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Book: Why Evolution Is True

October 19, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments

I finished Why Evolution Is True by Jerry Coyne last night.  I had been looking to read a book on evolution lately in order to better understand the mindset of those who argue against creation.  Surprisingly, the Coyne book wasn’t bad.  It didn’t take on the same arrogant tone that Dawkins, Hitchens, and other anti-theists take on in their writings.  It was an informative, yet slightly misguided book.

I did learn a lot though.  And that was very beneficial.  Coyne never attacked Christianity, but asked generic questions regarding creationism.  This is where he went off the tracks, assuming his knowledge of creationism.  

Nonetheless, the book was pretty good.  Let’s review:

  • The issue of “species” is a pretty big deal.  Coyne claims that 99% of species that have ever walked this earth are extinct (no sources to back the information).  This comes interesting to me as by species, it is meant within a class of animal.  Instead of “species” meaning a new animal, it means a different type of finch, fish, monkey, etc.  This has always seemed to be a fun issue of interpretation.  Anyways, on this issue of Coyne’s assertion he states, ““This, by the way, poses an enormous problem for theories of intelligent design (ID). It doesn’t seem so intelligent to design millions of species that are destined to go extinct, and then replace them with other, similar species, most of which will also vanish. ID supporters have never addressed this difficulty.”  Animals die.  People die.  Death is the result of sin.  Just because the answer to the question isn’t what you want, doesn’t mean it hasn’t been addressed.
  • Coyne repeatedly appeals to the idea of “Bad Design” but as I just mentioned, Christians do have an explanation for the messed up things of the world – unfortunately, people who operate from the mindset that there is no God refuses to accept that.
  • Adaptation happens. I’ll agree with that.  It’s been observed.  My problem with evolution is the fact that adaptation has been observed – ie. Darwin’s finches – and the argument continues that many little changes within a species add up over time, thus, one form can transform into another.  I guess we’ll just have to agree to disagree.
  • One such example that Coyne provides for adaptation is as follows: There are species of orchids that resemble wasps, bees, and other insects.  Sure, I can see that.  And this is showing my ignorance on the issue of course, but the argument is that over time, these orchids have developed leaves or whatnot that look like a bee.  I mean, look at the picture – it looks like a bee.  I just don’t understand what caused the orchid to transform a leaf to look like a bee. Orchids are non-thinking organisms, thus there is no perception of what a bee looks like.  So, does nature just somehow take over and give the orchid the ability to grow a leaf that looks JUST like a bee?  Random mutations within the DNA sequence allow a leaf to begin to grow and change to the point that it looks like a bee, whenever the orchid cannot observe what bee looks like?  Maybe it’s way over my head, but if someone would like to explain how something this complex can happen within an orchid, giving it the ability to grow a leaf that looks like a bee whenever it cannot observe what a bee looks like, then I’d love to have the explanation.  As for now, I just think this is a poor argument.  Kinda like the Christian side whenever someone argues and just says, “Goddidit, don’t ask anymore questions….” I feel like many people say, “Evolution did it, shut up!”  
  • Again, my ignorance might be shown greatly here, but another problem I have is of human fossilization. No, I will not go on to say that some of the “transition fossils” presented are not human…whoops.  Anyways, Darwin, Coyne, and others use the argument that humans began evolving in Africa.  Thus, it is obvious that most fossils would be found in Africa of the earliest descendants.  Sure – that’s fine.  I mean, according to the Bible, that area is where a lot of fossils should be found, too, as fossilization occurs whenever organisms find themselves quickly covered by water and sediments…I seem to remember this flood story…nonetheless – a quick look at human fossil records shows that some of the earliest “human fossils” were not discovered in Africa, but instead scattered around Asia, Europe, AND Africa.  I don’t care where they find them.  I just thought it interesting that Coyne really hit on the fact that man evolved in Africa, thus fossils should be found only there, and then whenever man because a thinking creature capable of movement, he moved across the world…yet some of the oldest dated fossils by evolutionists are found in Germany, China, Pakistan, and Italy. Oh well.

Anyways, I enjoyed the book.  I obviously don’t know everything that evolutionists believe, nor will I ever (as I have heard different contradicting ideas from different evolutionists…)  I just wanted to take a step toward understanding the worldview from which they work.

