Arguing with Creationists: Take Two

We return again! The debate got revived by a third party (M) while I was sleeping and some stuff happened about Hitler and Darwin that I just didn't bother getting involved in. I've had to start explicitly stating what debate "tactics" are acceptable which Ac didn't seem to take too kindly to, but I thought it necessary to demonstrate that I wasn't going to put up with his, for example, trying to incite an emotional response. Without further ado:

Predictions of cars, and the writings of men

Ax: so going back to the bible, you tell me i shouldn't believe in cars, i shouldn't believe that jesus was crucified. i shouldn't believe there was a man named pontius pilate or king harod, david, saul or any other historical figure listed in the bible? all these people were real, including jesus and his disciples. you can't deny this but still you think that they would just mix in lies and urban legends. the books were hand picked and put in an order that would be most effective, i've read a bit of the bible in chronological order, it's not the same. also, if you want to see what was cut out of the bible, read the catholic bible, and also notice how much christians differ from them.

"you tell me i shouldn't believe in cars"

You can verify cars by walking outside. That's a really weak argument, I would even go so far as to say it's "silly".

"i shouldn't believe that jesus was crucified i shouldn't believe there was a man... named pontius pilate or king harod, david, saul or any other historical figure listed in ...the bible?"
-shrug- There aren't many other sources that agree. A few here and there are recognized - leaders mostly - but the rest, welll... yes, that's exactly what I'm implying.
As I said above, the onus of proof is on you. Show me peer-reviewed historical papers concerning the existence of biblical figures.

"you can't deny this but still you think that they would just mix in lies and urban legends."

I can deny it because you have failed to provide me with any proof. And yes, I think they would mix in "lies and urban legends". There was no collaboration on the bible - a group of people didn't just sit down and say "let's write god's word". A whole collection of religious and political leaders over hundreds of years wrote stuff, and some of it got put into the bible. There are many other writings from that era that are not included in the bible.
I'm not talking about alternate translations here, I'm talking whole other BOOKS, whole other CHAPTERS of existing books.

The bible also suffered massive edits during its early beginnings and many translation errors as well. There's evidence to indicate that Jesus wasn't actually divine and was simply a mortal prophet. (as some other religions that use the same scriptures believe) There's good evidence that Mary wasn't a virgin, hinging on an improper translation of a word that more often means "maiden" (young woman") than "virgin". A lot of things we take literally now were common metaphors back in the day - 40 days and 40 nights, for example, didn't mean literally 40; the word for 40 was also used for "a long time". Kind of like hyperbole - how you'd say "I've been sitting here forever!" you don't actually mean forever - you just mean a long time.

The point being, basing arguments and beliefs on the modern, English version of the bible is very, very naive.

Ax:And what I was getting at with the cars is that they clearly say that in the future there will be chariots with torches attached to the front (cars) and there will be something looking like a picket fence on every product (barcodes) now you may argue that this doesn't sound much like a car, but when the latest vehicle was a chariot it was as good as you could get. So to go against everything the bible says, you are in fact denying that cars exist.
"So to go against everything the bible says, you are in fact denying that cars exist."
Uh, no. I'm not saying that literally every thing in the bible is false - that would be as extraordinary as if everything were true! I'm saying there is a mixture of truths, exaggerations, metaphors, mistranslations, irrelevancies and lies and there isn't any easy way of distinguishing which is which.

As for bible predictions, the mind sees what it wants to see. We often derive patterns from randomness. In the case of various ancient predictions, stretching the original words and forcing them to say something they were never meant to. I am fully prepared to accept the idea that ancient people of several races and time periods had visions from the future - given credible evidence, of course! Until that evidence is presented, I have no reason to consider all the varying predictions, from the bible through to fortune tellers, as anything more than wishful thinking.

Ax:So tell me what does a chariot with torches on the front hundreds of years into the future sound like to you?

Did... have you ever read the verse that is being used as a basis for the "prediction" of cars?
Nahum 2:4:
"The chariots storm through the streets,
rushing back and forth through the squares.
They look like flaming torches;
they dart about like lightning."

No chariots with torches on them here. Just some similes. It is supposed to be a prophecy about the destruction of a specific city (destroyed in ~600BC; cars didn't exist then ;) )

Ax:no no, it's in revelation, i'll try to find it for you, it's about god speaking to john about the end times.
Ax:i have to admit, i may be confusing my books.

This is, in fact, the bible verse people point to when saying the bible predicted cars, as I confirmed myself. Ax just gets confused later when he can't find the "other" verse.

Ax: [...]mike said that the bible was written by men, well so was every book about evolution or natural selection[...]

The point here isn't really that nuanced, you should be able to make the connection on your own.

The bible claims to be 100% true. The bible claims to be the word of god. The bible claims that it is divine word from an omnipotent being intent on guiding and controlling the morality and behavior of every person in the world. The bible itself is the only source people have for believing any of this.

