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:: Thursday, March 24, 2005 ::

Yes, I'm Not An Atheist - Deal With It

::This post is part of the Evolution/ID Correspondence Series::

I've been on spring break this past week, so it's taken me a few days to sit down, get my thoughts together, and hammer out a response to Doug the creationist's recent email. Major kudos goes to the gf on this one for pointing out some obvious responses to some of Doug's points.


That I "mention[ed] Christ in a positive light" at the end of my email shouldn't have been all that surprising, considering that I admitted to being Catholic at the beginning of said email. If you'd wandered over to my blog earlier and seen the links to some other Catholic blogs you also wouldn't have been surprised. Most evolutionists that bother to deal with ID/creationists are atheists - the Catholics and mainline Protestants (quite rightly) see ID as a manifestation of Fundamentalism, and then write off both. I find this to be dangerous - both ID and Fundamentalism need to be dealt with. As I mentioned in a previous email, though, my chosen career path doesn't let me pursue Apologetics as anything more than an avocation, at least for the foreseeable future.

I presumed that you came from a rural school due to your lacking science background. I'd forgotten that it's obviously been a few years since you last set foot inside a science classroom as a student. Even so, I'd have hoped that a good general science education would've prepared you to critically evaluate hypotheses and to discard ID as lacking.

Perhaps, as you're dealing so heavily with molecular biology, organic chemistry, and biochemistry, you should take a few college-courses in them (or maybe even get another degree) rather than just take what the ID "experts" say without having a solid background with which to evaluate their statements.

I'll admit that you got me on a technicality - the early Christians only had access to the Septuagint, but not the Gospels and usually only the letters written to their community (plus one or two others that may have been copied and passed along to them at the time). 2 Timothy 3:16-17, which you cited, makes no claim that scripture is the sole authority. Besides, if those verses did mean that, then the majority of the New Testament wouldn't be canonical (as they weren't written yet), which is clearly absurd.

As a Biblical Typolgist, you, of all people, should know not to take single verses out of context. Case in point: you cite Matthew 19:4

He said in reply, "Have you not read that from the beginning the Creator 'made them male and female'
But, when read in context (Matthew 19:3-12), anyone can see that Christ was not referring to the creative aspect of Genesis, but to the explanation of marriage. Christ was using scripture the same way the Church does today, to explain how, when a couple is married, nothing can break that bond save death. The verse also doesn't eliminate the concept of "guided evolution," which is that evolution is the process by which God created life.

What also has to be noted about what the Apostles believed is that they didn't have the benefit of modern science. They had no knowledge of cells, DNA, germ theory, or the like. If Jesus had gone around talking about such things, He would've been viewed as a looney by even more people than He already was. Jesus' teaching to them had to be in the terms they would understand. Note, though, that Jesus' citation of Genesis isn't lessened by evolution in this context, and I doubt that any reference of the Apostles would have lessened weight either.

To avoid repeating myself a third time, all I'll say is yes, I do say ID is completely worthless from a scientific standpoint. By itself it has no scientific grounds to stand on, as it is a demonstrably invalid hypothesis.

I would heavily suggest that you read thoroughly what I've already sent you (and linked to on my blog). I already dealt with the chirality on amino acids, but I guess I need to do so more thoroughly.

Before life began, there could only have existed a racemic mixture of organic molecules - i.e. where both "handed" forms occurred in equal numbers. In a racemic mixture, there's an equal chance that, when forming a random polymer, that the left- or right-handed forms will be included. Any organic chemistry student should be able to tell you that in order to be biologically useful, the chirality (handedness) of all members of a subtype of organic molecule half to be the same, or else the structures won't be reproducible. So, how did we get from a racemic mixture to having L-amino acids and D-carbohydrates? Well, because enzymes and ribozymes are set up, using shape and chemical bonds, that only certain substrates (reactants) are usable, biological catalysts are able to discriminate between stereoisomers, be they constitutional isomers (having different connectivity), enantiomers (having mirror connectivity, like D- and L-glucose), or other forms of isomers. But, we're still left with how that first biological catalyst got there, because that has have substituents that have the same isomeric form in order to be reproducible. The RNA World hypothesis (note how often I use it, perhaps you should become more educated about it) deals with this, in that when RNA forms strands that replicates themselves, they all have to have the same stereoisomer of ribose (D-ribose) in order to create copies of itself. The initial strand would form randomly - and though the odds were low, it had an enormous amount of tries at it, so eventually one would form. That strand would make copies of itself (semiconservative replication, pair bonding, annealing, and all sorts of stuff). These copies would, because they spent most of their time (initially) as plain single strands, suffer a relatively high rate of mutation. However, the D-isomers would always be used afterwards, because only D-RNA would be able to make a copy off a D-RNA strand. Eventually, due to mutation, the strand would be able to fold on itself and, after a few more goes at it, became catalytically active. The reactions it catalyzed would all involve either achiral molecules or a specific type of chiral molecule (either D or L, but never both). This would be because, like any active site, it could only accommodate one type. This would further encourage the formation/usage of only one chiral form. We could have just as easily ended up with L-carbohydrates and D-amino acids, but we didn't. In either case, God isn't required for it to happen, just a million years or so (which, at 4.5 billion, the Earth has a few to spare).

