Why I Believe in Creationism

by

I’ve taken some time to once again, research the broad topic of evolution. I’ve, once again, confirmed my belief that it is incorrect, and that the best explanation is found in Genesis for how we got to where we are today.

Evolution is really three topics wrapped up in most people’s minds.

  1. Micro-evolution, or rather, diversity within populations.
  2. Macro-evolution, or apes-to-humans evolution.
  3. Abiogenesis, or life from nothing.

These are listed in their easiness to convince people.

Micro-evolution is something everyone understands. If you have a bunch of redheads living in a town, and they intermarry, then you’ll have even more redheads, and so on. We see this among the animals, plants, and humans across the world. In fact, It’s obviously explained in the biblical passages. People who belong in one branch of the human family are more similar to their branch than other branches.

Micro-evolution depends on the following ideas, all of which are obviously true, and I don’t know anyone that doubts:

  1. Children inherit traits from their parents, whether it is animals, plants, or humans.
  2. Sometimes, children are mutants—that is, they have inherited corrupted traits from their parents.
  3. Traits which favor reproductive viability among a population, over time, become over-expressed. Traits which do not favor reproductive viability tend to diminish.
  4. Occasionally, mutations will become common among a population due to 2 and 3 combined.

We know all of this simply by looking at dogs. Purebred dogs are bred in a particular way to keep the offspring as close to the ideal animal as possible. Some of the offspring simply don’t represent a large enough set of traits, and are eliminated from the gene pool. Others demonstrate very positive traits and are kept for breeding.

What has happened over time is the dogs have been passing around mutations. We know that purebreds are generally dumber than mutts, and the reason is rather obvious. In emphasizing certain traits, other traits fall to the wayside because they are not important. Add in random mutations, and we have purebred varieties that are all but facing extinction because they are so weak.

One of the reasons I believe America is doing so well is because of our genetic diversity. We have people breeding with each other in our country from places all over the earth. We are the ultimate mutt-race, and that means we are breeding based mostly on reproductive viability, which makes us a more reproductive nation.

Macro-evolution is where evolution “jumps the shark.” The thought is that micro-evolution is the only explanation we need for why we have the variety of animals and plants on the earth. The problem with this is really fundamental, and I think a healthy understanding of the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics will mean you can see why it’s nonsense.

In thermodynamics, you have tiny particles that move randomly about. While you can’t predict what any one particle is going to do at any one moment, you do know the net behavior of all the particles acting in total. One of the most noteworthy conclusions is that over time, things become more and more disorganized. That is, you start off with everything in perfect order, and then over time, you get garbage. In thermodynamics, you lose energy to entropy, and it can never, ever be reclaimed. Thus, the talk about the heat-death of the universe.

What evolutionist must explain is why random variations in the genetic code (mutations) would ever lead to an advantage over a pure, unadulterated copy of the genetic code. That is, how is it possible that you can get a more-ordered thing from a less-ordered thing? The argument evolutionists use is “survival of the fittest”, among other things. To be honest, I don’t buy it. I mean, maybe, with some random, chance occurrence, a mutation occurs that actually doesn’t lead to some negative consequence. And then, by a remarkable stroke of luck, it turns out that the mutation is exactly what is needed to improve the reproductive viability of the subject, and it gets introduced into the population and it dominates. What you’re asking for is such an improbable event, that if we ever found it happening in nature, we would need to immediately stop the presses and talk about how such a fascinating improbable event as that happened.

Now, evolutionists wave their hands, and say, “But we have millions—BILLIONS—of years to work with!” Well, let’s do the math. The chance of getting a positive mutation, a mutation that would survive, is, let’s say, one in a billion. (I’m being extremely generous here.) If you have a million animals, then at best, you get one positive change every thousand years. Divide a billion by a thousand, and you have a million. So, from the beginning of life on earth, I’m supposed to believe that we’ve had about a million positive changes that lead to all the creatures we see around us? Keep in mind, I’m being very generous with the estimate of 1-in-a-billion chance. If we used something I’m more comfortable with, then the number of times we’d see a positive change can probably be counted by a 1st Grader.

Billions of years are not enough. You need trillions, quadrillions, numbers so large that it truly becomes ridiculous. Keep in mind, that in the age when the age of the earth was introduced as billions of years, people though it was only 6,000 years old. To them, 6,000 years was enough for the entire fossil record to be generated, so saying billions of years meant anything was possible.

If you’re going to run with billions, then the chance of a positive mutation occurring would need to be much, much higher. I think someone said that there are about a million differences between apes and humans. Well, if that’s the case, then we’re talking about maybe trillions of changes globally since the beginning of time. (Keep in mind, not every change lasted. The variety of living things alive today are a fraction of what used to be alive.) So, in billion years, you need trillions of changes, meaning every year you have 1,000+ positive changes. Certainly, in the time that the concept of evolution was introduced, we could have captured a tiny number of these changes, and we should have a library full of them. At the very least, we should have hard evidence on 100+ positive mutations.

But we don’t. We have what may be three or four, and even then, it’s not really apparent that it’s significant.

But that’s not the end of it, or rather, even the beginning. You need to show that, over time, everything ends up as a net positive. After all, over time, creatures grew more complicated, right? I don’t think the mathematics behind the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics will agree with that, even with “survival of the fittest”. I don’t hear evolutionists explaining why they don’t have to solve the same equations I had to when I proved that heat always flows from hot to cold (without energy inputted.)

I believe that over time, our genetic quality is decreasing. Eventually, without any outside force, the entire planet will become extinct, because not enough creatures are reproductively viable anymore. That’s certainly what the fossil record says. The earth used to be full of diversity. What we have today is a comparative desert.

With point 2 under such heavy doubt, and with such an insurmountable mountain to climb, I think evolution is beat. But it gets better.

See, what you need is a beginning: a first life, so to speak. And you need it to have, at minimum, certain characteristics so that evolution is even possible (forget the probabilities.)  Where did this come from? We are told that primordial goo was the origin of life on earth. No one dare say how exactly this would have happened. But let’s suppose that someone works out an exact model that could describe the possibility of chemicals coming together in a particular arrangement, even in the most favorable circumstances. Here’s the rub: I bet that the actual probability of the events that need to happen at the same time, actually happening at the same time, are astronomically small. So small that a billion universes with trillions of earths exactly like ours would never see it happen in a quadrillion years.

In other words, it not only didn’t happen, it could never happen.

I think the appeal to evolution is done without any sound ideas of what the general probabilities or time frames are. There is a curious lack of any numbers, any logical reasoning beyond, “Things COULD HAVE occurred this way.” That’s fun and interesting, but it doesn’t do anything to tell us what actually happened. Using the Anthropic Principle (no matter how unlikely the events are that give rise to intelligent life, since only intelligent life could have comprehended them, then they must have happened to intelligent life) you can prove any possibility, so it’s garbage.

One thing that grates me is evolutionists who bring up falsifiability. That is, that any good theory will open itself up to contradiction by observed reality. Well, the original theory of evolution was falsified. It’s garbage, a historical footnote to the annals of bad science. What you have today is something that resembles the original theory in name only. It doesn’t even give a good rule of thumb, since hardly anything we see in nature agrees with its ideas. The rare, rare, cases that seem to agree with it are so few and far between, the fact that they are so hard to find is a testament to how wrong it all is. But that doesn’t stop the dedicated evolutionist. No, it’s not the theory that’s wrong, it’s reality.

