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Friday, January 12, 2018

Does a new species of finch mean the finch has evolved?


A headline from ScienceAlert.com reads, “A New Bird Species Has Evolved on Galapagos And Scientists Watched It Happen” The opening sentence claims, For the first time, scientists have been able to observe something amazing: the evolution of a completely new species, in the wild, in real-time. And it took just two generations. Wow! Scientists watched evolution happen in real time? I guess I should just give up and quit blogging! //RKBentley shakes his head//

I'm not really sure what all the fuss is about. First off, this isn't even news. The ScienceAlert.com article was published 11/24/2017 and it cites a Psy.org article that was published a day earlier. However, I found this same study discussed on Wired.com on 11/6/2009. Second, the article is talking about hybridization – the cross-breeding of two different species. Hybridization is ridiculously common. It's been observed and understood for centuries. For example, how long have there been mules? A mule is the offspring of a donkey bred with a horse.

Hybrids are usually (but not always) sterile so we wouldn't necessarily consider a hybrid a new species. Species is a largely subjective term but when speciation is determined to have taken place, there is always someone anxious to label it “evolution.” Here are a few examples I've talked about before:
  • Scientists watch as a new species evolves before their eyes: Speciation, the formation of new species through evolution, is not usually an event you can directly observe. Organisms typically take many generations to accumulate enough changes to diverge into new species; it's a slow process... But biologists working at the University of California, San Diego, and at Michigan State University, may have just put a rest to all of those naysayers. They report to having witnessed the evolution of a new species [of virus] happen right before their eyes, in a simple laboratory flask, according to Phys.org.”
  • World-first hybrid shark found off Australia: Australian scientists hailed what they described as a world-first discovery of two shark species interbreeding Tuesday, a never-before-seen phenomenon which could help them cope with warmer oceans... It’s very surprising because no one’s ever seen shark hybrids before, this is not a common occurrence by any stretch of the imagination... This is evolution in action.
  • Pressured by Predators, Lizards See Rapid Shift in Natural Selection: “Countering the widespread view of evolution as a process played out over the course of eons, evolutionary biologists have shown that natural selection can turn on a dime -- within months -- as a population's needs change. In a study of island lizards exposed to a new predator, the scientists found that natural selection dramatically changed direction over a very short time, within a single generation....”
God created organisms “according to their kind.” Grass, herbs, and fruit have kinds (Genesis 1:11); Marine animals and birds have kinds (Genesis 1:21); Cattle, beasts, and every animal that walks upon the earth has kinds (Genesis 1:24-25). At the time of the Flood, representative animals from each terrestrial kind were brought aboard the Ark to keep them alive (Genesis 6:19-20). All of the various species of animals that exist today are descended from the smaller kinds originally created by God.

When I read headlines like these, it's my opinion that what we observe is better explained by Genesis than by evolution. For example, we have several instances of speciation happening rapidly. Creationists have been saying this is the case all along yet evolutionists still act surprised every time it does. They're so ingrained into their “millions of years” way of thinking that they act shocked when a new species forms in only few generations. They see a a new species of finch appear in two generations yet they scold creationists by claiming the 4,000 years since the Flood is not enough time for a bear to become a polar bear or a wolf to become a dog.

Which brings me to another point – how are these people defining evolution? When most people think of evolution, they think of dinosaur to bird or ape to man. However, evolutionists describe any change in a population of animals as evolution. If there were a population of moths where 60% of the moths have light pigment, the population is said to have evolved if the next generation has only 50% with light pigment. It's evolution by definition. The examples of “evolution” we observe don’t demonstrate any mechanism that could eventually turn a molecule into a man.

The sensational headlines that talk about evolution happening before our eyes are seldom anything more than hype. Even if we are occasionally surprised, it is ultimately nothing more than an anecdotal example of a rather mundane phenomenon – a new recombination of traits that have already existed in the population. Two lizards giving birth to a bird would be news. Two finches giving birth to a finch is click bait.

Further reading:

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Happy New Year!


At the start of every new year, there's a tradition practiced by many people of telling a big, fat lie called a “new year's resolution.” I say it's a lie because the failure rate on these resolutions is abysmal. Many don't even make it past the first week. Most don't last the first month. I read one survey that showed only 13% of people keep their resolution the first year. To me, it sounds like maybe they need to look up the definition of “resolution” because it seems like most of them weren't very resolved to begin with.