How does one explain the evolutionary process that leads a caterpillar to spin a cocoon and then grow wings and fly away?

I'm not an entomologist, so I can only guess at this, but a number of animals (including the lab favorite, D. melanogaster) go through a pupal stage before growing wings. Perhaps (and I'm just throwing this out as an idea/untested hypothesis, since this is out of my field) a mutation occurred that delayed maturation of the larva of a species into an adult form. (Such a hypothesis is supported by the fact that the progenitor cells for adult structures in flies and the like already exist by the time the larva hatches, yet don't mature and form the adult structures until later.) The larva, in its worm-like morphology, had mouthparts that were kinda-sorta adapted to a certain type of food. This type of food was different from that which the adult, with its mature mouthparts and wings, could get at. Such an arrangement had a selective advantage, as it meant that larva weren't competing with adults for the same food source, allowing more numbers of both to exist at the same time. These would reproduce more than those who, like grasshoppers, kept the same morphology throughout the lifecycle (natural selection). Within this group, those who mutated in ways that improved the shape of the mouthparts would also be selected for, as they would mature faster and thus see more generations. The pupal covering being the last exoskeleton the larva has, the changes inside would, initially, be a resumption of the maturation process into the fully mature fly. This is just one scenario that I could think up by myself. I'm sure that if you wanted to, you could go look up current theories yourself.

Scripture often tells us that God uses the animal kingdom to teach humanity truth.

And where, may I ask, does it tell us that? The Bible isn't the only work that used animals as examples (see Aesop). In any case, that God uses animals doesn't mean that He specifically designed them. Remember, God is the master of turning the works of evil towards good ends; He can just as easily turn the works of random chance and natural selection to His own purposes.

About cell components: a)bacteria and archaea do just fine without them b) endosymbiosis c)vesicle formation. Look up the latter two on your own, though I've already dealt with endysymbiosis in my ripping to shreds of that article by Rosevear you asked me to read. Vesicle formation is quite simple, and I'll explain it to you if you ask (though, at this point, I feel I should be charging for all the cell and molecular bio info I'm putting online).

The bombardier beetle example is so like the ATPase example that I'm going to refer you back to my dismemberment of Rosevear's article so as not to repeat myself too much. If you have further questions on how formerly unassociated systems give rise to new systems (which is all any example for Irreducible Complexity is), feel free to ask. Remember, though that resorting to Irreducible Complexity is an example of the argumentum ad ignorantium logical fallacy.

I really, emphatically suggest you go through what I've already sent you, especially since I've beaten you to using the math you say disproves evolution.

Oh, and I already know that "to be a soldier for Christ, you must bow before His throne and accept His words and acknowledge that teaching anything to His flock that is contrary to His Holy Word is a sin." That's why I'm taking the effort to try to get you to stop. Evolution doesn't go against scripture, but lying and willfully deceiving others surely does.

In the name of Him who is the Word, the Light, and the Truth,

Since Doug's traveling cross country doing talks this Holy Week, I'm not sure when he'll have the time to sit down and really respond to this email, let alone write a good response to my previous one. I'm planning to do my taxes before I go back to skool, so at least I can keep myself out of trouble 'til his response.

UPDATE: Doug finally had time in his busy schedule to send a proper reply.

:: The Squire 2:24 AM :: email this post :: ::


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