People are far too willing to simply accept that:
1. The original Hebrew and Greek writings were directly influenced by god and had no influence by man,
2. The books chosen to make up today's bible were the only books "written" by god and that no other books written by god were excluded from the collection, and no books not "written" by god were chosen to be in the bible.
3. That the thousands of monks and other people who hand-wrote copies of the bible didn't add in their own edits on purpose or by accident and
4. That the varying language translations and versions are 100% accurate in representing the meanings of the original Hebrew and Greek. And yet, after all of this, people still believe that their NIV is also 100% true and given to them directly by god. I'm sorry folks, but associativity just doesn't stretch that far.

Books written by scientists explain a theory or hypothesis by presenting the evidence supporting that idea and explaining the implications of both the theory and the evidence. Scientific books written by people attempt to prove themselves right and do not simply claim themselves to be right without any basis. One book says "I am right because GOD SAID SO" and the other says "I am right because [look at all this evidence - physical, logical,mathmatical - and these testable predictions. Here are experiments people have done, here are experiments people can do to prove the validity of my theory...]

An answer to the question of heathens? Confusion about translations

Oh look, my question was answered..
Acts 17:30 (NIV): "In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent."

So up 'til a certain point, god didn't punish people for their sins because they couldn't have known better. But after that point, sins matter! As I said before, in either case (turns out it's both) something unfair is happening.

D:here i thought id put acts 17:30 into context just to kinda help a little:
[Quotes Acts 17 20:29]
(30) God overlooked people's former ignorance about these things, but now he commands everyone everywhere to turn away from idols and turn to him.
[Quotes Acts 31]
I read it in context the first time, although the translation version you provided isn't at all close to the other versions I found - which say nothing of turning away from idols and instead simply say "he now commands everyone everywhere to repent," (Note EVERYONE and EVERYWHERE) Where did you get that translation from?
D:lol my bible. its new living translation. and i wasnt trying to disprove ur comment but i simply like verses to be in context and for other people to be able to see the full context :) thats all
I'm interested now; the NLT website says "God overlooked people's ignorance about these things in earlier times, but now he commands everyone everywhere to repent of their sins and turn to him."
So, what's up with yours?
D:haha well as people try to modernize the bible the wording changes slightly. hold up ill get an older version and read it
[quotes same verses from NIV and King James]
Well, modifying the words from a general "god wants everyone everywhere to repent now" to "god wants you to stop worshiping idols and start worshiping him" makes a big, BIG change in meaning.
Another reason why using the bible as proof of anything is misguided...
D:huh? ok all 3 versions state in verse 30 that god wants everyone to repent? and also the sins of man can be referred to idols. maybe not physical idols but idols of the heart. Take for instance someone who is extremely greedy. Their most likely in love with money and has made money an idol in their life. thus sin becoming an idol. srry the explanation is a little sloppy but i think u understand the point im getting at. So if u replace the word idol with sin it reads. "God wants you to stop worshiping SIN and start worshiping him." now repent means to be guilt stricken and in a deeply sorrowed state for an action. when u feel like crap about something wrong you have done u usually try to avoid doing it again. and what are wrong things called again? sin. so god wants everyone to turn away from sin (which is often something we worship in life besides God). so the statements do not have that large of a change in meaning after all. BUT im still convinced all three versions say the same thing in verse 30. and yes ive double checked :)

Mike: Everyone should use ESV because its the most accurate translation ;)
I didn't respond to D because I find it preferable to just ignore extremely weak arguments like that
I prefer to crossreference YLT and King James, but uh... it doesn't make for light or easy reading. ;)
I don't have a hardcopy, (the only hardcopy I have is NIV and it's not with me) so I use this . I usually read all the versions they support on the site for consistency because I find some meaning can be lost with certain wording... When in doubt, I check the (literal translation of) original greek/latin (though YLT is usually good enough to clarify)

I would like to point out the difference in standards. Here I am cross referencing something like fifteen different versions of the bible to make sure my favourite version doesn't contain any bias. I always carefully check that I am understanding the verse both in context and as translated before using them in an argument. I read the commentary on each verse I quote to be especially sure. That they only reference one version of the bible for their quotes - and that one of them used a translation that modified the meaning of the verse - is somewhat insulting to me.

Back to evolution... Again


D:on the topic of evolution vs creation again

both sides are pretty much in the same boat. there is evidence to support both sides but arguably no real hard facts. the only difference is that Christians have personal experiences. how do u show... someone or get people to feel the same thing you saw and felt? its almost impossible. we can try our best to describe it and sometimes thats all it takes. But on the other hand sometimes people require more. so when thats the case the best we can do hope and pray that people have their own personal encounter with Jesus somewheres along the way.

"there is evidence to support both sides but arguably no real hard facts."
This sort of statement is exactly what these sorts of sessions is trying to correct. The standard for what is and is not evidence is not the same for both creation and evolution, which is just plain old hypocrisy.

