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Les Sherlock’s Critique * of

Massimo Pigliucci’s Book ‘Denying Evolution’

I had a short period in which to read and assess this book. Therefore the best I can do is to refer to items that seem to me to be inconsistent, invalid, or simply untrue. While I have my personal record of the exact quotes to which I refer, I have mostly summarised them in my own words in order to avoid any copyright issues. I am aware the principle of ‘fair use’ makes it valid to quote them. Nevertheless on this occasion I feel it better not to do so, although in a few instances it has been necessary to use his own words in order to ensure I am not misrepresenting him. If at any point I have not given an accurate impression it is entirely unintentional: my aim is to give a fair summary of what can be found in the book. No doubt anyone taking a contrary view to my own will obtain their own copy, or already have one, and be in a position to check on this.


NOTES

* This was written in 2009

For full details of the book see:

Denying Evolution

Unless otherwise stated, all scripture is taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

I apologise for the length of this response, but for anyone capable of ploughing through Pigliucci’s 140,000 words (my estimate), this is a stroll in the park! There is far more to which I would have liked to have responded, but to do so would require a book of similar length, so I tried to limit myself to the key points.


Chapter One: Where did the controversy come from?

In this chapter is discussed the history of the evolution/creation debate. From the emotive language (for example “Bryan verges on the hysterical” page 22) and the rewriting of history in the first chapter (e.g. the claim that the discoveries that the earth revolves around the sun, and that it is not flat, were opposed by the church, when at least as much, if not more, opposition came from outside the church), it is immediately apparent that this book, far from being a balanced consideration of the creation/evolution debate, is little more than the usual rant from an evolutionist against creationism.


On page 12 he refers to his debate with Kent Hovind and criticises him for asking the audience if they believed humans come from bananas.

However, since he gives no explanation regarding the point Hovind was making, he is not being entirely honest here. Since I have not heard the debate I cannot know exactly what was said, but having heard Hovind myself, I am aware he would most likely be using this as a light-hearted example in two possible ways:


[1] To show that the evolutionists’ claim is not valid that, “Apes’ DNA is 98% identical to humans, so this proves they are 98% human” (although more recent research shows that figure is no more than 95% *): bananas’ DNA is around 50% identical to humans according to UK evolutionary atheist Steve Jones, but this does not make them 50% human!

[2] To follow the obvious logic that since evolutionists claim that when different species have identical sections of DNA this proves they are related in the evolutionary tree, then since bananas have around 50% similar DNA to humans, they too must be related in the evolutionary tree.

* Britten, R.J. 2002. ‘Divergence between samples of chimpanzee and human DNA sequences is 5% counting indels.’ Proceedings National Academy Science 99:13633–13635.

See: Quote 1;  (which points out chimps have about 12% more DNA than humans: so a 95% similarity is very generous to evolutionists!

See also:  Quote 2

In fact on page 221, referring to the way this relationship is determined between organisms, after asking what we can measure that is common to plants, fungi, algae and animals to determine which is more closely related to which, he answers by describing the method of comparing their DNA and pointing out that living things can be grouped in the tree of life according to the letters they share at each position along the DNA molecule.*

So according to this statement by Pigliucci, he does believe he is a distant cousin to a banana! Let’s have some consistency here: either these relationships can be calculated by DNA comparison, in which case he is related to bananas, or he is not related to bananas and relationships cannot be calculated in this way.



* There are four letters in DNA: A, T, C and G relating to adenine, thymine, cytosine and guanine.

Since he mentions the banana incident several times in the book, it is clear the point stung him; and the fact that he gives no indication what was actually meant by the banana reference * demonstrates he is using the ‘straw man’ technique (putting up a false argument in order easily to defeat it) in order to discredit Hovind. It also implies he has no answer to the point, since having introduced the subject it is the ideal moment to shoot Hovind down in flames.


* In ‘The Greatest Show on Earth’ Richard Dawkins makes the point that humans are distant relatives of bananas, so even Pigliucci’s evolutionary colleagues disagree with him on this point!

In fact he tells us what his answer was: a joking suggestion that Hovind might need therapy for his obsession with bananas. So other than humorous repartee, he has no answer, in which case it would seem his impression of successfully winning the debate may be more the result of seeing the incident through rose-coloured glasses than anything else.

On page 13 he claims that in 1899 there was not a single prominent scientist left in the United States to defend creationism, and the movement became entirely religious – a position that remains to the present time.

This claim is quite simply untrue. One example (among many) is Robert Gentry, a world authority on polonium radio halos, who has had many papers published in the major scientific journals. Another example is Dr Sanford (see later). Pigliucci is using this deception to bolster his claim on page 2 that creationism is not a scientific theory, or even a viable theory of anything! Many in the Intelligent Design Movement are certainly not religious.


On page 14 we read that pretty much the only people believing in a literal interpretation of the creation story were the followers of Ellen G. White,  who were the members of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church.

Once again, this is totally untrue. Christians from all the different denominations have believed in creation since long before Darwin and up to the present day. This is trying to undermine the longevity of widespread belief in the literal truth of the Bible.


He continues the typical evolutionist mantra on the same page by claiming that late nineteenth-century American Christians in many ways were more accepting of science than those at the end of the twentieth century. He is trying to make creationism ‘religion’ and evolution ‘science’. But creationists have always been accepting of science: their dispute is with the evolutionary interpretation imposed upon the undisputable scientific facts.

On page 29 he says that creationism rejects a priori the possibility of entirely naturalistic explanations of the world, claiming science is different because of methodology: he says there is no kind of research or methodology that could be used if God could do anything He pleases whenever He liked.


This is a false premise. If Pigliucci had gone a little further back in his section on history, he would have been obliged to record that many of the key scientists of the past * (for example, Isaac Newton), whose work was the foundation for our present knowledge of the world, were Christians, believing the Genesis account of creation was literal truth. Indeed, it was because of this belief they undertook their research, believing a universe created by an Intelligent God would be orderly and operate by consistent laws that could be investigated and discovered.


* See here for a list of creation-scientists, past and present.

Genesis 8:22 says,

“While the earth remains, Seedtime and harvest, Cold and heat, Winter and summer, And day and night Shall not cease.”

In other words God has promised that the systems keeping the earth functional will remain constant and unchanging: the opposite of what Pigliucci claims God would do.*

However, once again he is using here the usual evolution rant that evolutionists are scientific and creationists are not, as he does on page 32 when he says that creationism is religion while evolution is not religion. However, observable scientific processes most certainly do not favour evolution and disprove creation: if anything, it is the reverse. Furthermore, it is self-evident that many evolutionists – a prime example in addition to Pigliucci being Dawkins – are atheists, and therefore they reject the possibility of Intelligent Design on the basis of their religious belief,* regardless of the mass of evidence that strongly supports it.




* While local harvests may fail at times, elsewhere in the world they continue, and the principle that given the right conditions planted seeds will produce a crop remains constant.



* The religious belief that God does not exist.

His dismissal of a world-wide flood on page 28 is an example of this, where he presents it as one example of elements of creationism that can be subjected to empirical test, which he says are both falsifiable and false.


Wearing his evolutionary blinkers, he refuses to consider the geological and fossil evidence in any way other than that which suits his own belief system. It is noticeable that this is the only reference to the flood I found in the book: surprising as he spends significant space on the fossil record, etc., but says nothing about the creationist explanation. He writes off the flood, giving absolutely no evidence for his claim: presumably we are supposed to take his word for it!

TOP


Chapter Two: Evolution-creationism

On page 37 he claims the Bible says the earth is both flat and the centre of the universe, quoting Daniel 4:11 & Matthew 4:8 in footnote 2.

The Bible does not say the world is flat and the centre of the universe. This claim that the Earth would have to be flat in order for the kingdoms of the world to be seen from a mountain (mentioned in Matthew*) is ludicrous! Even if the earth was flat it still would not be possible to see all the kingdoms of the Earth – human sight cannot focus in sufficient detail at such distances. Furthermore the Romans were in occupation of Israel, so Matthew certainly knew of the existence of Rome: he would also know that Rome could not be seen from any mountain in Israel. Therefore why would he assume a flat Earth would enable anyone to see it in its entirety? The Bible passages are quite obviously referring to supernatural visions of the type mentioned regularly throughout scripture, including Daniel 4:11, where a manner of speaking is obviously being used rather than a definitive description of the Earth.




* Matthew 4:8  Again, the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory.

Another such example can be found in Joshua 10:12–14, quoted in footnote 3 on page 38, which he claims is an example of the Bible saying the sun revolves around the Earth. *

Here, he wants to be able to have his cake and eat it, because on page 123 he talks about his observation of the sun rising hundreds of times in the past. Therefore using his reasoning on page 38, is the reader supposed to understand that he believes the sun moves around the earth? Of course not! Everyone knows that here he is speaking from his personal perspective (i.e. what he appears to be seeing from our planet’s surface), rather than what is actually taking place in the universe. So he wants us not to take his words literally when he uses them, but insists on taking the words of the Bible literally when the same device is used there! Hardly an example of consistency!


* If these examples of ‘Biblical error’ are the best he can come up with, then it demonstrates the weakness of his case. Bearing in mind the Bible was written at a time when all sorts of myths and ‘old wives tales’ were believed as fact, it is remarkable that the Bible is so free of them: surely one more piece of evidence of its Divine origin?

He claims in footnote 4 on page 38 that Bishop Usher’s calculation for the beginning of the creation of the earth on 22 October 4004 BC is a good example of doubtful accuracy.

However, Usher’s calculations were based on the Jewish calendar and feasts as well as the Biblical genealogies, so he had a good reason therefore for proposing that date.


Then in footnote 5 he produces the tired old argument that Genesis 1 and 2 give conflicting accounts of the creation.