Evolution is right up there with Global Warming, or any number of sciences that people really, really wished were true but simply aren’t and never can be. It’s a scam, it’s a fad, it’s outright war against logic and reason and observation and reproducibility of results. It’s worse than ignorance. It’s the polar opposite of science. It actually makes people more stupid than they were to begin with. It’s the kind of thinking that if we allow to persist, we’ll be right back to worshiping dumb idols the way our ancestors did.

But showing why one theory is wrong isn’t the same as showing why my theory is right.

Why do I believe in Creationism? Note the key word here: “believe”. I believe in Creation because I trust God more than I do myself and my five senses and my reasoning. He’s proven himself to me everytime I’ve had an opportunity to test him. I have confidence that when he says, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” he knows what he’s talking about. To me, science is a pursuit to understand God, not to live independent of him. That’s why I love physics. We actually go out there, measure reality, and then point out how stupid we all are and how foolish we have been since the beginning of time. It’s the ultimate humbling experience to have a philosophical discussion with a physicist who has hard evidence, complete with verified probabilities, showing you why your perception of reality is not only wrong, but a menace to society, and why you are an idiot and will be forever.

That’s what science should be: the ultimate pursuit of truth through debilitating humility.

Advertisements

36 Responses to “Why I Believe in Creationism”

  1. tensor Says:

    What evolutionist must explain is why random variations in the genetic code (mutations) would ever lead to an advantage over a pure, unadulterated copy of the genetic code.

    If the variation confers a reproductive advantage in that particular environment, then the mutation will be reproduced.

    That is, how is it possible that you can get a more-ordered thing from a less-ordered thing?

    What is the basis for your assumption that the two versions of the genetic code have different degrees of order?

    What you’re asking for is such an improbable event, that if we ever found it happening in nature, we would need to immediately stop the presses and talk about how such a fascinating improbable event as that happened.

    Do you get a new inoculation against influenza every year? The theory of evolution explains why it is a good idea to do so.

    The chance of getting a positive mutation, a mutation that would survive, is, let’s say, one in a billion. (I’m being extremely generous here.)

    You’ve simply made up a “fact”, and then beaten a straw man to death with it. That’s not a valid argument, but exactly the opposite.

    I bet that the actual probability of the events that need to happen at the same time, actually happening at the same time, are astronomically small.

    Ditto.

    One thing that grates me is evolutionists who bring up falsifiability.

    I’m sure it does, since it proves that Creationism is not a valid explanation for anything.

    Well, the original theory of evolution was falsified.

    Please show evidence for rabbits in the Pre-Cambrian.

    • Jonathan Gardner Says:

      If the variation confers a reproductive advantage in that particular environment, then the mutation will be reproduced.

      And here you demonstrate that you did not read what I wrote. Who can disagree with that statement?

      What is the basis for your assumption that the two versions of the genetic code have different degrees of order?

      The assumption that random sequences of DNA do not produce viable life. Only specific sequences produce an organism that is capable of surviving until reproduction. This is the definition of order/entropy, just as it is in thermodynamics.

      A random deviation from one of these sequences is, except for extraordinarily rare circumstances, not an advantage.

      Do you get a new inoculation against influenza every year? The theory of evolution explains why it is a good idea to do so.

      Do you have any evidence that the new strains of disease are random mutations, or were they simply a trait that has always existed, albeit in only a tiny fraction of the total population? That is, if there were an event that wiped out everyone that wasn’t a redhead, and the next year all the people on earth were redheaded, would you call that evolution?

      I’m not denying that selection occurs, that populations have a variety of traits that will become more or less dominant over time, that changing circumstances will cause one trait to be favored and thus more common than another.

      I’m denying that random mutations will actually create different species.

      You’ve simply made up a “fact”, and then beaten a straw man to death with it. That’s not a valid argument, but exactly the opposite.

      So I’m a good evolutionist? I should get into global warming, too.

      The “Fact” that I came up with is the same fact that makes the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics work the way it does. Random events do not lead to a more ordered outcome.

      Would you like to debate this fact?

      I’m sure it does, since it proves that Creationism is not a valid explanation for anything.

      Here, you show your ignorance. Tell me, why is it that in all the recorded history of the earth, no one, until some fanatic religious Christians in Europe, came up with the foundations of modern science?

      If you were to ask Isaac Newton why the universe is ordered by laws, why we are able to comprehend those laws, and why those laws could be deduced through logic and experiment, what would he tell you? “Because God made the universe that way, and created man to become like God, and his laws are just and cannot be denied.” There is no other philosophical or religious foundation that could support modern science. Creationism is modern science, they are one and the same.

      Please show evidence for rabbits in the Pre-Cambrian.

      What I can show is that there is no fossil record of gradually evolving species. We get “punctuated equilibrium”, the dramatic and sudden introduction of new species. The record of the Cambrian is the testament against evolution. Why did life suddenly explode into the scene in our fossil record? It did not gradually evolve that way.

      It only takes one bit of contra-evidence to destroy a theory. In the case of evolution, there is only a handful of bits of evidence that even seem to support it.

  2. Adam Benton Says:

    Thermodynamics only applies to a closed system. The earth is not, having energy poured into it from outside sources.

    • Jonathan Gardner Says:

      So are you saying life came from the sun? I don’t understand your point.

      And I am considering the entire universe as the system. Or do you believe in supernatural causes?

      • Adam Benton Says:

        The second law of thermodynamics talks about how the total useful energy in a closed system won’t increase.

        This isn’t especially applicable to the earth because it is not a closed system, with energy (note how I said energy, not life) being introduced into the system by the sun.

        It also doesn’t apply to the Universe (at least, not in a manner which refutes evolution) because it is talking about TOTAL useful energy. Increases are tolerated in some areas, provided they are offset by decreases elsewhere.

        It’s also worth noting that useful energy does not always correlate with order.

      • Jonathan Gardner Says:

        Why are you distracting from the point?

        I’m not saying, and didn’t say, that the 2nd Law overturns evolution. I said the same reasoning behind the 2nd Law applies to genetic mutations. That reasoning is that random events do not tend to increase order.

      • Adam Benton Says:

        But a full appreciation of the reasoning behind it reveals that there are many situations in which order can increase.

      • Jonathan Gardner Says:

        Such as?

    • Adam Benton Says:

      Well, there are the situations I menitoned above, but then that is talking about useful energy rather than order which makes their applicability to evolution somewhat limited.

      But then, that also means that the applicability of the reasoning you advocate is also limited. However, if you want a more relevant, specific example I point you to diamond.

      Diamond has a highly ordered structure which emerges from the “disorder” of it’s compenent materials when they are exposed to extreme pressure and heat.

      • Jonathan Gardner Says:

        Why are you talking about energy? I’m talking about probability. Given a large number of possibilities, what is the likelihood of a particular set of events?

        Yes, diamonds are highly ordered, but what does that have to do with anything? You’re not looking at the big picture: in order for diamonds to become ordered, the disorder had to be transferred somewhere. It doesn’t simply disappear. If you could cause disorder to become order without expending energy to do so, you’ve invented a mobile perpetuum.

      • Adam Benton Says:

        Naturally, the formation of diamonds takes energy from the surrounding rock, reducing the order there so to speak. Similarly, animals take energy from the outside world – either by moving ions around or metabolising foodstuffs (a more elaborate way of moving ions around).

