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Arguments Against Evolution - Comments

Eamonn Shute's Avatar Comment 1 by Eamonn Shute

This site has very good replies to creationist claims of several kinds, not just those which dispute evolution. I don't see why we should try to reinvent the wheel!

Wed, 24 Oct 2007 14:54:00 UTC | #77591

maton100's Avatar Comment 2 by maton100

Just ask them to look at an old yearbook picture.

Wed, 24 Oct 2007 18:12:00 UTC | #77706

Tommykey's Avatar Comment 3 by Tommykey

If evolution is not true, then why are there some mammals that live exclusively in the water, like dolphins and whales? It is not an advantage for marine life to have to surface for air every few minutes when other marine predators like sharks never need to.

Wed, 24 Oct 2007 18:22:00 UTC | #77710

Pieter's Avatar Comment 4 by Pieter

If humans are not evolved beings then why do we have tail bones, appendixes, and wisdom teeth? If we are intelligently designed beings then our designer was certainly looking out for the interests of surgeons and dentists.

Wed, 24 Oct 2007 19:08:00 UTC | #77721

cal_mertes's Avatar Comment 5 by cal_mertes

I think we should challenge believers in creation to show evidence of creation as good as the evidence for evolution, cosmology, geology, etc.

Ask them to explain some of the many design flaws in humans such as the backwards structure of the human retina, or why our sexual pleasure organs are located and mixed with out elimination organs.

And be prepared for some strange answers.

Wed, 24 Oct 2007 19:55:00 UTC | #77740

Auld's Avatar Comment 6 by Auld

There should probably also be a thread entitled Arguments against Creationism.

For example, Creationists believe that all animals were created in 1 go, already specially designed. They also believe that once upon a time, the earth was perfect, i.e. no deserts and no uninhabitable places. These two beliefs are contradictory since it would negate the existence of polar bears and other such creatures which are well "designed" for extreme temperatures.

Wed, 24 Oct 2007 19:58:00 UTC | #77742

Auld's Avatar Comment 7 by Auld

"Ask them to explain some of the many design flaws in humans such as the backwards structure of the human retina"

They already have, they're saying it's actually a good way to avoid injury from intense light:

Wed, 24 Oct 2007 20:02:00 UTC | #77744

prettygoodformonkeys's Avatar Comment 8 by prettygoodformonkeys

Ask them what their theory is: what does it predict, is it falsifiable, etc?

Patching holes makes you look like you're protectionist, on the defensive, weak and afraid. If they don't have an alternate theory based on internationally accepted principles of reason and logic ("Magic" isn't a theory) then they have to move on to another topic.

This argument is usually made by ID 'theorists', who claim they are not postulating the Christian god, just a Designer. So if you get drawn in, call the Designer "Aliens", and call their involvement "Invisible Magic", or, "and at this point in history a Presto! happens", etc. etc. Because they have no theory.

Never miss an opportunity to pour ridicule onto something ridiculous, I say.

Wed, 24 Oct 2007 21:34:00 UTC | #77779

Shuggy's Avatar Comment 9 by Shuggy

The Second Law of Thermondynamics:

If evolution breaks the Second Law of Thermodynamics, then so does LIFE. Both involve bringing order out of disorder. Both do so by expending energy (which ultimately comes from the Sun), so they don't break the Second Law.

Wed, 24 Oct 2007 21:55:00 UTC | #77792

Shuggy's Avatar Comment 10 by Shuggy

Stupid Design in the Human Body:

The backward-pointing receptors
- and hence the blind spot

The birth canal going through the pelvic girdle
- forcing human babies to dislocate their crania to get through

The downward-pointing uterus

The male urethra passing through the prostate

The vasa deferensa looping up and over the ureters

Wed, 24 Oct 2007 21:59:00 UTC | #77794

Shuggy's Avatar Comment 11 by Shuggy

2. Comment #81465 by maton100 on October 24, 2007

Just ask them to look at an old yearbook picture.
Can you explain this please? Yearbooks are not a universal, but so far as I know they show a picture of every kid in high school each year. What follows?