Genesis, chapter one, gives a chronological account (as evidenced by the days being numbered), while chapter two looks back in greater detail at some of the creation events, which is not therefore chronological but centres on the peak of God’s creation – mankind; hence it begins with the creation of man and continues looking at the things affecting his life. The notion is ridiculous that the writer would forget the order in which he originally put things and within two sentences of describing the first seven days get it wrong the second time around. It is one further example of the favourite evolutionist ploy of denigrating the intelligence of those who are creationists.


In this chapter, on page 36, he contrasts the conflicting theories of scientists (saying that the differences between scientists are the bread and butter of scientific progress) with the varying theories of creationists, claiming these demonstrate their disarray. So he says the various ideas of young-Earth creationists and some supporters of intelligent design theory are a theological and scientific abyss.

However, in reality the enormous gap, for example, between evolutionists who believe in the big bang, and evolutionists who believe there never was a big bang is just as large, if not larger, than any seen between creationists (of whatever type). This is yet another attempt to discredit creationists and bolster his case. Yet in reality, the opposing arguments of evolutionists on the big bang theory * disprove each other and together demonstrate there is no scientific theory free of serious problems to show how the universe could have come into being without an intelligent cause bringing it about.







*  See here for details.

He refers to the ‘gap theory’ on pages 38-39.

The proposed gap* is between verses one and two of chapter one, not between chapters one and two as he claims! He says it is adopted in one fashion or another by most practising Christians. How does he know? It is not so amongst most practising Christians I know (and that is quite a few!). This is another blatant attempt to make creationism appear to be believed only by a fanatical minority of Christians.

He criticises the Institute for Creation Research on page 46, claiming the interpretation of the results of a scientist’s research have to be changed if they conflict with the Bible.


* Invented by Christians having been brow-beaten into believing that an old earth was scientifically proven, who were then trying to align millions of years with the Bible’s description of origins.

This gross mischaracterisation of the creationist’s position with regard to scientific research would more properly be directed to the evolutionist lobby, which has consistently refused valid scientific research to be published in the major journals when it is realised the results are at odds with evolutionary theory. Examples can be seen in ‘Creation’s Tiny Mystery’ by Robert Gentry, but there are many more.

On page 51 he talks about the Genesis description of creation, which results in plants and light existing before there was a sun.


Revelation 21:23, speaking of the future, says:

“The city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God illuminated it. The Lamb is its light.”

The source of light in Genesis 1, before the sun was formed, is the same as that in Revelation 21.

On page 52 he asks why God would create the universe with the appearance of being old.


The universe only appears old when viewed through the eyes of the uniformitarian evolutionists and the old-earth creationists (who have capitulated to the brow-beating of the evolutionist’s claim to have scientific proof), who interpret the data to suit their particular world view. To the creationist, the processes required for God to create the world, along with the events that have taken place since then, have resulted in the way the world now appears. More on this topic later.

 On page 55 he claims creationists do not understand the processes of natural selection plus mutation and think that selection can only eliminate the less fit, contrasting this with Darwin’s theory that selection is also a cumulative process.


Yet one more example of the constant stream of derogatory comments about creationists! How mutation (which is a random mistake in copying cell information) plus natural selection acting on random changes in the environment can produce the changes required to produce the billions of highly sophisticated systems in all living things are not mentioned at this point. So on page 56 Debski in particular and the Intelligent Design Movement in general are criticised in regard to ‘design’, but the arguments they make on this topic are not even mentioned! One can only assume he has no answer.

He also says on page 55 that those processes can build things over time despite the lack of a plan.


This claim contradicts the position he takes later in the book, when on page 199 he accepts that a plan (called a ‘program’ on page 199) is indeed essential.

On page 57 Behe’s example of a mousetrap as an example of irreducible complexity is ridiculed, and in footnote 34 we are told of web sites showing mousetraps with fewer pieces – even down to one.


This is a ludicrous argument and demonstrates the straws evolutionists are grasping at in an attempt to counter irreducible complexity. The mousetrap was a simple illustration to explain irreducible complexity. The fact that other mousetraps could be conceived operating with fewer pieces is irrelevant. The one Behe described cannot, these simpler traps could not evolve into his, and that is the point. This specific mousetrap could only work when all the parts were complete, just as many (if not all) of the molecular systems seen in living cells can only work when everything is complete. Therefore they could never evolve gradually – everything must appear simultaneously or not at all.

On page 58 Pigliucci invokes molecular redundancy as the answer to this problem, when he claims that if mutation results in the duplication of a gene, then it is freed from immediate constraints and can slowly diverge from its original structure and eventually take over new functions.


This conflicts with basic evolutionary dogma, which has natural selection as the sole means by which the least helpful to survival is eliminated and the most helpful is preserved. If the additional gene is freed from immediate constraints, then natural selection cannot act on it and so there is no control to ensure the gene can evolve in the way required to take over a new function. So here is another example of the heads-we-win-tails-you-lose arguments used by evolutionists. Natural selection is the means by which all living forms evolved, and yet at the crucial molecular level, irreducibly complex systems appear without natural selection! *

Pigliucci accepts biologists have no idea how this could take place, but believes they will do one day: so at the present time, as with all the key areas in evolutionary theory, in the absence of valid scientific evidence you have to believe it by faith.




* When asked, “Can you give an example of a genetic mutation or an evolutionary process, which can be seen to increase the information in the genome?” Richard Dawkins was unable then, or since, to do so satisfactorily. See Quote 3

He claims on page 58 it is like the evolution of the eye, which years ago was unknown but now biologists know of several intermediate forms of eye, and there is evidence it evolved several times independently.

This is a sweeping statement that ignores the immense gaps between all forms of eye presently known. It is now known that the most elementary eye in the simplest life form in the fossil record is still incredibly complex, with nothing in the record to show how it came about. Furthermore even the smallest change to any of these eyes would result in loss of function, so natural selection would prevent any development toward a more sophisticated eye.


Then on page 58, in answer to the obvious question,“What good is half an eye?”  his reply is that half an eye is much better than no eye at all.

A blind person may possess all the elements of eyes, and yet due to a very small defect be unable to see anything at all. In his case he has much more than half an eye, and yet is no better off than if he had no eyes at all. This claim is invalid.


On page 59 we are told there is no evidence so far in nature of irreducible complexity in living organisms.

OK, prove it! Behe gives several examples in Darwin’s Black Box, so if Pigliucci wishes to write off irreducible complexity then he should prove the point by explaining the transitional steps that would produce them. The fact that he does not even mention these examples, apart from the blood-clotting cascade mentioned once on page 240 and the flagellum, which he admits he cannot explain, demonstrates that this is a case of avoiding an argument for which he has no answer by pretending it does not exist.


In footnote 40 on page 59 he claims to be close to an explanation for the flagellum. The copyright of this book was taken out in 2002 and now in 2009 * we still have heard nothing of a complete explanation, so it would appear he was not as close as he imagined! On page 240 he describes ‘simpler’ versions found in other bacteria; but there is no explanation or observation how random mutation could increase their specified complexity to develop from one to the other.

On page 59 he claims there is now evidence of self-organisation in the assembly of bacterial flagella, which is one of the examples of irreducible complexity that Behe quotes.


* When I originally wrote this piece.

The only evidence of which I am aware, is a ‘type III secretory system’ called a ‘needle-nosed cellular pump’, which is claimed to be a part-way stage that could be a viable mechanism. While the flagella has about 42 structural protein parts, the pump has about ten of them. This means of origin is controversial,* but even if it were the case, producing the pump and then from there jumping to the completed flagella in such a complex mechanism, are certainly examples of irreducible complexity since there is no other part-way stage that could function. It is the equivalent of seeing a man on an island 42 metres away from the nearest land, claiming he must have got there by jumping across, and when challenged that it is impossible for a man to jump so far replying by saying, “There is a rock just below the water level 10 metres out, so he doesn’t have to jump all the way in a single leap.” Just as no man could leap 42 metres in two jumps, so the flagella could not evolve in only two stages.

In the same way that it could only be proved the man could have jumped to the island if a series of stepping stones were found, so the flagella can only be proved to have evolved through a gradual series of increases in specified complexity when a significant proportion of these stages are found.


*Research suggests that contrary to the flagellum evolving from the ‘pump’, it is the other way around. The ‘pump’ devolved from the flagellum (i.e. it is a loss of information, not an increase). Quote:

Where Do Type III Secretion Systems Come From? It seems plausible that the original type III secretion system for virulence factors evolved from those for flagellar assembly...”

See here for the comprehensive report.

In Behe’s second book, The Edge of Evolution, written five years after Pigliucci’s, he points out that in addition to the irreducible complexity of the construction of the flagellum, the way it is assembled is also critical and could never have been reached by a process of trial and error. Regarding his critics’ attempts at discrediting his claims about the flagellum and the ‘type III secretory system’ Behe says,

“…none of the papers seriously addresses how either structure could be assembled by random mutation and natural selection, or even how one structure could be derived from the other by Darwinian processes” *

On page 60 of ‘Denying Evolution’ is the claim that God must have done ‘a sloppy job with creation’ because human problems like haemorrhoids, varicose veins, backaches, and foot pain could have easily been diagnosed and solved by ‘a mere human engineer’. He says if God is responsible, then He was  either incompetent or had an evil sense of humour.


* Page 267 of The Edge of Evolution.

I find it difficult to understand why Pigliucci would include such an obvious red herring: an old chestnut that has been answered many times over. If the ailments he mentioned were the result of poor design, then every human being living would suffer from every one of them.

