Friday, May 7, 2010

The Biogeography of Life

In order to attempt to argue against my claim that the biogeography of life on Earth confirms evolution while falsifying the Bible, a creationist referenced the web site at I challenged him to pick one specific claim made on that site and we could discuss it.

I never received a response. So I examined the web page. I discovered these facts:

1. The author concedes that creationism offers NO explanation for the biogeography of life.

2. The author misrepresents science in his claims.

3. The author misrepresents what his evolutionary sources say.

In other words, the author has to resort to lying to make his points.

Furthermore, the end result is that we see just a bit more of the MOUNTAIN of evidence supporting evolution.

First of all the web site tries to relate the creationism/evolution debate to a legal case. In particular the site says this:

"American courts do not require that you prove someone else committed the crime. You do not need to suggest an alternative to prove you aren't responsible.

"We simply present evidence against evolution, showing that evolution could not be responsible for the origin and diversity of life on Earth. We do not need to prove, or even suggest, any other explanation."

That is a silly, juvenile claim which is wrong for multiple reasons.

The discussion on evolution and creationism is supposedly a SCIENTIFIC discussion. In science you present evidence to SUPPORT a claim. Science doesn't work by simply falsifying other hypotheses.

Science is about presenting a hypothesis that is testable and potentially falsifiable. Then you perform the indicated tests and see if it can be falsified.

Scientific hypotheses shouldn't have to make ANY references to other hypotheses. If you defend creationism merely by attacking evolution, you are NOT doing science.

Therefore this is nothing less than a concession that, indeed, creationism has NO explanation for the biodiversity of life. It also a concession that creationism is simply the God of the Gaps argument. Any philosopher will point out that the "God of the Gaps" is a fallacious logical argument (also called a "false dichotomy".)

Moreover, the analogy used on the web site is completely backwards. It is correct when it says that someone defending themselves in a court of law doesn't have prove that someone else did it. The person defending themselves only needs to focus on THEIR OWN defense.

If that is true and if the analogy is valid, then the web site should indeed focus on ITS OWN DEFENSE. In other words, it should be all about creationism and the Bible and shouldn't need to mention evolution at all!

So the argument is wrong for both scientific and logical reasons.

Then the web site says this:

"When evaluating a scientific theory, the proper procedure is to examine all the evidence for and against the theory, then make a decision."

That is an incorrect summary of the scientific process. The web page is effectively saying that science is about looking at the preponderance of the evidence. If, for example, you have five pieces of evidence for a hypothesis and one against, then you accept the hypothesis.

That's wrong and not how science works.

Even one piece of valid evidence against a hypothesis falsifies it. It is almost irrelevant how many supporting pieces of evidence have been found.

Of course that is a stricter set of rules than the web site implies. Nonetheless evolution fully stands up to
that criterion.

The web site then refers to Jerry Coyne's book titled "Why Evolution is True" and says this:

"The biogeography argument really boils down to this: Kangaroos could not have gotten from Noah's ark to Australia. Therefore, the Bible is false, which means evolution must be true."

That is totally and absolutely incorrect.

If evolution could not explain how kangaroos and other marsupials got to Australia, it would be discarded. Plain and simple. That would be true regardless of whether or not the Bible could explain it.

The author of the web page claims that Coyne does not try to find support for the biogeography of life on
Earth, including how marsupials got to Australia. That is a complete and total lie.

On page 102 of his book - the one that the author of this web site is referring to - Coyne says this:

"As for how the marsupials got to Australia, that's part of another evolutionary tale, and one that leads to a testable prediction. The earliest marsupial fossils, around eighty million years old, are found not in Australia for in North America. As marsupials evolved, they spread southward, reaching what is not the tip of South America about forty million years ago. Marsupials made it to Australia roughly ten million years later, where they began diversifying into the 200-odd species that live there today.

"But how could they cross the South Atlantic? The answer is that it didn't yet exist. At the time of the marsupial invasion, South America and Australia were joined as part of the southern supercontinent of Goindwana. This landmass had already begun to break apart, unzipping to form the Atlantic Ocean, but the tip of South America was connected to what is now Antarctica, which in turn was connected to what is now Australia (see figure 21). Since marsupials had to go overland from South America to Australia, they must have passed through Antarctica. So we can predict this: there should be fossil marsupials on Antarctica dating somewhere between 30 and 40 million years ago.

"This hypothesis was strong enough to drive scientists to Antarctica, searching for marsupial fossils. And, sure enough, they found them: more than a dozen species of marsupials (recognized by their distinctive teeth and jaws) unearthed on Seymour Island off the Antarctic Peninsula. This area is right on the ancient ice-free pathway between South America and Antarctica. And the fossils are just the right age: between 35 and 40 million years old."

Coyne includes a couple of additional paragraphs and also some pictures (such as figure 21 referenced above). Surely that is an adequate and complete evolutionary explanation for how marsupials ended up in Australia. It even includes a testable hypothesis - i.e. a SCIENTIFIC hypothesis - that was tested and confirmed. NONE of that explanation refers to the Bible, even indirectly.

Obviously the creationist web site is completely fraudulent.

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