Monday, June 18, 2007

Creationism Vs. Evolution ... Follow-up

Well I was just tempted to do this bit. Now the basis of this argument is :

Are we supposed to include dogmatic knowledge when teaching a scientific class since some of the theories undermine some of what is mentioned in religion

Now this has been a heated debate recently in the states, in actuality in this region of the world its not even a debate. not because we are enlightened or any of that, but because we pass over the evolution part of science with the comment of its BS. We move on without even thinking of it, and after that you hear all the pseudo proofs of why that is the case "human DNA has the same components as soil", "the scientific wonder of the Bible/Quran/Torah".
So am going to try to the best of my abilities to lay down the arguments and counter arguments for each one, if i missed any please advise.


The Case for Creationism:
(this will mainly on the Christian side which is identical to the Islamic side since this argument was dead in Muslim science since the 14th century and most of the arguments are based on those of the Christian creationists. besides that the accounts for the creation are the same on either side of things, albeit the Christian account is more literal while the Muslim account is slightly more vague)

Essentially its whats in the book of Genesis, especially the first 7 chapters. Essentially the point of creationism (intelligent design or what ever other name it might be given) is to utilize science to prove scientifically what is mentioned there.
  1. Earth is approximately 6000 years old (that is based on the calculation of ages of the prophet and since the lineage can be traced down to Jesus Christ (3issa 3aleih 2il salam)
  2. The creation of earth, and all of its inhabitants(including humans) came to be at around the same point, on the sixth day (now earth was created in 7 days if you would like to calculate the time of god's days(Muslim point) in thousands of years please do so)
  3. Humans are descendant of Adam and Eve, and the "Flood" has reduced the population of the earth and constricted the gene pool (or diversified it not sure since its the first reference to races).
  4. People in the past lived longer(biblical & Quranic references) and their point of origin was from what is anthropologically called the agricultural age.
  5. Faith; since the evidence is of a religious nature it is eminent that faith will be a strong force even if its being pushed as "scientific" evidence.
So those 5 points form the starting point, and the whole "scientific" method of creationist is to counter all scientific evidence that contradict this, and overburden theories with answers that are not know yet.

The Case for Evolution:
(This is based on what I know and could find references to)

The general theory of evolution is commonly meant to mean the biological evolution which was incepted by Charles Darwin. It does stretch to the origins of life since it's "a necessary precursor for biological evolution, but understanding that evolution has occurred and investigating how this happens does not depend on understanding exactly how life began"
The main points of Biological evolution: (reference:theses of darwinism)
  1. Transmutationism - that species change form to become other species
  2. Common descent - that similar species have common ancestors
  3. Struggle for existence - that more are born than can survive
  4. Natural selection - that the relatively better adapted have more offspring, sometimes called Malthusianism
  5. Sexual selection - that the more "attractive" organisms of sexual species mate more (and have more offspring), causing unfit traits to spread; again there is no alternate, just a denial that it happens
  6. Biogeographic distribution - that species occur close by related species, explaining the distributions of various genera
  7. Heredity - the more modern view that genes don't record information about the life of organisms.
  8. Random mutation - the notion that changes in genes aren't directed towards "better" alternatives; in other words, that mutations are blind to the needs imposed by the ecology in which organisms find themselves
  9. Genetic drift/neutralism - the view that some changes in genes are due to chance or the so-called "sampling error" of small populations of organisms. Molecular neutralism is the view that the very structure of genes changes in purely random ways.
  10. Functionalism - the view that features of organisms are neither due to or are constrained by the shapes (morphology) of their lineage, but are due to their functional, or adaptive, benefits.
(evolution points are in blue while creationist points are in black)

So in order for creationist to prove their premises they need to disqualify a huge chunk of science for the past couple of centuries. spanning biology, astronomy, geology, physics, and others.

