Monday 26 October 2015

Misconceptions? About evolution? About Creationism?

Jim Stump names and corrects 10 misconceptions about evolution here.  At AIG, Avery Foley tries -and mostly fails, to correct those corrections.

Most glaring, is Foley's counter regarding the second law of thermodynamics.  After correctly discussing open- and closed- systems, Foley quotes astronomer Dr Danny Faulkner (with my bolding):

However, merely being an open system does not automatically mean that entropy decreases. Life depends upon a huge number of complex biochemical reac-tions continually operating. These biochemical reactions operate opposite to the direction that they would naturally proceed. That is, living things synthesize simpler molecules into more complex ones. The inputs are matter and energy (required to bond the more complex molecules), which is why living things are open systems. However, these inputs are insufficient in themselves to circumvent the second law of thermodynamics. The di-rection of the chemical reactions normally is decay from the more complex to simpler molecules, the opposite of what living things require to exist. Given this, the appeal to an open system to rescue the day for evolution is not demonstrated and amounts to hand-waving and gross extrapolation.
I don't understand what Faulkner is saying.  Is he saying that all living things break the second law of thermodynamics.  It sure looks as if he -an astronomer so knowledgeable about physics in general, but not necessarily about biology - is saying that.  Let me help him.
For humans, or plants, or fungae, or archaea, or other animals, synthesizing complex molecules happens all the time  Plants take in water and carbon dioxide and produce sugar.  We use sugar and other organic compounds and make hemoglobin and more.  Yes, plants are also using the sun's energy so they are clearly benefiting from an open system but what about us?  Well, as a newborn, I was around 3 kg.  I feel I was at a physical peak at around age twenty-five.  I don't know when my mental peak was but I sure forget a lot of stuff now so I think I have passed it.  Let's stick with twenty-five.  At that time, I weighed 76kg. Ah, those were the days.
...Anyway, during those twenty-five years, I ate food.  A lot of food.  Far more than 73 kg of food.  From age fifteen to twenty-five, I ate more than 151 kg per year. What did I do with that food?  I was a serious athletes in those days and used the food as energy burned while swimming twelve hours a week, and as the building blocks for muscles of great power and endurance.
I excreted and exhaled most of that mass.  I made the air around me, with my exhalations, warmer and wetter and spread carbon dioxide far and wide, so that it dispersed and settled at the global average concentrations. While concentrating complex molecules in my body, I increased global and universal entropy.  I radiated heat. I released liquids.  I released gases.  And I did so to a greater extent than I locally decreased entropy in my body.  Again, in that last year, I ate 150+ kgs of food, but gained less than 5 kg of mass.

Foley is also concerned with Stump's explanation for how new information can be added to DNA.
He argues that genetic mutations and gene duplication can create new information, but they don’t. All they do is work on already existing information.
Again, I am not sure what Foley is saying.  If I rearrange a word, have I created a new word or not?  'From' and 'Form' are two different words which change the information content of a sentence.

Let's dig in.  Duplication mutations have been observed copying an entire gene.  More localized mutations have been observed changing parts of that gene. The new gene has been observed to have new functions.  How is this not new information?
From Sci Am 1, 2.  From Talk Origins. From Stump's original article.

Is evolution a theory in crisis?
...the vast majority of scientists are evolutionists (although some do doubt evolutionary ideas) ...have been indoctrinated to think that way. They interpret the evidence through the lens of evolutionary ideas because they have an evolutionary worldview. What we do point out are the huge problems with evolutionary ideas that should make it a theory in crisis! The evidence is much better explained through the lens of God’s Word and is consistent with a biblical worldview.
I don't think evolution is a theory in crisis, but I am not about to argue a philosophical point.  I do want to point out that to my knowledge, no evolutionary scientist has had to sign a form promising to only view evidence according to a specific worldview or lose their job.  Foley has.  Everyone at AIG has.  Here is that statement.  There is no such oath for evolution proponents.  Creationists are not automatically guilty of deliberate misrepresentation of the facts but are automatically more highly suspected of such misrepresentation.

On the fossil record and transitionals:
A fully formed and functional creature is discovered, and it’s labeled a “transitional” or “intermediate” creature because it’s interpreted that way based on assumptions about how life formed and how old the fossil is. A biblical creationist will go and look at the exact same fossil and reach an entirely different con-clusion, that this is a fully formed organism that belonged to one of the original kinds God creat-ed, because we have an entirely different starting point—the true history revealed in God’s Word.
Here is another example of creationists and evolutionists looking at the same evidence - only the evolutionist looks at all the evidence.  When we find a 'fully formed organism' or fossils thereof, we also note that it is only found among a set of specific other animals, looking for all the world as if some animals had roamed the earth and gone extinct and new animals appeared and gone extinct then the fossil in question appeared and gone extinct then we appeared in the fossil record. This does not in any way resemble a 6-day Creation story.
About the fossils themselves - we have a beautiful set of seven transitions from fish to amphibian.  One such fossil was found by making predictions based on an ancient Earth and evolution principles.  Tiktaalik is a big problem for creationists like Foley.

Via the Sensuous Curmudgeon.

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