        But if it’s probability you’re worried about, here’s some food for thought. A recent paper found that, since their divergence with the hominin lineage, 30% of the Pan troglodytes X chromosome has had mutations which have been positively selected for.

        That’s not saying the beneficial mutation rate is 30% but that after the entire chromosome has been mutating away for a few million years and natural selection has removed the bad, you’re left with it being 30% beneficially different.

        Now, the x chromosome is ~1.3 million base pairs long. Taking a middle figure (for convenience) of their divergence with hominins of 5 mya to work out the rate at which the genome changes, you could mutate the chimp genome (~35 mp) in 400 million years. That’s ~10% of the time life has been on earth.

      • Jonathan Gardner Says:

        So, here’s the beef with your analogy between crystals and genes. Crystals actually enter a lower energy state when they self-arrange in the way they do. It’s no different than a ball gradually rolling to the lowest point in a valley as it loses energy. As that energy gets used up elsewhere, or enters into entropy, you see the crystals beginning to take shape.

        When genes, there’s no “lower energy” that favors chimp genomes or human genomes over earlier life forms. (If there were, there would only be a few lifeforms.) I see all possible configurations of the genome to be a relatively flat surface, with some bumps and valleys, representing sequences that are either not as good compared to their neighbors, or that are somewhat better than their neighbors. Obviously, very large sections of the entire possible configuration for the genetic code are off-limits: they won’t produce life that will reproduce at all, and so the ball can’t roll there, so to speak. But that still leaves vast stretches of genetic possibilities that are pretty good. Otherwise, we would simply not have the diversity of life we have had on this earth.

        Now, given that the surface of genetic possibilities is relatively smooth over a very large set of possible configurations, you have what appears to be a random walk problem. If you roll a dice to decide which way to take a step (1-dimensionally, forward or back; 2-dimensionally, forward/back, left/right; n-dimensionally, along any of the n-axes;) you will journey through different configurations that are related to each other in that there is only one change between them. Over time, you’ll be some distance from where you started, but it will be the square of the number of changes made in the 1D case. I don’t know if you know what that graph looks like, but it says you’ll need about 4 changes to move 2 steps away, 9 to move 3, 10,000 to be 100 changes away, etc… If you want to move a million steps away (10^6), you’ll need about a quadrillion (10^12) changes. Keep in mind, that’s the 1D walk. In higher dimensions of the walk, you get even less distance from the beginning.

        The bumps and dimples in the surface merely tend to cause the random walk to diverge from or favor spots on the map. If you’re going to believe in evolution, then maybe you can accept that some of these dimples are traps where species simply don’t escape from, but most of them are not. In the long run, these are relatively unimportant.

        So, when you say something like “it takes 400 million years to make a chimp which has 35 million base pairs”, you’re assuming that every change was towards the destination. Obviously, random walks don’t work that way. If you’re working in 1D, where a change is either a step towards a chimp or a step away, then you’d need 35 million squared changes, which given your factor for time per change (11 y) leads to a very, very long time (1.35*10^16 y) until a chimp is likely to occur. Obviously, we’re talking about time scales that make the universe seem like a flash in a pan now: 10^16 / 10^9 = 100,000: It would take 100,000 lifetimes of the universe to randomly see a chimp evolve. And that’s assuming the landscape for evolution is a line. I don’t accept that; I believe it is an N-dimensional space, where N is very large.

        Thus, if you try to explain evolution given the numbers above, and relying on randomness, the possibility that that’s what actually occurred tends towards 0. Evolution is not a reasonable explanation of why things are the way they are. You’d have to deny probability to claim so.

        Some evolutionists would try to explain away what I just said with Feynman’s classic license plate example: “You won’t believe the luck I had this morning! I say the license plate AWC-214 on the way to work this morning!” IE, any observed result is equally unlikely, and so something unlikely must have occurred. I have described that in order to get *any* significant change from any species to any other, you need incredibly long periods of time. And that’s assuming you can keep the garbage changes out with “survival of the fittest”. So I’m not relying on the fact that we have a chimp, and an ape, and a human, and a giraffe, and a bacteria today. I’m saying any combination of sufficiently complex lifeforms of any sort.

        So we’re back to the discovery of a watch in a desert. We can no better explain why a watch would randomly form in the desert, even if we imagined some natural processes that might promote random machine building in the wild. There simply is no natural explanation for the origin of the species; we must assume someone, something, tampered with the natural order of things with an intelligence and understanding beyond our own, and we are merely witnesses to the result.

  3. demo kid Says:

    I am amused that you’ve used the Second Law of Thermodynamics as proof here. Yes, the net entropy within a closed system at equilibrium cannot increase. This is moot, however, as more complex systems have developed through a net increase in entropy in the universe.

    The problem is that you’re completely ignoring the probabilistic and information theoretic definitions of thermodynamics, which are very relevant here. The most difficult issue with your argument is this:

    So, from the beginning of life on earth, I’m supposed to believe that we’ve had about a million positive changes that lead to all the creatures we see around us? Keep in mind, I’m being very generous with the estimate of 1-in-a-billion chance. If we used something I’m more comfortable with, then the number of times we’d see a positive change can probably be counted by a 1st Grader.

    Exactly! You’ve phrased it EXACTLY right.

    If you were a scientist that managed to travel back to the beginning of the planet, and you were to guess as to the probability that life on Earth would form in PRECISELY the way that it came out today, that probability would be exceedingly small. Too small to count or evene measure, in fact. As you state, the probability of any one change is infinitely small, and chaining all of those infinitely small probabilities together would result in exceedingly small probabilities.

    However, it violates the concept of probability to evaluate the chance of one outcome without considering all of the others. Yes, this particular outcome is exceedingly small, but there had to be at least ONE outcome. Yes, looking at ANY of the outcomes a priori would result in an equally small probability, but there is a result at the end.

    Scale is important here as well. Stating that a one in a million chance is very small is absolutely right. However, how many opportunities for change were there? A million and one? A million million? A million million million?

    With enough opportunities, one in a million events will occur on a regular basis. Buy a lottery ticket for one week and you’ll probably get nothing. Buy a lottery ticket for a billion weeks and you’ll probably win forty or fifty times. Even if you pushed this probability to a one in a trillion or lower, the number of events would still depend on the number of changes for that change to happen as to how frequent the changes would be.

    (This isn’t even mentioning that there had to be an outcome that we would be able to see and experience and have a conversation about! An Earth that evolved without animal life couldn’t exactly be the subject of this conversation, could it?)

    • Jonathan Gardner Says:

      more complex systems have developed through a net increase in entropy in the universe.

      Examples, please.

      So, from the beginning of life on earth, I’m supposed to believe that we’ve had about a million positive changes that lead to all the creatures we see around us? Keep in mind, I’m being very generous with the estimate of 1-in-a-billion chance. If we used something I’m more comfortable with, then the number of times we’d see a positive change can probably be counted by a 1st Grader.

      Exactly! You’ve phrased it EXACTLY right.

      The differences between chimps and humans are at least a million; and here, you think a million is enough to explain all the differences between all the living creatures on planet earth? If you can get to the neighborhood of a million times a million, then we can start talking. But even then, you are working with the assumption that there was a linear progression to our current state, that never was there an evolution backwards to a previous form. If you take that into account, then you have to have enough changes to justify a random walk (look it up: random walk) from the ancestor of all life to what we have today. How many changes total would have needed to occur since the beginning of life on earth to get to where we are today?

