Lesson 5: Fact vs Faith

Oh man, this one was more deeply offensive to me than any of the previous. Not offensive in the general sense; most would find it just silly, but to me it is just… Unreasonable.

If the title didn’t give it away, the whole point of this lesson was for them to get on a podium and tell anyone who would listen that evolution is a religion that is far less likely than Christianity. But you know what? I don’t even have to rail against it. The discussion questions will give you a clear picture.

Question One: Where does the geologic column exist?

Their Answer: It only exists in the textbook. It is never found in the geologic record, because it is faith-based. It is not fact .

My Answer: Sweet Zombie Jesus, typing their answer out gave me finger cancer. That combination of words should not exist, and here I am duplicating them just for my blog. How awful is that?

Right, onto making good words. Oddly, the Geologic Column is a set of words most frequently utilized by YECs. To make it better, if you search “Geologic Column” and no other words, the first response is the ICR (Institute for Creation Research, whom I’ve referenced before). Now why might that be? Because Geologic Column is a misnomer, and is not used in general science. It has been replaced by the far more accurate Geologic Time Scale. I think it is worth explaining the Geologic Column and Geologic Time Scale, so that I cannot be accused of academic cowardice.

It is difficult to find a place on the planet that has a nearly undisturbed barrier between the layers of the geologic record. The records can easily be disturbed by wind and rain over the course of millions of years, so when you find a clear, clean demarcation, it is a good place to study the properties of the rock above and below. When you find rock that is thousands of miles separated and yet contains the same properties (the same mineral content, the ash content) was likely laid down in as a result of a similar event. The break between the Cretaceous (Dinosaur Golden Age) and the Paleogene (DINOSAURS BE DEAD, YO) was created (likely) by the same event that caused the event that caused the VERY CREATIVELY named “Cretaceous-Paleogene Extinction Event”. Never let it be said that scientists are not creative, amirite?

Due to the fact that the face of the planet Earth is in constant flux (the continents, depending upon your point of reference, are either drifting apart or coming together), you will never find an unbroken column of stone that can be used to create some timeline we can take a photograph of, pretty-up, and then hand over to YECs to look at. Instead, we find a clean break in Australia, and a separate break in the Arctic, and a 40 mile crater in the Yucatan. When we put all of that information together, and calculate the size and speed of the object that created the crater, and the mass of the debris released… We can create a picture of the event that caused this, when it happened, and how wide the fallout was. In this case, it was 66 million years ago, had a global scale, and likely killed the vast majority of species on the face of the Earth. We assume this last part, about the extinction, because there are a huge number of fossils generated around that time (though we do admittedly have issues with dating fossils down to a specific year. I do not recall the exact margin for error, but I believe it’s somewhere between 1 and 4 percent).

The other thing is that I have drastically simplified the geologic dating logic. The reason (and this is my own personal guess) that so many YECs argue that the Geologic Column does not work as a method of dating is that they simply do not understand how complicated using rocks as dating methods is. It is not a simple process of observing how brown a rock is and then stating that we know the age of said rock.

Question Two: Evolution is based upon what two faulty assumptions?

Their Answer: Mutations change things for the better, and natural selection allows this change to become common among an entire population.

My Answer: To make the statement above without any sort of qualification makes it much easier for me to take it and make it sound silly.

First, they have argued that because they haven’t seen any positive mutations in their WHOLE LIFE (read: some 30-40 years, in the case of the speaker, and about 150 years in the case of the idea), then it can’t happen. For example, they state that a bug growing four wings is a worthless mutation, and would never survive (this is a specific example from the lesson itself). If four wings is a worthless mutation, I am confused about creatures like dragonflies (four active wings) or houseflies (two active, two inactive wings [the two inactive wings are used to stabilize the fly during flight, making it more maneuverable, to the dismay of many a swatter-wielding human]). That being said, just having four wings isn’t always a good thing, and doesn’t, by default, mean that a creature will survive. Evolution is complicated, and nature is a cold-hearted bitch. Humans will likely never catalogue one tenth of one percent of the species that nature has wiped from the face of Earth. We have a few hundred thousand species we even know about. You know what that means? That means even a new species can take its sweet-ass time coming about, and it means that in the trillions (quadrillions) of animals that are multicellular (let’s not even try to put a number  on bacteria, as even science only has educated guesses), a one in ten billion event would be common. One in One Hundred Billion? We’d see several of those in a year. One in a trillion? Those might start to get rare (only a few per year). One in one hundred trillion? Now we’re talking in evolutionary numbers.

To quote an older scientific paper (1998), “Events that would occur once in 10 billion years in the laboratory would occur every second in nature.” Think about that, and keep it in mind for when someone tells you that “evolution could NEVER produce a positive mutation.”