Wed, 24 Oct 2007 22:02:00 UTC | #77797

dinamo02's Avatar Comment 12 by dinamo02

Whenever the proponents of ID try to point out weaknesses in the "evolution by natural selection" such as gaps in fossil record, formation of the eye, bacteria with one protein taken out doesn't work, etc... The answer should be: So what?! How does that provide any positive arguments supporting ID?! The theory of evolution is based on a multitude of evidence and observations in nature. However, it is not such a simple theory like the gravity theory for example, and it is not surprising if one could point out some points of controversy. That being said, is it not more reasonable to give credit to a theory (evolution) that is based at least on partial/many evidence rather than to a theory based on ZERO evidence (ID).

Thu, 25 Oct 2007 00:53:00 UTC | #77872

Pi Guy's Avatar Comment 13 by Pi Guy

My friends, I think that you're missing the point here:

Ask them what their theory is: what does it predict, is it falsifiable, etc?
These two beliefs are contradictory...
If humans are not evolved beings then why do we have tail bones, appendixes, and wisdom teeth? it not more reasonable to give credit to a theory (evolution) that is based at least on partial/many evidence rather than to a theory based on ZERO evidence (ID).
Twisted, brainwashed religionists pose these weak, unsupported arguments precisely because they aren't reasonable. To (nearly) quote House, M.D.:
"Rational arguments don't tend to have an impact on religious people. If they did, there wouldn't be any religious people."
I fully support our cause but I fear we're fighting an upmountain battle here. Coupled with the tendency of religious people to have larger families than those who are not religious - Egads! I don't even like thinking about it!

Thu, 25 Oct 2007 03:17:00 UTC | #77935

JerryD385's Avatar Comment 14 by JerryD385

To a creationist:
Hawks and eagles can see up to eight times farther away than us. So I ask you: what good it 1/8th of an eye?

Thu, 25 Oct 2007 04:27:00 UTC | #77956

phasmagigas's Avatar Comment 15 by phasmagigas

'in view of our special position in creation give me the reason why god has us share about 98% of our genome with chimpanzees but a bit less with gorillas, and a bit less still with orang utan'.

* note that each creationist you ask will give you a different answer *

Thu, 25 Oct 2007 04:56:00 UTC | #77973

oeditor's Avatar Comment 16 by oeditor

>The Second Law of Thermondynamics:
>If evolution breaks the Second Law of Thermodynamics, then so does >LIFE.
Of course. But that's looking at it from a thermal point of view. The creationists have now conflated heat with information, and Andy McIntosh is going around saying that even if you can add information to a system, it can't do anything with it unless there is a (divinely implanted?) "machine" in the system (McIntosh's Demon). By this argument he declares evolution impossible.

Since thermodynamics and information theory are difficult to understand, punters are easily blinded by pseudoscience. Does anybody know where there's a robust understandable refutation of this nonsense?

Thu, 25 Oct 2007 07:00:00 UTC | #78027

BMMcArdle's Avatar Comment 17 by BMMcArdle

Not accepting evolution is like saying the world's foremost geologists, paleontologists, and biologists are a bunch of incompetent nincompoops. (author unknown)

Thu, 25 Oct 2007 07:23:00 UTC | #78034

sidfaiwu's Avatar Comment 18 by sidfaiwu

"Arguments Against Evolution"

Let's compare these arguments to the available evidence, shall we?

Thu, 25 Oct 2007 09:31:00 UTC | #78095

Luther's Avatar Comment 19 by Luther

If God designed and created life on Earth, why do there not exist non-carbon based life forms? Why do there not exist vertebrates without bilateral symmetry? Mammals with three or more sexes? Cold-blooded mammals? Senscient plants? Why is the creativity of this omnipotent Creator so limited?

Thu, 25 Oct 2007 14:44:00 UTC | #78276

Mewtwo_X's Avatar Comment 20 by Mewtwo_X

"Evolution is unrelated to Atheism. Non-sequitur."

Thu, 25 Oct 2007 14:48:00 UTC | #78279

EastCoastAtheist's Avatar Comment 21 by EastCoastAtheist

Well, here's a classic False Dilemma. Make it sound like there are only two theories. Disprove theory A, and conclude that theory B must therefore be true. It's a pretty silly logical fallacy, and hopefully most people don't fall for it.

