Gary Chiang

Developing an Integrative Approach
to Science and Christianity

Friday, January 27, 2006

Intelligent Design ain't dead yet!

A recent Horizon's program on BBC reported that in the UK, 22% believed in creationism, 17% in Intelligent Design, 48% in evolution and 13% had no opinion.
As reported in Overcoming Prejudice in the Evolution/Creation Debate, a 2001 Gallop Poll in the US showed that 57% believed in creationism, 33% in evolution and 10% had no opinion.
What can be inferred from this data?
1. more Britons believe in evolution that Americans
2. ID is a viable alternative for those who believe in creationism
3. neither ID nor creationism are dead.
4. evolution has yet to become the theory of choice for the majority

One problem with these types of polls is the differences in definitions. The figure above helps to distinguish between different types of Evolutionists, and different types of Creationists.

In a previous post, Monk called himself a religious theist. I wonder where on the spectrum of categories in the above figure he would actually place himself?

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Being Honest with Monk

OK Monk, to be absolutely and completely fair to you, let me deal with each of your points directly.

Point #1
"Offspring have traits inherited from their parents. Surely you won't disagree with such an obvious fact. Not only is it obvious to anyone who studies genetics, but it is attested to by the simple observation that children resemble their parents."

OK, this one seems true. After all, that is how God created us. He used the genetic machinery to ensure that every living thing produces after its kind. Dogs look like dogs, cats look like cats, humans look like humans. Never has anything in the history of biology ever produced an organism that did not belong to the species from which it came. This is a law of biology called: the limitation in variation in progeny. (read more about it in my books)

Point #2
"Creatures which, by chance, happen to be better adapted to survive are more likely to survive. This is simple common sense. If the winter is particularly cold and you have a thicker fur coat than the other guy, you are more likely to survive than he is."

Well, this one is not as obvious as it might first appear to be.
Creatures best fit for the environment are not necessarily the ones that survive. In fact, any study that has been done to try to show that natural selection can lead to a better "fit" genotype of a species has failed to actually do so. Instead, all the evidence we have is from what we see in nature already. We look at an environment, we see a surviving creature (such as a black peppered moth), and we say that it is best fit because it survived. We have not actually proved that the best fit creature survived. Biologists can tell us NOW what is surviving, but they cannot tell us if that organism was actually the best fit of the group from the PAST.
Monk, the reason why Evolutionists think it is obvious that the best fit survive is because this statement is an example of classical circular reasoning. Saying that the best fit survived is the same logic that tells us it is obvious all widows are women.
So Monk, this point might seem obvious to you, but it lacks any scientific evidence, and it has never been proven to be true. Even today, the peppered moth, which is one of the most familiar examples of natural selection, has been under criticism from the legitimate scientific community. Textbook authors recognize the problem with the concept of "best fit" or "survival of the fittest" and many are even changing the definitions of this concept to try and get around the circular reasoning. None have yet been successful.

Point #3
"The environments in which creatures live change over time. Weather patterns, average temperatures change, and so forth"

In Canada, we experience considerable extremes in weather. But, is this enough to cause organisms to "evolve"? No, not at all. Why? A lot of our folk go south in the winter, along with the animals.
The point I am making is of monumental importance in understanding how organisms cope with the environment. We have had changes in weather, BUT these changes are seasonal and depend on location. Populations of animals will simply move to the more comfortable locations. The polar bears also move around a lot, but tend to stay on the ice fields where hunting is a lot easier for them.
The point you are making Monk is really meaningless. Animals can move, so why would a change in climate cause evolution? It will simply cause migration, not evolution.
But the reason you think this point makes sense is because you have been taught, incorrectly, that in the past there were periods when the environment of the earth was uniform all over (e.g. all cold, or all warm). But the world has always experienced many different environmental conditions at any single time. So, first of all, we don't know if the weather was uniform throughout the earth at any specific time, and second, we don't know if that could have caused evolution.
This is another topic I deal with in my book "Overcoming prejudice in the evolution/creation debate."

Monk's conclusion
"If you take these three very basic assumptions, it becomes rather obvious that species change over time. Because of inherited characteristics, those creatures which survive better in changing conditions will be "selected" and those which are not as well adapted will be "selected against."

Monk, your conclusion is very well stated, but incorrect.
You have been brain-washed into believing in only one way of thinking, and until you can break away from that, you will forever see black as being white.
I don't expect you to agree with anything I say, but please consider the possibility that you just might be wrong.
I have succeeded in demonstrating why your points 2 and 3 are not as obvious as you may think they are. Therefore, to the logically-thinking mind, your conclusion is not obvious at all. It is based on faith, not science.

Note: I have not changed any of your words, and I have dealt with each of your points directly and honestly.

Now Monk, I hope we can get past the mental barrier that has prevented you from seeing the "facts" from another perspective, and that you will now be able to ask questions that really have some scientific merit.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

The Ghost of Gould

Stephen Jay Gould died a number of years ago, but his legacy lives on.
In the previous post, Monk has asked that I consider three known facts, and believes that if I should agree these facts are true, then I must accept evolution as a scientific fact.
What Monk has done is to provide a variation on the reasoning proposed by Gould - a thinking that sounds logical, but is overwhelmingly flawed.
The argument Gould makes starts off with 3 postulates: 1. animals produce more offspring than they need to (many will die off), 2. offspring will vary in appearance to each other, and 3. the environment will select for the offspring that are best fit. Gould states that these 3 postulates are obviously true (it's a matter of common sense), and therefore evolution is a fact of life.
But unfortunately for Stephen, he made an error in logic.
Can anyone tell me what that error is?