Oooh, oooh, oooh!!! I can’t wait for this to come out. I want to be first in line to watch it. I have been an “anti-evolutionist” for years…for longer than I ever believed it. Though I’m not sure I really believed it even when it was being taught to me in school. At that age you just kind of accept what you’re being taught and don’t think too deeply about it. I don’t know, did you think deeply as a high school student?
There are good arguments out there on both sides of the debate. But why is one side automatically dismissed? Ben Stein can say it better than me so watch him.
Not sure why I’m being all controversial lately. It will stop…for a little while. I promise my next post will be fluff.
Meanwhile–Don’t check your brain at the door. Ever.
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11 thoughts on “Dare to Question the Establishment?”
“But why is one side automatically dismissed?”
Because they have no model integrating the available data (the entire body of scientific evidence), no evidence for the fragmented claims they make (recent global flood! 6000 year old earth!), and try to advance their side by simply poking about for weaknesses in their opponent’s argument (you’re missing a transitional fossil–oops, there it is–well, you’re missing this transitional fossil–oops again! . . .)
Check out my blog (http://nimravid.wordpress.com). Creationists can’t do anything coherent with the data I’ve presented there. I know, because I used to be one. Once I started buckling down and seriously studying evolution I realized it’s got consilience on its side–different lines of evidence from different scientific disciplines all pointing together towards the same conclusion.
You like contraversy because you are a good ASC woman who is strong in her beliefs and not afraid to stand up for them.
Speaking to the contraversy: The reason it is a contraversy is that NO ONE KNOWS THE ANSWER. There isn’t anyone who has lived long enough to tell us what happened. We have documents testifying to all kinds of stuph. So everyone gets an opinion, thus the contra-versy.
Can we all agree that we all disagree about everything, then we can just go to San Fransico with flowers in our hair?
Peace, love and happiness, my friend…
Nimravid, thanks for taking the time to respond. After reading your response I immediately went online to “research” a little and started with the transitional fossil argument. What I found was convincing testimony from both sides. Whichever side you’re on, you’re going to believe their arguments on the issue. So, I do see that there are some fossils that are considered to be transitional. But, there are not a lot if one believes life has been around continuously for millions or billions of years. And one person even took issue with the way evolutionists use the word “transitional”. I wish I had saved those websites, but you’ve probably heard those arguments.
And we’re both still on the same side of the coin we were before. What I am interested in is how you began to research evolution. For what purpose? Where were you at in your faith when you decided researching? What, if anything, has changed with your faith now that you are an evolutionist? Have creationists attempted to debunk the information on your website? What are your feelings about Ken Hamm and Kent Hovind?
Anyway, thanks for the dialogue.
“Whichever side you’re on, you’re going to believe their arguments on the issue. ”
Not necessarily, I challenged the establishment when I went from young-earth creationist to evolutionist.
“What I am interested in is how you began to research evolution. For what purpose? Where were you at in your faith when you decided researching? What, if anything, has changed with your faith now that you are an evolutionist? Have creationists attempted to debunk the information on your website? What are your feelings about Ken Hamm and Kent Hovind?”
I was raised by a Christian mom and agnostic dad. My dad would not describe himself as an evolutionist, since that would be kind of like describing himself as a Newtonian gravitationalist from his point of view. He never talked much about Newton’s theory of gravity, and he never talked much about the theory of evolution. But he had a lot of science books around the house that mentioned both of them.
Although my mom is not a fundamentalist, somehow we wound up in a fundamentalist church as I was growing up. That was where I learned young-earth creation. Throughout my childhood I thought young-earth creationism was something that you had to believe in order to be a Christian. In high school I took AP bio and grew even more discomfited. It certainly seemed to make sense, and I was concerned that a recent creation was not immediately obvious to anyone who cared to look. But I maintained my belief in young earth creationism, thinking that perhaps when I knew more I would be able to reconcile the evidence with creationism.
I ended up going to an evangelical college that is officially young-earth creationist. I majored in chemistry and minored in biology there, but became disillusioned because none of my professors were able to advance creationism in any way except by trying to poke holes in the theory of evolution. At this time I started seriously considering the alternatives. Old earth creationism? It solves some of the evidentiary problems, but raised other theological problems, and left a great body of the evidence unaddressed. Theistic evolution? It was appealing more and more to me. However, I was troubled by it because of the presence of death in the world before the Fall.