I tend to not make resolutions. Another thing about resolutions is that they are usually things people should have already been doing anyway. A popular resolution, for example, is that a person will try to lose weight. Usually what happens, then, is that the person eats like pig between Thanksgiving and Christmas with the intention of starting a diet after the New Year. If you think you need to lose weight, just start trying to lose weight now. Continuing a practice you know you should change simply for the sake of waiting for the New Year doesn't make a lot of sense.

Having said all that, I have been considering what types of changes I might need to make for my blog this year. It's not a resolution; it's more like just a reassessment of what I want to accomplish and how I'm going to get there. I'm tempted to say I'll blog more but that's one of those things I doubt I'd be able to keep. Still, there are some things readers of my blog can expect to see this year:

More Scripture

Regular readers of my blog know that I trust the Bible above the opinions of any man or scientific consensus. I put Scripture ahead of my own personal feelings. However, new readers who happen upon a single post, might get the impression that I am using “science,” “evidence,” or philosophical arguments as though they are more important than the Bible.

I will try to include at least some Scripture in every post. No one should be able to read more than a few of my posts without knowing all of my arguments are scripturally sound. Ideally, visitors will not leave my blog without having a chance to hear the gospel.

More links

I sometimes critique arguments I find on the web. I also often quote other people. When I do this, I have always been careful to provide links to the source. However, I think I should start providing links to support some of the points I'm making as well. Perhaps I might add footnotes. Hmmm. I think doing this will help show my arguments are a little more researched and not pure opinion. Oh, and I'm going to start providing links to the sites where I've found the pics I use for my post.

Finally, after each article, I'll try to provide links to past articles I've written that might relate to the subject at hand.

More social media

I already have FaceBook and Twitter accounts with a few thousand friends/followers. I need to become more practiced in leveraging those mediums to reach more readers. You may start seeing hashtags at the end of my articles. I'm even toying with the idea of starting a YouTube channel! Yikes.

There are hundreds of millions of people using social media. It's the mission field of the new millennium.

Fewer series

If you picked up a best selling book, how interesting of a read would it be to read a random chapter in the middle? It might make some good points but, without reading the whole book, it's going to lose something. That's how I've come to feel about writing a series. For new readers who visit my blog in the middle of a series, it's like they're starting an interesting book in some middle chapter.

If I can't make a point in a single post, I may stretch it to two but that's going to be my limit. Furthermore, each post has to make its own point so that it could be read as a stand alone piece.

Longer posts

I had made the decision long ago to limit my posts to 2 written pages (about 1,000 words). I thought people would get bored with pieces that are too long but maybe 1,000 isn't quite long enough. I want to make sure I cover my arguments thoroughly and if I need more words, then I'll take more words – especially if I'm going to write fewer series.

Broader content

I know I write a lot about evolution and creation but that's not really my mission. Jesus said, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15). He also commanded His church, Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen. (Matthew 28:19-20).

The Great Commission is to preach AND teach. My blog has been read in places I could never have gone otherwise. It has been read on every continent including Antarctica. I want to use it to equip the saints and challenge the lost. With that in mind, I want to devote more time to posts about theology, defending the faith, rebutting atheists, and offering a Christian perspective on politics and social issues.

If my visitors have any suggestions about things they'd like to see on my blog, please comment. Thanks to everyone who visits. God bless and have a great new year!!


RKBentley

Friday, December 15, 2017

Breaking News: Charles Darwin was an evolutionist!

In the years I've spent engaged in apologetics, one of the most frustrating things I've had to put up with are the word games employed by unbelievers. “Evolution” doesn't mean humans are descended from apes. An “atheist” doesn't deny there's a God. What most people call a “theory” isn't really a theory. You see, militant unbelievers who might use these words have a different meaning for them than the general public has. As a result, much of any debate between believers and unbelievers is spent haggling over terminology. See red herring.

One of the most contended words is, “evolutionist.” In heated “creation v. evolution” debates, using the terms “creationist” and “evolutionist” helps everyone know who is being discussed. It's a term of convenience because it's easier to say “evolutionist” than to say “a person who subscribes to the theory of evolution.” Though some evolutionists might have contempt for creationists (and vice versa), the terms creationist and evolutionist are rather benign.

