Open Page for Creationist Questions

Willkommen, bienvenue, welcome, come on in. welcome_kitten

This is a page set up just for creationists to ask questions about evolution. While I am not a scientist I am a very knowledgeable layperson who has been studying not only evolutionary theory but also creationist objections to it for over 20 years. So barring access to an actual working evolutionary biologist or paleontologist (who generally feel that talking to creationists is a waste of their time) I am your guy.

First a few simple, and I think reasonable, ground rules (they are similar to my comment policy for my blog) which will be applied to everyone creationist or evolutionist:

1. No threats (direct or indirect) or name-calling; attack ideas not individuals.

2. No spamming; one question at a time please! Comments that are laundry-lists of objections to evolution will be shortened (edited) to the first question. You can ask your other questions after I have addressed the current one.

3. Ask a question; no speeches please, that is the prerogative of the author.

4. No link bombing; I am not here as a clearinghouse for other people’s blogs or pages. Ask your own questions.

5. No proselytizing; I am not looking to have theological discussions; this page is for questions about science.

6. Please keep the questions to evolutionary biology or directly related subjects such as paleontology. Questions about physics or cosmology (Big Bang Theory) are best taken elsewhere, as I have only a basic knowledge of those subjects. I may grant some leeway on this but do not push it.

[The rules may be updated at anytime, however new rules will not be retroactively enforced.]

I am a civil libertarian and thus a strong advocate for freedom of speech so I am strongly inclined to give people a lot of latitude. No one will be banned for merely asking questions or disagreement. However, this is my blog not a public space so if you want to post here take care to abide by my rules and heed my warnings.

Also please note that if I find your question worthy I may move my response to a blog posting.

OK, having made you welcome and explained the ground rules, I invite you to ask away in the comments section below.

30 thoughts on “Open Page for Creationist Questions

  1. Pingback: New page for creationist questions! | Playing Chess with Pigeons

  2. Hi Troy,
    Did the Creationists evolve into tumbleweed and intellectual cowardice, or is it quiet reound here?
    And if so, why do we still have intellectual cowardice amongst tumbleweed?

    Like

    • Having thought about it a little I have decided that your comment is a little too close to name calling. Please refrain from making blanket statements about creationists being intellectual cowards. I want to make this a safe space for them (didn’t you see the cute, reassuring kitten above?).

      Thanks.

      Like

      • Hi, Troy,
        I understand and accept your points. However I still see nothing other than tumbleweed on the local scenery.
        We both know, from previous dealings (FYI: yes, I was on CI$; BTW, have you heard from Jon Wolff in the last few years. Or even Martin Yirrel?) with C*ts that the ones with whom we can enter a constructive dialogue are NOT the ones at the core of the problem : the real problem is the ones who choose to not engage with the evidence.
        To snip lots of ” blahblahblahblahblahblah…. “, we both know that there are a depressingly large number of C*ts who refuse to engage with evidence of any sort which may lead to counter-faith conclusions. To quote I-forget-whom, possibly Mencken, “You cannot reason someone out of a position at which they did not arrive by a process of reason.”
        I see what you’re trying to achieve with this blog. Sadly, I suspect that it is doomed to failure.

        Anyway, good to be back in contact, of sorts. Fight the good fight! I look forward to seeing you on Jerry Coyne’s “WhyEvolutionIsTrue” blog in future (sorry ; Jerry insists that it’s a “website”, not a “blog” ; it’s a Jerry-ism, as is the predilection for cats and near absence of d*gs).

        Life could be worse – in America, you think of tumbleweed : in Scotland we have midges ; as lightweight, but much more persistent and annoying. And more numerous too!

        (Now trying to remember Jon Wolff’s site … Google is my friend! I occasionally swap words with Les Howarth. Remember Marijke the island-dwelling mathematician? Cancer, I’m afraid. and our wrist-slapping he-who-must-be-obeyed “TLC” ; not had any contact for years.)
        Regards,
        Aidan
        (In, IIRC, “sub-tropical Aberdeen)

        THIS time, I remembered to tick the “new posts by email” box!