If Pigliucci wants to criticise creationists, then he should do so on the basis of everything they say, not carefully selected bits to create straw man arguments. God created everything perfectly designed for a very different environment to the damaged world in which we live. Sickness and death appeared as a result of man rejecting God and choosing to be independent of Him. The problems he mentions are the result of sickness, aging, mutation and/or accidental damage, none of which would have been the case now had this rebellion not occurred.


On page 61 he reproduces a diagram of ‘better design’ for the human body from S. J. Olshanski, B. A. Carnes and R. N. Butler ‘If Humans Were Meant to Last’. (See here for the original diagram). However, if such people, with their torso leaning forward, were to stand with their feet together, they would fall on their faces because they would be unbalanced! At best, the muscles would be under constant strain. Apes are knuckle-walkers for this very reason: they can only walk upright for short periods because they are unbalanced and it takes effort not to fall down.

The evolutionist fallacy that people suffer from bad backs because the spine evolved for four-legged creatures, not two, was exposed to me as untrue when a vet, speaking on BBC Radio Four, pointed out that four-legged animals suffer from bad backs just as much as two-legged humans!


Pigliucci also claims that the human body should have thicker bones. I am 65 this year (2009) and, like millions of other people, have never had a broken bone.* Why would we want thicker bones? It would make us heavier, therefore less agile, and we would need bigger muscles to perform the tasks we are presently able to do. This would mean we would need more food to produce the extra energy required. In other words our bodies would be less efficient.

It would be possible to prevent all deaths due to car accidents by reducing the speed limit to one mile per hour. However it would be totally impractical to do so. A balance has to be found between practicality and safety, and I would suggest our Creator got the balance right in the design of our bodies!


* This is still the case five years later when, in 2014, I revised this page!

It is also a denial of natural selection, which is supposed to produce the optimum design. According to evolutionary theory our ancestors did have bodies leaning forward. So natural selection, according to Pigliucci, has abandoned a superior shape for an inferior one! But a person leaning forward has lost some of the advantage of height, so it is difficult to see how this proposed ‘improvement’ would be advantageous, even from an evolutionary perspective.

Also included is the idea that the knee joint should be able to bend on both directions. While Pigliucci admits that this would make standing still very difficult, neither he nor the originators of the diagram have any idea how it could be designed, saying that further rectifications would be needed. In other words, they have no idea how (and therefore, if) it could be achieved, but they include it in order to make the list longer!


On page 65 we are told the possibility of any kind of supernatural agency has to be excluded by science of necessity, because it is untestable. The reason is given that a god can do whatever it likes and not follow natural and understandable laws.

Here Pigliucci blows his cover and admits that he refuses to countenance the possibility of a Creator God because of his personal religious viewpoint, and therefore has no alternative but to believe in evolution, since there is no other way everything could exist. He has decided that God will not produce a universe that runs by “natural and understandable laws.” Yet many key scientists of previous generations made their scientific investigations precisely because they believed that God would create a world that could be investigated and understood. So regardless of any evidence creationists bring, Pigliucci will not accept it and will always find an excuse for avoiding it, as can be seen by his response to the issues in this book.


Ironically, on the following page he admits that there is no such thing as science free of ideology or immune from social pressure.

Exactly! So please do not try to pretend that evolutionists are considering the evidence from a purely objective viewpoint, while creationists are doing so from a subjective one!

However, he continues on that page by claiming there is objectivity in science because it is carried out by a variety of people subscribing to different and contrasting world views and ideologies… He contrasts  this with ID, which he says is defended only by people subscribing to a particular ideological position, bent on defending a set of beliefs.


This puts an artificial separation between scientists and creationists. The variety of people in science he describes includes many scientists who are creationists. The fact that their evolutionary colleagues refuse to consider their findings * gives the lie to the supposed balance Pigliucci claims as a result of this variety. ID may be defended by people subscribing to creationism; but evolution is defended by people subscribing to that viewpoint, so there is no difference! However, since Pigliucci has spent some considerable space in the book showing the divergence of viewpoints among creationists, it is hardly consistent now to be claiming they all subscribe to the same ideological position.

It should also be remembered that many creationist-scientists began life as evolutionists. The fact that they made such a major world-view switch on discovering their scientific findings did not support evolutionary dogma demonstrates that far from being intransigent Bible-thumping fanatics, prepared to stick to unscientific theories regardless of the evidence, they are people of integrity, prepared to accept what previously would have been the unthinkable, when faced with insurmountable scientific evidence.


* Research pointing toward a creationist position is usually refused by the scientific journals, thus preventing the peer review required for Pigliucci’s claim to be true. For an example see here.

Finally on this page we get the ludicrous claim that ID would be the end of science because no further questions could possibly be meaningfully asked.

This is exposed as invalid by the fact that there are presently (and always have been) creationist-scientists working in every branch of physics, producing valuable work. They accept ID and it has not prevented their success in scientific research (other than the difficulty in getting their findings published when they conflict with evolutionary ideology, of course).


On the other hand, evolutionary theory has frequently led to dead-ends and delayed progress: for example the claim that over 100 human organs were vestigial from previous evolutionary forms when they have now been found to have function. Or that 95% of human DNA is junk left over from the past, when evidence for the vital role it plays is now emerging at a time when this branch of genetics still in its infancy: through evolutionary dogma a huge amount of human DNA now known to be functional was previously written off as useless! The result is that research into these areas was hindered for years.*

On page 67, in asking “What could count as evidence for ID?” Pigliucci insists, as do most evolutionists, that the creation of all things (i.e. the universe, and the many different living forms) must have come about by natural processes we can observe today.




* See here for the scientific evidence that destroyed the ‘junk DNA’ theory.

This is what he calls falsifiable evidence, and is clearly a ruse designed to remove any possibility of considering ID. It is obvious that if there were an Intelligent Designer, then the processes that took place to create everything would not be in evidence today. This would be like expecting to see in the average car driving along the road all the processes that were required to build it. Since, for example, no welding process takes place during its use, yet is essential in its construction, it is clearly impossible to do so. On examining the car one would be able to see the weld joints, but to insist that they could only have appeared as a result of processes taking place within the car itself would be ridiculous: but this is exactly the scenario in this debate – the car is the world, the welds are living forms emerging from non-living matter (for example), and no known natural processes can produce it/them.


Evolutionists will immediately say that if there are no scientific processes to create the world that we can observe, then creation is not scientific. This is untrue however: using Occam’s razor *, if science cannot produce any scientific process or observation demonstrating abiogenesis ** (and it cannot) and scientific observation shows abiogenesis to be contrary to the provable laws of science (and it does) then logically it must have occurred some other way, the only alternative being intelligent design.

It is a clear case where falsifiability applies equally both to evolution and creation: if evolution were true, then the processes that created everything would be evident in the world; but if creation were true, then the processes required will not be evident. The fact that in the key areas these processes are not evident proves the case for creationists, while the evolutionists’ claim that “we don’t know now but will do in the future” removes the falsifiable element, and according the Pigliucci (see later) makes it unscientific and “nonsense!”

* Quoted several times in the book: e.g. page 185: “simpler hypotheses should be preferred whenever the evidence does not warrant more complex explanations”

** The origin of life; the emergence of the first living cell from inanimate matter.


This shows that those taking the evolutionary position have a priory ruled out the possibility of ID. There are at least two key falsifiable issues: if evolution were true then (1) living matter would form out of inanimate matter, (2) intermediate forms would be all around us. The fact that neither of these is the case, proves evolution is an invalid theory.


On pages 73 and 74 we are turned to the HIV virus, with at least two major forms seen in humans and the possibility of a third that may be in the process of emerging. Pigliocci says the virus is changing rapidly because new mutations taking place are selected to adapt it to changes in its environment, and because of its shorter generation time, it evolves faster than its host.

However, in spite of the very short generation time of HIV, which means it will have gone through more generations during its history than all the mammals that have existed on the Earth even by evolutionary calculations, it is still an HIV virus. It has not changed into anything else. If all those generations are not enough to change it into a higher form of life, how can the much fewer generations of mammals do so to them? This is yet one more observation of the real world that proves the creationist case.


Note also this is another case where the word ‘evolve’ is used to refer to any kind of change: even Pigliucci does not claim HIV has evolved into a new and higher form of life, but he still says it has evolved. The kind of change he is looking at here is fully accepted by creationists, who would point out that while this certainly takes place, there is no example anywhere of it going beyond giving the specimen a better ability to survive under certain conditions: it can never turn it into a different kind of life form.

A similar situation can be seen in malaria:


“The number of malarial parasites produced in a single year is likely a hundred times greater than the number of all the mammals that have ever lived on earth in the past two hundred million years!” and yet all we can see is “…a few point mutations, the occasional gene duplication in malaria; but no new, useful protein-protein interactions, no new molecular machines” *

Over and over again we see the same thing: very limited change taking place in species, which can never turn them into something else. The reason is obvious: changing sophisticated DNA coding by random processes (i.e. mutations) can only make it deteriorate. It can never make it become more sophisticated and more complex.



 * The Edge of Evolution by Michael J. Behe, page 194.

Then on page 76 we have the classic excuse for ignoring the huge problems for evolutionists with abiogenesis, where Pigliucci tells us that evolution is not a theory of the origin of life.

This is the equivalent of a television company broadcasting the Olympics without showing the start of any of the races. More accurately it is like a biology teacher lecturing a class on how a human baby is formed, starting with the fertilised egg in the womb and when asked, “How did it get there” saying, “That is not relevant!” In this case it is a single cell forming in the womb and developing into a human baby over nine months, where evolution is a single cell forming in the primordial soup and developing into a human baby over millions of years: the only difference is the length of time involved.


