National Geographic is wrong and so was Darwin

Discussion in 'Science' started by Gup20, Nov 8, 2004.

  1. Gup20

    Gup20
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    http://www.answersingenesis.org/docs2004/1106ng.asp


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    by Dr. Terry Mortenson, AiG–USA

    6 November 2004

    The 33-page cover story of the November issue of National Geographic asks the question, “Was Darwin wrong?” After decades of evolutionary propaganda, the magazine surprised no one with their confident answer, “No!” But scientifically informed and careful thinking readers will not be persuaded by the “overwhelming evidence” (p. 4) presented.

    Obviously, National Geographic (hereafter simply NG) thinks that a significant percentage of their readers are slipping in their faith in evolution and need a remedial course in the some of the “abundant, various, ever increasing, solidly interconnected, and easily available” evidence (p. 8). NG admits that nearly half of Americans don’t believe in evolution, due in part to “Scriptural literalism” [really, it’s simply believing God’s plain word] and the “proselytizing” [NG isn’t proselytizing, of course?] work of young-earth creationist and intelligent design proponents (p. 6). They also blame it on “honest confusion and ignorance”; but given that the popular science magazines, the mass media and the educational establishment are controlled by evolutionists, evolutionists have no one to blame but themselves for this alleged confusion and ignorance.

    They are also hoping that their readers have a short memory. Only about five years ago, NG promoted “Archaeoraptor” as “proof’ that “We can now say that birds are theropods just as confidently as we say that humans are mammals.”1 However, this turned out to be a hoax—a Piltdown Bird—see Archaeoraptor—Phony “feathered” fossil. They had to publish an embarrassing recantation, but now they are back to their old indoctrinating tricks.

    The article starts with some of the usual patronizing nonsense refuting the “evolution is just a theory” claim. But this is a straw man, as we have long advised creationists from saying this very thing—see this section of our “don’t use” page. This section also refutes the very fallacy that NG tries to foist upon its readers: that we should not dignify evolution with a word like “theory,” and put the goo-to-you conjecture on the same level as the theory of relativity and theories of electricity. Rather, these theories that NG confidently compares with evolution are based on repeatable observations in the present, while evolution is a claim about the unobserved past. See Naturalism, Origin and Operation Science.

    The article says that “two big ideas are at issue here: the historical phenomenon of the evolution of all species (descended from a common ancestor) and natural selection as ‘the main mechanism causing that phenomenon’” (p. 8).

    The fundamental points of debate: Information
    To understand the following brief analysis of this article, it will be important to remember some important facts about life and the creationist view. All living things contain in their cells the DNA molecule that carries the information (genetic instructions) for making all aspects of that creature and all this information is in the first fertilized cell of each kind of creature. Amoeba DNA has no information for making hooves, hair, tails and eyes, but horse DNA does. Alligator DNA has no genetic information for producing feathers, hollow bones and one-way lung systems, but eagles do (as did Archaeopteryx). Some DNA information is common to many different kinds of creatures, but there are also differences.

    So the key questions related to evolution are these. One, how did this information come into existence in the evolutionist’s supposed first living microscopic creature? And, second, how did the information in that “simple” creature get changed and augmented to produce all the different kinds of plants and animals that we see living and in the fossil record?

    The NG article doesn’t even attempt to address the first question, with good reason. As the world famous astrobiologist, Paul Davies, says:

    It's a shame that there are precious few hard facts when it comes to the origin of life. We have a rough idea when it began on Earth, and some interesting theories about where, but the how part has everybody stumped. Nobody knows how a mixture of lifeless chemicals spontaneously organised themselves into the first living cell.2

    This is not surprising, given the problems with chemical evolution to explain life’s origin, and the key role of genetic information in the making of living creatures. Dr. Werner Gitt is a leading German scientist and young-earth creationist who is an expert on information theory. In his powerful, tightly reasoned book, In the Beginning was Information, he argues, “There is no known law of nature, no known process and no known sequence of events which can cause information to originate by itself in matter.”3

    So the evolution theory is in big trouble right from the beginning. But it gets worse, because, as creationists have repeatedly argued, and as we review below, natural selection and mutations (either alone or together) do not produce the increase of new genetic information needed to support the goo-to-you-via-the-zoo theory of evolution.

    Creationists believe, based on the clear teaching of Genesis, that God supernaturally made different “kinds” of plants and animals during the first six literal days of history and that He endowed those creatures with the genetic information to produce enormous varieties within the original kinds but not the ability to change into a different kind. Creation scientists (with PhDs earned at secular, evolution-dominated universities) are involved in ongoing scientific research to try to define the genetic boundaries of the original kinds, but most seem to agree that, generally speaking, the Genesis kinds are in most cases at the genus or family level, not the species level of modern taxonomic classification. See What is the Biblical creationist model? and Variation, information and the created kind.

    So the contrast between evolution and creation is clear. Evolutionists believe in the tree of life—that all living things are descended from one common ancestor. That is, they believe in vertical change from one kind of creature to another. Creationists believe in the forest of life—horizontal variation within the original created kind, but not one kind changing into another. Which view really fits the scientific evidence?

    Concerning natural selection, NG gets it wrong at the start when it says that “Wallace and Darwin share the kudos for having discovered natural selection” (p. 8). Actually, a respected creationist British scientist, Edward Blyth, discussed the concept (without using the term) 25 years before Darwin published his famous book. Blyth attributed variation within the original created kinds to changes in environment or food supply.4 NG describes natural selection as the “natural culling” of “useless or negative variations” (p. 8), but this reveals the fatal flaw in Darwin’s theory. As creationists have continually pointed out, natural selection doesn’t create anything new, it only selects from the existing genetic information from which the varieties are produced. The result is either the preservation of some of that information in a variety well suited to a particular environment or the complete loss of some of the information through extinction of a variety. But what never results is the increase or creation of new genetic information.

