Is Natural Selection the Same Thing as Evolution? Assessing Dr. Purdom’s Confusing Answer

The ministry of Ken Ham’s Answers in Genesis exists, in part, to provide Christians with responses to what they believe are anti-biblical beliefs about the age of the earth and the origin of biological diversity.  To provide these answers, AiG has assembled a small group of geologists and biologists.  These employees provide answers to questions that cover the full range of these large scientific disciplines.   As a result, they are often required to engage in scientific discussion in fields for which they have no formal or practical training.  This is especially true when it comes to the topic of evolutionary biology.

There are only two Ph.D. biologists on staff at AiG, neither of which – that I can tell – have formal training in evolutionary biology.   Ken Ham has a bachelor’s degree in environmental biology, and he taught high school biology for several years before entering the creation science ministry.  Because he lacks any personal research experience and doesn’t have a background in evolutionary biology, he has to trust the people he has hired to provide him with answers that he so dogmatically proclaims in his presentations and articles. Unfortunately, his faith is misplaced.  His faulty understanding of evolutionary processes and the history and development of evolutionary biology is reinforced by information fed to him by employees whom he believes are experts.

In recent years, Answers in Genesis has increasingly turned its attention to providing explanations for the patterns of biological diversity we observe alive today and in the fossil record. In other words, they have been putting more effort into seeking alternative hypotheses to evolutionary theory which encompasses a suite of processes, including natural selection, by which different kinds of living organisms are thought to have developed and diversified from earlier forms during the history of the earth.

As they move into the arena of explaining biological diversity, AiG has sought to embrace some evolutionary terminology while distancing themselves from the word “evolution” itself.   One example of this is a video that is frequently re-posted on Facebook and has a prominent position on the AiG website shows Dr. Purdom answering the question:  Is natural selection the same thing as evolution?

Screenshot of the Answers in Genesis webpage with Dr. Purdom's video. Below is the title of the first article below the video. Page:
Screenshot of the Answers in Genesis webpage with Dr. Purdom’s video. Below is the title of the first article below the video. Page:

Dr. Purdom is not an evolutionary biologist, nor can I find evidence that she has ever taken an evolutionary biology course.  She graduated from a college that had an anti-evolution curriculum and obtained here Ph.D. from a graduate program at The Ohio State University that would not have required any evolutionary biology training nor provided any further knowledge of evolutionary biology to complete her degree.  So, it is not surprising that her grasp of evolutionary theory could be rather limited.

Unfortunately, Dr. Purdom has a position of authority to speak on this subject and is therefore an authority figure or “expert” in the eyes of her target audience. This is what is particularly troublesome to me about her presentation.  I see the same nonsensical language on FaceBook every day and I hear the same kinds of comments from lay Christians at seminars and conferences that I attend. Christians who rely on AiG feel that they are fully justified in their criticisms of evolutionary theory because they believe that “experts” like Dr. Purdom are providing them with competent answers.

I don’t fault non-biologists struggling to understand species concepts, genetic diversity and natural selection for latching onto ideas that fit their pre-conceived notions of evolution.  But public figures like Dr. Purdom have a much great responsibility for providing accurate statements and fair analyses because they are in a position of influence. Regardless of how well supported – or not supported – you think evolutionary theory may be, I would hope that we all expect that those that speak as authority figures would have a good understanding of what they are teaching.

Just how poor is Dr. Purdom’s grasp of evolutionary theory?

I wondered, just how might biology undergraduate students respond to the same question: Is natural selection the same things as evolution?

I decided to find out. A week ago, I gave 35 students (mostly junior and senior biology majors) the following writing assignment:  Watch this video by Dr. Georgia Purdom and write a short essay about how you might respond.  Where do you think she is correct and where do you think she is either confused or misleading?

I am hoping I can share one or more of those essays in the next post and share my thoughts about the quality of the students’ work. Hint: there was a huge difference in the quality of writing and development of thought, but all the students could pick out significant errors in Dr. Purdom’s presentation.

Before I provide the student responses, I will provide my own assessment of Dr. Purdom’s video. The video can be found at the top of this Answers in Genesis webpage:   Below is a transcript I produced of the most important parts of that video.

“Is natural selection the same things as evolution?   Well, the short answer to that is no.  But let’s take a more in-depth look at why that’s the case.  The first thing we need to do is define natural selection and evolution.  Natural selection is an observable process in which organisms with certain characteristics survive better in a given environment, and there is a loss of information in the DNA. Genetic information decreases as a result of this process.  Evolution is defined as an unobservable process which has occurred over long periods of time in which a single-celled organism has become all the organisms that we have today and have had in the past.  It is directional in the sense that dinosaurs have evolved into birds and genetic information must increase in order for this process to occur. So, as you can see from the definitions they are very, very different.”

After a short discussion of the development of antibiotic resistance in bacteria, Purdom continues:

“So what have we really observed here?  First of all, bacteria remain bacteria. It is non-directional and genetic information has been lost as a result of this process. So, even if you give natural selection long periods of time, such as millions of years, it simply can’t do what evolution requires of it which is move in a certain direction and to add genetic information.  There is no doubt natural selection has resulted in changes within kinds of animals.”

So let’s dig into Dr. Purdom’s attempt to redefine evolutionary theory. She begins by saying that terms need to be defined. I certainly agree.  But then she goes on to produce some highly unorthodox definitions and then claims that the definitions are “very, very different.”   If you do a Google search for definitions of biological evolution and natural selection and pick 10 different sources and see if any of them match Dr. Purdom’s definition.  You won’t find a close match unless you hit upon the Answers in Genesis website itself and find their definition.  But more importantly, dig up 10 scholarly books on evolutionary theory and see if you can find her definitions in them?

Why does she not use accepted scholarly definitions, thus putting the best position of her opposition forward? By beginning with unorthodox, if not unique, definitions, we can strongly suspect there is some sort of shell-game going on whereby terms are being defined differently than the rest of the scientific community.

But let’s look a bit closer at some of her statements.

Yes, evolution is not the same as natural selection – well, sort of

No proponent of evolution theory is saying that natural selection is, by itself, evolution.  The strongest statement they may make is that natural selection is an important mechanism for causing evolution to occur.

Evolution is a “change in the heritable traits of biological populations over successive generations” (1) and rather than being a wholly different process, natural selection is but a partial explanation for how this change may come about.  Evolutionary theory includes a number of process that work together to cause change and provide an explanation for the observed change in organisms over time as witnessed by the fossils record, genome studies, etc.  The other mechanisms that should be considered are genetic drift and gene flow.  Essential to all of these processes are mutations which provide the raw source of variation upon which selection and genetic drift can act.

Put most simply, evolution is a response/result of natural selection.  Natural selection does not fully explain evolution because, by itself, it does not explain all the changes in heritable traits over successive generation.

By definition, does genetic information always decrease as a result of natural selection?

A loss of information has never been part of the definition of natural selection.  It is true that natural selection acting on a population of individuals may cause some genetic variation to be lost in successive generations.   The definition of “loss of information” in creationist literature is  fuzzy, despite being a favorite phrase of creationists.  Notice the important part that this auxiliary idea plays in Dr. Purdom’s and AiG’s definition of natural selection and evolution.  Natural selection is said to cause a loss of information, but evolution is a process that is said to require an increase in information over time.

Maybe “information” is similar to the idea of genetic variation.  But natural selection does not by definition result in a loss of genetic variation or diversity.  Yes, it would not be incorrect to say that natural selection can result in a loss of alleles from a population, thus reducing overall genetic variation, but such an outcome is by no means guaranteed. In fact, at times selection can serve to preserve genetic variation.  I would suggest that Dr. Purdom look up negative-frequency dependent selection, balancing selection, and heterozygote advantage.

Dr. Purdom is free to propose a new hypothesis about the effects of natural selection and provide evidence that loss of information is a necessary outcome of natural selection, but it should not be included in the definition when no other scholars use such a phrase and the evidence doesn’t support her assertion.

Under some circumstances, natural selection can certainly select for new functions of genes, especially in the case of duplicated genes where both versions are not needed. The duplication event itself would be a mutation – which is not acknowledged by Purdom as an important process – but the selection of new mutations in the duplicated gene for new functions is done primarily by the process of natural selection. A new function would by any measure constitute an increase in genetic variation or “information”.  So natural selection, which acts to select for beneficial genetic variation, can lead to the establishment of new genetic material within a population over time.  Again, this is evolution, since this constitutes a change in the frequency of alleles in a population.  Furthermore, these genetic changes are capable of causing speciation to occur, which Dr. Purdom apparently does agree can happen – “There is no doubt natural selection has resulted in changes within kinds of animals.”

 “Evolution is defined as an unobservable process occurring over long periods of time”

This may sound like a reasonable start to a definition to the average non-biologist, but even here we see that Dr. Purdom has a special definition of evolution in mind, quite different from that of the scientific community.  By using the phrase “defined as an unobservable process,” she is by definition excluding all known processes of evolution from being or causing evolution to occur.  But what then does she think that process is? Apparently this unobservable process does not include natural selection, genetic drift, gene flow, or mutations because these are all readily observed processes, which have all been demonstrated to cause populations to change over successive generation through time – i.e. evolution.

No doubt Dr. Purdom believes that these process are not capable of producing the full diversity of life, but her definition implies that evolutionary theory includes different non-observed processes that are responsible for cladogenesis (speciation). However, I am unaware of what these unobserved processes evolutionists have proposed may be if they are not natural selection, genetic drift, mutations and migration, which are all readily observed.

I suspect Dr. Purdom believes that there is some special biological process by which a family of species gives rise to another family of species. However, this is a gross misunderstanding of evolutionary theory. There is no special process proposed for such changes, since families don’t give rise to other families. Evolutionary theory posits that all diversity results from species potentially giving rise to new species.  Dr. Purdom admits that new species are formed via natural selection – a process of evolution – and so has agreed, albeit unwillingly – that evolution is observable.

She is free to provide reasons why speciation may be limited, such that though species may be formed from a common ancestor those species are unable to grow more dissimilar over time resulting in application of classification terms such as genera and families.  But again I would point out that genera and families are not formed via any proposed unobserved process, so how can she say that a never-proposed process is part of the definition of evolution?

Not to belabor the point, but it is important. Here is a quote from a popular bio-majors textbook on evolution (Douglas Futuyma “Evolution” 2nd edition):

We now know that Darwin’s hypothesis of natural selection on hereditary variation was correct, but we also know that there are more causes of evolution than Darwin realized, and that natural selection and hereditary variation themselves are more complex than he imagined. A body of ideas about the causes of evolution, including mutation, recombination, gene flow, isolation, random genetic drift, the many forms of natural selection, and other factors, constitute our current theory of evolution, or “evolutionary theory.”

Note that there are a number of processes that Futuyma lists that cause evolution. All of these are observable phenomena. There is no hint here, despite the clause “other factors,” that Futuyma thinks there is another important cause, or process, which is an important component of evolution that works at the level of a family.  Futuyma is not excluding the evolution of diverse life from common ancestors in his description and thus he is indicating that these observable processes are the very same processes responsible for evolution of populations, species and eventually leading to the formation of families and larger groups.  Again, families and higher groups do not evolve as if they were some real entity but the species in those groups continue to change over time.

I wonder what these mysterious unobserved processes Dr. Purdom has in mind that are the cause of evolution that does not include any of the causes that Dr. Futuyma mentions.  Of course, the full scope of change in organisms over time has not been directly observed, but evolutionary theory does not propose a different set of mechanisms for changes that have happened in the past. However, any process that occurs over time such as plate tectonics, volcanic activity, water erosion, etc., can be expected to leave behind a trail of forensic evidence which can be used to infer what has happened in the past.  For evolution, this trail of breadcrumbs of evolution having happened in the past, as it does in the present, can be observed in the fossil record, DNA sequences and genome structure, and increasingly in ancient DNA studies.

Must evolution “move in a certain direction”?

Evolution may appear to be directional because in hindsight you see what has happened.  But how could any change not have a direction?  When natural selection causes cave fish to lose the ability to see, this is an adaption to that environment and makes the fish more fit for – better able to survive and reproduce in – that environment.  Seeing how that has happened, you could say that the direction of evolution was to lose eyesight and sometimes even a portion of the organ for eyesight.  With the energy saved by not performing a useless function, the fish can use that portion of its brain and the energy saved to do things that other fish are unable to.

But I believe that Dr. Purdom is saying something more here.  She knows her audience will interpret “directional” as becoming more advanced, in the same way that most people hear mutation as meaning “bad.”  But why must birds be seen as more advanced than dinosaurs?  Is a cat more advanced than a T. rex or a dog more advanced than kangaroo?  Were dinosaurs waiting around to turn into birds because that was the direction they were supposed evolve?  Direction, for YECs such as Dr. Purdom, doesn’t just refer to advanced features; it has a teleological aspect to it.  It suggests evolution is some sort of conscious entity – a process with a mind – that is directing species to predetermined end-points.

This is where Dr. Purdom’s concepts of evolution are far removed from reality – or at least the reality of the last century.  She is painting evolution as having a goal and being driven by a mysterious non-observed mechanism.  She is harkening back to the “great chain of being” idea and the hierarchical views that were popular up through the 1800s wherein evolution was sometimes cast as striving toward a goal, with humans as its crowning achievement.  Hence, she says that evolution must be directional and that direction is to add information – or to become more complex.  This again sets up the contrast with natural selection, which she has already painted as a process that is working in the opposite direction – reducing information and thus simplifying organisms over time.  This fits with what she believes is the designed purpose – with a big P – of natural selection: to sort specially created variation into distinct genealogical lineages – aka species. Because the resultant species will not have as much genetic variation as the ex nihlo created first member of the “kind” this process by definition is always going to result in species with less genetic variation.  Hence she believes that natural selection only results in information loss.

These ideas are not reflective of modern evolutionary theory.  Evolutionary theory says nothing of a direction that organisms must take. It is true that natural selection does cause adaptation to environments and thus the direction of this change is not random.  However, that direction is not, by definition, toward more complexity or “more information.”  My cave fish example illustrates that a loss of eyesight is an adaptation to a cave habitat.  At the same time some blind cave fish have adapted their fins to climb the walls of caves to find algae to eat (2). Both of these adaptations entail changes in the use of genes including new uses of genes and likely even new genes. Some of these changes certainly constitute functional additions to what DNA could previously encoded. The direction of change is determined by the needs of the organism not a will to increase information. In many cases additional genes or new uses of genes can be adaptations to the environment that an organism finds itself living in and so natural selection can result in adding new features to an organism but this is not required for evolution to happen.

More simply, direction is something that is observed in hindsight. It is the result of what has happened not the original intent of the organism itself.

The missing part of the equation: mutations

Since evolution is a change in heritable traits over generations, there is one very important condition that must be met for evolution to occur: there must be heritable genetic variation in a population. We can observe that all populations of all species have genetic variation, though some have more than others.

What is the origin of this genetic variation? Here we find another difference between AiG’s opinion about how change occurs and that of evolutionary theory.  Their sources of variation are different:  AiG states that the original “kinds” were created with all the variation needed to create the species that they would diversity into. In other words, the original creation is the lone source of the genetic material for the genetic variation for evolution to happen. However, evolutionary theory depends on mutations to form the raw resources for evolution.  Evolutionary theory predicts that populations in the past contained, on average, similar amounts of genetic diversity than they do in the present rather than much higher amounts of diversity.

In the video Dr. Purdom admits that mutations can happen and that they may allow for an organism like a bacteria to adapt to its environment. In this case, a mutation allows resistance to anti-biotics and then natural selection chooses that new mutation because it makes a bacterium more fit for its environment. This results in a change in the heritable traits over generations.  But Dr. Purdom then dismisses this as having anything to do with evolution because she has already defined evolution as something other than mutations and natural selection.  She says this is just natural selection and not evolution.  She then tries to further dismiss the importance of mutations by suggesting the environment could change leaving that new mutation less fit for the environment. Without saying it she is implying the mutation, though originally positive, would end up being bad for the bacteria.  So she is proposing that all mutations are bad and don’t really add “information” to the bacteria in the long run.

Dr. Purdom completely misses the point of bacterial evolution and, almost laughably, her appeal to the environment changing and thus changing the direction of selection making a mutation turn from good to bad is exactly why evolution is not directional as she defined it.

In conclusion

Dr. Purdom acts as if there are two separate processes:  evolution and natural selection. We have seen that the question posed by Dr. Purdom and her answers appear to set evolution and natural selection in opposition to one another (eg. gain vs. loss of information, directional vs directionless, and unobserved vs observed process).   However, natural selection is but one process that results in evolution.

We could ask, is Dr. Purdom simply uninformed about evolutionary theory or is she is consciously revising the definitions to confuse her audience?  It is hard not to conclude that both are probably true but I would give more weight to the first.  Given her background and the fact she has obviously chosen to further educate herself by relying on other young earth creationist materials it is likely that she profoundly misunderstands evolutionary theory.

(1) Hall, Brian K.; Hallgrímsson, Benedikt (2008). Strickberger’s Evolution (4th ed.). Sudbury, MA: Jones and Bartlett Publishers. ISBN 978-0-7637-0066-9.

(2) Brooke E. Flammang, Apinun Suvarnaraksha, Julie Markiewicz, Daphne Soares.  Tetrapod-like pelvic girdle in a walking cavefish. Scientific Reports, 2016; 6: 23711 DOI: 1038/srep23711

For a simple description of how evolutionary biologists describe evolution and natural selection I recommend the following videos from Stated Clearly on  – What is Evolution  – What is Natural Selection

Cover image:  ladybug about to take flight.  Credit:  Joel Duff

157 thoughts on “Is Natural Selection the Same Thing as Evolution? Assessing Dr. Purdom’s Confusing Answer

  1. I suspect that both Dr Purdom and this article’s author are confusing matters.
    Dr. Purdom’s primary mistake is that she’s trying to equate “natural selection” with macro-level evolution. As the author here correctly notes, the real comparison should be with speciation (aka “micro” evolution). It’s simply not an issue and she’s trying to make it one.

    On the other hand, you state “A loss of information has never been part of the definition of natural selection. It is true that natural selection acting on a population of individuals may cause some genetic variation to be lost in successive generations. The definition of “loss of information” in creationist literature is fuzzy, despite being a favorite phrase of creationists.”