I actually did not solve the problem in college, and didn’t in my first two years of graduate school. I seem to go through stages in my life where I simply don’t have time to address certain issues mentally, and I didn’t have time in early graduate school. After my classwork was done and my research started to progress I had more time and mental energy to address to the problem, and also found myself equipped with more learning that was useful. I started studying the problem for myself, reading books and papers about radiometric dating and other methods of dating, fossils, paleontology, genetics. . . Initially genetics provided the most convincing evidence, in the form of mechanisms for mutations that could and demonstrably had added information (supposedly an impossibility if you ask the creationists) and in relics of the past in our own DNA. Next was the fossil record. Later I learned about stratigraphy. Every piece of information added to what I had learned before. Eventually I reached the conclusion that there was no other possibility besides an ancient earth and evolution of life.
During this whole time I was still a Christian, and ultimately ended up a theistic evolutionist, although I still hadn’t sorted out the problem of death before the Fall to my satisfaction. This soon ceased to be an issue, though, because about a year and a half later (the interim spent continuing learning more about evolution and getting caught up in the internet debate) I ended up with the time and energy to address the question, “How can I condemn the atrocities of Mohammed and his followers as recorded in the Hadith when I have no reasonable defense for the genocide of the Canaanites?” That resulted in another year or so of searching before I reached the conclusion that I could not maintain a belief in the Judeo-Christian God any longer. So now I am agnostic, although that had nothing to do with my discovery of the truth of evolution.
“Have creationists attempted to debunk the information on your website? What are your feelings about Ken Hamm and Kent Hovind?”
I’ve only really had it up contributing regularly for about a month, so I’ve had no creationists drop by yet. My blog is not intended for creation/evolution debate, though. There are oodles of blogs out there filling that niche.
You will probably have guessed I think very poorly of Kent Hovind. He’s a hack and a tax-dodger. Even by creationist standards his material is low-quality. Answers in Genesis has specifically addressed some of his pro-creation arguments and said that they should not be used because they are either flat-out wrong or very lame.
Out of time for now, but I will be back soon!
To wrap up, Ken Hamm is a good businessman. Answers in Genesis is unfortunately no more successful at addressing the evidence than any other creationist group. I initially lost interest in AiG in undergrad. One of our labs had a drawer full of AiG pamphlets. I read through these and found the same problem I saw in zoology class–no synthesis of the evidence, just criticisms of various facets of evolutionary theory. And those criticisms were weak, with the most popular tactic being appeal to ignorance (we have not found this fossil, therefore that organism did not exist; we have trouble imagining this transformation, therefore it was impossible). So even before I actually quit believing in young earth creationism I lost faith in Answers in Genesis!
At that point I just thought AiG was incompetent (although leaning towards thinking they were making the best of a bad situation as I considered leaving young earth creationism–if there was not evidence for a recent creation I couldn’t really fault them for not presenting it). Since then I’ve decided the organization is basically dishonest. They have been presenting for the last decade the claim that we have not discovered the pelvis for the transitional whale Ambulocetus, so claims about it locomotion are wishful thinking. In actuality the pelvis was not recovered in the first excavation, but the researchers returned the next year and dug up the rest of the skeleton. Their findings were duly published and are cited in every single discussion in the literature of whale evolution since. Oddly, this bit of information managed to elude AiG for over five years (that in itself says something about the quality of their scholarship). Finally someone managed to get through to them, but AiG’s response was “We haven’t seen the peer-reviewed paper, and even if it is out there we don’t care because we wouldn’t believe it anyway.” (See 2002’s addendum here: http://www.answersingenesis.org/tj/v8/i1/whale.asp ) Although AiG acknowledged this discovery’s purported existence in 2002, they promptly suffered amnesia because they have repeated multiple times what is now an outright LIE, that Ambulocetus’ fossil does not have a pelvis (most recently in 2007 here: http://www.answersingenesis.org/e-mail/archive/answersupdate/2007/0428.asp ).
Additionally I sent them a letter a couple of years ago regarding their coverage of Mary Schweitzer’s discovery of preserved soft tissue remnants in a T. rex femur. Their handling of the story was deceptive and insulting to Dr. Schweitzer. I never received an answer to my letter, they never corrected any of the errors I pointed out, and since then they have capped feedback at 1000 characters. I guess they didn’t like getting a several-page email complete with references.
So considering these things and then especially after their recent spat and breach with their Australian cohort, whom they seemed to have treated badly, I’d have to say their stock sits pretty low with me.
I am wondering why you describe yourself as “anti-evolutionist?”