    NG misleads its readers and evades this information argument when it showcases losses of information as “proof” of goo-to-you evolution, which would involve massive increases of information. For example, NG asks, “Why do certain species of flightless beetles have wings that never open?” (pp. 12–13). We have long ago pointed out that such beetles did arise from beetles with fully functional wings because of a mutation that crippled the power of flight. But in some environments, such a mutation may be beneficial, i.e. benefiting the organism. For example, on a windy island, a beetle that flew into the air may be blown into the sea, while flightless ones will avoid that peril. But the bottom line is the beetle has lost something; this doesn’t explain how beetles or flight could have arisen in the first place. See Beetle bloopers: Even a defect can be an advantage sometimes, even though it results from a loss of genetic information.

    The evidence for evolution is presented by NG in four categories: biogeography (the study of the geographical distribution of living creatures), paleontology (the study of fossils), embryology (the study of the development of embryos to birth) and morphology (the study of the shape and design of creatures). Darwin used all these arguments, and so do modern evolutionists.

    Biogeography
    Evolutionists say that only evolution can explain why there are certain creatures in one location, say kangaroos in Australia, but not in another location. However, Darwin claimed that evolution explained the pattern of life on fixed continents, while now evolution is supposed to explain the pattern of life on continents that moved apart from one big one. If evolution is so flexible that it can explain such mutually incompatible distributions, then it explains nothing at all.

    Also, there are many puzzles to the observed distribution of living and fossil creatures. For example, kangaroos are not mainly in Australia “because they evolved there.” And evolutionists have to admit that marsupials once lived in Europe, Asia and North America (in profusion in the latter), but now are largely absent (except for opossums in the Americas). Here is a revealing admission from two evolutionists:

    Living marsupials are restricted to Australia and South America (which were part of the supercontinent Gondwana); North American opossums are recent immigrants to the continent. In contrast, metatherian fossils from the Late Cretaceous are exclusively from Eurasia and North America (which formed the supercontinent Laurasia). This geographical switch remains unexplained.5

    But creationists contend that there are much better explanations of the biogeographic evidence, which flow from understanding the changes in climate and sea level after the global catastrophic Flood at the time of Noah and the fact that post-Flood people would have intentionally (and sometimes unknowingly) taken plants and animals to different parts of the world as they repopulated the earth. See Migration Q&A and chapter 1 of Woodmorrappe’s book, Studies in Flood Geology.

    Closely related species in an area, such as the thirteen species of finches in the Galápagos Islands that Darwin explored, have indeed arisen from a common ancestor. But finches changing into finches don’t tell us where finches came from in the first place. Rather, they are a classic example of sorting out genetic information, not generating new information, and far more quickly than evolutionists expected but just what the creation model predicted—see Darwin’s finches: Evidence supporting rapid post-Flood adaptation. Also, recent work shows that many of the changes are really the result of a built-in capacity to respond to cyclically changing climates. For example, while a drought resulted in a slight increase in beak size, the change was reversed when the rains returned.

    This argument applies to the other NG examples of anoles, mole rats, ants, pigeons and fruit flies. It’s also important to note that Darwin’s argument was against a compromising view similar to that of progressive creationists such as Hugh Ross: namely, that God created individual species where they are now living.

    Contrary to what the NG article implies, informed creationists do indeed believe that new species can arise. But these are the result of the reshuffling or loss of the genetic information in the original created kinds. As explained earlier, creationist scientists do not believe that the original created “kinds” (mentioned in Genesis 1) are equivalent to the modern man-made taxonomic classification of “species,” but more likely approximates the “family” level. Much recent evidence has accumulated to show that speciation can happen rapidly, which has surprised evolutionists but fits perfectly with the Bible’s teachings—see Speedy species surprise.

    Paleontology
    NG leads readers to believe that Darwin thought the fossil record supported his theory. But actually he admitted more than once in his famous book6 that the fossil record is an embarrassment to his theory of descent from a common ancestor. He knew that if his theory was true, there should be countless numbers of transitional forms (e.g., 100% reptile, 75% reptile-25% bird, 50% reptile-50%bird, 25% reptile-75%bird, 100% bird and many transitional forms between each of those). Darwin attributed the lack of evidence to our ignorance of the fossil record. But today our museums are loaded with fossils and the missing links are still missing.

    As the late Harvard evolutionary geologist, Stephen Gould, put it:

    The extreme rarity of transitional forms in the fossil record persists as the trade secret of paleontology. The evolutionary trees that adorn our textbooks have data only at the tips and nodes of their branches; the rest is inference, however reasonable, not the evidence of fossils.7

    In a 1979 letter responding to the late creationist, Luther Sunderland, Colin Patterson, then Senior Palaeontologist at the British Museum of Natural History in London, concurred:

    I fully agree with your comments on the lack of direct illustration of evolutionary transitions in my book. If I knew of any, fossil or living, I would certainly have included them. You suggest that an artist should be used to visualize such transformations, but where would he get the information from? I could not, honestly, provide it, and if I were to leave it to artistic license, would that not mislead the reader? ... You say that I should at least “show a photo of the fossil from which each type of organism was derived.” I will lay it on the line — there is not one such fossil for which one could make a watertight argument.8

    Richard Dawkins’ evolutionist disciple at Oxford University, Mark Ridley, is emphatic:

    However, the gradual change of fossil species has never been part of the evidence for evolution. In the chapters on the fossil record in the Origin of Species Darwin showed that the record was useless for testing between evolution and special creation because it has great gaps in it. The same argument still applies. ... In any case, no real evolutionist, whether gradualist or punctuationist, uses the fossil record as evidence in favor of the theory of evolution as opposed to special creation.9 [emphasis in the original]

    So I guess the folks at NG are not real evolutionists, or at least not very informed. They certainly offer nothing in this article to negate these statements. Incredibly, NG even admits that “illuminating but spotty, the fossil record is like a film of evolution from which 999 out of every 1000 frames have been lost on the cutting-room floor” (p. 25). So there you have it. Evolution is 99.9% imagination! NG quickly reassures us that “dozens of intermediate forms” have been found, but they only give two examples: horses and whales.

