News website “The Conversation” recently published an article by Paul Braterman attacking creationists. Braterman is a retired chemistry professor from the University of Glasgow and a board member of the Scottish Secular Society. Below is the full text of Prof. Braterman’s article in red, interspersed with responses by CMI’s Andrew Lamb.
Seven million! Says who? Fossils do not come with age labels attached, and age is not something that can actually be measured. Age can be calculated, but all such calculations rely on assumptions. The only reliable way to know the age of something is from reliable historical records (see Immeasurable age) and the Bible’s record of history, which has proven supremely reliable, reveals that the world is only about 6,000 years old. For some scientific support, see Age of the earth: 101 evidences for a young age of the earth and the universe.
You have chosen poorly, Paul. The proposed transitional ape-human status of the Sahelanthropus tchadensis (aka ‘Toumai’) fossil skull was denounced by other evolutionists mere days1 after its finder published his claims—see New ‘ape-man’ preliminary response. And within a few months a letter in Nature2 dealt the fatal blow, confirming beyond doubt that it was just a female gorilla skull, and not some esoteric new species of ape-man.
This is the normal cycle for proposed transitional forms. Great crowing accompanies their announcement in the media. Later they are quietly dropped from the evolutionary pantheon as their non-transitional status becomes unavoidably apparent. For some candidates, such as Sahelanthropus and Archaeoraptor, the demise is rapid, a matter of mere weeks. Typically though the cycle takes several years. Occasionally, as with the Piltdown man hoax, it takes decades.
Only an incorrigible die-hard atheist, as Braterman is by his own admission, who refused to stay informed would still accept Sahelanthropus as an ape-human transitional form, so Mr Pence’s “opposite conclusion”, whatever it might be, is definitely the more scientifically astute one.
Evolution and creation are both over-arching paradigms within which all the multifarious facts of science are interpreted. Within each of these worldviews, explanatory models are continually being developed, modified and discarded.
There are currently two main competing models of evolution: neo-Darwinism (small mutations plus selection) and Punctuated Equilibrium (sudden big changes). Proponents of both these theories point out the impossibilities inherent in their competitor. Other (mostly discarded) theories of evolution include Maximum Entropy Production (MEP), Population Dynamics, Facilitated Variation, Semi-Meiosis, Niche Construction, Panspermia, Metabolic Rate Theory, Zoogenesis, Lamarckism, Orthogenesis, Pangenesis, Gaia Theory, Evo-Devo, Symbiogenesis … . There are many more. Basically, they all believe evolution happened, but they can’t think of a plausible mechanism to support that belief. See The century-and-a-half failure in the quest for the source of new genetic information.
CMI’s policy is that teaching creation should not be compulsory, as evolutionist teachers would misrepresent and ridicule it. Rather we think that 1) teachers should not be prevented from teaching creation if they wish, and 2) that evolution should be taught, but taught properly, i.e. warts and all, as a scientific theory, open to criticism and discussion of its faults and weaknesses, not as indoctrination and dogma, which is the way evolution is typically taught in government schools currently. See They are teaching lies to our kids: Textbook full of mistakes, misinformation, bias and … lies?
Belief in evolution is strong, for philosophical and social reasons, but none of the many proposed models of evolution has stood up to testing and criticism. And note, even if scientists could manage to evolve a new type of organism in the laboratory, that would not prove that such evolution happened in the remote past. Rather it would prove what creationists believe—that an enormous amount of applied intelligence is necessary to create a new type of organism! See Was life really created in a test tube? And does it disprove biblical creation?
An important example of equivocation is the way evolutionists use the word “evolution” to describe two very different phenomena: 1) the observed scientific phenomenon of natural selection (≈ adaptation / survival of the fittest) which involves loss, shuffling or damage of existing genetic information, and 2) the hypothetical never-observed (hence unscientific) phenomenon of the coming into existence of new types of organs and organisms, which would require vast quantities of new genetic information. See Don’t fall for the bait and switch.
Come on Paul, get to some scientific meat. Stop carrying on with self-serving definitions.
So focus on some scientific evidence Paul!
