightless eyes in cave fish and cave salamanders are an example.

Any organ for which there is even a debate about whether or not it is vestigial should always have a verifiable and clearly useful function in an ancestral species. In other words we may debate whether or not the appendix is vestigial, but our ancestors should have a verifiable use for that organ.

“Shared derived characters and molecular sequence data, not vestigial characters, determine the phylogeny and the characteristics of predicted common ancestors. Thus, if common descent is false, vestigial characters very possibly could lack an evolutionary explanation. For example, whales are classified as mammals according to many criteria, such as having mammary glands, a placenta, one bone in the lower jaw, etc. Snakes likewise are classified as reptiles by several other derived features. However, it is theoretically possible that snakes or whales could have been classified as fish (as Linnaeus originally did). If this were the case, the vestigial legs of whales or the vestigial pelvises of snakes would make no sense evolutionarily and would be inconsistent with common descent. “

“It follows, then, that we should never find vestigial nipples or a vestigial incus bone in any amphibians, birds, or reptiles. No mammals should be found with vestigial feathers. No primates should ever be found with vestigial horns or degenerate wings hidden underneath the skin of the back. We should never find any arthropods with vestigial backbones. Snakes may occasionally have vestigial legs or arms, but they should never be found with small, vestigial wings. Humans may have a vestigial caecum, since we are descendants of herbivorous mammals, but neither we nor any other primate can have a vestigial gizzard like that found in birds.“

Note that vestiges can be functional. But any organ claimed to be vestigial must have a functioning organ in an ancestral species. Charles Darwin himself explained how to identify a vestigial organ (from The Origin of Species):
"An organ, serving for two purposes, may become rudimentary or utterly aborted for one, even the more important purpose, and remain perfectly efficient for the other. Thus, in plants, the office of the pistil is to allow the pollen-tubes to reach the ovules protected in the ovarium at its base. The pistil consists of a stigma supported on the style; but in some Compositae, the male florets, which of course cannot be fecundated, have a pistil, which is in a rudimentary state, for it is not crowned with a stigma; but the style remains well developed, and is clothed with hairs as in other compositae, for the purpose of brushing the pollen out of the surrounding anthers. Again, an organ may become rudimentary for its proper purpose, and be used for a distinct object: in certain fish the swim-bladder seems to be rudimentary for its proper function of giving buoyancy, but has become converted into a nascent breathing organ or lung. Other similar instances could be given."

5. Any Atavism should be similar to something that was functional in an ancestor.

An atavism is similar to a vestigial organ except that it is a genetic characteristic that isn’t an “organ”. Examples include extra toes on horses, hind limbs in whales, etc. The argument is the same as for vestigial organs. Something like atavistic wings in whales or any other Cetacean would falsify evolution because no ancestors of cetaceans had wings.

6. Existing closely related current species should only be found geographically close to each other

“The spatial and geographical distribution of species should be consistent with their predicted genealogical relationships.”

“From a limited knowledge of species distributions, we predict that we should never find elephants on distant Pacific islands, even though they would survive well there. Similarly, we predict that we should not find amphibians on remote islands, or indigenous Cacti on Australia. Closely related species could be distributed evenly worldwide, according to whichever habitat best suits them. If this were the general biogeographical pattern, it would be a strong blow to macroevolution.”

This particular proof of macroevolution is also the single proof that falsifies the flood story in the Bible. If all species of animals lived in only one place at one time – the area around Mt. Ararat – then there is no reason not to expect all animals to be centered around that geographic location.

Since Mt. Ararat is a desert area all desert animals should be found there and no where else.

All jungle animals should be found in the jungle closest to Turkey – probably Africa.

And so on…

There should certainly be no animals anywhere in the Western Hemisphere since every single habitat is found closer to Mt. Ararat than the Western Hemisphere.

Since all of those things are not found, we can be absolutely confident that the Flood account in the Bible is a complete myth. (There are probably something like 1000 other reasons why we can be completely confident that the flood account is a myth.)

7. Recently evolved animals should be only found in the geographic area close to their evolutionary ancestors based on the fossil record

This particular proof extends the previous proof back through the fossil record. Again the key phrase is “recently”. With that word in mind, evolution makes these potentially falsifiable predictions:

“We confidently predict that fossils of recently evolved animals like apes and elephants should never be found on South America, Antarctica, or Australia (excepting, of course, the apes that travel by boat).”
“It would be macroevolutionarily devastating if we found in South America an irrefutable Epihippus or Merychippus (or any of the intermediates in-between) from the Paleocene, Eocene, Oligocene, the Miocene, or anytime before the Isthmus of Panama arose to connect North and South America (about 12 million years ago). Moreover, we should never find fossil horse ancestors on Australia or Antarctica from any geological era.”

