The Design Debate

Posted by Helen on September 03, 1998 at 15:42:43:

Dean Overman's book, A Case Against Accident and Self-Organization, Rowman & Littlefield, 244 pp; $24.95 is reviewed in The Design Debate. Two competing reviews, both from a theistic perspective are presented and rebutted [link broken]. The people here might be interested in reading them.

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Response to Helen from Joe Meert:

The 'debate' is one-sided

Posted by Joe Meert on September 03, 1998 at 16:01:39:

In Reply to: The Design Debate posted by Helen on September 03, 1998 at 15:42:43:

Science doesn't debate this issue. Theology might, but science doesn't.

Cheers

Joe Meert

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Response to Helen from scott:

Re: The Design Debate

Posted by scott on September 03, 1998 at 16:07:46:

In Reply to: The Design Debate posted by Helen on September 03, 1998 at 15:42:43:

...By uncritically presenting the probability equations catalogued by Overman, Behe tacitly suggests that these calculations accurately describe the probability of life's origin. Behe's acceptance of Overman's numbers is not surprising, since Behe makes similar probability assumptions in his book, Darwin's Black Box.

**** Estute observation. Too bad Behe needed to ignore lots of research he claimed didn't exist to prop up his design fantasy.
And more numbers games? Come on.

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Helen: Loose Ends

Posted by Sumac on September 03, 1998 at 16:29:49:

Before we go screaming off into new directions, I wonder if we might be able to wrap up some discussions that seem to have ended with no conclusion. Here are some questions that I have asked over the past week or so that have gone unanswered:
1) Has slavery always been absolutely wrong?
2) Is geocentricity still a point of contention among Young Earth Creationists?
3) Concerning Snelling's excess argon, what are the "obvious" implications for Creation Science?
4) If radiometric dating is so inaccurate, why are dates obtained using a variety of different isotopes almost always in agreement?
5) Is there any physical evidence that there has been a catastrophic division of the continents within the past several thousand years? Ever?
6) Are mutations the source of genetic variety?
7) (This one's really for Jim but I didn't want it to scroll off the bottom.) Are events such as chromosomal translocation designed to be random?

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Reply to Sumac from Helen:

Re: Helen: Loose Ends

Posted by Helen on September 03, 1998 at 17:36:02:

In Reply to: Helen: Loose Ends posted by Sumac on September 03, 1998 at 16:29:49:

Some quick answers, and if you really need expansion, I guess we can try:

1. Has slavery always been absolutely wrong?

No. There are different kinds of slavery. Although I personally recoil at the thought of owning another human being and the invitation for abuses that would involve, the simple fact is that if you consider this question either by the majority vote of all people who have lived for the past, say (for the sake of argument, ok?) 4000 years, or if you take the Biblical point of view, slavery in some forms at some times and for some reasons is not wrong. As a parent with teens, I find this occasionally appeals to me, but now we are  wandering off topic....:-D. But, Sumac, I know you and I hate the idea of slavery and consider it wrong. But there are an awful lot of civilized people through history who disagree with us.
I keep thinking that you are going to come back with "well, if you feel differently than what the Bible teaches, then are you saying the Bible is wrong?" And all I can say is what I have said before:

God did not seek to change the cultures of the people He has worked with, but instead specializes in changing the people themselves. It is the people who are to be redeemed, not the cultures. Yes, God does allow slave-taking during the conquering of the Promised Land. Given the choice between having to kill all of the opposing people or taking them as slaves under humanitarian laws, I would prefer the latter. These are just some thoughts on the issue.

2. Is geocentricity still a point of contention among Young Earth Creationists?
Evidently, from some of the webpages I have seen. But I honestly have to tell you I have never met anyone nor talked to anyone who holds the geocentric viewpoint (that I am aware of). Again, I am referring to physical geocentricity. As far as the universe being designed with man in mind and at the center of the intention of creation -- THAT sort of geocentricity -- I think that is a fairly uniform Christian doctrine.....(watch me be corrected here....)