      I think I understand what it takes to be an evolutionist: the total lack of understanding of numbers larger than a hundred, and the complete lack of understanding of probabilities.

      However, it violates the concept of probability to evaluate the chance of one outcome without considering all of the others. Yes, this particular outcome is exceedingly small, but there had to be at least ONE outcome. Yes, looking at ANY of the outcomes a priori would result in an equally small probability, but there is a result at the end.

      Now you’re being silly. The Anthropic Principle is simply absurdity. “No matter how probably,” it says, “the fact that we have what we have means that it happened the way we said it did.”

      If you don’t see my point, then let me put it another way.

      What is the chance that God exists the way we say He does? No matter how vanishingly small it is given your understanding of the universe, it doesn’t matter: that’s the way it happened. See? I proved God!

      With enough opportunities, one in a million events will occur on a regular basis. Buy a lottery ticket for one week and you’ll probably get nothing. Buy a lottery ticket for a billion weeks and you’ll probably win forty or fifty times. Even if you pushed this probability to a one in a trillion or lower, the number of events would still depend on the number of changes for that change to happen as to how frequent the changes would be.

      And, we’re done. Remember the saying that the lottery is a tax on people that can’t do math? Now I know who’s funding public education with lottery dollars: people who believe in evolution.

      Yes, you do need to balance the probability with the number of events. But here’s the point: There aren’t enough events within a billion years of history on earth, with a trillion living creatures, reproducing, on average, let’s say, about once a day. Take any branch of higher life forms, apes for instance, that reproduce every couple of years, and the number of events decreases dramatically. When I was being generous and giving you a 1-in-a-billion chance of a positive change, and you thought that was reasonable, and I still demonstrated that that’s not enough changes, you seem fine with that.

      And what is the number of events for planets with earth-like conditions? 1. The error bars for that is too huge to do anything with, let alone make a statement with any amount of certainty.

      • demo kid Says:

        First of all, the Second Law discusses the overall entropy of the universe, but local entropy can decrease if overall entropy increases or stays the same. Proof? If this were not true, ice would never freeze, and other low entropic states would never exist where they didn’t before.

        That’s not even mentioning that language would exist, as it represents a lower entropy of information.

        Remember the saying that the lottery is a tax on people that can’t do math? Now I know who’s funding public education with lottery dollars: people who believe in evolution.

        Your snarky and arrogant attitude seems to have missed the argument completely, and completely misrepresented statistics.

        If you’re saying that an individual event is a “one-in-a-million” shot, that is an expression of the individual probability of ONE event or change happening at ONE distinct time. A single lottery ticket being a winner in one drawing, if you like. It would be a very difficult bet to win.

        If you purchased one ticket for a BILLION weeks, the individual probability of a win would still be the same. Looking at the total probability of a win, however, means that you need to consider every one of these possible events together. In fact, you can expect that over those billion weeks, you would win a one-in-a-million shot about a thousand times, give or take some variance around that expected value.

        (That doesn’t mean that it would make ECONOMIC sense; we’re just looking at probabilities.)

        Bringing it back to evolution, we’re not talking about two or three lifeforms per generation evolving all of the species on earth in 100 years. The scales that are involved here are tremendously large, bigger than what you or I can comprehend. Billions of years and hundreds of billions of generations? Billions or trillions of lifeforms per generation? Periods in history when pressures and mutations increased substantively more than what they’re at now? You may scoff at the extremely low perceived probabilities, but they are consistent with such a slow, massive optimization spanning an incomprehensible amount of time.

        However, the biggest problem with your argument, and one that you don’t seem to want to face, is that if you look at ANY probabilistic system at the end, the a posteriori outcome is always going to seem more likely than the a priori probability.

        If you think about your life from the age of 18, you’ve already experienced it, and it couldn’t have happened any other way. However, what if you were to think about your life when you were 18, and you were to try to predict the events leading up to where you’re at now? The probability that all of those predictions would come true in exactly the right order and exactly the right way would be exceedingly small. You’d probably scoff at some of the notions of your prediction! Still, even if the probability that your life would unfold the way that it did was incredibly small, it was the outcome that came to be.

        You’re certainly right that our outcome is a low probability one, but it ignores that there has to be ONE outcome, and that any distinct outcome will have an extremely small a priori probability. Similarly, in any massive history like that, you’d EXPECT a high number of very low probability events.

        The fossil record and changes in the form and complexity of living things supports the idea that this was a gradual, incremental process. Do I believe that 98% of our genetic material would be the same with chimpanzees if we were created? Or that 92% of our DNA would be the same as a mouse’s? Hardly. It supports a gradual, incremental approach to the development of species.

        Heck, why would God bother giving all life on earth DNA or making it all so similar? Seems quite uncreative and unoriginal to me.

      • Jonathan Gardner Says:

        Demo kid, I think it’s clear now: You really, really don’t get probability. Here’s a quick test to see what you know and where your misconceptions lie:

        (1) If I play the lottery a billion times, and never win, what are my chances of winning the billion and first time? Does it increase, decrease, or stay the same as the previous one billion times?

        (2) If there are 100 events, what is the likelihood that 1 of those events were an event that would occur 1/100 times?

        (3) If I flip a quarter a thousand times, how many heads or tails would I see? What is the likelihood that I would have 100 more heads than tails? How many times would I have to flip that quarter before I’d see a million more heads than tails?

        These questions are directly related to evolution. A cosmic particle can reverse a positive change to the genetic code just as likely as it could create it.

        Evolutionists talk about a “ratchet” of sorts — “survival of the fittest”. This is how you only keep the heads and you lose the tails. Unfortunately, I cannot find a physical explanation for such a thing in nature. I can’t invent a machine that does this at the microscopic level, and I can’t imagine how one would build one in the macroscopic level. If such a machine did exist, it would be a mobile perpetuum, a violation of the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics. Yet, we’re to believe that the universe has assembled such a machine here on planet earth. By what mechanism? No one knows. “Any technology sufficiently advanced is magic”, right? Except now the magician is the evolutionist, and he’s building magic out of things we know simply aren’t true.

        OK, let’s forget that, and pretend, for a moment, that there is such a machine, and it is “survival of the fittest”. Now we ask, “What is the relative probability of heads versus tails?” If it’s only 1/1,000,000,000, then we have a problem. There’s simply not enough time to have enough events to lead to something like what we have today. (You asked earlier what the units of probability are. They are unitless. It is events/events.) Of it’s 1/100, then we should have ample, incontrovertible evidence, everywhere. Since we’ve only got a handful of candidates for these events, 1/1,000,000,000 seems to be on the generous side. Heck, you’d get a few of these events even if heads weren’t favored over tails, or if tails were favored over heads. That’s just the way things work.

      • demo kid Says:

        And I think it’s clear to any rational person: you’re talking on and on about the Second Law, and you don’t understand one lick of it. More complexity and less entropy can develop locally without violating the Second Law in a closed system — heck, the fact that the words you are reading are organized into patterns is proof that low entropy can form from higher entropy.

        As far as probability, my base refutations still stand, despite your random comments:

        First, “one in a million” chances can be quite common depending on how many events we’re talking about over what time frame — if you buy a billion weeks of lottery tickets, you can expect to get around 1000 winners, just like if there are a billion chances for something to make a one-in-a-million change in a population in a generation, you can expect to get a pretty significant number of changes per generation.