“We do not expect to ever find any Australopithicus, Ardipithecus, or Kenyanthropus fossils in Australia, North America, South America, Antarctica, Siberia, or on any oceanic islands removed from Africa. Any such findings would be catastrophically problematic for the theory of common descent.”

8. Any genetic characteristic should be explicable in terms of genetic characteristics of evolutionary ancestors.

This proof does not require that a specific genetic characteristic should be present in all evolutionary ancestors. Instead it says that any specific genetic characteristic should be traceable through the fossil record to evolutionary ancestors.

If, for example, the” Panda’s Thumb” is an extension of the sesamoid bone in the Giant Panda. If a sesamoid bone was not present as an existing bone in evolutionary ancestors of the Panda but was something completely new, then that thumb would falsify macro-evolution.

This is similar to but different from the vestigial organ evidence. In this case the genetic characteristic is undeniably functioning.

“…a strong falsification would be if it were positively demonstrated that the primitive structures of an organism's predicted ancestors could not be reasonably modified into the modern organism's derived structures. A clear fanciful example, though completely serious, is the macroevolutionary impossibility of ever finding an animal such as a Pegasus. Since a Pegasus would be a mammal closely related to the horse, its wings would be considered derived characters. However, Pegasus wings cannot be modifications of its ancestors' structures, since the immediate predicted ancestors of Pegasi and horses had no possible structures there to modify.”

9. Molecular Similarities will be understandable due to common ancestry

This is a more technical piece of evidence but I am including it because of how specific it is and how striking it is for evidence supporting common descent.

In the last few decades, scientists have been able to sequence DNA and determine the specific amino acid sequences that make up proteins. Some of these proteins are very important and are present in all living things. But in many cases not every amino acid is necessary. Evolution predicts that differences will be explicable through evolutionary history.

The best way to explain this is through an example. The prototypical example is cytochrome-c.

Cytochrome c is an absolutely essential protein found in all organisms, including eukaryotes (organisms with cells that have a nucleus) and bacteria. It is necessary for life in all organisms because it allows mitochondria - the energy fuel of cells - to function.Much of the cytochrome c protein is not needed (it is “functionally silent”). That part varies from organism to organism. Human cytochrome c has been confirmed to work in yeast - a single-celled organism - despite the fact that the naturally occurring cytochrome c found in yeast is very different from that found in humans (sharing only 38 amino acids).

The cytochrome C molecule has 104 amino acids (though even that number varies a bit from species to species). The table below gives the number of amino acids in Cytochrome C for each species that are different from those found in humans[1].

Chimpanzee 0
Rhesus monkey 1
Rabbit 9
Kangaroo 10
Pig 10
Dog 11
Donkey 11
Horse 12
Duck 10
Chicken 12
Turtle 14
Rattlesnake 13
Tuna 20
Moth 30
Candida (yeast) 50

Note how this so closely matches the proposed evolutionary history of life on Earth. Its power for confirming and potentially falsifying evolution is quite stunning. The evidence is even quantifiable.

Chimps and humans share a “recent” common ancestor and have no differences in their cytochrome-c molecule. The Rhesus monkey has a less recent common ancestor, and one amino-acid difference is found.

Note that these cytochrome-c molecules differ from each other in ways not shown in this table. Kangaroos and pigs both have 10 amino acid differences from humans. Yet those are not the same ten amino acid differences. That’s because kangaroos and pigs have cytochrome-c that varies by six amino acids from each other. That implies that kangaroos and pigs have evolutionary ancestors which are roughly equidistant from humans but they also diverted from each other at some time in the past.

Cytochrome-c is the most commonly cited example because it has been studied the most. But there are other such proteins. In fact one scientific paper estimates that there are some 250 of them[2].

Evolution predicts that because of common ancestry, all of these proteins should have differences which are explicable in terms of the evolutionary history of each species as is precisely the case for cytochrome-c. Note that many of these amino acid sequences have not been completed yet for all species so the potential falsification is still quite possible.

10. Genetic change in irreversible so we should never see specific genetic characteristics reappearing based on identical genes

Evolution asserts that cetaceans (whales, dolphins and porpoises) are descended from land mammals. Prior to that, mammals were descended from aquatic animals. But when the ancestral species came on land they lost many of the genetic characteristics associated with aquatic life.

But when mammals reentered the oceans many of those genetic characteristics that were lost would have been beneficial again.