Some points they need to prove:
  • The Dating methods Used are inaccurate there are cases were isotropic and other dating methods have been proofed wrong (in essence that Geochronology is a hoax):
    • Dendrochronology; tree-ring dating
    • isotropic dating(C-14 dating); depending on the half-life of the carbon-14 we can accurately measure dates up to 50,000 without scaling
  • This might be bias(from my end not the scientific end), but trees have been dated to more than 10,000 years ago (with living ones aged over 4,000 years which conflicts with the flood accounts) with no refutal point other than it is going to be refuted in the future which is sufficient enough to cancel the debate regarding the age of living things being limited to 6,000 years. I am a bit rusty on my chemistry and physics but C-14/C-12 ratio dependence and contamination arguments are not convincing
  • The variation of organisms on the planet need to fit into the arc(inferred from the flood and passages of elimination of all other beings), and dinosaurs need to have coexisted with humans with no relative time space between them.
  • Couldn't find much material regarding this, one point was that evolution in small amounts accounts for the species seen today (microevolution), the other is that the flood was limited to human populated areas and not the entire globe. As for the coexistence of humans and dinosaurs its attributed to scientific dishonesty and dating inaccuracy, some even draw evidence from Job 40 that biblically it is documented that dinosaurs coexisted(mentioned as leviathans, behemoths, and dragons since the word didn't exist till the 19th century or so)
Major Argument tools:
  • Irreducible Complexity: The idea that biological systems couldn't have arisen from less complete predecessors and that They are too complex to have risen through mutation,e.g:
    • Blood clotting in humans
    • Dolphins have an "incomplete" form of the system and it still functions
    • Flagella bacteria
    • Along the same lines as the previous part, different proteins in the flagella serve similar or different function is other organisms so they don't prove the point
    • Eye is to complex to form by chance
    • Not having the knowledge of how something came to be doesn't prove the fallacy of what was know, and there are some suggestions as to how it came to be. Evolution does not mean that things pop out of nowhere due to chance !
  • The idea as a whole is non sequitur since the presence of IC does not falsify evolution or prove creation.
  • There are no transitional fossils(the birth of a new species from an older one through a transitional species) , and fossils don't take millions of years to form
  • The dating methods used to estimate the millions or hundred thousands of years are discussed above, as for the transitional fossil the expectancy of true chimeras of the creatures around today is what they want to see which makes them ignore other transitional fossils found
There are many other points that are made but in my opinion these are usually the biggest and "strongest" ones that could be made. Personally I don't mind either theory to be held by anyone. For the longest time I have been trying to correlate and find a common ground between the two, but the more I learned about both the more I leaned toward evolution since it plainly made sense to what I had been taught in my scientific education.

The argument point is that "what I had been taught in my scientific education" that is the main beef of creationist, is that teaching science in that sense tends to undermine what is being taught in religion.

Hence the idea to teach both sides, or to ignore the evolution part of science which as seen plainly touches on the majority of what we call science nowadays based on Biblical and religious texts mainly . That will bring us back to the earth is flat and it revolves around the sun since thats what is mentioned in the bible.

In my opinion religious text didn't set out to be of a scientific nature they were meant to be understood for people who didn't hold much regard or knowledge to science as we see it today. So that is the first case, that teaching creationism in a science class is akin to teaching alchemy is chemistry and astrology in astronomy. It is a pseudo science.

On the other hand believing in evolution and the general theory doesn't undermine the belief in god or religion (ok maybe not in the general sense or a personal god ), believing in evolution is not equivalent to being atheistic or agnostic since you will still have the faith to believe.

As for Intelligent design I didn't touch much upon it since the idea that god set the systems of nature to test the faith of the people sounds like we are being deceived and its something I don't really like to get too much into it since it will be more philosophical than scientific. Also the arguments of the watch maker and firing squad analogy(Weak Anthropic Principle) fall in that category too.

Sources and reference/ extra material:
creationist arguments
evolution refutals
creationism refutals
creationism vs. evolution entry in wiki
Video of a presentation by Ken miller (catholic biology professor) arguing against ID

So whats the next iteration of creationism

Labels: , ,


  • Interesting and comprehensive post. Good job No_Angel.

    I think that you have given both sides of the argument their fair share.

    I too lean towards evolution. Maybe the truth is a combination of the two, but there are much more scientific evidence that supports the evolution theory rather than the text of the bible which can easily re-interpret to mean other things and may eventually come out to speak evolution language!

    By Blogger The Observer, At 19/6/07 10:35  



    By Blogger Mohanned, At 19/6/07 11:52  

  • observer a combination of the two ? how do you see that happening, your suggestion sounds akin to intelligent design in a way, and there is no way to bridge the gap (IMO). as for it to mean evolution then yeah they are starting to except part of it (to explain how everything in this world was fitted on an ARK)
    But evolution tends to go beyond just mutations and the common decendant theory, and getting over the 6000 year old earth idea is the main hurdle i'd like to see that reinterpreted.

    mohanned i was trying to keep this serious(except for the cartoons) but since u brought up this one, here is my favourite among the 3 Family guy creationism

    btw ENJOY! is a crp slogan :P

    By Blogger No_Angel, At 19/6/07 12:13  

  • Good post!

    And the videos, especially the family guy one, hilarious!

    By Blogger 7aki Fadi, At 20/6/07 01:50  

  • no_angel, I mean that no matter how old the earth is or even the whole universe, it still can all be created and set up in a path of atomic reactions that had eventually created the first cell which evolved to form humans beings.

