googlef87758e9b6df9bec.html A Sure Word: 10 Evidences for Biblical Creation: Part 5

Sunday, February 7, 2016

10 Evidences for Biblical Creation: Part 5

#3: The Stasis of Kinds: For evolution to occur, populations must acquire novel traits. To turn a dinosaur into a bird would require it to acquire feathers. To turn a reptile into a mammal, it would have to acquire hair. For a molecule to turn into a man, it would require a billions of years long parade of novel features being added generation after generation. If evolution were true, new traits would have to appear in populations with a fair amount of frequency. They don't.

One of the five lies spoken by evolutionists is that microevolution over time leads to macroevolution. The most famous example of microevolution, by far, is the peppered moth. Due to changes in the environment, the ratio of dark and light coloring in the moth population changed over time. The lie is that the tiny changes (microevolution) we observe can accumulate over millions of years to become drastic changes (macroevolution). Let me ask you a simple question: how long would birds have to eat one color of moth before new colors will appear in the population? Obviously, you cannot add new colors by continuously removing colors no matter how long it continuous. In the end, you will only have fewer colors. In the 100+ years since the famous, peppered moth experiment was first published, we still have light and dark peppered moths. There has not even been microevolution in the peppered moth species.

Let me offer another example – dogs. Most people are familiar with dogs. We see dogs in all sorts of shapes, sizes, and colors. I have a golden retriever but let's pretend I wanted a green retriever. Can I selectively breed dogs to create a green one? What if I did it for 50 years? 100 years? 1,000,000 years? Dogs may come in a lot of colors but they don't come in new colors. Though there are a variety of dogs, they can never evolve past becoming dogs because nothing new is ever added to the dog-kind.

I've seen a hundred examples of critics calling natural selection, evolution. Natural selection is the opposite of evolution. It can only select from traits already present in a population. Over time, natural selection makes animals become well adapted to their environments by continuously removing traits not suited to that environment. The result is a species that is less diverse than the kind. There is a lot of variety among bears (ursa-kind), for example. There is less variety among polar bears (Ursus maritimus). Observing how bears can become polar bears does not explain how dinosaurs could become birds.

I've heard evolutionists suggest how mutations could add new traits to a population but we don't have any examples of it actually being done. Like I've said, if evolution were true, it necessarily must happen frequently. Why don't we see any? What we do observe are moths staying moths, dogs staying dogs, and bears staying bears. We see changes happening, of course, but we've never seen a change in the direction that could turn one kind of animal into another.

The Bible says God created the plants and animals “after their kind” (Gen 1:21, et al). We observe populations changing. We don't see kinds changing. What we observe is more consistent with the Bible than with evolution.

#2: Design and Purpose: Suppose you're walking along and you see a rocky cliff overlooking a beach. How did the cliff get there? It's probably the result of plate tectonics pushing the land up then the wind and waves eroded some of it away exposing the rocks. It might be a beautiful scene but nobody created it to be that way. It just happened.

Next you're walking in another place and you see another cliff. On this cliff, however, you can sort of make out what looks like a profile of an old man. “Interesting,” you think, “but it still looks like the random result of wind and erosion.” Again, it might be a beautiful scene but it's just a coincidence that it resembles a face.

Still later, you're walking again. This time you see four distinct faces in the cliff. You recognize them immediately. “Wow,” you say to yourself, “how did the wind and rain erode these rocks to look just like former US Presidents?!” Actually, no. You don't say that.

We can see design, almost by instinct. The more complex it is or the more purposeful it is, then the more sure we are of it. We are certain, in a moment, if something is an accidental jumble of rocks or an intentional arrangement. Don't you agree? The same thing, then, that we can see in a pile of rocks is also true when we look at complex living systems. We can see, for example, that the DNA molecule is not simply an accidental jumble of amino acids but a purposeful arrangement.

Richard Dawkins said, The complexity of living organisms is matched by the elegant efficiency of their apparent design. If anyone doesn’t agree that this amount of complex design cries out for an explanation, I give up. I don't have to spell out the complexity and design found in nature. Even the devout atheist, Dawkins, sees it and admits it “cries out for an explanation.” Actually, it only demands an explanation if you dismiss the most obvious one – namely that complexity, design, and purpose are the characteristics of created things.

