Above: Redirecting the questions answered by Phil Plait
|Refining the questions to evolutionists for Question Evolution Day|
Evolutionists claim that evolution is not a religion. That becomes increasingly difficult to believe as they act more and more like devout followers of a faith based religion. In addition to having doctrine, discipline for those who disagree with the faith, preachers and teachers, they now also have a holy day. Perhaps you’ve heard of it: Darwin Day, a celebration held on the anniversary of Darwin’s birthday, February 12. If the practice of evolution wasn’t looking like a religion before, it certainly is now. I wouldn’t even be surprised if they begin to exchange gifts on Darwin’s day.
For the Darwin’s day just past, astronomer Phil Plait who appears on science programs such as How the Universe Works, tweeted a link to an article he wrote in response to questions from Creationists pointing out problems with evolutionary theory. (The questions are appropriate for Question Evolution Day, which is held on the same day as Darwin Day, but were in fact asked at the Bill Nye/Ken Ham debate.) In his article “Answers for Creationists” Phil addresses the questions from the secular consensus view – that is to say from the “evolution is true/fact” perspective.
He sets it up like this:
On BuzzFeed, there is a clever listicle that is a collection of 22 photos showing creationists holding up questions they have for people who “believe” in evolution. These questions are fairly typically asked when evolution is questioned by creationists. Some are philosophical, and fun to think about, while others show a profound misunderstanding of how science works, and specifically what evolution is.
He goes about answering the 22 questions from creationists. Given his answers (when he has them – for some he doesn’t and never will), I’d like to look at how we as creationists can better formulate the questions to minimize wiggle room. The problem is many of the questions are imprecise, or mix theories, thus giving him (and all evolutionists) plenty of wiggle room through which they drive a truckload of nonsense. The result being, evolutionists continue in the belief that creationists are wrong about origins and don’t understand science; while evolutionists are correct and properly understand science.
So while I’ll comment on Phil’s answers, it’s primary to lay the foundation for better questions. The goal being to refine them so what we creationists ask the evolutionists leaves as little wriggle room as possible (none at all preferably) to squirm out and thus avoid the serious problems with Darwinian theory. So what follows are the original questions, part or all of Phil’s answer, followed by my remarks, and if appropriate a refined or redirected question. So here we go: (the question is in bold, Phil’s answer in italics.)
I’m not Bill, but I’d say yes, he is. …
Perhaps a little perspective is needed. Jesus said, “Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake?” (Matt 7.9-10) You would of course always (as far as you’re aware) give your children nutritious food, and never give them poison. In as much as Bill Nye teaches observational science, he is giving them nutritious food. However in these latter days he has gotten increasingly insistent on the need to teach the poisonous doctrine of evolution. That doctrine directly contradicts the word of God, and thus they are poison to the soul. Therefore I need not answer this question. You know the answer. Is it good to feed your children good food laced with poison?
No. In fact, if there is a Judeo-Christian god, that would have fascinating implications for much of what we scientists study…
This question comes from a Christian perspective. Scripture says:
“Yet because the wicked do not fear God, it will not go well with them,” (Eccl 8.13) (Fear God and keep his commandments, Eccl 12.13), but Phil and those like him are being quite honest when they say they don’t fear God, which is part of the reason why evolution appeals to them – no just and holy God to answer to. Another reason: it serves as an origin story for those without one. On the other hand Christians who believe in evolution have fallen into the trap of loving the praise of men more than that of God (John 12.43) – for nowhere in the scriptures will you find even a hint of evolution.This question tries to get at motives for not believing in God, but in so doing, it does nothing to prove or disapprove either creation or evolution. Digging down to motives can be a long difficult path so I recommend skipping this for something more direct and pointed.
3) “Is it completely illogical that the Earth was created mature? i.e. trees created with rings … Adam created as an adult ….”