    Creationists have exposed the flaws in the supposed horse evolution story for years. The story told by the fossils in South America is backwards compared to the story told by the fossils in North America—see What’s happened to the horse? Rather, the horse “tree” is really a bush, and comprises merely variants within the horse kind, and most likely a non-horse at the bottom—see The non-evolution of the horse: Special creation or evolved rock badger? and pages 189–97 in Evolution: The Fossils Still Say No! A previous flawed attempt by NG (in 1981) to use horse fossils to support evolution is exposed in Horse find defies evolution.


    Pakicetus reconstruction

    What was found
    (fossil evidence in red)

    Gingerich, J. Geol. Educ., 31:140–144, 1983.
    As for whale evolution, NG refers to the work of paleontologist Philip Gingerich. It discusses his research on Pakicetus (“whale from Pakistan”), but doesn’t reveal the real story. In 1994 Gingerich claimed Pakicetus was a creature “perfectly intermediate” between a land animal and a whale.10 The fossil evidence at the time only consisted of parts of the skull, yet Gingerich’s artist drew the creature swimming in the ocean with front legs like a land animal but the mouth and a rear end looking like a sea creature as it was trying to eat fish. But by 2001 more fossils had been found11 and it was concluded that Pakicetus was “no more amphibious than a tapir.”12 Yet NG misleadingly tells us that Gingerich “discovered Pakicetus, a terrestrial mammal” (p. 31). That’s not what he called it when he discovered it and wrote about it in the scientific literature!

    NG goes on to say that Gingerich now believes that whales are related to antelope based on a “single piece of fossil” found in 2000. It was part of the anklebone of a “new species of whale,” they said. But later they found the other part and realized that it was “an anklebone, from a four-legged whale.” Hold on! When was the last time you saw a “four-legged whale”? Evolutionists are playing language games to call the fins and tail of a whale “legs.” But if, as NG says, the fossil “closely resembled” the anklebone in artiodactyls (hoofed land animals, such as antelopes), then how on earth could this “single piece of fossil evidence” be interpreted as being in any way related to whales? In evolution theory, imagination is king! NG says at this point “this is how science is supposed to work” (p. 31). Really?

    For more refutation of the supposed fossil evidence for evolution, readers should consult Darwin’s Enigma, Evolution: The Fossils Still Say No! and chapter 5 of Creation Scientists Answer Their Critics.

    Embryology and Morphology
    Similarity of shape or design can just as well, if not more so, point to a common designer, rather than a common ancestor. Roller skates, bikes, cars, trucks, busses and trains all have wheels, but one is not the ancestor of the other. They are similar because intelligent human designers have all thought that wheels are a good way to move things on land. So too living creatures that share the same planet and are interdependently linked in a complex ecosystem will have many similarities and those which live in very similar environments on earth (e.g., in water or air or on land) will share even more similarities. Our infinitely wise Creator is smarter than all the engineers put together. Good designs can be, and are, easily modified for different applications.

    But when we take into account the differences in creatures that share common features, the common ancestor argument becomes even more unbelievable. For example, humans and frogs have five digits on their hands, but the developmental patterns in them are vastly different. In humans the fingers develop by programmed cell death in between the digits, whereas in frogs it is by outward growth as cells divide. See more detailed discussion of this in the sixth chapter of Refuting Evolution 2.

    As for embryos, the development is programmed by the information in the DNA molecule in the fertilized egg. So again the question is where did this information come from for the different kinds of plants and animals? It didn’t come from time and chance and the laws of nature. And we must never lose sight of the evolutionists continued use of Ernst Haeckel’s fraudulent drawings—see Ernst Haeckel: Evangelist for evolution and apostle of deceit and Fraud rediscovered. Yet, like Darwin and many science textbooks13 and evolutionist books for laymen,14 NG endorses embryonic recapitulation (p. 13).

    NG claims vestigial characteristics or organs as proof of evolution. These are aspects of the body that are claimed to be useless leftovers from our animal ancestry. There are two problems with this argument. One, the loss of function (through the loss of genetic information) cannot be evidence of the ascendance from a lowly kind of creature up to a higher form (which would require an increase of information). Secondly, nearly all of the 180 “vestigial organs” in man cited by evolutionists as proof of evolution at the turn of the 20th century are now known (because of medical research) to have at least one function. See Chapter 7 of Refuting Evolution 2 and Vestigial Organs Are Fully Functional. In fact, NG ludicrously uses male nipples as proof of evolution (pp. 12–13)—do they think males evolved from a race entirely comprised of breasted-female humans? For an answer, see Male nipples prove evolution? (reply to a skeptic).

    NG makes a big deal about plants, animals, bacteria and viruses changing to resist herbicides, insecticides and antibiotics. In fact, the article says that “there’s no better or more immediate evidence supporting the Darwinian theory than this process of forced transformation among our inimical germs” (p. 21).

    But in each cited example we have a certain kind of creature changing into another variety of that same kind of creature. One flu strain changing into another flu strain, or one staph bacterium changing into a different staph bacterium, or one variety of house fly turning into another variety of house fly is not an explanation of where the information to make the flu, staph or house fly came from in the first place. And we always find that the change is actually going in the opposite direction to what evolution requires—see The evolution train’s a-comin’ (Sorry, a-goin’—in the wrong direction).

    But how does this variation occur? Prominent evolutionist, Francisco Ayala tell us:

    Insect resistance to a pesticide was first reported in 1947 for the Housefly (Musca domestica) with respect to DDT. Since then resistance to one or more pesticides has been reported in at least 225 species of insects and other arthropods. The genetic variants required for resistance to the most diverse kinds of pesticides were apparently present in every one of the populations exposed to these man-made compounds.15

    Research shows that the same can apply to antibiotic resistance.