        Like

        • Hi Aidan,

          I understand and accept your points. However I still see nothing other than tumbleweed on the local scenery. We both know, from previous dealings (FYI: yes, I was on CI$…

          Ah yes! Good times, good times…

          BTW, have you heard from Jon Wolff in the last few years. Or even Martin Yirrel?

          Haven’t heard from Jon for years, never for Martin I’m afraid. Still talk to Ed Brayton (“St. Cynic”) now and again.

          To snip lots of ” blahblahblahblahblahblah…. “, we both know that there are a depressingly large number of C*ts who refuse to engage with evidence of any sort which may lead to counter-faith conclusions. To quote I-forget-whom, possibly Mencken, “You cannot reason someone out of a position at which they did not arrive by a process of reason.” I see what you’re trying to achieve with this blog. Sadly, I suspect that it is doomed to failure.

          I am not expecting to convert the hard-core types, rather I write for the fence sitters and misguided but still reachable types. There is still hope for some.

          That and I learn myself doing the research to write my responses. :-)

          Take it easy my friend.

          Like

  3. Hiya, guys! Long time no type — I check in here every now and then, but rarely have much of anything to say. Troy, I’ve tried to email you a few times over the years, but never got any response. I’m still on CIS — the current incarnation of CIS, that is, which is a set of web forums. I’m the contract-holder for SciMath now. Tom LeCompte left a couple of years ago, and they offered the contract to me; I took it because I couldn’t bear to see the old place shut down completely. We don’t get much traffic these days, a lot of the regulars are gone, but you’re both welcome to come by whenever you like. And bring some friends, too — as long as you keep it within the rules, I’d love to have some folks to discuss geology, fossils, dinosaurs, evolution, etc. with again!

    — Jon Woolf

    Like

    • Hi Jon!

      Troy, I’ve tried to email you a few times over the years, but never got any response.

      You have? Hmmm, I don’t remember that, I’ll have to check my spam folder. Every now and then Outlook dumps legit emails in there.

      I’m still on CIS — the current incarnation of CIS, that is, which is a set of web forums. I’m the contract-holder for SciMath now.

      You’re kidding, that is still around?

      We don’t get much traffic these days, a lot of the regulars are gone, but you’re both welcome to come by whenever you like.

      I’ll take a look but I won’t promise to participate. I don’t spend much time in discussion forums any more. I only recently engaged a few creationists on Ken Ham’s Facebook page (because he posted pics of me “protesting” one of his shindigs) but other than that I usually stick to going after the “big guns” on my blog (when I can work my self up to it).

      Anyway, good to hear from you Jon, I hope you’re doing well!

      Like

  4. John-who-is-also-Daniel asked something directly out of the Creationist Training Manual (Harun Yaya edition #3) :

    If I evolved from a monkey, then why don’t I like bananas?

    Well, that doesn’t really fit within the purview of

    Please keep the questions to evolutionary biology or directly related subjects such as paleontology.

    but it seems like some sort of attempt. So here are some relevant parts of the answer.
    (1) you have only tried one sub-species of banana (almost certainly the productive but weak-tasing variety called “Cavendish”) ; there are hundreds of wild-growing varieties and several separate species of banana which are much more well-known to the monkeys from which your ape ancestors evolved, which may be more amenable to you. However, I’ve never seen anything other than the insipid “Cavendish” on sale outside Africa. Even within Africa, the “Cavendish” is becoming more common, even tough they taste pallid and are terrible to cook. Our cooks at work refuse to touch “Cavendish” because it taints the oil in the frier.
    (2) You’re an ape, which is a sub-group of “monkeys”, themselves a sub-group of primates, themselves a sub-group of mammals, themselves a sub-group of amniotes, themselves a sub-group of the tetrapods, themselves a sub-group of the teleost fishes, themselves a sub-group of the jawed-vertebrates (Gnathostomata), themselves a sub-group of the skulled vertebrates (Craniata), themselves a sub-group of the vertebrates (assuming that you have now got a backbone, or had one while an embryo), themselves a sub-group of the animal “kingdom” ; surely somewhere in that proud lineage, there are characteristics which you do like.
    (3) Many “monkeys” don’t particularly like bananas too – they can be quite a bad food for them. Leaf-eating probiscus monkeys, for example, don’t like bananas much either. You should check with a zoo’s Primate House keeper if you’re in charge of looking after a “monkey” (they’ll want to know which of the several hundred species you’re feeding).
    What is it that you object to about being evolved from a monkey? Do you not like having opposable thumbs? Backache? A complex social life? These are all traits typical of primates, as we all are.

