Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Help needed in 'debating' a creationist

  1. Aug 1, 2004 #1
    Hello folks. I aim to study biology or some other science once I am old enough to sign up for University. I've always been very interested in science, evolution in particular, and have even read a book by Richard Dawkins, The Blind Watchmaker, that covers that very subject. But like I said, I am no expert and do not (yet) possess the knowledge to be able to throughoutly debate 'creationists'. I do however frequent another forum and pretty much accidently got into an argument with a few creationists. It was going fine and I had, with the help of the internet, managed to debate with them for awhile. That was until one of them posted an article he found in some local newspaper. Some of the points made are pretty ridiculous and should be easy to refute, I could possibly even refute some of them myself. :redface: But I do fear it would come off pretty badly. I suddenly thought of this forum. Although I haven't posted here, I have visited it from time to time, reading the posts that I can comprehend. ;) If there is anyone here who is knowledgable enough to answer these claims, and can possibly spare some time, it would be fantastic if that person could help me to come up with answers. Thanks for reading this, folks :) Here's the article:

    "In her June 1 Viewpoints column, Lisa Peters expressed her frustration with evolution not being discussed enough in schools. I couldn't agree more. As a high school teacher, I would love to see elementary, middle and high school students do any of the following:


    • Let's discuss the difference between evidence and interpretations of evidence — e.g., the evidence of common features (limbs or DNA).


    Evolution explains that common features are caused by a common origin. But other scientists believe that common features may be the result of a common design, with the same effective design used repeatedly. Wheels appear on everything from trikes, bikes and motorcycles to cars, vans and buses. Let's discuss if that means that bikes randomly evolved over eons of time into motorcycles.

    • Let's discuss with students the three distinct shades of meaning of the term "evolution" — 1: simply "change itself"; or 2: "variation within a species" (moth populations changing dominant color but still being simply moths); or 3: "the unbroken line of development from molecules to humans." Let's discuss how both creationists and evolutionists agree with the first two meanings but disagree only about the theorized, unobserved definition 3 of molecules-to-humans development. Let's discuss Peters' misleading claim that disagreement with definition 3 is equivalent to rejecting definition 1 regarding simple change per se. Let's discuss what this is: unclear terminology at best, bait-and-switch at worst.


    • Let's have students discuss what committed evolutionists admit: that evolution is not so much a conclusion from evidence as it is an assumption of how the evidence should be interpreted. Evolutionist Richard Lewontin admitted his bias of explaining all things only by existing natural processes of chance interactions of matter, energy and time.


    • Let's have students discuss the Pennsylvania State professor who found that his own biology colleagues admitted that they would not have done their own biology research any differently even if they had believed that evolution was wrong.


    • Let's have students discuss Peters' claim that "we share 98 percent of our genes … with chimpanzees." Let's put Peters' claim alongside the statement of evolutionist William Fix that "[Similar] organs are now known to be produced by totally different gene complexes in the different species. The concept of homology [similarity] in terms of similar genes handed on from a common ancestor has broken down."


    Then let's examine the sentences "Many scientists have questions about evolution" and "Any scientists have questions about evolution?" which are about 97 percent similar yet have dramatically different meanings and functions. Does similarity require that one evolved from the other?


    • Let's have students discuss how the common decision of evolutionists to prevent scientific evidence from suggesting intelligent design is not a scientific decision. It is a philosophical decision — and an inconsistent one at that, as certain branches of science (like archaeology) allow the conclusion that a stone was shaped into an arrowhead by the deliberate actions of an intelligent agent, rather than by the chance interactions of water and sand.


    • Let's discuss with students the mathematical problems regarding the astronomically high improbability of atoms coming together by chance to make even a single protein molecule.


    • Let's have students discuss excellent science books such as "Icons of Evolution," in which scientists admit that numerous common images of evolution — including Darwin's finches, four-winged fruit flies, Haeckel's embryos and peppered moths — are either fraudulent or irrelevant as evolutionary evidence.


    Peters claims, "Elementary teachers … don't know much about evolution." But quite a few elementary teachers — and parents — I know are informed enough about evolution to find it wanting, for scientific reasons. Many teachers are scientifically skeptical of the "just-so" evolutionary stories that human features are "inherited from the earliest fish."