Paul, you’re living in the past. This is ancient history. Mainstream creationists have been advising for decades against using the “evolution is just a theory” argument—see Arguments we think creationists should NOT use: “Evolution is just a theory.” We advise this not because there is no merit to the argument that evolution is neither a fact nor a law, but because critics like yourself can always play endless word games (as you do here) to deflect and distract from the relevant points.
Proposed by biblical creationist Robert Boyle, The man who turned chemistry into a science, …
… though during Boyle’s lifetime his theory faced ridicule.
Proposed by biblical creationist Sir Isaac Newton, one of Einstein’s three scientific heroes, who were all creationists.
And it is still not well supported, though it is comprehensive, in the sense that all new facts get pretzeled into an evolutionary framework of understanding, no matter how great the discordance.
And if you bothered to keep up with the research, rather than heeding only the mainstream headlines and ignoring the subsequent quiet refutations, you would know that the gaps are still huge. At any one time there are never more than a handful of contentious hotly-disputed candidate transitional forms, but if evolution were true there should be thousands. See our Fossils Q&A articles.
His ideas? Darwin’s? Darwin was a plagiarist of the first order. He may have been the one to make evolution socially acceptable to mainstream society, but his ideas were hardly original—see Darwin’s illegitimate brainchild. And note, creationists do not believe that species are immutable. Creationists denied immutability even before Darwin, and we still deny immutability today—see Ligers and wholphins.
The only power natural selection has is to remove unsuitable genetic information. See The three Rs of evolution. Natural selection cannot create or design new types of organs or organisms. As we have often summarized: Natural selection explains the survival of the fittest but not the arrival of the fittest, and it’s a culling force rather than a creative force.
Thanks for the lecture Paul.
Paul, you keep referring to illustrious biblical creationist founders of modern science, like Linnaeus. Why not refer to evolutionist founders of … oh, wait, because there ARE NONE. Biblical creation was the foundation of modern science. The very terminology of science is suffused with the names of biblical creationists.
No, a continuum of forms is what we would expect if evolution were true, not discrete separate kinds. But even if what you say is correct, you are making the logical fallacy of ‘affirming the consequent’. There may be an alternative theory that also predicts that. And in fact there is: creation. Varying levels of similarity between different categories of organism is exactly what we would expect if they were designed by the same creator. Read Are lookalikes related? again.
Indeed. And despite thousands of years of domestication and breeding, dogs have never diverged into anything other than … dogs!
You may believe that, but bears have only ever been observed to breed bears. Sheep and goats can interbreed, and thus are descended from the same original biblical kind—see Separating the sheep from the goats—but sheep and dogs?! Sure, sheepdogs exist, but they are pure canine, not some weird transitional form. In fact no animal has ever been observed to turn into a different kind of animal. Science is about what can be observed and measured and repeatedly tested. Evolutionary changes of the sort you express belief in here have not been observed, only assumed or inferred. It takes blind faith to believe what you believe.
Wrong. Molecular studies produce entirely different phylogenies (family trees) to traditional phenotype (physical characteristics) family trees. See for example Morphology and molecules in conflict yet again, and consider what molecular studies did to the family tree of turtles.
Indeed it is. In fact so many fossils have been found, that virtually every kind of organism has been demonstrated to be a ‘living fossil’:
“Of the 329 living families of terrestrial vertebrates 261 or 79.1% have been found as fossils and, when birds (which are poorly fossilized) are excluded, the percentage rises to 87.8%”.3
And the gaps between kinds are more prominent and unbridged than ever.
Indeed. In fact the relationships are so tenuous that there is continual fighting between proponents of the different proposed human lineages concocted from the few dozen scraps of fossil available. If evolution were true there should be thousands of transitional fossils by now showing clear sequences of changes. Instead there are millions of fossils showing stasis (i.e. no change)—note, not ‘evolutionary stasis’ (an oxymoron of breathtaking brazenness), just plain old ‘stasis’—plus a sad, paltry handful of dubious candidate transitional fossils like your beloved Sahelanthropus.
