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Evolution vs. Creationism debate - help needed

  1. Sep 8, 2009 #1
    I have a friend who is a creationist. Lately, she has been trying to convince me that the theory of evolution is full of inconsistencies. She sent me this link to an article: http://www.drdino.com/read-article.php?id=8&c=27" [Broken]

    She thinks that that article really proves that the theory of evolution can’t be correct. I didn’t believe that, but I agreed to read it. Now, after reading that article, I did some google search (I am no biologist, so I had to find other biologists’ responses to such claims as were made in the article.) and found out that almost all of the claims made in that article have been refuted by evolutionists. So I read some more and found out some more. Now what I would request from you guys is that you read that article (it’s a small article; you’ll probably need 2-3 minutes to read it) from the link I provided earlier; and then check out if the counter arguments I found out are correct or not. And I would also be much obliged if you could suggest something more.

    This is what I’m going to write to her in response to that article:

    Firstly, a common misconception among the creationists is that the theory of evolution is the same as abiogenesis. But the origin of life is not a part of the evolutionary theory and hence, not relevant to it. Evolution deals with how life has developed. It begins with the premise that life already exists. The theory doesn’t make any claims about how life started. So yes, life could have developed through abiogenesis or by aliens or God or the Flying Spaghetti Monster. However you think life began, evolutionary theory and its explanations apply once life appears and begins to reproduce. Evolution is about how life evolves, not how life began.

    Secondly, I think I need to describe what Pasteur actually did (and what he didn’t) in his experiments. The following two paragraphs are (taken from this page: http://www.brighthub.com/science/medical/articles/21169.aspx") describes what he DID:

    What Pasteur’s experiment DID NOT do was to test whether simple pre-cellular life could have emerged from a huge amount of organic chemicals over a billion years.

    Thirdly, the validity of the theory of evolution doesn’t depend on man’s ability to create living cells. So I think man’s inability to do so is irrelevant as far as the theory is concerned.

    The claims about the Miller-Urey experiment have also been refuted. Since the first experiment by Stanley Miller, Miller himself, and others have experimented with different atmospheric compositions. It has been seen that organic molecules formed under different conditions. And the claim that early earth had significant amount of oxygen has been refuted as well. The amount of oxygen we find in the atmosphere today is the result of photosynthesis; and the source of oxygen is photosynthetic plants. Before such plants emerged, the atmosphere contained little oxygen. Moreover, it is considered possible that life emerged away from the atmosphere around what are known as hydrothermal vents in deep sea. If that is true, then how much oxygen the atmosphere of early earth had is irrelevant anyway.

    Finally, I really need help from you guys because I couldn’t find anything to counter the following (at least nothing that a non-biologist would understand easily). Can you guys suggest anything?

    There's something else I found out: The site my friend mentioned – dr. dino – made me curious and I googled to see who this Dr. Dino guy (whose website it is) actually is. His real name is Kent Hovind. I have found out some interesting stuff about him. Currently he is serving a ten year sentence in prison. He has been found guilty of 58 federal counts, which include 12 tax offenses. I have also read that he believes mathematics to be a religion (exact quote: “Hey, everything in the world is religious, ultimately. Mathematics is a religion.”). His academic credentials are dubious at best. Even some creationists have criticized his views on creationism.

    Now I can't really use that as an argument against the article, because the article itself is not written by Hovind. But the fact that it was published in his website makes it a little less credible I think.

    Anyway, thanks in advance. I'd be really grateful if you guys can help me out here.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 8, 2009 #2


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    As you said, this article addresses abiogenesis and not evolution.
  4. Sep 8, 2009 #3

    D H

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    First a word of warning: Arguing with a creationist is almost always fruitless. They are immune to logic and evidence. Look at it from their point of view:
    • Consequences of rejecting evolution: I can't get a job as an evolutionary biologist.
    • Consequences of accepting evolution: I will be eternally damned.

    That said, let's deconstruct this article. Quotes from the article are in blue.

    Yet most scientists accept the belief that life arose from non-life (in spite of the evidence clearly indicating that it did not and could not happen). This incredible belief is as absurd as finding a complex chemical manufacturing facility on Mars and assuming that it built itself.

    Non sequitur plus appeal to ignorance plus straw man / appeal to ridicule. Nice.

    There is NO evidence "clearly indicating that it did not and could not happen". To the contrary, there is plenty of evidence that it did happen. Just because we don't know how it happened does not mean it did not happen.