        Second, if there are billions or trillions of potential opportunities for change, to expect not to see a significant number of low-probability changes is actually unlikely in and of itself.

        Third, assuming that a theory is incorrect because a number of events are “improbable” means little when you’re working with an n = 1. One outcome had to happen, and to assume that a chain of events would NOT include a number of low-probability events is actually quite improbable.

        The only time when the statement that you’re making would be correct would be if we were viewing the system a priori. If we looked at the Earth 4 billion years ago and asked whether or not humans, dogs, cats, whales, trees, etc. would evolve to EXACTLY where they are now, then I would absolutely agree — the current outcome is highly unlikely. That doesn’t preclude that evolution wouldn’t happen in some other direction, or that life wouldn’t simply go extinct.

        Get a sample of a million other planets, and then we can start talking about the probability that evolution exists.

      • Jonathan Gardner Says:

        Demo kid, I am sorry, but I must disagree. I believe it is you who don’t understand the Second Law because you don’t understand probability. Regardless, it doesn’t matter what I think; evaluate the ideas on their merit alone, and argue against them. If you prove me an idiot, but fail to prove my ideas idiotic, then my ideas will survive. Prove me brilliant and my ideas idiotic, and the ideas die.

        (1) The question wasn’t, “How many winners will you see if you buy a billion tickets?” The question was, “What is the chance of winning after buying a billion losing tickets?” I think you need to think really, really hard about the answer here. It affects everything else.

        (2) You would do well to go crack open a probability book, and look up the Binomial, Poisson, and the Normal (Gaussian) distributions. While P*n does give you the average expected result, you need more math to tell you how likely P*n+100 events are. Another experiment to do: Flip a coin a hundred times, and repeat a hundred times. Tell me how many times you saw 50 heads and 50 tails. (A simple computer program can help you do this quickly.) How many times did you see 75 heads and 25 tails? What’s the likelihood of that ever happening?

        (3) I think you’ve missed the point entirely here, along with a large number of self-righteous evolutionists who flunked probability. Yes, the chance of something, anything, happening is always 1. However, given that you have seen the event X A times, and the event Y B times, etc… out of N total events, you can figure out what the chances are of X, Y, etc… with some degree of certainty that increases as N increases. When you deal with an N of 1, however, you really can’t say much, let alone declare, “We’re right, and all disbelievers are idiots.” The very best hope you have is coming up with a theory that says there’s a decent chance of things happening the way we see them happen, and then say, “This is a possibility, but we simply don’t have enough evidence one way or the other.”

        Get a sample of a million other planets, and then we can start talking about the probability that evolution exists.

        So now you’ve join the camp of “We simply can’t tell if Evolution is correct.” Welcome! Unfortunately, you’re going to have to be prepared to suffer the political slings and arrows that accompany those who are willing to buck the majority because they would rather be right than popular.

        Maybe when you start to examine the probabilities behind evolution, you’ll come to realize that of all the explanations, it’s one of the worst.

  4. demo kid Says:

    With respect to your description of genetics, you’re not accurate with your suppositions.

    Purebreds are not necessarily dumber as a rule than mutts. (Case in point: sheepdogs.) The only difference between the two is that for generations, purebreds have been artificially selected on the basis of their utility to humans. This selection means that other characteristics, perhaps related to the long-term health of the dog, are not considered when the dog reproduces.

    For example, if you’re looking for a racing dog, it doesn’t matter if the dog lives for eight years — after a few years, they will not be in their prime. What does it matter what their health is after that point? Conversely, if you select a dog on the basis of long-term health or general levels of fitness, they won’t run as fast as a greyhound or smell as well as a German shepherd.

    Talking about genetic diversity in human populations is even more of a concern. In modern society, there are fewer drivers for natural selection, and they are declining over time. People with chronic diseases can live for longer, meaning that the genes that promote these diseases do not impact natural selection. Conversely, human populations are such that there are very few genes that would actually *promote* survival and reproduction. Any drivers that are left are minor enough to make much less difference in survival and reproduction.

    Also, assuming that there are benefits to genetic diversity in the US population assumes that genetic information passes very quickly throughout the population. In the very long term, this might be relevant, but if there is a generation once every 20 years, and social segregation is still involved with choosing a partner, how would even beneficial traits have filtered through the population?

    • Jonathan Gardner Says:

      Again, what relevance does the above have to apes-to-humans evolution? We all agree that within a population, traits will vary based on a number of factors, some of which you’ve described.

  5. Why some random dude is a Creationist Says:

    […] of all, Mr. John Gardner, let me say, congratulations on your well-formed sentences and proper spelling. (Not as good as the […]

    • Jonathan Gardner Says:

      Patrick Julius,

      I couldn’t comment on your post on your site. I would’ve gladly posted this there.

      My name is Jonathan Gardner, not John Gardner. Please use the names people use to call themselves in the future, simply for politeness’ sake.

      Thank you for noting that I can form paragraphs and sentences. Does this completely turn over the concept that Creationists are Neanderthals incapable of rational thought? Maybe one day you’ll recognize the greatest minds who ever walked this earth were Christians apologists like Isaac Newton. One day you’ll thank your intellectual ancestors because they were bright enough to see the entire universe in the few short chapters that make up the Bible.

      Now, let’s get into math:

      I never quite understood the problem here. Surely you agree that genetic changes could make people, say, 1% smarter over a period of 100 years? Then over 10 million years, you could make people 1,000 times smarter—which is more than enough to get from apes to humans. It’s math. Does your brain just throw a buffer overrun when you try to imagine numbers that big?

      So you admit you do not understand why random events do no mean a one-directional change?

      Let me try to explain this to you with an example. Suppose you played a gambling game. The house gives you a quarter. The house flips it. If it’s heads, you earn a dollar. If it’s tails, you lose a dollar. How much money would you have after 1 flip? 10 flips? 100 flips? A billion flips? Turn it around now. How long would you have to play the game before you’re pretty sure you’d have $100? $1,000? $1,000,000,000?

      This is the random walk problem I mentioned in my post. See, when you have random events occurring that may move you backwards or forwards, what is the likelihood you’ll reach some distant point? The further the point is, the less likely it is to be arrived at, even given a very large number of flips.

      The problem that evolutionists have to explain is, given that there is a small chance of a net positive change via mutation, and given that there is a feedback mechanism whereby, suppose, every positive change is secured within the population, how many changes will it take to get from Australopithecus africanus to Homo sapiens?

      If you add up the minimum number of changes necessary, and let’s say you get at, 100, or even 1,000, you’d then have to conclude, given the random walk demonstration above, and given that not every change is in the direction from A.A. to H.S., you’d need to get a much greater number of changes just for A.A. to change into H.S.

      What about apes-to-humans evolution? Well, there are what, a million minimum required changes? A billion? So how many times would you need to flip that quarter to get a billion dollars?

      What about the ancestor of all living life to the diversity we have today, with all the extinct species, including the ones we don’t even know about yet?

      Yeah, it’s looking pretty unlikely that evolution would happen at all, even given the billions of years evolutionists think is enough to justify the gradual process of evolution.

      Well, let me see if I can explain; we have these things called freezers, which are known for making ice crystals (very low entropy state) from liquid water (relatively high entropy state). How do they do this? It’s a miracle! Wait. No it’s not, you simply need to plug them in—they receive energy from outside, without which their little loophole of thermodynamics cannot be achieved.