There are many I have talked to who are simply angry.  They don’t want to believe in a God.  They don’t want to deal with that, so it’s a sense of rebellion.  I try to avoid these types of people.

But others are simply unable to come to the conclusion that a God exists.  They see evolution as fact because it makes sense.  They see Christianity (and any religion) as moot because it seems preposterous and impossible.  They reject it because it is not logical – not because they’re angry babies.  I like these people, because they’re nice.

I read this book to understand those people.  I read this book to be able to at least talk to them a little.

One last tidbit, just for fun.  Within the book, Coyne says “probably,” “maybe,” “possibly,” etc. numerous times when speaking of how things evolved, why they evolved, and other issues.  Sure, I don’t expect evolutionists to have all the answers.  I mean, that’s something you hear a lot from them.  “No, we haven’t found transitional fossils, but we will someday and that will answer all the questions…”  What you hear is faith.  I just wanted to point that one out.  So, don’t bash faith.  It happens to everyone.  

Now, back to reading things I want to read for fun….not that I didn’t enjoy the book.  It had some interesting tidbits…just interpreted the evidence in a much different way.

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  1. October 19, 2009 at 11:04 am

    “Christians do have an explanation for the messed up things of the world ”

    You do have an explanation, but it has no explanatory power. By saying, for example, that the indications of ‘bad design’ are the cause of sin is no more explanatory than saying they are caused by magic, unless you go into detail and demonstrate how one leads to the other.

    “I guess we’ll just have to agree to disagree.”

    Someone wiser than both of us once said “you are welcome to your own opinion, but not your own facts.”

    So you are welcome to disagree. You should just be aware that the facts contradict you.

    “Orchids are non-thinking organisms, thus there is no perception of what a bee looks like.”

    It doesn’t need perception. I’ll try and explain. I’ll probably fail, but I might as well try. 🙂

    Within the random variation of what an orchid’s leaves look like, some of those variations will look somewhat bee-like. At first, this wouldn’t be very much. Perhaps a simple swatch of color, a simple shape that doesn’t make the leaf look like a bee, but it makes it look more like a bee than other leaves. If that ‘looking a little bit like a bee’ has a benefit, then that plant is more likely to survive and reproduce.

    The spawn of the plant will again have variation within it’s attributes, and again some may have leaves that look even more bee-like than the parent.

    Over time, this repeats hundreds if not thousands of times. (Maybe millions, not sure, heh.) And eventually the leaves look a lot like a bee because of those incremental changes, all because looking that way has given it an advantage in reproducing.

    Make sense?

    “yet some of the oldest dated fossils by evolutionists are found in Germany, China, Pakistan, and Italy. Oh well.”

    You’re making a category error.

    One category is “the oldest human ancestor fossils we have”. The other category is “where humans first started to evolve.” I could be wrong, but we may not have found fossils from as far back as the absolute origin of human evolution.

    “I obviously don’t know everything that evolutionists”

    Someone needs to go into this blog post and replace every usage of ‘evolutionist’ with ‘biologist’.

    “There are many I have talked to who are simply angry. They don’t want to believe in a God.”

    You should do yourself a favor and check our Ken Miller and Francis Collins. Both brilliant scientists, biologists, and they happen to be theists. They’ll do a better job than anyone else, probably, because you may be able to relate to them more.

    ” ”No, we haven’t found transitional fossils, but we will someday and that will answer all the questions…” ”

    No reputable scientist has ever said that. EVERY fossil is a transitional fossil. It’s by definition. It’s the way evolution works. Every fossil we find is another piece added to the puzzle.

    We say things like “probably” because we are being intellectually honest. We work from the evidence that we have and we extrapolate. When we receive new evidence, we extrapolate some more. The beautiful thing about evolution is that every piece of evidence has confirmed that evolution is, in fact, a fact. The things we are still learning is how, exactly, those changes took place.

    “So, don’t bash faith. It happens to everyone.”

    Not to me, good sir. I operate faith-free.

  2. October 19, 2009 at 11:13 am

    Oh, a quick follow up on the lotus that looks like a bee.

    You know how humans breed dogs, correct? It started with wolves, and we selected the offspring for the traits we wanted, and bred them and bred them until we got something like the chihuahua.

    Instead of humans doing the selecting, however, that selecting is done naturally (natural selection 😉 ) …in the case of the lotuses, that selection is done by the bees. Except the bees don’t really know they’re doing it. They’re just attracted to the flowers that look the most like other bees.