An astute insight from Dr Braterman. Indeed it is evolution, not evidence, that links the various distinct fossils into an alleged chain of descent. Take away the evolutionary stories, and you’re left with fossil apes and living apes, plus fossil humans and living humans, all highly consistent with the biblical account of origins.
A once-popular evolutionary scenario was that marsupials evolved in South America and spread to Australia via Antarctica (before the continents separated) and northwards into North America. I think that is the scenario Professor Braterman is expressing here. But marsupial fossils have been discovered not just in South America, Australia and Antarctica4, but on all continents5, including Europe (see diagram), Asia6 and Africa7.
After the Flood, marsupials and other animals recolonised the globe starting from the Mountains of Ararat in the Middle East, where the Ark landed. They likely migrated northwards through Eurasia, across the ancient Bering land bridge, then through North America and southwards into South America, rather than northwards out of South America as Professor Braterman suggests.
Ironically, in places where marsupials live today, the lower rock strata are virtually devoid of marsupial fossils. Two evolutionists admit:
Living marsupials are restricted to Australia and South America … In contrast, metatherian [marsupial] fossils from the Late Cretaceous are exclusively from Eurasia and North America … This geographical switch remains unexplained.8
Of course living marsupials (opossums) are also found in North America (including well north of the Isthmus of Panama, Professor Braterman).
Of course, the evolution story is endlessly pliable, and can easily be re-imagined to account for all this, but finding identical kinds of animals living on two distant parts of the globe and nowhere in between, a phenomenon known as disjunct distributions, fits more naturally with the biblical account of creation, Flood, dispersion from Ararat, and subsequent ecosystem decline, than with the traditional evolutionary story of organisms evolving into existence at the locations they now inhabit. See Biogeography.
No, you can not and no, it is not. See Pesticide resistance is not evidence of evolution. What you observe in the field and in the lab is natural selection, a process heading in the opposite direction to microbes-to-man evolution. See The evolution train’s a-comin’ (Sorry, a-goin’—in the wrong direction).
Huh? That experiment does not involve pesticide! It shows a population of bacteria becoming resistant to antibiotics. Adaptation? Yes. Evolution? No! They are still the same kind of bacteria, but have probably lost their ability to regulate production of antibiotic-destroying enzymes. For an example of this sort of thing see Superbugs not so super after all.
No, tame foxes are still foxes, just as new dog breeds are still dogs. See Dogs breeding dogs? That’s not evolution! Selection involves loss of existing genetic information. You discard (‘breed out’) the undesirable traits, ending up with a subset of your original genetic range. This is thus a different phenomenon to microbes-to-man evolution, which would require the coming into existence of vast quantities of new genetic information. Also, the Belyayev experiment showed that domesticating foxes results in the same changes as domesticating wolves did in producing our dogs, which is support for them all being the same created kind. This is discussed in The Greatest Hoax on Earth? Refuting Dawkins on Evolution (pages 47–48). See also Poodle-wolf crosses.
Indeed we can, and what we find in the world’s sedimentary strata is a general sequence of sea floor organisms buried first, then sea creatures, then vegetation and land creatures, peppered throughout with numerous exceptions (so-called ‘out of place’ fossils)—which is exactly the pattern we would expect from the chaotic global Flood, as is the pattern of disjunct distributions as animals recolonised the globe after the Flood (see the relevant section in Plants and animals around the world: Why are they found where they are?)
Aka continental drift, a theory first proposed by creationist Antonio Snider-Pelligrini in 1858. But continental drift was probably much faster in the past, as per catastrophic plate tectonics. Note also, according to the evolutionary timescale, some of the species that are disjunct across different continents evolved after those continents split, meaning the exact same species would had to have evolved twice, in different places.
Yes, except that the common ancestor for all canine species was a canine; the common ancestor for all people groups was a human, etc., and our downhill genetic slide fits the biblical creation timeline, not the evolutionary one.
Yes, and when you discard the false assumption of millions of years and adopt the recorded timeline of creation 6,000 years ago, followed by a genetic bottleneck 4,500 years ago at the time of the Flood, then the genetic data suddenly makes perfect sense. See Adam, Eve and Noah vs modern genetics. And there are numerous features in the world’s sedimentary rocks indicating that the bulk of them were laid down suddenly in a single mega-catastrophe, not slowly over millions of years. See Geology Questions and Answers.
