Saturday, November 25, 2006

Jastrow: `All these numbers are so small that ... the Earth must be the only planet, bearing life'

Kevin Miller at Design Watch's quote from WorldNetDaily's " Ma Earth: The planned accident,"

[Graphic: Robert Jastrow, Tom Magnuson]

has reminded me to post a quote I found the other day while digging deeper into my pile of unclassified photocopies. It is by agnostic Robert Jastrow, founding director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, Professor of Geophysics at Columbia University and Director Emeritus of Mount Wilson Observatory":

"Regarding the first question, recent reports of bodies circling other stars confirm the suspicion that planets probably are common in the universe. The evidence is indirect but quite robust, and we can now guess that a billion trillion families of planets - give or take a few powers of 10-exist within the universe. The book then turns to the question of life's origin: What is the probability that life has arisen out of inanimate matter on the trillions of these inferred planets? Opinions diverge widely. Dick cites an estimate by physicist Harold Morowitz that the probability of creating a bacterium - the simplest living organism through random molecular collisions is 1 in 10100,000,000,000. Fred Hoyle raises this chance to a more optimistic 1 in 1040,000. Biochemist Robert Shapiro estimates that the probability of chance formation of a short strand of self-replicating RNA is considerably greater - as `large' as 1 in 10992. All these numbers are so small that, even when multiplied by the vast number of planets probably present in the universe, they force us to conclude that the Earth must be the only planet, bearing life." (Jastrow, R., "What Are the Chances for Life?" Review of The Biological Universe by Steven J. Dick, Cambridge University Press, 1996. Sky & Telescope, Vol. 93, No.6, June 1997, pp.62-63, p.62).

Here is another quote along the same lines, this time a book review in The New York Times of Peter Ward and Donald Brownlee's book, "Rare Earth: Why Complex Life is Uncommon in the Universe" (2000),

[Graphic: Rare Earth, Dr. Charles Mallery, University of Miami]

which discusses the possibility that "Maybe We Are Alone in the Universe, After All":

"In the last few decades, a growing number of astronomers have promulgated the view that alien civilizations are likely to be scattered among the stars like grains of sand, isolated from one another by the emptiness of interstellar space. Just for Earth's own galaxy, the Milky Way, experts have estimated that there might be up to one million advanced societies. This extraterrestrial credo has fueled not only countless books, movies and television shows -- not to mention hosts of Klingons, Wookies and Romulans -- but a long scientific hunt that uses huge dish antennas to scan the sky for faint radio signals from intelligent aliens. Now, two prominent scientists say the conventional wisdom is wrong. The alien search, they add, is likely to fail. Drawing on new findings in astronomy, geology and paleontology, the two argue that humans might be alone, at least in the stellar neighborhood, and perhaps in the entire cosmos. They say modern science is showing that Earth's composition and stability are extraordinarily rare. Most everywhere else, the radiation levels are too high, the right chemical elements too rare in abundance, the hospitable planets too few in number and the rain of killer rocks too intense for life ever to have evolved into advanced communities. Alien microbes may survive in many places as a kind of cosmic shower scum, they say, but not extraterrestrials civilized enough to be awash in technology. Their book, "Rare Earth" (Springer-Verlag), out last month, is producing whoops of criticism and praise, with some detractors saying that the authors have made their own simplistic assumptions about the adaptability of life forms while others call it `brilliant' and `courageous.' `We have finally said out loud what so many have thought for so long -- that complex life, at least, is rare,' said Dr. Peter D. Ward of the University of Washington, a paleontologist who specializes in mass extinctions ... `And to us, complex life may be a flatworm.' The book's other author is Dr. Donald C. Brownlee of the University of Washington, a noted astronomer, member of the National Academy of Sciences and chief scientist of NASA's $166 million Stardust mission to capture interplanetary and interstellar dust. `People say the Sun is a typical star,' he remarked in an interview. `That's not true.' Dr. Brownlee added: `Almost all environments in the universe are terrible for life. It's only Garden of Eden places like Earth where it can exist.'" (Broad, W.J., "Maybe We Are Alone in the Universe, After All," The New York Times, February 8, 2000).

And here are two more quotes from reviews of Rare Earth by IDists Guillermo Gonzalez and Ben Wiker which make the point that Ward and Brownlee's "rare Earth hypothesis goes directly against the Copernican Principle" (or Principle of Mediocrity):

"In their final chapter, `Messengers from the Stars,' Ward and Brownlee try to put their hypothesis within a broader historical and philosophical context. They rightly note that the rare Earth hypothesis goes directly against the Copernican Principle. The Copernican Principle had its origin in the simple hypothesis put forth by Nicholas Copernicus that the structure of the solar system is heliocentric as opposed to geocentric. This physical understanding of the universe, in which the Earth is not the center of anything, has been extrapolated and inflated into a general metaphysical doctrine that asserts a complete lack of `specialness' for the Earth or its inhabitants. True, the physical form of the Copernican Principle has been proven true, as we have been moved into an average-looking place in the universe, but at the same time, Earth has been shown to be quite special in its ability to support living things. This first became evident in 1973 with the introduction of the Anthropic Principle into cosmological discussions by Brandon Carter, and it was reinforced by the publication of The Anthropic Cosmological Principle by John Barrow and Frank Tipler in 1986. Barrow and Tipler amassed a huge collection of examples from astrophysics and chemistry showing just how finely tuned many constants of nature have to be for us to exist. It appears the universe was designed with the goal of producing us. This is the central theme of the Anthropic Principle, and it goes directly against the philosophical form of the Copernican Principle. Surprisingly, most popular science writers and many professional astronomers have continued to interpret new discoveries in astronomy within the Copernican framework. For example, over the last four years many magazine articles and over half a dozen books have been written about the new extrasolar planet discoveries, all interpreting them as furthering the Copernican revolution. But any open-minded person looking at the new discoveries objectively will see that they demonstrate just the opposite-the solar system is far from typical. Ward and Brownlee are among the first secular scientists to admit to this obvious fact. Their hypothesis also goes directly against the religious dogma of the SETI Institute, which has enjoyed a love-fest with the public during the last decade or two. The movie Contact was a masterpiece of propaganda, which most of the public seems to have accepted. Even astronomers have been suckered into swallowing the SETI misinformation. Ward and Brownlee are to be thanked for going against such a powerful opinion-setting institution. Theirs is the first significant critique of the SETI position since Frank Tipler opined against SETI and openly criticized Carl Sagan in the early 1980s." (Gonzalez, G., "No Other Eden."' Review of Rare Earth: Why Complex Life Is Uncommon in the Universe, by Peter D. Ward and Donald Brownlee, Copernicus: New York, 2000)

which had been a major plank of anti-Christian "propaganda".

That is, "This conjectured plurality of worlds and intelligent creatures seemed to" (and did) "threaten the central Christian doctrine of the Incarnation" but "In regard to Christian theology, the most helpful thing about the arguments of Ward and Brownlee is that they are not trying to be helpful at all. ... No one can accuse them of stacking the deck in our favor. The cards are dealt by nature itself" (my emphasis)!:

"First, our planet was ousted from the center of the universe, then our sun was found to be only one of many suns in an immense galaxy; next came the discovery that our galaxy is just one of countless stellar systems in the cosmos. Following upon these findings, one of the longstanding assumptions of modern science has been that, given the billions of stars in our galaxy and the billions of galaxies in the universe, there must be countless other planets out there teeming not just with life, but intelligent life at that. Human beings, on this assumption, would be nothing special. Carl Sagan once conjectured that, in our own humble galaxy alone, there must be a million civilizations of creatures intelligent enough for interstellar communication. This conjectured plurality of worlds and intelligent creatures seemed to threaten the central Christian doctrine of the Incarnation. If God himself is united to human nature in our world, how is he dealing with other intelligent creatures elsewhere in the cosmos? Does the Incarnation apply to them? ... Now along come Peter Ward and Donald Brownlee to upset scientific orthodoxy and reinvigorate us monotheists. Earth, they claim, is no run-of-the-mill planet. We are `not so ordinary as Western science has made us out to be .... Our global inferiority complex may be unwarranted.' Against the common view that we are all too common, they offer the rare-earth hypothesis - the paradox that life may be nearly everywhere in the universe, but complex life almost nowhere. By `complex,' they mean anything above the microbe. Furthermore, since the rarity increases as the complexity increases, `intelligent animal life must be rarer still.' Earth, then, is not ordinary at all; indeed, it is quite extraordinary, and even more exceptional is the existence of intelligent life. If the rare-earth hypothesis is right, human beings may be the most unlikely phenomenon in the universe. `If some god-like being could be given the opportunity to plan a sequence of events with the express goal of duplicating our 'Garden of Eden,' that power would face a formidable task,' declare Ward and Brownlee. `With the best intentions, but limited by natural laws and materials, it is unlikely that Earth could ever be truly replicated. Too many processes in its formation involved sheer luck . ... [T]he physical events that led to the formation and evolution of the physical Earth ... required an intricate set of nearly irreproducible circumstances.' How so? Well, if you want any kind of life on a planet, you've got to have a sun, and not just any sun will do. It has to be the right distance from the center of the galaxy. If it's too close to the star-dense center, it will likely be sterilized by a supernova, an exploding star. If it's too far away, it will be too poor in heavy elements, the building blocks of a habitable planet. Your sun will also have to have the just right mass; otherwise, the planets orbiting it will be too close or too far away to sustain life. For these and other reasons, Ward and Brownlee declare, our rare earth required a rare sun. Shall we add the presence of Jupiter? If you don't want your planet to be bombarded by comets and asteroids, you'd better have a `sweeper.' Because of its great mass, Jupiter cleans interstellar debris from our solar system. Without it, the Earth would likely be continually pummeled - and therefore lifeless. Let's also add that, if Jupiter were any closer to its sun, as other Jovian-type planets generally are, it would have crushed the Earth. Another happy accident! We have a glimpse of how rare the conditions surrounding our planet are, but the conditions of Earth itself are rarer still. According to the authors, getting life, microbial life, might be relatively easy. Therefore, such non-complex life may very well be abundant in the universe. But complex life is both difficult to attain and maintain. To begin with, you need an atmosphere, surface water and a constant but narrow range of temperature. Attaining and maintaining these require an immensely complex dance of factors - the right amount of initial carbon available, a molten core of the right elements and temperature, the presence of a sufficient magnetic field and other factors too numerous to mention. In addition, if you want to maintain the conditions of life over sufficiently long periods of time, say, multiple millions of years, you have to avoid all kinds of catastrophes all too common on other planets. Earth, unlike many other planets, has managed to escape such destruction. On top of all this, we, the Earth, actually have complex life, the existence of which is far, far more unlikely than the conditions which allow it. When we string together the list of all these improbable conditions and events, the authors claim, the probability of creating a planet with complex life approaches zero. The actual presence of Earth, given the extremely complex and interrelated conditions which allowed its birth and continuation, is near miraculous. Science, it would seem, is leaning back toward faith: We really may be the only rational animal in the universe after all. In regard to Christian theology, the most helpful thing about the arguments of Ward and Brownlee is that they are not trying to be helpful at all. They show no evidence of being Christian, or even being vaguely theistic, but argue from the perspective of evolutionary-based scientific materialism. No one can accuse them of stacking the deck in our favor. The cards are dealt by nature itself." (Wiker, B.D., "Billions of Planets, But Only One Earth." Review of "Rare Earth: Why Complex Life is Uncommon in the Universe," by Peter Ward and Donald C. Brownlee, Copernicus: New York, 2000. National Catholic Register, September 10-16, 2000)