    Scientists at the University of Alberta have revived bacteria from members of the historic Franklin expedition who mysteriously perished in the Arctic nearly 150 years ago. Not only are the six strains of bacteria almost certainly the oldest ever revived, says medical microbiologist Dr. Kinga Kowalewska-Grochowska, three of them also happen to be resistant to antibiotics. In this case, the antibiotics clindamycin and cefoxitin, both of which were developed more than a century after the men died, were among those used.16

    But many times the changes are due to mutations, which are copying mistakes in the DNA molecule in the process of reproduction. What NG doesn’t tell the readers is that mutations result in a loss of genetic information in the creature. Most mutations are deleterious, if not fatal, to the organism. It is not on the way up (evolving), but on the way down (devolving). Sometimes, the mutation does improve the chance of survival, but it always involves a loss of genetic information.

    For example, the bacterium, Helicobacter pylori, is troublesome to humans, but doctors can destroy it with an antibiotic. After the patient takes the antibiotic, it is absorbed through the cell wall of the bacterium. It has the genetic information to make an enzyme which reacts with the antibiotic converting it into a poison, killing the bacterium. But due to a mutation, some H. pylori cannot make the enzyme and so cannot convert the antibiotic and so do not die but reproduce, giving the patient and doctor a new problem. The mutant survived through a loss of information, which is not a process that will eventually lead to an increase of information to change a bacterium over millions of years into a biologist.

    As Dr. Lee Spetner, a Jewish scientist and expert on mutations, has stated in his excellent book, Not by Chance: Shattering the Modern Theory of Evolution, pp. 159–60:

    But all these mutations reduce the information in the gene by making a protein less specific. They add no information and they add no new molecular capability. Indeed, all mutations studied destroy information. None of them can serve as an example of a mutation that can lead to the large changes of macroevolution. ... Whoever thinks macroevolution can be made by mutations that lose information is like the merchant who lost a little money on every sale but thought he could make it up on volume.

    So much for mutations being any help to the evolutionist. Just like natural selection, they don’t produce the new genetic information that the theory requires. But like natural selection, mutations fit perfectly with what the Bible teaches. They are the result of the curse of God on creation when Adam and Eve sinned (Genesis 3:20, Romans 8:20–22).

    NG is simply “hurling elephants” at their readers when it says that additional evidence for evolution comes from “population genetics, biochemistry, molecular biology, and ... genomics” (p. 20). Readers will see the insurmountable problems for evolution from biochemistry in Michael Behe’s (Ph.D. university biochemist) Darwin’s Black Box. For an agnostic, university molecular biologist’s strictly scientific evaluation of evolution, see Michael Denton’s Evolution: A Theory in Crisis (particularly chapter 10).

    Darwinism and religion
    NG wraps things up by asserting that “no one needs to, and no one should, accept evolution merely as a matter of faith” (p. 8). But that is precisely what most of the world, including most scientists (who are just laymen outside their own field of expertise), have done. Evolution is believed because it appears to be scientific due to “smoke and mirrors” arguments and because it gives people an excuse for not submitting to their Creator. As Romans 1:18–20 says, people suppress the truth in unrighteousness.

    But what is Darwin’s theory’s relationship to religion? Certainly, a person can believe in a vaguely defined “religion” and in evolution at the same time (see Is evolution “anti-religion”? It depends). NG claims the compatibility of evolution with papal pronouncements and Roman Catholic dogma (p. 6). However, as far as the likes of NG are concerned, when the Pope says you can believe in evolution, he’s an enlightened religious leader who should be heeded. But when he speaks on the sanctity of human life from conception and marriage, and thus opposes abortion and homosexual behavior, then he’s just an old bigot who should keep his religion to himself.

    But even the NG’s premise can be debated. There are Roman Catholics who don’t believe evolution or millions of years is compatible with their faith (or true science). For example, most of the scientists in the video Evolution ... Fact or Belief? and in the geology video Experiments in Stratification are Catholic. But the real issue is whether the theory of millions of years of evolution is compatible with the Creator’s Word, the Bible. For two centuries, young-earth creationists have shown clearly that it is not. See The Great Turning Point, Refuting Compromise, Creation and Change, and these articles: Two histories of death, Two world-views in conflict and The god of an old earth.

    Conclusion
    NG is wrong that scientific evidence proves goo-to-you-via-the-zoo evolution. The evidence has never supported Darwin’s theory, which is why an increasing number of Ph.D. scientists and well-informed laymen and students are rejecting what they have been taught (brainwashed) in schools, museums, TV science programs and in National Geographic all their lives.

    Darwin was partially right about natural selection explaining the origin of species. But because he didn’t pay attention to the Bible (but rather rejected it because of his rebellion against his Creator), he didn’t understand that speciation is simply the God-designed way for the original supernaturally created kinds to produce wonderful variety and perpetuate themselves in the changing environments of a sin-cursed world that would be radically changed by a global year-long Flood at the time of Noah.

    The Bible fits the facts, which explains why an increasing number of Ph.D. scientists are creationists—see In Six Days, On the Seventh Day, The Genesis Files and our website section Creation scientists and other biographies of interest. Evolution doesn’t agree with the scientific evidence. It cannot stand careful scrutiny, which is why evolutionists have to use political and academic power and legal intimidation to keep criticisms of evolution out of public schools. In fact, the atheistic anti-creationist Eugenie Scott tacitly admitted that if students were presented such criticisms, they might end up not believing it!