For example, gills would be very useful.

Cetaceans have lungs – just as their evolutionary ancestors had. They have evolved the ability to “hold their breath” for very long periods of time, but lungs are still not as beneficial as gills. For example, dolphins and porpoises that have become caught in fish nets have actually drowned.

Evolution predicts that gills could not evolve again. That’s because genetic change is based on random inputs – mutations. Reversing a previous large set of mutations – while not physically impossible – is much too unlikely to actually expect to take place.

Evolution predicts that cetaceans would become increasingly well adapted to their aquatic environment – as is the case with their ability to” hold their breath” underwater – but the genetic changes making them better adapted would not be the same ones that had existed previously.

I like this evidence because it argues so persuasively against Intelligent Design. No one has ever come up with even a reasonable hypothetical reason why a “designer” wouldn’t give cetaceans the ability to breathe underwater.

11. The fossil record should be very different at different geological times.

This is a very obvious conclusion from the assumption of common ancestry. Evolution says that the diversity of life has changed over time. Because of that, even though the fossil record is imperfect, it should still be very different at every point in time.

“This falsification [of macroevolution] would be simple and facile—the sediments of the earth could contain a composition of species very similar to modern life as far back as we can see in the sequential layers.”

Rocks are typically dated using radiometric dating methods. Creationists don’t trust those methods. But if that was true, it would represent all the more reason to expect this potential falsification of macroevolution to be found by someone.

In the extreme case – where radiometric dates are completely random and a radiometric date says nothing at all about the actual age of a rock – we should certainly expect to see the same fossils in all rocks regardless of what the radiometric dates told us about the age of the rock.

So, in fact, this evidence confirming macroevolution actually also implicitly confirms radiometric dating as well.

[1], referenced on November 7, 2008
[2] Bunn, H. F., and Forget, E. G. (1986) Hemoglobin: Molecular, Genetic, and Clinical Aspects. Saunders.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Another Example Showing that "Specified Complexity" is a fraud

> Complexity is necessary to differentiate whether
> something was the result of ID or random processes.
> For example, [snip]

That is another example of the fraud of ID. They provide examples but don't address the examples that are provided by their critics.

OF COURSE any hypothesis will have examples that will support it!

Imagine that I develop the hypothesis that gravity causes all things to fall towards the Great Wall of China.

For my first example, I stand at a place exactly on the opposite side of the Earth from the Great Wall. I drop something. It falls straight down.

Voila! **I** have found an example that supports my hypothesis.

Then I fly in an airplane over China. As we are flying over the Great Wall I, once again, drop something.

Yet again, it falls straight down just as my hypothesis predicted.

Voila! ANOTHER example supporting my hypothesis.

Therefore everything falls towards the Great Wall, right?

Wait, you say. If your claim is true, then if I am standing next to the Great Wall and drop something then it should fall sideways.

That's YOUR example. It shows that my hypothesis is false.

So for the ID hypothesis to be correct, it must be able to answer the examples provided by skeptics, NOT just those that you provide for yourself.

I readily admit that some intelligently designed things are complex.

But some intelligently designed things are NOT complex.

So complexity has NOTHING to do with recognizing ID.

Here's another example.

Imagine two alien spaceships visit Earth. One of them lands in a forest filled with Oak Trees.

The other one lands in a large field with a line of telephone poles (with the wires removed).

Oak trees are MUCH more complex than telephone poles. Telephone poles, of course, are just straight, long, cylindrical, pieces of wood. Oak trees have branches that bend in many different directions.

Also the typical random arrangement of Oak trees in a forest is much more complex than the equidistant, straight line arrangement of telephone poles that is typical of what we see.

So the oak trees are much more complex.

Moreover the oak trees are more "specified". They have a clear purpose - living things that, among other things, create oxygen that support other living things.

A line of telephone poles without wires would have no apparent purpose whatsoever so they would be less "specified".

Which of the two scenarios would convince the aliens that they were visiting a planet with intelligent designers?

Obviously the LESS "complex" and less "specified" scenario - the telephone poles - SHOULD be more convincing. That's because those of us living on Earth know that the telephone poles have an intelligently designed purpose.

But "Specified complexity" doesn't explain that.

In fact if the “specified complexity’ argument was used it would cause the aliens to arrive at the opposite conclusion.

Therefore "specified complexity" is an intellectual and scientific fraud.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

More evidence that Creationists don't understand Math

The video at offers a math challenge for evolution. It comes from Carl Baugh and a math "professor" (actually a high school and trade school math teacher). The math teacher calculates that evolution can't be true because it would mean that there would be too many people on Earth.