    It’s more complicated than that, and there are certainly more factors, but that’s putting it in the simplest of terms, I think.

  3. Tyler Norris
    October 19, 2009 at 12:54 pm

    What you are confusing yourself Morse is the fact that natural selection and genetic mutation is not a way for animals to have new genes, it is only a rearrangement or loss of already existing genes. There is no law that shows how we came from the chemical soup to the walking people we are today. We are taught in science class that simple life forms evolved into complex life forms such as fish and mammals, but we have never seen one animal evolve into another animal. Your wolves were not bred into a different species called dogs…they were just bred into different kind of wolves that we call dogs. Just like the orchid did not become a more complex orchid, it just became an orchid with a different color pistal. See the mistake you are making is lumping natural selection in with the whole idea of evolution. Natural selection has been proven to be true but the fact that we evolved from a soup to a monkey to a human has not.

    To show that all life evolved from a single cell, which itself came from some type of chemical soup, there would have had to be massive genetic information gains. For instance, the ability of one single celled organism to bring together proteins to not only live, but to reproduce, replicate DNA, make and use energy, move, consume, and a million other functions at one time is so complex that to imagine it happening in a trillion years is not very feasible. Evolutionists counter that these processes take incremental steps to the big picture but how would the first cell survie at all to reproduce without the ability to reproduce? If you can, tell me how an organism comes together from a chemical soup of nucleic acids and RNA and has the ability to reproduce immediately? Science hypothesizes that the first ability to reproduce came in the form of an RNA self replicator…but again, where did the RNA self replicator come from? If RNA could not reproduce without it then where did this creation of and RNA self replicator come from? This type of mutation in a RNA strand couldn’t happen without a strand of RNA producing it so how can something replicate before it has the ability to replicate itself?

    What you don’t seem to want to admit is that scientists have only theories of evolution and not “facts,” like you like to call them. Go to any science text book at any level you will see that when science goes through the evolution of a cell they simply state that it happened….so the cell membrane evolved and it was good because it did this, and then DNA evolved and it was good because then DNA made proteins to do the stuff the cell had supposedly been doing all along. This is an actual transcript from a text book…

    “Up until this point, life had probably relied on RNA for most jobs (as described in Step 2 above). But everything changed when some cell or group of cells evolved to use different types of molecules for different functions: DNA (which is more stable than RNA) became the genetic material, proteins (which are often more efficient promoters of chemical reactions than RNA) became responsible for basic metabolic reactions in the cell, and RNA was demoted to the role of messenger, carrying information from the DNA to protein-building centers in the cell.”

    So all of a sudden, or even over millions of years, this non-thinking organism, suddenly had a mutated strand of RNA that because DNA and took over all functions in the cell that RNA once did, and was so much better at it that it kept the job and RNA just stopped doing it. You see what I am saying? An incredibly complex machine of an organism, that has no thought processes, and is made up of little machine parts all of the sudden has a part that no longer does what it was made to do because something else can do it better? How does this RNA molecule now know not to do its job? The cell can’t tell it to stop, the RNA wouldn’t stop storing information and replicating gene material just because the DNA did it better? It certainly wouldn’t pick up a new job of being a messenger for DNA out of no where? See you can tell me that evolution is based on facts but if you really study it like I have…because you see I am a biologist, then you will come out with just as many questions as you have answers. And he was right to use evolutionist because there are quite a few of us who do not take this theory as fact just because we do not want to sound foolish. Just because evolution has the backing of science does not make it real…it jsut means that people are more willing to accept it for fear of sounding stupid. That my friend takes as much faith as me and my friend up above.

    • October 19, 2009 at 2:11 pm

      I understood about 6 words of Tyler’s post.

      And morse, I can vouch for the validity of Tyler’s biologist statement. Full degree from a state institution and all.

      I’m gonna go re-read Tyler’s post and see if I can understand a 7th word.

      • October 19, 2009 at 2:56 pm

        I may have understood 7 words.

        And it’s true, not 100% of biologists accept evolution. It’s closer to 99%. Not that the amount makes a difference. It’s what the evidence says.

        “is the fact that natural selection and genetic mutation is not a way for animals to have new genes, it is only a rearrangement or loss of already existing genes.”