    One classic experiment which is used to support the belief that life "built itself" is an experiment by Stanley Miller in 1953.

    That was over half a century ago. One question: why are they dredging up a fifty year old study? One answer: Because more recent work is even stronger.

    The experiment succeeded in producing only a few of the 20 amino acids required by itself.
    1. So what? The experiment was the first of its kind. That any amino acids were generated is the key point to take home.
    2. Bzzzt, wrong. From http://www.newscientist.com/article...d-life-on-earth.html?feedId=online-news_rss20,
      In the classic Miller-Urey experiment, a mixture of gases and water that Miller thought were present on early Earth was heated and zapped with electricity to mimic lightning. This created five identifiable amino acids.

      Yet Miller tested three versions of his spark flask. One of the two lesser-know setups - the volcanic apparatus - created 22 amino acids that could be positively identified.​

    Back to the article at hand.
    Furthermore, the dozens of major problems with this experiment as an explanation for the formation of life are seldom reported.

    Bzzzt, wrong again. Who do you think pointed out problems with the experiment, scientists or creationists?

    For instance, our early atmosphere was assumed to have no oxygen because this would stop amino acid formation. However, with no oxygen, there would be no ozone shield.

    That is one of the problems with the experiment, and that is why paleobiologists have been searching for / experimenting with life beginning in the oceans or in the earth itself rather than the atmosphere.

    With no ozone shield, life would also be impossible.

    Wrong. Water is quite opaque to ultraviolet radiation. So is rock.

    Furthermore, oxidized rocks throughout the geologic record indicate that oxygen has always been present.
    1. Non sequitur. Nobody is saying oxygen was not present before life. Saying so would be utter nonsense. Life did not create oxygen; it converted an atmosphere with a lot of CO2 into an atmosphere with a lot of O2. The oxygen was already there, it just happened to be bound up with carbon.
    2. This argument completely ignores the banded iron formations.
    3. This argument is completely false. From http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/summary/298/5602/2341
      New evidence indicates that before 2400 million years ago, Earth's atmosphere contained no more than trace amounts of oxygen.​

    And that is way to much time spent on deconstructing this piece of -- well, stuff.
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2009
  5. Sep 8, 2009 #4
    That's what it seems like so far. :)

    Thanks a lot for taking the trouble to write a long post. I was looking for something like what you've wrote.

    If anybody else has anything more to add, please feel free to do so.
  6. Sep 8, 2009 #5


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    True scientists maintain an open-minded inquisitiveness about nature and form their ideas based off the evidence available. It may be that your friend is only reflecting the way they grew up, rather than investigating the subjects themselves, but unless you investigate the biological concepts on your own, you will merely be reflecting what people tell you here, and are therefore no better off than they, even if you are right from a scientific perspective.
    Decide what you believe and understand it thoroughly. Then compare ideas, because they aren't going to change their minds anyways, and it's fascinating to understand what opposing opinions are. If you see things inconsistent with established biological concepts--you'd be surprised at how ignorant people are about biology--then calmly point out those flaws.

    People are much more open and comfortable with calm, composed, curious people than people bent on breaking down all their own ideas.
  7. Sep 8, 2009 #6
    my biology teacher always used to tell us that if you put loose parts of bicycle in a box, and shake it however long you want, you will never get a true, working bicycle.
    while most of it is true, i do believe that there's a small chance for it.

    evolution took a veery long time, so the universe had a really long time to shake that box.
    while you cant prove that there is or isnt a God, i tend to believe life came from non-life. but this evolutionist-creationist bs is quite confusing. all i know is that everything happened and happens for a reason.
  8. Sep 8, 2009 #7
    Daneel_Olivaw, the article given to you is from a website owned by Evangelist Kent Hovind who is known as Doctor Dino. You can go to Talk Origins, which is a highly-respected website that has already debunked Kent Hovind's "Young-Earth Creation Science Evangelism." I can't see any reason to debate with the girl just mail her the Talk Origins website. Kent Hovind is a crackpot.
  9. Sep 8, 2009 #8


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    Evolution doesn't work like that. You don't start with a set of totally disjointed pieces, give one shake, and end up with a bicycle. That would be ridiculous.

    It's more like you have the pieces of a bike, you put them together randomly, then start switching things around making it more bike-like until you end up with something extremely bike-like.