    In my opinion, using creation and evolution as topics for critical-thinking exercises in primary and secondary schools is virtually guaranteed to confuse students about evolution and may lead them to reject one of the major themes in science.17

    It is sad to see that Philip Gingerich is an evolutionist, and not a Bible-believing Christian, today because his church didn’t teach him correctly. He said, “I grew up in a conservative church in the Midwest and was not taught anything about evolution. The subject was clearly skirted.” (p. 31)

    Churches that don’t equip their youth and adults to deal with the myth of evolution are likely to see them deceived by articles like this one in NG and many of them will drift away from the truth of God’s Word.

    Why should Christians continue to subscribe to a magazine like National Geographic that persistently writes deceptively untruthful articles to push an anti-god agenda? Instead, subscribe to Creation magazine—56 pages of full color, understandable, truthful articles, coming four times per year, and with no paid advertising. A gift subscription for a Christian or an unbeliever would make a great Christmas present.
     
  2. UTEOTW

    UTEOTW
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    Could you not post a summary in your own words addressing the key points instead of giving us a 5000 word essay all in one post? A link would have been a sufficient reference.

    It will take a while to sort through all that, but it does not start out as promising for you.

    The very first topic appears to be the whole "new information" thing. I give you reference after reference of new information ( start here http://www.baptistboard.com/ubb/ultimatebb.php/topic/28/2807/7.html#000095 and read all the way to the end of the thread) and you have no ability to tell us why this is not new information, yet you will post the same tired argument again despite your inability to support it.

    I also noticed as I skimmed through the egregious Patterson quote again. Is out of context quote mining the best the AIG can come up with? As many times as the truth of that quote has been explained, it is obvious that truth is not the goal of AIG!
     
  3. UTEOTW

    UTEOTW
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    Let's just start down the post and see how far we get. I'll switch to a new post every so often.

    "They are also hoping that their readers have a short memory. Only about five years ago, NG promoted “Archaeoraptor” as “proof’ that “We can now say that birds are theropods just as confidently as we say that humans are mammals.”1 However, this turned out to be a hoax—a Piltdown Bird—see Archaeoraptor—Phony “feathered” fossil. They had to publish an embarrassing recantation, but now they are back to their old indoctrinating tricks."

    Then maybe AIG and others should stick to getting their science from genuine scientific publications and not from popular magazines. Archaeoraptor was not able to make it through the peer review process and as far as I know never appeared in any refereed journal. It is actually proof that the procedures in place work to weed out such problems. AIG skips that fact.

    "The article starts with some of the usual patronizing nonsense refuting the “evolution is just a theory” claim. But this is a straw man, as we have long advised creationists from saying this very thing—see this section of our “don’t use” page."

    This article is not a refutation of AIG, so it is not a strawman. You only have to look through the posts on this very board over the last few days to see that some still accuse evolution of being "just a theory." A theory in scientific terms is something that has widespread acceptance and explains many details of some facet of science. It is high praise indeed to call evolution a "theory."

    "Rather, these theories that NG confidently compares with evolution are based on repeatable observations in the present, while evolution is a claim about the unobserved past."

    We can study fossils in the present. We can study the genetic makeup of modern and some fossil species in the present. We can observe in the present the biology that allows for evolution.

    "It's a shame that there are precious few hard facts when it comes to the origin of life. We have a rough idea when it began on Earth, and some interesting theories about where, but the how part has everybody stumped. Nobody knows how a mixture of lifeless chemicals spontaneously organised themselves into the first living cell."

    Which is abiogenesis and not evolution. Evolution deals with the changes once you have life and is unconcerned with where it came from. Some scientists and even some evolutionary biologists do concern themselves with this but it has nothing to do with the actual evidence for evolution.

    "Dr. Werner Gitt is a leading German scientist and young-earth creationist who is an expert on information theory. In his powerful, tightly reasoned book, In the Beginning was Information, he argues, “There is no known law of nature, no known process and no known sequence of events which can cause information to originate by itself in matter.”"

    Witt's arguments are circular. He states as an underived theorem the above quote and then uses that to say that you cannot evolve information. It is circular.

    "But it gets worse, because, as creationists have repeatedly argued, and as we review below, natural selection and mutations (either alone or together) do not produce the increase of new genetic information needed to support the goo-to-you-via-the-zoo theory of evolution."

    Absolutely wrong. There are many mechanisms for generating new information. YEers like to throw out Shannon at this point but then have to do a little duck and weave to hope you don't notice that according to Shannon, any mutation would be an increase in information. So they have to walk this fine line where they invoke the name of Shannon to attempt to give themselves some respect even as they distance themselves from him because his answers do not match theirs. It is an interesting and humorous sight.

    A few examples of new information.

    "Selective sweep of a newly evolved sperm-specific gene in Drosophila," Nurminsky DI, Nurminskaya MV, De Aguiar D, Hartl DL, Nature. 1998 Dec 10;396(6711):572-5.

    "Adaptive evolution after gene duplication," Hughes AL, Trends Genetics, 2002 Sep.18(9):433-4.

    "Accelerated protein evolution and origins of human-specific features: Foxp2 as an example," Zhang J, Webb DM, Podlaha O, Genetics. 2002 Dec;162(4):1825-35.

    "Syncytin is a captive retroviral envelope protein involved in human placental morphogenesis," Mi S, Lee X, Li X, Veldman GM, Finnerty H, Racie L, LaVallie E, Tang XY, Edouard P, Howes S, Keith JC Jr, McCoy JM, Nature 2000 Feb 17;403(6771):785-9.

    "Origin of antifreeze protein genes: A cool tale in molecular evolution," John M. Logsdon Jr. and W. Ford Doolittle, Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, USA,Vol. 94, pp. 3485-3487, April 1997.

    DeVries, A. L. & Wohlschlag, D. E. (1969) Science 163, 1073-1075.

    "A carrot leucine-rich-repeat protein that inhibits ice recrystallization," Worrall D, Elias L, Ashford D, Smallwood M, Sidebottom C, Lillford P, Telford J, Holt C, Bowles D, Science. 1998 Oct 2;282(5386):115-7.