      It’s clear you have no concept whatsoever of the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics and entropy, allow me to take you aside for a thorough education. This is a charitable project on my part; normally I would simply dismiss you with references to more thorough explanations online.

      Yes, ice is more ordered than water. If you cool down ice to absolute zero, every particle will be in an exact crystalline formation, with no deviation from the exact locations at all.

      However, how do you get ice? You said, “Stick it in the freezer.” OK, how does a freezer work? You need something colder than the water, colder than ice, to lower the temperature of the ice through heat transfer. (I’m being very precise in my terms; all of them mean something important.)

      What is happening? Well, in all the billions of interactions between the cup of water and your freezer, sometimes the particles interact in one way, and sometimes in another way. Sometimes, a fast-moving particle interacts with a slow-moving particle, transferring its momentum and kinetic energy to the slow-moving particle. (That means, the slow-moving particle moves more quickly, and the fast-moving particle moves more slowly.) Now, here’s the part that will blow your mind: The temperature of a substance gives you the *average* kinetic energy of the particles within it. That means, half the particles have more kinetic energy, and half have less. Some are moving very, very quickly, and some are moving hardly at all.

      Your freezer’s particles, on average, are moving more slowly than the particles in the water. So, on average, the interaction is that particles in the water transfer momentum and kinetic energy to particles in the freezer. But the important fact is this: Sometimes, the freezer particles interact with the water particles causing the water particle to move more quickly and the freezer particles to move more slowly! Yes, this is true, it actually happens. In a way, it almost looks like the freezer heats up the water!

      But this is absurd; it doesn’t work that way. Indeed, we KNOW that cold things NEVER EVER heat up warmer things. But why is that? Because, statistically, the average case is the momentum and kinetic energy goes from the warmer thing to the colder thing.

      So in the end, the net kinetic energy and momentum transfer is from the water to the freezer.

      (Bear with me, we are near the end.)

      What does this have to do with evolution? A lot, really.

      First, when a random event occurs that changes a DNA strand, how often does that random change satisfy the following requirements: (a) it gets passed on to the children, (b) it’s not a condition that interferes with the propagation of the species, (c) it actually gives that child an edge up in reproduction. This would be the base probability of any net beneficial change occurring, at all. You said you liked my figure of 1/1,000,000,000, but I say that’s being very generous.

      Second, sometimes, a mutation is “forward”, that is towards greater diversity. Sometimes, it is “backward”, that is, back towards a previous form. Do you agree with me on this? We can’t always flip and get heads.

      So, the question then becomes, is the coin we’re flipping biased? Does the DNA and cosmic or background radiation “know” which direction is forward or which is backward? Does the environment or other external pressures “favor” one over the other? I don’t think any reasonable person can say, “yes” to that. The actual occurrence of “ratchets” in the physical world is 0—devices which take random events and only keep the positive ones. I’d be interested in how you would construct such a machine. Simply saying, “it’s complicated” is not a very good argument, because complicated things are made from simple things, and we already understand all the simple cases, and they all say, “No.”

      Ok, let’s suppose I believe you: positive mutations are common, they generally occur in one direction. You still need to come up with enough viable mutations to explain the diversity of life we have or have had on the earth. And you only have a few billion years to do it. My back-of-the-envelope calculations show that no, there simply isn’t enough time, or viable mutations occur far more frequently than we’ve observed. There’s a second wall you have to overcome. You’re certainly free to use more precise numbers. I’m glad you agree with my one-in-a-billion chance. We don’t need exact numbers, just numbers that are good within a few orders of magnitude. Give or take a factor of 1,000 or so they should at least get us close to where we need to be. If we can get those numbers close, then we can start talking about what factors to use, whether the earth is 1 billion or 10 billion years old, etc…

      Isn’t it strange that nowhere on any evolution discussion anybody discusses these simple facts that the study of probability gives us? Why is it that Physicists don’t say, “The theory of gravity is just as reliable as the theory of evolution.” There’s a good reason: You have yet to produce even a similar amount of rigor that we’ve had with gravity.

      I’ve given you several hard problems to solve, problems which I believe cannot be solved, according to my understanding of physics. Without a solution, evolution doesn’t exist—it’s nonsense.

      The problem with the anthropic principle is that it can be used to prove anything that has any degree of possibility. Your example of the lottery is a very good one. Neither the people who lose and say, “I will lose the lottery all the time”, nor the person who wins and says, “I will win the lottery every time” are correct. When you reduce the sample size to 1, anything is possible, and any explanation is just as good as any other, even explanations that seem to contradict reality. (E.g., the lottery winner who says, “The vast majority of time, I will not win the lottery.”) That’s the problem with evolution: Sample size is 1: this earth. You can’t possibly tell me that with that sample size, you’ve produced a theory that is as reliable as gravity. The two don’t even belong under the same heading of “science”. If evolution is “science”, then physicists should start using another term to describe what they do. Maybe we can take over “speculation”, because it appears no one wants that term anymore even though it’s the appropriate one for evolution.

      You’ll also note that your arguments regarding anthropocentricism against me are pointless. And you’ll note I’m not even touching the argument about the age of the earth here. Trying to attack me for my belief in God because you believe I have seen, heard, touched, tasted, or smelled him? That’s rich, and ignorant of you. Trying to discredit me for my ideas about other things is a logical fallacy called argumentum ad hominem. Attacking my beliefs without knowing what they are is also pathetic.

      Otherwise, I congratulate you. You only used 20 or 30 derogatory terms in your post. I was expecting far more. Maybe one day you’ll progress past 3rd grade and learn how to speak like an adult to people who don’t agree with you. The art of persuasion means trying to make your opponent like you. What you’ve done borders on polemic demagoguery.

      Be cautious: If your foundation for what you consider science is ad hominems, demogoguery, and misinformation, then you’re not doing science at all.

  6. demo kid Says:

    We all agree that within a population, traits will vary based on a number of factors, some of which you’ve described.

    You’re starting from inaccurate suppositions about how evolution functions and exhibits itself. How can we treat your other assumptions as correct if you cannot get the basic elements right?

  7. tensor Says:

    The mechanism of Natural Selection explains why some mutations survive and some do not; it is the “ratchet” which conserves the beneficial changes, and discards the other changes. (Had you actually done any real research into evolution, you would have found this immediately.) Mr. Darwin’s explanation of Natural Selection made him one of the greatest scientists of all time, because it is every bit as fundamental to our understanding of the natural world as are the heliocentric model of the solar systems, the germ theory of disease, and the theories of relativity.

    As for your repeated invocations of the Second Law of Thermodynamics to “prove” your point, you’re simply ignoring the vast amount of low-entropy energy with which the sun has continuously bathed the earth since long before life began here. I leave it as an exercise to the reader to determine whether ignoring Natural Selection in biology, or the sun in the sky, makes you look more hopelessly foolish.

    • Jonathan Gardner Says:

      Again, I’m not invoking the Second Law. I’m using the same foundation on which the Second Law is invoked.

      I will help you understand. “Ratchets” with random processes can only exist in your imagination. In the real world, where randomness is very real, you cannot build such a machine without violating the Second Law.