Stephen E. Jones, BSc (Biol).

Genesis 12:17-19. 17But the LORD inflicted serious diseases on Pharaoh and his household because of Abram's wife Sarai. 18So Pharaoh summoned Abram. "What have you done to me?" he said. "Why didn't you tell me she was your wife? 19Why did you say, 'She is my sister,' so that I took her to be my wife? Now then, here is your wife. Take her and go!"

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Re: I'm a YEC, and I think you're misrepresenting our position #3


[Graphic: "Starlight and Time" by D. Russell Humphreys (1994),]

----- Original Message -----
From: AN
To: Stephen E. Jones
Sent: Thursday, November 16, 2006 2:00 AM
Subject: YECS

Continued from part #2.

>The universe as such is dependent upon a Russell Humphrey's White Hole Model, and this is consistent with the theory of relativity, as well as a 10,000 year old earth.

First, again, as pointed out in part #1 and #2, "consistent with ... a 10,000 year old earth" is not good enough for YEC. If YEC is true, then the Universe and Earth were both created in the same literal 24-hour Genesis 1 day, only ~10,000 years ago. Therefore all indicators for the age of the Universe and Earth should converge on that one point, ~10,000 years ago. But in fact none of them do. And it being: 1) the same date; and 2) so recent, the `signal in the noise' would be deafening.

And since YEC started as the default position, as "prior to about 1750, everyone was, in one sense, a young earth creationist" (even "Sir Walter Raleigh. (1554?-1618)" "a skeptical English adventurer" who was "rumored to be an atheist" yet in his "history of the world" he assumed that "the origin of the universe ... took place about 6000 years ago" because "Prior to the development of geology as a scientific discipline in the 18th century, there was no widely accepted source of information about cosmic or human origins apart from the Bible"):

"Were the famous scientists of long ago young earth creationists? William Provine; a prominent Darwinist, thinks so. In a recent online review, he complained that a National Academy of Sciences publication on how teach evolution is flawed. He questioned the Academy's decision to cite Copernicus, Kepler, Galileo, and Newton as examples of thinkers whose views on physics and astronomy were vindicated because, as be put it: `Why would the National Academy have chosen this example in a book about evolution when all four were young-earth creationists? Well, prior to about 1750, everyone was, in one sense, a young earth creationist! For example, the Venerable Bede (672?-735) wrote a history of the world, and so did Sir Walter Raleigh. (1554?-1618). Both men began with `Creation,' the origin of the universe, as described in Genesis 1 and 2. They assumed that Creation took place about 6000 years ago. But the two men could hardly have been more different! Bede was an English monk in the Dark Ages, and Raleigh was a skeptical English adventurer who lived nearly a thousand years later in the Elizabethan Renaissance. Raleigh was rumored to be an atheist, holding forth in taverns, but his religious views had no impact on where he would begin his account of history. Prior to the development of geology as a scientific discipline in the 18th century, there was no widely accepted source of information about cosmic or human origins apart from the Bible. Raleigh would have to either begin with Genesis, or take the risk of resurrecting an account of origins written by a classical Greek philosopher. But the philosophers' accounts were not science-based; they were simply accounts that were not based on a Christian understanding of the universe. So Copernicus and the others were not young earth creationists in the sense that Provine assumes. They accepted a traditional account of origins as an alternative to no account." (O'Leary, D., "By Design or by Chance?: The Growing Controversy on the Origins of Life in the Universe," 2004, p.129. Emphasis original)

science would never have moved away from YEC if all indicators for the age of the Universe and Earth converged on one point, ~10,000 years ago, as they would do if YEC was true, but they don't.

Second, as for Russell Humphreys' "White Hole Model," this is yet another example of the contortions YEC must get into, in order to try to make the scientific evidence fit its claimed simplest creation in 6 literal days ~10,000 years ago interpretation. YEC starts off by claiming to be the simplest interpretation of Genesis 1-11, but it ends up being by far the most complex!

Third, I don't yet have Humphrey's book, "Starlight and Time" (1994), but now that his name and theory has come up (as far as I can remember no YEC I have ever debated with in over a decade - 1994-2005 - on various creation/evolution forums, ever mentioned Humphreys or his theory in support of YEC - which itself if significant) I will keep my eye open for it. So here are some criticisms of Humphreys' model by the OEC astronomer Hugh Ross, with my added comments:

"Challenge 5: Distant clocks run at faster rates. Reply: This challenge seems to have superseded all others in popularity as a rebuttal to the astronomical evidence for an old universe. One reason for its notoriety is that so few understand its complexities. Because of these intricacies, this reply will be lengthier than the others. In 1994 applied physicist and young-universe creationist Russell Humphreys published Starlight and Time, in which he proposed that Earth is located at the geographical center of a bounded universe (a universe with finite spatial limits). He described this bounded universe as a collapsing black hole that became an expanding white hole (the aftermath of a black hole so collapsed that all its trapped energy begins to escape via quantum tunneling). Humphreys used Stephen Hawking's popular-level treatment of general relativity (specifically, his discussion of gravitational time dilation) to infer that with Earth at the hole's center Earth clocks would be static or run very slowly relative to clocks in distant parts of the universe. As Humphreys elaborated, an observer on Earth would see billions of years elapsing on clocks in distant parts of the universe while only 144 hours elapse on Earth or in Earth's vicinity. (Later alterations made by Humphreys to his initial models still retain this fundamental feature.)" (Ross, H.N., "A Matter of Days: Resolving a Creation Controversy," NavPress: Colorado Springs CO, 2004, pp.166-167. Emphasis original).

So my first comment on Humphreys' theory, as described by Ross, is that it is an appearance of age argument, i.e. the Universe looks billions of years old, but in reality it is only thousands of years old. But in that case (just like with fully naturalistic evolutionary mechanisms in part #1 and #2), YECs who accept appearance of age arguments should then not argue against, but rather be enthusiastic supporters of, indicators that show the Universe is old, because that is what their theory appearance of age theory states is the case! But then this would be (and is) the reductio ad absurdum of all YEC appearance of age theories, including Humphreys'.

"Humphreys' attempts to build cosmic models wherein distant clocks run much more rapidly than Earth clocks seemed promising at first, but it ultimately failed several tests of plausibility. As experts in general relativity have pointed out, Humphreys' cosmic model and its subsequent revisions simply do not yield the required gravitational time dilation. When Humphreys' mathematical errors are corrected, his model becomes a big bang model consistent with a cosmic creation date billions of years ago." (Ross, Ibid., p.167).

Like most people I cannot comment personally on higher order physics or mathematics, so I assume that Ross is right and that "Humphreys' cosmic model and its subsequent revisions" have been falsified by "experts in general relativity" because "they simply do not yield the required gravitational time dilation."

In any event, what Humphrey needed to support YEC being true was not "cosmic models wherein distant clocks run much more rapidly than Earth clocks" but a cosmic model that yielded a single date for the origin of both the Universe and Earth ~10,000 years ago.

"Humphreys' cosmic model, in which a black hole becomes a white hole, looks like this: an initial `ball of liquid water ... two light-years in diameter [that contains] ... all the mass of the universe' became a black hole, then in a relatively brief period (a few thousand years) `evaporated' to become a white hole, an explosion of energy and particles radiating outward. Such a scenario violates nearly every law of physics God established for the cosmos. First, a ball of liquid water two light-years in diameter is physically impossible. (The gravity at its core would generate so much heat and pressure as to ignite nuclear fusion long before a ball of water that big could be assembled.) Second, the evaporation time of Humphreys' `hole' would be orders of magnitude greater than the 14-billion-year-age astronomers measure for the universe. Even the tiniest black hole that the laws of physics permits (roughly equal to the mass of Mount Everest) would take about 15 billion years to become a white hole. Black holes as small as the smallest ones astronomers actually observe (a few times the mass of the Sun) would require 1066 years (a million trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion years) to become white holes. A black hole as massive as the observable universe needs orders of magnitude longer than 1066 years to turn into a white hole." (Ross, Ibid., p.167).