The most reasonable explanation for the “apparent” design we see in nature is that the complexity of living organisms is the product of design.

Read this entire series


Steven J. said...

What is a "kind?" What is a "novel trait?"

As I mentioned a post or two back, Italian wall lizards stranded on the island of Pod Mrcaru gave rise to descendants that had cecal valves in their intestines that the lizards had originally lacked (though some lizards have them). Is this a "novel trait?" Given that the inability to make use of citrate is often listed as a diagnostic trait of E. coli bacteria, is the ability to digest citrate that arose in Lenski's experiments a "novel trait?" I suppose we may ignore discovered mutations that make human bones denser and harder to break, or that reduce vulnerability to atherosclerosis, since they don't make their bearers look noticeably different.

You identify green fur on dogs as a conceivable novel trait. I note that mammals in general are notably devoid of green (or blue, or bright yellow, etc.) fur: the range of colors in human hair is pretty much the range of colors in mammals, period, implying that no novel colors (such as we see in some bird feathers) has arisen in a couple of million centuries. Indeed, all the evolutionary change needed to turn, e.g. a common ancestor into whales and giraffes (never mind the change needed to turn a common ancestor into humans and gorillas) requires neither a novel sort of integument nor a novel fur color.

Note that hamsters (Syrian golden hamsters, the common pet store variety), while not producing any green hamsters, have produced a number of new coat colors that were not present in the founding population (the members of a single litter from a single captured female). These are the products of mutations combined with selective breeding. Please stop discussing evolution as though one of these factors were missing or as though you could only discuss one while ignoring the other. If you pretend that mutations don't exist, well, yes, it is hard to explain how novel traits could arise (though note that selection can combine traits that originally occur separately and rarely as both spread though the population, and this in turn can produce novel phenotypes without further mutations.

As for "kinds," John Ray in the 17th century (who gave the word "species" its modern biological meaning) and Karl von Linne in the 18th century both assumed that the biblical kinds were species (e.g. lions and tigers, or brown bears and polar bears, would be different "kinds." Charles Darwin noted that when he spoke to farmers about selection, they assumed that every breed of cattle was a separate "kind," and mocked Darwin's suggestion that they were all one species. Nowadays, many creationists insist that horses and zebras are the same "kind" (despite being more genetically different than humans and chimpanzees, who of course must be different "kinds"). Many YECs identify "kinds" that comprise entire families or even suborders (again, they accept humans who belong to the same family as gorillas and the same suborder as rhesus monkeys). Oh, and sheep and goats, the most commonly distinguished "kinds" in the Bible, belong to the same subfamily of the family Bovidae.

The amount of difference two organisms can possess and still be considered the same "kind" are extremely subjective and have varied over time, so saying that we don't see one "kind" changing into another is well-nigh meaningless.

Steven J. said...

We recognize Mount Rushmore as designed because we recognize it as a sculpture, and we know from experience that sculptures are designed. We infer that it has the same origin as a life-sized portrait bust, even if it's on a vastly larger scale. By the same principle, we conclude that the diversity and complexity of life results from a scaled-up version of the same processes that produce novel breeds of dogs or goldfish: we explain both in terms of causes actually observed and largely understood.

Note that you want to speak of "specified complexity" rather than merely "complexity." William Dembski, who introduced the term, defined "complexity" basically as "improbability," while Richard Dawkins has suggested that it be defined in terms of the minimum length of a detailed description of a thing. Note that a full description of a pile of wind-blown sand might be very long, as you describe all the fine particles of a very irregular shape. Conversely, take a well-shuffled poker deck and deal yourself five cards: whatever you got is fairly improbable (one in over 300 million), but relatively few of these myriad possibilities are "good" poker hands (which are improbable and specified).

You don't want to emphasize complexity alone. After all, as even the arch- and ur-proponent of intelligent design, William Paley, noted, an omnipotent and omniscient Creator wouldn't need complexity. Humans make things complex because we are unable to achieve the desired results in some simpler fashion, but presumably omnipotence could bestow intelligence, mobility, and the ability to sense and manipulate its surroundings on a rock or a mud puddle. Specified complexity argues powerfully for a finite, constrained designer (and, given the differences among, e.g. bird, pterosaur, and bat wings, or octopus eyes and mammalian eyes, a designer unable to simply copy and re-use designs but forced to "re-invent the wheel" repeatedly).