    "Recruitment of a double bond isomerase to serve as a reductive dehalogenase during biodegradation of pentachlorophenol," Anandarajah K, Kiefer PM Jr, Donohoe BS, Copley SD, Biochemistry 2000 May 9;39(18):5303-11.

    "The Tre2 (USP6) oncogene is a hominoid-specific gene," Paulding CA, Ruvolo M, Haber DA, Proceedings of the National Academy of Science U S A 2003 Mar 4;100(5):2507-11.

    "The human genome contains many types of chimeric retrogenes generated through in vivo RNA recombination," Anton Buzdin*, Elena Gogvadze, Elena Kovalskaya, Pavel Volchkov, Svetlana Ustyugova, Anna Illarionova, Alexey Fushan, Tatiana Vinogradova and Eugene Sverdlov, Nucleic Acids Research, 2003, Vol. 31, No. 15 4385-4390.

    "The narrow sheath Duplicate Genes: Sectors of Dual Aneuploidy Reveal Ancestrally Conserved Gene Functions During Maize Leaf Development," Michael J. Scanlona, K. David Chenb, and Calvin C. McKnight, IV, Genetics, Vol. 155, 1379-1389, July 2000.

    "The maize duplicate genes narrow sheath1 and narrow sheath2 encode a conserved homeobox gene function in a lateral domain of shoot apical meristems," Judith Nardmann1, Jiabing Ji, Wolfgang Werr, and Michael J. Scanlon, Development 131, 2827-2839 (2004).
     
  4. UTEOTW

    UTEOTW
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    "However, Darwin claimed that evolution explained the pattern of life on fixed continents, while now evolution is supposed to explain the pattern of life on continents that moved apart from one big one."

    Imagine that, we have learned some things since Darwin!

    But, beyond that, I think that much of the logic behind biogeography is what happens to isolated populations. Whether that is the fauna of Australia or South America or Darwin's finches. This nuance seems to be lost (or ignored) on AIG.

    "Also, there are many puzzles to the observed distribution of living and fossil creatures. For example, kangaroos are not mainly in Australia “because they evolved there.”"

    Please, I would love to hear the explanation of the Australian fauna for reasons that do not involve biogeography.

    "Here is a revealing admission from two evolutionists: Living marsupials are restricted to Australia and South America (which were part of the supercontinent Gondwana); North American opossums are recent immigrants to the continent. In contrast, metatherian fossils from the Late Cretaceous are exclusively from Eurasia and North America (which formed the supercontinent Laurasia). This geographical switch remains unexplained."

    Except that I believe that fossil marsuapials have been found from when all of these land masses were connected.

    Ken Ham likes to repeatedly talk about how with the Flood we would expect to find millions of dead things buried by water to explain all of the fossils. So just why is it that there is a history of marsupial evolution in the fossils in Auatralia? They all segregated themselves there and all ended up back thereagain without getting all those pesky placentals mixed in either time?

    Australia also provides firm examples of another aspect of biogeography that we do not seem to have touched on here. When populations are isolated, members of that population will evolve to fill the various ecological niches of the location. In the case of Australia, we ended up with marsupial "wolves" and marsupial "cats" and also sorts of other specialized marsupials.

    You see the same thing the world over on islands. There is one island I cannot recall the name of at this time that was exposed to sunflower seeds first after it formed. Now sunflowers have evolved on the island that fill every role from weeds to trees. You see this with birds, too. Often birds will be the only land animals (or one of a few) that get to an island. You then get birds to fill the various niches. This often includes a bird that goes flightless and becomes a ground hunter.

    "But creationists contend that there are much better explanations of the biogeographic evidence, which flow from understanding the changes in climate and sea level after the global catastrophic Flood at the time of Noah and the fact that post-Flood people would have intentionally (and sometimes unknowingly) taken plants and animals to different parts of the world as they repopulated the earth."

    Oh! So people just happened to pick up only marsupials (and the plants that make up some of their very restricted diets) and carried them to Australia. They had uses for koala bears but not sheep and goats.

    "As explained earlier, creationist scientists do not believe that the original created “kinds” (mentioned in Genesis 1) are equivalent to the modern man-made taxonomic classification of “species,” but more likely approximates the “family” level."

    Do people who read this not realize how much diversity there is at the "family" level? In most classification, the family Hominidae contains humans, chimps, bonobos, gorillas, and orangutans. Does AIG really believe that this diverse group is all one "kind?"
     
  5. Helen

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  6. Johnv

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    I'm a Nat Geo subscriber. I received the aforementioned issue. It was a good issue, as are all of them. It's on my bookshelf now, next to the last issue. I look forward to my next issue.

    The issue won't start, or resolve, any great debate, though. Those who take a YEC literalist stance will not change their minds, and those who disagree with the YEC literalist stance won't either.
    No disrespect to you, Helen, but would you personally ever find an article that supports a darwinian to be anything but unresearched, unverified propaganda?
     
  7. Helen

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    John, please take a look at the Wells' response, which I linked to. He is NOT YEC! He is not even Christian as you and I consider Christian.

    He is, however, a qualified microbiologist with a very sharp mind. Please read his response.
     
  8. Johnv

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    I did, and I agree with some of the things said in it. It should be noted, for others who aren't aware, that the site's goal is to refute "Darwinian evolution and validates the intelligent design of life and the universe", which, as you know is not akin to a YEC stance, and, does not necessarily attempt to refute evulotion via natural selection in general.

    Please, Helen, can you answer my question? Would you personally ever find an article that supports a darwinian view to be anything but unresearched, unverified propaganda? I'm not asking to be combative or arguementative. I'm presuming that, since you linked to the artical, that the answer is likely a "no", but I prefer to hear it from you.
     