It might be internally consistent, even logical, but a bit of a stretch. …
No. The creationist argument assumes the Earth is a closed system, such that energy cannot escape or enter. But the Sun is the main source of energy for the Earth. This allows more order to be created, and for entropy to be locally lowered in some cases.
The second law of thermodynamics – that closed systems tend toward more disorder or higher states of entropy – while applicable to evolution (one would expect lifeless materials to become more disordered, not more ordered, and particularly not more ordered toward a living creature); still allows too much wiggle room. Raw energy from the sun is unlikely by itself to provide the increase in order needed, but you’ll not get an evolutionist to admit that.
Thus the second law of thermodynamics is better used against the big bang – where the universe – (everything there is), is in fact a closed system. A stronger argument uses both the first and second law of thermodynamics: 1) The first law says in a closed system energy can be neither created nor destroyed. Before the universe was created nothing existed. The totality of nothingness is a closed system. Thus where did the energy for the singularity come from? 2) Once the singularity explodes into existence, the second law says that energy (and any matter formed from it) should tend toward disorder, not order. The better question then is, why then do we have an orderly universe? (Their answer to that is the fiction called inflation. For more on that see here.)
Angular momentum. OK, kidding aside, if you mean the beauty of a sunset, well, we have evolved to appreciate colors, shapes, and metaphors. And in my opinion understanding the science behind events like sunsets adds to their beauty.
Incidentally, some creationists are geocentrist.
This appears to be referencing the argument from Beauty or aesthetic experience. He starts with a tongue-in-cheek comment about angular momentum which belies a problem big bang theorists have with the creation of the solar system, which we won’t go into here. Suffice it to say it’s a significant one. The argument from aesthetics from my perspective is really a two part argument:
- What evolutionary benefit do you get from the recognition of beauty? This is distinct from recognizing differences. Evolutionists would argue (for example) that being able to recognize a bigger stronger male that could better protect a female would be selected. Granted. But why would that (in some cases) include an aesthetic experience? Why is it not a simple distinction like recognizing a red hot coal that can burn, and a cool one that would not?
- At the root of most aesthetic experiences is the recognition of design, order and masterful craftsmanship. For instance, part of the beauty of music is a recognition of the masterful craftsmanship; creating the various pieces then putting it all together – harmonies, melodies, tempos, etc. If there is at root no design and no purpose in the universe, why do we recognize it as such, and where did the original intelligence for such designs and order come from, as well as the ability to recognize it?
The argument from beauty is difficult for some to understand, so be prepared to further clarify if you use it.
6) “If the Big Bang Theory is true and taught as science along with evolution, why do the laws of thermodynamics debunk said theories?”
See No. 4. Also, as far as the Big Bang goes, we don’t know how or why the Universe came into being (though there are some interesting ideas). But “I don’t know” is an acceptable answer in science. …
I echo his comment (see number 4 above) and raise him this: the “I don’t know” answer when used by scientists is a double standard. It’s okay for scientists to say “I don’t know” for instance, where the singularity in the big bang came from, or where the first life came from. But for some reason, it’s a problem for believers to say “I don’t know” why a particular evil happened. For more on the “I don’t know” double standard, see the article here.
7) “What about noetics?”
Well, that depends on what you mean. There is a branch of philosophy called noetics, which deals with understanding the mind. That is also a scientific endeavor, since we know the mind is an effect of the brain—as many say, the mind is what the brain does. Scientists are studying that now, so I don’t think you can dismiss science out of hand and replace it with religion in that instance. …
Phil speaks of the mind and the brain, and thus leaves himself lots of wiggle room by not speaking of what former atheist Anthony Flew calls one of “…the five fundamental phenomena that underlie our experience of the world and that cannot be explained within the framework of the “new atheism.” That being consciousness. From where does consciousness come? It cannot be explained simply as the interaction of physical matter such as electrons and protons, or simply the firing of neurons. (If that were the case they could claim your microwave oven is conscious.) Since evolutionists only recognize matter, they cannot explain consciousness.
8) “Where do you derive objective meaning in life?”