        You forget about gene duplication accompanied with point mutation. The combination of mutation and selection actually increases the genetic information, contrary to your claim. Check out talkorigins.org for my references.

        “but we have never seen one animal evolve into another animal.”

        We’ve also never seen Jeffrey Dahlmer kill any one. But based on the evidence, we can be reasonably certain that he has.

        “evolved from a soup to a monkey to a human has not. ”

        Forgive me for being rude, but your usage of terms has me seriously questioning your credentials as a biologist. As does this next quote:

        “What you don’t seem to want to admit is that scientists have only theories of evolution and not “facts,” like you like to call them.”

        A theory is the ultimate goal for any scientific idea. It is above fact. You can’t get any higher in science than a theory.

        That being said, evolution is also a fact. The theory is what explains how the fact occurs.

        “How does this RNA molecule now know not to do its job?”

        The way you present it, you seem to suggest that the DNA pops into a cell where the RNA has already existed.

        I would imagine at least one possible explanation is that the cell reproduced, giving ‘birth’ to a cell that had DNA and an RNA strand that had been mutated to no longer function in the same way.

        “Just because evolution has the backing of science does not make it real”

        You’re right.

        It’s because evolution has the backing of evidence that makes it real.

      • Tyler Norris
        October 19, 2009 at 4:07 pm

        “You forget about gene duplication accompanied with point mutation. The combination of mutation and selection actually increases the genetic information, contrary to your claim. Check out talkorigins.org for my references.”

        I hadn’t forgot about point mutations because point mutations are not positive outcome mutations. In a point mutation you can either have a transition or a transversion mutation. Transition mutations are either stop mutations…which truncates the protein, nonsense mutations, which cause a different amino acid to be synthesized and results in a truncated or incomplete protein or a silent mutation, which causes a different amino acid to be synthesized but does not change the protein itself. So the only thing that changes is the ability of a person to live a long life, not the ability to live a better life. You know what point mutations do do though? How about sickle-cell anemia, cystic fibrosis or hurler syndrome. There is a reason genes are coded the way they are and point mutations are not a good example of a way something can evolve.

        “We’ve also never seen Jeffrey Dahlmer kill any one. But based on the evidence, we can be reasonably certain that he has.”

        So believing Dahmer killed those people is the same as believing we evolved from apes and single celled organisms? They had proof that he killed those people, including a confession, and that is far from the proof we have that an animal can go from one animal to another animal. If you have an example of that happening then we can talk but saying it happens because they say it happens is never a correct answer.

        “Forgive me for being rude, but your usage of terms has me seriously questioning your credentials as a biologist. As does this next quote:”

        Thanks that was rather rude….but you see chemical soup or primordial soup is an excepted term in the biology community. So question all you want, it bothers me very little.

        “A theory is the ultimate goal for any scientific idea. It is above fact. You can’t get any higher in science than a theory.”

        A theory is not the ultimate goal for any scientific idea. The ultimate goal is for that theory to be a law. Like the laws of thermodynamics or the law of gravity. A theory is absolutely not above fact. Please do not question my credentials and then tell me a theory is above facts. In fact here are quite a few theories of science that were eventually proven wrong.

        Phlogiston theory
        Geocentric theory of the solar system
        Aristotle’s dynamic motion.
        Newton’s corpuscular theory of light
        Ether as a carrier of light waves and radio waves.
        And even one Law in Newtons laws of motion, which were proven not quite right by Einstein

        A theory explains how something could happen…that why you say I have a theory about why this happened. You don’t know you are only making your best guess. That is a fact.

        “The way you present it, you seem to suggest that the DNA pops into a cell where the RNA has already existed.”

        I meant that DNA pops into a cell where RNA already has a specific function.

        “I would imagine at least one possible explanation is that the cell reproduced, giving ‘birth’ to a cell that had DNA and an RNA strand that had been mutated to no longer function in the same way.”

        Consider what you are saying for a second. You would have to have a series of very specific mutations for DNA to be produced into a cell, another series of very specific mutations for that DNA to funcion correctly, and then another series of mutations for the cell to respond to what the DNA is doing? Not to mention the RNA has to accordingly have it’s own series of mutations to stop it from doing the job DNA is now doing(storing genetic information), and start working as a tRNA, mRNA and so forth. The possibility of all this happening in any time frame is so astronomical that again you have to have faith to believe it completely.