Good luck to any theists who think they can disprove evolution. Of course even if they managed to do it, they'd still be stuck with the task of proving that creationism/ID is true. (Still, I encourage Theists to go after evolution. I hope that the more they learn about it, the more it will shake their faith)

Thu, 25 Oct 2007 18:27:00 UTC | #78384

?'s Avatar Comment 22 by ?

When Creationists raise these points about evolution I try to get them to re-evaluate their hostility to the scientific community.

Do you really believe that there is some big conspiracy among scientists to suppress the truth? How would such a conspiracy work?

Science is a vast, competeitive enterprise involving millions of people of all different cultures, political views, etc. and virtually all working research scientists accept evolution.

If such a conspiracy or totalitarian authority structure existed in the scientific world, research and discovery would come to a halt. This is not happening.

We are living in an era of unprescedented progress in all the sciences--particularly the life sciences. This would not be the case if evolution were untrue and the Evolution Police were running around suppressing eveyone's right to find out the facts.

If you are correct then only ultra-conservative Christian univerities and a few Creationist institutes are free from this stifling conformity in which eveyone is forced to believe a lie and ignore the real data.

If that were true, then places like Liberty Univerity would be the only people getting good results in research. The mainstream institutions, mired in conformity and dogma would stagnate. We would be wondering why there was no innovations, no new drugs, no useful information on genetics.

This is the exact opposite of reality.
"Establishment biologists are wrong about their basic assumptions" would lead to "mainstream biology is useless to explain the world and get experimental results." Do you really believe this is true? I'll believe it when you stop taking your heart pills!

Its like saying "the science that went into designing this airplane is complete nonsense, the people who designed it are brainwashed idiots following discredited dogma, but it flies perfectly anyway."

Thu, 25 Oct 2007 19:21:00 UTC | #78402

NewSkeptic's Avatar Comment 23 by NewSkeptic

If we were 'intelligently designed', then why does one tube, rather than two, lead to the lungs *and* the stomach. Surely, if God had wanted us to avoid death by choking, we'd have a design similar to the dolphin? Why 'two' kidneys, when one will get us by? If the appendix isn't just a surplus of good bacteria, then why is it there? And just why don't we have eyes in the back of our head? 'Intelligent Design' contradictions, and the fact that most of our DNA appears to be 'junk', must surely, by 'proof by contradiction', add to the evolution argument?

Fri, 26 Oct 2007 06:20:00 UTC | #78580

JesperB's Avatar Comment 24 by JesperB

I would think it obvious, that we are designed. Just look at the perfect human being in all its glory. Clearly we are perfectly made.

Why do we get sick? Well, because God also designed the bacteria, meaning it is perfect as well.

It follows completely logical from this, that the designer of all this perfection decided to create a half-man/half-God (or "Mod") 2000 years ago on the outskirts of the Roman Empire and had this person tortured to death on the favorite roman torture device de jour - so that you and I can be free of the terrible guilt caused by a woman who, thousands of years before that, ate an apple after having had a conversation with a talking snake.

Seriously people - what is it you don't get?

Fri, 26 Oct 2007 07:27:00 UTC | #78611

thirdchimpanzee's Avatar Comment 25 by thirdchimpanzee

Comment #81803 by oeditor

Since thermodynamics and information theory are difficult to understand, punters are easily blinded by pseudoscience. Does anybody know where there's a robust understandable refutation of this nonsense?

I'm afraid that most of us (myself included) don't have the formal background to present detailed challenges to some of these assertion - which is the point being made by oeditor. What may be effective is to use a comparison that can be understood and accepted by most - and handily refutes the argument. In this case, the argument is essentially that the Second Law of Thermodynamics requires that an isolated system will tend to become increasingly random (increasing entropy) over time. A system that is becoming more organised over time is therefore breaking the law, and since evolution appears to be increasing order, it must be impossible without divine agency (the uber-lawbreaker I guess).