  9. Helen

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    John, I am interested in anything that is well-researched and presented, no matter what point of view it starts with or espouses.

    On the other hand, I am extremely disgusted with articles ON BOTH SIDES OF THE FENCE which are badly researched and sloppily presented.

    The NG article is terrible -- not because it espouses evolution, but because it is using arguments known to be false and making claims it cannot and does not back up. If I had been editing or peer reviewing that article it would not have mattered to me what its conclusions were as long as they were fairly and honestly arrived at. However, because I would be looking for that I would have recommended against publishing that article unless it had been fully re-written.
     
  10. UTEOTW

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    I shall keep working through the original post for now.

    "(e.g., 100% reptile, 75% reptile-25% bird, 50% reptile-50%bird, 25% reptile-75%bird, 100% bird "

    Just what does AIG expect a 50% reptile creature to look like?

    Oh well, let's look into the fossil record shall we? For 75% reptile / 25% bird I will submit Sinosauropteryx, a small theropod dinosaur covered with fine, downy feathers. For 50/50 I will submit Caudipteryx, another small dinosaur but this time with long, symetrical feathers covering its arms and with a large tail fan. For 25% reptile / 75% bird I will give you Archaeopteryx. For your other intermediates, I will fill in with such creatures as Confuciusornis who is even more birdlike than Archaeopteryx, Protarchaeopteryx and Microraptor. But none of these creatures are strangers to AIG, are they?

    And now it is time to start the quote mining. They pull out a quote from Gould about the paucity of the fossil record. Gould is a favorite to quote mine because he says so many things that on the surface seem to be a problem for traditional evolutionary theory until you get into it. Let's just give another Gould quote.

    Now this is a problem for AIG. AIG might allow for a few transitions at the species level from "kinds" for their own purposes but they would deny higher transitions. Here the very guy they decide to quote says that it is the species level where transitions are lacking but that we have plenty of examples at higher levels of taxonomy. But I again imagine that this is a statement of which they are aware.

    Then we get to the infamous Colin Patterson quote. I'll just let him answer for himself. First in a letter about the incident.

    So we can see that what he was saying is that you can never be sure that a specific fossil is the direct ancestor of any other fossil or extant organism. He was not saying that there are no transitionals. To illustrate this I will use another Patterson quote. This time from Dr. Patterson's book "Evolution" (1978, Routledge & Kegan Paul Ltd.).

    Quote mining as AIG does is despicable.

    Now we move on to another completely dishonest and un-Christian example of AIG quote mining. These guys make me sick and are a key reason that I looked into something other than YE to begin with. If it had not been for trash like this I might have never looked anywhere else.

    This next bit of quote mining comes to us by the way of Snelling originally. It completely mistates what Mark Ridley thinks. He is a zoologists and he thinks that there are three better lines of evidence from his field than the fossil record. This is nothing against the fossil record, it is just that these others are things with which he is more familiar. Let's quote Ridley from the same place of the AIG butchery.

    "Rather, the horse “tree” is really a bush, and comprises merely variants within the horse kind, and most likely a non-horse at the bottom"

    This means that they think that everything from a quarterhorse to a small 20 inch high animal with three toes instead of one, pads instead of hooves, completely different teeth including a different number of molars, and many other differences are all just "multiple varieties of true horses." That is an unsupportable assumption I challenge.

    "That’s not what he called it when he discovered it and wrote about it in the scientific literature!"

    Wow! Scientists changed their opinions as more and better evidence came in. What a serious charge. Good thing our young earth friends don't change their mind as the evidence for an old earth continues to pour in.

    It is instructive that almost all of AIG's response to the fossil record involves misquoting scientists. I suppose that they think lying about what good men actually think makes a good case.
     
  11. UTEOTW

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    "NG goes on to say that Gingerich now believes that whales are related to antelope based on a “single piece of fossil” found in 2000. It was part of the anklebone of a “new species of whale,” they said. But later they found the other part and realized that it was “an anklebone, from a four-legged whale.” Hold on! When was the last time you saw a “four-legged whale”? Evolutionists are playing language games to call the fins and tail of a whale “legs.” But if, as NG says, the fossil “closely resembled” the anklebone in artiodactyls (hoofed land animals, such as antelopes), then how on earth could this “single piece of fossil evidence” be interpreted as being in any way related to whales?"

    Instead of the AIG hype, maybe it would be best to go back and read the actual paper.

    http://www-personal.umich.edu/~gingeric/PDFfiles/PDG381.pdf

    I think you will find that the data is much better than AIG suggests. At least two different finds are described and the finds are of more than just the ankle bone.

    "Yet NG misleadingly tells us that Gingerich “discovered Pakicetus, a terrestrial mammal” (p. 31). That’s not what he called it when he discovered it and wrote about it in the scientific literature!"

    Again, let's go back to the original 1983 paper.

    http://www-personal.umich.edu/~gingeric/PDFfiles/PDG133.pdf

    If you read it, you will note that he says that the specimen was found with land dwelling fauna and that the thinks that Pakicetus represents an amphibious form of whale that spent time on both land and in the water.

    Have the folks at AIG completely lost the ability to repeat what others have said accurately?

    It should also be noted that as you proceed through the sequence of whales, you find a change in the oxygen isotope ratios that indicates the gradual transition to a marine environment.
     
  12. UTEOTW

    UTEOTW
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    "Try this one, UTE"

    OK. This is at least better than the AIG mess.

    "John, please take a look at the Wells' response, which I linked to. He is NOT YEC! He is not even Christian as you and I consider Christian."

    If he is not Christian and not YEC and not an evolutionist, what exactly is this thrid way?