3. Concerning Snelling's excess argon, what are the "obvious" implications for Creation Science?
That if we cannot account for it, all forms of radiometric dating involving argon must then be called into question.

4. If radiometric dating is so inaccurate, why are dates obtained using a variety of different isotopes almost always in agreement?
First of all, I'm not sure that they are. I see dates on split samples that vary. Not just by a little, either. I've seen a number of referenced articles describing these discrepancies. So I am not sure that your statement holds. But in those areas where it does hold all I can say from my limited knowledge is "I don't know."

5. Is there any physical evidence that there has been a catastrophic division of the continents within the past several thousand years? Ever?
You are WAY outside my area of knowledge here and yet, since you asked, I will hazard the soon to be flamed opinions that I have based on what little I do know. I understand that the strata on both sides of the Atlantic are the same in many areas. I don't think this would be the case if the separation had been either very long ago or very slow. I would think that thrusting, erosion, subduction, etc., would have cause disconformities. Secondly, I think the Pacific Ring of Fire is good evidence of rather rapid movement of the crust. The vast ranges of upthrust mountains, still looking so tumbled about and geologically young, in connection with the earthquakes and volcanoes seem to me to be evidence of catastrophe on a world-wide basis. The depth of some of the Pacific trenches as well as the height and rawness (if you will) of many of the mountain ranges around the Pacific Rim suggest to me that they are not that old. I know this can all be argued, but you asked ME, a non-geology person, and I can only give you what I have noticed and thought about.

6. Are mutations the source of genetic variety?
"THE"? As in "only"? No. But you know that.

7. All yours, Jim, and feel free to add anything to anything I have said or correct me anywhere.

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Response to Helen from Joe Meert:

Some problems

Posted by Joe Meert on September 03, 1998 at 17:49:37:

In Reply to: Re: Helen: Loose Ends posted by Helen on September 03, 1998 at 17:36:02:

Q: 3. Concerning Snelling's excess argon, what are the "obvious" implications for Creation Science?
Helen: That if we cannot account for it, all forms of radiometric dating involving argon must then be called into question.

Joe: As explained to you before, the problem of excess argon is tested for through the use
of stepwise heating. It is also tested for by using independent age determinations using different isotopic systems with different decay schemes. Creationists can only claim conspiracy about the agreement of ages using different systems.

Q:5. Is there any physical evidence that there has been a catastrophic division of the continents within the past several thousand years? Ever?

Helen: You are WAY outside my area of knowledge here and yet, since you asked, I will hazard the soon to be flamed opinions that I have based on what little I do know. I understand that the strata on both sides of the Atlantic are the same in many areas. I don't think this would be the case if the separation had been either very long ago or very slow. I would think that thrusting, erosion, subduction, etc., would have cause disconformities.

Secondly, I think the Pacific Ring of Fire is good evidence of rather rapid movement of the crust. The vast ranges of upthrust mountains, still looking so tumbled about and geologically young, in connection with the earthquakes and volcanoes seem to me to be evidence of catastrophe on a world-wide basis. The depth of some of the Pacific trenches as well as the height and rawness (if you will) of many of the mountain ranges around the Pacific Rim suggest to me that they are not that old. I know this can all be argued, but you asked ME, a non-geology person, and I can only give you what I have noticed and thought about.

Joe: Thanks for admitting that this is a weak area for you. Your answer demonstrates this. The 'strata' on both sides of the Atlantic are similar? What exactly do you mean? In fact, the stratigraphic record demonstrates slow rifting between the continents. It is also a bit of a problem for you since on the one hand you claim that strata cannot be correlated by age and on this hand it can. Or maybe I am misunderstanding your previous posts. Secondly, the Atlantic Ocean has not progressed to the subduction stage (with the exception of a small areas of the Caribbean and off the tip of S. America) so your point about subduction is moot. The appearance of youth does not necessarily imply youth, so what you think you see and what the reality is are two very different things. Why don't you read about how science explains those deep trenches and see how well that jives with your 'perception' of things.

