Sunday, October 05, 2008

Dollars against Darwin

Getting ready for Darwin Day

Have you made special plans for February 12, 2009, yet? It's not just the bicentennial of Abraham Lincoln's birth. It's also Charles Darwin's, and the latter's anniversary is setting off a worldwide celebration.

Ken Ham of Answers in Genesis is not a big fan of Darwin, but he knows a fundraising opportunity when he sees one. He sent me a letter warning me about the looming threat of Darwin Day and his need for money with which to combat it. His prose is typically apocalyptic (with lots and lots of bold). The scientists are coming to get you—and your children, too!
Dear Friend,

There’s no question we have a fight on our hands.

I wrote to you recently about Darwin Day, the new global holiday proposed by the worshippers of human reason. Their goal is to indoctrinate the world with molecules-to-man evolution and deny the troth of Genesis chapters 1-11—to undermine Christianity itself. But next year, it will get much worse.
Human reason has “worshippers”? Perhaps I should pause to genuflect and bow my head. Chest-thumping is optional (though our simian heritage gives us a yen for it).
Although Darwin Day will be February 12, 2009, we know many atheistic organizations will make the whole year a special push to get their ideas into every school and church. You see, next year will be Darwin's 200th birthday, and his book Origin of Species will be 150 years old. Darwin will be “everywhere” next year!

I'm most concerned for our nation's children attending public schools, who will be bombarded with even more evolutionist propaganda than usual in 2009.
See? Our children are in danger!
We've got the biblical and scientific ammunition we need to stand before the world—and the children of the world—with the truth, especially the gospel. But we do need your continuing help to do it.

It's one thing to have the knowledge and another to distribute it all around the globe, in many languages and many different forms. That takes the dedicated financial support of a lot of people committed to preserving the integrity of God's Word.

With your gift this month, you will help create two new Creation Museum exhibits that help destroy the foundations of evolution ... free-of-charge “Answers for Darwin” conferences that spread the news about Darwin's errors to abroad audience ... radio broadcasts, videos, and more that can rescue thousands of people from a faith-killing belief in evolution.
It didn't take him long to get to the money-grubbing, did it? But one has to wonder whether sending money to Ken Ham is a good investment for your average creationist. Didn't Ham “destroy the foundations of evolution” a long time ago? Then why won't the damned thing just fall down? The creationists keep tolling evolution's death knell but it continues robustly onward. The Rev. D. James Kennedy chortled as he declaimed, “My friends, evolution is dead coming out of the starting gate,” but Darwin's vigorous offspring is still here and Kennedy is the one who is gone.
And to show you how much I appreciate your support in this critical time, I'll send you our gorgeous 2009 Calendar in thanks for your gift of any amount. The 2009 Calendar itself is a powerful weapon against not only Darwin Day, but all year long, as humanists celebrate throughout 2009. This year, we've filled every month with beautiful color photographs and important information you can use to talk to your children, coworkers, friends, and church about the fallacies in Darwin's theories and confirmations of life's creation by a loving Creator.
Have you ever armed yourself with a weapons-grade calendar before? The Answers in Genesis calendar for 2009 is evidently a weapon of daft instruction.
For example, in the May page of the calendar, you'll learn how modem scientific studies actually refute Darwin's idea that genetic traits—like the long neck of the giraffe—develop on their own. We know that God created a wide variety of animal kinds with unique traits like the giraffe's, to bring glory to Himself and increase our wonder at His power!

This is the kind of information we need to share with our kids and grandkids: and encourage them to share with their friends—who are regularly bombarded with evolutionary teaching that attacks God's Word.

In fact, this calendar could be one tool God uses to equip a child you love with effective answers to defend their faith and reveal the errors of Darwinian evolution.

I'm asking you to send a gift today so we can get the calendar in the mail to you. The pages start with December 2008, and I don't want you to miss a single month.
The AiG calendar has thirteen months. Hmm. I'm not sure, but I suspect it's a sin to tamper with time.
But even more, I'm asking for your generous support right now because we have a lot to do to prepare for the Darwin onslaught next year and these attacks on the very foundation of Christianity.