It is a ruse to avoid one of the questions that proves the evidence of a Creator, since no scientist has ever suggested any viable way for abiogenesis to take place by random processes. If the likes of Pigliucci wish to stick strictly to evolutionary change, rather than the event that began the process, that is up to him, but he should not criticise creationists for considering one of the central issues of creationism. However it is certainly not logical to say that the question, “How did the process of evolution begin?” is not relevant to the theory of evolution.

There are only two possible alternatives for the highly complex system of the simplest organism capable of independent life to emerge from the mythical ‘primordial soup’: * either all the elements came together in a single event and somehow were fused at that moment into a living cell; or by some unknown process the different elements gradually accumulated together, eventually reaching the point where it could spring into life.





* No geological evidence for its existence has ever been found.

The idea that so much material could come together in a single event is so ludicrous that even the evolutionary atheist Fred Hoyle had to find a way around it with his version of Intelligent Design in The Intelligent Universe.


The best chance evolutionists have is the gradual accumulation idea: but different elements gradually coming together, with some kind of system to promote the best, remove the worst and produce ever increasing complexity is exactly what evolution of species is about.* So it is untrue to claim that evolution is not a theory of the origin of life.

Pigliucci continues on page 77 by saying that evolution is also nothing to do with the origin of the universe.

On the other hand creationism certainly is such a theory and creationists are therefore perfectly entitled to address it: for them to ignore it would be absurd! These two points on pages 76 and 77 are further blatant attempts to restrict the field of argument to favour the evolutionist and put the creationist at a disadvantage.


* Of course, natural selection would not be able to function with inanimate matter, and it is difficult to see what kind of system could control this kind of accumulation of elements. The chance that they could all assemble by totally random processes, particularly when some are incompatible and can only exist together in the protective structure of a living cell, is so remote that it can be discounted completely.

Then on page 78 he claims that creationists begin with their preferred conclusion and then try to find evidence to support it, which is the opposite of sound science and critical thinking.

By his own confession Pigliucci has decided that a Creator does not exist and will not countenance any line of reasoning pointing in the opposite direction, therefore he is doing precisely the same thing.


His section on anti-rationalism (pages 83-92), apart from the usual rant against creationists, has little to say on the creation/evolution debate. However, since Christians with creationist beliefs have been at the forefront of promoting education down through history, his implication that creationists are anti-education, or given the chance would decrease the quality of education, is clearly nonsense.

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Chapter Three:  One side of the coin: The dangers of anti-intellectualism

Here we get more of the ‘creation destroys science’ fallacy. At this point I need to clarify the distinction between ‘evolution of species’, and ‘evolution within species’, since the two are totally different processes. The former looks at gradual change producing all earth’s life forms from a single cell. The latter looks at change, which can be significant, that can occur within each species as a result of either the shuffling or loss of existing genetic information, or mutation that causes damage to DNA information. This can sometimes bring benefit, but can never create the additional genetic information required to produce novel faculties to enable all living things to develop from a single cell.


In other words ‘evolution of species’ requires an increase in the specified complexity * of DNA, where ‘evolution within species’ sees either neutral change to, or loss in, specified complexity. In order to make the distinction clear, I shall refer to ‘evolution within species’ as ‘natural selection’, since that is what it is: so for example, when we look at finches and moths we see the results of natural selection, not evolution of species.

The main-stream creationist position is that ‘natural selection’ is what can be seen all around us, and research into it is valuable. Their dispute is with the notion that these changes can go on to produce ‘evolution of species’. Because evolutionists make no distinction between change resulting from the shuffling, loss of, or damage to existing genetic information on the one hand, and the addition of specified genetic information to a genome that will code for a novel function to a species on the other, they constantly point at the former as proof of the latter.

* An example of specified complexity would be a pack of playing cards, arranged in numerical and suit order. Shuffling the pack would make it less specified, while not changing the complexity. Adding a second pack of shuffled cards would increase the complexity but would not make it any more specified. For a new organ to evolve, which is essential to enable all the forms of life on earth to form from a single cell, additional DNA coding must appear (increased complexity), accurately coding (increased specificity) for the new organ. See Specified Complexity for more details.

This is one of the bed-rocks of creationist reasoning, and yet Pigliucci makes no mention of it at all anywhere in the book. Once again one is forced to assume he has no answer to give.

On page 101 Pigliucci admits he is an atheist, claiming it is irrelevant to what is supposed to be a scientific debate. He also defines atheism as being without a belief in the supernatural, not somebody who knows that there is no god.

Firstly, if Pigliucci has no belief in the supernatural, by definition he therefore believes God does not exist. Secondly, it is of profound relevance to the debate, since it means he has made his mind up that evolution is fact before he looks at any scientific evidence. The fact that some theists and Christians have been brow-beaten by the likes of him, Dawkins and other atheists, past and present, into the accepting the belief that evolution is true because it is scientifically proven (when it is not) does not invalidate this point. Contrary to Pigliucci’s claims that evolution can be compatible with religion, Dawkins makes it very clear that the logical end to evolution is atheism.

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Chapter Four: Scientific Fundamentalism and the true nature of science

We are then told on page 116 that Christianity is made up of partially contradictory stories with little evidence to support it.

This is another example of a wild claim with nothing to support it. In a book that purports to be a serious look at the creation/evolution debate, it does Pigliucci no credit at all to be making statements that he is either unwilling or unable to support with evidence.


In footnote 17 on page 129 is the claim that anyone who thinks one single piece of evidence which contradicts a hypothesis is enough to bring the hypothesis down is a naïve falsificationist.

Stephen Hawking would not agree:

“…you can disprove a theory by finding even a single observation that disagrees with the predictions of the theory” *

On page 134 Pigliucci continues the point by saying that facts need to be interpreted, and because the interpretation is performed within a particular framework of understanding, the interpretations remain provisional and subject to revision.





* A Brief History of Time, page 11)

Exactly! There is little or no dispute about the provable, observable facts in the creation/evolution debate: it is in the interpretation of them that there is difficulty. However, despite what Pigliucci says, his interpretation of the facts in regard to evolution are certainly not provisional and subject to revision: he has decided that there is no Creator and come what may he will stick to it.

He begins a point on page 146 by saying that while it should be obvious, it isn’t to many creationists. The point he makes is that if we do not have an explanation for a phenomenon or a collection of facts, it simply means we do not know what is going on at the present time: it does not automatically mean a supernatural force is responsible.

It does mean, however, that the theory therefore is unobserved, unproven and believed by faith, not by scientific evidence.


This quote is yet one more example of the never-ending torrent of demeaning or abusive insults to creationists that is found in this and so many other evolutionary books. It is a sad reflection on them that they seem to be incapable of conducting any kind of debate without resorting to this cheap device, presumably to divert attention from the weakness of their argument.*

Even if Pigliucci’s statement quoted here was valid, then it can equally logically be said that while you do not currently know or understand what is going on you have no ability to prove that God was not responsible! Evolutionists do not know how the universe came into being; they do not know how the first living cell came into being; they do not know how irreducibly complex systems can be formed: but Pigliucci will tell you he certainly knows it has nothing to do with a Creator!



* It is also a sad fact that some creationists/ID supporters respond to such language in like manner: particularly on the Internet. While their frustration is understandable, such actions are inexcusable and counter-productive. On the other hand people publishing in print or on the Internet claiming to be Christian are not always such and it is necessary to be cautious before reaching conclusions.

On page 150 is an important statement, where we are told that if a hypothesis is not refutable (i.e. falsifiable) then it is useless, no matter what the evidence. The hypothesis could be true, but there is no way to verify it.

It may be the case that proof for the existence of God does not fit nicely into a category that an evolutionary scientist would consider scientific evidence (although I would argue that it can be proven). However it is certainly untrue that the theory of creationism does not do so. For example, if abiogenesis could be demonstrated; if the fossil record showed an uninterrupted series of transitional forms and such forms were plain to be seen living among us; if there were no irreducibly complex systems in living things: then creationism would be shown to be faulty. These are some of the falsifiable areas in creationism.

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Chapter Five: Creationist fallacies

To continue the last point: when scientists proclaim that their findings prove that a Creator-God does not exist (as does Pigliucci, Dawkins and many others) the Christian is perfectly entitled to examine their so-called falsifiable evidence for its validity. So in what way is the theory of evolution falsifiable?

If the creationist points to the impossibility of a living cell emerging from inanimate matter, he is told “it must have happened because we are here” (Dawkins), when the fact we are here simply proves we had a beginning and not what form that beginning took; and, “we will know one day” (Pigliucci). Thus abiogenesis is made unfalsifiable.


If he points to the fact that apart from a disputed handful of examples, there is no trace, either living or fossilised, of the billions of different transitional populations that must have existed to enable the evolution of species, he is told “the fossils are there, we just haven’t found them yet” (Darwin); or “this is due to punctuated equilibrium” (Niles Eldredge and Stephen Gould, mentioned on page 163 and discussed later); or Richard Goldschmidt’s now discredited ‘hopeful monsters’ – “the sudden appearance of novel forms of animals and plants” (mentioned on page 165). Thus this too becomes unfalsifiable * and it is self-evident that the fact these different theories have been proposed proves evolutionists know they have a problem here: they just won’t admit it when discussing creation.

If the creationist points to irreducible complexity, he is again told by Pigliucci that we will know how these systems formed one day in the future: once again producing unfalsifiabililty at the present time.





* i.e. If fossils are there, evolution took place; if fossils are not there, evolution took place!


So at every turn, by evolutionary reckoning the key points become unfalsifiable: if the evidence is there evolution is proved; if it is not there, evolution is still true. Thus by Pigliucci’s definition it is no longer scientific evidence but “useless,” to quote his own words.

On pages 165-166 Pigliucci mocks creationist Duane Gish for a very crude caricature of Goldshmidt’s ‘hopeful monsters’ proposal, when he said that

“Mama reptile surely must have been surprised when she looked into her nest and found a bird among all her offspring.”