RKBentley said...

Steven J,

I admit that defining terms can be a thorny issue. I've said before, and will again, that defining what would be a “novel trait” can be frustrating – especially since I understand the importance of using terms correctly. My suggestion has always been to give me some examples of novel traits appearing and we'll discuss them. For evolution to be true, novel traits have to appear with a good of amount of regularity. In my opinion, we shouldn't be able to turn on the light in a lab without seeing a new example. As it stands, trait adding mutations are scarce or non-existent. Most examples of evolution printed in the text books involve the removal of traits via natural selection.

I would consider a green or blue dog to be an example of a truly novel trait. There are examples of blue creatures among plants, insects, birds, fish, reptiles, and amphibians. If mammals share a common ancestor with any of these groups (which, according to your theory, they do) there really is no reason we don't find any blue mammals. Either blue evolved independently in all of these groups (which means you really can't say we wouldn't expect mammals to evolve blue skin/fur) or mammals simply do not have a trait that must have been present in some supposed common ancestor (which we wouldn't expect if your theory were true).

And speaking of definitions, I've often voiced a similar complaint against evolutionists. Some of you define “macroevolution” as evolution beyond the level of species but that definition is practically worthless because of the vague definition of species. So, before you quibble over my definitions, please remove the beam from your own eye first.

Finally, to your point on design, perhaps spotting design is a learned trait. Maybe we recognize a sculpture because we've seen other sculptures. Maybe we would recognize an unusual item as a tool because we've seen other tools. Maybe we can distinguish created things from natural things because we've learned the characteristics of created things. Ok, for the sake of argument, I'll grant that identifying design is a learned trait rather than instinct. So what is your point? The hand is more useful and versatile than any tool we've ever designed. Are you saying that because the hand is so superior to anything we've ever built that we just can't see that it's the product of dumb luck? You stick to that argument and I'll stick to mine.

Finally, I understand the concept of specified complexity. But when you're talking about design, I don't know how much complexity has to be present before we recognize the characteristics of design. We can tell the difference between an arrowhead and a rock, for example, even though an arrow head isn't very complex. If an alien visited earth and found nothing but a nut and a bold, I'm sure he would immediately recognize them as being the product of intelligent design.

Thanks for your comments. God bless!!


Steven J. said...

I brought up cecal valves in Italian wall lizards, and the ability to metabolize citrate in E. coli. Are these or are they not "novel traits?" Why or why not?

Well, the last common ancestor of mammals and plants was a single-celled organism, probably colorless, so at least to that extent blue and green colors must have evolved separately in separate lineages. There's nothing particularly weird or contrary to theory in the idea of one lineage losing some trait or ability (the GULO pseudogene is an example of such a case among catarrhine primates). On the one hand, it has been suggested that partial colorblindness among most mammals has removed selective pressures for new fur colors. On the other hand, note that blues and greens in most animals are not the results of pigments, but are structural: microscopic structures in a blue jay's feathers, for example, make them appear blue, but there is no actual blue pigment. The lack of blue fur may represent some basic limitation in the structure of hairs. As for blue feathers or blue scales, these most likely evolved independently several times in different lineages.

The hand is the result of millions of generations of natural selection on mutations; natural selection is, of course, the antithesis of chance or "dumb luck." At the end of the day, it's obviously a modified forefoot, complete with modified claws (modified in a way seen also in monkeys and apes). It's a prime example of what Darwin called "similar structures used for dissimilar functions" (parahomology), and not what we'd expect from custom design of a unique creation, really.

RKBentley said...

Steven J,

The cecal valve may not have been observed in Italian wall lizards but I would hesitate to call it novel because it is present in other species of reptiles. Not having observed it doesn't mean it never existed in this species. It's entirely possible that it existed latent in the population and became express when a few members were introduced to a new environment. We've seen similar things happen in other cases and when the adapted animals are returned to the general population, the adaptation usually disappears in a few generations.

As to the evolution of the hand, I know you don't believe the hand was designed but simply restating your theory isn't a very compelling rebuttal. Design and purpose are characteristics of created things. When people see complex design in nature, it is evidence there is a Creator behind it. It all goes back to what I've said before – same evidence, different explanations. I think my theory explains design better than yours.

Thanks for your comments. God bless!!