      Fine. Let me concede your point, hypothetically, and say, “OK, survival of the fittest guarantees that only viable mutations survive.” All that does is reduces the possibility of a change. It doesn’t give any particular direction for the change. To help you understand, it’s just as likely a chimp will develop a mutation that will make it more like a crocodile or a bacteria or a bird than a human. If the change gives it any advantage whatsoever, then it could be made. To argue anything else—to say that chimps MUST evolve towards humans or some other creature, is to deny the randomness of it all.

      Consider this: The environment is a particular way, then it changes. A mutation that used to be disadvantageous now becomes advantageous. Then the environment changes back. Now, the change that was advantageous is selected against, and life reverts to their original form. Or maybe the change is sideways, or up-and-down. It’s a random change, and there’s absolutely no reason why a change that should occur will occur.

      If you can accept that random events do cause the mutations, then you must accept my arguments about the random walk.

      If you instead build a railroad theory, that the nature of life requires that life evolves a particular way because that’s the way we saw it, then you’ve really gone bonkers for your theory.

  8. demo kid Says:

    You can claim that you’re being “rational”, but I’m sorry, the facts still do not fit. You’ve pretty much started with the conclusion (God must exist because I think he does!) and exaggerated the evidence on that basis (any evidence that does not fit must be rationalized in convoluted ways!).

    First, most of the questions about probability that you’ve asked are absolutely, positively pointless, and don’t prove a thing about what you’ve said. The core of the issue is simple: what is the probability of change happening AND how many opportunities are there for that change to happen.

    In your simplistic calculations, you’ve not only exaggerated the low probability of a small change occurring, you’ve also exaggerated the number of times that change COULD occur. If all life on Earth consisted of a single organism that reproduced once and then died, you’re absolutely right — evolution would not occur in a billion billion years. However, every event that would allow for a change or mutation — the reproduction of an organism — happens innumerable times each year, across the entire population of living things.

    Stating that something is a “one-in-a-million” chance? Sure… but yet AGAIN, if you have a billion or trillion or trillion trillion chances, that one-in-a-million chance becomes commonplace. There isn’t just one chance for change to happen in a year as you suggest, and the slow, incremental progress predicted by evolution are suggested by the small magnitude of these changes.

    With regards to your statement about no evidence existing for evolution, again, I’m beginning to wonder if you know what that means, exactly. There is a significant amount of evidence in support of this — mathematical modeling, genetic and structural similarities between species, examinations of the fossil record, inefficient/incompetent design suggesting a gradual, incremental approach to development, and so forth. Without a time machine or a few billion years of observations, this is the strongest evidence possible. There is no competing theory that provides a better fit to the data, nor have you even attempted to demonstrate one.

    Face it, the evidence for Creationism is… well… COMPLETELY non-existent. It’s a speculative hypothesis that can never actually be proven with existing data. In fact, if your proof is a misstatement of the probability for evolutionary changes and simple faith, you pretty much have zero proof in Creationism. Unless you get a big sample of worlds, some of which were intelligently designed, others which weren’t, you will continue to have zero proof of this.

    • Jonathan Gardner Says:

      You’re losing the argument, and you don’t know how to recover. So you’re lashing out, grasping at straws. I’m going to ignore the irrelevant points you’re trying to make, give you the benefit of a doubt that you at least have some good, relevant ideas.

      I’ll address the one relevant point you’ve made. You’re right, I way over-simplified how many organisms there are over time and assumed the probability of a transmitted change is constant. I’m a physicist, I get to use spheres for everything and say Pi is equal to 3, because things usually work that way, especially when estimating.

      However, I think my assumptions are generally good. If the probability of a beneficial change does change, it probably won’t change by that much. If it does vary a lot, then it probably averages out.

      I assumed there is a constant number of organisms on the planet because I figure that things are limited by the incident energy from the sun. You really can’t have more life than the energy required to sustain it. Even if the number does vary, it’s not going to be by that much, and it will probably average out. Yes, life is assumed to have started with one organism, but this would exponentially replicate until it filled its ecosystem, right?

      I ran into this article that might help you understand the nature of probability. It described this cancer on the face of Tasmanian devils that spreads via contact. See, the chances of just such a mutation occurring are really, really low, but the effects of it is devastating: Tasmanian devils may be wiped out in 50 years, except for those kept in quarantine from those with the infectious cancer. The point is this: the random changes that occur can move a species forward, rapidly, or a tiny bit, or not at all, or sometimes back a little bit to previous forms, or a lot.

      The so-called evidence for evolution is the same evidence I use to describe the glory of God. You haven’t done a very good job at eliminating all alternate explanations for the origin of life, particularly the one that says, “An intelligent being populated our planet with it.” If your going to prove your theory to be the one and only correct one, you can only do so by showing how all others are not correct.

      There simply isn’t enough information to make definitive statement on evolution. It will never compare to gravity, or particle science, or atomic science, or quantum mechanics, even if you dug up every fossil and every bit of evidence of any form of life that left such a record for us to dig up.

      • demo kid Says:

        Stating that your assumptions are “pretty good” is not quite proof of anything. In fact, where have you addressed anything that I’ve said? Passing the buck isn’t proof of your argument, nor is saying that your assumptions are “pretty good”. You’ve also done a lousy job of even beginning to prove that creationism should be taken seriously.

        I’ve provided you of example after example of why evolution is likely to be the correct explanation. You’ve provided zero support of creationism. Even if you started from a completely uninformed perspective, how precisely can you assume that the two are even equal?

        Pat yourself on the back all you like, but not considering the evidence that exists in favor of your own pet theory is pretty lousy science.

      • Jonathan Gardner Says:

        None of the things you think I am trying to show are any of the things I am trying to show. The discussion was about whether random events can lead to evolution.

  9. tensor Says:

    I will help you understand. “Ratchets” with random processes can only exist in your imagination. In the real world, where randomness is very real, you cannot build such a machine without violating the Second Law.

    You’re failing to understand Natural Selection. It is not a random process. It is a “sieve” for selecting desirable traits, some of which may have random origins. And since there’s plenty of energy coming from sunlight and geothermal sources, the Second Law’s prohibition on spontaneous reductions in entropy in a closed system does not apply.

    It doesn’t give any particular direction for the change.

    The particular direction of change is toward the species adapting to the changes in environment.

    … it’s just as likely a chimp will develop a mutation that will make it more like a crocodile or a bacteria or a bird than a human. If the change gives it any advantage whatsoever, then it could be made. To argue anything else—to say that chimps MUST evolve towards humans or some other creature, is to deny the randomness of it all.

    One species does not evolve “towards” another. (There is a popular, very silly, species-centric idea, that Homo Sapiens is the acme of evolution, that we’re the “highest” form of life, and that every other species — especially every other previous hominid species — was just a way station, en route to Us Glorious Humans. It’s wrong. We’re just another product of evolution, like the latest strain of bacteria.) A species evolves to suit its environment. And Natural Selection is not a random process.

    However, I think my assumptions are generally good. If the probability of a beneficial change does change, it probably won’t change by that much. If it does vary a lot, then it probably averages out.

    Your assumptions are entirely unjustified, and the numbers you’ve used are entirely made-up nonsense. Again, you fail to understand that Natural Selection selects the beneficial new traits, and discards the others. Therefore, there is no averaging out.

    You haven’t done a very good job at eliminating all alternate explanations for the origin of life, particularly the one that says, “An intelligent being populated our planet with it.”

    Since you claim that there is more than one alternate explanation, please list each of them, with a short description of each, and explain why each one is a valid alternative to evolution.

