Field of Science

Incredible creatures that defy evolution I - logic for creationists

As I wrote yesterday, I was graciously sent Incredible Creatures That Defy Evolution I, II, and III, and now I have watched the first of them. And I immediately have one question:

How can one argue that a process cannot account for something if one does not understand the process?

Creationists, such as Dr. Jobe Martin, argue that many "creatures" are too beautiful and intricate to have evolved, and must have been created. But that assertion rests upon an inferior understanding of evolution:
Could time and chance come together and give us all the beauty we see in the world? Hi! I'm David Hames, and in the next few minutes we are going to take a close look at some animals that are going to shatter that very idea.
Yeah, but, the theory of evolution does not describe a process of time and chance alone. There's lots more, without which I'd agree that evolution would not be possible.

Dr. Martin starts by telling us that according to what he was taught about evolution, it started with the big bang. In my first post about Dr. Martin I argued that he didn't have enough education to understand evolution, and him saying that the big bang has anything to do with evolution confirms that right there. "Volcanic activity produced the water." Then lightning, x-rays, or something zapped these inorganic chemicals, and all of a sudden you have this little speck of life, he says that the scientists say. And the after about 3 billion years that speck of life became the first cell, which was somewhere around 600 billion years ago. I have listened to that sentence some ten times now, and I swear he says billion, rather than million, but even if he meant million, that's totally wrong. The first cell is way older that 600 million years, and there is no "speck of life" that isn't a cell, and oh my god it's already a total misrepresentation of what we actually know about cosmology, geology, abiogenesis, and evolution.

[Funny scene where Dr. Martin reads a page in a book from bottom to top.]

He then mentions The Assumptions... I know not yet what exactly he is referring to, but I trust he'll spill it soon. (At the end he never said, but perhaps at the end of number II or III in the series?)

Case #1: The bombardier beetle. It's quite a remarkable creature, and "there is no way a slow, gradual process is going to produce this bug". Not even if you include the newest additions to the theory, like punctuated equilibrium. How could this bug evolve? It need all of its parts all at once, or you just don't have the animal. So there.

[If you laughed at the remark about PE, then we're two.]

Case #2: The giraffe. It's an amazing system that enables the giraffe to lower its head to get a drink of water. And the giraffe can tell the difference between a zebra and a lion, which evolutionists can't explain either. At this point the narrative succumbs to an extreme parody of an evolutionary explanation: the giraffe runs away from the lion, but then passes out because it suddenly doesn't get enough oxygen to the brain. And while it's lying there being eaten by the lion, it thinks "oh, I better evolve something for this problem." Except the giraffe doesn't pass out, and that's another clever system, and how would that evolve? Ergo a designer.

Case #3: The woodpecker. Special beak. Special feet. Special tail feathers. The woodpecker doesn't get a headache from all that pecking at wood because God designed the woodpecker skull to be very thick. And the woodpecker has a very long tongue. The tongue has barbs, which God made. And glue. Just right. God made him that way. Dr. Martin could not find any evolutionists (that he asked) to tell him how the very long tongue of the European Green Woodpecker could have evolved. Not only does he then conclude that God must have done it, but that God did that to "challenge the evolutionary community".

Dr. Martin then explains how finding information about these cases that evolutionary biologists cannot explain is very hard, because they don't put them in textbooks. He says that when the scientists are faced with something they cannot explain the evolutionary history of, they fail to make the obvious conclusion that a designer did it, but instead suppress the evidence. But this is completely wrongheaded. Scientists look for natural explanations, and while they sometimes fail to explain something, that evidence is not suppressed, nor is it evidence of a designer. This is the typical age old god-of-the-gaps argument over and over again. If we can't explain it now, then God must have made it.

Case #4: The Australian incubator bird. Incredible. Evolution impossible. Only God can do that. [Dr. Martin tells us that its egg is almost a half pound in weight, which is almost as much as that of an ostrich - except that ostrich eggs are 3.1 pounds on average.]

Case #5: The beaver. It's an engineer! Ditto.

Case #6: The platypus. Electricity! "That's a miracle."

Case #7: The garden spider.

Case #8: The gecko. How? Why?

Case #9: The eye....

This was very painful to watch. The many interesting facts about these animals are completely ruined by the incessant mantra of "how could this evolve?" It's not even an attempt at some fancy explanation for how these animals could necessarily not evolve, a lá Dembski and Behe, but just incredible creatures that defy evolutionary explanations by scientists right now. Dr. Martin is just asking questions, and when he doesn't find an answer, then he concludes that God made them.