    Meanwhile, the author of this article is “fuzzy” about a different aspect of definitions. Loss of genetic variation isn’t necessarily a loss of information at all. Noise is not information. Randomness is only a tiny amount of information. To be precise, the *potential* for variation is information. As an information professional, I’d like to remind briefly of how information is quantified scientifically. In essence, it is a relative measure, and is assessed as the shortest possible computer program in a given computer language, that can reproduce a given sequence. That may sound complicated or fuzzy but it’s actually quite precise. And the nice thing about it is that it’s quite easy to identify the impact of various simple changes on the information content of a system. (Two brief examples: if a sequence of any length can occur only once, vs one or two times, the latter example adds only a tiny bit of information: written as a “loop” we simply run the loop once or twice…. if there’s a question of color variation, it’s simply a question of how many colors to include in a color table.)

    Once that’s understood, we can recognize that “genetic variation” is not necessarily information at all. And Dr Purdom is correct in a number of her assertions that this author appears to disbelieve. Some of the most recent genetic research has shown that some of the most amazing mutations have a very simple effect: they switch “on” the expression of genes that have existed in the genome but were “dark” until know. All of that genetic information is NOT new. All that’s new is the fact that before, it was not expressed but now is expressed. It’s as if we finally got around to reading Appendix B of a book. :-D

    With respect to “direction” vs “directionless” you appear to be ignoring the elephant in the room. For evolution to accomplish more than simple speciation and temporary adaptation to a particular environment, there must be a “directional” pressure. Some highly visible and respected evolutionary biologists posit that maximizing survival and reproduction are sufficient directional pressures to accomplish everything… but that is easily demonstrated to be a faulty hypothesis.

    Enough for now. Thanks for highlighting the video! YES, I agree Dr Purdom is tearing down a straw man. I urge you to avoid doing the same thing :)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ll undo the topic shift first. I noted that some say “maximizing survival and reproduction are sufficient directional pressures.” (which you translated to the more general “environmental pressures.”)

      Last I checked, both the survival and reproduction “games” are easily won, by many orders of magnitude, by bacteria.

      If those are the sources of evolutionary “pressure” then everything should have stopped approximately at that point. Anything more complex or “advanced” has less ability to survive and/or reproduce, and thus should fade into the dustbin of time.

      My wife is formally trained in evolutionary biology. (One of her professors was Dr Paul Erlich himself, not that anyone needs such brownie points ;) )… This has been one of her own curiosity puzzles for decades.


      1. Not necessarily. Bacteria can reproduce an awful lot, that’s true. But it cannot exploit every niche out there. So even in a bacteria dominated world there is the capacity for other organisms to flourish. And as long as that is the case there will be an evolutionary pressure to exploit that niche.

        Scaling it up to the macro world, multiple species can live in the same environment but they occupy different niches. This sort of adaptive radiation is perfectly consistent with evolution.


  2. here is a very interesting argument : lets say that we will find a robot (or a watch) with a self replicating system and a DNA. in this case we will conclude that this kind of robot will be evidence for design or evolution?

    plus: can a car evolve in a close room for a bilions of years? according to evolution its possible because if we will close a giant room the bacteria inside the room can evolve into a human that will made a car= a car evolve in a close room.


    1. A self replicating robot could – as long as the replication was imperfect – evolve. So much (if not all) of the final product could be “natural” in that sense, even if the initial starting was designed.


      1. Yeegs… I’m not sure I would want to go down the path of a “self replicating robot could –as long as the replication was imperfect — evolve.”

        One of the basic principles of every kind of technological system is, in essence, its entropy. We usually state that using variations like:
        “The BEST thing I can hope to get from someone blindly following my specification is a perfect copy. Normally it will be worse. And it will go downhill from there.”
        “All code degrades over time.”
        “Eventually you’ve got to rewrite it from scratch.”
        Yes we’ve learned to create systems that “learn” (e.g. simulated annealing)… yet the annoying part is that due to bugs and defects, aka imperfections, they tend to “evolve” towards… the trash heap. :-D

        I’ve seen little if any evidence that mankind can successfully invent a system of any kind that’s truly self-replicating, let alone a truly self-improving-through-“imperfect”-replication.

        I am VERY cautious that such a system could even be proved possible.

        It seems vanishingly close to perpetual motion.


        1. That’s a good point. There are a few other factors needed. Like the ability to derive energy from an external source. And for there to be some capacity that replicates mutation. At the very least allows for duplication.


      2. And, we need a pretty good source of what I’ll simplistically call “useful information.” Random variation simply doesn’t cut it in a helpful way.

        Every single attempted demonstration that I’ve seen, of “improvement” through time+energy+variation, has a hidden source of information. Most of the time it involves a selection “pressure” that incorporates an already known desired outcome. After a while it’s not all that hard to see the magic trick behind the curtain.


      3. so a self replicating robot doesnt need a designer? if so then if we will see this kind of robot in other planet we cant conclude that some aliens made it?


        1. A self-replicating robot might need an initial designer but – provided a few criteria are met – it could accumulate additional features “naturally”, not present in the initial design.


      4. I actually don’t know of any simulations “sans this information.” That’s the problem. :-D


        1. This raises some rather interesting implications.

          Perhaps the most baffling are the questions it raises about all of these anti-evolution organisations. The creationist and intelligent design-ist groups are multi-million dollar organisations. AiG, if I remember correctly, has a yearly budget of >20 million dollars. Most also have some sort of research wing (like the Answers Research Journal). And despite all this money, time, and effort at their disposal none of them have carried out what would seem like such a basic experiment.

          Why haven’t they?


      5. Hmmm… I hesitate to answer for them, but I’ll play (somebody’s) advocate for a minute ;)

        a) Gotta be careful about comparing apples and oranges. Just because an organization has a multimillion dollar budget, does NOT in any way imply they have sufficient funding to run some kind of “real” experiments. Consider that an academic department of a university may have a similar departmental budget… but one must also realize such a budget is the tip of the iceberg. The university itself has a huge infrastructure within which that department sits. Campus, buildings, grad students, endowments, etc etc etc. And while university grad students, as a significant part of their very purpose for being there, are required to do some basic research (just to get their degree), these nonprofit entities have a (gov’t/IRS-approved) purpose that normally involves some kind of public-benefit program such as speaking, publishing books… in the case of AiG I suppose their “museum” etc. Actually, we can look that up at to wit, here’s AiG’s official mission statement: “The mission of Answers in Genesis is to support the Church in fulfilling its commission; to bring reformation by restoring the foundations of the Christian faith which are contained in the book of Genesis; and to provide answers from Genesis and the rest of Scripture to make Jesus Christ, our Creator and Redeemer, relevant to the Church and world today…. Main Programs: Answer WorldWide Programs, Answers Bible Curriculum, Ark Encounter Project”

        Thus, it would be outside their stated mission to do scientific research (!)

        b) I don’t know if you would consider to be a “creationist and intelligent design-ist” group, but they have impressed me with their respect for “real” science, and for their development of a testable, falsifiable set of scientific hypotheses for supernatural abiogenesis. Here’s their stated mission in GuideStar: “RTB exists to spread the Christian Gospel by demonstrating that sound reason and scientific research—including the very latest discoveries—consistently support, rather than erode, confidence in the truth of the Bible and faith in the personal, transcendent God revealed in both Scripture and nature. We specifically engage influencers, educators, pastors, and other leaders with our integrative creation model, while we encourage and equip fellow believers to participate with us in our mission.”

        In essence, Reasons To Believe **HAS** done what you’re asking about. It’s written up in “Origins of Life: Biblical and Evolutionary Models Face Off” by H Ross and F Rana.


        1. First, it’s worth noting that Answers in Genesis isn’t the only multi-million dollar creationist organisation out there. The Institute for Creation Research also has a fairly large budget and a mission statement that wants to conduct “laboratory, field, theoretical, and library research on projects that seek to understand the science of origins and earth history”. Despite the existence of this organisation – and numerous others – there’s still none of the basic science you’d like to see. Clearly a major point against the integrity of these organisations.

          Second, AiG clearly does care about research; as evidenced by its publication of a research journal. Despite this its apparently done none of this basic work. Again, a fairly large strike against it.

          Speaking of which, I don’t think this focus on PR really excuses AiG. When advocating for a position outside the norm you don’t start with PR, you start with science. Groups which have receive major ridicule (and often outright rejection). Like the infamous case of cold fusion; which was announced in a press conference rather than in a journal. Running a museum instead of doing research seems like a similarly flawed approach.

          Continuing along this theme; I’m very skeptical of an idea first advocated in a book – as the reasons to believe chaps have – rather than in some sort of article. Where are all the papers about them proving the fact evolution doesn’t work without a “source” of information. Even in the AiG journal. I’m sure they’d love that stuff.

          I’m also curious as to how you went from having no idea of any such experiments, to having a whole book on your side. Not that I’m criticising you for doing “extra-curricular” reading. Quite the opposite. I’d like to know what about the Reasons research appealed to you. How does its experiments differ from those with their secret source of information you are so skeptical of.

          Liked by 1 person

        2. I especially recomment hugh ross. he’s done some serious work, and to alleviate fears, he does accept evolution, just believes it is designed. Which i realize will cause some of you problems but the point is it is not a truthful or serious statement to say that creationists are not attempting scientific work unless you automatically exclude anyone who believes in God as capable of being scientific, but then you have commited a genetic fallacy.


      6. Without defending AiG in any way (I have my own beefs with them, which happen to be off topic for the current discussion), I think there are various appropriate venues for various forms of communication.

        Take the ASA (American Scientific Affiliation) which I mentioned below in another subthread. They have member-scientists. They have their own journal. What they write about in their peer-reviewed journal articles are, AFAIK, essentially opinion pieces, review articles, and so forth. No “actual” science in that journal. Does that make them lesser scientists? Not as far as I know. Here’s a link to an online edition:

        As for “an idea first advocated in a book” :-D … (a) I’m not sure if that’s where it was first advocated by any means; I could not prove that one way or another; (b) It’s a topic that essentially requires a book-length treatment. What they wrote is fully referenced and IMHO is of journal-publishable quality… except that it’s just a bit too lengthy… I do recommend reading it. Get it from your local library!

        Extending that theme: some of the best science done today requires a highly multidisciplinary perspective. That’s not easy to encapsulate in traditional journals. Even more important: when dealing with controversial topics, it can be well nigh impossible to get a paper published on a controversial perspective, no matter how well supported the research. Period. Ignore the current topic. I will never forget a reality from my high school days. My best friend had an uncle who was a geologist, collecting field data in support of this crazy crazy idea called Plate Tectonics (aka Continental Drift). We’re talking early 1970’s, only 40 years ago. He could NOT get published. That concept was way outside the mainstream and considered essentially ridiculous. Of course now it’s fully accepted…

        Thus, today, we see very good science published, discussed, debated, reviewed, corrected, etc… in online forums and more. No “academics” necessary.

        OH — My mention of the book on abiogenesis has very little to do with the discussion of information and evolutionary increase of complexity. “Macro” evolution is itself a difficult position to support, but abiogenesis (the transition from non-life to life) is a more difficult topic. The book I recommended is not about information complexity. It’s primarily about other aspects, such as the chemical basis for life. It sets up a fair description of about a dozen testable hypotheses for naturalistic origins, and a similar number for supernaturalistic origins. Then for each topic, it reviews the latest research, with references (as of the time of publication.) Pretty simple, really.


        1. I never said there weren’t different ways to communicate science. I’m not opposed to museums in general, after all. Rather, when dealing with a scientifically controversial idea the science shouldn’t play second fiddle to PR. So that whole tangent about the ASA is irrelevant. In fact, the whole discussion about the goals of AiG is also. As I’ve mentioned numerous times there are other creationist organisations that should be doing these tests. Yet they remain conspicuously absent.

          None of the points made about why the book hasn’t been published hold water either. Length isn’t really an issue as multiple articles can be published on a single subject after all. Sometimes even entire issues will be dedicated to a single topic, allowing for lengthy publications. This happened with the discovery of Australopithecus sediba recently. And its unlikely a subject will – if it’s as well substantiated as you claim – be too controversial for publication. There’s always the AiG journal after all.

          But of course all of that is irrelevant too, since this is a book on a whole other topic.

          Do we’re still left with the rather telling absence of science by these organisations .


      7. I think I’m confused.

        You claim the stated goals of AiG as a communication organization are irrelevant, yet you also claim that with their millions of dollars budget (which by law must be devoted to their stated nonprofit goal) they should put their investment into science before communication of their stated purpose to the public. Much as I also dislike AiG, that would be an illegal use of funds and I could not condone it. Do I want them to do better science, or at least connect better with those doing good science? You bet. They might have to create another 501(c)3 to raise the funds necessary to actually get the job done, that’s all. Your funding argument doesn’t hold water.

        It’s all well and good to insist that people do something other than what they are doing… but getting the work funded, and getting controversial papers published, are both huge tasks that can be more than a team can chew.

        “None of the points about why the book hasn’t been published hold water either….telling absence of science…”

        The book is published. Do you mean in a peer review journal?

        Are you suggesting that nothing is science if it can’t get into a peer review journal? In other words, you accept the authority of those who hold sway over journal editorial/review processes, to be gatekeepers of what is Real Science?

        If so, you too are on the side of the anti-Plate Tectonics folks… or today the Climate Alarmists (who have been quoted as saying they’ll change the very definition of science to ensure that skeptical views are blocked from journals… and are documented as going after editors who dared to allow papers to be published.) That view would also fit in well with the academics (!!! NOT the church) who were anti-Galileo because he dared oppose the Accepted Authority of Aristotle.

        (BTW, AFAIK the AiG Journal is only for inside people there… and they certainly wouldn’t publish papers that disagree with their YEC views… which RTB certainly holds a different view. RTB and others get publicly excoriated by AiG for their non-YEC views. A person close to me had a crisis of faith because he just wanted to have a good discussion, but to AiG that meant he can’t possibly be a Christian… so AiG set out to destroy him.)

        I have more than a little familiarity with these battles.
        * For some, like AiG, my best hope is that they will become more respectful of real science, and at least be willing to conduct a respectful conversation with those who hold different views.
        * For people like RTB, I’m quite pleased to see them: using the scientific method, citing mainstream published science, and appreciated for their approach by those who disagree with them. All three of those are happening. Should they go further and try to run the gauntlet of staunch opposition to publication of anything other than the Standard View? Sure, someday. But I don’t see anyone stepping up to fund or encourage that effort. It’s a pretty thankless task.

        I’m far more familiar with the Climate battles. Without going off topic, let’s just say that I’ve seen up close how frustrating it is… how misleading is too much of the published science (NOT all; I know many who do great work!), how poor are the practices of too many, etc etc… and in that realm, what the alarmists do is excoriate anyone who simply want to see good science done.

        A scientist can easily lose their job, their reputation and more, by bucking the Accepted Meme.

        That’s how bad it is. So, I think what you are insisting on is far more difficult than you suspect.


        1. If you can’t follow the conversation you clearly aren’t that invested in it; so I’m not sure it’s worth continuing. But it went something along the lines of you pointing out that no simulations had been done with ‘built in’ information. I was curious as to why this would be the case, given that there are numerous creationist organisations which would surely be interested in running a seemingly basic test that could provide a major win for their side. To which your response was essentially ‘it’s not in AiG’s mission statement’.

          Hence the claims of irrelevance. (a) they have done research before so clearly their mission statement isn’t a limiting factor and (b) even if it was they aren’t the only creationist organisation interested in the topic.

          Oh, and for what it’s worth the modern theory of plate tectonics – along with all the confirming evidence that vindicated that theory – were first published in journals; e.g. here and here, to name but a few.


      8. As I’ve mentioned numerous times there are other creationist organisations that should be doing these tests. Yet they remain conspicuously absent.

        Please be clear: what “tests” are you asking for?
        It seems to me that your complaint should be directed toward evolutionists. This subthread originally was focused on whether a self-replicating robot could evolve. Nobody who has done such a test of “evolution” in the lab has done so without building the target result into the test.
        The fact that others point out this flaw does NOT mean that it’s up to others to do a different test. Instead, it’s up to those who are attempting to demonstrate that effect, to do their experiment properly.

        Until they do the experiment correctly, observers are perfectly justified in their critiques. Not only that, but the journals, editors and reviewers who allow such poor work to be published should be losing respect. Let’s do science correctly.


      1. “A self-replicating robot might need an initial designer “-

        so why an ape for example doesnt need? even if you will have a self replicating material it will not evolve into a robot because there is no step wise way to go into a robot.


        1. I was referring to the expectation that bacteria would evolve to something human-like within a closed room, which gives no selective pressure for such a thing, and the bacteria have no reason to evolve in such a way, because evolution is not directional. Changing designs of machinery does not equate or remotely compare to biological evolution.


    1. “I was referring to the expectation that bacteria would evolve to something human-like within a closed room, which gives no selective pressure for such a thing, and the bacteria have no reason to evolve in such a way”-

      but if the romm is in the size of the earth it will be possible? another problem is that we cant falsified evolution or test it. so how we can say its a scientific theory?


      1. If it’s the size of the Earth then it isn’t a room, it’s a biosphere, in which case it is entirely possible for such an outcome, or one similar, but again, we have no reason to expect it.
        “another problem is we cant falsified evolution or test it”
        This is incorrect. A single fossil that is unambiguously in the wrong strata would falsify the theory of evolution. When it was discovered that humans had one less pair of chromosomes than the other great apes it was predicted that somewhere since our split from chimps our ancestors had two chromosomes that fused together. This was subsequently discovered to be correct, thus validating (yet again) evolutions place as a scientific theory by making falsifiable predictions and also predicting something that, if found to be wrong, would disprove human evolution. We can observe evolution happening in real-time, with model organisms such as E. coli and C. elegans, or with rings species like the Ensatina salamanders. Evolution is entirely falsifiable, and for the last 157 years nobody has managed to disprove it, thus making it a very strong scientific theory indeed. By this point, the evidence for evolution is so overwhelming, and comes from so many different scientific fields, that I doubt there is any one piece of evidence that would be able to disprove it entirely. It would need numerous pieces of strong evidence all together and all directly contradicting evolution in order to raise serious scientific doubt, and evolution would only be cast aside if another scientific theory was formulated that could explain this new evidence better than the theory of evolution, as well as adequately explaining the previous 157 years worth of evidence we already have.