        So in closing this argument completely because I don’t think we are going to get anywhere with each other I just want to say that you may think that all your evidence may back it up as completely true….I have evidence on my side that I see every day as well. Now you might say that my evidence is not real as well but I except that my defence is faith based while you can not.

  4. October 19, 2009 at 4:38 pm

    “A theory explains how something could happen…that why you say I have a theory about why this happened. You don’t know you are only making your best guess. That is a fact.”

    Enjoy:

    • October 19, 2009 at 4:56 pm

      What I find silly is that one of the biggest arguments that is used is the meaning of the word theory and someone tries to use this as substantiation that they have facts, or in the opposite case – that someone only has speculation.

      The point is not the word “theory” but the facts.

      • October 19, 2009 at 5:41 pm

        That’s what Neil Tyson is saying. They used to call it a Law, now they call it a Theory. And ID creationists like to say that because the common definition of the word theory means “guess”, we should stop teaching science in science class.

  5. October 20, 2009 at 8:30 am

    No, what I was trying to point out is that when someone types a big long post with lots of arguments/information in it – it’s ridiculous that someone can only merit a response to one part of it, completely ignoring the remainder of the post…

    • October 20, 2009 at 9:15 am

      It’s called time management, sir. These posts get long and I can’t respond to every part every time I post.

      If you insist, I’ll go back and respond to every single point.

      Though your point had absolutely nothing to do with the validity of mine.

  6. October 20, 2009 at 9:24 am

    Honestly, I could care less what you respond to.

    The goal of my blog is not to create debates online, nor is it a place to pretend like I am right.

    I just have a pet peeve on both sides of the debate when someone thinks that by calling someone else out on ONE point that they are proving something. Who cares what the word “theory” means in this case.

    The evidence to observation of transitions of one animal to another animal has never, and will never, be proven. Let alone all of the other arguments against evolution.

    I just get tired of the arrogant attitude of those who ascribe to evolution with their bull crap posts about “the most proven theory in the scientific community…” No one questions whether gravity exists. No one questions whether the sky is blue.

    When evolutionists can bring more to the table than speculation, I’ll gladly agree with them, but as it has been going on for the past 200 years, I don’t expect anything other than speculation to come from that side.

  7. October 20, 2009 at 9:30 am

    “How about sickle-cell anemia, cystic fibrosis or hurler syndrome.”

    How about the fact that sickle-cell anemia is a positive mutation. Did you know that? Someone who has sickle-cell anemia is greatly resistant to catching malaria. In a world where malaria kills people significantly younger than sickle-cell does, those with sickle-cell have the evolutionary advantage.

    “They had proof that he killed those people, including a confession”

    And we have evidence that evolution happened, including the fossil record, the genome, comparative biology…etc. Francis Collins, head of the human genome project and evangelical christian is famous for pointing out that even if we didn’t have a single fossil, the genome is more than enough evidence to indicate common descent and confirm evolution.

    “If you have an example of that happening”

    Tiktaalik rosea, the famous fish with shoulders. Evolved from earlier fish and was the precursor to amphibians and land animals.

    “but you see chemical soup or primordial soup is an excepted term in the biology community”

    I was referring to your misuse of the word ‘monkey’.

    Biologists know that apes are not monkeys, and referring to them as such is either a gross misunderstanding of general biology or a condescending attempt to insult a theory rather than respond scientifically.

    “The possibility of all this happening in any time frame is so astronomical that again you have to have faith to believe it completely.”

    Really? What is the possibility? (I think you mean ‘probability’.) I’d like some numbers, please.

    And then, when you have those numbers, I’d like you to see if they fit into the probability of millions of cells reproducing and changing over hundreds of thousands to millions of years.

    Saying something is improbable is in no way a valid argument. Winning the lottery, getting attacked by a shark and getting hit by lightning are all improbably. Yet it still seems to happen occasionally. And it only has to happen once.

    Dr. Tyson refuted your comment about theories.

    And as for faith, again, I don’t have any need for it.

  8. October 20, 2009 at 9:40 am

    “Honestly, I could care less what you respond to.”

    You couldn’t care less. If you could care less, that means you do care some. 🙂

    “Who cares what the word “theory” means in this case.”

    Apparently Tyler did.

    “The evidence to observation of transitions”

    Well, it has, but only with small animals like fruit flies, and not ‘enough’ to satisfy creationists.