BTW, Nimravid’s testimony here is similar to Darwin’s. It sounds like Nimravid’s and Darwin’s agnosticism are not the result of belief in evolution. They both consider God, as described in the Bible, to be immoral and explain their journey to agnosticism as resulting from that. At the same time, Darwin did not always consider himself to be an agnostic. Darwin wrote in his autobiography about “the extreme difficulty or rather impossibility of conceiving this immense and wonderful universe, including man with his capability of looking far backwards and far into futurity, as the result of blind chance or necessity.” He wrote, “I feel compelled to look at a first cause having an intelligent mind in some degree analogous to that of man; and I deserve to be called a theist.” The process of evolution as Darwin described it the Origin of the Species is not theistic, but it seems that Darwin was moved by what he saw in nature to consider the possibility that God has a hand in the workings of life and the universe. I am wondering if Nimravid is moved the way Darwin was moved?
Ken and Nimravid,
I probably should not have used the term anti-evolutionist and just went with “creationist”. Anti-evolutionist seems a bit flame-throwy and that’s not what I’m intending to be. I wrote this post after viewing the trailer and was emotionally charged at the prospect that “my side” might get some air time.
I am wondering what you think about the idea of irreducible complexity? The eye, the way that blood clots, the flagellum bacteria. How could any of those things (and others I’m sure) have begun to be without all of their parts? Take the clotting of blood. Anything with blood that didn’t have this perfected system would have bled to death with a small cut.
Also, what do you think about the origins of everything? Where does it all come from? Was there nothing and then something came from nothing? How, scientifically, is that possible?
I’m much more comfortable talking about the philosophical side to science than its technical side. We as humans have finite wisdom and may never be able to know and understand all of the scientific explanations behind either side (creation or evolution). I’m comfortable with that. I believe in the God of the Bible, and I do not believe Him to be immoral. With that presupposition I believe the Bible to be His inerrant word. In the Bible it states that God created everything. Man was created in His image.
I am a young-earth creationist who definitely doesn’t have all the answers, but has a deep faith in God, and therefore I rest in the fact that I will have the answers the day I get to heaven. It will be fascinating to know the truth one way or the other. Right now I rest secure in knowing that I am a child of God, not a child of premordial stew.
“I probably should not have used the term anti-evolutionist and just went with “creationist”.”
I often use the term “anti-evolutionist” because it includes both young-earth creationism and ID, which have some major disagreements with each other.
“I am wondering what you think about the idea of irreducible complexity?”
Irreducible complexity is an appeal to ignorance. Behe wants you to think that because he can’t figure out how this system evolved, that means there’s no way it could have. In actuality each of the supposedly non-irreducibly complex systems have been shown to be reducibly complex. It’s estimated you can evolve a complex eye from an eyespot in less than half a million years (why this has not happened for every creature with eyespots is because not everything benefits from having better eyes). You can find a discussion of the evolution of the clotting cascade here: http://www.millerandlevine.com/km/evol/DI/clot/Clotting.html and the flagellum here: http://www.millerandlevine.com/km/evol/design2/article.html
There are multiple ways to get around irreducible complexity. One key way is a process known as scaffolding, in which a system gets build up from an ancestral system, then when the modern system is in place selection favors the elimination of redundancies and the scaffold is stripped away. Another is role changes–just because a gene has one function now does not mean it has to have had that function at every time in the past. Modern functions sometimes have evolved from different but related functions in the past. These processes, scaffolding and exaptation, both have left genetic fossils in organisms allowing us to trace the process of evolution from simple systems to more complex ones.
I said in my earlier reply that a key creationist debate tactic is the appeal to ignorance (what I sometimes call the appeal from lack of imagination), the claim that because the creationist cannot see how something could happen naturally, that must mean that it happened supernaturally. Of course this is a logical fallacy. In order to conclude something cannot happen naturally, one must rule out every single possible natural explanation. Creationist apologists prefer not to even start looking.
“Also, what do you think about the origins of everything? Where does it all come from? Was there nothing and then something came from nothing? How, scientifically, is that possible?”
Time had a beginning at the Big Bang. There was no “before” the Big Bang. At the instant of the Big Bang the universe was a singularity–a point of infinite timespace curvature. All of our physical laws break down at a singularity, so it’s impossible to say that anything at that point was possible or impossible. We just don’t know enough to say.
I would say everything was already in existence at the Big Bang and the question of where it came from is meaningless. It’s like trying to imagine something outside the universe or what it would be like if the universe did not exist. None of these questions make any sense, although it can be entertaining to try to think about them until they make your mind start hurting.
“I am wondering if Nimravid is moved the way Darwin was moved?”