I disagree with Ross here. Quite clearly God could create "a ball of liquid water two light-years in diameter," but unless He supernaturally maintained it as such, it would instantaneously cease to be liquid water. In that sense it is "physically impossible." The multiplication of entities and miracles beyond what is actually mentioned in the Bible is a feature of YEC and in fact makes YEC the most non-literal of all interpretations!

"Another problem for Humphreys' model is that astronomers observe `clocks' all over the universe, both near and far, running at nearly the same rate. For example, the light cycle times of Cepheid variable stars, nova and supernova eruption times, gamma-ray bursts, star formation times, stellar burning rates, and galaxy rotation periods measure nearly the same in our galaxy as in distant galaxies. I say `nearly' the same because astronomers do see the relativistic velocity dilation effect (on time) predicted by big bang cosmology. Specifically, they observe that supernovae located several billion light-years away appear to take about 10 percent more time to proceed through their eruption phases (maximum to minimum light). Astronomers also see relativistic velocity time dilation (stretching) at about the 10 to 30 percent level for distant gamma-ray burst sources. By comparison, Humphreys' models predict a relativistic gravitational time compression that would cause the same supernovae to manifest eruption light curves 100,000,000 percent briefer. Astronomers see no time dilation for Cepheid variables, novae, star histories, or galaxy rotation rates. These clocks are too faint to be seen at the great distances where the velocity time-dilation effect can be detected. (In a big bang universe, only objects at great distances would move away from us at velocities equal to a significant fraction of light's velocity.) If correct about time compression, Humphreys' models predict that astronomers would see Cepheid star variations, novae, galaxy rotations, and stellar burning occurring up to 500,000 percent faster than the rates they actually observe." (Ross, Ibid., pp.167-168. Emphasis original).

Again Humphreys' model, if it were true, would have to yield an Earth of ~10,000 years old, and ages for all other objects in the Universe that agreed with their observed apparent ages. If it doesn't (which according to Ross is the case), then Humphreys' model would be falsified.

The rest of Ross' critique, i.e. Humphreys model's predictions are at variance with the observed ages of "Earth, the Sun, the Moon, and other solar system bodies":

"Humphreys' models also predict that astronomers will measure the solar system to be much younger (only thousands of years old because of slower running clocks) than distant stars and galaxies (billions of years old because of faster running clocks). However, Earth, the Sun, the Moon, and other solar system bodies show evidence of billions of years of natural history. None of the short-lived radiometric elements remain on or in solar system bodies. Most of the Moon's craters reveal 4 billion years' worth of erosion. The asteroid belts show billions of years of dynamic aging. The Sun has all the characteristics of a star that has been burning for 4.5 billion years. Recently, a new solar age determination method based on helioseismic data showed the Sun to be 4.57 ± 0.11 billion years old, an age consistent with all other dating methods." (Ross, Ibid., p.168).

"The rate at which the universe has cooled is" not "consistent not with clocks throughout the universe running at the rates that Humphreys proposes":

"The universe measures hotter the farther away (thus, earlier in time) that astronomers look. The rate at which the universe has cooled is consistent not with clocks throughout the universe running at the rates that Humphreys proposes but rather with a big bang universe nearly 14 billion years old." (Ross, Ibid., p.168).

and "the observed ... redshift measurements on thousands of galaxies":

"In proposing that the cosmos has expanded in just thousands rather than billions of years, Humphreys also crashes into the observed invariance of galaxy redshifts. Over the past 80 years, astronomers have repeated redshift measurements on thousands of galaxies. These measurements have been made at various intervals, from a few years to several decades. In all cases, the differences between the original redshift measurements and the repeated ones lie below the detection limits of astronomers' instruments. Since these limits are so small, down in the fourth and fifth decimal place, no room exists for Humphreys' hyperaccelerated cosmic expansion. (Eighty years of cosmic expansion would account for 0.08 percent of all cosmic expansion in a 10,000-year-old universe, but only 0.00000006 percent in a 14-billion-year-old universe.) This conclusion stands whether the cosmic expansion is smooth or occurs in discontinuous jumps." (Ross, Ibid., p.169).

The clincher is that Humphreys refuses a standing invitation to present his model at a scientific colloquium where physicists and astronomers can critique it:

Exchanges Between Dr. Hugh Ross and Dr. Russell Humphreys ... I would welcome an academic debate with Dr. Humphreys under these specific -and reasonable - conditions:

  • It must be a private, closed-door colloquium (not open to the general public) with at least 15 physicists and astronomers (Ph.D.s) present and prepared to ask rigorous questions about each model.

  • The colloquium must be held at a university that has a reputable astronomy department, or at a government facility whose primary research objective is astronomy. Examples include these: University of Washington, University of Arizona, Arizona State University, University of Texas, Rice University, University of Florida, UCLA, UCSB, UC Berkley, UC Irvine, University of Wisconsin, Caltech, MIT, Harvard, University of Maryland, Goddard ? Greenbelt, NRAO, and NOAO.

  • Each presenter would have 45 minutes to present his model, followed by 1 to 2 hours of questions from each participant on the scholar panel.
It is my hope that Dr. Humphreys would enter a responsible academic debate in a spirit of Christian liberty and civility. By putting our interpretations of Scripture and nature to the test, I hope we can promote greater unity in the Body of Christ.

Hugh Ross
August 2002, rev. June 24, 2003

shows that Humphreys knows deep down that his model cannot withstand scientific scrutiny.

>The kinds argument is pretty well organized as well from a YECS position. Thats the only gripe, everything else was quite impressive.

I don't have the time or inclination to get into "The kinds argument" except to say in over a decade of debating YECs on various Internet forums, I asked for a comprehensive, detailed, authoritative list of these basic "kinds" so YEC claims for them could be tested against the evidence, but no YEC could ever provide me with , or point me to, one, so I assume there is none. This is confirmed by the Wikipedia page, "Created kind" which says:

"A canonical list of kinds has not been constructed and such examples are extremely provisional (with the exception of humans, on which there is a strong creationist consensus)."

>God bless,

Note. For those who might comment on this page and the other two pages (part #1 and #2) in this series, I previously had disabled comments because I lacked the time to respond to them, but later enabled them again. However, to keep comments enabled (i.e. not taking up too much of my time), I have to keep them narrowly focused on responding to what I actually post on my blog. This is not a general forum on creation/evolution, nor an advertising billboard where URLs can be posted pointing to other sites-which some have tried. So, in future, for all comments, not just this three-part series, I am going to allow only comments that actually address the points I make in my blog posts, and not allow completely new lines of argument that would just be a diversion.

Stephen E. Jones, BSc (Biol).

Genesis 12:6-7. 6Abram traveled through the land as far as the site of the great tree of Moreh at Shechem. At that time the Canaanites were in the land. 7The LORD appeared to Abram and said, "To your offspring I will give this land." So he built an altar there to the LORD, who had appeared to him.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Why all mums say baby looks just like daddy

Here is a good (or bad) example of how evolution can `explain' by a `just-so' story, anything and its opposite!

[Graphic: A Touch of Frost's 65 year-old David Jason and daughter Sophie May at six weeks]

First here is a webbed version from London of a story which also appeared recently in my local morning newspaper, about a paper yet to be published in the journal Evolution and Human Behaviour, which "found that mothers claim a paternal resemblance at birth that does not correspond to the actual resemblance":

Why all mums say baby looks just like daddy, The Evening Standard London, 7 November 2006 Cooing over the latest addition to the family, mothers are often quick to remark 'He's got his father's eyes' or 'She's got daddy's hair.' It might seem to be just gentle banter over the baby's looks as the proud new parents celebrate the new arrival. ... But such seemingly innocent comments are in fact a concerted, if subconscious, effort by mummy to convince their partner that he really is the father, according to new research. The findings of a joint study by scientists in England and France show that while many mothers may say their new baby looks like his or her dad, this is simply a plot which has evolved over time to allay male anxiety about paternity. The research, to be published in the journal Evolution and Human Behaviour, contends that if dad sees himself in the baby, it makes him fatherly and more prepared to look after mum and child. ... The new research was conducted by scientists at Sheffield University and Montpellier University in France using a sample of 69 families with a total of 83 children up to the age of six between them. The parents were asked whom their babies and children most resembled. Pictures of the babies and children were then shown to 209 independent judges who were asked to study them for similarities to their parents, and the two sets of results were then compared. All the mothers said boys looked liked their father, and 77 per cent said girls looked like him too. More than eight out of 10 men thought the child took after them. Yet the judges decided half the babies looked like mum, with one in three looking like dad. The report says: "We found that mothers claim a paternal resemblance at birth that does not correspond to the actual resemblance, suggesting possible manipulation of the perception of facial resemblance to increase confidence of paternity." The research found that for newborns, boys and girls actually resemble their mothers more. Girls continue to resemble their mothers as they grow older, while boys begin to resemble their fathers more between the ages of two and three. "The resemblance ascribed by the parents shows that, at birth, mothers ascribe a resemblance to the father, as previously found, although assessment by external judges revealed the opposite," the report says. "These results suggest that facial appearance is a cue for kin recognition between a father and a child." ...

and in fact "for newborns, boys and girls actually resemble their mothers more." This was given an evolutionary explanation as a "possible manipulation [by the mother] of the perception of facial resemblance [to the father] to increase [his] confidence of paternity."