    Again, Creationism is not an explanation. It is not falsifiable, and you have already admitted it does not provide “… an explanation for why the creatures are the way they are. ” You have further admitted you will not, under any circumstances, allow Creationism to be tested in the way you’re always demanding evolution be tested:

    My understanding of the Creation of the earth isn’t something that’s testable anyway, and I don’t care to see it put to the test. The important bits are the things that affect my day-to-day actions,

    Like the new flu vaccine you get every year?

    • Jonathan Gardner Says:

      You’re failing to understand Natural Selection. It is not a random process.

      So Natural Selection is not a random process. How then does it work? Are intelligent sky creatures guiding the process to eliminate any random variations?

      I don’t think you want to go down that path. Let’s stick with Natural Selection being random.

      And since there’s plenty of energy coming from sunlight and geothermal sources, the Second Law’s prohibition on spontaneous reductions in entropy in a closed system does not apply.

      No matter how many times I say I am not applying the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics, will you always insist I am?

      Again, I am showing how, using the same logic that gives rise to the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics, that evolution is inexplicable. I don’t have to talk about energy or the sun or temperature being the driver here, merely random variations.

      Your assumptions are entirely unjustified, and the numbers you’ve used are entirely made-up nonsense

      Do you have better numbers to work with? Please, let’s start to quantify evolution, see if the math works out.

      If it turns out the actual numbers are not much different from my made-up numbers, then the results will be the same.

      Like the new flu vaccine you get every year?

      OK, here’s why flu vaccines are NOT an example of macro-evolution. You sound just as ignorant as a Creationist who says the black sky is evidence of a uniform universe.

      The flu is a virus, which I don’t think is considered alive. Nevertheless, it does reproduce mostly exact copies of itself, so it will work for the discussion here.

      Let’s say that some flu viruses exhibit certain traits, and in other flu viruses those traits are dormant. That is, some of their children or grand children will demonstrate those traits. We see this sort of thing all the time: two brown-haired people giving birth to a blonde, for instance, and we have a name for it. I don’t know that it would occur for asexual creatures like viruses, but I assume it is possible. Change the environmental conditions under which the virus was hatched, and it will likely demonstrate a different set of traits, even if the genetic code is exactly the same. Or we can look at it like the virus is actually reproducing with human DNA, and so you really have the kind of scenario where Human X and Virus Y produce a Virus Z, with different traits than Virus Y.

      Anyway, humans develop an immune response to these traits so that their bodies kill flu viruses that exhibit these traits. Other flu viruses that don’t exhibit these traits, or in other words, resistant to the immune response, will survive. However, these may carry within them the potential to produce flu viruses which show the traits that we have become immune to. But at the very least, the chances of eliminating all forms of the virus that we have developed an immune response to is 0: some will survive, one way or the other.

      Fast forward a lifetime or two, and you have humans that no longer have the same immune response they did. Their immune system are targeting the descendants that survived the immune systems of their ancestors from a hundred years ago. So the flu population is changing, once again. Except this time, those descendants which show the original traits may be favored.

      And so you’ve come back full circle. Every so many years, we lack the immune response our ancestors had, and the flu virus once again favors traits that were not favorable at one time.

      This is not a demonstration of macro-evolution. This is simply creatures replicating after their kind, favoring one population distribution over another in changing circumstances. Everybody already knows this happens, and we depend on it, otherwise we could not have the modern varieties of animal and plant life we depend on to sustain our lives.

      What would demonstrate macro-evolution, however, is evidence that the flu viruses we have today are substantially different from those of a hundred years ago, to the point where we can’t even classify them as similar except in a few ways, and that those from 200 years are even more different than the ones today. Surely an “organism” that reproduces so rapidly would demonstrate gradual change over the span of a few hundred years, if creatures that take thousands of times longer to reproduce (humans, for instance) have had a similar change over the past hundred thousand years? Or maybe you need another two or three factors of ten in there, so you can get to the one million year time span people like to throw around as sufficiently large as to not arouse suspicion?

      But, as I’ve said before, in the best case, you’d need the square of the number of differences in changes to give rise to a reasonable probability of seeing that kind of change over that period of time. And so if it takes 1,000,000 years to go from ape to human, it would take a thousand billion years to go from dinosaur to ape, and an even more extravagant number to go from amoeba to dinosaur.

  10. tensor Says:

    Since you won’t stop simply making up numbers, mislabeling them as “facts”, and then “validating” your pre-determined conclusions with the “facts” you’ve just made up, I went through all of the research work of typing the seven characters “cdc flu” into my search engine, then clicked on three successive links. Here’s the Center for Disease Control’s description of changes in the flu viruses:

    Influenza viruses can change in two different ways.

    One is called “antigenic drift.” These are small changes in the virus that happen continually over time. Antigenic drift produces new virus strains that may not be recognized by the body’s immune system. This process works as follows: a person infected with a particular flu virus strain develops antibody against that virus. As newer virus strains appear, the antibodies against the older strains no longer recognize the “newer” virus, and reinfection can occur. This is one of the main reasons why people can get the flu more than one time. In most years, one or two of the three virus strains in the influenza vaccine are updated to keep up with the changes in the circulating flu viruses. So, people who want to be protected from flu need to get a flu shot every year.

    The other type of change is called “antigenic shift.” Antigenic shift is an abrupt, major change in the influenza A viruses, resulting in new hemagglutinin and/or new hemagglutinin and neuraminidase proteins in influenza viruses that infect humans. Shift results in a new influenza A subtype or a virus with a hemagglutinin or a hemagglutinin and neuraminidase combination that has emerged from an animal population that is so different from the same subtype in humans that most people do not have immunity to the new (e.g. novel) virus. Such a “shift” occurred in the spring of 2009, when a new H1N1 virus with a new combination of genes emerged to infect people and quickly spread, causing a pandemic. When shift happens, most people have little or no protection against the new virus. While influenza viruses are changing by antigenic drift all the time, antigenic shift happens only occasionally. Type A viruses undergo both kinds of changes; influenza type B viruses change only by the more gradual process of antigenic drift.

    Rapid change, due to complex interactions between the species and the environment. (What was that about hugely long time scales again?)

    So Natural Selection is not a random process. How then does it work? Are intelligent sky creatures guiding the process to eliminate any random variations?

    If so, they really, really want us to get sick with influenza.

    I don’t think you want to go down that path. Let’s stick with Natural Selection being random.

    Let’s stick with real scientific results, like the ones recounted by the CDC, above.

    • Jonathan Gardner Says:

      You’re proving my point and you don’t even realize it.

      “Antigenic shifts” — do they always go in one direction? Is there ever a chance that the virus will shift to previous forms? If you think it goes in only one direction, what is causing that? Why can we never, ever, come full circle?

      Notice that despite the numerous antigenic shifts that have happened throughout history, the flu virus is still basically the same thing. It certainly isn’t evolving into a single-celled organism, or changing in any dramatic way. I think this shows what I mean. When you’re randomly walking, after N steps, at best, you’ve only likely gone sqrt(N) steps away from where you started, likely much, much less.

      • Simon Says:

        Johnathan, if a virus mutates to a previous incarnation then the host population will already have immunity to it and so it will not survive. You claim to have read widely but you seem to lack a very basic understanding of biology & genetics.

      • Jonathan Gardner Says:

        Not if a long time has passsed. Just because your great-great-grandparents had an immunity doesn’t mean you will.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: