Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Yeah! I just got my first creationist. I feel so special.

So, my blog finally hit paydirt. I received my first creationist comment.

In my post Well I'm stumped. Evolution must be a lie. I managed to hook a creationist.

I took a comment from Shalini's Scientia Natura: Evolution and Rationality (a blog worth a visit to be sure) about how, if we evolved from monkeys why are there still monkeys (an argument so stupid even Answer in Genesis rolls its eyes). AiG discourages its use for the reason I encourage it: it's fish in a barrel.

She, unlike myself, has plenty of interesting comments as fodder. Until now:

Ronald L. Cote writes:
Tatarize, As a biologist with 20 years experience in applied science, I can assure you that evolution is , not only a lie but one of the greatest deceits in our history.

*DING* *DING* *DING* - We have a winner!

Not only is he a creationist, he pretends to be a biologist... with 20 years of experience in applied science. This could mean anything as far as creationist go. Mr. Cote could be a 15 year old boy, he could be a chemistry teacher, he could be a dentist. One of the few things he certainly is not is a biologist. If he actually were a biologist, that credential alone would make him pretty much a posterboy for creationism in general.

Being in computer science, I find it hard to conceive that the order and precision and sheer awesomeness doesn’t cause you pause that this couldn’t possibly be the result of random chance over time.

Well certainly there's a notable difference between:

for (int i = 0; i < 100; ) if (rand() % 10 != 0) exit(1);

and

for (int i = 0; i < 100; ) if (rand() % 10 == 0) i++;

You see, the first is going to move on to the next line once in googol tries! Literally, 1 in 10^100 However, do the limits of the seed number (starter input for a pseudorandom number / the input can only produce random numbers of the same number of bits as the seed number and the seed number doesn't have a googol's worth of bits) it is likely that it is impossible. What are the odds of the second one moving on to the next line? 1 in 1! It will only take a bit of time. There is nothing unlikely about evolution, in fact, the core of evolution is that it makes odds and chances moot and simply takes a while.

Being in computer science, and moreover considering my experience in evolutionary algorithms, I am less surprised than most that engineering projects can be accomplished by a blind, mindless process, knowing absolutely nothing about the world, and solving unfathomable complexity. One of the interesting properties of evolution is that complexity cannot phase it. Considering no variables it can manage to find a result which could only be found by considering thousands of variables. Failure, is not an option and only the best approximation of success will survive.

To me the most convincing aspect of evolution is not that monkeys still exist, but that , after unearthing countless millions of fossils to the point that museums are giving them away and that even ebay has 3,000 for sale, there still does not exist a comprehensive and true “fossil record”, that could, would and should give us an incontrovertible and foolproof record of species and how they changed getting from point A to their present form. Of course, no such thing exists but should if the hypothesis was sound.

Um. The fossil record is actually really good for most organisms. I'm not even sure what the is suppose to mean. You want all the fossils leading from man to our chimp ancestor? There's a pretty good set. We can trace a number of species pretty much step by step until they meet their common ancestor. For biological evolution the fossil record is fantastic evidence for evolution. The argument here seems to be that even though there are tons upon tons of fossils there aren't enough to satisfy his definition of "comprehensive"?

Additionally, the process of evolution is ,from all accounts ongoing. If so, why are we not able to observe plants and animals in varying stages of transitioning from something to something else.

Usually the generations are pretty small, but you can still see the effects. Humans have pretty good records for our changes in gene frequency, but the better results are the ones with the shorter population times. For example, over the 20 years this fellow claims to be a biologist (*eye roll*) we have seen TB transform from a serious infection to a multi-resistant and even extreme-drug resistant strains. You cannot fight TB with typical antibiotics. It has long since evolved resistances to those. In fact, there are some strains of TB which if you have them the government is right to lock you up and physically stop you from going about your day. As was the case of the lawyer who was diagnosed with TB and still flew to Italy and back. Luckily he turned out to have MDRTB rather than XRTB, and nobody caught it from him.

Also, I daresay the best and most effective way to finally wipe out malaria is to genetically alter a gene in mosquitoes making them immune. The immune mosquitoes by all accounts would be evolutionarily better off than others. The gene frequency of the malaria immunity would skyrocket and without altering the mosquitoes as a whole. We save millions of lives with evolution.

Surely, where there are millions of animals being physically observed , as in Africa, something must be in the process of change that would be evident. Again no such thing occurs.

You know in those nature videos when you see the lion kill the slow wilderbeast? Well, assuming there's any genetic aspect to make that one guy slower than the rest, guess what you just saw?

Asking us to observe evolution in megafauna is like asking us to observe atoms in a glass of water. You can do it, but you aren't going to see what you'd expect (the water would require some large molecules and brownian motion).

Instead, evolutionists feed the masses with cockamamy, inconsequential trivia usually clouded in carefully couched terms as “possible” explanations for proof of evolution.

Um. Mountains of evidence for evolution, aren't cockamamy hunches. Scientists are careful with their words, unlike creationists who proudly proclaim "God did it!" without reservation or a basic understanding about what they are discussing.

The whole theory is collapsing because it is a myth. If it were true, the weight of the evidence would be so overwhelming that there would be no cause for controversy!

There isn't any controversy. There's a couple idiots who think it contradicts their God. It does contradict their God. But, that doesn't actually make it false. Considering the great evidence for evolution and the complete and utter lack of evidence for their God... so much worse for their God. A mindless, powerful, amazing process made all life on this planet. Your God doesn't even have dominion over fungus. Not really sure what that God thing was suppose to do anyhow. We have everything covered, and where we don't we're at least trying.

As you state, a large measure of faith is essential to be a believer.

I was being sarcastic. The idea that a person has 'faith' in science just as one has faith in religion is absurd. The only things science requires is that ideas can be proven false, and new ideas (whether false or not) can be crafted. If we use our old ideas as the building blocks for new ideas, science will proceed along its path inevitably and unavoidably explaining as much as we can know about the universe. Whether some things are unknowable by science is unknowable, because we cannot know if we have the perfect solution; we only know that this solution is better than our previous solution. However, the comparison between a leap of belief taken to avoid a greater leap of non-belief, to the monumental leap of accepting the infinitely ridiculous, with no evidence, on a parent's order, is patently dishonest, grossly ignorant, or, perhaps, forgivably naïve.