But one of the advantages of my saving science news articles since 1998 is that I have this 2005 New York Times article which reported on two earlier papers, one of which was from the Evolution and Human Behavior journal in 2003, which found the exact opposite, that babies "are more likely to resemble their dads," and this was given "an evolutionary explanation ... A father, unlike a mother, cannot always be sure a baby is his. If he spots a resemblance ... he will know the child is his and will be more likely to protect and care for it":

REALLY? The Claim: Babies Tend to Look Like Their Fathers, The New York Times, A nahad O'Connor, March 22, 2005 THE FACTS It's one of the first questions to cross a new parent's mind. Does the baby look like me? Studies suggest that, for fathers, the answer is usually yes. In 1995, a study in Nature put the question to the test by having 122 people try to match pictures of children they didn't know - at one year, 10 years and 20 years- with photos of their mothers and fathers. The group members correctly paired about half of the infants with their fathers, but their success rate was much lower matching infants and mothers. And matching the 20-year-olds with either parent proved to be just as hard. The authors offered an evolutionary explanation for their findings: the phenomenon is a natural paternity test. A father, unlike a mother, cannot always be sure a baby is his. If he spots a resemblance, the authors argued, he will know the child is his and will be more likely to protect and care for it, benefiting both mother and baby. Another study, published in the journal Evolution and Human Behavior in 2003, seems to support this. The researchers took head shots of a group of people and morphed them with photos of baby faces without the subjects' knowledge. When they presented the subjects with the faces, the men were more likely to indicate they would adopt or spend time with the babies, male and female, who had more of their facial characteristics. The women in the study, however, showed no preference for children with their features. THE BOTTOM LINE Infants are more likely to resemble their dads. ...

So once again, an "evolutionary explanation" can be dreamed up to `explain' one set of facts and then if it is later found that that set of facts was wrong (up to and including the exact opposite), another "evolutionary explanation" can be dreamed up to `explain' the new set of facts as also consistent with natural selection!

When I read that 2005 article it seemed to me to be reasonable that there would be some selective advantage in newborns resembling their father, because presumably that would improve the likelihood of him investing his paternal care in his child. But the fact that "newborns ... actually resemble their mothers more" indicates that there is no actual selective advantage in newborns resembling their father, which in turn indicates that in general men are not overly worried about caring for some other man's child.

Yet this, like adoption (see Eisenberg, E., "The Adoption Paradox," Discover, Vol. 22 No. 1, January 2001), would be, according to Darwinian `selfish-gene' theory, a "double mistake" (my emphasis):

"Mistakes of this sort may, however, occasionally happen in nature. In species that live in herds or troops, an orphaned youngster may be adopted by a strange female, most probably one who has lost her own child. Monkeywatchers sometimes use the word `aunt' for an adopting female. In most cases there is no evidence that she really is an aunt, or indeed any kind of relative: if monkey-watchers were as gene-conscious as they might be, they would not use an important word like `aunt' so uncritically. In most cases we should probably regard adoption, however touching it may seem, as a misfiring of a built-in rule. This is because the generous female is doing her own genes no good by caring for the orphan. She is wasting time and energy which she could be investing in the lives of her own kin, particularly future children of her own. It is presumably a mistake that happens too seldom for natural selection to have `bothered' to change the rule by making the maternal instinct more selective ... There is one example of a mistake which is so extreme that you may prefer to regard it not as a mistake at all, but as evidence against the selfish gene theory. This is the case of bereaved monkey mothers who have been seen to steal a baby from another female, and look after it. I see this as a double mistake, since the adopter not only wastes her own time; she also releases a rival female from the burden of child-rearing, and frees her to have another child more quickly. It seems to me a critical example which deserves some thorough research. We need to know how often it happens; what the average relatedness between adopter and child is likely to be; and what the attitude of the real mother of the child is-it is, after all, to her advantage that her child should be adopted; do mothers deliberately try to deceive naive young females into adopting their children? (It has also been suggested that adopters and baby-snatchers might benefit by gaining valuable practice in the art of child-rearing.)" (Dawkins, R., "The Selfish Gene," [1976], Oxford University Press: Oxford UK, 1989, New edition, p.101-102. Emphasis original)

in that not only is the man's `selfish genes' investing their parental resources into bringing up another man's child, but they are releasing the real father to go off and have more children by some other woman! As Dawkins admits this is indeed "evidence against the selfish gene theory" (as is its absurd prediction that "mothers [should] deliberately try to deceive naive young females" - including "baby-snatchers" - into adopting" or just stealing "their children")!

Dawkins' excuse that such "a mistake that happens too seldom for natural selection to have `bothered' to change the rule by making the maternal" and paternal in this case "instinct more selective" won't wash. As he had already admitted, such a "mistake" is in fact a "double mistake" (my emphasis) and if there was anything that "selfish gene theory" would predict, and would be falsified if the prediction failed, and that is that it would be a very high priority for "natural selection" to equip men so they would not be so easily fooled by a mother's "manipulation of the perception of facial resemblance to increase" their "confidence of paternity" such that it would lead them to bring up another man's child.

That this is not the case is, along with the evidence of the widespread commonality of adoption, as well as men becoming stepfathers of other men's children, is as decisive a refutation of Darwinian `selfish gene' theory, at least for humans, as there could be!

Stephen E. Jones, BSc (Biol).

Genesis 12:1-4. 1The LORD had said to Abram, "Leave your country, your people and your father's household and go to the land I will show you.2"I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. 3I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you." 4So Abram left, as the LORD had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he set out from Haran.

P.Z. Myers: `that Jesus was born to a virgin ... defies everything we know about mammalian genetics and reproduction'

Denyse (copy to CED)

[Graphic: "Madonna and child: if it had been parthenogenesis, Jesus should have been born female," Daily Telegraph]

Thanks for your asking me if I had any comment on Dave Scot at Uncommon Descent saying that:

"Paul [P.Z. Myers] quotes someone on the virgin birth of Christ saying that it defies everything science has revealed in regard to mammalian reproduction. This is utter dreck. ... Myers should know that ...there are number of organisms in nature that have lost the second stage of meiosis and now reproduce parthenogenetically. .... Moreover, it has also been scientifically established that an XX genome can produce phenotypical male offspring. ... While it was widely believed that mammals had completely lost the ability for parthenogenetic reproduction, in 2004 researchers in Tokyo managed to create viable parthenogenetic mice. So Paul, science now reveals that the virgin birth of a human male is quite possible."

I was going to answer you privately, but my response has become so extensive that I will take up your offer to blog about it and you can link to it if you want.

In this case I agree with Meyers (and Natalie Angier who he is quoting) over against Scot, that "the virgin birth of Christ ... defies everything science has revealed in regard to mammalian reproduction," in the sense that for it to be true it would have to have been, as it is in fact depicted in the Bible, a supernatural miracle (note the "angel" for starters!):

Mt 1:18-22. 18This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. 19Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. 20But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins." 22All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23"The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel"-which means, "God with us."

Lk 1:26-38. 26In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin's name was Mary. 28The angel went to her and said, "Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you." 29Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30But the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. 31You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. 32He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end." 34"How will this be," Mary asked the angel, "since I am a virgin?" 35The angel answered, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. 36Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. 37For nothing is impossible with God." 38"I am the Lord's servant," Mary answered. "May it be to me as you have said." Then the angel left her.

But as C.S. Lewis pointed out, the claim that "The early Christians believed that Christ was the son of a virgin, but we know that this is a scientific impossibility" is "nonsense" because when"Joseph discovered that his fiancée [Mary] was going to have a baby ... he knew just as well as any modern gynaecologist, that in the ordinary course of nature women do not have babies unless they have lain with men" (my emphasis) and therefore "In any sense in which it is true to say now, `The thing is scientifically impossible,' he would have said the same: the thing always was, and was always known to be, impossible unless the regular processes of nature were, in this particular case, being over-ruled or supplemented by something from beyond nature" (Lewis' emphasis) :

"The idea that the progress of science has somehow altered this question is closely bound up with the idea that people `in olden times' believed in them `because they didn't know the laws of Nature.' Thus you will hear people say, `The early Christians believed that Christ was the son of a virgin, but we know that this is a scientific impossibility.', Such people seem to have an idea that belief in miracles arose at a period when men were so ignorant of the course of nature that they did not perceive a miracle to be contrary to it. A moment's thought shows this to be nonsense: and the story of the Virgin Birth is a particularly striking example. When St. Joseph discovered that his fiancée was going to have a baby, he not unnaturally decided to repudiate her. Why? Because he knew just as well as any modern gynaecologist, that in the ordinary course of nature women do not have babies unless they have lain with men. No doubt the modern gynaecologist knows several things about birth and begetting which St. Joseph did not know. But those things do not concern the main point-that a virgin birth is contrary to the course of nature. And St. Joseph obviously knew that. When St. Joseph finally accepted the view that his fiancee's pregnancy was due not to unchastity but to a miracle, he accepted the miracle as something contrary to the known order of nature. All records of miracles teach the same thing. In such stories the miracles excite fear and wonder (that is what the very word miracle implies) among the spectators, and are taken as evidence of supernatural power. If they were not known to be contrary to the laws of nature how could they suggest the presence of the supernatural? How could they be surprising unless they were seen to be exceptions to the rules? And how can anything be seen to be an exception till the rules are known? If there ever were men who did not know the laws of nature at all, they would have no idea of a miracle and feel no particular interest in one if it were performed before them. Nothing can seem extraordinary until you have discovered what is ordinary. Belief in miracles, far from depending on an ignorance of the laws of nature, is only possible in so far as those laws are known." (Lewis, C.S., "Miracles: A Preliminary Study," [1947], Fontana: London, Second Edition, 1963, reprint, pp.50-51. Emphasis original)

But that "the virgin birth of Christ ... defies everything science has revealed in regard to mammalian reproduction" in the sense of "in the ordinary course of nature" (or fully naturalistic) "mammalian reproduction," does not thereby mean it is inconsistent with what "science has revealed in regard to mammalian reproduction."