    That analogy isn't very good either, because it involves a preset target. Also, the bike is being constructed by you instead of reproducing. Natural evolution doesn't have a preset target or you to guide it. Nature just prefers things which make more of themselves.
  10. Sep 8, 2009 #9


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    I suppose you could apply that to abiogenesis however? I'm not very familiar with that though, so I might be wrong.
  11. Sep 9, 2009 #10


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    The "stereotypes" referred to in the article are called chirality, or less formally, handedness. It's true that almost all amino acids in life are L-form even though the R-form has very similar properties, and the reason for that is still under debate: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homochirality.

    However, as that article notes, convincing explanations have been put forward. Polarized sunlight breaks the symmetry; so do autocatalytic reactions, which tend to amplify assymetries in chirality proportions. Homochirality implies these:

    (1) we need to understand why it happens
    (2) all life on Earth has a common origin; if they didn't, homochirality wouldn't be expected

    but not this:

    (1) life was designed by a giant man in the sky
    (2) all of evolution/abiogenesis is wrong
  12. Sep 9, 2009 #11


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    Something else interesting, since I'm kind of a space nut: amino acids have been found in meteorites as well as in interstellar gas. In the Murchison meteorite (which also serves as evidence that polarization of sunlight can cause chirality assymetry, BTW) over a hundred have been identified, including common ones like glutamic acid. Simple amino acids have been detected using the spectra of intestellar gas clouds. Granted, that's a far cry from the complex proteins that govern life, but intestellar space is just about the worst environment imaginable for chemical reactions. For one thing it's only a few degrees above absolute zero, and chemical reactions proceed way faster at higher temperatures. For another, gas clouds have extremely low density and potential reactant molecules rarely encounter each other. Of course, there are also no oceans or bodies of other universal solvents for the reactions to take place in, no diverse chemical environments to offer opportunities for amino acid formation, no rivers to transport substances from place to place, and no oscillations in temperature, precipitation, illumination, pH, chemical concentrations, etc. that make interesting reactions happen. The one resource the gas clouds have in abundance is time, but planets (planets in general, not just Earth) have had the same amount of time to develop life.

    I typed all of that because I think it might be interesting to the OP and to other readers. I don't have any delusions about the likelihood of creationists accepting evolution.
  13. Sep 9, 2009 #12
    I am a Christian as well, but I am also a logical thinker. I am open-minded and search for truth before making my mind up about anything. I believe that creationism and evolution coexist within a logical realm. Evolution does exist within a species. What I mean is that people didn't evolve from monkies or pond scum or anything like that, but many creatures consistently evolve to adapt to their surroundings when necessary (such as the tree kangaroo). Evolution is apparent in the ever-changing world around us. However, it would not be possible without an Intelligent Designer behind everything. Everything in the universe is set exactly right so that life is possible. Everything is made to coexist peacefully and functionally. Trees give us the oxygen we breathe, and in turn we give trees their carbon dioxide. The universe is set so precisely that even the slightest alteration even to a small degree would deem life an impossibility.

    I applaud you for having an open mind. Many people on both sides of the argument have their beliefs and are completely closed off to the other side's point of view...but only in opening our minds to the infinite possibilities and truly exploring the facts can we come to find the truth. Creationism tells how everything came to be, while evolution explains what happened next. The only problems lying in evolution are with the extreme Darwinists who take the theory too far and claim that we evolved from monkies and pond scum. Yes, we have similarities, but all creatures have some sort of similarity; yet you wouldn't say that we evolved from every other creature on the planet. Our similarities are due to the fact that God, in a sense, recycles. Everything is created with all that it needs to function properly and live off the land we are given. When our world changes, we have to change along with it. God has created us with that ability. Nothing is wasted, and everything is created from the same basic elements. You couldn't have a masterpiece without the artist. That same artist uses the same materials to create many different masterpieces. They all have similarities, yet they are vastly different. In this same way, you could not have this complicated, intricate universe or any of the multitudes of others without some sort of intelligence behind it. It simply couldn't work the way it does by mere chance. Therefore, creationism is a logical, viable conclusion. Also, evolution is just as viable because you could not have species progress and adapt to such a growing, developing, changing world without evolution. It simply wouldn't work. They would have all died out. Just as the caterpillar evolves into a butterfly, the kangaroo in a certain part of the world has evolved to live in trees. Both instances are evolution, remaining within the species.