Very disappointing. I hesitate to watch the next two in the series.

Lastly, if I were to answer my question in the beginning the way Dr. Martin does, I might say that one in fact cannot argue that a process cannot account for something if one does not understand the process. In other words, Dr. Martin's query is completely vacuous, and merely rests upon ignorance.

23 comments:

  1. Just one query-

    Er, don't you support the theory that replicating RNA strand 'lifeforms' were floating around before cells evolved?

    ReplyDelete
  2. Well,
    I guess we all agree to the thing called "hypercycle" which is a fancy word for self replicator. And I guess most people believe that selfcopy RNA qualifies as that. But I also think that the first selfreplicators did not need to be RNA, instead they could have been precursors of that as well.

    I also don't exactly know what Bjorn thinks...

    Cheers Arend

    ReplyDelete
  3. The term was "speck of life", and self-replicating RNA does not qualify as that ;)

    But, jokes aside, I care not for the semantics here - I am indifferent to whether you call any self-replicator life or not.

    The point above was that Dr. Martin thinks the first cell is from 600 b/million years ago, and that's false, because the evidence we have for life before that indicates there were living cells around.

    ReplyDelete
  4. True.

    I was just wondering out loud if I could make a biased scientifically uneducated person get a better idea of the self-replicator than 'speck of life'

    Some poor bio major must've tried to explain this to him once.

    ReplyDelete
  5. In the video there's a great deal of emphasis on Dr. Martin's education (e.g. that he taught an evolution class in dentist school, where he had to explain the evolution of teeth), but I find it highly doubtful that he has had very many conversations with biologists AND he really listened. Seems like a clear case of someone solely going for the 'evidence' they need to refute evolution.

    ReplyDelete
  6. and getting the timescale wrong is a clear indication of that.

    Not that I get the time scale right myself, but at least I know when to look it up...

    Cheers Arend

    ReplyDelete
  7. I'm guessing you'd look it up before you would go on camera, right?

    ReplyDelete
  8. I was trying to learn what the argument was against Dr Martin but all I came away with is "he is dumb and un-educated". I hate the arogance in "science". I wish "scientist" could be more humble. As an electrician trying to learn something I feel like a plabian.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Simclardy, this post is about what I intended it to be about, and I am so sorry that it didn't live up to your expectations. However, Dr. Jobe Martin argues that because he cannot understand how something evolves, then it cannot have evolved, and I hope you agree that such an argument in no way holds water, particularly when he clearly doesn't know much about evolutionary theory. I haven't here said anything about evolutionary theory, but there are plenty of resources for you (and, indeed, Dr. Martin), on this blog or elsewhere.

    P.S. Of course I am arrogant! Here is a guy that truly knows nothing about something that others know a lot about, and he says we are all wrong. What else am I supposed to do that say he knows nothing? And, just because you didn't find in this post what you wanted to learn about, you really shouldn't feel like a plebeian. I don't know much about your profession, and this should be all right, no? Or I could say: I think it is arrogant of those who dismiss evolutionary theory without really knowing much about it, don't you?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Simclardy is looking for a counter point to the argument. I have searched Google and cannot find any good examples of reverse engineering the process of evolution for complex systems like the Giraffe - in fact I'm getting frustrated with so called scientists shrugging off the answers. There are numerous examples of complex systems that would have had to exist prior to another system coming into existence as is the case with the long neck and a complex system to prevent blood from over pressurizing the vessels in the brain. This system that could allow further elongation of the neck would be useless to a short necked giraffe - correct? Observation tells us that parts that are not used go away. How would the giraffe hang on to an unused system for a million years? BTW I am an engineer focused on advanced technologies and complex electro-mechanical systems. Can you give us a logical process by which the giraffe evolved or is this something that is yet to be theorized?

      Delete
    2. I am a deeply religious biologist who gets tired of creationists dismissing evolution. I have not seen this film, so I don't know if I am addressing the argument, but it seems to me that the film is saying "here is a problem with having a really long neck, and there is a unique mechanism in place to prevent that problem --> therefore Design!" What I doubt the film addressed is that a giraffe with a shorter neck would have less of a problem, but still need a partial solution. A giraffe with an even shorter neck would have very little problem and would need very little countermeasure. What I am trying to get at is that the solution can come by small degrees because the problem also comes by small degrees. Also, why are giraffes "only" as tall as they are? Why not a giraffe with its head twice as high? In nature there are always tradeoffs, phylogenetic constraints, etc. but that does not mean there are not design possibilities (for instance, why not design a second, smaller heart near the head that runs in reverse when the giraffe bends down but runs forwards when the giraffe stands upright?). The problem for a religious person to use "God in the gaps" argumentation is that they will paint themselves into a corner very fast!