Indeed (to me and to at least some other Christian apologists like E.K.V. Pearce-see below) what "science has revealed in regard to mammalian reproduction" has only strengthened our understanding of the biological feasibility of the virgin birth of Christ and of the truth of Church's doctrine (derived from the Bible) of the full deity and full humanity of Jesus. That is, if God the Son (the Second Person of the Trinity) took on the form of a human male 22+Y chromosome haploid sperm cell and entered one of Mary's female 22+X chromosome haploid ovum cells, the resulting 44+XY chromosome diploid male zygote would be fully God and full human in every diploid cell of His body.

So I agree with Pearce that "This insight into the possible mechanics of the Incarnation is a reply to those who contend that the incarnation of the Lord is scientifically impossible. It is also a help in the difficulties which some in the early centuries and the middle ages had in their speculations on how two natures could become one":

"Thus far we have spoken of the Divine side of Christ's nature, but we should realize that the physical and spiritual, the human and divine, are not in two watertight compartments. The human side is given more fully by Luke and Matthew. Within the Virgin, the ovum to be fertilized would contain the usual 23 chromosomes there in DNA code would be recorded already an inheritance reaching back to David, Abraham and Eve, with cellular instructions shared with the whole of mankind. Luke therefore records the genealogy of Mary back to Adam. There are those who have asked whether the Virgin birth may not have been due to parthenogenesis. This refers to a freak case of an ovum being triggered off into separate development. This suggestion does not meet the requirements either of the Incarnation or of biology. If such a child had been born of the Virgin Mary, it could only have been a girl, for no `Y' chromosome would have been available. Also the child would have genetic material only of Mary's descent, so it would not be a true incarnation - a complete fusion of the two natures into one. Also, the question of parthenogenesis appears to be ruled out by the statement in a number of places that the Virgin did conceive, but it was without any human male union. It was by the Holy Spirit, and that would be why God is referred to as the Father, and Jesus as the Son of God, and why He is stated to be born holy (Luke 1:35; Matt. 1:20, 25; John 1:14). Our knowledge that a foetus receives a complete set of 23 chromosomes from each of its parents gives insight into the oneness of Christ's nature. Those of Divine origin and those of the Virgin would pair and fuse (in the sense of producing gametes), resulting in the one personality, fully divine, fully human, without sin. This insight into the possible mechanics of the Incarnation is a reply to those who contend that the incarnation of the Lord is scientifically impossible. It is also a help in the difficulties which some in the early centuries and the middle ages had in their speculations on how two natures could become one. Modern genetics reveal that the alleles from both parents make one person at conception. The statement `That which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit', shows how God was the Father and the Virgin Mary the mother. Also, the fact that DNA is a code demonstrates how the speech, or `Word', of God, recorded upon the nucleic acids, would form the real genetic contribution from the Divine side. We see how that Christ was fully and truly man, and yet not two natures, but God-man, not God and man, thus illustrating physically what had been arrived at theologically by earlier divines. Yet ultimately our only authoritative source for the doctrine of the Incarnation is still the revelation of God in Holy Scripture. We could not discover such things through the medium of science, but having received the revelation of God, we can note that increasing discoveries in science do show how it could come about, and justify the terms of reference, hitherto not fully understood by us, which God's revelation uses." (Pearce, E.K.V., "Who Was Adam?" Paternoster: Exeter UK, 1969, pp.139-140)

As for the attempt by Scot (who I gather is not a Christian?) to explain away the virgin birth of Christ naturalistically as parthenogenesis, I particularly remember a biology lecture on sex determination where we were taught that in an XY sex chromosome system (as in humans but not in all animals - see "Sex-determination system" - Wikipedia) that where (and only where) there is a functioning Y chromosome, the sex will be male, otherwise the default is female. That is because the gene for the sex-determining protein SRY is only found (or at least only expressed) on the Y chromosome.

But biology is so complex that there seems to be an exception to just about everything! And sure enough, in doing a Google search on "XX male" I found a number of hits, including this one on XX male syndrome by Wikipedia. It seems that in very rare cases of unequal crossing over in meiosis, an individual can be genotypically female with 44+XX chromosomes, yet phenotypically male (albeit testes are small, breasts are large and the individual is sterile). I did not read much more than the Wikipedia article, but presumably either: 1) the SRY gene is present on the X chromosome but normally switched off (it is thought - and since I accept universal common ancestry, I have no reason to dispute it - that the Y is basically a stripped down X with the original reptilian ancestral system having being `XX' - see "Y chromosome" - Wikipedia) but in XX males it is somehow switched on (although having read further, I gather this is not possible, since there is no SRY gene on the X chromosome?); or 2) the genotype of XX males actually is a sort of XXY but the Y is a hard to detect fragment that has the SRY gene on it (this seems to be what has happened).

Whatever, this "XX male" version of parthenogenesis by which Scot attempts to explain the virgin birth of Christ naturalistically, is irrelevant to the Christian doctrine of the "Virgin Birth" of Christ "which is the "Fundamental doctrine of orthodox Christianity that Jesus had no natural father but was conceived by Mary through the power of the Holy Spirit." (Concise Britannica-my emphasis).

Apart from an XX male being very rare, and phenotypically different from normal males, the Bible says that Jesus had no human father (see above Mt 1:18-23; Lk 1:26-38), and all "XX male" humans have human fathers, i.e. they are not the result of parthenogenesis, which is "the growth and development of an embryo or seed without fertilization by a male" (Wikipedia. My emphasis). If Jesus had a human father then the Bible would be wrong and Christianity would be false, and there would be no point in arguing that the virgin birth of Jesus was true because He was the result of fully naturalistic pathenogenesis (unless one wanted to disprove Christianity, but then one would have already begged that question in the starting premise by assuming the Bible was wrong when it speaks of an "angel", etc)!

Anyway, parthenogenesis is naturally absent in all mammals (let alone humans), and in fact is very rare in non-mammalian vertebrates, being found only in "some reptiles, fish, and, very rarely, birds" (Wikipedia). The reason why parthenogenesis is completely absent in mammals is due to genomic imprinting where a mammal zygote requires certain alleles from both male and female parents to be viable: "No naturally occurring cases of parthenogenesis exist in mammals because of imprinted genes" (Wikipedia). Imprinting makes it impossible for a mammal (including a human) to be parthenogenetic "in the ordinary course of nature." That science by human intelligent design can override imprinting in at least some mammals (e.g. mice - who I remember from an assignment I did on imprinting have one of the weakest imprinting of all mammals), the scientists who were involved regarded it as confirming "the importance of imprinting as a barrier to parthenogenesis in mammals,"specifically "paternal imprinting prevents parthenogenesis, ensuring that the paternal contribution is obligatory for the descendant" (my emphasis):

Virgin birth backs dads' role, ABC, Anna Salleh, 22 April 2004 ...The world's first mammalian virgin birth is ironically confirming males' role in sexual reproduction, Japanese and Korean scientists say.

[Graphic: Kaguya, the fatherless mouse, has given birth to pups of her own, ABC]

They say that their laboratory mouse, produced without the aid of a father, has proven that males are essential, at least in the natural world. A team led by Dr Tomohiro Kono from the Tokyo University of Agriculture called its fatherless mouse Kaguya, after a mythological Japanese princess. The scientists reported their research in today's issue of the journal Nature. Kono's team produced the mouse by manipulating one set of egg genes so they behaved more like sperm genes. The researchers then transplanted this manipulated genetic material into a normal unfertilised egg and grew an embryo. The embryo developed into an adult female mouse that gave birth to pups of her own. Reproduction of this kind, which does not involve a male, is known as parthenogenesis. It occurs naturally in some insects and reptiles but not naturally in mammals. "I was amazed because this hasn't been possible before," said Australian embryologist, Professor Patrick Tam, who co-wrote a commentary in the same issue of the journal. ... said he was impressed with the "technological dexterity" of the research as previous attempts to coax mammals to reproduce this way in the lab had failed: embryos had died before they were born. One of the team's 28 mice through parthenogenisis survived to become a healthy adult female: a rate the researchers describe as "beyond expectations". "These Japanese scientists have been able to produce a mouse that only contains genetic material from the mother and the mouse has survived into adulthood," ... Tam said scientists had long suspected that the key barriers to parthenogenesis in mammals was that many genes in the sperm and egg were "imprinted" as being from either the mother or the father. While the genetic code is the same, the genes are expressed differently. The type of imprinting a gene has will regulate how much protein it expresses, so it would make sense that genes imprinted from both mother and the father are necessary for the correct dosage of protein products and for a viable embryo to develop. But until this latest research, there had been no direct evidence of the importance of imprinting as a barrier to parthenogenesis in mammals. The researchers deleted the gene H19 in the donor egg before transferring its genetic material into the recipient egg. Tam said this gene had long been known to be expressed only in females. It was also in a general region of the genome that scientists knew was important in embryonic development. "The results suggest that paternal imprinting prevents parthenogenesis, ensuring that the paternal contribution is obligatory for the descendant," the researchers wrote. "So," added Tam, "males are not dispensable in the natural situation." ...