      2. (Megasolipsist, see my note about about Reasons To Believe. They (and I) have no argument with speciation. However, they’ve done a very nice job of comparing falsifiable evidence for naturalistic/evolutionary abiogenesis, and supernaturalistic abiogenesis… using 100% mainstream evidence. Essentially: two sets of falsifiable hypotheses, and let the chips fall where they may. It’s all in “Origins of Life: Biblical and Evolutionary Models Face Off.” VERY respectful of “real” science.)


        1. I concur. If people would just take a little time to read the literature, and as i have encouraged, to view a different viewpoint with an open mind, it might be surprising what one could learn.


      3. It’s not “the creationist position” — it’s their model of supernaturalist-creation, a falsifiable scientific model, sufficiently detailed to inspire quite a few testable hypotheses.
        Unfortunately my copy of the book I recommended is still buried in a moving box somewhere :(… I’ve ordered a copy through InterLibrary Loan.
        Even better, I discovered there’s a newer book out (since 2007): “Creation as science : a testable model approach to end the creation/evolution wars.” Our library has a few copies available and I’ve put one on hold.

        But wait, Google helped me find more ;)

        1) I just found a summary of some of the falsifiable statements from the earlier book, in one of their online posts. Here it is:
        “Here is a brief overview of origin-of-life predictions that flow from relevant passages throughout the Bible’s 66 books:
        1. Life appeared early in Earth’s history, while the planet was still in its primordial state.
        2. Life originated in and persisted through the hostile conditions of early Earth.
        3. Life originated abruptly.
        4. Remains of Earth’s first life, when found, will reveal its complexity.
        5. Life is complex even in its minimal form.
        6. Life chemistry exhibits hallmark characteristics of design.
        7. First life differed qualitatively from later plant, animal, and human life.

        But even better, they’ve placed Appendix F of their newer book online. It’s pretty cool: 89 individual predictive tests (ie predictions about FUTURE discoveries) for four different models: theirs (RTB), naturalist, YEC, and theistic evolution. I think you’ll find the following full of meat to chew on:

        Click to access Predictions_ver1.pdf

        To whet your appetite, here’s the first one in the list:

        RTB: As astronomers discover more extrasolar planets and learn more about their parent stars, evidence for the rarity of solar system features that permit advanced life will increase, as will the need for intervention miracles to explain them.

        Naturalist: As astronomers discover more extrasolar planets and learn more about parent stars of such planets, they will find increasing evidence that the solar system’s characteristics that permit the existence of advanced life are relatively common.

        YEC: As astronomers discover more extrasolar planets and learn more about parent stars of such planets, they will find increasing evidence both for the rarity of the solar system’s characteristics that permit the existence of advanced life and for the extreme youthfulness of all stars and planets.

        Theistic Evolution: As astronomers discover more extrasolar planets and learn more about parent stars of such planets, they will find increasing evidence that the solar system’s features that permit the existence of advanced life all can be explained by God’s actions at the cosmic creation


          1. Now isn’t that a “just-so” statement. The probability is impossible, but just so it happens once………………………………


      4. Do you understand how scientific models work?
        NONE of these are absolute statements. They are predictions and probabilities tending toward support of or opposing the various models.

        The naturalist view doesn’t *require* it to be common, true. However, it *expects* it to be relatively more common. The closer one gets to what is agreed on as an “impossible” or at least “so rare that it just ain’t gonna happen” probability, then one begins to accept that a particular model is falsified.

        Last I checked, “impossible” is defined scientifically as 10^-65th… more or less :) … IIRC because that’s known to be less than one molecule in the whole universe.

        Whatever is picked as a baseline, what these guys are saying is that Naturalism posits that it needs to be reasonably likely for XYZ to exist, while supernaturalism posits that it needs to be quite UNlikely.

        So, for example, in a huge universe with trillions of planets, if ours is the ONLY one capable of sustaining life, that’s a highly unlikely scenario, and would be evidence more in favor of supernaturalism than naturalism.


  3. There may be some imprecision in what Dr. Purdom is saying, but her ideas point out very important arguments that are quite germane to the larger discussion. I think what Dr. Purdom means when she says natural selection is microevolution, and when she says evolution, she means macroevolution. So the two entities that she sees as being confused are microevolution and macroevolution. The importance of this confusion is apparent when a creationist states that there are no instances of a scientist observing evolution, to which the evolutionist often responds with a reference to the Lenski experiment. So I think this is the real battle ground of the discussion. We clearly need to be more precise when talking about evolution.

    As a final note, Joel, I have to say that I’ve been increasingly shocked and disappointed at the careless manner in which you’ve impugned the character of several AiG scientists. I understand that you strongly disagree with much or all of what they stand for, but you’re crossing the line of scientific critique into well poisoning. I’m happy to hear your critique of someone’s science, but I find it lacking in virtue to jump to conclusions of corruption. I would be sad to see an otherwise excellent blog sink to the ranks of the demagogues.


    1. Hi Trevor,

      I think I’m not seeing what you are seeing. We are not dealing here with “some imprecision”, we are dealing with fairly profound misunderstandings of what is being claimed by scientists and with definitions that are very far from what any biology textbook would even consider introducing. This in itself is inexplicable and fairly inexcusable, since these definitions and concepts are freely available. This could just indicate that she wasn’t careful to compare her views with generally accepted ideas in the scientific community, and in that case she should at least be reprimanded for advancing ideas and definitions as though they were standard evolutionary concepts when they are nothing of the sort, which is at best extremely sloppy. Her position of responsibility, as pointed out, should preclude such behavior.

      But this isn’t really all that’s happening; her unusual definitions and restatements have the appearance of being deliberately framed to give her something to knock down. Gratuitous add-ons to definitions like “…and there is a loss of information in the DNA” or “It is directional in the sense that dinosaurs have evolved into birds and genetic information must increase in order for this process to occur” would either be viewed a simply wrong or in dire need of radical qualification by most evolutionists. They are like the setups to punch lines, and we see how Purdom takes advantage of these weird inclusions in ostensibly standard definitions in order to attack evolution. That is extremely fishy, and I think it’s more than fair to cry foul. If you want to be honest and play fair, it is absolutely standard practice to let your opponent make their own case and to use definitions as they use them; and if they are wrong or inconsistent in their views, then you should be able to make your own case without needing to use a sock puppet to narrate their side of the story. All she needed to do was define each term as some standard textbook defined it or explain each concept as they explained it; giving the references for further reading and then explaining where they are mistaken, but she completely avoids this above-board approach. Whether or not you think she has good points, this is a totally inappropriate way of handling it and I think she at least earns what I understood as the above soft-rebuke.

      I also simply don’t see the impugning of her character that you are upset about. You are absolutely right that we need to target civil discourse here, but Joel is pretty much calling it as he sees it and I don’t see any descent into name calling. He is correct that the AiG experts are overstretched in terms of expertise, he is correct that there is little reason to think that Purdom has the relevant expertise for this topic, especially given that she is speaking to so many with such authority and redefining with such impunity. This is not character assassination, this is a referee pointing out when someone steps way out of bounds; and he supports this with his discussion of where she has apparently misunderstood standard aspects of evolutionary biology, and that with surprisingly little that seems to insinuate dishonesty on her part. I don’t know that I would be as restrained given what I mentioned above. Your use of words like “well-poisoning”, “corruption” and “demagogue” seem to be in every respect out of place in light of the tone and the actual words being used in the above blog, unless I somehow missed something in my own reading.

      All in all, I wholeheartedly agree with your MO and your desire to call out low-blows, and I fully understand why you think this is important, but I think you have unintentionally mischaracterized or misinterpreted the above blog.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Thanks, Approved Money Changers. I will grant your entire argument above. I think Joel has made some good points, and I don’t begrudge anyone who holds a scientist accountable for what he/she says. In that same spirit, the specific comment that I took issue with is below.

        “We could ask, is Dr. Purdom simply uninformed about evolutionary theory or is she is consciously revising the definitions to confuse her audience? It is hard not to conclude that both are probably true but I would give more weight to the first.”

        Joel offers no evidence that Purdom is purposely confusing people, and he doesn’t explain why he suspects that she may be. If he believes that there is fowl play at work, as you suggest, then he has the responsibility to spent time making that argument. Instead, he spent all of his time making arguments against her logic (as he should), and at the last moment made a dig at her character. That smells much more like ad hominem attack than careful, well-reasoned critique. I’ve called Joel out on similar rhetoric against Andrew Snelling. The irony in these situations is that Joel is accusing AiG scientists of confusing the public with nifty wordplay, while at the same time he is leaving out key explanatory aspects of his arguments allowing his readers to internalize notions of an individual’s character without understanding the rationale for the position or being able to critique it themselves. Moreover, I don’t know Joel’s relationship with Dr. Purdom, but I gather from his post that he hasn’t talked with her directly (or perhaps he wouldn’t have to guess as to whether or not she ever took an evolutionary biology class). I think its a simple professional courtesy that if you suspect fowl play, or dishonest motives that you discuss it with that person directly before casting aspersions publicly, a courtesy that I gather he didn’t give to Purdom, and he didn’t recount any personal interaction with Snelling either. I find Joel to be an intelligent, well informed proponent of his position, and I don’t believe he is vindictive or small minded. Nonetheless, he is demonstrating a trend of careless language which he has thus far refused to address. We are all in agreement that scientists should be careful with how they communicate, which is a reality that cuts both ways.


      2. Hi Trevor,

        I appreciate the clarification and you present your position very well. It is helpful that you pinpointed the phrase, since I wasn’t really seeing what you were concerned about. I actually don’t fully understand the phrase you quoted from the blog. Most of it is fine and I think quite defensible, but I’m not sure in what way the revised definitions would be designed to confuse her audience. I think what surprises me about this is that I would have expected “…to mislead her audience” instead. I personally find her definitions fairly misleading (whether or not this is deliberate) but not particularly confusing.

        And for that matter, this is really the only part that anyone can take issue with. It is basically a minor accusation of obfuscation, not of direct dishonesty. And it is, in the next sentence, and fairly charitably I think, basically rejected as the main reason for her revision of definitions. All in all, it is a remarkably watered down accusation and again, considering that the changes to the definitions are so clearly deliberate and so obviously convenient for AiG’s purposes, I remain somewhat surprised that the accusation did not focus on the idea that she may be purposefully misleading, although I suppose this would ultimately be impossible to prove. Why else would these definitions be modified in these ways? Certainly not because she was just looking at the wrong textbook, and arguably not because of some innocent error on her part.

        I should say that I am generally predisposed to view most of the AiG staff as basically well intentioned and in earnest, which is not all that common a view among those who strongly disagree with them. That said, it is presentations like this that sometimes force me to question my premise and I find it tough to square this kind of material with genuine intellectual integrity. What tends to restore my faith in the intellectual integrity of creationists (at least some of them) is efforts like yours and Todd Wood’s to wade in and sincerely and fairly engage with the evolutionary viewpoint from a standpoint of faith. Much more of this is needed (I think this is addressed fairly well in the more recent post on this blog).

        My guess is that what I am seeing from Purdom is just a very different way of thinking, and I’m learning that people don’t always conclude that intellectual integrity necessarily involves being entirely fair and evenhanded with both sides. I’ve come to the conclusion that some people honestly view picking the “Godly side” as the key point, with giving opposing views a fair shake taking a very distant second place. I tend to see fair play on intellectual matters as the important thing, but if instead you view one side as Godly and the other as ultimately deriving from the seductive whispering of the devil, I suppose that pretty radically re-frames the question and a very different approach starts to be intelligible. I’m speculating here, so it ain’t worth much, but I admit to being fascinated by any mindset that discounts the importance of an open-minded engagement with the issues and a fair presentation of the opposing view, and I find AiG has a lot of this mindset.

        Anyway, I think you are absolutely right that any accusation needs to be well supported and when in doubt, it is better to be charitable with your conclusions. I also agree that this statement could have been better supported, but like I said, it amounts to a fairly weak accusation, and I would tend to agree with Joel that what is more important is that she appears to not really understand evolution nearly as well as one might expect or as well as her followers should demand, considering the position of authority and influence that she has. This strikes me as being far more problematic than the accusation being leveled at her. Joel perhaps should try to engage with the AiG scientists directly, but they do seem to buffer themselves from those very types of engagements, especially in avoiding scientific forums and conferences; still, a valid point all told.


      3. I’m personally not too caught up in whether Joel meant “confuse” or “mislead.” Either word connotes corruption, and whether he walked it back later in the sentence or not, he put the idea in people’s heads. In other words, the damage was done whether or not the barn door got shut.

        There’s an interesting logical inconsistency in Joel’s argument that should be brought to light here as well. Does it really make sense to call someone uneducated/incompetent on one hand and on the other hand accuse them of skillfully hoodwinking their audience? If we ignore the possibility that she is actually well informed but just made a mistake on definitions (since that seems untenable to people on this blog), then we are left with two mutually exclusive scenarios; either she is uneducated or she is corrupt, but it would be tough to be both in this situation since you would have understand the definitions very well in order to rework them for such a specified outcome. Nonetheless, Joel indicted her on both accounts. He spent the first part of his post discrediting her credentials, but quickly shifted to using terms like “shell game” to characterize her definitions. At the end of his post, he made the tacit jab about her integrity and then ended by suggesting its actually an issue of competence. So he spent appreciable time waffling between calling her ignorant and corrupt, never fully shutting the door on either when logic dictates it can’t be both. He had his cake and Purdom’s, too. Either way, if Joel thinks she’s uneducated and you think she’s corrupt or visa versa, you should both make your arguments, but she should be exonerated on one of the accounts; and if the case is “impossible” to make then it shouldn’t even be brought up until the proper evidence is in hand. Otherwise its just circumstantial gossip.

        Getting off of the soap box, let me say that I appreciate that you start with a measure of charity for AiG. I understand that is not common, and I confess I also have a number of frustrations with them and other similar organizations. I also appreciate Todd Wood’s disposition, and I’ve even had the pleasure of spending time with him and other similarly minded creationists at a recent weekend retreat. I was encouraged to hear a lot about building a research-based model for creationism rather than just poking holes in the theory of evolution. Here’s to a future of the sort of evenhanded dialogue you referred to.


      4. Hi Trevor,

        Fair enough, I’m sure you are right that the seeds are planted either way and that readers who only know of Purdom through this blog will come away doubting her, whether fairly or not. But I’m not convinced by the supposed logical inconsistency; and I think this only starts to make sense when you inadvertently summarize what has been said using extreme terms. For example, no one here has accused her of being uneducated or incompetent, and I would say the opposite; but she arguably has little to no direct (or constructive, given where she first studied) training in evolutionary biology and she has zero research experience in this field. This leaves room for her to expand on definitions in ways that she views as being useful for her argument without necessarily recognizing just how far off base they are. When it comes down to it, and when I think about it more carefully, I don’t ultimately buy the “skillfully hoodwinking” view either (yes, it’s a valid possibility, but it doesn’t really ring true); it strikes me (and apparently Joel) that she has just soaked up many of the thinking patterns and arguments from creationist circles while being far removed from constructive and constant interactions with evolutionary biologists, and this has resulted in her more or less absorbing those arguments into the definitions themselves. Sure, it’s deliberate, and goal directed in that she knows exactly how the definition will dovetail into the argument, but I’m not sure that she recognizes that this involves a dishonest procedure. It’s a bit like a journalist leaving out quotation marks so that the reader can’t tell where the quote ends and where the journalist’s opinion begins; the journalist, due to his lack of familiarity with the person being quoted, may honestly think that he’s representing their views in what follows and may see no real problem with using this approach to advance his argument and discredit the source, but this sloppy and misleading procedure crosses generally recognized ethical lines and amounts to putting words in someone’s mouth that they may never say. Evolution in this way becomes badly misunderstood by Purdom’s listeners and far easier to dismiss without truly grappling with the real issues. More interaction with evolutionary biologists and more involvement in this field may have made her pause and rethink before describing evolution or natural selection in this way, but who knows.

        Why is this important? I think it’s important because creationists are often accused of basically “lying for Jesus” and of being snake oil salesmen. This could well be true in some cases (and it is probably a true observation for any alternative movement), and I think Kent Hovind may be an example, but I think it is a poor reading of most creationists. You have redirected the discussion into why the accusation itself is unethical, but I think you may have overstated an otherwise good case. The accusation is actually quite interesting, in that it is more nuanced than most accusations that I’ve seen. It touches on motivation, but also points to how the influence of common tropes from creationist subculture, lacuna in training (this one can be a far more important factor for the rank and file creationists), and a driving motivation to show the opposition in the worst light can combine can drive an otherwise honest person to take an ethically dubious approach or a largely unfair presentation of what they are opposing. I can speak from experience in saying that creationist literature very often misrepresents or misunderstands the papers they reference by taking small segments out of context and ignoring inconvenient sections or overall conclusions, and this seems to be the case almost as often as I bother to look up the references. Sometimes I find this to be unexpectedly blatant (as with a recent Vitellogenin paper by AiG) but much of the time, I tend to think that there is no intentional fraud, but it is some combination of factors like what is mentioned above. There are some few creationist writers for whom I can trust that they are properly representing their sources and showing caution and balance in their conclusions, but this is way more uncommon than I and probably you would like it to be. I don’t mind whether or not they make valid points, I just want to know that I can trust what they write or say without having to scour their sources. The Vitellogenin paper was a good example, because I took it at face value and thought that they may have a few good points at the time, only later realizing that they had badly misrepresented or cherry picked their sources; this was a let-down.

        What I would like to see is more evolutionists, particularly TEs, making the effort to nuance their often over the top accusations with more understanding and greater charity. On the other side, I think that those creationists who have a strong sense of ethical boundaries and fair play need to pour far more energy into correcting and redirecting their comrades in order to kill these over-the-top accusations at the root, instead of using most of their energies to hold the common line of defense (which helps opponents feel justified in lumping them all together). I’m not saying throw fellow creationists to the wolves, I’m saying; hold them to a higher standard of intellectual integrity and fair play. I think that’s a huge responsibility, and if I was aware of dozens of people like Todd Wood blogging and commenting and generally showing a concerted effort to police bad and unethical habits of discourse on their own side, it would have a huge impact on my view of creationists and my willingness to hear them out. Same goes for the other side; I need to make a point of noting when someone who I otherwise agree with oversteps their bounds, which is hard to do.


      5. Approved money changers (AMC from here on out, unless you want to give your name),

        Perhaps uneducated wasn’t the critique but the validity of her education was certainly questioned. And her competence to comment on the field was also questioned. Nonetheless, I’ll heed your suggestion that I’ve overstated an otherwise good case.