Groan! Alleged whale transitional forms are only one rung above Sahelanthropus on the credibility ladder. See Whale evolution fraud. And note, for many years, evolutionists dogmatically argued that deep anatomical similarities in the skull and teeth proved that whales evolved from a group of carnivorous hoofed animals called mesonychids. But more recently, molecular similarities have driven evolutionists to believe that whales evolved from even-toed hoofed animals close to the hippopotamus, contradicting your earlier contention that molecular family trees match morphological family trees. And this would mean that the similarities between whales and mesonychids were not inherited by evolution from common ancestors, and are instead ‘homoplastic’ or ‘convergent’, i.e. the same feature evolved independently more than once—see Whale evolution?
Consistency? An evolutionist merely slots each scientific fact and observation into a convenient place within their narrative of cosmic history. Some facts are more difficult to accommodate than others, but evolution is malleable, and room can be made for even the most obstinate facts. This can give an illusion of ‘consistency’ but only because the alternative framework of understanding—biblical creation—is being excluded from consideration. In fact the vast majority of facts fit far more comfortably into the biblical framework of history. See ‘It’s not science’.
Evolution is successful in the sense of achieving dominance, yes, but only via indoctrination, censorship and other totalitarian means. See If you can’t beat them, ban them.
Allowing students and teachers the academic freedom to air and discuss the flaws and shortcomings of the theory of evolution free from academic and social persecution would be a good start.
[November 2014] Dear Jonathan I have often welcomed your thorough research in many articles, however your comments re the usefulness of vaccines is ill-thought out. You obviously have not examined the validity of the claims that vaccines have saved millions, which turns out to be false. You obviously have not researched the victims of vaccines. You obviously have not read the contents and side effects on the vaccine packaging. You obviously have not researched the growing number of victims, their debilitating health conditions and sometimes death after receiving vaccines including the flu vac. You obviously have not followed up on the young girls and women who have become gravely ill and some have died from the gardisil vac. You obviously have not researched the number of babies who have died a horrible death due to vaccines. You obviously have not heard of the number of court cases acknowledging vac damage caused and the victims being awarded millions in $. In your article you promote the efficacy of the flu, and a mathematical calculation if most are vaccinated, a certain disease would be near zero. Starting with a wrong premise gives wrong result. You quote the CDC as reliable source, yet recent whistle blowers & others have openly charged the CDC with lies & conflict of interests. You dismiss the vacs as not having “parts of aborted babies.” Yet the use of aborted babies is widely acknowledged. Your claim that toxins (formaldehyde and heavy metals mercury and aluminum among others) are quite safe because they are “well below toxic level” does not take into account what levels of these the person already may have in their system. Quite ill thought out. I welcome your return response after you have done some research. God bless, JamesDear James, Thank you for your comment about the article on creation.com titled Ebola disease: the result of the Fall. Glad you like my other articles. But here’s a little hint: saying “do some research” is really code for “research the sources I want you to research until you agree with me,” so doesn’t exactly come across well. Your claim that toxins (formaldehyde and heavy metals mercury and aluminum among others) are quite safe because they are “well below toxic level" does not take into account what levels of these the person already may have in their system. If people already have that much toxicity in their system that the tiny doses in vaccines would harm them, they are in a bad way. And since there is more formaldehyde in a pear and mercury in a serving of tuna than in the rare vaccines still preserved by thiomersal, they have far more to worry about from ordinary food. If you do the real research, as opposed to that from supplement-pushing anti-vax sites, you would find that it would take about 3000 flu shots at once to provide enough mercury for acute toxicity. And the thiomersal, an ethylmercury derivative, is excreted from the body very quickly, with a half life in the blood of about a week (Pichichero M.E. et al., Mercury concentrations and metabolism in infants receiving vaccines containing thiomersal: a descriptive study, Lancet 360(937):1737–1741, 30 November 2002). Your other claims have been addressed in my replies to other critics. Regards Jonathan Sarfati