Clearly Pigliucci is unaware of what takes place in his own country. In my library I have a publication with a cartoon drawing showing precisely that scenario included in a text book produced by evolutionists and supplied to schools in America no more than a few years before his Denying Evolution was published. Evolutionists should put their own house in order before complaining to creationists about distorting their ideas, when all the latter are doing is repeating what the former have said. Pigliucci later bemoans errors in textbooks, but can hardly criticise creationists for quoting from them, when so many people, including some of those teaching science in schools, use these distortions as valid evidence for evolution.

On page 166 is another diatribe about the large difference of opinion between creationists, which he describes as evidence that creationism is not science.


As previously mentioned, none of these differences is any greater than the difference of opinion between scientists regarding the big bang versus the steady state of the universe. So by Pigliucci’s logic these evolutionist’s, whose ideas about the formation of the universe conflict, prove evolution is not science either – another example of trying to have it both ways!

Although Pigliucci claims the origin of the universe is not directly related to evolution, since evolutionists like him claim their ‘science’ disproves the existence of a Creator, they must therefore have some viewpoint regarding how everything came into being on its own! Without some way for the universe to create itself, a Creator of some kind is essential. In fact it is only evolutionists who claim the universe made itself without the input of any kind of intelligent designer, and they have to be accountable for their claims.


On page 168 he claims that the ID position regarding a Creator being responsible for the origins of the universe is not a “theory” in the scientific (or any other) sense. He says it is not a theory at all, and is not even a hunch because it does not provide an explanation of the phenomenon. It is simply another way to say, “I don’t know.”

The problem here is not with creationism, but with Pigliucci’s definition of scientific theory, which makes any consideration of anything other than evolution impossible. I ask the evolutionist, “I know you don’t believe it, but what if there really was an intelligent designer?” There is no way for you to consider it because you have skewed the field of enquiry in such a way as to destroy the possibility of looking at any alternative other than evolution.


In this section Pigliucci points out that ‘theory’ in the scientific sense is different to ‘theory’: “a hunch somebody has about something” (page 168). Quite: the word has two distinct meanings, both of which are valid and commonly used! Likewise, the word ‘evolution’ in the ‘evolution of species’ sense (increase in specified complexity) is radically different to ‘evolution’ in the ‘evolution within species’ sense (natural selection: decrease in, or at best neutral change to specified complexity) – two totally different processes; and yet, like most (all?) evolutionists, Pigliucci calls both “evolution,” pointing to ‘natural selection’ and claiming we are seeing ‘evolution of species’.

He complains about creationists calling evolution a theory and therefore unproven. However, the use of the word ‘theory’ meaning ‘an idea not as yet proven’ (e.g. “my theory is that the butler did it”), is perfectly valid and commonly used throughout the English-speaking world. The fact that scientific ‘theories’ are as in ‘the theory of music’, for example, is irrelevant: when creationists say, “Evolution is only a theory,” they are not using the word in that sense. This is yet another example of nit-picking innuendo, pretending that all creationists are ignorant of ‘real’ science. Such rhetoric will delight his fellow-evolutionists, but it is hardly rational argument!


On page 169 we are told that “Adaptation = Mutation + Natural Selection,” of which  mutation, is truly random.

(That’s a relief then: in an Internet debate I had with evolutionists, they were adamant that mutation was not random!) In this passage, Pigliucci describes a debate with Duane Gish, criticising him for continuing to insist on the point that evolutionists “would want you to believe that complexity arises out of randomness,” after he had explained that natural selection is not random. However it is Pigliucci missing the point here. If the process begins with randomness (as Pigliucci accepts – see the previous paragraph) then logically the result must also be random.

Obviously what Pigliucci means is that since natural selection ensures that only the most advantageous mutation survives, then the result will not be random – either ‘beneficial’ or ‘detrimental’ – but usually beneficial. However, this reasoning comes as a result of his confusing ‘evolution of species’ with ‘evolution within species’ (i.e. ‘natural selection’).


The well-known example of insects on an island will make this point clear. Through mutation some of the population lost their wings. When a strong wind came along it blew those with wings into the sea, destroying them. The wingless ones survived. Therefore natural selection gave those insects with the mutation a better chance of survival. Pigliucci, on page 197 gives the example of fish losing their eyes when their habitat is dark caves. This is beneficial because their eyes, unable to see in the dark, are vulnerable to damage followed by disease and death.

So by Pigliucci’s terms this was not random since it was beneficial. However, it was only beneficial in the ‘natural selection’ sense, since losing a faculty is ‘downhill’ change and the opposite of what ‘evolution of species’ requires: for new species to form, new faculties must appear – ‘uphill’ change.


Therefore when considering the changes we see around us, we can see that the result is truly random: the outcome could either be beneficial or detrimental to ‘evolution of species’. But because the amount of data in DNA is so huge, the comparatively small number of possibilities of beneficial mutation * is so heavily outweighed by the huge number of possibilities of detrimental mutation that in any other area statisticians would consider the chance of beneficial mutation happening even once to be totally impossible: which is why we have no examples of it taking place. Of course, with the holy cow of evolution everything changes and the impossible suddenly becomes inevitable!


* i.e. Mutation beneficial to ‘evolution of species’.

However, the vast number of illnesses and disabilities that result from mutation prove the point: some time ago doctors announced that over 1,000 human ailments were the result of mutation. On the other hand no-one can identify any examples of improvement to humans through mutation: in fact recently UK evolutionist Steve Jones announced that evolution in humans had stopped (because of medical intervention, etc.), which he could only have claimed had there been no known human beneficial mutations. *

Twice on page 170 Pigliuuci tells us that organic life comes from inorganic matter.




*  “We’re as good as we can get, says evolution expert.” Guardian.co.uk, 7 October 2008

Here is another example of double standards. He complains when creationists talk about the origin of life, claiming it is nothing to do with evolution. Now here, and in greater detail elsewhere in the book (see later), he insists on the privilege of telling us that life indeed comes from inorganic matter. Let’s have some consistency here, please: if you do want to discuss the subject of abiogenesis, as you do in this book, then do not criticise creationists for doing so; otherwise maintain your position that it is irrelevant to the creation/evolution debate (which is what the book is supposed to be about) and do not discuss it.

 On page 172 we are told that The Grand Canyon formed slowly over a period of hundreds of millions of years.


This comes in a section in which Pigliucci has referred to the creationist’s references to the Mount St Helens volcano as evidence that huge geological change can take place very rapidly. It is yet another example of Pigliucci making claims for which he gives absolutely no evidence whatsoever. Why does the St Helens incident have no relevance on the matter, as he claims? We are not told. We are presumably expected to take his word for it! It is unacceptable to make such references in a book purportedly dealing with the creation/evolution debate thoroughly, without giving reasons for these claims. How else can the reader make an intelligent decision on the validity of the argument? Either give evidence for claims when they are made, or do not make them!

Once again on page 174 we hear the mantra how badly designed we are; this time using the human eye, with its ‘blind spot’, as an example. This is contrasted with the eyes of the squid and octopus, which otherwise are very similar to ours.


This is another evolutionist fallacy. While biologists like Pigliucci and Dawkins do not understand the reason for eye design and so make such claims, a real expert in the field* has pointed out that if our eyes were designed the way they suggest, we would be vulnerable to light-induced damage: this is not a problem for squids and octopuses in their underwater habitat, where direct sunlight does not tend to be a problem! Since a human with normal healthy eyes is not normally aware of the so-called blind spot, this clearly is not any kind of problem.

On page 175 creationists are criticised for not making a distinction between different origins debates. He says that for them the origin of the universe, the origin of life, and the origin of species are all one and the same.


* Peter W V Gurney, ophthalmologist. See here for a comprehensive report.

This is yet another example of the “if they don’t believe evolution it’s because they are stupid” insinuations. Of course creationists know these topics involve different scientific specialities: this is why in creationist publications creationist biologists speak to biology; creationist geologists speak to geology; creationist astronomers speak to astronomy, and so on. Each of the three issues Pigliucci mentions are fundamentally involved in the study of creation, and it would be absurd if creationists did not consider them.

On page 177 he goes further and says that creationism scientifically is in no way superior to flat Earthism.


This wild claim is so ludicrous it really deserves to be ignored. There are many highly qualified scientists, all over the world, who having earned their degrees in universities where they were taught evolution as fact (and many of whom now lecture and conduct research in universities), have never-the-less, often as a result of their own research, concluded that creationism presents a more satisfactory explanation of origins than evolution. This cannot be said for the fanatical minority subscribing to any flat Earth theory, which has been destroyed by simple observation from satellites in space. Pigliucci demonises creationists in this way in order to try to establish his belief that any ‘real’ scientist would be bound to see that evolution is established fact. The presence of such scientists taking a contrary view is fatal to this argument!

Page 177: “Fallacy 11: Science is a religion.”


This is yet one more straw man. No ‘main-stream’ creationist would make such a statement, accepting, as they do, proven scientific fact as fact. They certainly say that the theory of ‘evolution of species’ is a religion, because it leaves observable, scientific fact behind in all the key areas and is dependent on the faith that it happened by naturalistic causes alone: i.e. it is based on the religious faith that God does not exist. It is a religious faith because they have never produced scientific proof for the non-existence of God. Rather, they rely on circular reasoning: God does not exist because evolution is a fact; evolution is a fact because God does not exist.

On page 179 Pigliucci makes the very reasonable statement that no one would want to limit the freedom of speech of anyone else, including creationists.