So, far from "everything science has revealed in regard to mammalian reproduction" being a problem to the Christian doctrine of "the virgin birth of Christ," in fact, as science writer Roger Highfield pointed out, it just makes "THE Virgin Birth of Jesus ... more miraculous than ever," although that is what historic, orthodox, Biblical Christianity has always maintained it was:

"THE Virgin Birth of Jesus has become more miraculous than ever, thanks to the advances in our understanding of what turns a fertilised egg into a baby. ... Recent research reveals that every birth is the culmination of a genetic battle. Hostilities are between genes from the mother and those from the father. You might think that if one army deserted the battlefield in the womb, as in a virgin birth, the other army would rejoice in victory. But it turns out that babies need the competition and co-operation of both armies. For millions of years, maternal and paternal genes have co-operated in development to produce offspring, while also vying to get the upper hand. Remove one set, however, and the pregnancy halts or leads to an abnormal birth: women need men to reproduce, and vice versa. We inherit two copies of each gene, one from each parent, but for some genes we use the copy from only one parent. Scientists now realise that one reason for this is imprinting, a mechanism that can switch genes on and off, depending on whether they come from the mother or father. Imprinting is not universal, because many creatures reproduce without sex. If females alone produce offspring, the process is called parthenogenesis and the offspring is female. If males do it, it is called androgenesis. ... Here, the sharp-eyed reader will spot one scientific issue regarding the Virgin Birth: Jesus should have been female ... Sexless reproduction abounds .... Even the turkey can do it. But humans have nothing to do with parthenogenesis …. The reason is imprinting, which turns on certain genes in sperm but not in eggs, and vice versa. `Imprinting is a very severe block,' commented one pioneer in the field, Prof Azim Surani …. Prof Surani reasoned that organisms with a gift for parthenogenesis should lack imprinted genes. Sure enough, creatures such as snakes and reptiles do not use imprinting. Among vertebrates, imprinting is exclusive to mammals such as humans and occurs when a gene is chemically modified by a process called methylation. Once methylated, the gene is silent. At least 40 genes with diverse functions during development are thought to be regulated this way. When imprinting goes awry the effects are serious. Prader-Willi and Angelman syndromes, marked by mental retardation and a host of problems, occur when a baby inherits two maternal copies of chromosome 15, or two paternal copies, respectively. In each case, the baby will have copies of a key gene on chromosome 15, but they have come from the mother when they should be from the father, or vice versa. Imprinting prevents them from working. This same genetic division of labour almost certainly thwarts virgin births. " (Highfield, R., "An immaculate misconception," Daily Telegraph, 21 November 2001).

Stephen E. Jones, BSc (Biol).

Genesis 11:27-32. 27This is the account of Terah. Terah became the father of Abram, Nahor and Haran. And Haran became the father of Lot. 28While his father Terah was still alive, Haran died in Ur of the Chaldeans, in the land of his birth. 29Abram and Nahor both married. The name of Abram's wife was Sarai, and the name of Nahor's wife was Milcah; she was the daughter of Haran, the father of both Milcah and Iscah. 30Now Sarai was barren; she had no children. 31Terah took his son Abram, his grandson Lot son of Haran, and his daughter-in-law Sarai, the wife of his son Abram, and together they set out from Ur of the Chaldeans to go to Canaan. But when they came to Haran, they settled there. 32Terah lived 205 years, and he died in Haran.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Re: I'm a YEC, and I think you're misrepresenting our position #2


----- Original Message -----
From: AN
To: Stephen E. Jones
Sent: Thursday, November 16, 2006 2:00 AM
Subject: YECS

Continued from part #1.

[Graphic: haloes in biotite mica claimed by Robert V. Gentry to be caused by polonium isotope decay, "Polonium Haloes" Refuted, The TalkOrigins Archive]

>In fact, YECS does offer positive evidence for a young earth as well.

My point on my same page, Problems of Young-Earth Creationism (YEC), is not that "YECS" do not "offer positive evidence for a young earth" but they don't "offer positive evidence for a young earth" (and a young Universe) that is ~10,000 years old.

That is, my point is that if YEC was true, then both the Earth and Universe would be the same age, ~10,000 years old, having been both created on the same literal day, and then all the age indicators would converge on a single point ~10,000 years ago, but in fact none of them do:

Biblical & Scientific evidence for/against Young-Earth Creationism (YEC)

The Universe is only about 10,000 years old

As far as I know, Young-Earth Creationists (YECs) do not offer any positive scientific evidence that the Universe is ~10,000 years old. All they offer is negative scientific evidence that there are problems with the various dating methods. Yet if the Universe was ~10,000 years old, being so recent, the `signal' in the `noise' would be deafening!

The Earth is only about 10,000 years old

As far as I know, Young-Earth Creationists (YECs) do not offer any positive scientific evidence that the Earth is ~10,000 years old. All they offer is negative scientific evidence that there are problems with the various dating methods. Yet if the Earth was ~10,000 years old, being so recent, the `signal' in the `noise' would be deafening!

And as you can see from the Yahoo group posts URLs listed on the page, I made this same argument many times in debates with YECs and not one YEC ever provided me with scientific evidence for the Earth and/or Universe being ~10,000 years old. But I don't really blame them because none of the major YEC books that I have read (and I own and have read most of them) provides any scientific evidence that the Earth and/or Universe is ~10,000 years old.

>Look at Po Halos as an example.

The polonium halos claim by Gentry is not that the Earth is ~10,000 years old, but that it is "evidence of ... an almost instantaneous creation of" some "granites," which he then extrapolates to the entire Earth:

"Did you know that scientific evidence abounds to support the biblical accounts of creation and the flood? Were you aware that reports outlining this evidence passed peer review, and were published in the open scientific literature? Have you heard that, decades later, this evidence still stands unrefuted by the scientific community? An Overview Etched within Earth's foundation rocks - the granites - are beautiful microspheres of coloration, halos, produced by the radioactive decay of primordial polonium, which is known to have only a fleeting existence. The following simple analogy will show how these polonium microspheres - or halos - contradict the evolutionary belief that granites formed as hot magma slowly cooled over millions of years. To the contrary, this analogy demonstrates how these halos provide unambiguous evidence of both an almost instantaneous creation of granites and the young age of the earth. A speck of polonium in molten rock can be compared to an Alka-Seltzer dropped into a glass of water. The beginning of effervescence is equated to the moment that polonium atoms began to emit radiactive particles. In molten rock the traces of those radioactive particles would disappear as quickly as the Alka-Seltzer bubbles in water. But if the water were instantly frozen, the bubbles would be preserved. Likewise, polonium halos could have formed only if the rapidly `ffervescing'specks of polonium had been instantly encased in solid rock. An exceedingly large number of polonium halos are embedded in granites around the world. Just as frozen Alka-Seltzer bubbles would be clear evidence of the quick-freezing of the water, so are these many polonium halos undeniable evidence that a sea of primordial matter quickly "froze" into solid granite. The occurrence of these polonium halos, then, distinctly implies that our earth was formed in a very short time, in complete harmony with the biblical record of creation." (Gentry, R.V., "Fingerprints of Creation: Polonium Halos: Unrefuted Evidence for Earth's Instant Creation!," Earth Science Associates, 2005).

But as Wikipedia points out, "Po-218 is a decay product of radon, which as a gas can be given off by a grain of uranium in one part of the rock and collected in another part of the rock to form a uraniumless halo":

"Radiohalos are microscopic, spherical shells of discoloration in rocks, such as granite, or wood caused by the inclusion of radioactive grains in the rock or by deposition of radioactive material in them. The discoloration is caused by alpha particles emitted by the nuclei; the radius of the concentric shells are proportional to the particle's energy. They have been studied in detail by geologists since the early 1970s, but wider interest was prompted by the claims of creationist Robert V. Gentry that radiohalos in biotite are evidence for a young earth. The claims are contested by the mainstream scientific community as an example of creationist pseudoscience. ... The final characteristics of the radiohalos occur depend upon the initial isotope. The U-234 and Ra-226 rings coincide, with the Th-230 ring merely thickening it, so it is hard to tell which one of those isotopes started the halo, but it is easy to tell a polonium halo from a uranium halo. A radiohalo formed from U-238 has eight concentric rings while a radiohalo formed from Po-210 only has one. ... Robert V. Gentry studied these halos and concluded that the rock must have formed within three minutes if the halo was formed by Po-218. This is taken by creationists as evidence that the earth was formed instantaneously. Critics of Gentry have pointed out that Po-218 is a decay product of radon, which as a gas can be given off by a grain of uranium in one part of the rock and collected in another part of the rock to form a uraniumless halo. Gentry's examples rely on a radon ring that is close to the Po-210 ring and it is a bit difficult to tell them apart, and it is not certain whether the rings can be positively associated with polonium." ("Radiohalo," Wikipedia).