Anything scientific has to be backed with massive amounts of evidence - physical, mathematical and logical - before it becomes accepted as "truth". Not only that, but simply due to the nature of reality scientists are not comfortable claiming absolutes - you may notice I constantly seed explanations with "it's possible that..." and "a study found that..", "a hypothesis is..." and "it's thought that...". This is because we can only be so sure of how things work. It is fully possible that tomorrow we'll discover that gravity is caused by magnetism, and then our theories will have to be revised.

On the other hand, creationists are often perfectly fine with making absolutist claims, and their primary source of evidence is the bible itself - the very thing they should be trying to *verify*. Every claim in the bible needs to be proven plausible before it can be used as a reputable source or as evidence of certain theories. That we know it contains some accurate historical data is a good start, but nowhere near conclusive. And in the reverse, we need only disprove ONE claim in the bible to cast a shadow of doubt on the truthfulness of what is written (and for some people, that's enough to dismiss it altogether). That's just how formal logic works.

And I'm going to take a moment to clarify some terms here: Evolution is real. It is a phenomena. Evolution is simply a life form changing (we see this in bacteria, for example). Natural Selection is the theory attempting to describe HOW evolution happens and WHY evolution happens. (Natural Selection also explains speciation.) For a parallel: gravity is a phenomena - we experience it every day. The general theory of relativity attempts to explain HOW gravity works and WHY it happens.

Natural selection is what you don't believe in; if you claim not to believe in evolution you just show how ignorant of the science you are, and some off as silly. Some people, of course, don't believe in evolution either (IE everything is exactly as it once was, no species has changed or adapted ever) but I'm hoping you're not some of them!

D:The majority of scientific principles were built upon information obtained from the bible... for this reason, and the fact that the history of it is already proven(the majority anyway), we can use the bible as proof instead of trying to prove it...
Also seeing as Abiogenesis is the science where people try and replicate cells and genes using unnatural methods I find it difficult to believe they could effectively reproduce an environment to test the little puddle of life theory...
If someone did prove evolution there would be a crapload of work to be done to rewrite many scientific principles as well...

We can't see our God, you didn't see the Big Bang... yet we think our own respective theories are correct... I'm willing to call this a stalemate myself...

How did a single cell become a body and have the number of cells making it up multiply to become blood cells and other cells required for our bodies to function?

With the Variables of evolution... for billions of years the earth would have had to have been an incubator... humans would've needed to survive long enough to become intelligent in order to survive... if there were other sentient species that had some intelligence and most likely some natural defenses... why aren't they the ones ruling over earth not humans?

My final words... I have nothing against Evolutionists... I don't believe what they think is correct but I don't hate you for it... I am no longer an evolutionist because I couldn't grasp the concept of nothing happening to the little cells that would become humans for millions upon millions of years... I think what Darwin was working on could be better described as adaption not evolution...

I had fun with this debate and even learned a few words along the way... I would stay in this but I just don't have the time and I hope that maybe you'll have a change of mind before facing judgement.
All you've proven is that you refuse to listen to anything anyone says. It's the visual equivalent to in one ear and out the other.

I, and/or others, have repeatedly demonstrated how, for example, "a single cell become[s] a body" and what abiogenesis is. We give you resources to better educate yourself and understand the theories we're presenting to you. The problem is not with the theories - the theories are sound and accepted as fact within the scientific community! The problem is *you don't actually understand the theory itself* and that's why it is confusing to you. And, for whatever reason, you refuse to research the issue on your own. All I can say now is don't pretend that you are open-minded and just waiting for the right evidence to come along; because the right evidence HAS come along. You haven't even made the slightest effort to understand the theory that the evidence proves, so how can you possibly understand the implications of the evidence and ideas being presented? That you still talk about the "variables" that supposedly pose a problem for natural selection just cinches it.

If you are honestly curious about how natural selection works and really want to understand it - and I mean *understand it*, none of this bullshit about humans evolving from monkeys, than read the Blind Watchmaker by Richard Dawkins. He's a biologist by training and the Blind Watchmaker is probably the most thorough overview of the theory that a layman can understand. If, on the other hand, you want to know how humans became what we are today right back to the primordial ooze, the Ancestor's Tale is a good read - though it's a long one.

"The majority of scientific principles were built upon information obtained from the bible"
"and the fact that the history of it is already proven(the majority anyway)"


I don't know where you got this information but it is false. It's just... it's false! I can't explain it any more than that.

"If someone did prove evolution there would be a crapload of work to be done to rewrite many scientific principles as well"

Natural selection is accepted as fact in the scientific community. It just is. If you take any biology course - or geology or archeology - there is no debate. Natural selection has met the full force of the scientific community's scrutiny and remained steadfast, making testable predictions (that have been proven true) and matching with all empirical data we throw at it. People from the creationist movement try to make it seem like there's this big debate, that it's an unproven hypothesis - but that's just propaganda and politics and if you ask the scientific community what's up they will tell you. The scientific principles have been rewritten years ago to accommodate natural selection. That the unscientific masses still debate the validity of the theory only goes to show how much influence religion has in our society and government.

