googlef87758e9b6df9bec.html A Sure Word

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.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Proof for Evolution? Part 1

I came across an article recently on titled, “Three Pieces of Evidence That Prove Evolution is a Fact.” You'll notice the article is over 3 years old but I'm sorry – it's a big world wide web and I haven't gotten to all of it yet. Even so, the “proof” presented in the article is the same stuff I continue to hear so I thought I'd write a post discussing it. At first I thought about making this a 3 part series but I've done a couple of series recently and didn't want to start another. Even so, if I tried to address everything in a single post, it would be a very long post. Therefore, I've decided to make this a very short series: an introduction and a rebuttal.

I'll address the three evidences in my next post. For now, there's a lot I could say about the article just from its opening paragraphs. I think they shed a lot of light on the attitude of its author. First, there's the title: “prove evolution is a fact.” Really? Prove? I thought science doesn't ever prove anything. Actually, let me quote another article from, Don’t ever say around me that science has “proven” something unless you want an ear full. Understanding why that phrase is problematic is essential to understanding the most important tool humans have ever devised to understand reality – science. Isn't that a hoot? The same website that warns us to never say science “proves” anything turns right around and says the evidence has proven evolution!

The first paragraph starts saying,For over 150 years—since the time of Charles Darwin—the Theory of Evolution has been through more scrutiny and rigorous investigation than just about any other scientific claim.Hmm. “Investigation”? Maybe. “Scrutiny”? Please! I've said many times before that most scientists proudly boast that they only ever consider natural explanations. Regarding our origins, evolution is the only natural explanation so they don't scrutinize it. No matter how weakly it might explain some phenomenon, no matter how little evidence there is for some point of the theory, no matter how absurd some of its explanations are, they will never question the theory itself because the only alternative is supernatural creation which they've disqualified in advance.

The article continues, And the theory has only been strengthened as more evidence has been accrued. I wouldn't say the theory has been strengthened but, rather, it has been fleshed out as more evidence is found. It's a case of having a theory and then seeking out evidence for it. You see, every time they think they have some part of evolution figured out, some new discovery is made that forces them to rethink everything. I've asked before, how many times are they allowed to redraw the tree? How many times does will different points of the theory be proven wrong before people begin questioning the theory itself?

Next, the article says, While there are many that people who, for ideological reasons, want to make it seem like evolution is not widely accepted within the scientific community, this is not actually the case. Of course that's not the case and no one says it is. Creationists might sometimes point out a contention in the scientific community about some point of evolution but that's only to show that evolution is not the neat package that's being presented to the lay public. However, we completely understand that, even though scientists might disagree on different points of evolution, they don't question the theory itself. Where creationists disagree with evolutionists is over whether evolution is true, not whether evolutionists really believe it!

Across universities, research institutions, and scientific organizations, evolution is not only nearly universally accepted,...” Yes, “the science is settled” and most scientists do not question the theory of evolution. By the way, there is an oft quoted statistic that 99.9% of all scientists accept evolution but I've never seen a scientific survey to support that. Regardless, how many scientists believe evolution isn't evidence for evolution. Scientists – even the majority of scientists – can be wrong. Before Galileo, for example, the majority of people believed the sun orbited the earth. Anyway, back to the point, “... [evolution] is also the basis upon which active, exciting, and important research is being done. Indeed, the scientific fact that is evolution is the basis of most of biology. Wrong, wrong, wrong! Evolution is the basis only for research into evolution; it's completely irrelevant to any other field of science.

If you were to google, “how evolution helps research,” you'll find plenty of articles by people trying to convince you that understanding evolution is critical to scientific research. Here's another exercise to try: see if you can find any invention, scientific advancement, or life improving technology whose discovery hinged upon evolution being true. From a survey into the relevance of evolution to academia, we have this quote:

The message that Darwinists convey to the public is often very different than what they recognize as true among themselves. Although they state to the public that, “nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution,” most scientists can “conduct their work quite happily without particular reference to evolutionary ideas”.... One “notable aspect of natural scientists in assembly is how little they focus on evolution. It’s day-to-day irrelevance is a great ‘paradox’ in biology”.

