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12 July 2011

Evidence for Creationism? Nope!

Cross-posted from the Winnipeg Skeptics blog.

Here we go again.

So creationist David Buckna has been hanging out in the comments section of the Winnipeg Skeptics blog for the last few days. Rather than have my replies buried deep in the comments section, I like to use them as the opportunity for blog-fodder, especially when they begin to exceed the character limits imposed on comments by the various blogging platforms that we use.

Here is Buckna's most recent comment:

Gem wrote: “If your only means of supporting your position is to attempt to poke holes in the position of your opponents, you demonstrate that your own position is untenable. Please present evidence for your position.”

You are not obliged in science to come up with an alternative theory for a theory you are criticizing. There is no rule like that in science.

That said, there is ample evidence and related inferences for creation/intelligent design, but evolutionists choose to ignore them because evolutionists interpret evidence and data through the lense of philosophical naturalism. Why _is_ evolution the one subject skeptics aren’t skeptical about?

Evidence for creation/intelligent design include: the universe is a Tri-Universe,

http://www.icr.org/articles/view/2590/215/

earth’s geologic features appear to have been fashioned by rapid, catastrophic processes on a global and regional scale, the fossil record (eg. the Cambrian explosion), man and apes have a separate ancestry, natural selection (a creationist’s idea), the design inference,
rapidly nuclear-decay-generated helium escapes from radioactive crystals
http://www.icr.org/article/new-rate-data-support-young-world/
irreducible complexity, the complexity of living cells, etc.
http://www.nature.com/news/2010/100331/pdf/464664a.pdf

Maybe it’s time for the evolutionists to read Thomas Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1962)

Are we on the verge of another great paradigm shift?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Structure_of_Scientific_Revolutions

“In any community of scientists, Kuhn states, there are some individuals who are bolder than most. These scientists, judging that a crisis exists, embark on what Thomas Kuhn calls revolutionary science, exploring alternatives to long-held, obvious-seeming assumptions. Occasionally this generates a rival to the established framework of thought. The new candidate paradigm will appear to be accompanied by numerous anomalies, partly because it is still so new and incomplete. The majority of the scientific community will oppose any conceptual change, and, Kuhn emphasizes, so they should. To fulfill its potential, a scientific community needs to contain both individuals who are bold and individuals who are conservative. There are many examples in the history of science in which confidence in the established frame of thought was eventually vindicated. Whether the anomalies of a candidate for a new paradigm will be resolvable is almost impossible to predict. Those scientists who possess an exceptional ability to recognize a theory’s potential will be the first whose preference is likely to shift in favour of the challenging paradigm. There typically follows a period in which there are adherents of both paradigms. In time, if the challenging paradigm is solidified and unified, it will replace the old paradigm, and a paradigm shift will have occurred.”

Is it any wonder that I keep having to dig these out of the spam filter?

In any event, I'll try to address each claim one by one.

You are not obliged in science to come up with an alternative theory for a theory you are criticizing. There is no rule like that in science.

I agree with you, and I made no such claim. I'll repeat what I said, as it seems like you weren't listening: "Critiquing evolution does provide evidence for the creationist position."

So sure, feel free to critique evolution. That's fine. But you should understand that if you are advocating an alternative hypothesis (as creationists are), you are obliged to provide evidence for it.

Obviously.

Evidence for creation/intelligent design include: the universe is a Tri-Universe,

http://www.icr.org/articles/view/2590/215/

This is evidence? That article is hilarious! It contains nothing but wild assertions and Biblical quotations. The author seems to think that because the universe is composed "of Space, Matter, and Time, each permeating and representing the whole", this somehow provides evidence that it was created by a triune God.

In support of his thesis, Morris states that "in fact, many scientists speak of it as a Space-Matter-Time continuum." Actually, they don't. From what little I understand of the topic, space and time speak to the dimensionality of our universe. Our universe is composed of matter and energy (which are interchangeable). Why not then speak of a "space-matter-time-energy continuum", you might ask? Because that wouldn't fit the pattern of the trinity, of course!

And scientists speak of it as a "space-time continuum"; it seems to be mostly creationists who speak of it as a "space-matter-time continuum" (here, let me Google that for you).

earth’s geologic features appear to have been fashioned by rapid, catastrophic processes on a global and regional scale, the fossil record (eg. the Cambrian explosion), man and apes have a separate ancestry, natural selection (a creationist’s idea), the design inference,

So you look at the "geological features" of the planet and infer catastrophism "on a global and regional scale"? You were not specific, probably because you'd like to maintain a position of unfalsifiability. Perhaps you're referring to the Grand Canyon? It's features are not consistent with a global flood. The geologic column? Ditto. Fossil sorting? Nope.

And "the fossil record (eg. the Cambrian explosion)"? What's that supposed to mean? Presumably that complex life forms appeared suddenly, with no ancestral fossils? That is false. The Cambrian "explosion" was "sudden" on a geological timescale, but actually took place over an estimated 70–80 million years, and is in no way inconsistent with an evolutionary understanding of speciation. The Wikipedia article provides a useful summary of the Cambrian explosion for anyone interested.

As for "man and apes have a separate ancestry", you'd be wrong. Humans are apes. If you want to present evidence to the contrary, be my guest. Until then, citation needed.

You say that natural selection is "a creationist’s idea". Perhaps you're referring to Gregor Mendel's theories of inheritence? The term "natural selection" was first coined by Darwin in Origin, but even if it had originated with a creationist, that's a nonsequitur. If you would kindly limit yourself to arguments that make sense, I'm sure that we'd all appreciate it.

I won't waste anyone's time discussing the "design inference", as it has been more than adequately addressed elswhere, most notably at Iron Chariots and at Talk Origins' Index to Creationist Claims. If you're interested, you know where to look.

Maybe it’s time for the evolutionists to read Thomas Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1962)

Are we on the verge of another great paradigm shift?

I'm familiar with Kuhn. But paradigm shifts are rare, and I'm not convinced that we're on the verge of one. There are also many insightful criticisms of Kuhn's work, some of which are summarised here. But I think that PZ Myers addresses this claim quite adequately here.

[M]ainstream journalists play this game with scientists, and some scientists play it up as well; but the real masters are the creationists. It's all they've got: rhetoric that tries to put them in the role of the brave, noble, clever underdog trying to overcome the stifling influence of a stagnant scientific orthodoxy. It's even more false, but it does appeal to the media.

Can we just get something straight? Science builds on past discoveries. You don't get to cherry pick what bits you want to include in your theory — successful new theories don't throw away old evidence, they extend and strengthen and reinforce, and offer new insights. There may be new theories that follow the theory of evolution … but they will all incorporate the basic facts of earth's history — its age, common descent, the relationships between species, etc. — and will not be any more appealing to creationists than what we've got now.

So you've thrown a veritable Gish Gallop of nonsense at the wall, hoping that some of it will stick. What a waste of time.

Look, Buckna: I have neither the time no the inclination to deal with any more of your foolishness. I have two jobs, a family, and a community of friends with whom I'd like to spend more time. I do this in my free time, which is scarce enough, and I have other projects on which I'd like to work. So unless you can come up with something interesting, instead of just throwing out wild assertions and long-debunked creationist canards, I'm not going to waste any more time on you.

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