Abiogenesis and morality without god

Ac:the reason I put up the Nazi page is because you seem to think that because people died in the name of God that God is bad... 60 Million people died because of Hitler thinking he could play God and control this theory known as evolution... more people died from someones ideas of evolution than in the name of God...

and for you Sam since you seem to be so hooked up on abiogenesis and "natural selection" link
@Ac: the difference between people committing immoral acts in the name of a god and people justifying their immoral actions with (a twisted version of) a scientific theory is: one doesn't claim to be a source of morality ;)

@Ac's link: 1. Morality & ethics is possible without god (in fact, the results usually turn out more ethical. See: stem cell research, homosexuality and assisted suicide)

@Ac: your link isn't related to abiogenesis. Abigenesis concerns the appearance of organic compounds from inorganic materials. Several experiments have been successful in getting amino acids (building blocks of RNA and DNA; self-replicating organic compounds) out of a setup what would have been similar to a primitive earth atmosphere without outside interference.
Here's some: link link

Ac: once again you miss the point.. you tried to say that through abiogenesis people are trying to prove the little puddle of life theory... my link shows you will gain nothing out of creating cells that are capable of surviving for... it will only prove that intelligence is required.
[...]
I wish you the best of luck trying to prove the theories of morality and ethics... seeing as they're already pre-existing... you have no physical proof of these theories...

other than some whining neither of you seem to have directly addressed the links I have given... it would appear as though this debate is finished...
Since there doesn't appear to be any arguments I will close with this and these words:
A fool hath said in his heart "there is no God". And as a christian once said "I pity the fool" and the same man said "You've got to testify! Tell somebody about it. God is good!" "I pity the fool that don't get it." Mr. T

That's game :)
Ac is starting to get cocky which just rubs me the wrong way. Gritting my teeth, I continue...

"for it will only prove that intelligence is required."

No, if you had read either of those links you would have seen that self-replicating organic molecules spontaneously arise from an environment similar to that on a primal earth. The point is there doesn't have to be any creation involved - it simply arises because of chemistry.

"I wish you the best of luck trying to prove the theories of morality and ethics... seeing as they're already pre-existing... you have no physical proof of these theories..."

I wish I knew what you meant by this so that I could address it!
If it's saying what I think it's saying... Tell me, why is it that the more secular a society is the lower its crime and abortion rates are, for example? If all morality has to come from god or religion, why is it that the more religious a society is the higher its crime rate is? Then why are societies that are nearly nonreligious seeing better ethics in it's people? Do you know how much of the prison population is christian? 90%. Do you know how much of the prison population is atheist? Less than 1 percent. Do you know how much of the general population is nonreligious? 10%. So, tell me: why are prisons disproportionally full of religious people, if the only way to get morality is from god?

Anyway, if you really want to understand morality without religion, take an ethics class. -shrug- There are several fantastic models: kantianism and utilitarianism being the most popular. I suggest you look into them. They're great because they're internally consistent (unlike biblical morality) and also reflect human's innate sense of morality (according to psychological test results across several cultures).

I find it amusing that you think I haven't read or addressed your links. Your links are full of logical fallacies and nonsense and honestly it just isn't worth my time, and yet I STILL provided you with my thoughts - albeit briefly because of the nature of the medium.

Ac:I'm growing weary of your failures in this debate...
With the biology scene... if there is ANY help or anything at all contributed to experimenting with the puddle of life theory then it is null and void as 100% natural therefore you cannot ...create the environment no matter how accurate it may be because you are using human intelligence to create the scenario...

with the ethics and morality my point being is that moralities and ethics already exist so any ideas on what it would be like without the bible are only ideas... nothing more...

last person who used prison with religion on me got a few bruises physically and mentally... I've changed a bit since then so I won't be verbally assaulting you(by which I mean cursing/name calling... etc.) People like the ones in those prisons are the ones that give Christianity the bad name... they use god as nothing more than an excuse to get fewer years so they can go back to their immoral acts... a real christian would not do such a thing... you also seem to have missed what I said about the Father of Lies... what those people have done would be his fault... not God's...

and from my point of view right now (as one who is quite experienced with how people react in debates and well versed in psychological reactions to certain pokes and prods) you are defeated by saying "Your links are full of logical fallacies and nonsense and honestly it just isn't worth my time" you have been defeated and you're trying to redeem yourself... you really would've just been better of saying something like "I would've gotten away with it too of to if it weren't for you meddling kids." however I will continue to prove you and your illogical theories wrong.

with Huxley's ape idea... Psalm 23:1 The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want. for my demonstration on how illogical this idea of randomness is...
I will teach you some math using my computer's keyboard... which has 110 different symbols(caps and lower case included) and I am leaving out the Function keys and everything to the left of the return/enter key...

