Conrad Knauer submitted quite a number of interesting comments in his attempt to refute my piece on The Faith of Evolution. I would like to respond to just a few of them. These are my responses to specific statements, so I have “cut” his statements (or portions thereof) and “pasted” them in italics, followed by my response. So, here we go:
Mr. Knauer stated:
In reading Troupe's treatment of evolution, his argument seemed to rely heavily on the concept of a "genesis kind". The term "kind" appears in five verses in Genesis 1; from the KJV:………
I appreciate the Bible lesson. Yes, I most certainly was referring to the concept of a “genesis kind,” because the meaning of the term is so clear and unambiguous I didn’t think it would be possible for anyone to have any doubt as to what I was talking about.
"Kind" can be interpreted two ways: first as 'species' ……Second as a larger group of similar organisms………C. L. Troupe is clearly interpreting it as the latter……… he is willing to concede that……… the formation of new species……… is permissible, since it just results in more of the same kind……….
I looked up the word ‘species’ in two different dictionaries, and found that I could understand the definition with no problem whatsoever. Based on those definitions, it sure looks to me like Mr. Knauer’s “two interpretations” are saying pretty much the same thing but without saying much of anything .
And no, I am NOT saying that the formation of new species is permissible. I am saying that adaptation has not (ever) resulted in the formation of “new” species. For example, there may be many different types of birds, but they are still birds. Adaptation has never (and will never) change that.
Neither has countless thousands of “scientifically” induced mutations upon fruit flies ever produced anything but more fruit flies. Sterile, sick, deformed and inferior fruit flies! These planned and deliberate mutations have never produced a “new” species.
So Mr. Knauer can interpret the word “kind” two ways, four ways, six ways – or as many ways as he wants to. None will alter the fact that adaptation is not evolution.
But what about those creatures that have distinctive characters of more than one kind?
The existence of creatures with different characteristics – or even with the same characteristics of other creatures of a different kind (or species), proves absolutely nothing except the fact that such creatures do exist. Bats are mammals. Birds are fowls. Like fowls, bats have wings, and they fly. A bird characteristic, but not a bird, and not related to a bird.
The oldest known fossil bat is a fully formed bat, virtually identical in appearance to the modern, living bats of today. The bat was not ever, and is not now, a creature in transition.
To give a great example, look at the Archaeopteryx. Most creationists would say that reptiles form one kind (which would include dinosaurs) while birds form another.
Absolutely correct! That is exactly what most creationists would say. But guess what? Most reputable scientists would say the same thing. Birds are not reptiles.
Archaeopteryx clearly has feathers; therefore it should be included with the birds, right? But it also clearly has teeth, fingers with claws and a bony tail; you won't find those features in your canary! You will find those in reptiles and dinosaurs however.
Archaeopteryx is classified as a bird, and is included with the birds. Possessing both avian and reptilian characteristics, this creature was very unusual indeed, but not the transitional form so desperately needed in order to validate the theory of evolution.
Troupe briefly mentions lungfish (I am guessing he would classify them as members of the 'fish kind') as having (unspecified) "adaptations specific to that individual animal" but then states that "Fossil remains (or even a living creature) having both lungs and gills, or the useless vestiges of gills, might at least come close to qualifying as a transitional form between fish and amphibians, but nothing like that has ever been found." Curiously, lungfish DO have both lungs and gills.
The South American lungfish (Lepidosiren) does NOT in fact have a true set of lungs. It does not have even one actual lung! But it does have a wondrously “modified” swim bladder that absorbs oxygen. True, it can drown, but only during certain times of the year.
The lungfish in South America (and Africa) is able to survive (when its pools dry up), by burrowing into the mud and sealing itself within a mucous-lined burrow and then going into a dormant, low metabolic state. It leaves a small hole in the top so that air can get through.
It is only during this time that it “breathes” air through its swim bladder instead of through its gills. It does so while sitting out periods of drought in this dormant state.
At this point I think I should bring up the concept of "evolution"; while many people have some idea of what it means, clearly it needs to be restated…………
Oh, please! There is no need to restate, and restate, and restate again, what evolution means. There are probably about as many ideas about how evolution took place as there are “scientists” and other people who believe in it.