      Delete
  10. This system that could allow further elongation of the neck would be useless to a short necked giraffe - correct?

    Why would it be useless? Do you know that it was useless? How? Could it not be used for something else at the time? This is how many things work in evolution - traits that are later co-opted for some new use are initially beneficial for some other reason. Very much not how it works in engineering, which makes me suspect is the reason why it is so common to hear engineers state with certainty that this or that could not have evolved. The way humans make things and the the evolution makes things are very, very different.

    Personally, I do not know enough about giraffe physiology to speculate how its neck evolved.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thansk for the reply - I think most good Engineers would not look at this question with certainty but with mathematical improbability. We don't see the data - the math dosen't add up. Engineeers look at sub system optimization and would find it hard to believe that a dual purpose or semi-functioning element could be optimized over time through adaptation and selection - dual purpose - shared function - systems typically are low performing from an Engineering perspective. I guess what I was looking for was a logical process from which these systems could evolve - any one of animals that Dr. Martin presents as evidence against evolution. It would be interesting to understand what the scientific community believes here - I think it would help to understand the Theory of Evolution.

      Delete
    2. Why would it be useless? Do you know that it was useless? How? Could it not be used for something else at the time?

      I don't know for sure. It seems extremely improbable - if the process was slow and gradual I would expect we would have more data - fossils and similiar living species with evidence of the intermediate system. True it does not work that way in Engineering - we make sudden and drastic changes to overcome technology gaps.

      Delete
  11. We don't see the data - the math dosen't add up.

    Absence of evidence... (which is what the whole thing with Dr. Jobe Martin is).

    Which math? Probabilities? Based on the right theory? For example, are you taking into account that suboptimal systems/traits can go to fixation because of funky effects of demographics?

    I think it would help to understand the Theory of Evolution.

    Come on! That should be the premise of this whole discussion. You honestly get into it thinking you can say it doesn't work without understanding the theory in the first place? "General relativity just can't be true, because I don't see how it can work. Also, I don't know the theory."

    I don't know for sure. It seems extremely improbable

    "Seems"? By whom? Based on what understanding? An engineer's way of making things?

    if the process was slow and gradual I would expect we would have more data - fossils and similiar living species with evidence of the intermediate system

    Expect more data based on what? That many fossils are found in places where giraffes lived? That hearts and other tissue involved in giraffe physiology fossilize easily?

    True it does not work that way in Engineering - we make sudden and drastic changes to overcome technology gaps.

    And what does that tell you?

    Lastly, we are only so many evolutionary biologists. You can't expect that every "system" you feel like looking at has been investigated by scientists. Does the fact that engineers haven't built a flying car that runs on solar power mean the "theory of engineering" is wrong? Breaks, gimme!

    ReplyDelete
  12. In my search to see if these videos were worth watching (I always search for the opposing perspectives first), I stumbled upon this site and after wasting too much time here, finally decided to waste more time and follow up with this post.

    Your last comment is quite ridiculous from someone that is supposed to be trusted as understanding Macro-Evolution and is claiming to be of more intelligence on the matter than the individual he mocks and speaks down upon in his article....which coincidentally lacks detail as another commenter noted above.

    ----------your comment to the last poster

    "True it does not work that way in Engineering - we make sudden and drastic changes to overcome technology gaps.

    And what does that tell you?

    Lastly, we are only so many evolutionary biologists. You can't expect that every "system" you feel like looking at has been investigated by scientists. Does the fact that engineers haven't built a flying car that runs on solar power mean the "theory of engineering" is wrong? Breaks, gimme!"

    ----------


    "What does that tell you?" --- that an "intelligent and aware mind" made sudden and drastic changes. Engineers create/build using their mind then their body. Any random chance in Engineering is still driven by a mind and body creating it therefore not comparable to the Theory of Evolution unless you are stating some type of Intelligent Mind or God was the driver behind Evolution.