there are 42 different characters in Psalm 23:1 so the equation would be 110^42 or one hundred and ten to the power of forty eight... there is a one in 110 chance he will hit the letter T... this will not even be in caps... and he would have to either hold shift or hit caps lock and then hit it again as soon as it finished the T... and this is all possible so long as you have the apes attention and getting it to hit one key at a time on the keyboard.
THIS is a logical fallacy... don't even get started on illogical fallacies because those are what you are arguing for.
link you may want to go through a few of those... try and getting a better understanding of a creationists point of view...
I find it rather amusing you can still breathe with ten feet of dirt on top of you.
You're probably just not used to debating people who actually know more about the things you're arguing against than you do. It's true, most people don't have the time or drive to understand the theories more than "cells pop into existence" and "humans evolved from monkeys like in that picture"

"if there is ANY help or anything at all contributed to experimenting with the puddle of life theory then it is null and void as 100% natural therefore you cannot ...create the environment no matter how accurate it may be because you are using human intelligence to create the scenario..."

So in your view humans cannot use carefully controlled and constructed experiments to explore the nature of the universe. We cannot possibly explore, for example, gravity or electromagnetism by setting up artificial experiments to remove variables from the scenario because we are interfering with nature and pressing human intelligence on the experiment. The truth is god makes things fall to the ground because all our experiments with gravity had to have a human intelligence involved. This means that in nature there also has to be a greater intelligence involved- namely god. Now I understand you position. Okay, well, we shall talk no further of science, then, as you reject the very basis of the field.

"a real christian would not do such a thing."
Yay! We agree on something!
So that means I can say things like, "Someone who really understands the theory of natural selection wouldn't be able to use it to justify the murder of millions of people," right? Because we're both coming up with our own definition of what is or is NOT a "real ___", completely disregarding the identities people assign to themselves. We can easily say something like, "bad people will do bad things regardless of their belief system." Super. :)

"THIS is a logical fallacy... "
No, actually, it's not. It's simply an extremely improbable situation. Continuing:

The problem with your situation is it's not an accurate analogy. I agree, it is so improbable as to be impossible that complex life simply arose out of goo. But no one is claiming such a thing.

Interestingly, Dawkins addressed exactly this issue in "The Blind Watchmaker." He made two programs: one that randomly generates letters and another that works a bit... differently. The goal was to generate a specific phrase.

The first program behaved exactly as you'd expect - it spit out garbage. The probability of it generating the desired phrase was very, very low and it never managed it. The second program, however, worked much more like natural selection would. It started with a random phrase and then through a series of small random mutations "honed" the original garbage into the correct phrase. I won't explain it here because you can find it and the explanation here.

The key point is that the correct phrase was achieved with only randomness (the starting point and the mutations) and some very simple rules governing what is a successful trait (letter/gene) and what is a detrimental trait (letter/gene).

Also interestingly, your link has a section of the weasel program. I'm going to address a few of their points:
"The programmer specified the information; it did not arise from a ‘simulation’ of evolution. "
Well, yeah, but that's not the point. The question is "How can we arrive exactly at humans through a mindless process" not, "how can we arrive at ANYTHING though a mindless process". In the question we use humans are the target we are "evolving toward", while in the program we are using a phrase as the target we are "evolving toward." To say we cannot input a target would be to say we aren't allowed to demonstrate the answer to the question.

"Real-world mutation rates are many orders of magnitude less than used in Dawkins’ model, or others supposed simulations of evolution for that matter."
Yes they are. But in the computer simulation we are only following one generational branch - there are more individuals in the population that are also breeding and producing offspring. We also know that the rate of mutation in a species is not constant - it varies with environmental pressures. For example, after the dinosaurs died out, there was a huge explosion in speciation as the selection pressures changed and what was a "beneficial" and what was a "detrimental" trait changed drastically.

"In running the DNA model, even though there are only four possible ‘letters’ compared to 27 in the Dawkins model, a target requiring 30 base pairs takes close to twice the number of generations to be reached compared to Dawkins’ target of 28 letters."

Dawkins reached his target in something like 41 generations. That is incredibly FAST and should come as no surprise that a more realistic scenario would take much longer - for example, real life takes millions of generations. ;)

"Irreducible complexity"
I'm not going to address this because it's a lengthy rebuttal... and again, the best explanation can be found in "The Blind Watchmaker." Just know it's not a good argument.

It's silly that they seem to think Dawkins' program is a simulation of natural selection. No, it's NOT. Dawkins' program is just to demonstrate that it is possible to reach a specific goal with randomness and small refinements.

Also, it's terribly sneaky that the creation site authors used the same name for their program as Dawkins' original, presumably so they would show up on search results. Disgustingly sneaky.