I believe that we can turn the enemy's plans for 2009 inside-out, responding with an overwhelming demonstration of God's sovereignty over human reason. How many people—especially the children—can we show the truth and turn their hearts to their Creator and Savior, Jesus Christ?

Sincerely in Christ,

Ken Ham

P.S. Don't forget to request your stunning 2009 Calendar when you send your gift of support today! Your gift will help Answers in Genesis create resources to combat Darwin all year—just as the calendar will prepare you and your family to refute the claims of evolutionists throughout the coming year. Thank you for standing with us at this critical time!
Thanks anyway, Ken, but I've decided to get a Far Side calendar instead.


Porlock Junior said...

I just realized:

A I G ?

You mean all those worthless default swaps and credit crises are Ken Ham's fault?

Shoulda known it.

Eamon Knight said...

Far Side vs. AIG -- which one is more absurd? Tough question!

llewelly said...

You mean all those worthless default swaps and credit crises are Ken Ham's fault?

The credit crisis is not real. Even if it is, it's a natural cycle, caused by sunspots. See here.

Edward Spencer said...

"I'll send you our gorgeous 2009 Calendar in thanks for your gift of any amount"

Would it be bad form to organise, say, a few hundred people to send him a (still overly generous) donation of $0.05 and demand our weapons-grade calendar?

I wonder if he would ship to England...

Anonymous said...

I just love this. Head for any anticreationist site, and what do you get? Mocking. This is just more Bill Maher style "You dunno cuz I dunno" propaganda. As for evolution, it's been outdated decades ago. Why hasn't it fallen? Because atheists haven't thought up an alternative yet. While their evangelists are writing fancy books like "The God Delusion", their researchers are frantically searching for an alternative to evolution. They know as well as any that their is not one scientific fact to back evolution. That's college textbook filler, not science. That's stuff to cram down the publics' throats to keep em quiet while they search for a new system of godless origins. They'll find one. Don't worry.

Zeno said...

Um, no, Zak, we are not scrambling around trying to find an alternative to evolution. It's working very nicely, thank you. We've come quite a ways since Darwin, but his original insight about a naturalistic origin of species is holding up. It's the creationists who keep offering an alternative, but none of is persuasive. Very sad.

In the meantime, though, we'll have plenty of mockery for them. We're generous with our disdain. Come back with some science if you'd like something else.

Anonymous said...

Mr zeno, I don't have a clue who you are, but if you are anything like %99 percent of humans on this planet, you are part of the "public". Of course YOU aren't looking for an alternative. You haven't been initiated. When the late Dr Colin Patterson accidentally confessed his own doubts about evolution (yes, I've heard all the misquote claims. I've also read his original statement; his words speak for themselves), he was attacked by fellow atheists; NOT because his doubts were invalid, but decause he dared to express them! Doubting evolution is "grown-up" stuff, and the public (that's you (zeno) and me) must be kept ignorant!

Zeno said...

Right, Zak, you haven't a clue who I am, so it's presumptuous of you to think you can lecture me. I'm not ignorant, though I'm prepared to believe that you are. Bring us some science and then we can talk. Otherwise you are wasting your time and mine. (Unless, of course, being an anti-evolution troll is your hobby, in which case you have decades of fulfilling activity ahead of you.)

Anonymous said...

Science, you say? Yes, I could talk about science. I could discuss distant startlight in a young universe. Say, gravitational time dilation, or the alternate sync convention? Or perhaps fossils would be more meaty. How about the almighty "Missing Link?". Polystratic fossils? "Living fossils"? Or perhaps fraudeulent "scientific" evidence for evolution? Say, the peppered moth? Horse evolution? Piltdown man and friends? Embryonic recapitulation? The 188 vestigual human organs from our evolutionary past (every single one of which has now been admittted as having a vital function in the human body)?. Perhaps we should dicuss the poor old Big Bang. We have the anitmatter mismatch. The lack of Population 3 stars. The missing Monopole. The horizon paradox. Fundamental physical issues with the singularity. The orgin of the "singularity". I could give evidence for a young universe. The spiral shape of the galaxies, for example. The life cycle of comets. The list goes on.