Let me give a brief grammar lesson. Words that end in “ism” describe a belief or philosophy (atheism, socialism, fundamentalism, etc). People who subscribe to those beliefs are identified with the suffix, “ist” (atheist, socialist, fundamentalist, etc). Capitalism, for example, is the belief that property (and labor) is owned by individuals. Proponents of capitalism are called capitalists. See? It's easy.

The belief that God created the world as described in Genesis is called, creationism. People who believe God created the world as described in Genesis are called, creationists. By the way, it does make me laugh to see people say things like, “there is no evidence for creationism.” Isn't that funny? They're saying there is no evidence that people believe in creation. //RKBentley chuckles// Creationist and creationism are fine words (when used correctly) and I welcome them. I even use them myself.

The fuss is over the term, evolutionist. For some reason, many evolutionists despise the term. I'm not sure why. I suspect it's because they usually mean “creationist” to be a pejorative term and, so, think creationists are using the term evolutionist the same way. It could be too that they feel “ism/ist” are terms used to describe belief systems and they don't like the “fact” of evolution being described with similar terms.

Just yesterday, for example, a person I was debating on FaceBook (I don't link to FaceBook on my blog because people use their real names and I don't intend to dox anyone) took exception to my use of the term, evolutionist. He said, Evolutionists aren’t a thing any more than gravitationalists or blue skyists.What these people don't seem to understand is that the word “evolutionist” is probably as old as the theory itself.

After having been called, “Mr. Darwin, an Atheist,” Charles Darwin wrote the following to the Grimsby News (bold added):

Dear Sir,

It seems to me absurd to doubt that a man may be an ardent Theist and an evolutionist.... What my own views may be is a question of no consequence to anyone except myself. But, as you ask, I may state that my judgment often fluctuates.... In my most extreme fluctuations I have never been an Atheist in the sense of denying the existence of a God. I think generally (and more and more as I grow older), but not always, that an Agnostic would be the most correct description of my state of mind.

Dear sir, yours faithfully,
Ch. Darwin


There you have it. The man who literally invented the theory of evolution called proponents of his theory, evolutionists. It's probably older than the term, creationists. I know this is news to many of you but you just need to chill and not go into full defense mode whenever you hear the word.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Proof for Evolution? Part 2

In my introduction to this series, I pointed out the casual use of the word “prove” in the article, Three Pieces of Evidence That Prove Evolution is a Fact. People who claim to respect science are usually quick to point out that science never proves anything so, if anything, this evidence only proves evolution is dogma to some people. Generally, theories are falsified rather than proven. Think about this:

If I ate an entire pizza, I'd be full.
I'm full.
Therefore, I must have eaten an entire pizza.

Of course, I could be full if I'd eaten an entire pizza but being full by itself doesn't prove my theory. I could be full for some other reason, like eating a pound of bacon. Likewise, the three evidences presented in the article could be explained by evolution but they still don't prove evolution because some other explanation – the correct explanation – might exist for the same evidence. In the case of these three, I would say they can all be explained by supernatural creation but even if I had no other explanation whatsoever, I would still say they don't prove evolution because there could still be some unknown explanation waiting to be discovered.

So let's look at these three “proofs.”

Common Traits. Common Ancestor.

Think about your family. You and your closest relatives look more alike than you and your cousins. Likewise, you look more like your cousins than you do more distant relatives, and more like distant relatives that people on the other side of the globe. The closer you are related, by-and-large, the more similarities you share.... This patterning, like in your family, extends throughout all life on Earth.


It's true that evolution could explain similar features in closely related species. Of course, created things can also have common traits. Consider this illustration. The tricycle and the cart obviously have features in common but the cart certainly hasn't evolved from the tricycle. Their only relationship is that they were designed to perform similar functions. Some of their similarities, the blue frame, the black tires with heavy tread, the black seats and steering, etc, are merely the preferences of the designers. Likewise, similar features among different creatures could be evidence they were designed by a Creator and reflect his purpose and preferences.