We have evolved over millions of years to be social animals, tribal, supportive of others and willing to reach a common goal. …
This question is a very good one; as you’ll note Phil never answers it. Note the question asks for objective meaning, but he couches his answer in terms of evolutionary benefit, which means whatever arises out of evolution is either:
- Relative to the culture – or individual (not objective); or
- Functional (designed to allow survival; not existing because there is real meaning in life. Still not objective)
Watch for such evasions when asking this question.
9) “If God did not create everything, how did the first single-celled organism originate? By chance?”
This is an excellent question. It was partly by chance, but it wasn’t random. …And I might turn the question around. Who created God? If you say He has always been, then why not say the same about the Universe (or more properly, the multiverse)?
Indeed this is an excellent question, made plain from all the dancing and dodging Phil does to avoid the correct answer, which from an evolutionist is: “we don’t know how life originated.” For all the theories, postulations and guesses they have, they simply don’t know where life came from. Further a careful examination of their theories reveal that none of them work. This question should be pressed until they either acknowledge they don’t know (and thus all of evolution is based on an argument from ignorance) or refuse to continue the discussion.
His attempt to turn the question around is disingenuous. In doing so he’d have to say “the universe has always been” which is a denial of the big bang theory which states the universe began with a singularity 13.77 billion years ago. The multiverse is their attempt to evade clearly apparent fine tuning in the universe and causes more problems than it solves.
The question appears to be an attempt at humor to affirm the biblical account while employing the language of secularists to avoid further discussion. As you can see, Phil’s not laughing, and insists on taking the scientific terms as scientists mean them.
My counsel therefore is to prepared to backup your biblical belief with why the Big Bang is inconsistent with the Biblical creation account. A simple comparison of the order of created things will suffice to show the conflict. For example the Bible teaches the earth was created first; the Big Bang – the singularity followed by stars.
Panspermia refers to the theory that life on earth may have been seeded from space. It comes in two flavors: Directed Panspermia, and simple panspermia. Directed Panspermia posits that life was intentionally seeded on earth (and perhaps other planets) by an advanced extra-terrestrial civilization. Simple panspermia posits merely that the life arrived here from space, without speculating on the origin.
This question is pointing to the theory of Directed Panspermia. In his answer, Phil’s just being evasive. How? Consider:
- One need merely look at the proliferation of shows such as “Ancient Aliens” to see how popular this theory of alien life has become.
- One of the discoverers of DNA – Francis Crick – upon learning of the extreme complexity of DNA at one point supported the theory of Directed Panspermia – that life on earth was seeded by aliens – because it was clear that DNA was too complex to have arisen by chance.
- In an episode of “How the Universe Works” that Phil appears in, astrobiologist Chris McKay states:
“Panspermia must be considered because a lot of evidence points us in that direction.”
Phil would probably split a hair and say Directed Panspermia was not mentioned, but I would argue, the idea of intentionality is inherent in the concept. Otherwise you have the same problem as you do on earth, how did the extra-terrestrial life begin? (And really – even with directed Panspermia, you still have that question.)
The advice here, don’t let evolutionists pretend none of them believe “aliens did it.”
This is incorrect on many levels; we have many bones from different individuals of Australopithecus afarensis (Lucy’s species), …
This question appropriately points to the lack of transitional forms that evolution requires. Thus it is a valid objection – as pointed out by a number of scientists. One such scientist, author Jonathan Sarfarti, makes the point in his book against evolution by including a chapter titled, “The Links are still missing.” Though a valid question, it always degenerates into the question of “what is a link?” Here are some alternatives to going down that fruitless rabbit hole:
- While we don’t find missing links, we do find dead animals buried all over the world. Why is that? Why didn’t natural processes consume and eliminate them like they normally do? The fact that we find such fossils all over the world is evidence of a world wide flood that buried all the animals before they were consumed allowing fossils to be made.