    ID should not be considered a friend of YE. Many of the IDers do not accept a young earth. Many of them do not even have a problem with common descent. Behe, for example, even accepts that humans and the other apes share a common ancestor. In my opinion, many of the IDists do not reject the fact of evolution but only the theory. They believe that Darwinian evolutionary theory is not capable of explaining the diversity of life. This does not mean that they accept an young earth or individually created kinds. This appeal to ID as support of YE is as misguided as the other thread where the Flood must explain the evidence for a Snowball Earth because some other old earth theory might be able to explain some of the evidence. ID is not incompatible with an old earth, just with a Darwinian explanation for what we observe.

    On to the article. In brief.

    "For example, the Galápagos finch story is complicated by the fact that many of what were originally thought to be thirteen species are now interbreeding with each other -- even though Darwinian theory regards inability to interbreed as the distinguishing feature of separate species."

    Species can be a tricky thing to define in biology. It is not surprising that if these finches evolved from one recent ancestor that they might maintain some ability to interbreed.

    "The fossil record of horses is also much more complicated than Quammen makes it out to be; actually, it looks like a tangled bush with separate branches rather than a straight line of ancestors and descendants. "

    Well, yes, the tree is complicated. I think there are something like 50 or 60 known genera with some genera known by a plethera of species. I have not seen the article, so I cannot comment on the way it was presented. But, just because the tree is complicated does not mean it did not happen. In fact, that we have such a rich diversity of horse fossils should give us encouragment that we have enough information to make a good stab at the actual path and is a major blow to claims of a lack of transitionals in the fossil record.

    "Even worse, Quammen ignores the Cambrian explosion, in which many of the major groups ("phyla") of animals appeared in a geologically short time with no fossil evidence of common ancestry "

    I believe there have been some recent pre-Cambrian finds that could be considered ancestral have been found. This was also a time when body plans first began including hard parts that were more likely to fossilize. FInally, there are not many strata from this time period left intact for us to search.

    There is then a discussion about morphology. Both sides claim that morphology supports them. But, YEers are out of luck once we turn to genetic data. They try to claim that similar morphology should lead to similar genetics. But they are at a loss to explain why non-coding DNA such as mutations and retroviral insertes should be shared between the species and in a manner consistent with common descent. See this recent thread.

    http://www.baptistboard.com/cgi-bin/ultimatebb.cgi/topic/66/19.html?

    "Yet no one has ever observed the origin of a new species by selection, natural or otherwise. "

    I do not believe this to be true. It is not worth digging up examples because our YE friends on this board readily admit to the need for speciation for their models and thus this is not a point of dissention.
     
  13. Paul of Eugene

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    Helen - when National Geographic publishes maps of the World or the US, do you ask them to provide documentation of every fact about geography they portray on that map? No, of course not, the purpose of maps from National Geographic is to give us a great deal of complex information in a condensed, handy manner. The same can be said of this issue. It is intended to show a great deal of factual information in handy, entertaining form.

    I would be interested in knowing what you consider to be a particularly glaring example of a statement asserted as a fact that is known to be false, so we can get a good feel for what you meant.
     
  14. Benfranklin403

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    Helen, you seem to be implying, in the quote below, that you are qualified to review a scientific paper. The fact is that you are not a scientist nor have you ever reviewed or written a paper in a scientific journal, except possibly for the questionable journals of creationism which are not considered science by the scientific community at large. Isn't that a fact?


    &gt;&gt;&gt;&gt;&gt;&gt;&gt;&gt;&gt;&gt;&gt;&gt;The NG article is terrible -- not because it espouses evolution, but because it is using arguments known to be false and making claims it cannot and does not back up. If I had been editing or peer reviewing that article it would not have mattered to me what its conclusions were as long as they were fairly and honestly arrived at. However, because I would be looking for that I would have recommended against publishing that article unless it had been fully re-written.&lt;&lt;&lt;&lt;&lt;&lt;&lt;&lt;&lt;&lt;&lt;&lt;&lt;
     
  15. The Galatian

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    It's rather ironic that Wells cites a non-law from Congress saying that we should distinguish "testable theories of science from religious or philosophical claims" when he has admitted that he is on a religious mission from "Father" (the Rev. Myung Son Moon) to "destroy evolution."

    On the Cambrian explosion:

    "Other Precambrian fossils do appear to be from the ancestors of modern animals. It is generally agreed that simple burrows and trace-fossils (such as Helminthopsis pictured to the right) found in upper Precambrian rocks were made by primitive worms. These worms, and some other members of the Ediacara Biota, survived the extinction event and took part in the greatest evolutionary event in Earth's history: The Cambrian "Explosion" of Life. Within 35 million years of the end of the Precambrian, representatives of essentially all modern phyla were present in the Cambrian seas."

    It seems to be no coincidence that the evolution of hard exoskeletons led to an explosive adaptation of life. 35 million years is a short time in terms of the history of the Earth, but it is a long time, even in terms of evolution.
     
  16. The Galatian

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    I would have to agree somewhat with Helen on the Nat. Geographic. They are often very good, but they have made some very bad calls, the most notable of which was publishing on a new feathered dinosaur, igoring the warnings of scientists to wait for peer review. As you might know, it turned out to be a fraud.

    Popular magazines are often unreliable ways to get news of science.
     
  17. jcrawford

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    The pre-supposed existence of 35 million years is a religious assumption similiar to the assumption of God's existence.
     
  18. UTEOTW

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    There is nothing religious about it. Radiometric dating alone can establish ages of billions of years for the earth. Direct observation of the decay of radioactive isotopes at distances of thousands, millions, and even billions of light years away confirm the constancy of the decay rates.

    The long ages were not originally pre-supposed. They fell out of the data. Therefore the millions of years is empirical not assumed.
     
  19. jcrawford

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    Millions of years are a calculated hypothetical based on non-empirical observations and assumptions, therefore religious presumptions.
     
  20. UTEOTW

    UTEOTW
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    Not religious. Direct observations.

    If you disagree, then tell us specifically what it is you object to about dating. Explain the evidence in a young earth scenario better.
     

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