There you have it, folks. Scientists say evolution is important but it's seldom referenced in their research. This is why I call evolution the trivial pursuit branch of science.

I'll discuss the three evidences in my next post. We can see from just the opening paragraphs, though, we shouldn't expect too much. Please check back soon!

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

How many jellybeans are in this jar?

I was watching Michael Shermer on YouTube the other day. He was using an argument that I've written about before, where he basically says Christians are mostly atheists. We reject a myriad of gods – there's just one more God over which atheists and Christians disagree. He puts a little twist on the argument, though, suggesting that since there are so many religions out there, no one can possibly know which of them is true.

I've always found this argument to be curious. What is he really trying to say? That since we can't know which religion is true then none of them are true? That's what he'd like you to believe but he knows he can't say it in those words because it sounds absurd.

I love using analogies and sometimes try to use analogies to show the weaknesses of certain arguments. In this case, I'm going to use a jar of jellybeans to demonstrate why I think Shermer's argument fails.

Imagine there's a jar of jellybeans and we're given the task of guessing how many there are. The rules are pretty liberal; the only restriction is that we're not allowed to open the jar. If everybody made a guess, I'm sure you'd have a very wide range of answers. Of course, they can't all be right.

Just by looking at the glass, I could come up with a guess that might be reasonable. But if I were really determined to know how many jellybeans there are, I could go to greater lengths:

  • I could count how many jellybeans were visible at the very bottom, count the number along a straight line up the side, and multiply the two together. This could get me pretty close.
  • I could find an identical jar and count how many jellybeans it would take to fill it. That would be a very close estimate too.
  • I could weigh the full jar, weigh the empty jar, then weigh an individual jellybean. The difference in weight between the full jar and empty jar, divided by the weight of an individual bean should tell me about how many jellybeans are in the full jar.
  • I could compare all these different methods and see if any or all of them arrived at the same number or a very narrow range of numbers.

Consider, too, that as I narrow down my estimate, I could also rule out other people's bad guesses. I know the guy who guesses there's only 1 bean in the jar is wrong because I can see more than one through the glass. I know the guy who guesses a million jellybeans is wrong because a million wouldn't fit inside. Furthermore, I could focus on those guesses that are close to mine and ask those people how they arrived at their number. Based on what they say, I might think of other experiments which might give me even more confidence in my estimate.

My point is this: there is a correct answer. There is an objective answer that could be known if I were allowed to open the jar and count the jellybeans. There is only one correct number and every other guess is wrong. Even if I can never know the exact number, I know that by determination and investigation, I can have confidence that my estimate could be the correct number or, at the very least, be very, very close.

When we apply Shermer's argument to the jellybeans, he seems to suggest that any guess is as good as another but because we don't have the actual number, then all guesses must be equally wrong. It's like he's saying that, since I can't ever be sure of the exact number, my guess can't be correct nor even close. In the case of beliefs, Shermer is literally saying that, because there are so many beliefs, mine cannot possible be true. How does that follow? At best, Shermer might say we should all be agnostic but he isn't arguing for agnosticism – he's making a case for atheism. That would be like saying since we can't know how many jellybeans are in the jar, then there aren't any! You can see how that doesn't work.

There are lots of religions in the world. There are a lot of ideas about God. I admit, they can't all be right but that alone doesn't prove they're all wrong. Reasonable arguments can be made that God must exist. Reasonable arguments can be made that the Bible is His revealed word. Reasonable arguments can be made that Jesus lived, died, and rose again. Even if I'm wrong on some minor detail here or there, I am confident that I am very, very close to the Truth. What is not reasonable is to say that, because other people have different beliefs, then we shouldn't believe any of them.