However, all this is for naught. No amount of scientific evidence will convince a true atheist because he has ruled out the possiblility of God to start with. To prove this, let me ask a simple question; What evidence are you prepared to accept from me to prove there is a God? If you are an atheist, the answer is "NONE!". If you are an agnostic (an honest atheist), the answer is "I don't know." (as agnostics, by their nature, can't know anything for sure) The problem is that none of us can know everything (though some of us are more honest about theat fact than others), so when it comes to origins, pure science won't help us. History is not observable, testable, or repeatable. We must rely on an exterior source. A creationist relies on the Bible, a book that has demonstrated it's historical and scientific accuracy time and time again. The evolutionist relies on his own arbitrary assumptions about the past, which change on a regular basis (as all science must). It is impossible to base any theory of origins purely on science; a certain amount of religion is required (though most hardened atheists will never admit this). In the final analysis, evolution (and atheiesm in general) require an ardent faith of such absurd proportions that no one could hold to it without the reverant conviction to not believe on a God; no matter what the evidence says.

But I digress. I leave you with one final scientific question. Evolution (the change from one kind of animal into another) is supposed to occure through gentic mutations that are weeded out via natural selection. This means that genetic mutations have, over millions of years, added the necessary information to turn a sigle cell into a human. Note that I said "add information". I'm not talking about five-legged cows (deffective reproduction of existing information) or wingless beatles in Oceania (beneficial loss of information, ultimately still a defect). I am talking about brand new information appearing in an organisim that was never there before. This is not nitpicking, either. This is the very core of the mechanisim whereby evolution is supposed to have occured. If this is false, the whole theory is false. The question then is, can you give me one example of a genetic mutations that can be proven to add more information the the gene?

You said "bring some science". I brought some science. Good luck.

Zeno said...

A list of creationist canards is not science, Zak, although it quacks like a flock of ducks. It's especially funny that your list includes Piltdown Man, whose fraudulent nature was exposed by evolution scientists who discerned that it didn't fit in. Piltdown is actually evidence of the self-correcting nature of science, not evidence for creationism.

I see you've fallen for the "information" argument, too. One of the simplest ways to "add information" via evolution is the duplication of a gene, after which mutations in one of the redundant genes results in a new trait. If you think this hasn't been addressed before, you should spend more time at Talk Origins, which has a convenient compilation of creationist claims and their refutations. It would be educational for you.

Eamon Knight said...

On the Gish Gallop scale I'll give Zak an 8.5. An excellent performance covering an impressive breadth of the classics, marred only by a lack of sarcastic humour.

Better luck next time, old boy.

Anonymous said...

Excuse me sir, I never said Piltdown man was evidence for creation. I called it "fraudulent evidence for evolution." And yes, of course evolutionists discovered it was a fraud; after being fooled for forty years (and writing many doctoral theses on it).

As for information science, the linked articles still beg the question. New "traits" is not new information. And duplication followed by mutation still cannot create new information, just garbled remnants of existing information. Adding is not the same as duplicating and modifying.

I'll give you credit, though. You handled that much better than Dawkins. You still didn't answer the question.

But I'll give you some breathing room. Try this one, it's much simpler. Explain the lack of transitional forms, in the fossil record or anywhere else. After all, it would be a logical absurdity to claim that only the "complete" organisms were preserved, without the transitional forms, the failed transitional attempts (which should logically greatly outnumber the successful variants). So where are they? Did the random chance processes that brought the universe and all that is therein selectively erode them away? Are McCain and Palin hiding them in their basements? Where are they? No, textbook illustrations don't count. I want the real stuff.