Cheers

Joe Meert

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Response to Joe from Helen:

Re: Some problems

Posted by Helen on September 03, 1998 at 17:56:41:

In Reply to: Some problems posted by Joe Meert on September 03, 1998 at 17:49:37:

First of all, Joe, the argon section of the post was an "if/then" progression started by Sumac. I am not going to argue whether or not the "if" is right or wrong.

Secondly, you said the appearance of youth does not always imply youth. And all I can say to you there is that you may turn that around as well and understand that the appearance of age does not always mean age, either.

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Response to Helen from Joe Meert:

Posted by Joe Meert on September 03, 1998 at 18:06:09:

In Reply to: Re: Some problems posted by Helen on September 03, 1998 at 17:56:41:

You can argue with me on this one Helen, or not. You made the claim (there in black and  white) and many have explained why your logic is wrong. As to your second point, you are correct which is why early geologists had no way to measure the absolute age of the earth. Eventually they figured out methods that could be used to get rough estimates and now very exact measurements. Which brings us full circle. You assert that radiometric ages are wrong, but are unable to offer reasons why this might be the case. Perhaps no evidence is more damning to your case than that of similar age determinations made using different isotopic systems by different labs.  The only answer to this vexing problem for ye-creationism is to assert a conspiracy.

Cheers

Joe Meert

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Response to Helen from Sumac:

Thank You: Tightening the Ends

Posted by Sumac on September 03, 1998 at 18:15:32:

In Reply to: Re: Helen: Loose Ends posted by Helen on September 03, 1998 at 17:36:02:

1) So...since slavery has not always been absolutely wrong, then there is nothing absolute about the morality of slavery. This is important in that Literalists claim that the morality of the Bible is absolute, when in fact it isn't. I'm not really all that interested in pursuing this discussion (unless others are), but I just wanted to close it out with some kind of conclusion.

2) Is geocentricity discussed much on CRSnet? If you asked, say, 100 YECs if they thought the Sun revolved around the Earth, how many would say it does (just a guess would be okay)?

3) Since we have shown you that Snelling's excess argon can be accounted for one way or another, do you still think that K-Ar and Ar-Ar dating techniques are inaccurate?

4) I admit that on occasion the dates from different methods don't add up.  More often than not, the erroneous data can be accounted for by contamination. When care is taken to avoid contamination (which is the vast majority of the time), dates using different isotopes will agree. My statement holds.

5) Joe is obviously more qualified to address this question better than I can, but from everything I have learned about plate tectonics, there is nothing about the "Ring of Fire" or the strata on the American and European continents that would suggest rapid movement. In fact, I think all of the data is best explained by slow progression of plates over long periods of time. Is there anything in particular about those structures that suggests a rapid division of the continents (whoa...deja vu!)?

6) What other source of genetic variation are you thinking of? I can only think of mutation.
7) Okay. I'll wait for Jim on this one.

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Response to Sumac from Helen:

Re: Thank You: Tightening the Ends

Posted by Helen on September 03, 1998 at 19:17:56:

In Reply to: Thank You: Tightening the Ends posted by Sumac on September 03, 1998 at 18:15:32:

Thank you for your replies. Here is a little more.

1. On slavery -- I am not aware of any place in the Bible where slavery is condemned or said to be morally wrong. We find it wrong, true, but there were so many types of slavery in those times, that to close out the subject without saying that would not be right. I don't have any problem with the unchanging nature of God or of His declarations of right and wrong in the Bible. But I know men's cultures change, and the way they apply God's morality (or ignore it) change. I do not see how this changes Biblical doctrines, though.

2. I think before I joined CRSnet (about a year and a half ago), that there was some big brouhaha over the geocentricity thing.   If it was anything like one particular issue that crops up from time to time now, it was the products of one or two people "taking on" the rest. By the time I got on CRSnet, it was in the rules that this subject was verboten. If I were to ask them all about physical geocentricity? Just to be on the safe side, I would venture that maybe ONE out of the several hundred that are on would say "yes," but I haven't met him or her yet!
3. I don't know about the argon thing. I need to find out more about it. I want to read Snelling's article again, as I think he addressed what the rest of you were presenting, but I have not had the time to do that yet. I'll hold on this one.
4. Regarding the general veracity of -- I agree, actually, that there are some consistencies across the methods which are not comfortable for many creationists. I have long said that I think this is the strongest thing going for long ages. But the more I have read, the more I wonder about some of your presuppositions here. I need to read more and ask more questions before I expand on that, so please allow me to leave it at that.