    Like

    • Or, I could point out that Daniel/John did not as an individual evolve from a monkey but rather humans as a species share a common ancestor with monkeys (that was probably monkey-like) and there is no expectation that just because many modern monkeys may like bananas that we necessarily should, though most of us do (I believe bananas are the most popular fruit in the U.S. at least).

      Also:

      …themselves a sub-group of the teleost fishes…

      You probably want to say “sub-group of the Teleostomi“, so as not to confuse them with the Teleostei, which we are definitely not descended from.

      I don’t know who the hell thought it was a good idea to name a clade of “fishes” “Teleostomi” in the first place. The confusion this would cause should have been obvious. Personally I wouldn’t use it and in this sort of context would stick with Gnathostomata/Osteichthyes/Sarcopterygii/Tetrapoda (YMMV).

      Like

    • Vertebrates are a subgroup of the craniates, not the other way around. Recall that hagfishes have skulls but no vertebrae (although they do have a notochord).

      Like

    • Well, if you can’t swim underwater then you’re rather unusual for a human; most humans have that ability, they just need to learn how to use it. As for breathing underwater, humans can’t do that anymore for the same reason that flightless cormorants can’t fly anymore: our ancestors lost that ability (gradually, over many generations) because they didn’t need gills anymore and/or they needed some other organ or ability more. As Heinlein said, there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.

      Like

    • You didn’t evolve from a fish, you still are a fish. As are all other mammals.
      When Neil Shubin wrote his book about the discovery of Tiktallik, he named it “Your Inner Fish” for perfectly good reasons of classification, as well as to make a good pedagogical talking point.

      Like

  5. I find this comment threat rather entertaining.
    I would like to take issue with the quote gravelinspector-Aidan repeated earlier: “You cannot reason someone out of a position at which they did not arrive by a process of reason.”
    I have heard this quote bantered around often in the scientific and free-thinker communities but I think it is completely false.
    Many of us free-thinkers, humanists and lay-science enthusiasts were once religious. I dare say that very few (almost none) of us had arrived at our faith position through reason. It was usually something we inherited and were indoctrinated with from our childhood.
    We have, however, used reason to abandon our previous position and embrace science.
    I think it is a worthy cause to try to help sincere people who may be struggling with the creationist’s indoctrination to understand real science.

    Like

    • When I use that quote, I’m using “reason” as a transitive verb (“I am using the process of ‘reason’ ON you…”), not as an intransitive or reflexive verb (I forget the term in English, but by contrast “I am using the process of ‘reason’ back onto myself to …”).
      My experience is that once someone comes out in public as a Creationist, then they’ve made a commitment to using unreason (some call it “faith”) as a guiding principle in their lives. And I’ve never actually seen one reasoned out of that position. Which rather undermines Troy’s idea for this forum.

      [Tumbleweed drifts past. It’s an invasive plant in America, did you know?]

      There may be such examples – you’ve got a bigger population of Creationists in America to select from, so you’ve probably got more extremes, both at the deranged and reasonable ends of the spectrum – but of the ones I meet, they’re simply a waste of time. Pouring unending and instant scorn upon the whole concept of religion at it’s first appearance in a situation seems more effective, by denying the “oxygen of publicity” to the mental terrorists.
      Of course, I’ve no way of knowing what they’re doing at home to their children (or other people’s), but since I don’t even know if they’ve got children … well, “Meh”.

