Discussing Natural Selection

I was invited to participate in a livestream discussion about natural selection. In this case it was for The Crucible livestream on the Promethean Secular Frontier Network on YouTube. This episode of The Crucible was hosted by Sunny Shell and my fellow panelists were Aron Ra, the prolific YouTube defender of evolution, and Brit Garner, science educator and host of the Nature League YouTube channel. I had a lot of fun doing it, hopefully I will get a chance to do more of this new fangled moving pictures technology. My thanks to Sunny and Wes (the producer) for having me on and to Phil Calderone for suggesting me to them (Phil invited me a few years ago to join him in a debate against a couple of creationists).

Give it a watch:

Answers in Genesis apparently didn’t like MY answers

So I’ve been blocked by the Answers in Genesis Facebook page. They’ve deleted my comments and those of the people who had responded to my comments (their fans), without warning or explanation. Not that I don’t know why they did it; censorship is the go-to tool of those who don’t have an argument, so they use what power they have to try and make the inconvenient questions—or answers—go away.

In this case they had posted a link to an article on their website with the tagline:

Atheists believe that religion should be kept out of public places. But what if atheistic humanism is a religion, too?

Now I generally don’t get involved in theist vs. atheist debates online and I had no intent in doing so in my response to this tagline. All I did was state that I thought most atheists did not believe “that religion should be kept out of public places”, just out of governmental institutions like public schools and courtrooms etc. 

There was a little back and forth with some of the faithful, however I participated in no name calling or insult slinging. My harshest comment was probably when I suggested—after essentially being told that if I didn’t like their interpretation of church/state separation that I should move to a communist country, which is funny given that I am an anticommunist—that if they didn’t like living in a pluralistic liberal (small L) constitutional democratic republic where the rights of everyone were protected, they were free to leave.

There was that and I believe I referred to one of my interlocutors caricature of evolution as “ludicrous” or something similar. That was about it, that is all it took for the ban hammer to come down.

Pathetic really.

Ah well another feather in the cap to go along with my banning from the Institute for Creation Research’s Facebook page.   

 

Just say NO kids…

Some bugs from my mother’s garden

Mom found some caterpillars munching on flowers in her back yard today. At first I thought they might be larvae of the moth Manduca quinquemaculata, AKA the “five-spotted hawkmoth” the AKA the “Tomato Hornworm”:

However my mother said she had looked those up and that these caterpillars were different. After looking them up myself I agree they do look a little different, but not much. I’ll be tagging my friend Don—a lepidopterist—to see what he thinks they might be (perhaps a closely related species?).

There were a number of individuals ranging in size and coloration. There were these two individuals that were about 1.5 to 2 inches long (fingers for scale):

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Here is a close up of one of the smaller larva. Note the shed skin on the stem below and to the rear of the caterpillar.

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Then there were these two larger larvae (2.5 inches or so). Note the slight difference in coloration between the two:

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Then there was the beefiest cater-critter of them all. About 3 inches in length and rather radically different in coloration. Different species or do they change coloration as they molt? Again I’ll be deferring to my freind Don on this one.

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My mother is going to attempt to rear them to adulthood, so perhaps I will have an update with some pictures of the adults in future.

Update: My friend Don got back to me and said the following (with a caution that these are not the group of moths in which he specializes:

“Looks like a white-lined sphinx moth larva. Hyles lineata. They feed on a variety of plants, and with this year’s rain should be all over. I’ve seen the larvae by the thousands at places like Anza Borrego State Park. The adults come to blacklights in most places around here.”

Looking at pictures of H. lineata this appears to my non-person eyes to be correct;

Noah’s Ark Sighted!

Noah's Ark Sighted

Finally, hard evidence of the Genesis Flood story!

So I was on a panel discussion about micro vs. macroevolution…

Several weeks back I get an email from Phil Calderone, a member of one of the local atheist/agnostic/freethought groups (I.E.A.A.), asking if I would like to act as a fill in on a (then) upcoming “believers vs. non-believers” panel discussion on the subject of micro vs. macroevolution. Apparently, one of the persons originally invited was not going to be able to participate and he needed a fill in and was pointed towards me by Dr. Brad Hughes, who many years ago I had helped (along with others) prepare for a debate with “Dr.” Kent Hovind.

After some trepidation—due to having never done any public speaking before—I agreed to participate as long as it was understood that I was unlettered and neither a paleontologist or biologist but rather a mere amateur naturalist who has had a bit of experience in the creation/evolution debate. 

The format of the discussion was meant to be a relatively informal back and forth between four people with two on each side. One the “believers” side there was a gentleman named Kelly Clemensen, of something called the Areopagus Project, and Dr. Paul Giem of Loma Linda University (see also Giem’s web page here). On the non-believers side was myself and Phil Calderone who was to moderate but had to fill in the second non-believers chair for another person who couldn’t make it.

I will not go into any more description of the event as it was recorded on video and you can watch the proceedings for yourself below. However, truth and honesty before all I will be addressing at least two places where I know I screwed up in the discussion below the video.

Please feel free to point out any other mistakes I made, or address the many points made by the creationists that went unaddressed by either Phil or me during the discussion. I know there are whole bunches of things that our opponents said that was missed or deserved more in depth dissection.

Now that you have, hopefully, watched the video there are two places that I realized I messed up pretty much right after the debate. One was minor memory failure, misattribution about punctuated equilibrium. The other was a more significant—at least in my opinion—point were I brought up a group of fossil organisms that was really something of a red-herring—though I committed the fallacy out of partial ignorance—and should have known better from other statements I myself had made at other points in the same discussion!

Read on»

A little help for a pooper-pup

My sister is looking for a little help for her gentleman friend’s pup-pup, Bubba. They got some bad news from the veterinarian that Bubba may have cancer and they need some financial assistance to get him the tests and treatments he’ll need. So they have set up a Gofundme page to take donations, please help if you can, even a couple bucks will do. Thanks!

Bubba

Merry Christmas (etc.) Everyone!

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Or whatever holiday you prefer.

And a happy New Year!

 

Is “The Imminent Demise of Evolution” still imminent?

Ten years ago, in 2006, intelligent design creationist William Dembski predicted that in a decade evolution would be toast:

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) – To William Dembski, all the debate in this country over evolution won’t matter in a decade.

By then, he says, the theory of evolution put forth by Charles Darwin 150 years ago will be “dead.”

Yeah, well…

Meanwhile I stumbled upon this today (dated 11-17-2016) from young Earth creationist Richard William Nelson:

Despite a flood of challenges since the publication of The Origin of Species in 1859 by Charles Darwin and more than 150 years of unprecedented scientific efforts in the history of mankind to prove otherwise, the evidence examined in nature tooled with unprecedented technology continues to be compatible with the Genesis record written by Moses…

…Evolution, once a theory in crisis, is now in crisis without even a cohesive unifying theory.

Biological evolution exists only as a philosophy, not a science.

For a long list of creationists predicting the death of evolution see this following:

The Imminent Demise of Evolution: The Longest Running Falsehood in Creationism by Glen Morton