    "Does the fact that engineers haven't built a flying car that runs on solar power mean the "theory of engineering" is wrong? Breaks, gimme!" --- This illogical and silly statement shows flaws in your entire thought process making it hard to ever trust anything you say on important and highly complex subjects as Evolution. Scientists are similar to Priests....many Priests believe only they are able to understand complex Scripture and Scientists play the same game. If your thought process is flawed, you can't possibly be trusted to give any scientific conclusion that something we've never witnessed (macro-evolution) is fact or even to say favorable odds. Scientists MUST have a clear, clean and unbiased thought process built on perfect logic if they are to be blindly trusted on complex subjects that can not be observed (which coincidentally places it outside the scope of science EVER being able to give a precise conclusion). Science is useful for what it can observe, but it becomes a religion when it attempts to give precise odds or conclusions on that which can never be observed.

    Scientists that can't defend their thought process intelligently can't be blindly trusted to weigh in on something of this level of importance. You've just discredited yourself and can resume being just an average person, like myself and everyone else.

    End Rant

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. How is it you think my entire thought process is flawed?

      Delete
    2. To suggest a scientist and a priest are similar, is laughable. Science is quantifiable where religion/faith is not. Evolution ,albeit theory ,provides a pathway toward understanding the world around us. Religion does not offer any such pathway.

      To say "God did it" is not an answer. To rely on faith and scripture so blindly would seem to be mans greatest flaw. I choose to believe what I believe and conversely so would a person of great faith, however, to use such a ridiculous platform to disprove evolution makes the faithful utterly ignorant.

      As an engineer you are a master of your craft I'm sure, but this does not translate well to evolution.

      Try using some engineering to quantify the existence of God... Can't do it? Shocking. If proof is what you need to believe, then prove "his" existence

      Delete
  13. Anonymous wrote

    "What does that tell you?" --- that an "intelligent and aware mind" made sudden and drastic changes. Engineers create/build using their mind then their body. Any random chance in Engineering is still driven by a mind and body creating it therefore not comparable to the Theory of Evolution unless you are stating some type of Intelligent Mind or God was the driver behind Evolution.

    16,900 hits on a search for ["genetic algorithms" "engineering design"]. Genetic algorithms use the core mechanisms of evolution--random mutations and differential reproduction as a function of fitness--in the design of engineered systems.

    And Anonymous implies that the results of every laboratory experiment ever performed can only instantiate intelligent design, since every lab experiment was designed by a human. That's merely silly. That we use our intelligence to devise and test models of natural phenomena in no way suggests that the natural phenomena were themselves designed by some intelligent agency. Computer models of weather patterns don't imply that hurricanes are intelligently designed.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Thomas Nagel show why this entire article is misses the point. (Mind and Cosmos: why the materialist neo-darwinian conception of nature is almost certainly false)
    A good read.

    ReplyDelete
  15. I am a logic person - not a religious one. And I find Evolution is the dumbest theory ever believed. You said that creationist seek for simple answer, which is 'made by God', when they stumbled over conundrum. But I see the exact same thing done by all Evolutionists.. When you being asked about how those gradual change evolve, you would say that it happened in Hundreds of millions of years. WTF?? How can it even be proved?? It nearly just the same myth as being made by God.

    Why bird got wings, why lion got sharp teeth, etc so on.. Because their ancestors of ancestors try to fly, and ask their kid to learn to fly, and so on and so on until the generation number 1 million finally got wings in their back?? There is a boundary of stupidity. Until you got a better idea (than random genetic drift) about how the evolution actually takes place, then the theory is beyond ridiculous and comparable to Jack the Giant Killer.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Diary Batik, you may be a person of logic, but you are very ignorant of evolutionary theory. Your suggestion that birds got wings because wingless ancestors tried to fly is completely on its head, and the fact that you don't understand that we can make inferences about millions of years just make me shrug. On top of that, you apparently don't know of all the experiments showing that evolutionary changes can happen on much shorter time-scales that we can actually observe.

    There are thousands of evolutionary biologists working on all sorts of aspects of evolutionary theory. (We don't say "evolutionists", btw - that is a term mostly used by creationists.) They have each spent years learning about evolution, but yet you think that you have a special insight that proves them all wrong? The insight you have displayed here is just laughable.

    I'm sorry for being so blunt, but you did after all just indirectly call me dumb. The good news is that there are plenty of online resources for you to learn about evolution. If you had asked me a question, I would have been happy to answer it directly. Come back when you are ready to learn.

    ReplyDelete

Markup Key:
- <b>bold</b> = bold
- <i>italic</i> = italic
- <a href="http://www.fieldofscience.com/">FoS</a> = FoS