The math teacher uses the formula for compound interest that you would use for a bank account.

If you start with $100 and have a 5% interest rate, in a year you'll have $105. Then if you wait another year you'll have 1.05 times $105 or $110.25. That extra $0.25 is the interest on the $5 you earned last year. It adds up.

You can use the math teacher's formula to figure out how much money you will have after any number of years.

Is there anything wrong with that?

Probably the most obvious problem is that the formula for compound interest works only if you leave the money in the bank. If you took $5 out of the bank account after the first year, you wouldn't have $110.25 after the second year. You'd only have $105 again.

With bank accounts, that's OK.

But it's not OK for people. That's because people die.

The calculation assumes that people live forever and continue to reproduce at the same rate forever. It requires, for example, that Noah and his family are still reproducing somewhere.

I don't have any great-great-great-great...grandparents who are still alive and having children.

Do you?

There are many other problems with the assumptions used for the formula. For example it ignores things like plagues, wars and other disasters that actually cause human population totals to diminish. Also, censuses that we do have from ancient times show that current population growth rates are MUCH higher now that they were in the past. The main impetus for the current population growth rates was the Industrial Revolution. So when Baugh and his math teacher claim that they are being generous with their estimated growth rate of 0.456%, that's untrue.

Finally, their assumptions allow them to begin with eight people after the flood and come up with the current population of 6.5 billion people now. Those are the end points and the math works for those points.
But if the math is correct, it should also match population totals at intermediate dates.

It doesn't. It's wrong at every step

For example, the Census of Qurinius mentioned in the Book of Luke, showed that there were 4 million Roman citizens living within the Roman Empire. (See

Obviously that doesn't include any non-Roman citizens living within the empire (such as Mary and Joseph). Neither does it include anyone living outside of the Empire such as in the Western Hemisphere, Australia, China, etc.

Yet the formula comes up with only 35,000 people in the ENTIRE world! That's off by many orders of magnitude! (The estimated world human population was 200 million at that time,[1])

The math, along with the many false assumptions, would be laughed at by anyone who had completed junior high school.

But it impresses creationists.

Very interesting...

As a side note, actually far and away the biggest problem for growth rate calculations is that for the vast majority of human history, we were hunter-gatherers.

That fact means that we were nomadic. We would move from place-to-place in bands of 30 individuals or less, eat the grains and fruits and hunt the game found in that place and then move on.

There are problems with that life style if you have a significant growth rate.

For one thing, if the growth rate is large you can't migrate effectively with numerous small children. At MOST you could only have two children that couldn't walk long distances on their own.

The second problem is that if the population grows quickly then you can't stay in one place as long because the available food is used up more quickly in that single place.

That means that you have to move more often and find more places to live in over a year.

Inevitably you will run into other bands of hunter-gatherers who are using or would like to use these new places with available food. Inevitably conflicts will break out which will diminish the population.

The bottom line, hunter-gatherer societies reach a stable population and can't really grow at all past that point. So the effective human population growth for most of human history was, effectively, ZERO.

Another, possibly more obvious flaw, comes if we decide to use reproductions rates of other species. For example, some bacteria can reproduce every 15 minutes. They can double their population 96 times in a single day. Using the mathematics of Carl Baugh’s math professor the entire universe would be infested with bacteria within a week! Since that isn’t the case the Earth can’t be more than a day or two old.

Because of all of those reasons, human population growth rates can’t be use to calculate the age of the Earth.

[1], shows population estimates from the US Census Bureau, referenced on September 2, 2009

Monday, August 31, 2009

Complexity had NOTHING to do with recognizing ID

As I've said before: complexity of ANY KIND had NOTHING to do with recognizing ID.

I thought of an example that highlights the truth of this claim. It involves three different scenarios.

First, Imagine that you are walking through a forest and you see a patch of wild flowers of different species and colors randomly arranged within that patch. You might stop and admire it, but you wouldn't think that it was necessarily intelligently designed. That patch of flowers is complex, but not, according to William Dembski, "specified".

Next, in one of his books, Michael Behe, who teaches at Lehigh University, suggests a different scenario. He asked what our reaction would be if we saw the word "Lehigh" spelled out in flowers in a flower patch in the forest. In that case we would strongly believe that the patch WAS intelligently designed.

We would believe that because, according to WilliamDembski, the patch is both complex AND "specified".

So far so good. Dembski would give me an 'A' if this was a question in a test in one of his ID classes.

But I have a third scenario.