This sounds very reasonable. However, in the real world over and over again scientists who are creationists are blocked from publishing in the scientific journals, no matter how good or valid their work. Ironically the same thing happens to some evolutionists: on the Internet is a document, supported by many evolutionary scientists who believe the big bang theory is flawed, complaining that their views are censored from the scientific journals. These people who are quite happy to see creationists excluded are now ‘hoist on their own petard’! If Pigliucci really believes this, perhaps he would like to start persuading his colleagues?

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Chapter Six: Three major controversies

On page 189 is a quote by Charles Sanders Pierce: “There is one thing even more vital to science than intelligent methods, and that is, the sincere desire to find out the truth, whatever it may be.“

The problem is that evolutionists are so wedded to their belief they refuse to take the scientific arguments of creationists seriously, as is the case in this book where they are either ignored altogether, distorted, or glossed over with little attempt to produce a rational argument.


On page 190 we are given the  goal of this book, which is not to provide a ‘laundry list of creationist complaints and scientific answers’, because it’s been done elsewhere and would be of limited use.


Firstly, note his claim that creationists give “complaints” while evolutionists provide “scientific answers:” yet one more example of his patronising denigration of scientists who are just as well qualified in their field as he is, but who accept the claims of creationism. Secondly, we now have the excuse for his ignoring some of the key issues of the debate: someone else has given the answers! So this book is padded out with material that may be of interest and have minor implications to the debate, but the heart of the matter is frequently barely given a mention. So anyone wishing to read about the main issues in the creation/evolution debate is obliged to look elsewhere by Pigliucci’s own definition: they will not find them in this book. The problem is that, having read some of these other people’s work, I am well aware that they are just as unable to give satisfactory answers to the questions as he.*

Pigliucci gives a summary on page 193 of the creationist’s reasoning regarding the second law of thermodynamics and on page 194 we are given a summary of an argument on the laws of thermodynamics by Morris (a creationist).





* A glaring example being Dawkins’ ‘Greatest Show on Earth’. See here for my discussion on the book.


Morris states that the simple availability of energy from outside a given system is not enough to enable the evolutionary process to take place. In addition there must be a program so that the process can be directed toward a particular outcome, and a conversion mechanism that transforms raw energy (e.g. from the sun) into high-quality energy that can be used by the system to do the work. So if one just has bricks and energy, the house will never be built. Although the Earth has materials and energy (from the sun), there is neither a program nor a conversion system, so evolution is impossible.

On page 196 during his answer to this point, Pigliucci claims that evolution is not at odds with thermodynamics because the disorder created during the evolutionary process is more than offset by the order produced by the same process as a result of the huge amount of energy entering the biosphere from outside - mostly from the sun.


However, this in no way answers the point that Morris made: without a program and a conversion mechanism, the sun’s energy can do nothing. ‘Evolution of species’ has neither of these things: see later.

On page 197 Pigliucci says Morris is wrong when he defines evolution as “change outward and upward.”  After questioning “First of all, “out” and “up” with respect to what?” * he says there have been many exceptions to the increase in the complexity of living organisms, giving as examples  parasites, which are usually less complex than their close evolutionary relatives, and cave animals tend to lose their eyes, which are among the most complex structures in the animal kingdom. So since these changes are the result of evolutionary processes, it follows that evolution is not necessarily a process that increases complexity.




* With respect to where the life forms began, of course!


This is a typical example of looking at ‘natural selection’ and calling it ‘evolution of species’. It proves my point that he is looking at ‘decrease’ and calling it ‘increase’. This is like seeing a building being demolished and saying it is an example of a building being built! Because he calls both processes ‘evolution’ he is then free to use the vast amount of evidence of diminishing specified complexity and call it proof of increasing specified complexity.

Note that he says “…eyes are among the most complex structures…” as though the loss of such complexity is more significant than the loss of simple structures. This is self-evidently untrue: one example being the demolished building just mentioned, where to build it requires architects, blueprints or plans from the architect, bricklayers, joiners, plasterers, electricians, plumbers, etc., transport of materials to the site and at least weeks of skilled work. To destroy it, all that is required is a few minutes of a random, ‘unintelligent’ earthquake, landslide, hurricane or flood. But to Pigliucci the building and destroying processes are the same! In science, one expects terms to be used with specific meaning; yet with ‘evolution’ this word is used for two completely opposite processes, as can be seen quite clearly here. Pigliucci talks about eyes evolving several times in history on page 58 (a building being erected) and eyes losing their function on page 197 (a building being demolished) and calls both “evolution.”


Another example is sickle cell anaemia, which is the result of a single letter change in DNA. It takes many DNA letters to code for the complex functions in blood,* yet the change of just one is enough to create a massive dysfunction and early death. It would be an enormous task for mutation to assemble all this DNA in the correct sequence, overcoming irreducible complexity, to create everything necessary for blood to function, yet one simple mistake is all that is takes to put it well along the path to becoming useless.

According to the creationist model, everything began perfectly and is now on a ‘downward’ slope, with mutation eating into what was originally perfect DNA and creating damage to all living systems. So parasites becoming less complex and creatures losing their eyes (examples of natural selection) is exactly what this model would expect. Evolutionists, however, claim everything developed from a single cell, which means that there has to be a constant increase in specified complexity (‘evolution of species’), in order for new features to emerge. That is the opposite of what Pigliucci has just described.


* See Darwin’s Black Box by Michael Behe for a description of the huge complexity of the blood clotting mechanism.

It is this kind of woolly thinking that has enabled the theory of evolution to survive as long as it has. Indeed this distinction between two opposite types of change is right at the heart of the creation/evolution debate, and yet Pigliucci makes no reference to it at all in this book!

On page 198 we find the amazing admission that if we found very complex life forms with no previous history connecting them to simpler forms, then the creationist explanation of the world would have an advantage over the evolutionary one.


But this is precisely what is seen in the fossil record! There are no undisputed connecting forms between any of the life forms there;* and even the simplest organism that evolutionists can conjecture, which is supposed to have sprung from the primordial soup, is still very highly complex in its molecular structure.

On page 199 we read (emphasis mine):

 “The argument is that even allowing for energy and materials to come into the biosphere from outside, thereby rendering it an open system, does not necessarily imply the existence of a process such as evolution that creates a new order. There is no doubt that creationists are completely right in this sense… Two more elements are needed: a program to guide the construction process (the blueprints) and a conversion mechanism that translates this program into the final product (the workers who can read the blueprints and assemble the materials in the proper way, while using the correct amount of energy). Therefore, just saying that Earth and the sun provide materials and energy to the biosphere does not explain the existence of an evolutionary process that creates order. That is entirely correct… evolution needs a flow of energy (from the sun) and materials (from the Earth) to occur, but these are not the whole story. A program and conversion mechanism are indeed necessary


* At best is a handful of disputed specimens. There is no clear and undisputed example of a creature at a part-way stage in developing an organ or progressing from one life form to another.








RETURN TO TEXT (if you jumped here from earlier)

So after explaining the second law and how it relates to ‘open’ and ‘closed’ systems, we reach the admission that the creationist position in this regard is correct and something more than a flow of energy from the sun is indeed required. Then he goes into another “creationists don’t understand the issues” attack. He claims that they have shifted the topic: now they claim that evolution needs “more than thermodynamics to occur,” when at first they were claiming “evolution is incompatible with the second principle.”

This is not the case. As his summary of Morris says (see earlier), the creationist’s position is that evolution is incompatible with the second principle because it proves that with no outside source to guide mutation (for example), ‘evolution of species’ cannot take place. Therefore, because evolution needs more than thermodynamics to occur, it is incompatible with the second principle.


In the same way, the second law proves a perpetual motion machine is impossible, as he says in note 3, page 102; but while an outside source – man – keeps a machine maintained and fed with fuel, it can continue to work without stopping. So it is all an intrinsic part of the same argument. Once again he is nit-picking.


Having established that the creationist is correct in saying a program (or ‘blueprint’) and a conversion mechanism are indeed necessary, he then says science does have an answer. Actually this is another example of his poor use of language – he actually means ‘evolutionists have an answer’ since both parties are scientists applying science to their arguments. So what is the answer?


He gives it on page 200, saying the blueprint is the genetic instructions encoded in the DNA (or other nucleic acids, such as RNA) and the conversion mechanism is (mostly but not uniquely) photosynthesis.


So having accused creationists of switching the argument, he now does the same thing himself and switches his answer. DNA is not a blueprint for evolution of species: it is a blueprint for all the needs of life in its present form. Photosynthesis is not a conversion mechanism for evolution of species, it is a conversion mechanism to produce energy for existing life forms to continue to exist – it has no power to change those forms into a different kind of life.


As Pigliucci has made clear, mutation is the only means by which the new information required for new species to form can appear in the DNA. But mutation is entirely random, as he has also pointed out; so by his own definition there is nothing in the coding of DNA to guide mutation in any direction. Since the laws of thermodynamics ensure that random activity will always reduce the orderliness of a system of specified complexity, any change produced by mutation will always be ‘downhill’: therefore something more than DNA is required in order for evolution to do what Pigliucci claims. What and where is that ‘something more?’ Pigliucci clearly does not know!


Having said that DNA and photosynthesis are the answers, on page 200 he then asks the obvious creationist question, where did they come from? He admits that while scientists are working very hard on it, they still have only partial answers.


So once again it all boils down to ‘I don’t know now but we will do one day!’ Having belittled creationists for their ‘take’ on this issue, at its heart his response is the unscientific ‘I believe it but can’t give you the proof’ argument that has been the bedrock of evolution ever since Darwin said that the fossil evidence of his theory would be found one day. We have been waiting 150 years for the scientific evidence of the theory (as opposed to the viewpoints of some scientists): how much longer do we have to wait?


On page 200 he claims we now have satisfactory answers to the relationship between thermodynamics and evolution, and have even shown how evolution does not violate any law of physics.