    And again, direct observation is no big deal. Direct observation is some of the worst evidence scientifically. It’s about evidence. Observation is nice, but unnecessary when you have the evidence. And evolution does, whether you wish to accept that or not.

    “No one questions whether gravity exists.”

    And yet, scientifically, there is still debate over what exactly gravity is.

    Nearly no one questions whether modern medicine works…and modern medicine operates because we understand evolution is true.

    “No one questions whether the sky is blue. ”

    Because I’m a nitpicker…the sky isn’t blue. It’s black. The sky only appears blue due to the light of Sol and the way our atmosphere is. 🙂

    “When evolutionists can bring more to the table than speculation”

    The fossil record is not speculation. Comparative biology is not speculation. The genome is not speculation.

    Study and enjoy them.

    When creationist bring more to the table than ‘magic man done it’, they might be considered scientific.

  9. October 20, 2009 at 9:50 am

    But that’s the thing, science has been exalted as if it is the final say so. This is where there is a gross misunderstanding of the Christian perspective.

    I love science. I think it is great. Modern medicine, understanding many things because of science.

    But, if non-believers are expecting God to be proven scientifically or to be found within the realm of science, then they’ll be waiting forever. It’s looking at things logically:

    If there is a great being who created everything, then how can someone expect to prove that God exists through something He created (science.)

    I know that many Christians give the “Goddidit” answer and leave it at that, but choosing to see the side for what it is must be required to fully understand how the Christian mindset works.

    I say that God did it. God did create it all. God gave man knowledge to be able to understand creations, etc. But, the goal of Christians is not to come up with theories and whatnot in the scientific community in order to try to prove God – that’s a waste of time. My faith in God has nothing to do with proving Him scientifically.

    “When creationist bring more to the table than ‘magic man done it’, they might be considered scientific.”

    That’s where the non-believing community errs. Science has been exalted to the most high form of learning and the answer to everything…am I the only one who sees the problem with this? As I stated, science has been great and I appreciate those who study to learn about life, work towards medicine, and etc., but I honestly feel like Christians who strive to present a scientific explanation for God are ridiculous.

    To me, one of the worst examples of this was the debate between the RRS and Comfort/Cameron. Comfort and Cameron claimed they would prove God scientifically without resorting to the Bible (which they resorted to the Bible almost immediately…) Nonetheless, the whole premise of the debate in my opinion was a waste because as I said, I don’t think you can prove God scientifically.

    I don’t say this just so I can say, “Well God can’t be proven scientifically, so you can’t disprove Him.” That’s just the way things are. I wish I could use science, but as I believe, God, who created all things, would logically be outside of Science. It’s a never-ending debate of course, but I don’t apologize for my beliefs, no matter how ludicrous it might seem to someone who doesn’t believe the way that I do. Especially, since my beliefs have contributed to my life in a way that has not negatively affected anyone else – especially the atheists who whine about it the most.

  10. October 20, 2009 at 1:24 pm

    “science has been exalted as if it is the final say so.”

    Science is the best and most consistent process for understanding reality that we have. If you come across a better one that is more consistent with reality, by all means present it.

    “if non-believers are expecting God to be proven scientifically or to be found within the realm of science”

    We’re not. We’re expecting believers who make supernatural claims to back them up with evidence.

    Now, you may well say that a god or something supernatural can’t be understood by science because it involves things in another dimension/plane of existence/etc. But if this supernatural stuff in any way effects our universe (what we know as reality), then it should be understandable using science. At the very least, those effects should be detectable. And yet, they are not.

    And if the supernatural you believe in doesn’t effect our universe, then how is it different from not existing?

    “then how can someone expect to prove that God exists through something He created (science.)”

    According to your own scriptures, in the OT your God appeared before a lot of people and gave them scientific evidence of its existence. And yet it fails to do so now, when we have things like the process of science and recording devices so that we could determine reality from delusion. If your God actually exists, why? Because that is consistent with no god.

    “My faith in God has nothing to do with proving Him scientifically. ”

    We were talking about evolution, which is proved scientifically, not God.

    “am I the only one who sees the problem with this?”

    Again, as science is the most consistent way of understanding the universe, I see no problem with giving it due respect for what it has done.

    “Well God can’t be proven scientifically, so you can’t disprove Him.”