Imagine that you are walking through the forest and you see a patch of black dirt and nothing else within that patch. There are no weeds, there's no grass, no small trees, nothing but black dirt there.

All around the patch of black dirt are weeds,grass as well as large and small trees. But the patch itself consists of nothing but black dirt.

Moreover you measure the patch and find that it is an EXACT square measuring EXACTLY five feet on each side. Even the corners of the square are exact right angles.

What would you think if you saw that?

You'd be certain that it was intelligently designed!

It would be unrealistic for those things to be seen in a forest without some intelligent intervention. (In fact, it would have to besomeone who knew the English units of measure.)

But note: while that patch of dirt is "specified", it is NOT complex at all! A patch of dirt with NOTHING growing in it has effectively ZERO complexity. Even the shape - a square - is less complex than any sort of random shape for the patch of dirt.

If you had all three scenarios together, you'd guess that you have stumbled upon the place where the 'Lehigh" flower pattern was to be planted butyou did so a day before the flowers were actually put into the ground.

So it is "specificity" and ONLY "specificity" that indicates when something is intelligently designed. Complexity has absolutely NOTHING to do with it.

That's one reason why ID (and particularly "specified complexity") is a complete scientific and intellectual fraud.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Is God the Default Alternative?

The web page at gives a partial review of a book by Keith Ward titled "Why There Almost Certainly is a God". The reviewer is an atheist and he asks some interesting questions.

The book makes these claims - some that are similar to claims often presented by creationists.

"The God hypothesis says that there is a consciousness that does not come into being at the end of a long physical process. In fact it does not come into being at all. It did not just spontaneously appear out of nothing. It has always existed, and it always will. There is something that has thoughts, feelings and perceptions, but no physical body or brain. Such thoughts and perceptions will be very different from human thoughts.

" ...

"Could there be an unembodied mind, a pure Spirit, that has knowledge and awareness? I can see no reason why not. The God hypothesis has at least as much plausibility as the materialist hypothesis . Both are hard to imagine, but neither seems to be incoherent or self-contradictory. Either might be true."

The reviewer isn't convinced by this argument. Here's the counter-argument that he makes:

"I can think of some reasons why not. For starters, the idea of an unembodied consciousness is flatly contradicted by everything we know about consciousness. It looks like an oxymoron to me.

"Regardless of the philosophy of mind to which you adhere, it seems absolutely clear that for us physical creatures a lot of complexly organized matter is essential to consciousness. No complexly organized matter, no consciousness. Thoughts and ideas may themselves be non-material entities, but as far as we know they require a physical substrate in order to exist.

"Then there is the idea that God, while being himself immaterial, can interact with matter to the point of being able to bring whole universe into existence. This, again, is something utterly contrary to everything we know about intelligence. Here in the purely physical world something as simple as telekinesis is, as far as we know, impossible. There is a deck of cards on the desk in front of me, but I can not budge it with the power of my mind alone. How then does God interact causally with the material universe?

"It is natural forces and processes that are constantly surprising us with their fecundity and creative prowess. Intelligence, by contrast and to the extent that we have experience with it, is utterly indequate to the task of creating universes and fiddling with fundamental constants.

"Then there are all the trappings that come along with intellgence. The inevitable boredom that comes with insufficient stimulation, the search for meaning and purpose, the need for the company of beings like ourselves. Apparently God is not afflicted with any of these problems. How does God keep from getting bored? How does He find meaning to His own existence? How has the sheer monotony of eternal existence not driven Him mad? How does He withstand the awesome loneliness of being the only one of His kind?

"I do not know about you, but if I have to spend twenty-four straight hours in my house I start going stir-crazy. Even your average dog has enough brainpower to get bored. But not God.

"Anything is more plausible than the existence of such an entity. It is simply incredible to me that Ward can so casually describe the idea of an eternally-existing, omnipotent, disembodied super-intelligence as a satisfying final explanation for the universe."


Those are interesting arguments. I wonder if anycreationist can argue against them.

I doubt it.

Why not?

I would be much more impressed by creationism if I posed questions like this and 2-3 or more creationists had answers that they were ready to provide. I'd be even more impressed if some of those answers had subtle disagreements with each other. That would imply that those creationists had actually thought about them and found something that made sense to THEM.

The questions are philosophical so there won't beany empirical evidence to help; no one will interviewGod to find answers. There aren't really any WRONG answers. So why be afraid of asking them?

But what possible fun would it be to have a bunch of beliefs that you are never allowed to think about?

I guess that's just another one of the many reasons why creationism is a rotten belief system.