    Many teachers recognize that when Peters makes this claim, she has crossed over from the observable, repeatable science of fossils and anatomy to the speculative belief system of evolutionary inferences.


    Knowledge is power. Students and teachers should acquire more than just the selected knowledge that evolutionists want to limit students to. Then more students will find out what creationists, many laypeople and most evolutionists already know — that molecules-to-humans evolution is a theory in crisis. Let's have students discuss all these issues, because this crisis is not going to go away, regardless of Peters' stories."
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 1, 2004 #2
    The person who posted that is full-on brainwashed into that one way of thinking, you're not going to change their minds, and anyone who knows anything about evolution, or has any common sense will see that argument really doesn't amount to anything. All that person is doing is presenting a straw man argument. They are building up their opponent to be weak, and then knocking down the weak stances they have created for their opponent. In that way, he/she seems to have won his/her argument without actually adressing anything, they just say ridiculous things like that bit about wheels, and that since motorcylces didn't evolve from bycicles that all of evolution is wrong. Anyone who has common sense can see the flaws in that argument.

    Almost every time she says "Evolutionists admit..." or "Scientists agree", she's just making up stuff. I've never heard of an Evolutionist who said that evolution wasn't a conclusion based on facts, or any of her other claims. She lives in a ridiculous world where "Scientists" and "Evolutionists" are never properly represented. Tell that person to come to this board and ask biologists what they think about evolution, she'll find that her assertations are almost completely wrong.

    To rebut all her points, you'd pretty much have to go into detail about a whole lot of evidence of evolution, and it would take a huge amount of time to research. I'd advise just keeping your beliefs and not trying to impose them on others who are so brainwashed into a way of thinking that doesn't agree with yours.
     
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2004
  4. Aug 2, 2004 #3
    This is not complete, but here are some thoughts on several of theses points:

    "Let's discuss the difference between evidence and interpretations of evidence — e.g., the evidence of common features (limbs or DNA)."

    The scientific methods *is* discussed in most schools: Observed, empirical facts on the one side - interpretations THAT CAN BE FALSIFIED (!) induced from them on the other.

    "Evolution explains that common features are caused by a common origin."

    Yes and no - this is an oversimplification. Some common features are caused by a common origin (homologies), other s are caused by common selective pressures in a common environment (analogies). Finches, eagles and penguins all have wings because they evolved from a common ancestor. Finches and honey bees both have wings because they both live in an envorinment and in a manner that selectively favors tze development of wings, although they share no common ancestor WITH WINGS.

    "But other scientists believe that common features may be the result of a common design, with the same effective design used repeatedly. Wheels appear on everything from trikes, bikes and motorcycles to cars, vans and buses. Let's discuss if that means that bikes randomly evolved over eons of time into motorcycles."

    Bikes and motorcycles are not life forms. They can't reproduce on their own and can only come into being when someone makes them. Thus their Maker determines their design. Life reproduces by itself.


    "Let's discuss with students the three distinct shades of meaning of the term "evolution" — 1: simply "change itself"; or 2: "variation within a species" (moth populations changing dominant color but still being simply moths); or 3: "the unbroken line of development from molecules to humans."

    Nope. The step from molecules to life forms is called abiogenesis. Biological Evolution is the development of all species from common ancestors. Both theories fit together, but are distinct. The details of abiogenesis are still a bit blurry and require much more research while evolution is pretty well established by evidence.

    "Let's discuss what this is: unclear terminology at best, bait-and-switch at worst."

    Kind of like saying that evolution necessarily involves the step from molecules to life forms? :)

    "Let's have students discuss what committed evolutionists admit: that evolution is not so much a conclusion from evidence as it is an assumption of how the evidence should be interpreted."

    I can see no difference between these two statements. Every conclusion from evidence is only an interpretation of it - a falsifiable model. That healthy skepticism even towards itself distinguishes science from religion.

    "Evolutionist Richard Lewontin admitted his bias of explaining all things only by existing natural processes of chance interactions of matter, energy and time."

    Bias? LOL. As soon as these people PROOVE that natural processes fail to account for empirical data, they can call that biased...

    "Let's have students discuss the Pennsylvania State professor who found that his own biology colleagues admitted that they would not have done their own biology research any differently even if they had believed that evolution was wrong."