And as Old-Earth creationist Hugh Ross notes: 1) "Gentry's samples came not from primordial granite, as claimed" but from "igneous rock infusions into vertical fissures ... that crosscut older igneous and sedimentary rocks" (which would provide ample opportunity for radon gas diffusion); and 2) "Far more common are uranium-238 and thorium-232 halos" which "require long time periods to form (over 100 million years) since both have radiometric half-lives in the billions of years":

"Exhibit F: The crystal halos that arise from radioactive Polonium (218Po) decay indicate that the earth is young. Polonium-218 is a radioactive isotope with a half-life 38 of only three minutes. Yet granite crystal `halos' (ring-shaped configurations in the crystals) apparently produced by polonium-218 decay show up in what seem to be `basement,' or primordial, rock deposits. If these halos arise from primordial polonium decay, how did the surrounding rocks crystallize so rapidly? Young-earth creationist Robert Gentry, among others, claims geologists are wrong in their understanding of the processes shaping Earth's crust shortly after its formation. He proposes that God imposed Earth's geological structures instantaneously. If He did this for all structures, then perhaps geological measurements do not prove Earth is old.

Reply: If the granite crystal halo evidence proves reliable, it simply indicates rapid formation of certain rocks, not the entire planet. Old-earth proponents freely acknowledge that some geological processes occur rap idly. Asteroid collisions, volcanic eruptions, and extraterrestrial radiation bursts, for example, cause sudden geologic effects, and these events occurred much more frequently in Earth's past than they do today. Gentry remains vague about where he obtained his granite crystal samples. However, phone conversations with Gentry helped geologist Jeffrey Wakefield pinpoint each of the sample sites. Wakefield then visited each location, accompanied by Gentry at one site. Wakefield discovered that Gentry's samples came not from primordial granite, as claimed, but rather from young `dikes' (igneous rock infusions into vertical fissures) that crosscut older igneous and sedimentary rocks [Wakefield, J.R., "Gentry's Tiny Mystery Unsupported by Geology, Creation/Evolution, Vol. 8, No. 1, Winter 1987-1988, pp.13-33]. These dikes would have formed much more rapidly (though probably not rapidly enough to explain polonium-218 halos) than the primordial granite. Even if Gentry's granite crystal halos do result from polonium-218 decay (a possibility most geologists question), Gentry has merely exposed a phenomenon that requires further study, a phenomenon that geologists' current understanding does not explain. He has not proven that polonium-218 decay in rocks is a `miracle,' a phenomenon outside the laws of physics. Further, Gentry focuses on only one kind of halo. As young-earth creationists admit, polonium-218 halos in rocks occur very rarely. Far more common are uranium-238 and thorium-232 halos. These halos require long time periods to form (over 100 million years) since both have radiometric half-lives in the billions of years. Some young-earth creationist leaders admit that data on uranium-238 and thorium-232 halos really does appear to establish an old earth. They suggest, however, that radiometric decay rates may have been greatly accelerated during the 13-month Genesis Flood. The problem with this hypothesis is that such an acceleration would have destroyed all life on Earth and devastated both Earth and the universe.... Squeezing several billion years' worth of radiometric decay into the 13-month duration of the Genesis Flood would have generated a pulse of energy intense enough to destroy the ark and all its passengers. Either all of Earth's water would have turned to steam and its rocks into a molten mass and/or Earth's crustal plates would have been subjected to sudden movements many hundreds of miles in extent. No life would have survived. Not even a hint of such an event appears in Genesis. Astronomers see no evidence of this event. As they look back in time at the light from stars thousands of light-years away, they see no discontinuity in radiometric isotope abundances. Further, the hypothesis cannot explain why radiometric decay measurements show Earth to be only one-third the age of the universe. If God miraculously accelerated radiometric decay during the Genesis Flood, the same number of billions of years would have been added to the apparent age of all bodies in the universe. If, then, Earth and the universe are only thousands of years old, and hyperaccelerated radiometric decay took place during the Genesis Flood, no object in the universe would measure as significantly older than Earth." (Ross, H.N., "A Matter of Days: Resolving a Creation Controversy," NavPress: Colorado Springs CO, 2004, pp.194-195. Emphasis original)

Concluded in part #3.

Stephen E. Jones, BSc (Biol).

Genesis 11:10-26. 10 This is the account of Shem. Two years after the flood, when Shem was 100 years old, he became the father of Arphaxad. 11 And after he became the father of Arphaxad, Shem lived 500 years and had other sons and daughters. 12 When Arphaxad had lived 35 years, he became the father of Shelah. 13 And after he became the father of Shelah, Arphaxad lived 403 years and had other sons and daughters. 14 When Shelah had lived 30 years, he became the father of Eber. 15 And after he became the father of Eber, Shelah lived 403 years and had other sons and daughters. 16 When Eber had lived 34 years, he became the father of Peleg. 17 And after he became the father of Peleg, Eber lived 430 years and had other sons and daughters. 18 When Peleg had lived 30 years, he became the father of Reu. 19 And after he became the father of Reu, Peleg lived 209 years and had other sons and daughters. 20 When Reu had lived 32 years, he became the father of Serug. 21 And after he became the father of Serug, Reu lived 207 years and had other sons and daughters. 22 When Serug had lived 30 years, he became the father of Nahor. 23 And after he became the father of Nahor, Serug lived 200 years and had other sons and daughters. 24 When Nahor had lived 29 years, he became the father of Terah. 25 And after he became the father of Terah, Nahor lived 119 years and had other sons and daughters. 26 After Terah had lived 70 years, he became the father of Abram, Nahor and Haran.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Re: I'm a YEC, and I think you're misrepresenting our position #1


Thanks for your message.

[Graphic: Creation Magazine, March 2001, in which is the article "Speedy species surprise" (see below)]

However, my policy is not to get involved in private discussions on creation, evolution or design, so as is my usual practice when I receive a private message on those topics, I am posting my reply to my blog CED, after removing your personal identifying information.

----- Original Message -----
From: AN
To: Stephen E. Jones
Sent: Thursday, November 16, 2006 2:00 AM
Subject: YECS

>Excellent webpage. Its great seeing a fellow Christian at work here.

Thank you for your encouragement, which is much appreciated.

At the outset I wish to emphasise that although I am an Old-Earth Creationist and therefore consider Young-Earth Creationism to be wrong in its claim that the Earth and Universe are ~10,000 years old, I regard YEC as right about the main point, "namely that natural processes and ordinary providence are not adequate to explain the world" and that "God has added supernatural, creative actions to the process," so we both (YEC and OEC) "fall into the category of supernatural creationists or special creationists":

"Creationism General meaning: affirms that the universe is a creation of God, and hence that a world-view such as naturalism is untrue. Young earth creationism: the belief that the earth and universe are less than about 15,000 years old. This is commonly connected with the calendar day interpretation of Genesis 1. Some adherents of the Calendar Day view, however, do not take a position on the age of the earth; and some adherents of the other views do not require that the earth be `old.' Old earth creationism: creationism that allows that the natural sciences accurately conclude that the universe is `old' (i.e. millions or even billions of years) Two sub-categories of old-earth creationism: - theistic evolution: belief that natural processes sustained by God's ordinary providence are God's means of bringing about life and humanity. - progressive creationism: belief that second causes sustained by God's providence are not the whole story, but that instead God has added supernatural, creative actions to the process, corresponding to the fiats of Genesis 1. Some confusion can arise because progressive creationists vary in the degree of biological change they are willing to countenance in between the creative events. The progressive creationists and the young earth creationists agree on a key point: namely that natural processes and ordinary providence are not adequate to explain the world. They both fall into the category of supernatural creationists or special creationists." ("Report of the Creation Study Committee," Presbyterian Church in America: Atlanta GA, 2000. Emphasis original).

As I say at the top of my uncompleted web page "Problems of Young-Earth Creationism (YEC)," to which I assume you are referring, "I do not personally regard attacking Young-Earth Creationism (YEC) as a high priority, compared to attacking our common enemy, naturalistic (atheistic) evolution" and that "The things we" OECs and YECs "have in common are much more important than those on which we differ":

Problems of Young-Earth Creationism (YEC) [...]

I do not personally regard attacking Young-Earth Creationism (YEC) as a high priority, compared to attacking our common enemy, naturalistic (atheistic) evolution. But on my (now terminated) list CreationEvolutionDesign (CED) I was increasingly debating YECs, so I thought I might as well start including my arguments here under these headings to make them more permanent. I agree with this quote by Old-Earth Creationist (OEC) Alan Hayward, that "The things we" OECs and YECs "have in common are much more important than those on which we differ":
"In the next few chapters I shall be obliged to oppose the notion that the earth is young. But I shall not attack it; one does not attack one's own friends. If we must use a military metaphor, I hope my allies will view me as exhorting them rather than attacking them. I am appealing to them to stop using the strategy and weapons of a bygone age in our common fight against unbelief. For recent-creationists are my friends and allies. Let there be no mistake about that. The things we have in common are much more important than those on which we differ. We share a belief in an inspired Bible. We agree that Darwin was mistaken, and that God is the Creator of every living thing. Compared with this, the question of the age of the earth pales into insignificance." (Hayward A., "Creation and Evolution: Rethinking the Evidence from Science and the Bible," [1985], Bethany House: Minneapolis MN, 1995, reprint, p.79. Emphasis in original)

>However, I thought one thing was wrong with it in regards to the YECS position. I'm a YECS, and I think you're misrepresenting our position here. We agree with Natural Selection, Speciation and Variation. What we disagree with is the Darwinian interpretation of it. It was discovered by Edward Blythe.

I assume you are referring to the following:

Problems of Young-Earth Creationism (YEC) [...]