        I’m thankful for these sorts of interactions because they bring to light issues in the way that I and others in my camp apply the scientific method. YECs have a great deal of work to do to create a credible model and make inroads with mainstream science. We need more of this sort of dialogue to do it.

        I think you’ve put your finger on an important need both in the individual camps and in the discussion at large. We need to have people skilled at stepping outside of their own biases and working with those from the other perspective to create an environment where ideas can be exchanged in an intelligent, equitable manner, minimizing the typical hangups that crop up in these conversations. If you’re interested in brainstorming, Joel can give you my email address.


    2. “A single fossil that is unambiguously in the wrong strata would falsify the theory of evolution”-

      i dont think its true. but first- do you agree that a fossil in the wrong place is a fossil that appear before its suppose ancestor? if so we will check if there is such a fossils.


      1. The theory of evolution currently has too much evidence supporting it from such a diverse array of fields that no, I don’t think that any one piece of evidence could overturn it. It would take a number of significant pieces of evidence contradicting evolution, and you would then need to formulate a new theory that not only explains what evolution can’t, but also explains all of the evidence that we have accumulated over the last 157 years at least as well as the theory of evolution, before the theory would be abandoned.
        A fossil unambiguously out of place would be something like (to use the famous example) a fossil rabbit in the pre-Cambrian. While this wouldn’t overthrow evolution on its own (as the genetic evidence has outstripped the fossil evidence as the strongest line of evidence for evolution), it would throw into question everything we have learned about evolution from fossils, including human evolution.


  4. Trevor; I understand your position all too well.In the 70s and early 80s I was a YEC. The geology just didn’t fit the unenlightened view of YEC fundamentalists and I became an OEC. I was the object of some pretty jeering Christians who should have known better than what they did and the attitude to this day that so many YECs still maintain. Now we have some of the same attitude in a TE website’s article. I told a YEC on another website that I didn’t think our differences of opinion were worth getting worked up about. The veiled insults thrown at me by him was not good. I was a devilish concordist who took the World’s answers over what the Bible truly said. Yes the author has, in my opinion, some of the same tint. I find this regrettable to say the least. Alas we are all fallen and it comes out when we interact. I am an OEC and don’t think we should speak to one another so disrespectfully. It isn’t helpful and isn’t going to get us an audience of unbelievers. I personally think “ministries” with incomes in the millions should work together to evangelize the world outside of our ghetto and not insult one another.

    I am of the opinion that we should be at least CIVIL to one another. This was a bit insulting to the AIC Doctor of whatever her stand is, but please don’t mix up showing where she is wrong with insulting her. I have found the YECs of my own church will go out of their way to set me straight about how to interpret the Bible. I have never had an OEC or TE do the same. I live in a rural area and there isn’t much selection of Bible following churches, so I don’t have much choice. I have been “asked” to leave a church. That is how it is here where I live.

    So pardon me if I don’t wish to tell the author to tone it down. I have NEVER received the same consideration from an AIG follower, not even once. It is a sorry state of affairs I’m sorry to say. It seems in the Evangelical World there are PC doctrines that must be followed.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey Jimmie, I’ve also been the object of ignorant wrath, even on this very blog. Its not right no matter what perspective you come from, and I would like to see this debate elevated to a higher standard. With that said, I’m not confusing correction with insults as you suggest. I made it clear in my comment that I’m happy to hear critiques of the science. That’s why I read this blog. But making unfounded jabs at a person’s character and integrity does not glorify Christ. I’m sincerely sorry for your experience with YECs, and I hope to never treat you in that manner; but you should be willing to stand up to injustice regardless of whether you have personally been treated fairly in the past or not. That is how Christ dealt with the world and its how we should as well. Jesus always found plenty to critique about the sinner without deviating from the truth. I think we should do the same. Joel’s critique of Purdom’s understanding of natural selection is valid, but his suggestion that she is intentionally confusing her audience was unwarranted. I’m not asking Joel to “tone it down” or be PC. I’m asking him to confine his comments to critiques of the arguments rather than making baseless judgements about people’s character. I’ve held other YECs to the same standard as well.


      1. My impression of Joel’s comments is that he emphasizes the facts while expressing that people with ph.d’s ought to know their facts better. Purdon is saying, “this is what OEC believe evolution is” and Joel is saying, “No, you have misrepresented my view.”

        Ken Ham, on the other hand, shows little restraint in trashing the character of *Christians* he disagrees with. This was in an article on just two days ago: “If you believe in [the Earth being] millions of years [old] as a Christian,” Ham says, “you believe God says cancer and brain tumors are good.” So that’s the lead these scientists are following.


    2. “While this wouldn’t overthrow evolution on its own (as the genetic evidence has outstripped the fossil evidence as the strongest line of evidence for evolution), it would throw into question everything we have learned about evolution from fossils, including human evolution”-

      so we cant falsified evolution then. if we will find several out of place fossils you will claim it only a few. so even if we will dozens or more the evolution will not be in crysis.


      1. Just a brief injection regarding a couple of statements referring to , if I understood correctly, both fossil evidence and genetics establishing evolution. I have to admit to being flummoxed when I read this. The truth is, and if you are well read concerning evolution you will know this, genetics has become the largest road block to accepting Darwinian evolution, not just the dna discoveries but rna as well. The genome and the epigenome. Our whole information system defies this theory. Werner Gitt has written an intense study and is developing his own “information theory” to deal with this new conundrum. You would not only have to have DNA to have been evolved, but we now discover a second set genes that regulate and program DNA. How you can get a system of information and the system that programs and directs it to evolve, to have simultaneously evolution of an information system like that is not remotely feasible, and we would be talking impossible odds, tens followed by thousands to millions of zeros. An very few people mention that for life to have evolved, speaking just of the simplest amino acid and proteins, well the most favorable odds I have seen was by Hoyle and Wick. and their estimate was ten followed by 40,000 zeros. Now most probability experts will tell you that anything beyond roughly ten followed by fifty zeros is JUST NOT POSSIBLE. EVER. There are only estimated to be 10 to the 80th subatomic particles in the entire universe. Everyone also seems to assume that if it could happen just one time (a just so argument), then jolly good. We’re good to go. Even if the impossible happened once. So what. Considering the theorized early earth atmosphere (no one knows for sure what it was like), and the primordial state of earth surface, the one miraculous little protein or amino acid would have been very likely to have done nothing more than survive for a few seconds or minutes, or heck, give it hours, and then dies.

        So we would have needed this (one time mathematically impossible miracle) to have occurred, well, who can say. Twice? Hundreds of times? Millions? Werner Gitts book is entitled “In the beginning was information”. He is a scientist in the field of information theory. The book is somewhat technical but worth the trudge.
        And again, I plead with you, there is no fossil record proof of evolution. Darwin himself realized his Trojan horse was the fossil record.He admitted it’s paucity but hoped time (and time is the big bandage in evol. theory) would reveal his necessary missing links. Over 150 years later, there are still none. The oldies, like Piltdown(fraud), Nebraska (pigs tooth) Peking (who knows. It’s gone), Eohippus (discredited). Well, I am sure you can name others that were celebrated and then quietly shoved into a corner somewhere. Some one always pops up with a new find, lots’ of articles, celebration, back slapping, further study, disagreement, better info, and then that one two is tossed down the chute. Now I am not condemning this. This is science. That’s what we do. It just get’s embarrassing when we proclaim without proof, classify before sufficient study, then discard without fanfare (such as Haeckel’s embryos, found to be doctored and fraudulent yet remained in textbooks for another 50-60 years). There just isn’t one. I have over 24 dvds with debates between id and/creationists vs. evolutionists, well know men and women on both sides, and have yet to hear a proven example of macroevolution given in these debates, those being offered are offered more out of desperation and half hearted and invariably shot down as just being another bird that’s a bird, amphibian that’s still amphibian, or humanoid skeletons that are at the end of the day, either still just homo or ape/monkey.
        I am not a YEC. And personally, I’m fine with believing the God I believe in using the process or a process of evolution if He wanted too. I’m cool with that. And I’m sure He’s really appreciative that I am. I do not believe in evolution because of my love of science and nature. God’s “second book” if you will. Over forty years I have followed these debates, in print, media, on radio, and have about fifty books in my library dealing with this topic, from the 60’s up to now. Books from non-creationists, and non-theists, Dawkins, Dennett, Harris, Hitchens, Flew (oops. He became a theist. There’s just not even one irrefutable example of macroevolution, and that’s what Darwinism so desperately needs. Grabbing multiverses to throw in the pot just end up being “well we’re here, so it must have happened”. I’ve seen and read that very consensus many times. And I hope everyone realizes it’s just circular reasoning.
        So thanks for letting me share. I guess with this post I am trying to address the original post which dealt with whether AIG’s attempted explanation at how we could get so many species from so few animals in such a short time. Did I get that right. Even if AIG posits a testable theory, and whether it works or not. Of course, challenge is good and that’s what you’re subjecting them too. My point is that arguing over , in a sense, and I speak metaphorically here, the last sentence in an eight hundred page book doesn’t accomplish much if the preceeding 799 pages is blank. That’s how I see what your debating compared with the actual need to “write the book” on evolution. I enjoy the reading. Hope all are well.


      2. Yes, it can be falsified, but the theory of evolution is so strongly supported that it will take more than one piece of evidence. Fossil rabbits unambiguously in the pre-Cambrian would mean that our understanding of geology is completely wrong and would overthrow all of our fossil dates. If it turned out that there was no chromosomal fusion in human ancestry, then it would immediately falsify humans sharing common ancestry with the other great apes. If different species thought to be moderately closely related all used different genes and proteins for the same functions, it would be very strong evidence against common ancestry.
        So yes, evolution can be falsified. It just hasn’t happened yet.


  5. My post of around half an hour ago failed to appear under the blog nor on my screen (not even as awaiting moderation) – possibly because it contained more than one link. So I’m trying splitting the links between two separate posts.

    I’m halfway through the above blog, but claiming that what AiG believe in* – massive ‘hyper-evolution’ and diversification and speciation ‘within separate kinds’ after Noah’s Flood – is mere ‘natural selection’ (with loss of genetic information) simply won’t wash. It’s baloney. Even if the so-called ‘ark kinds’ eg their recently touted ‘giraffe kind’ really did have much much more ‘genetic information’ than today’s living (real) species.

    * (first of two links to AiG articles showing what they think happened biologically post Noah’s Flood)

    And it is ironic that young earth creationists are forever accusing everyone else of ‘equivocating’ when using the word ‘evolution’. AiG should take a long hard look at their own behaviour.


  6. One further thought (now that I see that the above comments have now become visible). Others might take a different view to me of course.

    There is also there is NO definition of ‘natural selection’ in the words that accompany the Purdom video here:

    Just some weasel words. She mentions the ‘creationist view’ of natural selection. And – like other YECs – appears to be falsely accusing ‘evolutionists’ of equivocating that (because Darwin may have thought this in a pre genetics era) natural selection ‘is’ evolution. She also fails to consider natural selection acting upon mutations, rather than merely ‘redistributing’ or ‘reducing’ ‘genetic information’, including acting upon mutations that don’t ‘corrupt’ genetic information (the term ‘information’ is also not defined) in a detrimental manner and might be beneficial.

    As is typical of YECs, she writes in a confusing and rather propagandist (and simplistic and disjointed) manner. I think it is probably deliberate. It’s to reassure people that they have been given ‘answers’ and to not provoke them to further questions that AiG might then also have to answer.


    1. “As is typical of YECs, she writes in a confusing and rather propagandist (and simplistic and disjointed) manner.”

      Ashley, as you were writing that comment, in what way did you envision it contributing to the discussion? Perhaps, rather than suggesting that YECs are poor writers, you could add substance to the scientific aspects of the debate.


  7. Trevor
    I’ll take it that you don’t agree with the substance of my comments.
    The idea that informed people who are also not creationists state or claim that ‘natural selection is evolution’ or ‘natural selection proves evolution’ is far-fetched. Yet Purdom still posts a video enquiring ‘Is natural selection the same thing as evolution?’ accompanied by a few miscellaneous ‘bullet points’.
    And I look forward to you adding substance to the scientific aspects of the discussion.


    1. Ashley, I’ve essentially said that I don’t disagree with most of what has been said in the post and its comments as far as it relates to scientific substance and objective critique. The only things that I’ve taken issue with here have been comments that take away from the solid, rational, scientific endeavor with insults or premature judgements. I was hoping that you could help me see how insulting the writing abilities of people you don’t agree with is constructive.


    1. If your intent was to be factual about Dr. Purdom, then I’m confused about two things. 1) Where was the objective analysis of her writing style and, 2) If your subject was Dr. Purdom, what purpose was served with the phrase “As is typical of YECs”. I don’t see any facts in that statement, and for a critique aimed at one person, it sure had a lot of collateral damage.


  8. I also found this article setting out the opinions of Answers in Genesis on natural selection:

    I quote: “We should also expose the logical fallacies that evolutionists employ with natural selection in an attempt to buttress their case. For example, when pressed for evidence for molecules-to-man evolution, evolutionists often cite examples of natural selection. This is an equivocation fallacy since “natural selection” has been deftly substituted for “evolution” mid-argument. These two terms have very different definitions.”

    They of course fail to provide an example of this alleged ‘equivocation fallacy’ by evolutionists. If evolutionists provide such examples by way of evidence that’s because they cannot prove Darwinian evolution in the here and now (though they can point to the observed reality of speciation; in the case of the peppered moths a darker form became more prevalent in polluted areas but this was not either a new species or even a subspecies).

    The fact is that natural selection in action (as in the case of the peppered moth following the Industrial Revolution in England – and I believe in parts of America at some point too) is viewed by most scientists as evidence for Darwinian evolution though they would not say ‘natural selection is evolution’ or claim that the two terms have the same definition. Young earth creationists merely disagree with the claim – since they accept the reality of natural selection (and try to claim that it is somehow biblical) but adamantly reject Darwinian evolution. But AiG seek to want to accuse the opposition of being fallacious (or dishonest) rather than simply claiming that they are mistaken.

    The better camouflaged moths were less likely to be seen and eaten by birds and were more likely to breed and pass on their genes.

    According to Wikipedia: “Tn peppered moths, the allele for dark-bodied moths is dominant, while the allele for light-bodied moths is recessive, meaning that the typica moths have a phenotype (visible or detectable characteristic) that is only seen in a homozygous genotype (an organism that has two copies of the same allele), and never in a heterozygous one. This helps explain how dramatically quickly the population changed when being selected for dark colouration.”



    1. Ashley, I’m not quite sure I’m fully following your train of thought here. Are you trying to make the case that the peppered moth phenomenon is indeed a valid example of macroevolutionary change that should be accepted by creationists? If so, can you give more detail as to what aspect of the moth color change you see as evidence for radical macroevolution leading from single cells to all of the species we see today? Thanks.


      1. Trevor
        Natural selection in action (along with speciation) is viewed by mainstream scientists as evidence for their theory (supported by much other evidence which has been set out in various books) of what creationists term ‘molecules to Man’ evolution. By contrast, one would not get from the Bible that natural selection or speciation even exist. Of course the peppered moth phenomenon did not prove such evolution. But it’s what eg Darwin would have expected to happen. I’m no biologist – as you may be able to tell.
        More background here – though he did not address your specific question:
        A typical definition of Darwinian evolution, or the modern evolutionary synthesis, would probably include mention of natural selection.


    2. Ashley, I am well aware that mainstream scientists take instances of natural selection leading to microevolution as evidence for macroevolution. I wanted to know what *you* thought about the mechanism by which the microevolutionary change leads to macroevolutionary change. I’m not looking for links to interesting websites as I already know the arguments. Since you harangued YECs and derided AiG for their ignorant positions on the subject, I would have expected that you could have engaged in some substantive, original conversation about the issue. If your response to these sorts of queries is, “I’m no biologist,” then are you really fit call creationist ideas “baloney,” or assert that “AiG should take a long hard look at their own behaviour?”


      1. “are you really fit call creationist ideas “baloney,” or assert that “AiG should take a long hard look at their own behaviour?””

        Yes. I did not simply assert “creationist ideas are baloney” I referred to a specific example of the nonsense AiG sometimes come out with – they claim that creatures on the ark were ‘kinds’ and were super filled with genetic information such that the natural selection they claim takes away ‘information’ still could fill the Earth with uncountable new species of living – and now extinct – land creatures in only several thousand years after a single pair got off a large wooden boat. It’s all made-up – and scarcely biblical either.

        I have also spent an inordinate amount of time examining YEC claims – and seeing how YECs behave when YEC ideas are critically examined or persistently challenged with reasoned argument and evidence.

        Your game that if I can’t answer a particular question to your satisfaction then I must be not ‘fit’ to criticised YEC claims simply won’t work.

        (Nor will the game that Chuck is trying to play.)


        1. chuck is not playing a game, only revealing yours. If you have done the “extensive” reading you claim to have done, and you’ll have to forgive me for having my doubts, then you would realize that creationists don’t use the “god of the gaps” plea any more than evolutionists use the “evolution of the gaps” argument. While i certainly don’t endorse all of their arguments (and i hope none of us endorse ALL of anyone’s arguments) to make a claim that insinuates there is no serious science involved in creationist or intelligent design research is disingenuous at best and vacuous at worse. And here’s a question for the interested, how are creationists to get their research peer reviewed by evolutionists when evolutionist won’t peer review it in their research journals and invest in a back and forth exchange as they would with evolutionists? Seems like an impossible standard to achieve.


      2. OK, so you’ve stated the YEC argument; that’s a good start. But “It’s all made-up” is not a substantive response. Can you elaborate on why you’re not convinced?


      3. again, well said. These posts usually just devolve into numerous ad hominem attacks, this group is stupid, that group is not really serious scientists, etc. etc. Very few serious and real questions ever get answered. Everyone’s too emotionally invested. But your suggestion is a valid one, just will probably be ignored. Note that while Ashley wanted me to list some mysterious number of scientists who have rejected evolution, she won’t take the time to give me ONE supposed instance of macroevolution. I encounter this tactic all the time. It;s not a matter of discovering truth, just avoiding one we don’t like.