Once our one in one hundred trillion (for clarity, 1:100,000,000,000,000 odds) happens, nature may kill it. The PERFECT mutation does not guarantee survival; how many creatures die before they even move? Then we wait again for our 1:100,000,000,000,000, and this time, it may survive, and it may breed, and it may protect its many children, who may further proliferate. Then we have something new.

That is the mechanism for evolution. If you ignore the very interesting, deep, and INCREDIBLY complicated science of determining the age of the Earth, even in 6000 years, evolution is happening before your eyes. Adaptation is just its bite-sized brother.

Question Three: How does natural selection work, and can it cause evolution?

Their Answer: Natural selection only selects what is already available. It does not create anything, and therefore, cannot cause anything to evolve. It only chooses features that already exist.

My Answer: Okay, getting tired of the slow balls, but if they are going to keep throwing them…

I’ll keep this one short and simple.

The common ancestor of EVERY BREED of dog currently alive is a precursor to the wolf. A gray, medium to large breed. Your chihuahua, your doberman, your St. Bernard, your Russian Bear Dog, your teacup poodle, those all came from the wolf. So you know what, keep telling me that natural selection cannot select for things that doe’t exist. Even Liberty University could show you with the Liberty University E. Coli Liberty University experiment, created and patented by Liberty University, that E. Coli can adapt to Liberty University experiments with traits that did not exist. That being said, even I will admit that Liberty University has not created a multicellular life form from Liberty University bacteria, but right now I only have to dispute your current statement.

Question Four: How does Satan use Evolutionism to rob humanity of its belief in God’s Word, and what effect does this have on society?

Their Answer: Evolutionism claims that we are merely an accident, and therefore there is no absolute right or wrong. If science has disproven the existence of a God, then we can do what we want. There is no foundation for morality if the Bible isn’t true.

My Answer: The Bible was neither the first nor the best moral code. The existence of a God as an absolute prerequisite for morality is disproven by the morality of adherents to numerous other theistic and non-theistic belief systems/religions.

Just because YOU want to murder someone (but don’t, ONLY because God) does NOT mean that the rest of us do.

The fact that you actively TRY to convince people that they would be murderous rapists without you should speak to a deep sociopathy that I find horribly disturbing. Why should I sign up for a belief system that tells me I am a murdering rapist?

Evolution, as I have discussed in two prior posts, lays a great deal of groundwork for morality. It also lays a great deal of groundwork for religion.

I am not asking anyone to abandon their religion as a result of what I say here, I am merely asking you to think about the less tenable parts of it.

That’s it for the questions. 

Sorry, this one got a little long. I guess it is because of the massive offensiveness of the whole lecture.

Please allow me to quote the first part of the “Application” section. “As Christians, we strive for truth.” As this is “truth” with a small ‘t’, and not “Truth” with a large ‘T’, I am comfortable stating that this is a lie. An out and out lie, at least on the part of the writer of this curriculum. They are not seeking the truth, they are seeking the Bible. I can’t say this is wrong, but when you absolutely and without question REJECT what we are able to PROVE is the truth about nature and the world, I am willing to say your beliefs are (in that sole case) WRONG.

The application section goes on further, stating “Public schools are teaching religious lies as fact.” Well, in places where Intelligent Design is in public school textbooks, I suppose I can agree with this statement. Does anyone find it ironic that we have to talk about the “Teach the Controversy Controversy”? Right.

Also, I am not saying that evolution has all of the answers correct; certainly not. You are right about one thing, Eric Hovind, the best we have are educated guesses… But the part you miss is that the guesses have to fit ALL of the given evidence. If a guess fails the test of all given evidence, then we have to look back and create a new set of ideas that fit the always growing evidence.

To wit; dinosaur soft tissue. YECs decided, INSTANTLY, without investigation, that this CLEARLY meant that dinosaurs lived recently. Scientists decided that they had to look into it more closely. What they found is that iron had bonded with portions of the tissue, preventing its decay. This was not known before 2013. Science is always learning, even recently.

“Do not leave unchallenged any absolute statements.” Well, lecture, I can certainly agree with that — though you may also want to define what qualifies as absolute statements. When you look closely at any science, you will see something akin to “p<0.01” or “+/-“. That means we are not making an absolute statement, as far as strict definitions go. We are merely making a statement that best fits the evidence.

“We should point out that evolution is supported… by faith. This then levels the playing field…” AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH.

*GASP*

AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

*GASP**TEAR*

PPFFFFFFAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. *cough cough*

I think that is the single most self-aware statement they have ever made. “In order for us to fight evolution, we need to bring them down to our level.”

And that, my friends, is why Richard Dawkins famously coined “If I were to debate you, it would look great on your [resume], but not so good on mine.”

The challenge section requests that you call your government representatives and tell them to keep the religion of evolution out of their text books (but, of course, Intelligent Design should be in the science text books). Right.

I’ll show myself out.

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