5. On the rapid, recent division of the continents. First of all, if it was recent we can presume rapid, right? I grew up in the hills of the coastal range of California, east of Oakland. We were told that they were the remnants of an ancient mountain range, millions of years old. But you know what I saw every year? The seasonal rains would bring slides. Even as a youngster I remember feeling the dilemma this posed. Those hills, if they were remnants, were the very things that held up something over them -- on top of them -- for a very long time. But they were not rock.   They were sliding all over the place.  Those hills are not old. I can say out loud now, 40 years later, what I was thinking at 10: those hills are not old.   I now live in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains, across the state from where I grew up. Guess what? Heavy rains = slides. Massive ones, sometimes. If these mountains were old, then with the early rains we have and the forest fires started by lightning which denude such vast sections of the mountain and hillsides, leaving them vulnerable to sliding, there is no way as much soil would be left as we now have. Those mountains, especially those just "up the hill" from me, should be worn and rocky, with very little soil left. But that's not what we see.

I don't see any indication, just living here and watching how much slides every year, that these mountains are very old.  In back of one of the grocery stores, which is built into a cliff a bit (not much) are layers and layers of very thin and beautiful colored shales which we can pick apart by hand. Why aren't they solidified into one mass? Why are they still so crumbly if they have been there for millions of years?

In short, I don't have to get involved in a lot of worldwide technical stuff where geology is concerned to be able to take a look around me and see signs that the mountains here, and the hills on the coast, are not very old. And, actually, this is some of the evidence that started me to be willing to read creation literature about 25 years ago. And I found that some of what I read there made more sense, and fit better with what I saw, than the evolution material I had been brought up to believe and teach.

Today, when I fly over the western part of the US, I see massive drainage patterns as I look down. I see mountain ranges that look catastrophically shoved up -- wrinkled up, if you will -- and what I see is evidence to me that the Bible is telling the truth not only about the catastrophes, but about their recent occurrence.

6. Because you are an evolutionist, you believe a priori that all variety must have come from mutations. Because I am a creationist, I believe that there was a good bit of genetic plasticity built into the original kinds. So I don't think we can get anywhere on this one because of our opposing presuppositions. I see the combinations that occur to produce variety from sexual reproduction as being entirely separate from mutations.

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Response to Helen by Paul Rothberg:

Mutations

Posted by Paul Rothberg on September 03, 1998 at 23:09:42:

In Reply to: Re: Thank You: Tightening the Ends posted by Helen on September 03, 1998 at 19:17:56:

Hi Helen,

Your wrote, "Because you are an evolutionist, you believe a priori that all variety must have come from mutations. Because I am a creationist, I believe that there was a good bit of genetic plasticity built into the original kinds. So I don't think we can get anywhere on this one because of our opposing presuppositions. I see the combinations that occur to produce variety from sexual reproduction as being entirely separate from mutations." Much of genetics is finding mutations and polymorphisms and figuring out the phenotypic consequences. Studing recombination is a big part of that. Genetic (not physical) mapping is done by measuring recombination. These things are not vague concepts that can be invoked to support any proposition. They are very well defined and heavily researched.

For example, I did a PubMed search for "recombination" and found 10,031 documents, and a search on the keyword "mutation" turned up 177,785 documents.

Helen, the way you use words like mutation and recombination reveals lack of understanding, not difference of opinion.

Paul

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Response to Paul by Helen:

Re: Mutations

Posted by Helen on September 04, 1998 at 00:11:36:

In Reply to: Mutations posted by Paul Rothberg on September 03, 1998 at 23:09:42:

Paul, although I am quite sure there is an enormous amount I am ignorant of, I am sure of my response to Sumac. What I was responding to and what you said in your post above concern two entirely different areas.

 

 

 

 
 
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