REPLY #4 TO
"EVOLUTION VS. CREATIONISM"
are parts of the original essay (or a subsequent reply) to which the respondent has directed his comments.
prefaced by (R) are those of the respondent and are presented unedited.
My replies appear under the respondent's comments in blue text
and are prefaced by my initials (MB)
(R) Life at the simplest imaginary level is so complex that the chance for a single molecule to evolve is infinitesimally small. The famous mathematical astrophysicist, Sir Fred Hoyle, recently argued that the probability this could have happened even once in the entire history of the universe is roughly equivalent to the probability that a tornado sweeping through a junkyard would assemble a Boeing 747.
(MB) Life at the simplest level is hardly "complex" to the degree to which you have alluded. The simplest viruses and bacteria consist of barely 1500 ordered pairs of nucleotide bases. Since these pairs are self-ordering and self-assembling, it hardly strains probability to accept their evolution. Hoyle is well-known in the scientific community primarily for his espousal of a steady-state Universe (which is known to be impossible) and his support for the idea that life on Earth had an
extraterrestrial origin. His most important work was done in the late 50's and he has become something of a eccentric nuisance ever since. To quote Dr. John L. Casti from his book, "Paradigms Lost", p.118: "...the appearance of Hoyle and his ideas in polite scientific circles is about as welcome as the appearance of Martin Bormann at a bar mitzvah."
Another problem is in the Creationists' use of exaggerated probabilities. First, they equate anything that is improbable with something that must then be impossible. The second is in not understanding the simple idea delineated in quantum physics that any event - no matter how improbable - *will* eventually occur given enough time and trials. The mathematical probability that a simple molecule of DNA will self-assemble is far greater than the
probability of any particular hand of bridge being dealt from a deck of 52 standard playing cards. Yet, nobody gawks in amazement or refuses to believe it when a hand is dealt.
(R) Living organisms are known to be structured around a remarkable system called the DNA molecule (deoxyribonucleic acid), in which is encoded all the "information" necessary to direct the growth of the complete organism from the germ cell.
(MB) That's not quite correct. DNA contains ordered pairs of bases and, in and of itself, can do little more than reproduce. It is the accumulated effect of DNA molecules from which genes are constructed that do what you have described.
(R) Although, the variational potential in the DNA molecule is extremely large, allowing a wide range of variation in any given type of plant or animal, it also serves to insure that such variation will be within the fixed limits represented in the genetic systems of the parents.
(MB) There are only a limited number of ways in which the ordered pairs of bases in DNA can assemble themselves. When DNA reproduces, the potential for error is quite small, but errors do happen. The accumulated effect of those errors eventually leads to larger-scale changes in the organism itself.
(R) The tremendous amount of ordered information in even the simplest living organism is so great that it is almost impossible to imagine that scientists could ever synthesize it from elemental chemicals, no matter how long they took, and even more inconceivable that it could ever happen by chance.
(MB) No, it's not. The entire genetic code of many simple living organisms (up to 1-2 million genes) is completely known. The problem with reproducing it in the laboratory is not one of lack of knowledge of how the building blocks go together, but one of moving several million necessary component atoms and molecules around by hand. An organism reproducing itself is one thing. A scientist trying to assemble one from ground zero is a completely different question. Remember that,
even with self-assembling molecules, it still took nearly a billion years for the first living organism to appear. Once that happened, the hardest part was over.
(R) Even if a genetic code centered in the DNA molecule could ever arise by chance, it certainly could never happen more than once. Yet it has recently been found that there are several different genetic codes present in certain organisms, and all evidence indicates that each must have had a separate orgin.
(MB) Nope. That's where the process of mutation comes in. Once life began, and organisms began to reproduce, errors would inevitably occur and the new offspring would, at times, be different from their parents. Accumulated errors over long periods of time can produce the different genetic arrangments we see today after 3.5 billion years of evolution.
The next several paragraphs appear to have been copied directly from a single source. I recognize many of the statements and arguments from several different works. In this case, however, it would be appropriate for you to properly credit the source of your material.
(R) EVOLUTION VS ENTROPY. Deterioration or degeneration rather than developmental evolution is the universal "law of biology."
(MB) Since when and on which planet? If that was the case, there would be no life on Earth (or anywhere else) at all. There would certainly be no such thing as adaptive change. Don't equate death with any "universal law of biology".
(R) There is no real evidence at all for progressive evolution...
(MB) Again, since when and on which planet? This statement is the author making a blanket statement with no regard whatsoever for reality. One can only wonder if he has a real definition for "progressive evolution", or if this is just a catch phrase for his argument.