- Alternately you could ask, “Why don’t we see any transitional forms now, if evolution is always occurring as evolutionists contend?” Neo-Darwinists contend that the mutations that drive the variation needed by natural selection “mutate at a regular rate.“ So where are all the transitionary forms today?
After Phil dances around the answer then confesses we don’t know, he points to articles that do what evolutionists do best: tell unsubstantiated stories (called “plausible narratives”) about how something that is clearly impossible by chance and mutation came about by chance and mutation.
The short answer is no, Metamorphosis supports creation, not evolution, for two reasons:
- Could your car become a functional plane by chance and accident? No. Likewise a new, functional body plan requires new information for a new design. Evolutionists contend there is no design in the origin of life. Where then does the information for the new body plan come from?
- Instructions for body plans requires information on how to construct a 3 dimensional object. Such information, as near as we can tell, is not found in DNA: “The body plan, as far as we know, is not in the DNA.”
Jonathan Wells, author “Icons of Evolution”
That seems to indicate it has been carefully built in somewhere by an intelligent designer.
Here we see how important it is to use the correct terms when speaking to detail oriented scientists and secularists. To Review:
- A scientific Theory:
A scientific theory is “a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world that is acquired through the scientific method.” (Wikipedia)
Given that definition:
- Evolution is a theory. Don’t make the mistake of arguing that it’s “just” a theory and thus is considered as something less in the scientific community. The gravitational waves that they believe have been recently detected is further confirmation of Einstein’s theory of Relativity. In spite of much confirmatory evidence it is still called a “theory” though Relativity is universally regarded to be true. Likewise Evolution is still called a “theory” though secular scientists widely regard it to be true. The difference is there is much contradictory evidence against evolution. (Not so with Relativity.)
Since Darwinian evolution has not and cannot be observed, secular scientist merely assume it to be true and would like you to believe it is fact, but that does not make it a “fact”.
- Intelligent Design is thus a theory – it meets all the criteria, but not recognized by secular scientists because it points too strongly to a designer that they deny.
- Creation can be broken down and presented as science (as for example Russell Humphreys does), but since most who espouse creationism typically don’t put the beliefs of creation through the scientific process, it is not regarded as science. Both Creation and Evolution start with beliefs about the past. The difference is there are many more people doing “science” based on evolutionary beliefs than there people doing “science” with Creation based beliefs.
The real thrust of this question alludes to this: There are many problems with evolutionary theory that proponents keep hidden. That being the case, why not simply address it directly:
“Why are the many problems with evolution not taught, just as (for example) the problems with geocentrism are taught?”
See the next question for comments on the first amendment.
Also, again, teaching religion in schools as being real is a violation of the First Amendment.
We have to be careful with terms again. It is the theory of evolution that is not testable, observable or repeatable; not science. Evolution should be those things to be true science. It appears this questioner is referencing the distinction Ken Ham makes about the differences between Operational Science – which is observable, testable and repeatable; and historical Science – (like Evolution and the Big Bang) – which is not. The example Phil cites in his response of evolution – E.Coli; please note: 44,000 generations – and they’re still E.Coli, no change in kind there, so no evolution. (Evolutionists will play the name game claiming evolution, but recognize it for what it is: an attempt to obscure the fact that bacteria-to-biologist evolution simply doesn’t happen.)
At the end you see Phil trying to shut down discussion by calling Creation “religion” in violation of the First Amendment. The First Amendment speaks of an “establishment of religion.” Evolutionists can’t tell the difference between “fact” and supposition, so it is not surprising they have a problem differentiating between a Church and a creation account. Eugenie Scott, Executive Director of the evolution promoting National Center for Science Education advises against scientists debating with Creationists. Phil’s attempt to stifle debate by hiding behind the first amendment falls along the same line.
Nevertheless, the question is a good one with a little clarification:
Why do evolutionists have to hide behind the first amendment? The account of creation is not an “establishment of a religion” any more than the greeting “Merry Christmas.” Why are evolutionists afraid to even present evidence contrary to evolution in schools?