I've seen attempts to refute this line of reasoning trying to point out that we're not an isolated system (the Sun pumps energy into the system for example). While these refutations are correct with respect to the science, I don't think these are convincing to the believer, particularly because bringing in an "outside factor", like solar radiation, simply lays the groundwork for a believer to bring in their outside factor.

I think there's another line that can be taken here, which everyone is familiar with - crystallisation. Here is a clear example of order being apparantly produced from disorder. Igneous rocks around us and under our feet are produced by crystallisation from liquid magma. The point can be made that this is a "local" reorganisation, and the surrounding solution is typically made warmer by the heat liberated when the crystal forms. Even the planet we're standing on is in a sense an enormous "crystallisation" from an amorphous solar disc. Over time, as the energy sources supporting this order diminish, our solar system will begin to distintegrate - but that's billions of years in the future.

The key point is that there's abundant evidence that a system can temporarily and locally become more organised (the surroundings becoming warmer and therefore less organized to compensate). Our Earth is geologically active, and therefore supports continued "organization" in the form of making new crust material etc. because we have a relatively rich supply of radioactive elements to keep supplying energy to the system. The excess heat from this activity keeps the core molten, and is also radiated out into space. All this would be happening even if we took the Sun out of the equation - and there are clearly lifeforms at the bottom of the ocean by vents that don't care is there's a Sun around or not.

Even a look at our own activities illustrates the same point - we take a coal mine in Kentucky, for example, and scoop the top of the mountain, extract the coal, burn it to CO2, and use the energy to increase the organisation of our lives (building a car for example). In return, we have warmed our environment, and severely disorganised a mountain in Kentucky.

The total biomass on this planet is a tiny fraction of the material present, and the fact this this biomass is running around making some things more organised, and consequently disorganising other things is perfectly fine. This is fully allowed by the Second Law of Thermodynamics, and there's no contradiction.

Now someone may try to bring "information theory" into this - and all they are doing is playing with the statistical (microstate) component of entropy. So what - appeal to common sense. A volcano is clearly more organised (and therefore contains more information) than the black sand beach it will become, but volcanoes keep getting produced and worn down to beaches. As long as the energy to drive this is there in the Earth's interior, this will continue for billions of years.

If life cannot find energy to sustain its activities, then it too will regress to a more disorganised state - but until then, there's no problem. We're free to locally organise (and increase local information) as long as we have energy to do so, and somewhere to dump energy and make more disorganised to compensate.

While these examples should help explain why life does not violate any Thermodynamic Laws, there may still be an argument where evolution specifically violates these principles. My answer would be that evolution is nothing more than one of the activities of living systems, and is no more exceptional (arguably less exceptional) than the development of a multicellular entity from a single cell. Using the non-living analogy, it like crystals forming inside crystals (think of geodes). As a geode forms from rock cavities, it creates a more locally organized (i.e. higher information) environment for other fluids seeping in to form fantastic crystals in layers. Evolution is life reforming itself within the context of living systems, sometimes becoming more "organised " (fins become legs), sometimes less "organised" (legs become flippers).

By continually referring the analogy back to non-living counterparts this approach can possibly forestall attempts to bring in "divine sparks", or to treat life a a special case. In particular, challenging the "information theory" argument is important, because that's a new meme that's been recently added to the religious armory, and its spread impressively through their networks. It seems modern, and also has echoes of "intelligence" - but as far as I am aware its nothing more than a fashionable restatement of the microstates of entropy, and carries no more meaning when applied to the molecules and cells of a lifeform than it does to the crystals of a rock.

Fri, 26 Oct 2007 07:45:00 UTC | #78616

DaveS's Avatar Comment 26 by DaveS

Some in the ID community concede micro evolution (change within a species) but reject macro evolution (one species being descended from another). This is an argument of scale. By accepting micro evolution they are in effect conceding macro evolution. There is no difference in the evolutionary processes at work. To me, it is like saying that the Pythagorean Theorem only applies to small triangles. Triangles larger than can be measured with their rulers are different and require an Intelligent Designer to measure.

Or - maybe division only works on small numbers. Large numbers require an Intelligent Divider.