    This article pre-dates that 2012 Biology Letters paper. AiG appear to have made NO FURTHER COMMENT since 2008. Although to be fair the 2008 article by Tommy Mitchell does state of Michael Majerus (he died in 2009) that “he claims that the results of his study validate Kettlewell’s work”, and then adds “De Roode concludes, “the peppered moth should be reinstated as a textbook example of evolution in action””.
    But he sarcastically concludes: “Over the last 150 years, moths have changed into moths!”


    1. In fact Ken Ham is offering a mini lecture on the peppered moth TODAY:
      Note the mischievous use of the phrase “those who understand the principles of biology”. Ken Ham is claiming to be more of an ‘expert’ than all the silly biologists who have studied changes in the peppered moth population. Besides, Ken – how come all that ‘millions of species in thousands of years’ thing – which must have been ‘evolution’ because of its sheer alleged speed – is NO LONGER happening today?

      Bottom line. The peppered moth changes are not proof of evolution but they are PART of evolution. When arguing that rapid adaptability is ‘not’ evolution Ham is simply refusing to accept all the evidence that this is indeed part of the process of evolution (even if, in this instance, no speciation has occurred).

      Ham then posts the following set of falsehoods:
      “Sadly, the idea that evolution and natural selection are one and the same is a very popular idea. [No professional scientists would claim they are synonymous.] But they aren’t the same thing. In fact, they are complete opposites. [No they are NOT – as this blog shows.] Natural selection leads to the reshuffling or loss of genetic information [Sometimes yes, sometimes NO.]. But evolution requires the addition of brand-new information [Kindly define ‘information’.], a process that has never been observed. [A blatant falsehood which ignores eg gene duplication events.]”


      Liked by 1 person

      1. What difference would it make to define information? There’s no agreement here on what “droves” even means. I’ve offered a couple of references here to information theory, related specifically to evolution, so there are resources out there. And do you think you can ever disagree with someone(i.e.) without attributing devious motives to them? And you are right, the peppered moth is not an example of evolution, properly understood. Just variation. And I believe, though I can’t speak for Ham, that h is referencing additional information is per mutations, which ALMOST always is detrimental, does not add near enough new information, on the rare occasions it might, to expedite the process of evolution. Early mutations are the more likely to do this, unfortunately, they are virtually always fatal.
        The arguments here seem to almost always deal with the small stuff, as in “don’t sweat the small stuff”. What a fossil might be, what does information mean, whose got the highest degree, etc. The biggest hurdle, now that we’ve passed the stage of naivety about how complex the earliest stages of life are (per Darwin), then information becomes the biggest challenge. How did the very first form of life just “pop” into existence? How did all that complex functioning and incredible information just “happen”. I hear people commenting on those who don’t want to accept the evidence, which of course, per Dawkins, insinuates, as he does, that those who disagree with evolutionists are ignorant, stupid, insane, or wicked. Mega asked me what would “make” or convince me of evolution. Well, a good start would be to explain, in a scientific, logical, reasonable way how life got started at all.
        I won’t quote the numbers again, but the odds that amino acids would “just-so) form from lightening, chemicals, energy, et. al. is so ridiculously unlikely that an evolutionist who accuses Christians of being blinded by their faith, well, i’ll give them some slack and just say they don’t realize how hypocritical they are. I gave earlier the odds that Hoyle and Wick. come up with, at least 10 to the 40,000. Harold J. Morowitz, professor of biophysics at Yale calculated the odds of one E. Coli bacteria forming anywhere in the universe to be 10 to the power of 100 billion.
        The words of Harvard professor Lewontin (an evolutionist) still hold true, “we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism……Morever the materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a divine foot in the door”. Another evolutionist agrees with him. Immunologist Scott Todd reveals “Even if all the data point to an intelligent designer, such an hypothesis is excluded from science because it is not naturalistic”. Werner von Braun (I believe he might be smart enough) says “to be forced to believe only one conclusion-that everything happened in the universe by chance- would violate the very objectivity of science itself.”
        The Miller experiment proved nothing, it produced no life, and even if it had, it would only prove intelligent design. I won’t belabor this point any longer, but please, as excited as one might be by variations in possible wings, or even if one wants to ignore the very connotation of the word “mutation” (it’s not a positive one) and it’s mostly fatal consequences, even if one celebrates by exaggerating genetic EXCHANGE of information for actual new and increased information that would actually be beneficial to said host, leaving all this aside, just positing that “well, we’re here, aren’t we” as the ultimate desperate last gasp explanation doesn’t prove the hypothesis of evolution. Consensus isn’t relevant. The consensus in Germany during WWII was that the Jews weren’t “evolved enough”, were inferior to the Aryan race. Consensus was used in the south to justify slavery. Consensus said the sun revolved around the earth.
        Here’s a challenge for everyone here…….try to disagree with someone without insulting or demeaning their intelligence. Try to actually engage the other party. Exchange information. Agree to disagree. Be kind. Give it a try. I know we’re all intelligent enough here to do it. When you’re forced to compare people to Donald Trump while arguing, it only shows immaturity and desperation. I’m sure my words will have no effect on the immature, but I hope most of you can embrace the exhortation.


        1. Abiogenesis has nothing to do with evolution, which by it’s definition can only occur after replicating/reproducing life is here. God could personally have created a species from nothing, and there would still be replicating errors during reproduction, which would affect chances of survival, and therefore natural selection would kick in, and over generations the species would change as beneficial mutations remained and accumulated.


  10. Meant to say that in my (unavoidably split up) comment just now I was responding largely to Approved Money Changers saying “My guess is that what I am seeing from Purdom is just a very different way of thinking …”.


    1. Ashley, let’s not draw this out. at 7:02 and 11:56 you clearly made NO scholastic or academic analysis of Purdom’s writing style. You simply made an unfounded, unqualified statement that broadly painted YECs as poor writers. Please just apologize for the offense and we’ll all move on to the substance.


    2. OK. Well, I won’t belabor the issue any more, Ashley. But I hope in the future you will refrain from ad hominem attacks that don’t help us clarify the issues at hand. There are plenty of people who see through that sort of behavior.


      1. I would argue that my criticisms at 7.02 pm on 27 April were not an ‘Ad hominem attack’. If they were, surely you would have suggested this at the outset? Whereas your initial reaction was “as you were writing that comment, in what way did you envision it contributing to the discussion”. A point I have since responded to. (There was also no Ad hominem in my later (split) post that began at 11.56 pm on 28 April.)


  11. “They of course fail to provide an example of this alleged ‘equivocation fallacy’ by evolutionists. If evolutionists provide such examples by way of evidence …”. (My post at 11.56 pm on 28 April.)

    In my second use of the word ‘examples’ I of course meant examples of evidence for evolution, not examples of ‘equivocation fallacy’.


  12. ahh. nothing better than to read people waxing philosophical. I don’t think the evolutionary hypothesis’ biggest problem is AIG. It’s the very scientists who purport to believe in it. To pretend there is some complete consensus in the scientific community is to be far more disingenuous than the lady on the video. Why does one think the intelligent design movement began? Now if you call them all theists you are either ignorant or a liar. The great majority just see too many assumptions and “just-so” stories in the evolutionary tale. Just read a book by Thomas Nagel last night, “Mind and cosmos, why the materialist neo-Darwinian conception of nature is almost certainly false”. Quite interesting and a quick and easy read. Of course, he is a philosopher, so I imagine many of you would automatically disqualify him from the argument (that’s what I love about evolutionists, they are just so open minded and tolerant of others opinions), but what is interesting is that he is an atheist, and rejects outright both theism and intelligent design. He eventually opts for the argument that there just must have been something, from the very beginning, that makes evolution “likely”. Of course, a pure Darwinian scientist cannot even allow for this, because the process must be “directionless”, “random”, “accident”. There are quite a number of these types of books out there, for those willing to read them, by atheists and agnostics. “Bones of Contention” and “Darwins doubt” are two I have recently read. My point is, by nit-picking the lady’s presentation, or anything by AIG, you have done absolutely nothing to bolster the argument for Darwinian evolution.
    The fact that scientists, by the droves, and you know it’s true, are abandoning Neo-Darwinism or it’s corollaries should be of bigger concern. Considering that AIG operates solely on donations, and doesn’t have millions of billions of taxpayer dollars to spend on research may account for their being “behind”, if you will, on some aspects of research. And where would they present their research papers? In an evolutionist magazine? We all know that only someone who toes the doctrinal line is going to get widespread peer-review. When you see Hoyle and Wickramsasinghe , and others more recently, result to a “pan-spermia” argument, well, it’s time to stop pretending the boats not leaking. (there is also a book, “doubts about Darwin” that is written from the intelligent design perspective). The Devil’s Delusion is a side splitter. It’s written by an atheist who holds atheists accountable for their “scientific pretentions”, pointing out the holes in many of their arguments and the fallacy of much of their reasoning. More scientists should read his book. Look, people are gonna believe what they want to believe. Science is not some “objectivity bubble” where no presumptions or assumptions are allowed to enter. I am not a YEC, and that shouldn’t even be relevant. The “genetic fallacy” is resorted to so often in these types of debates that it is just ridiculous. Proving someone wrong does NOT prove you right. You still have to have proof. Natural selection is accepted, even by AIG, if you are referring to microevolution. Their argument is that it does not sustain macroevolution. And it doesn’t. There just isn’t any proof of , let’s say, an amphibian becoming a mammal, or vice versa, or any direction for that matter. The evolution tree is more like a bramble bush, with big gaps or holes in it. The fossil record is no assistance. There’s no links to be found there. Probablility doesn’t help you, because the odds of even the very basics of life, the very first, and or second steps, occurring, is one followed by hundreds, or (some say) thousands or tens of thousands of zeroes. Genetics is no help. Darwin can be forgiven for his assumptions. He had no idea how complex life really was, down to the microscopic level. And arguing that evolution is the “majority” consensus has no inherent meaning relative to the truth. How many “consensus” views have scientists been forced to abandon over the last few centuries. As the old commercial said, “Where’s the beef??!!”. Seeing as how there is no complete agreement on what evolution EVEN IS, much less unanimity on necessary definitions involved, why is there such a problem considering differing opinions? One has only to peruse the available literature to see that evolution is NOT remotely a unanimous consensus. Not even remotely close. Majority? Yes, for now. But the boat is leaking and scores of scientists (and no, they are NOT all theists or intelligent design advocates) are bailing. Why not open your minds and consider different opinions? What is it that you fear? At least seriously consider the holes in the theory, and there are plenty. The truth cannot be forced, and it isn’t discovered by hiding. Quit manufacturing and knocking down straw men (or organizations). Do some work!!! I am always amazed at how people who don’t trust the man or see conspiracies everywhere can turn right around a buy into something totally without subjecting it to serious scrutiny. Seems a bit inconsistent doesn’t it? I haven’t filled my post with tons of scientific jargon and stats, because I have come to realize, after four decades of teaching and research, that in reality it almost always come down to an acknowledged or unacknowledged philosophical bias. Not facts. Feelings. Preference. And no amount of science and mathematics will change that if the mind is closed. Thanks for listening. Enjoyed reading the interesting chat. Everyone, don’t ever stop looking.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Chuck
    The genetic variation on which natural selection acts may occur randomly, but natural selection itself is not random. If you think Joel was saying that then you have misunderstood him. And please provide evidence of scientists abandoning evolution/Darwinism ‘in droves’.


    1. I’m sorry. None have left. Every single scientist completely and unequivocally believe in evolution. There is no disagreement. All have taken the vow. Please Ashley, go do your own chores. Seriously. How about this. Hey Ashley, prove to me that ALL scientists accept evolution. Can you do that for me? And again, I’m sorry, but saying natural selection is not random is to reify a process. Nature doesn’t “select” anything. It’s not a mind, though one would be tempted to think so watching the discovery channel. I know Dawkins get ballistic on this point, but if it’s not random, then it’s programmed. It’s designed. It’s meant to be that way. This is part of the problem. Everyone get’s to define words and attribute meanings anyway they chose. Selection. Process that word slowly. When you go to the store, you select your groceries. Or maybe the right stuff just randomly manages to jump into your cart. But let’s not quibble. As I said, creationists accept natural selection as a process of microevolution. But keep in mind. of course, they believe God designed it to work that way. There’s a good book out called “Why atheists steal from God”. You should read it. It’s points, and Berlinski touches on this too, that atheistic explanations want all of the benefits of having a God, and design, without actually having a God and design. They just denude words of their actual meaning and then apply them, redefined, to evolution.
      I’m sorry if my reply seems strident, but really, you want me to spend my time listing what, the names of every scientist? What, you think there are only a “couple” or “few” scientists who don’t accept evolution? Are you ignoring all the scientists who DO NOT believe in Darwinian evolution. Have you heard of the Discovery Institute? Lot’s of them there. Of course you have the creationists, who, despite attempts, even in the initial post here to pretend that they don’t get “real” degrees, consist of many brilliant men and women. And then there are those Darwin doubters who adhere neither to creation or design, one of which I recommended earlier, Thomas Nagel, who is an atheist. Don’t believe the propaganda when you read that anyone who doubts Darwinian evolution is a creationist, or that all intelligent design adherents are actually Christians or even religious. You know why you don’t hear about them all the time? Because the secular culture and materialist scientists do their best to ignore them. Why do you think the Discovery Institute was formed? It was because anyone who didn’t toe the Darwin line was ignored, insulted, and couldn’t get their papers or research published in mainstream scientific journals if it even questioned Darwinism. Heard of Anthony Flew? Considered to be one of if not the premier atheist of the second half of the twentieth century, he often debated theists in public forums. I have a few of them myself Guess what? After the turn of this century Anthony Flew, who always claimed he would follow the evidence wherever it led, decided that there probably was a God after all. He didn’t become a Christian, just a theist (there is a difference). Well, what did his former atheist buddies and scientists do? Almost to a man (or woman) they decided that either he was getting senile or someone ghost-wrote the book. Wow. He goes from a brilliant genius to an imbecile. All because he decided there “probably” was a God after all. This incident, and many more, is indicative of what happens if you “leave the fold”. “Slaughter of the dissidents” a book by Jerry Bergman I believe, can give you dozens and dozens of occasions where people suffered insults, loss of jobs, position, funding et. al. for questioning the Darwin dogma. My point is that where there is no questioning, no challenges, no contrary opinions allowed, well, you don’t have science, Ashley. You have a cult.
      So forgive me for not naming a bunch of scientists. I don’t believe it would have made any difference if I had named a dozen, a hundred, or a thousand. And believe me, around this big round world (sorry, been debating flat earthers for awhile), there are many thousands of scientists who do not accept neo-Darwinian evolution. I would hazard a guess that there are a lot more who keep their doubts to themselves if only for self preservation. So, apologies for the brusque response, but I have debated this issue for over four decades, and I imagine I have encountered every argument and challenge that you could think of. As I said, it will invariably boil down to philosophy. Behind the façade of terms and tangents, it’s just a matter of the heart. A bias. We all have them. Me. You. Everyone. And that bias will determine our destination. No one is completely objective. Scientists are not completely objective. Anyone who would claim to be is deluded or lying. But here, as a gesture of friendship, I offer you this. Give me one fact, one scientific inarguable fact of evolution. Just one. Not lots of names of scientists. Just ONE stinkin’ little unchallenged fact that proves evolution is true. Cant be that hard, can it? Just one. I’ve been looking for over 40 years. I’ve been through more missing links (many of which are now “missing”) and transitions then you can hardly count. Give me one fact of evolution that, if it is scientific and logical, will still be fact 40 years from now. Thanks for your time.


      1. “Please Ashley, go do your own chores.”
        Yes, don’t expect me to back up any claims I have made. It’s entirely up to you to disprove anything I come out with.
        “Hey Ashley, prove to me that ALL scientists accept evolution.”
        Nobody ever said that all scientists accept evolution. Merely the overwhelming majority of them. Here’s a video on it:


        1. obviously you struggle understanding english. My point was, and i am sure you are a serious and eminent student of evolution, is that no one on this blog is going to change their minds based on what somewhat can list. Everyone posting here is so deeply embedded in their beliefs that to indulge in the “well, show me this” or give me a list of that is actually going to accomplish anything. That is my point. If you don’t believe you (and I) are in this catagory, we are deluded or lying. No one changes their mind over a “list” of anything. You obviously missed my sarcasm, and my whole point. I suggest you avoid any further posts from me if you struggle with this.


          1. Yes Chuck, I would agree that everybody here is most likely not going to change their minds, but that doesn’t change the fact that when you were challenged to back up your assertion you did not, and then told the person you were arguing with to do it for you. Pretending it was sarcasm does not make your posts any less hollow.


            1. For starters, when someone ask you to “name some scientists”, how many do they want. Behe? Wells, Lembski? Nagel? Meyer? How many do you want. I had already named a few. How many would qualify as an answer. My response wasn’t hollow. It was spot on. The question was a dodge, and would have not mattered the least no matter how i answered. And perhaps you should hold the other party, who after requesting a mysterious number of scientists names, couldn’t take time themselves to name ONE thing of the category i requested. This is the game that is always played. The verbiage is useless. Under the pretense of inquistiveness, everyone stands all the firmer and closed minded. You’ll have to forgive me if I seem a bit calloused, but almost three decades of this have revealed this pattern (could it be design?).


                1. well, you you want to get sardonic, please define “drove” for me and i will respond, if this is not just an exercise in futility. How many names would you like to see. This is not an unreasonable request. And what time frame would you like. Last decade. Last twenty years. Five minutes. Do you see what i am getting at. It’s a shame you’re falling prey to the same game. How about this, for all who have claimed that creationists are “real scientists” or aren’t doing “real science”, please define what “real science” is or what someone has to do or believe to be a “real scientist”. Are you getting it yet. Are you really unaware of how many scientists do not buy into neo-darwinian evolution? If you don’t, that could reveal how little reading you do from their perspective. Here, I’ll end it now. A drove is a herd or flock. Okay? Intelligent design is one drove. Creation scientists are another drove. There you go. Droves. Happy?


                  1. Chuck, you said, at 1:40am on the 29th “The fact that scientists, by the droves, and you know it’s true, are abandoning Neo-Darwinism or it’s corollaries should be of bigger concern.”
                    You used the term, so tell us what you mean by this and then provide evidence of it. We’ll say 20 years for a time frame, so please give me evidence that increasing numbers of scientists are saying that evolution simply cannot be true. And not just a small increase, as the number of scientists around the world is increasing every year. I need evidence of large-scale abandonment.


                    1. Well mega, as me old mum used to say, “you’re never too old for your wants not to hurt you”. If you don’t understand that, it means “tough nuts”. I don’t care what you need. Isn’t it amazing that one can point out the types of games that people play on sites such as this, and yet you can’t break yourself from that pattern. It’s the old “if I can’t win the argument, I’ll just change the parameters and pretend I did”. I never said there was some mass exodus or “large scale” abandonment of Darwinian evolution. I just merely pointed out that there are numerous ( a drove is a herd or flock, so that could mean dozens, hundreds, thousands, scientists that are abandoning it. Now the game one plays here is to pretend that no “real” scientist would abandon evolutionary theory, thereby eliminating thousands of scientists who are creationists or ID adherents. If one can change the definitions at will, one can always win an argument. Do your own research. The information is out there. And if you are using the old “consensus” argument, then that’s a hypothesis that’s already been disproven many times in the history of scientific studies. A consensus says nothing about the veracity of a theory or any belief for that matter. I have no compunction to answer your questions when you won’t answer any of mine. Fair is fair. I’m in my mid-sixties so I have no desire to spend what precious time I have left typing lists for people which ultimately serve no purpose.
                      Most blogging is just useless chatter, people trying to impress others and themselves with their cleverness or the ability to obfuscate, never actually attempting a genuine exchange of ideas. Try debating a flat-earther. You’ll see what I mean. I wish you well and beg no pardon for having no desire to indulge in a pissing contest with someone. Believe what you will. It matters not to me. Everyone would just benefit if they left off with ad-hominem attacks and clever word gymnastics. Hope you find what you’re looking for.


                    2. A drove is a group of animals or a large group of people. Note the word ‘large’. The phrase ‘in droves’ means ‘in large numbers’. You said scientists were abandoning evolution by the droves, so yes, you were saying there was some large-scale abandonment of evolution.
                      “It’s the old “if I can’t win the argument, I’ll just change the parameters and pretend I did”.”
                      Which is sort of what you’re doing now.
                      “If one can change the definitions at will, one can always win an argument.”
                      Which is, again, what you are attempting to do now.
                      “Do your own research. The information is out there.”
                      Yet again you reuse to back up your claims and instead tell other people to do it for you.
                      “And if you are using the old “consensus” argument, then that’s a hypothesis that’s already been disproven many times in the history of scientific studies. A consensus says nothing about the veracity of a theory or any belief for that matter.”
                      So why are you claiming that scientists are abandoning evolution in droves if the consensus does not matter? You’re being very inconsistent here.
                      “I have no compunction to answer your questions when you won’t answer any of mine.”
                      What questions of yours have I not answered?
                      “Most blogging is just useless chatter, people trying to impress others and themselves with their cleverness or the ability to obfuscate, never actually attempting a genuine exchange of ideas.”
                      Oh, the irony…


                    3. Seriously. Are you mental. And apparently YOU don’t see the irony. Blather and again no substance. And no answers. Here. I’ll make it simple. Instead of us spending hours arguing over the definition of drove (and if examples of thousands of scientists in two organizations aren’t enough), I’ll posit the same question to you as I did to Ashley. Give one example of proven macroevolution. If you don’t have that, you have nothing. You’re just debating nothing. Casting aspersions on other scientists abilities will not prove your own point. Arguing over the definitions of words will not prove your own point. Demanding will not prove your own point. My point is macroevolution has not occurred. And that’s what you’ll need to get from amoeba to man, somewhere and often. I am not doubting microevolution. Neither are creationists. Also, your comment about consensus is nonsensical. That actually seemed to be your point, i.e. apparently you would only be impressed if (vast? immense? trillions?) of scientists had left the fold. My point was that many (and again, if thousands doesn’t qualify as droves, then we obviously don’t even speak the same language. Look it up. Droves. Herd. Flock. No number needed. Just large). And again, you and I are typifying the usual blogging drivel. Thousands of words. No questions answered. Spending time nitpicking. Insult other parties intelligence. Cast aspersions where necessary. Just the same. Can anyone answer my question? Does anyone know of one proven (and of course, with VAST agreement) example of macroevolution? Anyone? And of course, I’ll want one million sources, photographic proof, and Darwin’s autograph. Thank you kindly, and please, have an evolving day.


                    4. I’ve already given you evidence of macro-evolution, with the beautiful series of fossils we have showing the evolution of feathers, and how birds evolved from therapod dinosaurs. Let me give it to you a second time.

                      This post relies upon the work of Richard Prum and Xu Xing, who are possibly the two most respected authorities on avian and feather evolution.
                      The developmental theory of feather evolution put forwards by professor Richard Prum proposes a series of cumulative evolutionary steps (five, to be precise) leading to modern feathers: an unbranched quill (Stage I), simple filaments (Stage II), filaments centred on a rachis (Stage III), interlocking barbules and pennaceous vanes (Stage IV), and asymmetrical flight feathers (Stage V).
                      The Liaoning province in China has the best fossils, in particular the Yixian Formation, thanks to the repeated ash falls in its history, and it is there that most of the fossils regarding the evolution of feathers were found.
                      Sinosauropteryx prima was the first feathered dinosaur from the Yixian Formation, in 1996, and electron microscopy showed that it did indeed possess the Stage II feathers Prum had predicted. The colouration and pattern of the feathers indicated that they were used primarily for display
                      Two years later the same Palaeontologist, Qiang Ji, discovered another fossil, Caudipteryx zoui, which possessed not only Stage II proto-feathers but also Stage III ones as well. Clustered on the hands and at the tip of the tail, each feather featured a distinct rachis and symmetrical vanes. Additionally, the body was covered in dino fuzz, supporting the idea that the feathers were used for thermoregulation. Several Caudipteryx specimens have included a telling group of small seed-crushing stones, known as “gastroliths,” in the exact position of a modern bird’s gizzard. Though its wing and tail feathers were vaned, they lacked the asymmetry associated with flight, which indicates that they were primarily for display, just like S. prima.
                      Xu Xing, China’s greatest palaeontologist (who has named more dinosaurs than anyone else alive and was responsible for uncovering the Archaeoraptor hoax), discovered two more fossils in 1999 and 2000.
                      The first was Beipiaosaurus inexpectus, which took its scientific name directly from the unexpected nature of its features. Its teeth strongly suggest that it was a herbivore, but its size and huge claws point to a predatory habit. In reconstructions and artists’ concepts, it resembles a sort of hulking, feathered sloth. It has broad filamentous feathers that appeared at odd intervals along its back, growing out from a covering of more typical dino fuzz. They are unbranched and probably represent the simple quills predicted as a Stage I feather by Prum.
                      The second was Microraptor zhaoianus, which was one of the fossils used in the Archaeoraptor chimera (the tail, to be precise). It was tracked back to the original quarry and the original fossil was found. It was clearly a theropod, but with asymmetrical flight feathers on wings and legs, even its feet. The evidence strongly supports the idea that it glided in between trees, with Xu Xing arguing that it used its legs as a second pair of wings. In terms of feather evolution, the fossil confirmed that theropods had asymmetrical
                      feathers (Prum’s Stage V), while their apparent flight capacity and herringbone vane pattern also strongly suggested the interlocking barbules of Stage IV.
                      From these four fossils we can see all five stages that were originally proposed for the evolution of feathers in theropod dinosaurs.
                      These fossils are actually 10-20 million years younger than the famous Archaeopteryx, but another fossil was discovered deeper underneath the previous fossils and was dated to more than 160 million years ago, which makes it even older than Archaeopteryx.
                      Like Archaeopteryx, Anchiornis huxleyi sported distinct asymmetrical feathers and may have been capable of gliding flight as well.
                      These five fossils paint a very compelling picture for the evolution of feathers.
                      They all bear Stage II filaments; Beipiaosaurus has Stage I quills. Caudipteryx covers Stage III (and possibly IV), while Microraptor and Anchiornis take care of Stages IV and V.
                      The fact that all five feather stages can be found in theropods as well as in modern birds underscores the close relationship between these groups.



                    5. No mega, not boom, macro-evolution. I am aware of above scientists who imagine, let’s say, four or five steps in the evolving of said wings. I’m sure, as I have studied this very issue, that anyone reading said links will find them often filled with imagination and speculation. And that’s okay. That’s part of what science is. But to posit five different stages and then conveniently find them leaves me a bit suspicious, but let’s leave that aside. To imagine, because that is what one do, that one goes from scales to feathers in five easy steps is quite disingenuous. As has been said, it is hard to imagine two cutaneous appendages more profoundly different. They share virtually nothing in common. To find four or five different types of feathers, if that’s really what they are (and I am sure you are already aware that there is no full agreement on this) is only proof of microevolution. If the good doctors had really found proof of mutations adding the kind of enormous, almost inconceivable amount of information needed for an actual evolution of scales to feathers, we wouldn’t still be debating the issue, would we. Sorry, boom. Microevolution. But I do respect your effort, and the time it took. I’ve just dealt with this issue already, that’s all. And again, this highlights my concern over definitions. One man’s micro is another man’s macro. If there was an actual example of mutations adding significant, beneficial information, I wouldn’t imagine Dawkins would have been left speechless a few years back when he was asked to name just one example. If you haven’t seen the video, it’s priceless. But keep up the good work, old chap. You’ll find one yet. I’m betting on you mega.


                    6. These scientists, if feathers evolved then we would expect to find these five stages throughout the fossil record. They then found those five stages covering therapod dinosaurs in a clear progression from primitive to developed, exactly as predicted. So yes, boom, macro-evolution. This is further shown by the presence of the feather type of keratin being present during the early development of American alligator scales.
                      Beta-keratin localization in developing alligator scales and feathers in relation to the development and evolution of feathers.
                      “If there was an actual example of mutations adding significant, beneficial information, I wouldn’t imagine Dawkins would have been left speechless a few years back when he was asked to name just one example.”
                      He was not left speechless, he paused as he realised that he had been tricked by creationists into giving an interview under dishonest circumstances. This has been explained many, MANY times, and there is no reason to bring up this myth.
                      There are also many documented cases of gene/genome duplication increasing the information of the genome, as well as beneficial mutations. The Apolipoprotein Milan mutation is a prime example as it not only provides a distinct benefit, but also increases the specificity of the protein, thereby increasing the information by AiG’s own standards.


                    7. Now mega, don’t start up again. NOOOOOOOO,I’ll say it slow and politely, describing apparent microevolution of wings does not, I repeat, does not substantiate a claim as proof of Macroevolution. And Zu;s, or was it Xu? Anyway, one must realize that in between his “five steps” are missing hundreds if not thousands of microevolutionary instances of mutation adding beneficial information, allowing those five steps, which when drawn accurately and without over imagination, require immense beneficial information additions. To use a real world analogy, and to high-light the incredible differences between scales and feathers, it’s like finding five different types of screws laying on the ground and proclaiming you have proof that a complete functional car was assembled here. Or for the older folks, it’s like finding 5 of a 5,000 thousand piece puzzle and shouting “Finished”.
                      Your comment about Dawkins answered nothing. I saw the video many times. Have you? She simply asked if he could name ONE, Mega, just one known agreed on example of a mutation adding a beneficial increase in information. Do you seriously think that’s a TRICK QUESTION. Now from what I observed it’s obvious he found a tricky question to answer, because after a 30-45 second pause, he reached over to cover the camera and made them cut if off.
                      Apparently after a few minutes, when he had time to put together his response, he allowed them to turn the camera back on, and then proceeded to not answer the actual question AT ALL! He merely prattled on about vast ages of time (again, the evolutionary version of God-in-the-gaps) and what were, I assume, attempts at examples of what she asked for, but not a single one was. Not a single one. It was all, to the degree it was anything, just referencing microevolution. But if you want to blow it off as an instance of a brilliant atheist evolutionist getting tricked by a simple little girl asking him to name ONE example, the most important example one could give in evolutionary theory and him being unable to do so as an example of that mean girl tricking him (Like this isn’t an answer that he would give at every debate or during any interview about evolution), well, I promise you i’ll feel sorry for him. I’ll try and find that devious little witch and drive her up to Salem and dunk her. But may I offer a different possibility. Dawkins could give her an example, because there are NONE. A point I’ve made here often, and a question I’ve asked, and I wasn’t even tricky. And just like Dawkins, no one has given me one. But that’s okay. I’ll admit, it’s a bit unfair to ask because I know there’s only one honest answer. And I understand why no one wants to try. I sincerely don’t expect any of you to do what millions of scientists, billions in funding, maybe trillions in hours involved over the past 150 plus years can’t do. But be hopeful. But be willing to be honest. One won’t strengthen their argument by weakening it, and an honest “none” answer will definitely weaken it, if one sees it for what it truly is. Keep up the good work. Always enjoy the chat.


                    8. “describing apparent microevolution of wings does not, I repeat, does not substantiate a claim as proof of Macroevolution.”
                      By ‘describing’ you mean ‘giving peer-reviewed scientific evidence of’, by ‘apparent’ you mean ‘actual’, by ‘microevolution’ you mean ‘evolution’ and by ‘does not’ you mean ‘does’. There.. Fixed that for you.
                      “Anyway, one must realize that in between his “five steps” are missing hundreds if not thousands of microevolutionary instances of mutation adding beneficial information”
                      And if we gave you one hundred instances of these you would respond by saying “yes, but there are one hundred and one gaps in between those steps, so it can’t possibly be right”.
                      “it’s like finding five different types of screws laying on the ground and proclaiming you have proof that a complete functional car was assembled here. Or for the older folks, it’s like finding 5 of a 5,000 thousand piece puzzle and shouting “Finished”.”
                      No, it’s like finding a blueprint for a car as well as several old cars showing steadily more advanced parts and saying “I’m pretty sure we know how cars developed.”
                      “I saw the video many times. Have you?”
                      “it’s obvious he found a tricky question to answer, because after a 30-45 second pause, he reached over to cover the camera and made them cut if off.”
                      No, he realised he had been tricked into giving an interview with creationists asking leading questions under dishonest circumstances. This has been explained repeatedly. She didn’t trick him with the question, the crew lied about the circumstances of the interview, and the footage was dshonestly edited to make it look like he couldn’t answer the question.
                      “Dawkins could give her an example, because there are NONE. A point I’ve made here often, and a question I’ve asked, and I wasn’t even tricky. And just like Dawkins, no one has given me one.”
                      This is a big fat lie. I have already given you one earlier on this very blog post. The Apolipoprotein Milan mutation.


                    9. And again, a mutation does not prove macroevolution. And let’s pretend, because i’m sure you talked to Dawkins, that he was tricked. That he suddenly realized, “my gosh, these people are Christians!!!” And creationists!!! Why exactly would that lead to his inability to give just one example of what she asked for? What a wonderful opportunity it would have been to just shove that question right back into her face with a whammo! answer!! But he didn’t. Because he couldn’t. And unless you are an expert on videos, just how do you know it was “edited”. Did Dawkins tell you that. I watched it over and over again (i’m sorry, I just enjoyed it, watching that insulting nerd get some comeuppance), and I see no trace of editing, no “looping” of the same expression over and over again. Those Christians, darn them to heck. Sneaky and liars to boot. Sounds like you have an urban myth on your hands, one made up by HIM.
                      And no, five different “steps”, if they are steps, and not just totally different formations on different dinos, still does not equal MACROEVOLUTION any more than the finch beaks did. The finches are still finches, and the dinos are still dinos. I’ve been teaching and following this for over forty years, and there is not one, agreed upon instance of macro out there. Sure, scientist Bob comes up with something, everyone’s excited, then they look at it again, over and over, and suddenly the example joins the trash heap of all the others that weren’t what they were exclaimed to be. And I’m sorry, but scales could not turn to feathers in five easy steps any more than a light sensitive blob could become an eye in five easy steps. But thanks for taking the time. Be safe.


                    10. “And again, a mutation does not prove macroevolution.”
                      Never said it did. But a beautifully preserved series of fossils showing the evolution of a distinct trait is very compelling evidence for it.
                      “Why exactly would that lead to his inability to give just one example of what she asked for?”
                      He realised the interview was set up under dishonest circumstances and did not want to continue it.
                      “but scales could not turn to feathers in five easy steps any more than a light sensitive blob could become an eye in five easy steps.”
                      Nobody has ever claimed they have. The point I was making is that we have the fossil remains of the five distinct stages predicted. Each will have infinite subtle gradations in between them. The origin of the tubular structure that evolved into feathers is still disputed, but there is very clear evidence that it DID evolve into feathers. We have the fossils.


                    11. as i said, one
                      mans proof is another mans disproof. And so it goes. Again, all you have is five different types of feathers, assuming in actuality that that is what they are, and discerning that is quite difficult at times from imprints in stones.
                      As to Dawkins, my point stands. Is he against being interviewed by theists? He certainly doesn’t seem to mind debating them in front of thousands. What was his hesitancy based on? Being interviewed by theists? Whether he was tricked or not neither you or i really know. We would only know what so and so told us. He clearly is stumped on the video, and it appears quite frustrated by it, which is why he reaches or points to the camera and asks that it be turned off, and then comes back and gives an answer that doesn’t answer the question. No need to defend him. He’s a big boy, and as one who calls people who do not believe in evolution stupid, ignorant, insane, or wicked, I believe he deserved to be embarrassed. But i’m just sharing an opinion. I have mine, you have yours, and the universe goes on.


                    12. The five types of feathers were would in progression from more primitive to more advanced exactly as predicted previously. They *could* simply be random types of feathers that just happen to look like they follow an evolutionary trend while actually not, but that would be one hell of a coincidence, wouldn’t it?
                      When Dawkins debates theists or creationists, he knows the situation ahead of time. Realising that you’ve been lied to in the middle of an interview would put anyone off.
                      For the sake of clarity, what would change your mind? What piece of evidence would it take for you to accept evolution?