Again, here you go.
Phil’s example is not an example of an increase of genetic information. As the article acknowledges:
“In nature, there have been a few reports of E. coli that can feed on citrate.”
The article supposes such an ability was acquired from some other species. There is no proof given that the ability wasn’t built into E.Coli, and made manifest through environmental pressures.
This question is good as is. The question asks for a mechanism to increase information. We know that mechanism is not mutations – mutations decrease information (though such a decrease may on occasion have a beneficial outcome). Phil provided an example of natural selection. But natural selection also removes information, it doesn’t increase it. So for this question I’d suggest he’d try again. The example cited doesn’t cut it. And for those asking, be ready when they dance and wiggle.
Another good question which points to meaning and purpose in life. But evolutionists deny there is any meaning and purpose in life so he does the only thing he can do – he punts it to someone with a religion where there is meaning and purpose.
To tighten the focus on this, perhaps ask, since evolutionists deny any meaning and purpose in life, why live as if there is any? Why, for example, even bother trying to convince anyone evolution is true? What is the reason for that? If the answer is “for truth’s sake”, that’s still a purpose – which ultimately – is denied in evolution.
See number 12. The missing links are still missing. And there are still no transitionary forms now – as there should be. For evolutionists just about any ancient unidentified bones becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy about missing links regardless of actual evidence (or lack thereof). Thus if you want to talk fossils, the stronger case is that all the fossils found around the globe point to a global flood.
That’s way too much wiggle room. Questions must be specific. For instance, “Why do big bang scientists claim everything came from nothing, when they don’t really mean nothing?” (The equivocation they use on the word “nothing” I call big bang magic.)
I agree; it is amazing! I’ve written about this many times. But we know that complexity can arise naturally through the laws of physics. …
Phil’s answer begs a longer discussion on the difference between complexity and specified complexity and an examination of where the laws of physics come from. But that discussion will have to wait another occasion. His response to our amazing world again suggests the question of aesthetic experience from question 5. So the fact that we’ve got an evolutionist on the doorstep to confessing the world, perhaps life itself elicits an aesthetic experience (for which there is no purpose in evolution), I think is a significant achievement. We’ll leave this question as is.
A quibble: It wasn’t an exploding star, but an explosion of space and time. But as I said for No. 6, we don’t know, but that’s OK …
A quibble with his quibble: it wasn’t just space and time, but also energy – in direct contradiction to the first law of thermodynamics – energy can neither be created nor removed in a closed system. He conveniently leaves that inconvenient truth out. Even so, he must once again punt to the “I don’t know” double standard from question 6. Another question good just as it is – with the correction of “singularity” for “star.”
22) “If we came from monkeys then why are there still monkeys?”
Let me ask you this: If you came from parents, why are there still parents?
The answer is that evolution is not a line from one species to the next. …
Phil’s answer points to the evolutionist’s creed that humans are just one line among multiple lines of animals all connected by the tree of life. Perhaps the following to draw out the absurdity of that position: If we are just part of a long line of animals, – a line that is still evolving; how could evolutionists object if a superior race came and put humans in a zoo in the same way humans put animals in a zoo? On what grounds could they object? There can be no moral objections – that requires a transcendent moral lawgiver. It can’t be on the grounds we’re somehow different from the animals. According to the evolutionists – we’re not. Clearly that’s a disconcerting scenario, but under the evolutionary worldview, one cannot give a reason consistent with evolutionary doctrine why the superior race would be wrong in doing as they wish.
In his conclusion, Phil notes:
…one final note: At the very top of this article, I put the word believe in quotation marks when it was used in relation to evolution. Why? Because science isn’t a belief system. Scientists don’t believe in evolution; we trust that it’s the best way to describe how we came to be.
Once again we see the common evolutionist tactic of trying to make evolution appear more sure, more verified, more trustworthy than it actually is. To clarify:
- Science is not a belief system (though scientism is), at the heart of science is a methodology.