As a slightly related aside, two evolutionists are quoted with the following statements; the first, "If there is any evidence for evolution, it is the fossil record". The second, "No evolutionist would dream of using the fossil record as proof for evolution." I leave it to you to figure out who said what. It's any interesting piece of trivia.

@Eaton Knight: Ah, yes... your logic is compelling.

Edward Spencer said...

Hi Zak,

Though I fear this is futile, I'll give it a go anyway. I suggest you find out what we mean by information before discussing it, wikipedia has an excellent article on it. Duplication followed by mutation is precisely new information, by definition. An example, say you had the following string:


And it mutated to:


There is of course new information here. The two strings cannot represented in the same way, they are not the same information.

The only way I can see your argument working is if we push hard on the 'new' information aspect. Well, we could say there is no truly 'new' information in the universe, information is just information, whether we happen to have seen it before or not. What makes the genetic mutations important is that the altered information can change the way animals grow, which can make them more or less suited to their environment. The mutations (and their associated information) which help them reproduce tend to stick around, and the ones that don't largely don't.

On your aside, who are these two evolutionists? Why would you not have named them and linked to the comments? I may as well have said:

"Two creationists are quoted with the following statements: the first, 'If there is any evidence for the biblical account of creation, is it surely the book of Genesis'. The second, 'No serious theologian would dream of using Genesis as proof for the creation of the universe'"

Which is of course completely pulled out of the air, and completely useless as a statement of anything.

Finally, you need to be clear what it is you are expecting from transitional lifeforms. I sincerely hope you are not looking for a creature with the tail of a fish and the head of a lizard, or any other of the ridiculous caricatures dreamt up by creationists. As you no doubt know mutations are normally extremely small, taking millions of generations to evolve from, say, a fish to a lizard (a totally contrived and I'm sure inaccurate example, but I hope it serves the point). There is an overwhelming number of fossilized animals which demonstrate very elegantly how species have evolved away from a common ancestor. If you don't believe it, I suggest you get down to your nearest natural history museum as soon as is convenient to you and take a look around.

I'm obviously a layman so may need to be corrected on some of the above, but I hope I have it largely correct.

Anonymous said...

I have unfortunately lost the name of the first quoted evolutionist, but here is the second, Dr. Mark Ridley, from "Who Doubts Evolution?" New Scientist (vol. 90; June 25, 1981), p. 831. Dr. Ridley is Professor of Zoology at Oxford University. I have not yet figured out how to link to a paper magazine, so hopefully the above information will suffice. If I can pinpoint the name of the first I'll post back.

As for your information argument, I will admit that I have not done much research myself in this area (most of my study has been in cosmology), so I will refrain from much more commenting. However, I dare say your example is greatly over simplified. How in the world did you get a "B" out of a series "A"? The most the linked article could explain would be getting from "AABBAB" to "ABAABABBA". It claimed that by duplicating and mutating existing information you could generate "novel" information, which is not "new" information. All fine and dandy, so now I can see how an ameoba went from being a simple ameoba to a complicated ameoba, but not a human. You would never get a "C" from the above information.

As for the transistional forms, all I want is to see a "in-between" form. Not some dog with a slghtly different spinal column that is "almost like a whale". I want the "halfway there" points (or close to them). There should be plenty; after all, to use your example, there would have been some point where the fish has halfway become a lizard. And with millions of mutations, as you propose, there should be a rich and conclusive palette of these transitional forms.

I love the common ancestor one, though. Just for example, the giant squid has an eye that is virtually identical to the human eye. Obviously, this points to a commen ancestor, except that the last evolutionary ancestor between us and a squid is a wrom like creature with no eye at all. In fact, the similarities between all living organisms are not only not conclusive evidence for evolution, they are also exaclt what a creationist would expect if the same intelligent designer created all organisms. Sure, we share of our DNA makeup with a chimp. We also share about the same percentage with a bannana. This is what we developers call "code reuse". Why reinvent the wheel?