Fri, 26 Oct 2007 19:55:00 UTC | #78794

tmg's Avatar Comment 27 by tmg

If the Sun blows up this instant, I'll be soon dead.
Where will people who claim that Life contradicts the Second Law of Thermodynamics be?
Just as dead, I predict. Apparently Earth is not a closed system.

Sat, 27 Oct 2007 13:57:00 UTC | #78983

Plasticman's Avatar Comment 28 by Plasticman

The best argument against "Intelligent Design" (curiously omitted from The God Delusion):

1. At least 98% of all life on Earth is extinct. (this of course, is a much better explanation for unintelligent design- thank you Sam Harris). Once science determines the true origins of the original "building blocks" of life, I.D. will be added to the above 98%"

Mon, 29 Oct 2007 12:58:00 UTC | #79442

phil rimmer's Avatar Comment 29 by phil rimmer

An elegant hypothesis in favour of the second law of thermodynamics actually driving the local accumulation of complexity rather than merely dissipating it is as follows-

The 2nd law seeks (sorry for the anthropomorphism) to arrive at the "heat death" of the universe, when the energy state of all things will be the same and no further action will become possible.

By the principle of least action the 2nd law achieves this through the most efficient means, e.g. heat flows most between the parts of greatest temperature difference, not via less effective routes.

Complex process (or processes with complex structures) can be more efficient in "using up" available (i.e. useful energy.) A pan of water, heated from below, for instance, will exhibit the creation of hexagonal convection cells as this is a more efficient means to transfer the heat energy.

By extension, the argument goes, life is a means by which the end of the universe can be hurried along.

Now anthropogenic global warming makes a whole lot more sense!

Mon, 29 Oct 2007 14:30:00 UTC | #79478

Nikki's Avatar Comment 30 by Nikki

Excellent addition to the site in my humble opinion :p
In regards to the so called "irreducible complexity" of the eye, anti-evolutionists often use the following Darwin quote, mined from the chapter ''Difficulties of the Theory,''of Darwin's Origin of the Species:-

"To suppose that the eye with all its inimitable contrivances for adjusting the focus to different distances, for admitting different amounts of light and for the correction of spherical and chromatic aberration, could have been formed by natural selection, seems, I freely confess, absurd in the highest degree."

However the follow on paragraph is always ommitted from their quote.
He continues..
Reason tells me, that if numerous gradations from a simple and imperfect eye to one complex and perfect can be shown to exist, each grade being useful to its possessor, as is certainly the case; if further, the eye ever varies and the variations be inherited, as is likewise certainly the case; and if such variations should be useful to any animal under changing conditions of life, then the difficulty of believing that a perfect and complex eye could be formed by natural selection, though insuperable by our imagination, should not be considered as subversive of the theory.

My personal favourite rebuttal to the creationist "eye complexity argument" is a link to the following question and answer session with Walter Gehring. Last year Gehring was hot favourite with many in the "industry" to be awarded a Nobel Prize for his discovery of Hox genes.
Hox genes are master genes at the apex of developmental pathways in embryos. Homologous Hox genes, (very similar higly conserved DNA gene sequences) have been identified across extremely diverse kinds of species coding for comparable areas of embryonic development.
The discovery is considered very strong support for a common molecular ancestor.
In the past year whenever I've been involved in any discussions over the "irreducible complexity of the eye" and presented this information, I've yet to be presented with a rebuttal! In future I will also be sure to add a link for Richard's video adding a little more icing on that cake :)

I'm also a huge fan of the Talk Origins website. I link it regularly and think the site deserves some kind of award for it's handling of creationist anti-evolution claims.
A favourite question I have for the anti-evolution YECs/IDists is "why would god create/design scent glands around the human anus?".
Another handy link: Answers in Genesis Statement of faith. AiG is very often referenced by the YECs, (Young Earth Creationists), when they are trying to argue for the scientific basis (:p) of Genesis.

"Summary of the AiG Statement of Faith"
(D) General
#6. No apparent, perceived or claimed evidence in any field, including history and chronology, can be valid if it contradicts the Scriptural record.

The whole statement is a handy ref. but that one is my favourite :)

Wed, 31 Oct 2007 02:01:00 UTC | #79878