- Evolution doesn’t follow the methodology of science, so it is not science.
- Evolution tells stories about origins. You either believe the stories or you don’t. Thus evolution is indeed a belief system.
Thanks to the contributors of the above questions for getting us started, you’ve done a good job. With these pointers in mind, you can do an even better job of questioning evolution, particularly on the next Question Evolution Day.
1. Big Bang theorists actually equivocate on the meaning of “nothing” with regards to the Big Bang. To see how, see my article “Exposing the Big Magic behind the Big Bang“
2. For a brief explanation of the argument from Aethetics, see:
Steven Dunn, 15 Arugments for the Existence of God, # IX The Argument from Beauty (Aesthetic Experience), 1/23/2014, https://philosophicaugustine.wordpress.com/2014/01/23/15-arguments-for-the-existence-of-god/
3. Briefly the angular momentum problem is this: The Nebula Theory states the sun was formed from contracting gasses that coalesced to become the sun. Since everything was spinning, those gases would have imparted their angular momentum to the sun. The problem is though the sun has 99.8% of the mass of the entire solar system, 98% of the momentum of the solar system is in the planets (not the sun). That should not be. Conservation of angular momentum says it should have stayed with the sun.
4. Jason Wisdom The Double Standard of ‘We Just Don’t Know Yet’, 8/5/2014, http://www.becauseitstrue.com/blogarticles/the-double-standard-of-we-just-dont-know-yet
5. Anthony Flew, There Is A God, New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 2007, p. 164-165
“Multiverse proponents are often vague about how the parameter values are chosen across the defined ensemble. If there is a “law of laws” describing how parameter values are assigned as one slips from one universe to the next, then we have only shifted the problem of cosmic biophilicity up one level. Why? First, because we need to explain where the law of laws comes from.”
Paul Davies, “Universes Galore: Where Will It All End?” http://aca.mq.edu.au/PaulDavies/publications/chapters/Universegalore.pdf
Anthony Flew, There Is A God, New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 2007, p. 120
7. An article that nicely lays out the differences in the order things are created between the biblical and big bang creation accounts is this:
John Hartnett, “The big bang is not a Reason to Believe!“, 5/20/2014,
8. Phil McKay, How the Universe Works – Expanded Edition episode “The Universe’s Greatest Miracle”, science documentary, 12/15/15
9. Jonathan Sarfati, The Greatest Hoax on Earth Atlanta: Creation Book Publishers, 2010, p. 123
10. Geneticist Mark Stoneking from the Max Planck Institute
Nova episode “Becoming Human: First Steps” Documentary, 2009
11. Jonathan Wells, Darwin’s Dilemma: The Mystery of the Cambrian Fossil Record, Illustra Media DVD Documentary, 2009
12. See for example Russell Humphries on how science based on creation concepts can be presented and accomplished:
D. Russell Humphreys, The Creation of Planetary Magnetic Fields, Creation Research Society Quarterly Journal, CRSQ Volume 21, Number 3 (December 1984), http://www.creationresearch.org/crsq/articles/21/21_3/21_3.html
13. Benjamin Radford, Should Scientists Debate Creationists? Discovery News, 1/5/2014, http://news.discovery.com/earth/should-scientists-debate-creationists-140105.htm
14. For more on mutations and outcomes see:
Dr. Georgia Purdom, “Do Beneficial Mutations Add Information To The Genome?” (YouTube, accessed 8/2/2014, https://rationalfaith.com/archive/Do Beneficial Mutations Exist_ – Dr Georgia Purdom_(360p).mp4
15. Duane Caldwell, Exposing the Big Magic Behind the Big Bang, 1/6/2016
16. Complexity can arise without intelligence (like the complexity of a snowflake); specified complexity cannot, because it is clear the complexity is due to an intelligence meeting design requirements, specifying the complexity.
For more see William A. Dembski, Intelligent Design, Downer’s Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1999 p.127-138