    I don’t need to disprove something that has no evidence supporting it.

    You can’t disprove my magical intangible Sagan dragon…does that mean it exists? Should you even bother trying to disprove it? NO! That’s not how science works. For almost everything except religion, that’s not how humans work. You as the person bringing forth the claim must present evidence. Otherwise, I have no interest in your claim.

    “Especially, since my beliefs have contributed to my life in a way that has not negatively affected anyone else – especially the atheists who whine about it the most.”

    They will negatively effect others if you insist (and I don’t know if you do, but if you do) that non-science (creationism) is taught in science class. Then you are causing harm.

  11. October 20, 2009 at 2:28 pm

    Again, the error is the fact that you are claiming that God (supernatural) must be understood scientifically. This is the problem…

    If God were to just come down and heal someone of cancer (no, I’m not directing this at you, but it’s a logical example that people can understand… 😉 ) you cannot possibly begin to examine it and say, “Well, God didn’t heal me because I cannot explain it scientifically.” You cannot make God answer to science is what I am trying to say.

    This all goes back to people working the opposite way with a worldview. Their worldview says that God does not exist, therefore, the stories of the Bible are untrue. Therefore, miracles cannot happen. Therefore, this and that.

    But, if they just look at it from the standpoint – not saying that there is a God – if a God exists who created EVERYTHING, then obviously, He can do whatever He wants however He wants whenever He wants…

    So, to say that the supernatural must be explained scientifically, or leave traces, or whatever you were hinting at, is completely false…that is, if there is a God. 😉

    I do not lobby for creationism to be taught in a science class – why? Because it would be a futile case. I have better things to do than lobby against evolutionists in a public forum, fighting for my place to be heard in a school. My job is better suited to teach my students within my church setting, as well as my parents, what creationism is and how to respond to other worldviews that misrepresent Christianity.

    • October 20, 2009 at 2:38 pm

      “If God were to just come down and heal someone of cancer”

      If God were to do such a thing, wouldn’t there be evidence that he had done it?

      And if there wasn’t evidence, how is the explanation any different from “I don’t know?”

      “Their worldview says that God does not exist, therefore, the stories of the Bible are untrue.”

      Not what I do: The supernatural claims of the Bible have no good scientific evidence supporting them, so we have no reason to believe them.

      “that is, if there is a God.”

      And again, if there are no traces, how can you tell the difference between supernatural and nothing?

  12. October 20, 2009 at 3:00 pm

    Why would there have to be evidence that God did it? Wouldn’t the fact that an incurable disease just suddenly disappears be evidence? That’s how I would view it? Now, I’m not saying that chemo and surgery are not contributing it as such, but I see a supernatural hand involved. It’s like looking at a picture and me seeing one thing and you seeing another…

    You’re proving what I am saying about the Bible…the supernatural claims of the Bible have no scientific evidence supporting them…if there is a God – who would have been responsible for the creation of science – why would he have to abide by scientific rules? Why could he not cause a donkey to speak, a flood to cover the whole earth, or a man to die and come back to life three days later? Seems logical to me in the framework that a God exists. That’s the funny thing about God…He doesn’t have to answer to science and abide by the laws of science

    Again, we see the same picture and arrive at two very separate conclusions. I see supernatural, you see nothing. I don’t understand how you see nothing. You don’t understand how I see supernatural.

    it’s quite the paradox.

  13. October 20, 2009 at 3:14 pm

    “Wouldn’t the fact that an incurable disease just suddenly disappears be evidence?”

    Perhaps, but evidence for what? With no sign or evidence, a leprechaun is just as good an explanation as your god.

    “Why could he not cause a donkey to speak, a flood to cover the whole earth, or a man to die and come back to life three days later?”

    Those three things serve as evidence, and can be looked at scientifically.

    Well, they could be looked at scientifically if they happened in modern times and were able to be studied, not just told anecdotally.

    Again, if there’s no evidence, how is that different from nothing?

    I have an invisible, intangible and mute dragon that breathes heatless fire in my garage. How is he different from no dragon at all?

  14. Shalena
    October 23, 2009 at 4:29 pm

    I know this debate has been over for a few days, but I just came across it and wanted to say something, not about evolution, but about faith. I have to agree with Ryan in that everyone has faith in at least one form if not more.

    From Dictionary.com:

    Set One
    faith /feɪθ/ [feyth]
    –noun
    1. confidence or trust in a person or thing: faith in another’s ability.
    2. belief that is not based on proof: He had faith that the hypothesis would be substantiated by fact.
    3. belief in God or in the doctrines or teachings of religion: the firm faith of the Pilgrims.
    4. belief in anything, as a code of ethics, standards of merit, etc.: to be of the same faith with someone concerning honesty.
    5. a system of religious belief: the Christian faith; the Jewish faith.
    6. the obligation of loyalty or fidelity to a person, promise, engagement, etc.: Failure to appear would be breaking faith.
    7. the observance of this obligation; fidelity to one’s promise, oath, allegiance, etc.: He was the only one who proved his faith during our recent troubles.
    8. Christian Theology. the trust in God and in His promises as made through Christ and the Scriptures by which humans are justified or saved.
    —Idiom
    9. in faith, in truth; indeed: In faith, he is a fine lad.
    Origin:
    1200–50; ME feith < AF fed, OF feid, feit < L fidem, acc. of fidēs trust, akin to fīdere to trust. See confide

    Set Two
    faith (fāth)
    n.
    1.Confident belief in the truth, value, or trustworthiness of a person, idea, or thing.
    2.Belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence. See Synonyms at belief, trust.
    3.Loyalty to a person or thing; allegiance: keeping faith with one's supporters.
    4.often Faith Christianity The theological virtue defined as secure belief in God and a trusting acceptance of God's will.
    5.The body of dogma of a religion: the Muslim faith.
    6.A set of principles or beliefs.

    While Christians may represent definition #2 in both sets, all people represent definition #1 in both sets, thus, everyone has faith.

    Example One
    Any time I go to sit in a chair, I don't say, "I have faith in that chair to hold me up." But I do have faith that it will hold me up because I act and expect a certain performance from the chair.

    Why is this faith? Because faith is not only believing in something without proof, but believing that past proof continues to hold true.

    I use chairs all the time, despite the possibility of one of them collapsing beneath me. To calculate the possibility of a chair failing, I would have to thoroughly study each chair I want to sit in. But that would be ridiculously time-consuming. So, I just decide to believe that because whoever designed the chair knew what they were doing enough to get this chair into a store somewhere, and because most chairs work properly, the one I choose will also. That's faith.

    Yes, you could just say, "Well that's not faith, its trust," but that's just arguing semantics. According to the first definition given in the first definition set, A=B so if you use B you are still using A because they are the same. Just to be thorough, here is the first entry for faith from Thesaurus.com:

    Main Entry: faith
    Part of Speech: noun
    Definition: trust in something
    Synonyms:acceptance, allegiance, assent, assurance, belief, certainty, certitude, confidence, constancy, conviction, credence, credit, credulity, dependence, faithfulness, fealty, fidelity, hope, loyalty, reliance, stock, store, sureness, surety, troth, truth, truthfulness

    Example Two
    I have made plans for Saturday. Thus, I have faith that certain things will happen and also that a billion things will not happen, i.e. I don't get hit by a bus, choke on spaghetti, etc., before Saturday. I also have faith that when I go to bed on Friday, that I will wake up on Saturday. If I don't wake up on Saturday, my faith (definition #8, Set One) is that I will be in heaven, so not a huge loss there.

    The point is we exercise faith not only actively (what I can control), but passively (what I can't control). I can control whether or not I eat spaghetti, how I eat spaghetti, and also that I have been properly taught how to do the Heimlich maneuver on myself. I cannot control how a bus driver will drive, how that other car that cut off that bus driver will drive, when the stop light will change, how quick the bus driver's reactions are, etc. I just have faith that people will follow the traffic laws and use common sense, whether I acknowledge that faith or not.

    To say one lives without faith (definition #2, 3, 5, 8 of Set One; #2, 4, 5 of Set Two) is entirely valid. To say one lives without faith (definitions #4, 6, 7 of Set One; #3, 6 of Set Two) I would think highly improbable, though technically possible. But to say one lives without faith (definition #1 of both sets) is impossible. Just by this last definition alone, evolutionists exercise faith as much as any other person. By saying that you believe the facts of evolution are indeed facts, that you trust them to be true and you are confident in their truthfulness, you are saying you have faith in the facts, and thus, in evolution.

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