The reason you will see evolution described as a "fact" often is that in biology, this is pretty much universally accepted as having happened…………
Yes, and until Pasteur proved otherwise, spontaneous generation was pretty much “universally accepted” as a fact. By that system of logic we could say that the earth was actually flat until it was no longer “universally accepted” as such?
This brings me to another point Troupe brought up; that of embryology. While there are often pictures in high school biology textbooks that do not belong there (specifically, Haeckel's drawings), this is not to say that the science they're trying to illustrate is bad (just that the editors should try and find better illustrations!).
What they are attempting to illustrate isn’t “bad” science. It isn’t science at all. The human gestation period is NOT a recapitulation of some imagined human evolution.
What the parts of the embryo look like during the process, does not prove anything other than what is actually happening during human gestation. The so-called “gill slits” are not gills, nor are they even “slits.” Nor do they have anything to do with the embryo’s respiration. To say otherwise is just plain dishonest.
Since we're already talking about lungs, let's discuss their origin. When you were developing inside your mother, your lungs formed as a bud off of your digestive tract . How should a creationist explain this?
That’s easy. There is no explanation required! As stated before, whatever the embryo looks like during gestation proves nothing (and means nothing), except what is actually happening during gestation. If any part of a human embryo happens to look like a tadpole, or a sardine, or a part of something else, or even a similar looking part of the embryo of another creature, again, it does not mean, or prove anything.
A simple way I can illustrate how one would describe the evolution of amphibians from fish is by using an analogy of surnames.
I have tried to be as civil (and cordial) as possible in forming my responses, but at this point, I have to admit, I just lost it! What follows is one of the most totally asinine analogies I have ever seen.
I have reproduced the whole thing below this text. If this is supposed to be a parallel to show us poor, stupid creationists how evolution works, then our “academic” culture is in bigger trouble than I could ever dream! I have separated the sequence of events for clarity. Read on:
Let's say there's a man named Smith who has a son.
That son also gets the name Smith.
A few generations later, there are lots of Smiths around and for some reasons, one of them decides to change his name to Smithe after winning the lottery.
A few more generations pass and one of the Smithes marries into a well-known family and so the new wife wants their kids to have a last name that's a hyphenation of his with hers, so, say Smithe-Kennedy.
A few generations later, a Smithe-Kennedy marries a Vanderbilt and they're eccentric, so they burden... er, give their son the long last name of Smithe-Kennedy-Vanderbilt.
A few generations pass and there are lots of Smiths, Smithes, Smithe-Kennedys and Smithe-Kennedy-Vanderbilts around.
If you are asked to say how they're related (in terms of their last name anyway), its easy to show that the ancestor of all of them was a Smith; that one branch of the family became Smithe, a sub-branch of them became Smithe-Kennedys and a sub-sub-branch became Smith-Kennedy-Vanderbilt, like this:
In similar fashion, it can be said that the ancestor of all fish and amphibians was what we would generically call a fish, albeit a primitive one, and the resultant phylogeny (family tree; roughly speaking) looks like this:
|> Fish with a Swim Bladder
|> Amphibians (and other terrestrial vertebrates)
Are you convinced yet? Me neither. But, read on:
Contrary to Troupe's suggestions, a phylogeny such as the one I just illustrated makes very specific predictions (since Lungfish and Amphibians would have had a more recent common ancestor than either with a Shark, the pair should share much more in common genetically than either does with a shark), which is the hallmark of a testable science. To go further and say that evolution is the "religion of modern secular humanists" is just absurd.
It never ceases to amaze me, how these guys are so good at drawing, charting and tracking all these “common ancestors,” and not one – not even one – has ever been found! I do however agree with Knauer that calling evolution “the religion of secular humanist” is absurd. It is more than just absurd. It is an insult to religion!
Does anyone else out there notice that the “tree branch” illustration showing the ‘evolution’ from Smith, to Smithe, to Smithe-Kennedy, to Smithe-Kennedy-Vanderbilt, has absolutely NOTHING to do with the one depicting the evolution of primitive fish to amphibians?