    Gotta love this. First, the guy is not even named, so he probabaly doesnt even exist. Second, whats so stunning about this statement? Of course there's plenty of research topics in biology to whoch evolution is not related. That doesnt men it's false in the areas where it DOES play a role.
    The fact that a priest would brush his teeth whether God existed or not is about as significant.



    "Let's have students discuss Peters' claim that "we share 98 percent of our genes … with chimpanzees." Let's put Peters' claim alongside the statement of evolutionist William Fix that "[Similar] organs are now known to be produced by totally different gene complexes in the different species. The concept of homology [similarity] in terms of similar genes handed on from a common ancestor has broken down."

    See above - there is both homology and analogy in nature. This quote is taken out of context to muddy the distinction. If you doubt that man and cimp are similar because of similar genes, feel free to compare the gene products - mainly proteins. That's the stuff we (and our organs) are made of, it's produced by our genes, and it's strikingly similar to that of chimpanzees.

    "Then let's examine the sentences "Many scientists have questions about evolution" and "Any scientists have questions about evolution?" which are about 97 percent similar yet have dramatically different meanings and functions. Does similarity require that one evolved from the other?"

    Sentences don't reproduce by creating offspring. Sentences display no heredity.

    "Let's have students discuss how the common decision of evolutionists to prevent scientific evidence from suggesting intelligent design"

    What is the author talking about? If he/she can present such evidence, she should be in for the nobel prize next year. If he/she calls assertions like the ones in this article "evidence", he/she had better be quiet.

    "that a stone was shaped into an arrowhead by the deliberate actions of an intelligent agent, rather than by the chance interactions of water and sand."

    Stones and arrowheads don't reproduce by creating offspring. They display no heredity.


    "Let's discuss with students the mathematical problems regarding the astronomically high improbability of atoms coming together by chance to make even a single protein molecule."

    See Richard Dawkins, "Climbing Mount Improbable". To say that atoms "come together to make a protein molecule" or a human being is a gross distortion of abiogenesis and evolution. Atoms do come together to form more complex molecules - like H2O, CO2 or NO3. These molecules in turn bumb into each other, but can also remain stable by themselves.
    In biological evolution, feature don't just pop up because atoms choose to come together. They develop gradually and are conserved by reproduction, so that the next generation doesnt start out at zero (at the level of random atoms).


    "Let's have students discuss excellent science books such as "Icons of Evolution," in which scientists admit that numerous common images of evolution — including Darwin's finches, four-winged fruit flies, Haeckel's embryos and peppered moths — are either fraudulent or irrelevant as evolutionary evidence."

    None of these are "fraudulent". It is true that revisions have been made as to the mechanism at work in particular cases cited by the pioneers of evolutionary theory. The theory itself has been reinforced by the fact that with these minor corrections (and a much more complex account of different mechanisms) it has not been falsified by empirical data and was even able to correctly predict such data (like many of the "missing links" that have been found, such as Archaeopterix).


    "Peters claims, "Elementary teachers … don't know much about evolution." But quite a few elementary teachers — and parents — I know are informed enough about evolution to find it wanting, for scientific reasons."

    LOL. Maybe some of them - like the othor - are UNinformed enough to find it wanting...?

    "Many teachers recognize that when Peters makes this claim, she has crossed over from the observable, repeatable science of fossils and anatomy to the speculative belief system of evolutionary inferences."

    There is a difference between emipirical data and scientific theory. Scientific theories however are NOT just "beliefs" - they are open to falsification.

    "what creationists, many laypeople and most evolutionists already know — that molecules-to-humans evolution is a theory in crisis."

    Again, this is full of dishonesty ("most evolutionists"), gross misrepresentation of facts (evolutionary theory in crisis - maybe in the author's head) and sheer ignorance of the facts ("molecules-to-humans evolution" - evolution is compatible with, but distinct from, abiogenesis).
     