Ac:with the creation of cells supposedly "proving" evolution... there are too many holes in the logic of doing so... anything a scientist would do(such as create the cell to be put into a man-made environment) makes this null and void as a proper theory... if they create the cell and put it into a natural environment for it to grow... the world isn't what it used to be thus making it null and void as a theory... through any form of biology man cannot prove evolution... the only way you could do so is to FIND a cell and WATCH it grow.... this isn't something you can do in a science lab... you need to have this occur naturally in order to document it and prove evolution.... even if you aid the cell in surviving you cannot say it's proving evolution because you are using intelligence to do so...

You're right, it doesn't. It's interesting for other reasons but it has nothing to do with natural selection and I'm surprised you think I'm claiming it does.

Politely laying down the law

I'd just like to step back for a minute to saw a few things.

My goal here isn't to try to convert anyone - I can see that you are all well convinced in your beliefs and I never thought I could convert someone with simple words, anyway. I understand that you are coming from the position of "there is an omnipotent loving god" and all your arguments and your entire worldview flows from this idea. I can guess from some of your statements that you believe said god to be heavy-handed in guiding the affairs of humans. The implication of these two ideas together is that, for example, god has ensured that the bible in all its current iterations is as accurate as the original form. I even concede that it's not literally impossible - although I do personally find it to be extremely improbable.

My goal here is to introduce you to the ideas and thought processes of someone who does not accept the initial premise of an omnipotent loving god. I hoped to demonstrate that alternate explanations exist and that the explanations are indeed plausible. I've also tried to show you where some of the common creationist arguments are flawed. You may very well believe that god ensures the bible remains true and, for another example, guides evolution. But you have to understand that people who are skeptical of the initial premise will not accept those beliefs or the bible as evidence of a god. Many of the arguments you present are based on misunderstandings of scientific theories or are simply logically invalid.

I don't want you to continue your journey of faith or attempt to convince others of your beliefs using misinformation and invalid arguments. In the interest of intellectual honesty I simply can't do that. I've probably confused my goal by presenting both my personal philosophies and scientific rebuttals, and I apologize for that. I also apologize for occasionally letting my exasperation show through. I appreciate that some of the questions I posed are very difficult to answer - in fact, I am convinced that no human can know the answer to some of my questions. They were intended merely to demonstrate the areas of your belief that a skeptic might focus on, and you have to be aware of these issues. I really do appreciate the viewpoint you're approaching this from and am not trying to insult you or damage your... spirituality.

What I don't appreciate is things like thinly veiled threats of violence, hypocrisy and failure to research. I have read all the links you have provided me (I must confess to skimming some of the longer ones), in addition to thoroughly researching anything I present as evidence. I am disappointed that my efforts seem to not have been reciprocated. I also do not appreciate statements that are clearly intended to provoke an emotional response without reason. These things reduce the amount of respect I hold for both you and your position and I would like to remind you that they are not valid debating tactics. I am disappointed in many of your statements and tactics and, while I am careful to not let that affect my evaluation of your arguments, others may not be so contentious. :)

Ac:I will have you know this is nothing personal... I never intended anything I said to be harmful (if it seemed like I did) as for my debating tactics... I've debated with many people on many subjects and my style is basically let th...e get momentum and use it against them (basically play dumb for the beginning then go for the throat when I see my opening) as for the statements about atheists being fools... that, in my opinion, is used only in the sense that I find evolution to be extremely illogical and improbable(if not impossible) and, from a tactics point of view, aides in the fact that it can throw people off track of the important topics which usually allows me full control... this I picked up from a friend... the only person I've ever met to be in such control of debates that I can barely get a decent word in (we're both creationists but we debate about games, books etc.)

Please be aware that such tactics are frowned upon in the formal debating community because they are cheap and underhanded :) They work in informal situations but aren't tolerated by anyone with any sort of awareness of them. I've been tolerant so far and will continue to be, but will soon start ignoring statements that clearly come from the use of these tactics.

I'm currently waiting for AC's awesome counter to the Weasel program... I wonder if it will be any better than the rebuttal posted at Creation.org?

As things stand I'm not tired of this. I doubt I can ever get tired of something like this. I'm not really on the offensive, so my job is mainly to clarify the places where they're just wrong or their arguments are flawed. I don't like being on the offensive, except when I have a really clear opening.

Ac is funny. I have no doubt that his debate style has worked for him before - or at least, appeared to him to work. He's obviously not changing anyone's beliefs or conceptions by berating them, rapidly changing subjects and threatening violence. All he does is re-convinve himself that he's right and anyone witnessing the "debate" would be left with their original beliefs too - that Ac fights dirty and uses invalid tactics, or that he made his opponent look silly, according to their knowledge of debate.

I actually like Ax and D. They're honest, friendly, and just seems to want to *know* and share their faith. I can only hope that I've answered some of their questions or fleshed out their (still quite skeletal) view of non-creationist theories.