In general, no. I in general distrust my emotions as an indicator of truth (something I learned as a Christian after seeing how easy it is to manufacture a “spiritual experience” that has no authenticity at all (one way is to start with a crowd, add dim lighting, and then start the endless looping of praise choruses)). However, I don’t feel those emotions terribly often anyway. I think Darwin was probably more likely to because he knew so little about how nature works so it was easier to feel like a supernatural being must be responsible. He formulated his theory based on observations of mostly living organisms, but now the theory of evolution is strongly supported by evidence from DNA and a rich fossil record that it’s easier to accept that the development of life proceeds by natural processes. I do frequently feel “world so big, me so small!” but don’t feel that requires the existence of a deity.
In a way the universe feels even more impressive since I stopped believing in young-earth creationism. Before I was limited to 6000 years of history, an “appearance of age” creation that meant many events transmitted in starlight never really happened, and the idea that the universe’s run was just about over. True, the existence of heaven helped make up for a sub-10,000-year lifetime of the universe, but I couldn’t help but feel as a kid that it would be cool if the universe really was like in Wells’ The Time Machine, built on a much grander timescale.
Sorry for making you feel like I was calling you out. I was interested to know why you had called yourself an anti-evolutionist and now I understand. You approach this subject with all the appropriate modesty while affirming your faith.
I think that you place science and what we know and don’t know in the right perspective when you say that someday in heaven we will know, if it even still matters then, and that for now it is good to know that we are the children of God.
As Nimravid implied in his response and Darwin wrote at the The Origin of the Species, there is grandeur in the view of life that Darwin taught us to see – the old earth, the long struggle, the connectedness of all life, and natural selection tending to the life of each specie. At the same time, it is a view of life that challenges our long-held conviction that ultimately our lives and the world around us are founded on benevolence, our conviction that we are not here by chance and struggle but instead through the kindness of God. Darwin’s view challenges us to believe that life has come to be as it is through a process, natural selection, that is indifferent to kindness and cruelty. It is not a challenge that we accept gladly. Some of us surrender, some fight and some compromise. I think the expression “anti-evolutionist” applies to those who fight. They fight because so much is much at stake.
You make some great points and although I think we have a young earth, in the end, my mind could be changed on that topic. What it can’t be changed about is that the God of love exists, created the universe, that His Word (the Bible) is infallible, and that He sent His Son to die for us on the cross. He gave us His grace because He loves us that much.
A few questions for you (from your posts):
Why does God need you to provide a reasonable defense for the genocide of the Canaanites?
– This perfect God is asking for your faith in Him and in His sovereignty. It’s His creation. Maybe He was trying to set His people apart, maybe He was doing something else. As Isaiah 55:8 says, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD.” Remember, not too many years later, He allowed His wayward people (Israelites/Judahites) to be wiped out by the Assyrians, Babylonians, then Persians. In the end, we are called to follow Him. Who are we to question Him? As Job 38:4 says, “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me if you understand.”
You make a statement that: “a key creationist debate tactic is the appeal to ignorance (what I sometimes call the appeal from lack of imagination), the claim that because the creationist cannot see how something could happen naturally, that must mean that it happened supernaturally. Of course this is a logical fallacy. In order to conclude something cannot happen naturally, one must rule out every single possible natural explanation. Creationist apologists prefer not to even start looking.:
– Yet, in a later paragraph, you say: “All of our physical laws break down at a singularity, so it’s impossible to say that anything at that point was possible or impossible. We just don’t know enough to say.”
– “Impossible”? “Don’t know enough to say”? That could very well be an “appeal from lack of imagination”.
– “There was no “before” the Big Bang.” How do you know that? I think that God always was…the “I AM” argument. He is outside of time but caused all of the physical laws. It appears to me that you are presupposing He can’t be. If only we give it enough time, scientists will prove God wrong.
– We all put our faith in something. You appear to put yours in the infallibility of science, even though science is constantly being “updated”. You readily admit that “Darwin…knew so little about how nature works”. Why do you think you “frequently feel “world so big, me so small!” but don’t feel that requires the existence of a deity.”?
– I think it’s because that God-shaped hole in you that you can’t fill is pointing out how awesome God’s majesty is and how you need to accept Him.
I put my faith in an omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent loving God who made this awesome universe and all that is in it for Himself. He put man on this earth to build a relationship with. Do you have any kids? As a father, I think I get just a glimpse of what God must be feeling when he sees man go through the ups and downs and try to understand Him and His Creation. He is calling us to have faith in Him. When you see a sunrise or a waterfall or a flock of birds flying overhead or hear the beautiful roar of ocean waves rolling upon the beach, do you see it? God put that there for you. Enjoy it and trust in Him!