  5. Aug 2, 2004 #4
    the early earth had a lot of this to work with. i believe it was miller and urey who did the experiment with the primordial soup and created proteins? the chance that one group of molecules come together to do such a thing is extremely low. but probability is a powerful thing, and, as we know how small they are to fill the shallow oceans of the earth, the event of such happenings are not very low indeed.


    evolutionists tell stories that we got our faces from fish? this doesnt sound like anything i've heard at all. however, it does resemble one story i have heard before at church. 'evolution cant be real. do you see me turning into a monkey?'. what specific scientific reasons are there? the article is vague on purpose, because there is a lack of solid foundation for its arguments
     
  6. Aug 2, 2004 #5
    also, what evidence is there for creationism? evolution happens all around us. is an otherworldly being spontaneously creating more? there is absolutely no evidence for the creator idea... i could just as easily say my imaginary friend karl the lobster created everything, and that would have the same amount of support, albeit no religion to go along with it. tell them to name some evidence that, going with the scientific method, truly supports creationism. otherwise, as evolution does work to explain the world around us, ockham's razor says evolution wins.

    strictly speaking, what evidence COULD there be for intelligent design?
     
  7. Aug 2, 2004 #6

    plover

    User Avatar
    Homework Helper

    Last edited: Aug 2, 2004
  8. Aug 2, 2004 #7

    Phobos

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

  9. Aug 2, 2004 #8
    I would also strongly suggest the weblog of P.Z. Myers at http://pharyngula.org who does a spectacular job debunking the nonsense that creationists continue to spew.

    Actually, the article the original poster cites is the same as one that Dr. Myers eviscerates from relatively recently, as memory serves.
     
  10. Aug 2, 2004 #9
    First of all, to Adrian. Job well done.

    Personally, I am not going to tackle this one. Partly, b/c of pure laziness, but mainly b/c I do not feel like a scientist should ever enter a debate with a creationist.

    A Creationist's theory is personal and based on mystical beliefs that can never be proven or falsified. Therefore, there is absolutely no winning an argument with a creationist.

    If I do debate a creationist and win, then I loose all respect for that creationist, b/c they have waivered in their belief, and for that they will be condemed to an eternal damnation.

    Finally, I would not debate with a Creationist b/c scientific evidence can never prove it wrong. If we had enough evidence tommorrow to be 100% sure that the big bang occured 14.6 billion year ago and from those Hydrogen atoms life became what it is today, that does not prove Creationist wrong.

    If God has the ability to create man 10,000 years ago, then would he not also have the ability to provide us evidence that the big bang occured 14.6 billion years ago. Yes, this is a mockery of the creator himself, but is it not possible. If not, Prove It. Can you see my point.

    Nautica
     
  11. Aug 3, 2004 #10
    If you are debating a creationists, do this:

    Hello Creationist. You propose that your Christian "God" put everything into motion and created evertyhing. Please provide at least one evidence that directly links the creation of things on earth with your god.

    If they make the claim that their god created everything, then they are forced to substantiate that claim or else there is no reason to accept their claim. The thing is, there is not *one* shred of evidence that supports the idea that a god created anything at all. Not one.
     
  12. Aug 3, 2004 #11

    Nereid

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Just to take this one:
    It used to be that these folk talked about 'organic molecules' and the 'astronomically high improbability of atoms coming together by chance to make' them. Turns out a great many organic molecules are made by natural processes, by the billions of tonnes.

    Then is was 'amino acids' - and for all I know some folk may still be using this one - but the Murchison meteorite, and other carbonaceous chondrites, put paid to that idea; not only were amino acids made by the billions of tonnes naturally, but they were so made out in deep space!

    Less well known is another discovery about the amino acids in the Murchison meteorite ... they are non-racemic!! (many molecules - including many (all?) amino acids - come in two enantiomers, one which is left-handed, the other right-handed. It used to be held that inorganic, natural chemical processes always produced each enantiomer in equal quantities, so the resulting chemical was 'racemic'. However, all life on Earth seems to use just the L variety, so it was assumed that a non-racemic mixture of amino acids meant life was involved somehow in its creation. Surprise, it turns out that non-racemic mixtures can be made naturally, in interstellar space, by photo-chemical processes and polarised UV).

    Maybe Stardust will bring back proteins from Wild 2? :surprise: Stay tuned! :smile:
     
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Have something to add?



Similar Discussions: Help needed in 'debating' a creationist
  1. Creationist Arguments. (Replies: 14)

  2. Need help (Replies: 1)

Loading...