                    13. thanks for the reply. I don’t think evolutionists, who in spite of protests believe in spontaneous generation, at least of some sort, can, in the face of the odds of 10 followed by 40,000 zeroes (the numbers vary, but are always far beyond what is remotely possible) should struggle with coincidences. And as i said before, assuming that the idetification is correct, it is not what is needed to establish macroevolution. You must understand, I have been following this for over 40 years, and have taught hundreds of times both viewpoints(creationist and darwinian and new) and during that time there has always been a steady stream of “eureka, we found it” types of discoveries. And they all eventually fade from view to be replaced by the next one. This, and the history of fraud and hoaxes involved in this particular area, have made me hesitant to embrace the latest and greatest discoveries. That coupled with the obvious, that no one approaches anything without an agenda, presuppositions, etc., one should always take ones time and let things pan out for awhile before jumping on board.
                      My intent here, from the very beginning, was really not to get in a back and forth argument over who considers what as factual proof, but to encourage people to have an open mind, from both sides, without indulging in caricatures, category mistakes, genetic fallacies, etc. I also stated that no one is going to have their mind changed over something they are deeply invested in, especially on a blog where one can easily misread someone else’s intent. Perhaps Thomas Kuhn’s book on scientific discoveries would be a good read to get my point across.
                      So, to answer your final question, just like it (apparently) would take alot of scientists walking away from evolution, it would also take far more than the possibility of a few different stages of feather change to convince me of the validity of the entire evolutionary argument. I am not a YEC, nor am i inherently against the concept of evolution. Plenty of scientists of note manage to reconcile their faith with their scientific belief. I think they oversimplify one or the other to do that, but hey, to each their own. Certainly if one accepts the existence of God, there is no arbitrary reason to reject the concept of evolution. He, being God, could do whatever God wanted to, in any way He wanted to. My reluctance to accept evolution, after 40+ years of study and teaching, is that the whole concept is far more complicated, and far more unlikely than many are willing to acknowledge. Some scientists do, and it’s to those i previously referred (I do not refer here to creationists). And being a contrarian by nature, I tend to be a deep skeptic about all things. A couple of pieces does not a whole puzzle make.
                      Thanks for the enquiry, and i wish you well in the future.


                    14. Actually, no, we don’t believe in spontaneous generation, which was disproved over 150 years ago. i think you might be confusing spontaneous generation with abiogenesis, which is a very different thing, but again, that is not part of the theory of evolution and has no bearing on the question of whether or not evolution occurs.
                      What about shared ancestry between humans and other great apes, such as chimps? If I could present you with evidence that supports common ancestry rather than individual creation, would you accept that evolution is at the very least a plausible explanation for the diversity of life?


                    15. One man’s abiogenesis is another’s spon. gen. Whatever one choses to call it, this whole shebang of evolution would have to start with living matter coming from non-living matter, and that’s just something that’s not been observed happening. I’ve given the odds from various sources, so debating which words to use doesn’t deal with the issue. It just can’t happen. And as for shared ancestry, every source I read from both sides of the fence is giving different number, so we’ll never find agreement there, but these similarities, whether genetic or re homology are used to argue for both evolution and intelligent design. I mean, if I were designing apes and humans, there would certainly be usage of a lot of the same information for both.
                      And don’t misunderstand, I have no problems with the concept of evolution, per many Christian scientists who still adhere to it (note I didn’t say droves). I really don’t care how God started or enables life. It’s his universe. My point is that there are hurdles, and what appears to be quite insurmountable ones, involved in the evolutionary hypothesis. Until those are dealt with, we are just standing at the finish line arguing about who took the best route from the start line, which is especially ironic if we can’t find the start line. But I appreciate the friendly sharing, and enjoy the patter. It’s so much better when one doesn’t have to deal with insults (not referring to you here). I truly appreciate it.


                    16. Chuck, it isn’t a matter of calling it different names, the two are very different things. Abiogenesis is inorganic chemicals becoming organic chemicals becoming proto-cells over a very long period of time, whereas spontaneous generation is fully formed organisms appearing from scratch every generation. SG actually has nothing to do with the origin of life on Earth, and neither of them have anything to do with evolution. SG means no gene flow between generations, so no evolution, and evolution can’t act on life until after abiogenesis has occurred.
                      I understand what you’re saying about common design = common designer, but there is a difference between similarities as a general thing and patterns of similarities forming a nested hierarchy of species, which is what we observe.
                      And I’m also glad we can discuss with cordially. There are far too many people who just prefer to hurl insults rather than engage in discussion.


        1. Good reply. And poor excuse. As i stated, you are apparently interested in an actual exchange of ideas. Just point making.


  14. As for the argument over whether “real” scientists generally or largely support (macro) evolution or not, I commend to you the American Scientific Affiliation… a community of serious, often eminent scientists who happen to also be Evangelical Christians. They don’t make a lot of noise, and that’s on purpose. They occasionally discuss this topic in their journal. Here’s a link to a page cataloging much of what they’ve said. I recommend searching the page for Dr Richard H. Bube, and his brief summary article. It is as appropriate today as when written in 1971.


  15. (no I have not read it but I guess that ‘natural selection’ is part of their answer – along with what they are labelling ‘created heterozygosity’*)
    According to Ham: “the model laid out in their paper “significantly advances the young-creation explanation for the origin of species, and it makes testable predictions by which it can be further confirmed or rejected in the future.””



  16. In response to Trevor at 5.17 pm.

    My “It’s all made-up” means exactly what it says, Trevor. What AiG were coming out with is not scientific and nor is it found in the Bible (which speaks of multiplication and being fruitful not ‘millions of species in thousands of years’. They made it all up. There’s no mystery. And my meaning was clear.

    Please see my later post that began at 4.01 pm – re the new Ken Ham blog post addressing this EXACT topic. He claims they have a ‘technical answer’. And now they are proposing something called ‘created heterozygosity’. That idea looks pretty ad hoc to me – though the technical paper in question is long and complicated and I don’t have the time or the will to plough through it. If evolutionists did the same, the YECs would accuse them of a ‘rescue device’. AiG are just making far-fetched guesses in their quest to make a ‘recent worldwide flood as described in Genesis’ fit with the world of millions of land-based species we observe today plus all the extinct ones.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I for one am thankful for scientists who have been willing to be “far-fetched” (again, the genetic fallacy) and willing to make some educated (even if someone doesnt take the TIME to read or doesnt understand it). Part of any research involves thinking outside the box. Unless one is comfortable living in the box.


  17. (Sorry folks, it’s been fun but I will be offline for a while. Hope to be back sooner than later. Have a good weekend!)


  18. “chuck is not playing a game, only revealing yours.” (Chuck)
    Now chuck is lying as well as refusing to answer a BASIC question about his initial claim. He made the grandiose claim “The fact that scientists, by the droves, and you know it’s true, are abandoning Neo-Darwinism or it’s corollaries should be of bigger concern”. He then childishly ran away from his own words when I challenged him on his claim. “Please Ashley, go do your own chores.” But it’s not MY chores. If the ‘chores’ are not done – which is still the case – it is CHUCK’S reputation for truth and accuracy which is in doubt.

    Chuck also appears SERIOUSLY confused since I have never said ANYTHING about ‘God of the gaps’. Also in another comment he wrote “I especially recomment Hugh Ross”! Chuck has also accused another person here of struggling ‘with English’ – which I find rather ironic. Three minutes later the person in question responded “That doesn’t change the fact that when you were challenged to back up your assertion you did not, and then told the person you were arguing with to do it for you. Pretending it was sarcasm does not make your posts any less hollow”. I rather suspect the person in question understands English very well indeed. And all we have got from Chuck in response is repeated EVASIVENESS.

    This post addresses ALL the comments Chuck has posted overnight UK time that are addressed to me or my comments.

    By the way, Chuck has also got my gender wrong (is he attacking me because he thinks I’m female). And he clearly either did not view this link – or is actively lying – with his false accusation that I have not extensively read YEC materials:

    I also told him that I did NOT read his post at 5.00 am on 29 April because it was TOO LONG. Yet now he is demanding – using loaded wording instead of neutral and factual language which is revealing in itself – that I give ‘ONE supposed instance of macro-evolution’. Chuck complains ”
    she won’t take the time to give me ONE supposed instance of macroevolution” – as if I had been ignoring a challenge he made earlier.

    First, the post (which I HAVE now scanned) is basically (another) non-paragraphed rant. Second, it NEVER mentioned ‘macro-evolution’. It did however dishonestly say “Hey Ashley, prove to me that ALL scientists accept evolution” – even though I have never made such a statement in this thread. The closest Chuck’s rambling post at 5.00 came to a mention of ‘macro-evolution’ was his “give me one fact of evolution”. Speciation – something that new Answers in Genesis paper by Nathaniel Jeanson and Jason Lisle that I have highlighted here acknowledges in ‘spades’ – is part of evolution.

    Chuck – will you kindly first define macro-evolution for us since there are varying definitions/uses of the term. Do you mean speciation or Darwinian evolution (or something else)? If you address my question then I will address yours.

    “Of course you do, which says nothing about it’s accuracy or truthfulness.” Chuck – you have not shown otherwise. All you have done is accuse me, without foundation, of a lack of truthfulness. You have not even addressed a SINGLE word of my posts in question. Not one.

    “and apparently some who don’t.” I do not understand what Chuck is trying to say there. If it is of some consequence, perhaps he will clarify it for us.

    “you are apparently interested in an actual exchange of ideas”. Chuck has accidentally told the truth about me. I guess he was due some medication at the time?

    If Chuck does not start behaving in a more adult and respectful manner, I think he might find that people start ignoring him.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow. I am so sorry Ashley. Obviously I have not reached evolutionary perfection as you obviously have. If correcting a couple of typos is your idea of a refutation, then you are must have reached trans-humanism. Yes, I put are instead of aren’t. I guess that means all your arguments are correct. See? You don’t have to answer questions. Just look for typos. And no one rants better than you. And what points did you make? What was the question? And while I know sarcasm is hard to detect from the screen, surely you are familiar with it. And guess what. At the end of the day, you presented no example of macro-evolution. And you know quite well what it is. And I know you never will, because there hasn’t been any. I hope you know that creationist accept variation among species. Surely you do. And seriously now, are we playing the gender card? I disagree with you because you may have been a female? Boy, I just can’t beat you, can I. But really, until someone can posit an actual instance of proven macroevolution, all the other talk is just idle patter. Arguing over what anyone could and should agree with. Microevolution. By the way, my reference to struggling with English had nothing to do with someone’s spelling. But you knew that already, didn’t you. Dodge and weave. Are you lightweight or heavyweight division. Believe me, I am no more interested in your trope than you are my challenges. If you’re not capable of answering a challenge, I will leave you alone. I don’t pick on girls. Get it?


      1. Chuck and Ahsley: I left this conversation a day or so ago because I felt the substance was gone and I didn’t want to participate in its digression. But at this point I feel the image of Christ is being done a disservice. I of course have no authority on this blog but I would like to request that we end the conversation now before be make a spectacle of Christianity. Thanks


        1. Sorry, I’ve been too busy to be able to watch the comment stream closely. The tenor of the discussion is not what I would like to see and I would ask that a spirit of patience, grace and love be taken in discussion even when we disagree. I know my post was quite direct, I’ve modified it slightly as I have noted my own words were not all edifying.
          At this time I have turned moderation back on so that I will have to read any further comments.


          1. I would like to think Ashley and I have “made up”. I too agree that it often gets a bit edgy. I think this comes from the perils of blogging. One can’t see a face or hear vocal tones, so it’s easy to read the worse into any statement. I’ll will certainly try to keep my postings civil. I’m really interested in cold, hard facts, not verbal gymnastics and warfare. It’s all I ever wanted to indulge in. I’ll try to indulge any caricatures or ad-hominems from here on out, and just posit my statements and questions.


  19. “Seriously. Are you mental”. No, Chuck. I’ve read the exchanges and he ISN’T. He’s just exposing your dishonesty and hollow bluster. (You sound a bit like Donald Trump by the way.)

    “For starters, when someone ask you to “name some scientists”, how many do they want. Behe? Wells, Lembski? Nagel? Meyer? How many do you want. I had already named a few.” NO. Even if these people – I assume you mean Dembski – once embraced Darwinism, five named people is NOT droves. Yet you originally claimed “The fact that scientists, by the droves, and you know it’s true, are abandoning Neo-Darwinism or it’s corollaries should be of bigger concern”. A claim you apparently CANNOT back up. Most young earth creationists have never embraced Neo-Darwinism (for religious reasons) so they could not have ‘abandoned’ it. “I never said there was some mass exodus or “large scale” abandonment of Darwinian evolution.” But your phrase “by the droves … are abandoning” did suggest a large-scale exodus. Something you have failed to back up. Because it isn’t true.

    The person playing games is you, Chuck. Nobody else is leaping to your defence. And Megasolipsist at 12.55 am today was spot on.

    As for your response addressed to me. “Wow. I am so sorry Ashley.” No you aren’t.

    I assume by ‘macro-evolution’ you mean Darwinian evolution of the kind young earth creationists (and you) dispute. No, I can’t prove it. It happened in the unseen past. But there is strong fossil evidence that some dinosaurs evolved into birds (unbiblically) and that ape-like creatures evolved into hominids and then Homo sapiens (unbiblically). Feathered dinosaurs. Homo naledi. To name but two examples. But I guess you don’t want to look seriously at the evidence and its wider context.

    “my reference to struggling with English had nothing to do with someone’s spelling”. Well, what DID it have to do with then? Since Megasolipsist as well as spelling correctly betrayed NO signs of not being able to understand YOUR words. It sounds like your accusation was a smokescreen attempting to distract attention away from your dishonesty (or ignorant dogmatism) followed by evasiveness when challenged.

    “Dodge and weave” (you falsely accuse me of that). This from the person who has failed to back up his own claim, failed to acknowledge most of the content of my post at 10.20 am today, and desperately tried to suggest that because I pointed out a couple of spelling/typographical errors therefore I am proclaiming “that means all [my] arguments are correct”. This from someone who has not shown that anything I have written in this thread is wrong. A good way to judge whether someone is correct or not is by seeing whether anyone else can prove them wrong. So go on and specifically address my actual content and show it to be incorrect – if you can. What I really said – not what you might think I said or I really meant.

    “You’re doing the critiquing. Should we read it for you?” I read enough to see that AiG are arbitrarily proposing ‘created heterozygosity’. Perhaps – whether you read the paper or not – you could enlighten us with your thoughts on this matter?

    My purpose in flagging the paper was in order to highlight AiG – coincidentally – trying, while we are having this discussion, to address the vexed question of how the real process of evolution (though they refuse to call it that because the word is toxic for them) could possibly produce, after the flood described in Genesis, millions of new species in just thousands of years. Note that in my first comment under this blog I highlighted that for AiG to claim that what they believe in (I supplied two links) ie massive ‘hyper-evolution’ and diversification and speciation ‘within separate kinds’ after Noah’s Flood is mere ‘natural selection’ (with invariable loss of genetic information as they falsely claim) is baloney – even if the so-called ‘ark kinds’ somehow really did have much much more ‘genetic information’ than today’s living (real) species. Almost as if they were addressing MY comment – but I am sure they were instead responding to anxious questions from their supporters ahead of the opening of the ‘Ark Encounter’ – they are now suggesting that such abundant genetic information could have resulted from ‘created heterozygosity’.

    I also thought posting the link to the recent AiG (non peer reviewed) paper would be of genuine interest to Joel and to all honest people participating in this discussion. Someone else might well have the time, motivation and academic background to read every single sentence of the paper.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. seriously? we’re still stuck on droves. And thanks for admitting there is no proof. It “just so” happened in the past. Making a statement doesn’t make a truth. I’m still waiting for one example. You can stay with “droves” if you like. Or perhaps you could name EVERY scientist who believes in evolution. See how stupid that is. And here Ashley, to assuage your concerns. The reason you may see an occasional typo is because the fingers on my right hand, from middle to pinky, are numb from my third stroke. There. Satisfied. I played the disabled card. I suggest that you and I just not communicate any further. We obviously have nothing positive to exchange. Don’t worry, I’m not hurt. It’s just the same old “blog” experience. And I am sure mega can take care him/herself without you rushing to their defense. But if you want to fight, I’ll be happy to oblige. You want to answer questions. I’ll do that too. And please, oh please, move on from the droves. It’s just an excuse not to give an answer. Don’t feel obliged to respond. If you don’t, I won’t.


      1. You first mentioned droves. We are entitled to continue bringing them up.

        Lack of physical proof in the here and now is not disproof. Creationists have not been able to refute the theory scientifically.

        As it happens I too use a wheelchair though my fingers and hands aren’t injured and I’m only 56 (for around another week). I sympathise with your medical situation.

        If this is the last word so be it. (But I am not seeking to have the last word at any cost.)


        1. I empathize with your current (I hope not permanent) disability. Perhaps we have found common ground. I have numbness on my right side, face, arm, and hand. I hope, again, your situation is not permanent. You likewise have my sympathy, and admiration. I sense you are as sick of the droves as I am. I hope perhaps, we can build on this. Like you, I’m willing for it to be the last word, but would rather, when the last word comes, it be in friendly exchange.


  20. Trevor (your comment at 4.28 pm which I have only just seen)
    If other people wish to continue this discussion that is their right as I see it, whether or not you participate. Though of course this is someone else’s blog page.
    I regret that the conversation has gone ‘downhill’ somewhat but if I see false accusations against myself or others, I reserve the right to defend myself or the other person if appropriate. Surely you would agree that deliberate lying or accidental falsehoods should be challenged?
    PS I should make clear that I used to be a Christian (evangelical) but no longer consider myself one (for several reasons that I would prefer not to discuss here). Thus if you think MY comments among others made a ‘spectacle of Christianity’ then please understand that, whilst I am certainly not anti-Christian only anti young earth creationism, I am not claiming to be speaking ‘for’ Christianity or ‘as’ a Christian. I am interested in truth. And the scientific method and what it has discovered about the present and the past.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Chuck says: “He admitted it’s paucity but hoped time … would reveal his necessary missing links. Over 150 years later, there are still none.” Totally incorrect. Mention has already been made of feathered bird-like dinosaurs and Homo naledi. And if genetics does not help the evolutionarily case, why does Francis Collins accept evolution I wonder.

    On Chuck’s other new post (again there is no reply option directly underneath), he is demanding the kind of proof that cannot be given because the events in question happened in the unseen PAST.

    (I thought I had finished commenting here but it would seem not, assuming this gets past pre-moderation.)