Inconsistencies of Young-Earth Creationism

1. Requires a higher rate of evolution than even evolutionists claim

If YECs claim that Noah's Flood was global, then all today's land animals must be descendants of pairs of animals on the Ark. But to fit all the world's land animals on the Ark, it needs to claim that they were a smaller number of "kinds". However, then YEC requires a higher rate of evolution than evolutionists themselves claim for the "kinds" on the Ark to give rise to today's land animals (as well as those it claims became extinct after the Flood, e.g. dinosaurs), in the ~8,000 years since the Flood:

"The Biblical [i.e. YEC] account of history not only accommodates such rapid changes in body form, but actually requires that it would have happened much faster than evolutionists would expect. As the animals left the Ark, multiplying to fill the Earth and all those empty ecological niches, natural selection could easily have caused an original `dog kind' (e.g.) on the Ark to `split' into wolves, coyotes, dingoes, etc. Because there are historical records showing some of these subtypes in existence only a few hundred years after the Flood, this means that there had to have been some very rapid (non-evolutionary) speciation. So it is encouragingly supportive of Biblical history when some such rapid changes are seen still occurring today. And this is being repeatedly confirmed. But since evolutionists mistakenly interpret all such adaptation/speciation as `evolution happening', they are left stunned when it happens much faster than their traditional interpretations of the fossil record would allow." (Catchpoole D. & Wieland C., "Speedy species surprise," Creation Magazine, Vol. 23, No. 2, March 2001, pp.13-15. Emphasis original. Answers in Genesis, 2006).

"Creation scientists teach that all animals ate only plants until Adam and Eve rebelled against God's authority. Because carnivorous activity involves animal death, they presume it must be one of the evil results of human sin. Accordingly, they propose that meat-eating creatures alive now and evident in the fossil record must have evolved in just several hundred years or less, by natural processes alone, from the plant-eating creatures! The size of Noah's ark and the limited number of humans on board (eight) present an equally serious problem for them. Even if all the animals aboard hibernated for the duration of the Flood, the maximum carrying capacity by their estimates for the ark would be about thirty thousand pairs of land animals? But the fossil record indicates the existence of at least a half billion such species, more than five million of which live on Earth today, and at least two million more lived in the era immediately after the Flood, as they date it. The problem grows worse. Shortly after the Flood, they say, a large proportion of the thirty thousand species on board dinosaurs, trilobites [sic], and so on- went extinct; so the remaining few thousand species must have evolved by rapid and efficient natural processes alone into seven million or more species. Ironically, creation scientists (quietly) propose an efficiency of natural biological evolution greater than even the most optimistic Darwinist would dare to suggest." (Ross, H.N., "The Genesis Question: Scientific Advances and the Accuracy of Genesis," NavPress: Colorado Springs CO, 1998, pp.90-91)

Bear in mind that YECs claim that all supernatural creating was completed by the sixth literal day of creation, so all that they have left after that is natural processes. So it is therefore inconsistent of YECs to criticise the same natural processes of speciation that evolutionists propose when YEC itself depends on them!

2. Attacks Darwinian random mutation and natural selection but then depends on it

A prominent YEC of the 1920s, Byron C. Nelson (grandfather of YEC philosopher and ID theorist Paul Nelson), in a book reprinted up to 1980, and endorsed on its covers by leading YECs Whitcomb and Morris, claimed that the mechanism which transformed the "kinds" on the Ark into today's species was "Natural selection, working upon Mendelian or `genic' variations," i.e. Darwinian random mutation and natural selection, which Nelson called "a true evolution":

"Light has been thrown upon the whole problem of animal distribution and adaptation-or what may be called `a true evolution.' After the Flood each species began to `mutate' and new forms began to arise. Among the cattle varieties were produced having short hair, such as is found in the Zebu of India or the Red Africander. Such a coat being better adapted to a hot climate, these varieties migrated to warm, equatorial regions. Other varieties were produced having long, warm coverings of hair, such as the West Highlander and Galloway, or the prehistoric wild ox of northern Europe called the `auroch.' These varieties migrated northward. Natural selection, working upon Mendelian or `genic' variations, produced all the evolution there is. Such evolution is strictly in accordance with what is taught in all Scripture." (Nelson B.C., "After Its Kind," [1927], Bethany Fellowship: Minneapolis MN, Revised edition, 1952, Nineteenth printing, 1967, pp.119-120).

So again it is inconsistent of YECs to criticise Darwinian random mutation and natural selection when their own position depends on it! [...]

If so, nothing I said misrepresents YEC's position by saying YEC does not "agree with Natural Selection, Speciation and Variation." And while most YECs might (like yourself) sincerely think that YEC "disagree[s] with ... the Darwinian interpretation of" "Natural Selection, Speciation and Variation," any Darwinian would be very happy with leading YEC's claims above that, "natural selection ... caused an original `dog kind' ... to `split' into wolves, coyotes, dingoes, etc" and "Natural selection, working upon Mendelian or `genic' variations."

>We state, that we agree that beneficial mutations take place, but no new information is added. Thats about all we've got there.

If "beneficial mutations" did "take place" then that could be "new information ... added." I myself don't deny that mutations can add information and then natural selection and speciation can preserve it. However, I do deny (because there is no evidence that it did or even can) that random (i.e. undirected) mutations can add information, at least of the quantity and quality to build "the sort of complex multidimensional adaptation ... the 'Paley's watch', or 'Organs of extreme Perfection and complication', kind of adaptation that seems to demand a shaping agent at least as powerful as a deity":

"The theory of species selection, growing out of that of punctuated equilibria, is a stimulating idea which may well explain some single dimensions of quantitative change in macroevolution. I would be very surprised if it could be used to explain the sort of complex multidimensional adaptation that I find interesting, the 'Paley's watch', or 'Organs of extreme Perfection and complication', kind of adaptation that seems to demand a shaping agent at least as powerful as a deity." (Dawkins, R., "The Extended Phenotype: The Long Reach of the Gene," [1982], Oxford University Press: Oxford UK, 1983, p.108)

that Darwinian (or any fully naturalistic evolutionary) theory requires.

But that was not the point I was making, which is that YEC depends on Darwinian mechanisms and yet attacks those mechanisms, when YECs should, if they were consistent, enthusiastically support Darwinism in its mechanisms. That is, my point was only that YECs are inconsistent when they: 1) attack Darwinian mechanisms (like "Natural Selection, Speciation and Variation"); but then 2) depend on such fully naturalistic mechanisms to get from the `basic kinds' on the Ark to all the thousands (if not millions) of land animals alive (and extinct) since their proposed global flood only ~8,000 years ago.

As Old-Earth Creationist Hugh Ross observes (his repeated (see above) blunder about "trilobites" - an extinct class of marine invertebrates being on the Ark notwithstanding), this is effectively "Young-Earth Darwinism" (my emphasis), because YEC requires that from "about 30,000 pairs of land animals" on the Ark" those "species must have evolved by extremely rapid, hyperefficient natural processes into millions of species" in only ~8,000 years, which "exceeds by many orders of magnitude the most optimistic Darwinist estimate ever proposed":

"YOUNG-EARTH DARWINISM ... Young-earth creationist leaders' views on the Fall (Adam and Eve's original sin) and on the Genesis Flood drive them-knowingly or not-into the surprising corner of belief in ultraefficient biological evolution. Since the first chapter of Genesis (supported by other Bible passages) says that after the sixth creation day God ceased to introduce new life-forms on Earth, young-earth creationists need an explanation for the huge number of new species of animals they say appeared suddenly, after the Fall, and proliferated again in the short span since the Flood of Noah's day. How did these creatures get here, since God didn't create them? According to young-earth teaching, animals ate only plants until the moment Adam and Eve rebelled against God's authority ... Carnivorous activity (considered evil because it involves animal death), they assumed, would have been one of the consequences of human sin. Based on this perspective, all meat-eating creatures alive now and evident in the fossil record must have evolved rapidly (in several hundred years or less) from the plant-eating creatures God made during the creation week. And since God is no longer `creating,' they must have evolved strictly by natural processes. A young-earth interpretation of the Genesis Flood exacerbates this speculated speciation problem. According to this interpretation, a global deluge wiped out all land-dwelling, air-breathing life on Earth, except those pairs on board Noah's ark, and all Earth's fossils and geological features resulted from this one relatively recent cataclysmic event. Even if all the animals aboard Noah's boat hibernated and did not drink or urinate for the duration and recession of the Flood, the ark's maximum carrying capacity (by young-earth leaders' estimates) would have been about 30,000 pairs of land animals. However, the fossil record documents the existence of a half billion species or more. At least 5 million species are alive on Earth today, and at least 7 million lived in the era immediately after the Flood, as young-earth interpreters date it. The speciation problem intensifies from that point. Shortly after the Flood, according to a young-earth perspective, many or most of the 30,000 species on board-dinosaurs, trilobites [sic], and others-went extinct. So the remaining few thousand species must have evolved by extremely rapid, hyperefficient natural processes into millions of species. This efficiency of natural speciation exceeds by many orders of magnitude the most optimistic Darwinist estimate ever proposed." (Ross, H.N., "A Matter of Days: Resolving a Creation Controversy," NavPress: Colorado Springs CO, 2004, pp.121-123. Emphasis original).

Continued in part #2.

Stephen E. Jones, BSc (Biol).

Genesis 11:1-9. 1Now the whole world had one language and a common speech. 2As men moved eastward, they found a plain in Shinar and settled there. 3They said to each other, "Come, let's make bricks and bake them thoroughly." They used brick instead of stone, and tar for mortar. 4Then they said, "Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves and not be scattered over the face of the whole earth."5But the LORD came down to see the city and the tower that the men were building. 6The LORD said, "If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. 7Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other." 8So the LORD scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city. 9That is why it was called Babel-because there the LORD confused the language of the whole world. From there the LORD scattered them over the face of the whole earth.