And here, I must refrain. I would love to continue our discussion, but I'd rather it be on some forum where open-minded individuals may profit from it. To those who may happen upon this discourse, take a good hard look at my arguments. And take special note on what was answered, and what was ignored. Let the evidence, here and throughout this universe in which we live, speak for itself. Then choose.

Thanks all for your prompt and passionate responses. Take care.

Zeno said...

Zak: It claimed that by duplicating and mutating existing information you could generate "novel" information, which is not "new" information.

Oh, but it is. In fact, that's exactly what "novel" means: new. The words "novel" and "new" are cognates, sharing the same linguistic root. Same as the word "nova" for an exploding star (a "new" star). You are trying to make a distinction where there isn't any. Edward wins this round.

Are you sure you're a cosmologist?

Anonymous said...

Edward: it's not pushing at "new" information. It's pushing at new "information". This creationist trope relies on the use of "information" as pseudomathematical language which can impress a lay audience without having to define it anywhere. And, indeed, they never do define what "information" consists of. Whatever they think it is, it clearly doesn't relate to any accepted mathematical definition of information.

For more, look for "creationist" and "information" on Good Math, Bad Math.

Anonymous said...

hey zak i think i found your first quote only its a bit different but here it is:
"no real evolutionist, whether gradualist or punctuationist, uses the fossil record as evidence in favor of the theory of evoluton as opposed to special creation." Dr Mark Ridley, zoologist at Oxford University.

and heres another one like your second quote:
"Fossils provide the only historical documentary evidence that life has evolved." Dr Carl O Dunbar paleontologist at Yale University

put 2 n 2 together and its kinda of simple! lol!

Anonymous said...

Interesting thread here, guys. You have on your hands an intensely interesting debate, one that is worthy of paragraphs of arguing, statement and re-statement of facts, circular reasoning, and slightly corny sarcasm. But let's be fair here.

First of all, to Zak: Edward has an excellent point. It is ridiculous to attempt to back up a statement with quotes that may have been, for all anyone else knows, pulled from thin air. "Author Unknown" is no authority in scientific matters, and if he cannot agree with himself, it means nothing. But as I see the actual quotes here in the last comment and have read them elsewhere, enough of that.

Zeno to Zak: "Are you sure you're a cosmologist?"
Puh-leez, Zeno- give me something better than this. What's your point? As sarcasm, this is lame indeed. But if I'm to assume you actually read what Zak said, then please don't ask him to confirm something he didn't say. I hate to say this, but some of the comments here replying to this misguided heretic have me shaking my head and remembering Rod Machado's experience, that of opponents throwing out first their strongest argument, "followed by successively weaker arguments to support the vanishing point." These types of comebacks are usually the last to be thrown out, and that point... now where did it go?

All that aside, Zeno, you would have done very well to have answered Zak's challenge: "As for the transitional forms, all I want is to see a "in-between" form. Not some dog with a slghtly different spinal column that is "almost like a whale". I want the "halfway there" points (or close to them)." I don't know- surely that's not too much to ask?

And as for Zak's idea that the evolutionary researchers are "searching for an alternative to evolution," I believe we all know that evolution is not "a theory in crisis," that it is an established fact, without scientific challenge. This is summed up beautifully by evolutionary science writer Gordy Slack, writing in The Scientist, June 2008: "Evolution should be able to explain, in theory at least, all the way back to the very first organism that could replicate itself through biological or chemical processes. And to understand that organism fully, we would simply have to know what came before it. And right now we are nowhere close. I believe a material explanation will be found, but that confidence comes from my faith that science is up to the task of explaining, in purely material or naturalistic terms, the whole history of life. My faith is well founded, but it is still faith." Your belief that scientists are merely looking for "a new system of godless origins," Zak, was soundly refuted by geneticist Professor Richard Lewontin when he said: "We are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is an absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door."