Really? Where? Certainly not in this book! He has not given any answer to the question, “How can the laws of thermodynamics not make DNA deteriorate when mutation occurs?” The fact that we can see over 1,000 human ailments as the result of mutation proves that entropy can clearly be seen in the reduction of the specified complexity of our DNA.


Furthermore, since Pigliucci accepts a ‘blueprint’ and conversion mechanism is essential, where is the blueprint for abiogenesis? No DNA existed at that time, so even he cannot claim it was the blueprint there! Where is the conversion mechanism? Nothing to convert the sun’s energy by photosynthesis existed at that time!


On page 201 he claims the creationists’  insistence of a supernatural God definitely violates not only all four principles of thermodynamics, but all laws that physics has established so far!


Utter nonsense! As I have already pointed out, when all the laws we can observe are unable to explain how things are begun but rather demonstrate fatal flaws in the evolutionary explanation (and Pigliucci has been unable to demonstrate to the contrary), then the existence of an intelligent designer is the only other alternative.


On page 203 he points out the obvious fact that there is no living “primitive” organism on the Earth to show us what the earliest living organism looked like.


Since it is obvious that the highly complex structure of the simplest living organism capable of independent life could not spring up out of inanimate matter, this impossible obstacle is avoided by claiming there must be viable simpler life forms, although no-one has been able to show how a simpler life form could fulfil the functions that define ‘life’ from ‘nonlife’ (described on page 211). However, since there is no undisputable evidence anywhere on the planet to show they ever existed, and no scientist has ever been able even to conjecture what they would look like, we must, yet again, take the evolutionists’ word for it and believe it by faith.


On page 205 he describes chirality as the property of any chemical structure characterised by the three-dimensional arrangement of that structure’s atoms and molecules. So all amino acids, the building blocks of proteins, can in theory come in two versions, which are mirror images of each other. There are called left-handed and right-handed forms. So he tells us that while the carbon-based compounds found in space or in meteorites come in equal portions of right- and left-handed forms, the compounds that living organisms on Earth use are found in only one version.


Chirality is one more argument against the primordial soup (or pizza) theory. How could a 50/50 mixture of right- and left-handed elements arrange themselves into single chirality? In addition, at death single chirality begins to break down, moving back toward a 50/50 mix; and one method of determining the time of death is by measuring the chirality. So the only place in the universe where single chirality can be found is in a living cell, where the cell’s ‘machinery’ can maintain it.


In this section Pigliucci uses chirality as the evidence that life could not have come from outer space, because all compounds coming from there are in “equal portions of right-and left-handed forms;” but this is exactly the case on the Earth! It is noticeable that on this page he says, “…extraterrestrial organic compounds have random chirality…” carefully avoiding to mention that all terrestrial inanimate matter is exactly the same in this respect! So if it makes life from space impossible, by the same argument it makes life springing up on Earth impossible too. This is yet another example of having his cake and eating it!


Let’s make this abundantly clear. When Pigliucci cites chirality as proof life could not spring up in space, this is science; when creationists cite chirality as proof life could not spring up on earth, this is not science (after all, on page two he says creationism is not a scientific theory). That’s the kind of evolutionist logic we have come to know and love! It is also noticeable that nowhere in the book does he mention chirality as a creationist argument that requires a response!


On page 206 we are told about the primordial soup and the Stanley Miller experiment in the 1950s to reproduce it. On page 208, after stating that more complex organic molecules do form when lighting or ultraviolet radiation hits simple gases in a mixture, Pigliucci says this proves that energy can build complexity, even if ‘Miller’s experiments turn out to have been a dead end at explaining the particular problem of the origin of life on Earth’.


The experiment may show greater complexity appearing, but not specified complexity. One reason the experiment signally failed to demonstrate how life could emerge is that the chirality problem remained unsolved: so in accordance with the second principle of thermodynamics, the random effects of lightning etc. could never assemble the required elements in any specified order that would enable a living organism to appear. Therefore Miller’s experiment demonstrated that the second principle does indeed disprove the theory of evolution. Note in this quote that he moves toward accepting that Miller’s experiment was a failure at explaining the origin of life – it may “turn out to be a dead end.”


However it is interesting that having criticised creationists for pointing to abiogenesis as a factor against evolution because he claims this topic is nothing to do with evolution, in this book about creation vs. evolution he once again goes into this detail on that very topic!


After explaining a little of the function of DNA and proteins on pages 208-209, showing their need for each other to function, he suggests the possibility of a hybrid protein-nucleic acid origin to avoid the chicken/egg problem, but on page 210 points out that the problem with the primordial soup theory is how dense enough pockets of organic molecules could have formed often enough to allow significant prebiotic chemistry to take place.


As an alternative, he mentions the primordial pizza idea: the accumulation of organic molecules taking place in dry environments, probably on the surface of minerals. He admits that no-one has any idea how this alternative idea would work, but on page 211 says he expects to see some progress in the next few years. However he also admits that there is an even larger gap in knowledge about what could have happened after the arrival of a semicatalytic, semireplicating nucleoprotein and the first living organism.


So once again, all the scientific evidence for this will appear sometime in the future, until which time you must believe it by faith! He then lists on page 211 his distinction of life from non-life. After more description, he lists on page 212 the general path leading to the origin of life, proposing various stages; but then he admits each stage is extremely difficult to describe in detail and has proved elusive from an empirical perspective. In other words, “We have no idea,” and the largely failed Miller experiment is the best there is! Over 50 years of experiments have still not produced anything better!


On page 213 he claims the fossil record shows “modern-looking” bacterial cells a few hundred million years after the formation of the Earth – that is, about 3.8 billion years ago. So whatever happened before these cells took place very quickly by evolutionary geological time standards, and there is no record of it!


So there is very little time for the massive number of possible alternatives to form randomly in order to produce the first living cell from inanimate matter. The fact there is no record of it shows once again it has to be believed by faith, and not by scientific evidence.


It is also interesting that he claims the origin of life happened so comparatively quickly, while the development from there to the simplest forms of life we do see in the fossil record took so long. Yet surely the greater problem would have been abiogenesis? And why should the next step have taken so long when the change from the simplest organism to man was so very much faster?


He finally discusses A. G. Cairns-Smith’s theory of clay crystals (starting on page 213), but discounts it because they do not allow the kind of activity required. It is fascinating that he still makes no mention of overcoming the chirality problem – an absence which once again can only be interpreted as meaning he has no idea how it can be surmounted.


In the chapter on fossils he cites, on page 217, punctuated equilibrium as a valid alternative to Darwin’s gradual evolution with many intermediate stages linking one species to another. In fact it is the only explanation he gives for the huge gaps. On page 238 he says that there is enough empirical evidence to grant punctuated equilibrium real existence. However he admits we do not know how this mode of macroevolution occurs when compared with more traditional, gradual, evolutionary change.”


What the empirical evidence is we are not told. One is left with the impression that punctuated equilibrium is an invention with neither evidence nor theoretical explanation to give it credibility, produced to avoid the otherwise impossible situation of defending evolution with insufficient fossil evidence to support it.


After summarising the evolutionist position, on page 225 he gives two alternative ‘creationist’ explanations of the fossil record, which I summarise as: [1] the Cambrian explosion was when God created life and [2] if the Cambrian explosion was not when God created life, so many beneficial mutations could not occur in such a short period of time.


However, since the first is not accepted by what I would call ‘mainstream creationism’ for some of the reasons Pigliucci gives for his rejection of it (along with the fact they conflict with Bible teaching), and no further information is given about the second, this adds little to the debate.


However he points out on page 228 that creationists maintain the Cambrian explosion was simply too rapid to be the result of a natural process. His answer to this is that it can still mean tens of millions of years and hundreds of thousands or millions of generations.


Yet another example of his “creationists are stupid” claims! Creationists are well aware of the lengths of time involved in evolutionary theory. The fact remains that tens of millions of years simply is not long enough to give time for the amount of change required. More detail on this later. However, while it could be argued that simpler organisms have smaller DNA, which would take less time to evolve, one does not have to go very far along the chain before finding the opposite: for example frogs, which surely must be considered a long way down the evolutionary chain, have more DNA than humans!


On page 227 we are told the length of the Precambrian is probably around 4 billion years, while the period from the start of the Cambrian until today is 570 million years. So on page 228 his reason for the difficulty in finding evidence of life in the Precambrian is the odds against soft-body fossilization, the great age, and the high degree of disintegration of Precambrian rocks.


On the other hand it may simply be that it never existed in the first place!


On page 229 he says that Creationists seem to imply that the only naturalistic possibility is for a mind-bogglingly high number of mutations to occur simultaneously, and somehow generate a new type of organism in a single saltational event (such as a fully formed bird from a dinosaur egg).


This is a fair point: they do! Perhaps not quite such a leap as a fully formed bird from a dinosaur egg - that is the domain of the hopeful-monster brigade! But the point that scales turning into feathers,* or forelegs into wings, for example, could take place gradually over thousands or millions of years is ludicrous, since most of the intermediate forms would be at a serious disadvantage.


* Bearing in mind that feathers and scales are made from very different material, so one would not naturally arise from the other.

Then on the same page he gives us his calculations for what would be required for mutation to produce the necessary change in the DNA. Assuming a generation time of 25 years, he claims the likelihood for any given mutation would be one in a million (per generation per gene). With a population size of one million, he says each gene will mutate once every generation on average. On this basis each gene would have mutated 600,000 times during the Cambrian explosion, which is more than enough change to provide the necessary raw material for natural selection.” *

Here we reach the point where the theory of evolution collapses. When pointing out facts agreed by both evolutionist and creationist alike, I have never yet had one give a satisfactory answer to this problem.