Here is the problem: The first illustration shows us something that could actually happen. Who knows? Maybe it even DID happen! But the second one shows us something that could not possibly happen!
Another problem: Every change (of the Smith name) that took place, was the result of an intelligent, well thought out plan! It was not an accident. It did not “just happen.” It took a considerable amount of conscious effort.
Consider also the following fact: At the end of the illustration, that last person who ends up as a Smithe-Kennedy-Vanderbilt, is still just a person. Called by a different name, but still just an ordinary human being. And if that family should continue modifying their name for another four or five generations, then the last person in that sequence will be the just the same as the first: Just a human being. The last, no different than the first.
Another statement Troupe makes is that there are no vestigial organs, saying that such organs are always still necessary. But then he goes on to describe cave fish, many of which have only vestigial eyes. How he reconciles these two statements in his head is confusing to me.
At this point, I began to wonder if Mr. Knauer was paying any attention to what I said, or is he simply misrepresenting my statement deliberately? I DID say that there are no vestigial organs, but I did NOT say that cave fish had “only vestigial eyes,” so there are no “conflicting statements” to reconcile. What I actually said was:
“I need to point out that under certain conditions the loss of organs (or their function) can occur. Examples of that are amphibians (or fish) isolated in dark caves, which have lost their capacity see, and in some cases with no eyes at all. But again, this merely demonstrates the concept of adaptation – not evolution. The loss of function of a structure (or even the structure itself) simply indicates the loss of genetic information from the gene pool, which is actually the reverse of what is required for evolution.”
If you think about it, the most notable human vestigial organ, the appendix, is obviously not absolutely necessary, as so many people have theirs removed without ill effect (often, in fact, BECAUSE of the ill effect it was causing them).
I did think about it, and the reasoning is faulty. Some people have had one lung removed, also without ill effect (often, in fact BECAUSE of the ill effect it was causing them). So what?
The appendix is comprised mostly lymphatic tissue (as are the tonsils). The “ill effect” that causes their need to be removed is usually because they have been doing their job – fighting infections. If these organs were truly vestigial, they would be totally useless.
Also vestigial in humans are the last three vertebrae, which are fused into the coccyx, the so-called 'tail bone', which is very painful to have broken. Curiously (or horrifyingly to some), every once in a while, a person is born with greatly enlarged coccygeal vertebrae, forming a short tail.
The coccyx, or “tailbone,” is indeed a fusion of the FOUR vertebrae (the coccygeal vertebrae). They are fused because they are supposed to be. These vertebrae are not useless vestiges of an imagined ancestral tail that serve no purpose.
Also fused are the five vertebrae which form that part of the spinal column known as the sacrum. This fusion does not start happening until the late teens and is usually completed by about the age of twenty-five years. Are these vertebrae also vestigial? Do they become so before or after the fusion process?
Mr. Knauer also had some comments about the hoaxes, stating that they were discovered and corrected by honest and conscientious scientists – as if I had some kind of problem with true, empirical science. No need to respond to that.
He also said that creationists seem to have difficulty reaching a consensus as to which 'kind' individual intermediate-type fossils belong to.
I don’t know where that charge comes from because all of the creationists I know (myself included) do not accept any fossil remains as “intermediates.” The fossil remains of every creature ever found have been those of completely and fully formed creatures.
Mr. Knauer concluded his comments with yet another diagram depicting the “family” grouping of primates and humans – as if a scientific looking sketch lends credence to a fraud.
But in spite of all of Mr. Knauer’s comments, the actual facts have not changed. Creationism and Evolution are both outside the realm of true, empirical science.
An evolutionist and a creationist both see that mammals have their heart and lungs protected by a rib cage. The creationist will say, “This is a prime example of the Creator applying a sound engineering concept to a myriad of different designs, thus demonstrating the wisdom and power of God.”
The evolutionist will say, “This is a prime example of natural selection at its finest. And I have no problem believing in evolution because most scientists tell me it’s true, but mostly because I don’t like the God thing.”
Go on to comments: Conrad Knauer - 17 Mar 2004
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