What evolution fails to explain well are similar features in creatures that aren't considered closely related by their theory. Humans and chimps both have an appendix. If they are both descended from a common ancestor that also had an appendix, it would make sense we both have one. However, possums also have an appendix. Possums are marsupial mammals which supposedly split from placental mammals 65 million years ago so they cannot have a recent ancestor. If evolution were true, we should be able to trace the appendix along the so called, “tree of life,” and see that all species with an appendix also have a common ancestor. Instead, it appears randomly across the tree of life while being absent in species that supposedly link them.

There are also fingerprints. Humans and chimps have fingerprints but so do koalas. According to LiveScience, “[K]oalas, doll-sized marsupials that climb trees with babies on their backs, have fingerprints that are almost identical to human ones. Not even careful analysis under a microscope can easily distinguish the loopy, whirling ridges on koalas' fingers from our own.... The remarkable thing about koala prints is that they seem to have evolved independently. On the evolutionary tree of life, primates and modern koalas' marsupial ancestors branched apart 70 million years ago.” So common features are not “proof” of common ancestry, even according to evolution!

We See Species Changing Over Time

One of the most important discoveries that lead to Darwin’s Theory of Evolution was extinct animals found as fossils. Early paleontologists, like Charles Lyell and George Cuvier, noticed a very simple fact: Species that lived in the past are very often drastically, wildly different from anything alive today. Trilobites, dinosaurs, giant sloths, baculites, etc., they all suggest that life on Earth has changed quite a bit.


I like to use dogs as examples of change in populations because most people are familiar with dogs and know they come in all shapes, sizes, and colors. The problem with evolution is that dogs never come in new shapes, sizes, and colors. Take color, for example. Dogs can be white, brown, black, blonde, and red. However, they aren't green or blue. Why not? It's because the “change” we observe in species are merely rearrangements of traits already present in the population.

Natural selection can only ever select from traits that already exist – hence, we call it, “selection.” For evolution to be possible, creatures have to acquire new traits. For a dinosaur to become a bird, you would have to add feathers. For a fish to become a frog, you would have to add legs. To turn a bacterium into a basset hound would require a millions of years long parade of new traits being added generation after generation. We don't see any new traits. We see changes among animal populations. We don't see evolution!

I noticed something very interesting about the illustration of human evolution used in the article. If you look carefully, you'll notice the only direct ancestor shown for Homo sapiens is Homo erectus. All other species are linked by some unnamed, imagined common ancestor. Isn't that interesting? Finding a human ancestor is the life dream of any paleontologist but after more than a century of looking, no “clear progression” from ape to human has been found.

The Remnants of Past Generations


Turn over a manufactured product today, and you are likely to see a small sticker or tag that says what country it was made in. Like those tags, species bear the marks of where they came from. These signs of origin might come in the form of repurposed traits, traits that hurt a species chances of surviving or reproducing.

The author appears to be talking about vestigial organs. The champion of all vestigial organs ever touted by evolutionists is the appendix. I've discussed above how the appendix being present in some mammals but absent in the species that are supposed to link them is evidence against common ancestry. What I didn't mention above is, if the appendix is vestigial, it's even more difficult for evolution to explain how it would evolve independently in different species. Put another way, why should I believe the appendix served some function so well that “nature” created it in several different species of mammal but now it's nothing more than a useless leftover?

Some people say human facial hair is vestigial, left over from a time we had a heavy coat of fur. However, have you every noticed how men have hair on their lips, chin, jaw, and brown while chimps (supposedly our closest cousins) have virtually no hair around their mouths nor on their brow? Did we evolve this since human/chimps split from their alleged ancestor? If so, how is it vestigial?

Even defining an organ as vestigial is problematic because there is no, simple, rigorous definition of the word, “vestigial.” Just as above, some people claim it is a useless leftover. In a article dealing with vestigial organs, LiveScience said this about the appendix: Any secondary function that the appendix might perform certainly is not missed in those who had it removed before it might have ruptured.This definition fails because I could live a long, normal life even if I cut the little finger off my left hand. That certainly doesn't prove my finger is vestigial. Furthermore, sometimes a structure might have a purpose that hasn't been identified. We have found, for example, that the appendix does help our immune system. But even if an organ can be found to truly have no function, it can still be explained by the creation model. God could have created an animal with a functioning structure but over time, through mutation and degradation, the structure has become functionless.


In conclusion, these three evidences are not only fail as proof of evolution, I believe they are weak at explaining anything. The same things are explained as well, or maybe better, by creation.