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Is there a good reference for the standard evolution vs. creationism arguments?
November 21, 2006 5:35 AM   Subscribe

Is there a good reference for the standard evolution vs. creationism arguments?

I'm looking for a good, concise, preferably online guide to the major creationism vs. evolution arguments. Specifically, I'm interested in articles where creationists attempt to debunk evolutionists using science and then scientists respond. Example creationist arguments that I'd like to hear a scientist's perspective on:

- The eye is disproof of evolution because it could not have evolved piecemeal

- Carbon dating is fatally flawed and cannot be used as an accurate guide

...preferably with a minimum of emotional outbursts or name calling.
posted by mattholomew to Science & Nature (18 answers total) 22 users marked this as a favorite
 
Talk origins.
posted by oh pollo! at 5:38 AM on November 21, 2006


Specifically, you will find the Index to Creationist Claims useful. See, for example responses to claims that The eye is too complex to have evolved. and Carbon-14 dating gives unreliable results.
posted by grouse at 5:48 AM on November 21, 2006


Awesome! You guys rock. I'm open to more articles, so keep 'em coming, folks!
posted by mattholomew at 5:51 AM on November 21, 2006


15 Answers to Creationist Nonsense from Scientific American.
posted by mikel at 5:56 AM on November 21, 2006 [2 favorites]


See also this earlier AskMe.
posted by hangashore at 7:16 AM on November 21, 2006


this book although slightly outdated, is a really good read and a very well argued case against creationism. Its worth reading just for the well reasoned case he makes.
posted by alkupe at 7:39 AM on November 21, 2006


The great folks over at Panda's Thumb went through and debunked an entire creationist book, chapter by chapter. Here's the link
posted by chrisamiller at 8:45 AM on November 21, 2006


I posted this link in that thread hangashore linked to, but I'll do it again, because it's an excellent article and talks about the question of the eye in particular: Why Intelligent Design Isn't.
posted by Dasein at 9:24 AM on November 21, 2006


Michael Shermer - Why Darwin Matters
posted by matildaben at 11:38 AM on November 21, 2006


It's not on-line, but I highly recommend Richard Dawkins' new book The God Delusion. It debunks heaps of stuff, my favourite being "If it wasn't for the bible, man wouldn't know right from wrong"
posted by krisjohn at 1:48 PM on November 21, 2006


Slight derail, but I have a Christian friend, and we were discussing evolution/natural selection vs "intelligent design".
ME: You don't believe in natural selection? You don't believe that black moths on white trees are easier to eat than white moths on white trees?

HER: Oh yes, I'm not stupid. Of course evolution exists.

ME:
But you still believe in Intelligent Design?

HER: Yes! I don't believe that people came from monkeys, or that everything came from single-celled animals.

ME: Huh?

HER:
Many years ago, God created the first humans, and the first dogs and cats and horses and whatever, and we've been evolving ever since. Cats can evolve into other types of cats, dogs can evolve into other types of dogs, and so on, but it only goes back a certain way, to when God created the first dog and cat and person.
Anyone got an answer to that weird variation?
posted by AmbroseChapel at 2:58 PM on November 21, 2006


AmbroseChapel: Humans are not descendants of monkeys anymore than you are a descendant of your brother. As far as the main focus of your question, see claims CB901 and following.
posted by grouse at 3:17 PM on November 21, 2006


Anyone got an answer to that weird variation?

29+ Evidences for Macroevolution is excellent.

Also:
http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/CB/CB901.html

http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/CB/CB901_1.html
posted by martinrebas at 3:17 PM on November 21, 2006


This post is useful - would you mind tagging it with "evolution" and "creationism"?
posted by LobsterMitten at 3:30 PM on November 21, 2006


I'm not sure that you've quite grasped my friend's thesis. It's not "there's no such thing as macroevolution", it's "god created the world with a kind of prototype of each kind of species, including humans, and then let them all evolve".

It means that humans can still be special, but doesn't deny that evolution happens.

In other words, it's not that an amoeba can't evolve into a cat, it's just that the cats we see around us didn't need to evolve from amoebas, because the world was created at a certain stage of evolution which already included cats.
posted by AmbroseChapel at 8:00 PM on November 21, 2006


AmbroseChapel, your friend acknowledges that evolution exists but decides to twist it into a religiously motivated perversion of the theory. Mostly it looks like a haphazard construct built to fit together well-known scientific facts with creationist nonsense. He/she holds an all-too common emotional resistance to the idea of simian and pre-simian ancestry.

I don't think there's a short answer to the thesis. The only answer is education, mainly reading a few choice books (or even just one) about accepted evolutionary theory. However, I doubt your friend is willing to complement his/her current knowledge while jeopardizing dearly held beliefs or accepting the uncomfortable fact of human non-specialness and our "lower being" ancestors.

One alternative that comes to mind is this: dismantle her current view with any set of facts you can find. Turn to books for that. But after that, you could always say that evolution is a tool and a system devised by God for the purpose of keeping up progress and the development of living beings without the constant need to meddle with it. After all, if God is so smart, then obviously he minimizes the amount of work He needs to do, omnipotent or not. That's just common sense.

This view would neatly explain why humans and other animals are NOT perfect beings, and show clear signs of downright unintelligent design (think appendices, the rather bad fit of the human spine for upright walking etc. etc.). God simply intended it that way and let evolution take its course without concern for the resulting "bad designs". He designed the process, not the end results of the process. This, I think, is in no way diminishing The Power And Glory Of Almighty God, which religious folks feel needs to be in the equation.

This explanation would allow evolutionary theory to exist in its entirety while leaving a "God gap" at the beginning of it all. Of course, this explanation is bad as well, and is expertly dismantled by Dawkins' The God Delusion and other similar books, but it is probably the best mindset we can hope for the religiously afflicted to accept. Without a God gap, they'll simply reject the whole thing.

Your friend has an intellectual side that is not as completely subjugated as it is with a lot of fundies. Be grateful for that and work with it, injecting the necessary amount of God between the facts of evolution. Even with all the facts on the table, she may not be open to the "monkey" part for emotional reasons, and if that's the case, then I guess you're just out of luck.

If complete truth is too much, then substitute fictions for the harmless parts.
posted by lifeless at 2:03 AM on November 22, 2006


In other words, it's not that an amoeba can't evolve into a cat, it's just that the cats we see around us didn't need to evolve from amoebas, because the world was created at a certain stage of evolution which already included cats.

As the 29+ Evidences for Macroevolution page points out, there's lots of evidence that all living things are related - e g the cytochrome c sequence, which could have been arranged in countless billions of ways, but is arranged in one of the extremely rare combinations that is consistent with macroevolution.

Now, a god could have fabricated that evidence, just as it could have created the Earth five minutes ago (giving us memories of things that haven't happened, etc). Neither is disprovable. But if God wants us to believe we were created five minutes ago, why go to all the trouble of creating false memories and evidence? And if God wants us to believe that we were created separately, why go to all the trouble of creating lots of evidence that we're related to cats and ameobas?
posted by martinrebas at 3:52 AM on November 22, 2006


AmbroseChapel, I'm reading Origin of Species right now, just a couple of chapters in, and Darwin debunks your friend's theory in Chapter 2.
posted by matildaben at 10:33 AM on November 22, 2006


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