“Darwin’s view challenges us to believe that life has come to be as it is through a process, natural selection, that is indifferent to kindness and cruelty. It is not a challenge that we accept gladly. Some of us surrender, some fight and some compromise. I think the expression “anti-evolutionist” applies to those who fight. They fight because so much is much at stake.”
I’m not sure I understand what you mean. It looks like you’re suggesting that in choosing a worldview, a person should choose the one that makes them the most comfortable. I would say a person should choose the one that best reflects reality.
For me my decision that the Judeo-Christian God most likely did not exist was independent of my decision that evolution was a real process. While this was disruptive, it didn’t upset me nearly as much as I would have thought it would (probably because it came on slow). The world often sucks for both Christians and agnostics, just Christians think there’s an entity that loves them and will some day take them away from it. Instead of looking for comfort from God, I take my comfort from my family. True, they’re not going to make a new creation where everything works like I would like it to, but they are a good part of the meaning in my life. Not believing in God does not mean that life has no meaning, it means you get to choose your own adventure.
“Why does God need you to provide a reasonable defense for the genocide of the Canaanites?”
God does not need me to, I need me to. I went on faith on that for two decades, but eventually ran out. In attempting to reconcile that with my derivation of morality I found calling genocide good meant an eradication of human rights and reduction of good and evil to God’s whim of the moment. If a person kills an infant, they do not sin against that infant, because it has no inherent right to life (sometimes it is Good to kill it, sometimes it is Evil), they sin only against God because at the moment killing babies is Evil. This might change tomorrow. This makes God capricious and completely incomprehensible. We may find that God’s nature is more what we would call Evil than what we would call Good.
I’ve been around the mulberry bush a billion times about this recently, and heard it all.
““Impossible”? “Don’t know enough to say”? That could very well be an “appeal from lack of imagination”.”
No, an appeal from lack of imagination or appeal to ignorance would be, “We don’t know enough to say, so we’ll conclude that God does not exist.” Do you see what I mean? Refusing to draw a conclusion is not an appeal to ignorance, drawing a dogmatic conclusion (“blood clotting is irreducibly complex”) without exploring all avenues is an appeal to ignorance.
““There was no “before” the Big Bang.” How do you know that? ”
By definition. At a singularity spacetime is destroyed. If the entire universe was in the singularity, time did not exist.
“I think that God always was…the “I AM” argument. He is outside of time but caused all of the physical laws. It appears to me that you are presupposing He can’t be. If only we give it enough time, scientists will prove God wrong.”
You are misinterpreting. I said nothing about God. He appears to be unobservable so there is nothing to say. Again, you are making an appeal to ignorance. Are you suggesting that because we don’t know what happened at the singularity, God must exist?
“We all put our faith in something. You appear to put yours in the infallibility of science, even though science is constantly being “updated”. You readily admit that “Darwin…knew so little about how nature works”.”
The great thing is science is self-correcting and continually advancing, right now at an amazing speed. It’s exciting!
“Why do you think you “frequently feel “world so big, me so small!” but don’t feel that requires the existence of a deity.”?”
LOL! What makes emotions a reliable indicator of anything? They lie to us continually! Infatuation tells us we adore a person we would not give the time of day to in our right minds, senile dementia tells an old man that he hates his daughter, boredom tells a man he should dump his wife of thirty years, oxytocin tells a mother she loves her newborn baby, but postpartum depression tells a mother she does not love her newborn baby! I already mentioned that with a few very simple tools you can elicit “spiritual” experiences in groups of people of any religion (or lack thereof). We can take pills that make us placid and pills that make us paranoid, and can even take pills that make us see things that aren’t there. Emotion is a poor indicator of reality.
The question why we feel such emotions? All emotions are inbuilt and were developed by our ancestor’s increasing sociability. We have evolved cognitive biases (see my blog) that tell us intuitively that certain things are so. Our evolution primed us for following a leader, and we evolved awe because it helped us survive by solidifying social bonds. Now that we are more intelligent and imaginative we add those features together with our tendency to think everything has a purpose (another useful evolutionary trait, finding the utility of an object for us was useful in helping us succeed) and that someone made everything (generally the objects we’ve dealt with most were made by other humans) and it adds up to a God. I doubt selection would favor the evolution of a species as intelligent as us that is asocial, but if so that species would not have religion.
An appeal to emotion is unlikely to convince me your God exists, especially when I rejected him because my logic told me he either did not exist or was not really very likable. God might or might not exist, but at the moment I see no evidence that it is interested in talking to me if it does.