(R) The law of degeneration, or entropy increase (order to disorder), is universally operative throughout the physical and chemical realms; it now seems also to pervade the biologic realm.
(MB) Entropy is a well-known (at least to scientists) and fundamental property of the Universe. Total entropy must always increase, although local increases in order are possible - so long as they result in an overall increase in total disorder. Any time there is any increase in local order, it is gained at the expense of an increase in total disorder in the cost of matter and energy consumed and converted to "waste" - such as heat. There is nothing about any facet of biology or
evolution that violates this principle.
(R) In fact, this truth is beginning so to disturb evolutionists that a number of books and papers have been published in recent years attempting to "harmonize" the concept of evolution (increasing complexity) with the entropy principle (decreasing complexity). These attempts have been futile.
(MB) There is no such disturbing trend among evolutionists or anyone else with a functioning mind. This is for the simple reason that this wild assumption has the fundamental flaws that I've already pointed out. You cannot take a flawed premise and construct a logical argument from it.
(R) It is not possible to equate deterioration with development.
(MB) Yes, you can. An example would be the life cycle of a star. You being with disorder in the form of a gas/dust cloud. As the cloud collapses upon itself, local order increases until the developing star is formed. However, this is done at a greater cost in disorder in the form of radiated heat energy. The star continues to burn and contributes to the increasing disorder of its surroundings. Finally, assuming a large star, it deteriorates to the point where it can no longer
support its own mass, whereupon it collapses upon itself and then explodes and creates a great deal of disorder. This is analagous to the birth-life-death cycle of living things.
(R) Evolution and entropy are both supposed to represent universal laws of change, but each is the opposite of the other, so they cannot both be true.
(MB) The two are not "opposites" as evolution (along with everything else) works within the demands of entropy. The author, however, has erred in using the word "opposite" when he probably intends to mean "mutually exclusive". Not that it would give his argument any more credibility.
(R) The natural tendency is always degenerative. In biology, an important example is found in the agencies supposed to bring about evolution; that is, gene mutations. All such changes are harmful (or neutral at best), because they represent a breaking down of the highly structured arrangement of the genes in the germ cell.
(MB) This is patently untrue and shows an appalling lack of scholarship on the part of the author. A "mutation" in biological terms is nothing more than a change brought about by an error in reproduction. Most such changes are neutral and harmless and, indeed, go completely unnoticed. Others are beneficial, while still others are, indeed, harmful. Unfortunately, the popular connotation of the word "mutation" is a negative one. Thus, the popular misunderstanding of them. If
mutations were never beneficial, no creature could ever adapt to better fit its environment or to become stronger, faster, taller, healthier or just plain "better" than its parents were. Clearly, these beneficial changes are happening.
(R) This most likely accounts for the fact that most of the living creatures of the present are represented in the fossil record of the past by larger, more highly developed members of the same kind.
(MB) This is utter nonsense. Does the author give a single example to demonstrate this? Perhaps he is taking the dinosaurs and extrapolating his notion of "more highly developed" from them? His ideas are certainly refuted most convincingly by the history of mammals -- including Homo sapiens.
(R) Evolutionists still may insist that the law of increasing entropy does not preclude evolution since biological systems are "open" systems and can draw enough energy from the sun to support an upward evolution. That is nonsense, however, since the "equations" of thermodynamics "clearly" show that an influx of raw heat energy (as from the sun) into an open system (say like the earth) will increase the entropy (or decay) of that system "more rapidly" than if it were an isolated system.
(MB) This is a scream! A living organism is an "open system" because it is not completely self-contained and self-supporting. Without the input of outside energy from the sun, there would be no living organism. In any case, the author's argument is both invalid and irrelevant because there is only one thermodynamically closed system in the Universe -- the Universe itself. Everything else is open because it is a part of the whole and interacts with it.
(R) The imaginary evolutionary growth of complex plants and animals from a primeval cell (and that from nonliving chemicals in a hypothetical primordial soup), however, has neither a directing program nor conversion mechanism to accomplish this.
(MB) It most certainly does. It's called "basic chemistry". Everything in the Universe - including organic life - is made up of a certain subset of molecules from a set of barely over 100 different elements. The atomic structure and interactions of these elements are known quantities as well as their proclivities towards combining with each other. The error made by the author (and others of his ilk) is in failing to comprehend that atoms and molecules can, indeed, assemble
themselves into more complex structures on their own without the need for any outside interference or guidance.
(R) ASTRONOMY. Ptolemy counted 1,056 stars. Tycho Brahe cataloged 777, Johannes Kepler counted 1005 stars. The total number of stars visible to the naked eye is perhaps 4,000, counting all that are visible from every point on earth. Yet the Bible had said that "the stars of heaven cannot be counted," while also comparing "the sand which is upon the sea shore" to "the stars of the heaven." Before the invention of the telescope this must have been considered a mistake in the bible.
(MB) It is quite easy to look at the wonders of the night sky and be moved to think that there are an infinite number of stars in the sky. It also makes for better poetry (which is what the Biblical passage being quoted is engaging in). It is pointless to quibble with poetry since it is meant to convey an emotion or a message and not to deliver scientifically valid information.
(R) GEOPHYSICS. (physics of the earth) deals with the earth's shape, structure, and force systems. Again the biblical perspective is surprisingly modern. It has been only a few centuries since the scientists and teachers all believed in a flat earth, and those "intellectuals" may well have thought the Bible was unscientific when it described a "spherical" earth.
(MB) The fact that the Earth is round has been known since (and was proven by) the ancient Greeks. It is only a popular myth that the Earth was still considered "flat" until Columbus proved it to be otherwise. In fact, Columbus was thought to be a crackpot because he believed in the old Ptolemaic estimate of the Earth being only 19,000 miles in diameter. Because of his beliefs, and the known distance eastward to India from Europe, he estimated that his journey westward across the
sea to India would only be 3,000 miles long. The fact that he stumbled across the Americas at approximately that distance into his journey is probably among the most fortuitous accidents in history. Columbus, in fact, went to his grave believing he had succeeded in his original quest. That is why he dubbed the indigenous people of the area "Indians".
The Bible, on the other hand, reflects the views of the time it was written -- and that was that the Earth is flat. It speaks of the "circle of the Earth" (in Isaiah), as would be expected of a flat Earth model, instead of the "sphere of the Earth", which would be the case if the Earth had been known to be a ball. In Job, a picture is built of the Earth being a flat surface supported by pillars underneath the tent of heaven. This also makes no
sense if they had known the Earth to be spherical, but makes perfect sense in a flat Earth model.
(R) HYDROLOGY. (Science of water). The water cycle and its accompanying global atmospheric circulation have only been demonstrated scientifically in recent centuries, but they were set forth in the Bible centuries before the scientific discoveries by the "intellectuals."
(MB) Without proper citations, I'm really not sure about what the author is referring to here. Certainly he doesn't mean such a simple thing as "rain"?
There certainly is no support in the Bible for any understanding of flood dynamics. The story of the Deluge, for example, has an unpowered Ark traveling over 600 miles upstream and depicts a world-covering flood that would have required nearly four times the amount of water that exists on the Earth.
(R) TIME. Einstein set forth in his Theory of Relativity that time was not a constant in the universe. Physicists are now saying that time travel is theoretically possible. The Bible spoke of time travel as being possible two thousand years ago.
(MB) Again, without any citations, I cannot begin to assume what the author is talking about here. I hope he's not taking poetic verses and trying to ascribe scientific validity to them again.
(R) OCEANOGRAPHY. Admiral Matthew Maury, the "father of oceanography," made extensive hydrographic surveys of the winds and currents of the Atlantic Ocean. As a "religious" person Maury read in Psalm 8:8, "...whoever passeth through the paths of the seas." He felt because the Bible was true there must be paths/currents in the sea, so he set out to discover such paths. And the rest is history.
(MB) Any seafarer will tell you that there are certain navigable sea lanes that they use whenever traveling from Point A to Point B. A "path" on land is a lane used by people to walk from one place to another. The same meaning applies to a "path" at sea. Currents are hardly a new phenomenon.
(R) PEOPLE. The following people were the founders or primary developers of the scientific disciplines listed and were extremely "religious."
(MB) As I have said before, there is a great difference between being "religious" and believing in the ideas of Creationism. In fact, the vast majority of sects of organized Christian religion do not preach Creationism. That belief is unique to a small minority of believers in a particular brand of Christian Fundamentalism in the United States. The fact that they pray in a loud voice does not give their views any extra credibility. If they want to be taken seriously, they must
improve their level of scientific scholarship and present their case against science and evolution in a competent and honest manner. Alternatively, they could produce solid evidence to support their own religious ideas. Holding up the Bible and claiming that it's all the support they need just doesn't cut it. Science is ubiquitous. The Bible applies only to devout believers of one particular religion - a religion that 70% of the world's population does not practice and which, itself, is subdivided into
hundreds of sects (which often have mutually-exclusive interpretations of the Bible and the basic principles of the religion as a whole).