    1. feathered like dinosaurs, assuming the what are identified as feathers are feathers (seeing as how, of course, we have no feathers) is an actual correct identification, would just prove there were feathered like dinosaurs. Feather like structures no more prove evolution than the bill on a platypus proves it’s a duck like bird.
      As to why francis Collins believes in God, I can no more explain that than I can explain an why an atheist who doesn’t believe in God wouldn’t believe in Darwinian evolution, yet there are plenty who don’t. Not all members of, let’s say, the discovery institute are theists. Some are, others are agnostic. A previous example I gave, Thomas Nagel, is an atheist, yet he doesn’t accept Darwinian evolution nor does he adhere to intelligent design. He explains why he doesn’t accept Darwinian evolution (I believe his emphasis is on time. Billions of years would NOT be enough be enough time. Scientists like Fred Hoyle and Chandra Wickramasinghe both are atheist, both don’t accept Darwinian evolution (something about the odds of the very first basics of life, like amino acids, being formed spontaneously being 10 followed by 40,000 zeros. Keep in mind that anything beyond about 10 followed by 50 zeroes is considered impossible by scientists who crunch the numbers. So rather than accept either design or God, they move to panspermia, which just beings an infinite regress. You may note that Crick, Mr. DNA himself, has posited the same explanation, not without considerable heat from his fellow atheists.
      So in the end, Collins doesn’t help you any more than Crick, Hoyle, Nagel et. al. helps me. The inability to find logic does not prove or disprove an hypothesis. Christian scientists often struggle attempting to reconcile faith with scientists, and atheist often stumble about wildly attempting to find any solution but God. As a famous scientist once said, “…we cannot allow a Divine foot through the door.” I believe his name was lowenten or tein or close to that. I can find it if you wish.
      And again, no, genetics does not help evolution. When Darwin came up with it, the very basics of life were considered to be simple globs, with a few parts. Only recently have we discovered how incredible complex the smallest basics of life really are. Darwin also knew the fossil record was one of, if not the biggest, adversaries. He just figured eventually we would find the missing links. After 150 years, and quite a few misidentifications, and a few outright frauds, we still don’t have one. Yes, I know you named “one” but trust me, it will be forgotten soon, just like all the others. I suggest you read “Bones of contention” re the fossils, and perhaps “Darwins doubt”.
      As I posited earlier, we know how complex DNA, and just when we were getting over that amazement, along comes RNA, and even more information and gene machines making it all happen. Whether you find TREX wearing a feathered bonnet or a whale wearing scuba gear, you still don’t have macroevolution. But thank you for the post and the friendly exchange. Take care.


      1. I know you are not one but the young earth creationists are clearly worried about feathered dinosaurs pointing to unbiblical evolution and ALWAYS deny that they were feathered eg as happened with Yutyrannus huali. Again yes, findings from genetics do indeed confirm the validity of evolutionary theory and Francis Collins would know and say so if that was not so (I read ‘The Language of God’).


        1. thanks for the reply. And i read Mr. Collins also. I appreciate his points of view, but perhaps I am not as impressed with credentials as i should be. Mr Collins sees no conflict between evolution and his faith. Unfortunately, as is always the case, there are a great number of christian scientists into who do. Most have civil discourses about it, but it often also degenerates into pointless arguing. As i stated in my post to mega, evo-christians, as i will call them, often tend to oversimplify the potential merging of the two. If i remember correctly, you stated you were once an evangelical christian. I’m too lazy to go up and read all the posts, so apologies if i am mistaken. Nonetheless, the term “evangelical” has come to mean different things to different people, both secular and christian. It can be a term with negative connotations or a point of pride. Biblical theology, i have come to think, is more complicated than microbiology. Two people can look at a passage, and depending on their viewpoint, can see two different things. Especially if one is not christian or puts no stock in the bible.
          The point non-evolution scientists and theologians try to make with evolutionary christian scientists is that they must do some radical re-interpretation of a number of biblical passages. About this they are absolutely correct. But again, this is a matter between christian. If it was only christian scientists that i could find who reject evolution, that probably wouldn’t impress me much. It could be expected. The fact, however, that i can read non-christian scientists and even atheist and agnostic scientists who find evolution less than convincing i find to be interesting. One would think they would “naturally”, pardon the pun, embrace evolution. One doesn’t have to accept their arguments, but considering their alternatives, i do appreciate their honesty, the willingness to leave themselves floating, so to speak.
          And we are just going to have to disagree on the genetics, Collins aside. He may be an absolutely sincere and honest man, and he may be right. But just as likely is letting what he has invested his life in oversimplify the contradiction between creationism and evolution. He claims to be christian, and i have no reason to doubt that. I find, by and large, that scientists make crummy theologians, and most often vice versa, Polkinghorne (?) being the acception. Werner Gitt, a scientist and recognized expert in information theory, has written a couple of books on the complexity of the simplest forms of life, the vast amount of information involved, the design of that information, and the possibility that this could have risen by random processes.
          As i told mega, it’s a cumulation of things , not just fossil proof, that stands in my way of accepting evolution, though as i acknowledge, there are christians who dont have a problem. Thanks for replying. Take care.


  22. Whether or not it ‘proves’ Darwinian evolution (what Chuck is calling macro-evolution) dinosaur to bird evolution, which the evidence clearly points to, is certainly not biblical (because land animals and birds are listed as having been created separately on different days in Genesis with the birds appearing first) and is thus not part of the hyper-evolution ‘within kinds’ (they DON’T call it that) being argued for here:


    1. I don’t know if you were replying to me or not, but you did mention my name. And no, i do not agree the evidence points to macroevolution. As to what hyper evolution is, i have no idea, unless you men t-rex and the other dinos were a nervous wreck. I can see why, what with asteroids and the like. And i am sure you are aware that there are other interpretations of the Genesis account that are not in accord with aig et. al. There is no need to try and compare evolutionary trees (more like bramble bushes with large holes) with the Genesis account because it is a narrative that is intended to focus on the Hebrew God as being uncreated and the only real God, who is not part of creation but the cause of it. I realize AIG would disagree with this and i understand their perspective and where they are coming from. They interpret literally because, logically according to their faith, they believe God would certainly have been able to sustain whatever he created during these six days. They are approaching it from a supernatural viewpoint, atheistic evolution approaches it from a purely naturalistic sense (no God allowed). It is not logical to expect these two approaches to match up in any way. If evolution were a fact, i do not understand why many scientists, who are not christian or even necessarily theistic, continue to have a problem finding this evidence. As if fossils were the only area considered deficient in this regard. My other posts have already dealt with this, so i won’t repeat. As to why you can’t reply to my posts i have no idea, unless it’s because i am responding directly from my email. I don’t know.


      1. I was adding a gloss to my previous reply (which was directed to Chuck).

        We will have to agree to disagree because only one of us seems to want to accept the sum of the evidence.

        Joel has used the term ‘hyper-evolution’ in his blog (a short while ago) when discussing beliefs of Ken Ham.


  23. Well, i see ashley tires of the “exchange”, as do I. As i stated from the beginning, no one’s mind is going to be changed here.Everyone, including myself, is too invested in their points of view. And despite Ashleys’ parting insult, it seldom has to do with the sum of the evidence, unless one cares to adopt the position, ala Dawkins, that anyone who disagrees with them is stupid. I am sure everyone here is a sane, intelligent individual. Just saying that because so many types of people, all of whom i will assume are intelligent, can interpret the same evidence, events, etc. in variegated and often opposite ways should, one would hope, lead them to hold their viewpoints with a bit of humility. What is “true” has changed throughout the history of man, and treasure “truths” of today become tomorrows material for stand up comedians. It has been the case with all areas of life, science included.


    1. As I also sought to mention to Chuck on 3 May in response to his post at 3.39 pm on 2 May (but I cannot see the comment anywhere on my screen) I know that he is not a young earth creationist but the young earth creationists are clearly worried about feathered dinosaurs pointing to unbiblical evolution and they ALWAYS deny that they were feathered eg as happened with Yutyrannus huali. Again yes, findings from genetics do indeed confirm the validity of evolutionary theory and Francis Collins would know and say so if that was not so (I read ‘The Language of God’).


      1. hmmm. I’m having trouble finding certain posts also, and not just mine. Is someone winnowing for some reason? Or are there just too many making it easy to miss. As I stated before, i’m not sure why one would assume a feathered dinosaur would prove anything other than a dinosaur with feathers, assuming again,(because they have been misidentified before) that that’s what they are. I continuously read from both camps, and I sense nothing remotely like fear from the AIG. Is there some transference going on here? And unless someone is eliminating posts, what for I don’t know, then you may not have read my last one where I move on from feathers to what are really the biggest stumbling blocks to evolution, and those would have been at the very beginning of said process. But if it’s gone, oh well. Too tired to retype. To assuage my ego, I will pretend they were unanswerable. (just jokin’ now, don’t get riled up).


      2. In reply to Chuck at 9.25 pm on 5 May.
        These are the kinds of articles – published by AiG – expressing scepticism that specific dinosaurs ever possessed feathers:
        And in their April 2012 article addressing Yutyrannus huali they speculated, despite the evidence (I would say that), that the structures were made of collagen and not made of keratin (the material feathers are made of).


  24. Hi Joel, I don’t mean to start a new debate here, but since I read this post last week I’ve had a nagging question on my mind. I was hoping you could help me understand your position better. You spent a fair bit of time talking about Purdom’s education, in particular pointing out that she isn’t formally trained in evolutionary biology. I’m curious what sort of training you view as qualifying an individual to talk about a certain area of study. It seems to me that having a doctoral degree in molecular biology would qualify someone to train themselves in evolutionary biology given the foundations of the two fields are quite similar, and that’s essentially what Ph.D prepared individuals are trained to do (train themselves in related areas, that is). Also, concepts of evolutionary biology are used in the application of molecular biology, and consequently the basics are certainly taught in undergraduate biology courses. Also, your doctoral dissertation topic seems focused on biological aspects of evolution, but you write about things as broad geology and anthropology that are not particularly related to biology as you appear to have have studied it in grad school. Were you formally trained in these topics? I’m trying to wrap my mind around how you are deciding if a person is expert enough to discuss an issue. Would an undergraduate minor suffice or do you think an entire Ph.D is necessary? Post doctoral training? Personal study, etc? What does it take to be “formally” trained in your opinion. Thanks.


    1. Hi Trevor, excellent questions. I am glad you asked because I knew that those comment were going to need to some expansion. The question of what makes one an expert is pretty complex. Let me say right up front that one doesn’t need to go to college to be an expert on something. Even in the sciences it is possible to become very knowledgeable without a higher degree or even an undergrad degree. The caveat to that is that personal experience with research is hard to replicate by reading about research. There is something about doing research that provides a perspective on discovery and the strength of data and explanation that comes from getting messy with research where nothing usually goes as planned.

      Everyone wants the label of expert so that what they say will be heard. Its on my mind right now so this example seems pretty obvious to me: Here is the Amazon description of the Grand Canyon: A different view book:

      “Explore the majesty and beauty of one of God s greatest creations Includes 20 Essays from Leading Grand Canyon Authorities: Steve Austin, John Baumgardner, Ken Cumming, Duane Gish, Werner Gitt, Ken Ham, Bill Hoesch, Russ Humphreys, Alex Lalomov, Henry Morris, John Morris, Gary Parker, Andrew Snelling, Keith Swenson, Larry Vardiman, Tas Walker, John Whitcomb, Carl Wieland, & Kurt Wise See the canyon from a biblical perspective and understand how it f its into the flood of Noah Exquisite photographs of the Grand Canyon with explanatory essays from top authorities of the canyon”

      I’m not sure any of these are “Grand Canyon Authorities.” Steve Austin has the most experience with the Grand Canyon itself but Ken Ham, Humphreys, Gish etcs are certainly not GC authorities. Later it says “explanatory essays from top authorities”. All of these people are capable of being authorities but the book implies expertise on interpreting the geological history of the canyon and to that point they are not experts.
      Anyway, I digress. Having a Ph.D is nice because it suggests a lot of knowledge but I am probably as skeptical as anyone about Ph.D. when they speak outside their area of specific expertise and even if they are speaking about something in their area a PhD doesn’t guarantee they are keeping up in their field or representing it accurately.

      Of course I hope that some people will take me seriously even though I don’t have a PhD in geology. But I don’t expect anyone to just believe me because I have a PhD in some field and so therefor must know what I’m talking about. I have to prove that I have something worth saying. Trust comes over a period of time of consistently showing that I have some mastery of the topic and even if someone doesn’t agree with my points they can see that I have done some work to understand the topic.

      If we tested peoples words against their actions and their other words over time we would hopefully get a sense of if they knew what they were talking about and could be trusted. It seems these days we just latch onto someone that has said something we think is important and we agree with and then never stop to ask if they should be trusted. How else could we have ended up with Trump?
      That brings me to Purdom and some others at AiG. When I read their work when I see is an assertion of authority. It is very common for every time Ham mentions Purdom or others to say not just Dr. Purdom but to add they have a PhD. Others there have multiple degrees including a MS or MA even if they have a PhD after their names on articles. I don’t put PhD after my name nor is this a regular practice among most scientists. I do understand why AiG does it, they need the cache with their audience and they don’t have the institution behind them like I do to give them some cred. But, having degrees doesn’t mean they know what they are talking about. When I go to their conferences people oh and ah at the degrees and call them experts in conversation. That is to be expected but this is a false sense of security.
      With respect to Purdom I don’t want to seem harsh. Just looking at her publications and her education it seems rather unlikely that she has had any formal training at all in evolutionary biology/theory. Certainly in graduate school she would have never had any coursework and here project did not require her to think about evolution. Her undergraduate work would have included one class on evolution and worldview but they would have learned about what is wrong with evolution and the professor who was there, if I am right about who it is, didn’t have any background in evolution and so taught about evolution from YEC materials This is not a recipe for becoming a person who is going to be promoted as an expert on evolution.

      Maybe she really knows a lot about evolutionary biology. Maybe she has read multiple evolution texts and all 200 pages of Goulds book “The Structure of Evolutionary Theory.” If she has read the latter then she has read 1000 pages more than I have. If she has it is not apparent in her writing. It is really hard to get a good grasp on evolutionary theory without long discussion, working through problems, dong research and sitting with other faculty and talking about their research. So in her video and other writes, I can understand that much of what she says makes sense to her and she does’t even realize what she doesn’t know. If she has done a lot of reading of the evolutionary literature (a couple of Zimmers books, Gould, Denton, Ridley’s compilation etc..) then she doesn’t have an excuse for fumbling over terms and leaving out important concepts and she is purposely misleading her audience. I do think that I was wrong in my statement about misleading her audience. I think she really just doesn’t understand herself.

      Again, I would stress through all of this that this doesn’t mean that a non-biologists can’t have a pretty good understanding but it takes real work. After all, Carl Zimmer does not have a biology degree or a higher degree and yet he is one of the best writers and teachers about evolution out there right now. Many universities use his textbook “Evolution: making sense of life” for their undergraduate majors. And he has written numerous other books about evolution. I wouldn’t hesitate to call him an expert.

      The sad thing is that even students that have a BS degree from a secular university probably have fundamental misconceptions about evolution including what fitness is and how genetic drift works even if they took an evolutionary biology class. Most of our graduate students would fail a basic test of evolution. The assignment I gave to my student to critique Purdom resulted in ½ of them really not getting the main points. Other assignment to critique memes showed that they share in some of the same misconceptions. When they graduate 1/3 of them will be no better able to explain the main aspects of evolutionary theory as Purdom. Most of them will say they believe in evolution but belief is not the same as a working knowledge of how evolution occurs. All the time AiG talks about how many biologists don’t believe in evolution but their lists of those that don’t include huge numbers of doctors. Most pre-med bio degrees don’t include a course on evolution and so they will have had 2 or 3 weeks of lectures interspersed in other classes specifically about evolutionary theory. That many scientists “believed” in evolution and then were converted to YEC doesn’t mean they understood evolution when they believed it. I wonder how many people believe in Trump but could not explain his policies – hmm probably a bad example since there doesn’t seem to be any coherent explanation for his policies. Sorry, getting political today which is something I usually stay far from. But there are so many parallels with Trump and how we come to accept who an expert is in today’s world.


      1. Thanks for the thoughtful response. I agree in every aspect of your assessment’s theory, but I’m having trouble with its application. It seems like you have one standard of expertise for Carl Zimmer and another for the creationists who wrote the Grand Canyon book. Zimmer has no degree in biology and has done no research in the field, yet you don’t hesitate to call him an expert. The Grand Canyon book was written by 19 individuals, many of whom have doctorates in relevant fields and done years of research; others have varying levels of degree, but most of them are clearly relevant. Some of them aren’t trained in science, but rather theology, likely to comment on the theological implications of the topic. Given your acceptance of Zimmer, I would think you would at least grant expert status to Austin and Baumgardner, and I wouldn’t marginalize the other PhDs by any means? To be fair, I certainly wouldn’t put the expert label on guys like Ken Ham or maybe Bill Hoesch, but ignoring the credentials of the rest of them, especially in combination, makes me wonder if your assessment is really fair. Perhaps you’re putting more weight on the acceptance of the individual by his/her mainstream peers, which may be somewhat inevitable, but really isn’t reasonable since, by that metric, a creationist would have to all but become an evolutionist to be seen as an expert.

        Nonetheless I appreciate your reconsideration of Purdom’s character, and I should note, for all of the arguing that I do on behalf of AiG, I don’t wholeheartedly endorse their current approaches. I’m hopeful that your critiques and those of others can force/encourage such organizations to move towards a more scientific and discovery based approach to the debate.

        And since you brought it up, I fully agree on the Trump issue. When is somebody going to hold that guy accountable for what he says?


        1. I wouldn’t expect much on that front before judgement day. lol. And I wouldn’t spend too much time looking up everyone’s credentials. This type of argument is the genetic fallacy. Attack your opponents intelligence or expertise so that others will assume (perhaps even subconsciously) that whatever that individual says is not true. I am not against degrees, but if you read widely as I do, you will quickly learn that those with degrees can do or think stupid things just like the rest of us. We should focus instead on the actual teachings, with a healthy dose of logic as a filter. Again, with Trump, well, perhaps man did come from apes.


      2. You had me right up until trump, then slipped into genetic fallacy. Overall, though, a reasoned and rational response.


  25. cont’d

    Ham seems to have forgotten this brief moment of honesty on the AiG website where an ACCURATE definition of ‘natural selection’ was provided. And instead has resorted back to standard YEC propaganda about natural selection (and failed to discuss the genetics involved in the peppered moth case):
    The article provided the definition that natural selection is the differential survival of and/or reproduction of classes of entities that differ in one or more characteristics. A definition that EXCLUDES the YEC falsehood about ‘reshuffling or loss of genetic information’.


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