    By Blogger The Observer, At 20/6/07 11:08  

  • thats exactly why its a little tricky in my mind to consolidate the two.
    See I can't really deny that it is not possible for it to be made that way (since its an article of faith)

    but the way that it was "set up" is what cause the problem

    when you say setup it means it was propped made to seem that way, and never really is that way. thats deceiving, you see where am going with this ?

    -we are told things are this way in pretty precise terms
    -evidence says things are different
    -evidence was furnished to please our lust for knowledge and the whole intricate system of nature was fabricated to test our faith ;)

    By Blogger No_Angel, At 20/6/07 11:20  

  • Interesting post, and I hope you will forgive what looks to be a long comment on my behalf!

    To start, the comparisons you have made in the beginning between Islam and what I can only assume to be evanangelical Christinianity, are, well wrong. I cannot comment on your understanding of the biblical text, as I am Muslim, but in Islam there is nothing to suggest that the Universe in 6000 yrs old, if anything it is explicitly said that time is a relative matter.

    Also, lumping the age of man into the age of earth when considering the age of the universe is mathematically sound. The age of man is a but a blip on the age of earth which in turn is a blip on the age of the universe, you may as well estimate that these events happened concurrently when looking ate the universal time scale of events. A minor point though.

    Another heads up, I do believe that the Flagella Bacterium is now an argument for evolution as the various components of the flagellum are (independently) a necessary evolutionary step... combination may as well be chance.

    Knowledge/science, you claim that Islam/Christianity do not favour/respect this, when in fact Islam (again I excuse myself from a discussion of biblical text) highly values seeking of knowledge and was a strong motivator behind the various Muslim scholars of the past.

    Onto the nitty gritty aspects. I have never seen any reason why evolution (be it biological or physical as in origins of the universe) contradicts islam (or christinianity for that matter or Judaism). These religions submit to an all powerful God, capable of just about anything... when people say that evolution is too complicated, too 'out there' they effectively imply that it is too complicated for God to achieve. We have plenty of evidence of independence in nature, we are taught that we have a free will thus the implication that God said 'let it be' and it becomes, and He allows it to unfold. A scientist of faith then views his/her job as figuring out what is out there? how does it work? what are the principles behind nature (be it physics, chemistry or biology).

    As it happens this aethistic-evolution vs. creationism fued is hindering science... BOTH camps are digging their heels in wishing to 'prove' there point, this in fact skews BOTh theire views. I believe it was artistotle to contrary to what he saw, maintained that the earth was flat, since a round earth would imply a god and he knew he did not exist. The fate of Galileo attests to what can go wrong when the latter camp digs their heels in.

    I for one (p.s. am a cosmologist, muslim) do not view my work as something which I will use to convince the world that God exists. I know he does, the evidence I see to favour this is interpreted another way by an aethsist. The emergence of our universe out of the chaotic quantum goo that was the early universe often makes me stand back and go 'Subhan Allah' whereas an aethist would go 'further proof that our existence is a statistical blip'.

    By Anonymous loolt, At 20/6/07 20:16  

  • Hey loolt Thank you for your comment and am thrilled i got a big comment like that :D

    Regarding Islam it does adhere to that calculation although it is slightly looser.
    It is calculated through genealogy, we have the ages of prophets(adam, noah, ibrahim and others 3alayhom 2il salam) and we have their ages when they had their children. So calculating that you will get a number around 6000 years with the highest estimates at about 10000 years so there is no way around it to increase much more than that (i referred to "qisas 2al 2anbiya2" for that if you would like to verify it. btw this applies to all Christianity and Judaism too since the ages are the same across all three religions (with Judaism having the most depth in terms of records and lineages).
    As for science in Islam, one cause for the decline of muslim science was that al mu3tazileen took over the power for the 2asha3ira (about 12th century i think) and being the stricter sect they imposed stricter restriction on how far a scientist is allowed to go. one victim that comes to mind when religion sticks its nose too far into science is Ibn-Rushd.

    Now one thing that alarmed me is that you said "when people[atheists, agnostics] say that evolution is too complicated" that argument is never used by them, that is exactly the argument that religious people use, and religiously speaking(not gonna go through the philosophical aspect) you don't have a free will when you have a destiny(qadar) to follow.
    In the end i think we agree, that it is not the role of scientist to follow constructs and science is about teaching what we know not what we don't know. Honestly I don't think athiestic are damaging science as much as faith scientist since they are more willing of disposing of a theory when a better one comes along regardless of belief while religious people as you pointed can't(am not gonna quote Aristotle regarding astronomy and am not familiar with that, but he was a polytheist or spiritual atleast)

    exactly my point religion belief is a personal belief that differs from one to another and since it doesn't mix too well with others its application should not be in the public domain as is the case with science. so it has no place in ur astronomical research beyond an "I" statement

    By Blogger No_Angel, At 21/6/07 13:31  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

Links To This Post

Create a Link

<< Home