      Like

      • I see your point.
        I would just state that, although not really a public figure, I was quite outspoken about my faith and religion before I saw so much evidence for evolution and real science. (What was I thinking? I’m face-palming about myself!)
        Also, Seth Andrews, who has a YouTube channel called The Thinking Atheist, was also a radio host for an evangelical Christian radio station before he started using his critical thinking skills.
        What I would say is that many, if not most people become more entrenched in their position over time. But there are those of us, wanting to be true to our intellect and honest to others, who come to a sort of epiphany after having a lot of evidence piled on us. It is a process that takes time.
        I could be wrong, but I’d venture to say that many of the people who like to argue the creationist viewpoint on blogs and YouTube will eventually get tired of fighting that uphill battle an even decide to be honest and then switch sides. … And even if they don’t, I think there are dozens, if not hundreds of people reading those posts who will be influenced by well formulated responses to their idiocy and pseudo-scientific dribble.
        Regards.

        Like

  6. Hi Troy, Just found your site and figured I should ask a few questions. First, to clarify, I am a college student, almost through with my history degree (as a major), I have a minor in geology, and I have taken enough courses to almost have minors in philosophy and anthropology (just establishing that I am not an uneducated internet troll…. at least not completely). This does not make me an authority on the debate between evolution and creationism, but I have studied enough to be fairly well versed in the arguments that each side uses. I was home-schooled by choice and was taught evolution and creation equally (no snide remarks about home-schoolers please, that is another debate for another time). Once I started college (yes it is a secular school) I decided that I had better pick a side on the debate (my parents were public school teachers before they taught me, and they left the choice, between creation/evolution, up to me). I studied the sides and decided to pick the side that, I believe, has the least number of holes in its arguments. I decided to become a creationist, but I still see both sides and am willing to keep my mind open to all possibilities. Therefore, I like to ask questions of those that consider themselves to be knowledgeable in this debate, so as to get both sides. I am aware that you do not have a PHD or a doctorate but I have spoken with those that do possess them, and as I said, I like to get the “whole picture.” So, I am going to ask a few questions that I have not seen already answered (on this site): Question 1: How do you define science (yes, I am talking about the AIG argument between “testable/repeatable science” and “historical/perceived science”)? I do mean you specifically, as different words mean different things to different people, and “standard definitions” do not always fully encapsulate this idea. Question 2: Why do scientific laws exist: gravity, thermodynamics, etc. if no one created them (yes it does seem like a silly question, but believe it or not, I have found this question to be helpful)? Question 3: How do you believe that things such as a conscience, idea of self-awareness, and the ability to fully reason came to be? Yes, this is a philosophical question, because philosophy is the first “science” and was the root of all the other disciplines. In addition, evolution influences much more than biology, geology, and physics (to name a few of the traditional sciences) in its scope, and all aspects of the theory need to be considered. Especially since the idea of “origins” is one of the three fundamental questions of philosophy (IE: Where did I come from? Why am I here? Where am I going?). I am aware that this is a lengthy post, but I believe that this issue is worth the time.
    With respect,
    Stephen

    By the way, I have heard your comparison of “playing chess with pigeons” before (in relation to evolutionists). Is that saying original (to you) or did you get it from elsewhere? If so, where?

    Like

    • I studied the sides and decided to pick the side that, I believe, has the least number of holes in its arguments. I decided to become a creationist,

      I can only imagine that the teachers hired for your home school were truly appallingly poor (and poorly trained and equipped) science teachers. Couldn’t your parents hire some proper teachers to teach you? I had several friends who started their science teaching (post-PhD and teaching certificate) by doing home tutoring for a number of pupils scattered across the county, and their fees were reasonable.

      Question 2: Why do scientific laws exist: gravity, thermodynamics, etc. if no one created them (yes it does seem like a silly question, but believe it or not, I have found this question to be helpful)?

      Because, for many laws, it doesn’t seem possible for the universe that we know of to exist without these laws. For example, given the existence and behaviour of integers, and the behaviour of large numbers, then to NOT have the First Law of Thermodynamics, you would have to have some Maxwellian Demon (Troy – do you remember Marijke?) running around moving high velocity particles in one direction and low velocity particles in the other direction. Similarly, gravity is a consequence of the structure of space-time, as far as we understand. (Obviously, some parts of the universe are still not fully understood, though we can describe with high precision what things do, we haven’t fully settled how or why they behave like that.)