I got some nice feedback from the original spark of this (C) on my wall that made me all warm and fuzzy:

Sam, you carried on that argument for so long. I can't believe that you did that. You talked circles around them, provided sources, evidence, analogies and explanations. And yet, they still do not understand anything and provide nothing. Th...ey ask silly questions that are just absurd. They provide provocations that has nothing to do with the debate to steer the whole discussion in another direction to focus on a tyrant like Hitler, or say Darwin was a Christian.

I haven't gotten any notifications lately, but I just read every post that I missed. You madame are so smart everyone should be worshiping you instead of their god. (Also like to point out thanks for not capitalizing "god" as for which he does not exist and does not deserve proper name punctuation.) Some time it is hard to take any of them seriously due to the poor construction of sentences and ideas. I know, English was not my best subject, actually was probably my worst, but I at least make an effort to structure my arguments so it is easier to read whereas they do not even use a spellcheck that is provided for them!

Please continue to defend the argument as for I do enjoy reading what you have to say!

This was relieving... at least someone is learning something new, even if we already see eye-to-eye!


UPDATE: Alec posted his awesome-evolution-defeating argument, and it's hilarious.

Ac: [quoting my statements about valid debating tactics]
I fully understand this... as crude and cheap as they may be they work... and they work quite well.
And I haven't seen anything that would suggest this is a formal debate.
And one final note on the this... why are you complaining about it?... if you have experience debating then you should know that you are doing exactly what someone pushed into a corner would do... strikes out at whatever they can, hoping to get a lucky blow.

Now... I will show you the error in yet another of your theories...
you see... the flaw in Dawkin's Weasel is that the phrase "METHINKS IT IS LIKE A WEASEL" is a predetermined phrase... therefor you know exactly how to get to it... if it truly was based off completely random genetic mutations it would take many, many, many more generations to get it correct... that is... if they even mutate with every generation(it's possible it would take even longer to happen than the earth has been around)...
One other thing about Dawkin's Weasel is that I find it amusing that they use the word weasel in it... I'm sure you know that the weasel is a sly, cunning creature... such as the theory... it's sly and cunning in the fact that at first glance you would think it makes perfect sense... but really... it proves nothing about evolution... it's moving towards a predetermined phrase so it already knows how to get there... if we were to imply this to all life it would show that things required A PLAN to get to where they are... Dawkin's Weasel applies to Creation theories and how such a small number of animals from the Ark become as widespread species that they are... Dawkin's Weasel is not an example of randomness and evolution... it's an example of God's plan to take a small number of animals and turn them into more unique animals.
You appear to be quite intelligent... I would think that the holes in evolutionary theories would be obvious to one such as you...
"the flaw in Dawkin's Weasel is that the phrase "METHINKS IT IS LIKE A WEASEL" is a predetermined phrase"
And you've just proven that you didn't read my comments about the weasel program I posted above. :)

So, to answer the question I posed above ("I wonder if it will be any better than the rebuttal posted at Creation.org? "), no, it wasn't. We shall now wait and see what he responds.

Ac:you'd have to be more specific...

"The first program behaved exactly as you'd expect - it spit out garbage. The probability of it generating the desired phrase was very, very low and it never managed it. The second program, however, worked ...much more like natural selection would. It started with a random phrase and then through a series of small random mutations "honed" the original garbage into the correct phrase."

if this is what you mean... either way it still required the phrase to be predetermined... and lets create another scenario here...

I'll use the creature most often used... the Peppered Moth... lets say that the first moth was pure white(we will say it's only recently become a moth)... it's environment was a thickly forested area... a wild fire breaks out... first of all the population(for the time of it's life I am using) would be relatively small... this would most likely result in extinction... there would more than likely be no peppered moth alive today...

Let's say it's a few thousand years later in the time line... there is an abundance of moths... a fire breaks out in the forest where the majority of moths live... killing a large percentage of the population the remainder must repopulate... for this example I am using the European moth (which has one generation per year) this would take the moths many years to repopulate... without the forests to protect them the moths would be easy prey for any birds that survived the fire or any birds just looking for a meal in that area... it would need to instantly start mutating in order to survive... I will go back to one of my statements before... these are the variables I refer to when talking against evolution... you may argue you have logic on your side... you may argue you have science on your side... you can argue that you have history on your side... however... you don't have mathematics... you don't have probability(which is fairly important for a theory based on randomness) Evolution is a weasel... it's sly in the fact it seems almost believable... it's cunning in the fact that it molds science to fit it... however... it's full of guile... when your working with a theory based on randomness... you really should make sure that the power of mathematics are on your side before you go telling the world it's true.

I personally like to think of the chances of evolution happening to be one in a million(which is quite good as compared to others) even if the first generation did come to life from some strange puddle... and the second generation's chances were double... that's still one in five hundred thousand... [...]

The relevant part of my post was the following:

"[quoting creation.org] "The programmer specified the information; it did not arise from a ‘simulation’ of evolution. "
Well, yeah, but that's not the point. The question is "How can we arrive ...exactly at humans through a mindless process" not, "how can we arrive at ANYTHING though a mindless process". In the question we use humans are the target we are "evolving toward", while in the program we are using a phrase as the target we are "evolving toward" To say we cannot input a target would be to say we aren't allowed to demonstrate the answer to the question."
and
"It's silly that they seem to think Dawkins' program is a simulation of natural selection. No, it's NOT. Dawkins' program is just to demonstrate that it is possible to reach a specific goal with randomness and small refinements."

There are numerous "simulations" of evolution out there designed to show how ANY form of coherent-looking complexity can arise from simplicity. But that is not what the question asked - the question others and yourself posed with your example of generating a random phrase is "How can we arrive at THIS EXACT THING [be it humans or a phrase] through randomness and small steps." And now you have your answer.

"this would most likely result in extinction... there would more than likely be no peppered moth alive today..."

Yup. Hence why over 98% of species that ever lived are now extinct - some go so far as to say 99.9% (I personally suspect that ...number to be higher still.) The ones that are alive today are descendants of the few that pure dumb luck favored. We will never know how many species "could have been." All we know is that life is very fragile. If the environment changes faster than a population can adapt, the population dies out. if that population happened to be the only members of a species, the species is now extinct. We need only look into our human history to witness the destruction new environmental pressures can wreak. This is a fact recognized by creationists and proponents of natural selection alike. The tree of life is full of dead-ends. As I was saying to... Ax, I think: It is entirely possible that life has arisen in multiple forms and we don't know because it got stamped out too early in its development to leave behind any traces. I would even go so far to say that it is extremely *unlikely* that our (very) primitive ancestors were the only life to arise out of the "primordial soup."

"I personally like to think of the chances of evolution happening to be one in a million(which is quite good as compared to others)"

If we take the figure I expect to be closest to the truth (that 99.9% of species are extinct now) and do some math:

From here , "Estimates for the total number of species on the planet range from three million to 100 million, though most generally accepted estimates are between five and 20 million."

So we've got at most about 100 millions species of life on earth now. If 99.9% of living species are extinct, that means we have 0.1% of all species on earth now. To get how many species would have existed ever (the full 100%) we divide 100 million by 0.001, which gives us one hundred billion. We, today, have classified about 1.8 million species on Earth. This is incredible... and yet, if what I suspect is true, there have existed far more than one hundred billion distinct species. When we're talking numbers that large, a one in a million chance is almost guaranteed to happen... several times over.

" it would need to instantly start mutating in order to survive."
Alight, I think now is the time to clarify something else about natural selection.
Natural selection doesn't work on individuals. It doesn't work on populations. It doesn't work on a species. Natural selection works on gene pools. Within a [sexually-reproducing] species there is always variation due to genetic drift and as a by-product of sexual reproduction. In all reproduction types there is variation due to mutations. Mutations and variations are *always* present in a species. The only time mutations matter is when there is a selection pressure that favors or punishes that particular trait. There are many neutral traits that aren't a benefit or a determent under normal conditions.

As a species evolves - that is, as the species adapts to better fit its constantly changing environment - there is great variation in the species. (There is greater variation between individuals of the current population than there is between an animal and its ancestor several hundreds of generations past) There is a vast number of genes available in the pool form which the species reproduces - some beneficial, some detrimental and many of the neutral. Natural selection works to weed out the detrimental ones and promote the beneficial ones, so over time it is more likely that an offspring will possess a beneficial trait. That's probability! (I'll throw in a nod to sexual selection, here too, because it operates at a completely different level. Some animals "sexually select" for genes that are actually detrimental for the individual. Many birds do it - all those flashy colors certainly aren't camouflage!)
Natural selection doesn't make a species mutate to meet new pressures. *The mutation has to already be present in the gene pool for natural selection to work on it.*

In the particular case of the peppered moth, some individuals would be spotty simply due to variation. Let's assume that being spotty was a neutral trait - in a normal forest it granted them no particular benefit but didn't make them any more likely to die or not breed, either. But in the new environment of a burnt forest, it made them slightly more likely to survive long enough to reproduce (probability!) So many of the moths reproducing are actually spotty. Over time it becomes "most" of the moths that are reproducing are spotty. Non-spottiness gets weeded out of the gene pool (by, say, predators) and spottiness gets promoted to become a dominant trait in the gene pool. We now have a bunch of spotty moths flying around and very, very few nonspotty ones. After some time, spottiness saturates the gene pool and nonspottiness is cut from it. Now, except for mutations and some variation, the ONLY moths reproducing are spotty. And now we have peppered moths.

If we didn't start with some individuals being spotty because of variation, natural selection couldn't have worked on them and they may have died out, unless there was another trait in the gene pool that was advantageous.

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Arguing with Creationists: Take Two

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