    I hope I could clear up some things and help you and your friend find some common ground. The constant arguing and competition between the creationists and the evolutionists is redundant and meaningless...it's time that they realize that it is possible for both sides to be correct without contradicting one another.
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 9, 2009
  14. Sep 9, 2009 #13
    help me God..
    did i say that evolution works like that? it was just an example of how small the chance of that complex organism creation was.

    plus, who said one shake would construct the bike?

    alot of ppl trying to make themselves so smart, yet still failing in the end..
  15. Sep 9, 2009 #14
    I would like to bring to light information about Evolution.:smile:

    I'm an evolutionist! Hopefully, I'll add more to this topic later. I have a luncheon engagement. It's always nice when the other person is paying for a business meeting.
  16. Sep 9, 2009 #15


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    We share a common ancestor with Chimpanzees. This is a fact. The theory of common descent has plenty of evidence from many different branches of science.


    Creationism explains nothing. There is no evidence for it whatsoever. It can't be falsified. It is not science. This entire paragraph you wrote is nothing but speculation.

    No, both sides cannot be correct because they do contradict each other. The arguing and competition is not meaningless or redundant. It's a battle between reason and superstition.
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2009
  17. Sep 9, 2009 #16
    Before bothering to debate such things with your friends, it might help to establish whether there is any common ground for communication on this matter. Alot of this comes down to how people form their conceptions of what's true.
    Most people have never really thought about this, and don't have a consistent method for establishing what they believe to be true or probable.
    Being a creationist, and hence one can assume, a christian, the means by which this person comes to truth is likely faith.
    If you talk to reasonably intelligent christians, they will admit that their belief by its nature cannot be objectively confirmed, and is dependent on an a priori sense of the truth of their religion. They believe that everyone has this a priori sense of the truth of their religion and are deceiving themselves through reliance on other kinds of evidence.

    It's kind of like consciousness. I may know that i am conscious, but I couldn't prove it to you. This is the way they feel about their religion. They just know it( or more accurately have a certain feeling about it). No amount of logic or reason will be sufficient to convince them otherwise. They are more likely to accept Descarte's deceiving demon (sometimes quite literally!) then question what they KNOW to be true. Religion is a very successful meme obviously, it contains its own tautological structure that is very resistant, like a shielded virus.

    Point being, you are speaking a different language when you try to argue fine points of evidence.
  18. Sep 9, 2009 #17


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    You didn't say it, you implied it. Why else would you bring up a known bad analogy and not mention that it's a known bad analogy?

    I was referring to the final shake.
  19. Sep 9, 2009 #18
    you still dont get me. when i brought out the bike example, i wasnt talking about the steps of evolution AT ALL. i was refering to the fact that the chance of biological life creation was really small.
    remember!!: i was not refering to that all the components were there and all they needed to do was meet to create life. i was only refering to the small small chance of life creation!

    /10 !
  20. Sep 9, 2009 #19
    This statement is perfect evidence of the christian arrogance. "monkies or pond scum"... How dare you say we are anything less than divine! Well, did you know that we share 97% of our DNA with "monkies" (by the way, its Monkeys*) or chimpanzees? Apparently, our divinity lies in the 3% of DNA not shared?

    It's time for me to applaud your open-mindedness. I can appreciate that you have opened your mind to the possibility that Evolution is obvious and evident. Now its time to go a bit further and try to see that its possible that everything that you read in a heavily edited and re-produced work of fiction may not be all there is to the story. Even, if somehow, someway there is a creator or a creative force, i think its fairly obvious that it isn't the one described in the bible. Earth's only been here for 6,000 years? You can take a short walk through the Grand Canyon and disprove that one.

    My main disappointment in any argument like this is that it is so one sided. Science never asks you to just believe something without anything to point to as evidence. Christians main tenant is that you must except fundamental things on faith and thereby bypass logic and reason. Christians have it written into their belief system the ability to deny logic and reason and without that there is no real debate.

    Everyday science points to NEW evidence that reinforce and sometimes out and out prove their theories...

    Christians, I implore you... POINT TO ONE THING... ANYTHING.
  21. Sep 9, 2009 #20
    i would actually really like to point out one thing. especially for Christians. (no harm intended!)
    when everything is related to everything and so on, and lets say there really is a "God", would you really believe that God went through all this trouble by making physics and science explainable, and then randomly, suddenly create life without giving it a reason, explanation? the thing is, its hard to figure out how life formed, but it certainly didnt "spawn" on Earth.
    its really some food for your thought mr. believers.
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2009
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