      Question 3: How do you believe that things such as a conscience, idea of self-awareness, and the ability to fully reason came to be? Yes, this is a philosophical question

      No, it’s a question of neurochemistry and psychology. I am not a biologist of any sort, and I do not claim for a second to know how these things work, but I see no reason to treat them as philosophical questions. Incidentally, and related, which organisms do you consider to be capable of fully reasoning, and do you support eating them, or using them in medical experiments?

      Yes, this is a philosophical question, because philosophy is the first “science” and was the root of all the other disciplines.

      I was going to nominate anything as being the “first science”, I’d have looked at the materials science which was necessary – as an intuitive interpolation from observed events – for our pre-human ancestors on the savannahs of East Africa to start turning lumps of rock into hand axes. If you want, the science of flint knapping (though the first workers in the subject were neither human, nor using flint).

      IE: Where did I come from? Why am I here? Where am I going?

      In order, your mother’s womb (possibly via complications such as surrogacy or adoption, but medical science still requires a womb for some months, at the moment) ; your reason for existence is to pass your genes on to the next generation (you are not required to carry out this “reason for existence” ; you owe your genes nothing since they are non-sentient. Similarly you owe the floor nothing for stopping you from falling through it.) ; you are going to die (you can choose to a degree what organisms eat your flesh after you’ve died, and delay it a short while – up to a few millennia – but you’re worm-food. As am I, and everyone else.)

      By the way, I have heard your comparison of “playing chess with pigeons” before

      I hadn’t, and I’ve known Troy for what – the thick end of 20 years?
      (I can’t reply on the front page.)

      Like

      • Troy – do you remember Marijke?

        There is something vaguely familiar about the name but I cannot really say that I do.

        I can’t reply on the front page.

        ??? I don’t know why that would be. Are you not seeing the “leave a reply” box, or what?

        Like

        • Odd, now I do get reply-links on the main page. I had changed settings in AdBlock, so something may have got stuffed.
          Marijke was a CIS-SciMath person – heavily into physics and maths. After some encouragement from Tom Le Compte (I think), she retuned to college from her island retreat on Coll to Birmingham University. I’m not sure if she was doing a PhD or a Masters, but she was doing OK. After I left CIS, I kept occasional contact until a bout of repeated burglaries (7 in 10 days) and a nervous breakdown, I lost track of people
          Was. She died of cancer in about 2005.

          Like

  7. Pingback: Answering Creationist Questions | Playing Chess with Pigeons

  8. Got a question via e-mail related to my “gill slit” article:

    Troy,

    I had read your gill slits article earlier this year and again today. It’s a very good and comprehensive article that I learned a lot from. I’d like to ask a question.

    First some background on me: I am a 45 year old Christian, specifically a Southern Baptist. I am not a Young Earther and have no problems with much of evolutionary theory.

    My question concerns the evolution of the pharyngeal arches. Even though I am a Southern Baptist asking this question to a skeptic and evolutionist, it is an honest question; no ulterior motive and no gotcha moment forthcoming.

    Consider the fourth pharyngeal arch (to choose one arch at random). I take it that this arch develops into the skin (and the internal nerves and blood vessels) between the gill slits of adult fish. In humans, this arch develops into the thyroid cartilage (and supporting nerves and blood vessels). Do you know of a NON-FUNCTIONAL and NON-VESTIGIAL homologous structure in any species (extinct or extant) that lies along the evolutionary path between “skin between gill slits” and “thyroid cartilage”?

    B.M. [Full name withheld by me – T.B.]

    Hello B.M. I am not entirely sure what you are getting at when you ask for a “non-functional” and “non-vestigial” homologous structure between the gills of fish and derivative structures in tetrapods. Why would it have to be either non-functional or non-vestigial? Without understanding what you are getting at there I am not sure how to answer your question.

    As for what lies between gills in the ancestors of tetrapods and said derivatives in tetrapods (not factoring in your qualifications), I would think we would want to look at the earliest tetrapods in the fossil record and living amphibians for clues.

    Both lines of investigations have limitations of course. With fossils we are limited mostly to hard parts (and we are talking about a lot of soft tissue stuff here) and with living amphibians we are looking at animals with hundreds of millions of years of evolution between them and the transition we are interested in (though they seem to have changed the least in this particular area).

    So if you could clarify I might be able to be more specific.

    Thanks.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s