* If this were the case then we would see millions, if not billions of examples, both fossilised and living, at part-way stages between all living things.

Pigliucci says each gene will mutate every generation: what does that mean? How many nucleotides need to change at each mutation? How much change is required to produce the next transitional form from the last one? How many transitional forms are required to change one kind of life form into another? How long will this take?


Firstly he claims a mutation every generation in a population of one million. He ignores the fact that once a mutation has taken place, the newly formed ‘life-form’ is now a population of one! Mutation cannot be spread like a cold! It can only proliferate by the descendents of the mutant multiplying and, through natural selection, displacing the previous species. So if he says a population of one million is required, how long will it take to reach that point? We will use his own figures to calculate this.


Figures on the Internet vary, but a minimum date for homo sapiens first appearing seems to be around 200,000 years ago. To be generous, let’s say just 50,000. If allowing for massive deaths through disease, disaster, predators, etc., we assume the population doubled just once every 1,000 years (i.e. every 40 generations of 25 years), then by now we should see a population of approximately 569,295,000,000,000 people in the world! Since we do not, one is bound to ask, “If evolution is a fact, where is everybody?”*

However, that is not the point I am making. It was just to demonstrate that if we assume on average the population doubles every generation, then we are being very generous to the evolutionary position. In this case, it would take 20 generations (500 years) to reach a population of 524,288. This is half the number Pigliucci requires: obviously one more generation would be needed. But including all the previous generations, about one million new mutants will have existed.




* Present population growth is a doubling every 39 years. To reach the present world population from one pair of humans requires the population to double just 31.5 times! See here for more details.

According to the Human Genome Project web site there are 3,164,700,000 base pairs in human DNA. It is now accepted there is at least a 5% difference between humans and chimps, although since chimps have over 12% more DNA than humans, it is obviously at least double that! UK Scientist Dr Geoff Barnard has pointed out that while some of our proteins are 99% identical to chimps’ * this accounts for less than 2% of the total human DNA! In addition, some of chimps’ proteins are nothing like ours; we have proteins that they do not have, and they have proteins we do not have. There are seven pericentre inversions between chimps and humans on chromosomes 4, 5, 9, 12, 15, 17 & 18, and the recombination hotspots are very different between humans and chimps. The difference between chimp and human is much greater than the evolutionist would have us believe.



* Which is presumably where the deceptive book title, “99% Ape,” sponsored by the British Natural History Museum in 2009, comes from.

However, calculating on a 5% difference, this means a minimum of 158,235,000 base pairs have changed since the two species branched out from their common ancestor; and if we assume a similar amount of change took place in the two branches, 79,117,500 had to mutate in each branch. If we calculate on 100 base pairs mutating per person per generation, assuming we could have 100 base pairs mutating ‘accurately’, this would require 791,175 mutations (or transitional species).


According to Pigliucci’s calculation requiring 1 million individuals in order to get each required mutation, this would take 395.5 million years just to produce the difference between chimps and humans from their common ancestor! Bearing in mind the time from the beginning of the Cambrian explosion to the present day is supposed to be 570 million years, it is obvious that there is absolutely no time whatsoever for the required amount of change to take place to produce all the life forms presently seen. There is certainly no time for punctuated equilibrium to take place: so where are all the transitional forms in the fossil record?


However there are four further problems for the evolutionist. Firstly, the odds of getting an ‘accurate’ mutation of 100 base pairs is so remote (since there are four possibilities for each pair, this is 4 x 4, 100 times) a population of trillions living for trillions of years would be required to have a chance of it happening just once: the odds are 1 in 6,000, 000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,
000,000 (6x1060: 6 followed by 60 zeros)! Even if there were one billion viable alternative mutations of one hundred base pairs, this only reduces the odds to 1 in 6,000,000,000,000,000,000,000, 000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 (6x1051: 6 followed by 51 zeros)!


Secondly, not only does the mutation have to produce the right kind of change, it also has to be in the right place. Behe says:


“…the probability that one of those mutations * will be in the right place is one out of a hundred million.” The odds of getting a double mutation are “about a hundred million times a hundred million (1 followed by 16 noughts) …With a generation time of ten years and an average population size of a million people, on average it should take about a hundred billion years for that particular mutation to arise—much more than the longest evolutionary estimate of the age of the universe.” **

* i.e. The mutation of one base pair, not 100!



** The Edge of Evolution by Michael J. Behe, page 110.

Thirdly, University of Rochester evolutionary biologist, H. Allen Orr has said:

“Given realistically low mutation rates, double mutants will be so rare that adaptation is essentially constrained to surveying—and substituting—one-mutational step neighbours. Thus if a double-mutant sequence is favourable but all single amino acid mutants are deleterious, adaptation will generally not proceed.” *



* The Edge of Evolution, page 106.

So if the most that natural selection can favour is a double-mutation, then it would require 39,558,750 different transitional forms to produce chimps and humans from their common ancestor: massively more than in my calculations!


Fourthly, Dr J C Sanford, says in his book ‘Genetic Entropy and the Mystery of the Genome


“Man and chimp differ by at least 150 million nucleotides representing at least 40 million hypothetical mutations (Britton, 2002). So if man evolved from a chimp-like creature, then during that process there were at least 20 million mutations fixed within the human lineage (40 million divided by 2), yet natural selection could only have selected for 1,000 of these. All the rest would have had to have been fixed by random drift – creating millions of nearly-neutral deleterious mutations. This would not just have made us inferior to our chimp-like ancestors – it would have surely killed us.”


He makes it very clear in his book that the downward trend due to mutation is reducing the specified complexity of our DNA: the opposite of the requirements of ‘evolution of species’. This is not based on the kind of speculation Pigliucci used in his claim for mutation, but on what has been observed taking place in the genome.


Finally, the only suggestion I have received from an evolutionist, is that the mutations would not be linear, as in my calculations, but simultaneously taking place across the entire population, thus enabling a lot of mutation to appear quickly. This sounds reasonable, until one realises that all these mutants at some point have to interbreed in order to bring the mutations into a single species. The problem is that the point is very quickly reached where the differences between these mutants would be so great, conception would be impossible. *



* More detail on this can be found here.

I have gone into some detail on this point, because the demonstrable facts prove that mutation plus natural selection is helpless to create the massive kind of change required for ‘evolution of species’.


Returning to Pigliucci’s book, in the section on fossils, it is interesting, once again, to see what has been omitted. The main-stream creationist argument is that the fossil arrangement can be explained by the world-wide flood, followed by huge but more localised natural disasters. This is supported by the St Helens event showing how geological formations can occur very rapidly – in a matter of days, weeks or months – and the fact that all radiometric dating methods are heavily influenced by assumptions – e.g. we know what the starting condition were, and no events have ever happened to affect the composition of the formations. It is completely ignored here and not mentioned anywhere in the book.

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Chapter Seven: Scientific fallacies


On page 236 Pigliucci defines  microevolution as changes in a species over * short periods of time that can be measured by population genetics and ecology; where Macroevolution is defined as changes taking place over much longer periods of time, which is usually in the field of the palaeontologist. Then on page 239 he says that by and large we still do not know what causes macroevolution in animals.

* Of course, ‘microevolution’ is what I have been calling ‘natural selection’, and macroevoltion I have referred to as ‘evolution’. The problem with these ‘micro’ terms and the reason I avoid using them, is that it can lead to the assumption that lots of microevolution = macroevolution; while in reality the two are opposites - microevolution is usually a reduction in specified complexity, while macroevolution is always an increase. So the one will never lead to the other.

While he immediately says that creationists should not quote the statement (out of context) as proof of their position regarding evolution, he clarifies it by saying that the result of all the research that has been done ‘is likely to lead eventually to a satisfactory answer to the question of micro- versus macroevolution’. All that can be surmised ‘from the fact that we do not know something is that we don’t know it (yet).’

The problem is that generally speaking, evolutionists, far from saying they do not yet know that macroevolution has taken place on a massive scale over millions of years, they say they do know and it is an established, proven, scientific fact. There is no argument over microevolution as defined here: creationists and evolutionists alike accept it takes place on a regular basis. The entire controversy is over macroevolution, and here we have the admission that there is no scientific evidence for how it could take place - otherwise we would know what causes it. Thus evolutionary argument becomes unfalsifiable, and therefore by Pigliucci’s definition, unscientific. While the answers to key arguments remain unknown, they remain unproven.


In fact on page 239 he goes further and says it is a fallacy to pretend ‘that we have a full answer when at most we have a few (tantalizing) clues.



So don’t call evolution proven, scientific fact, when by your own admission it is not!


A further admission comes on pages 247-248, when he says that science is both objective and subjective. The subjective element, he says, is the result of the times and cultural milieu in which we find ourselves, which will inevitably affect all human beings.


Exactly! Although he goes on to describe the objectivity of science, it is clear from the frauds * that subjectivity does, at least at times, overrule objectivity. He points out that eventually science brings out the truth: so for example it was science that disproved the validity of Piltdown man. However it must be pointed out that only provable, scientific fact can enable subjectivity to be overruled by objectivity, and while evolution rests on unfalsifiable premises (as it does in every key area: abiogenesis, chirality, total absence of transitional forms both living and in the fossil record, and irreducible complexity), it is open to subjective influence. If there were key elements that could be demonstrated with falsifiable evidence to be fact, then it would certainly be permissible to excuse a minority of areas where such evidence is not available: but when every key area comes into this category, it is a very different matter.

*E.g. Piltdown man, described on pages 243-244

Additionally, his claim that creationists are unwilling to accept their mistakes* can be seen to be false when, for example, reading such creationist publications as ‘Answers’, ‘Creation’ and ‘Journal of Creation’, where corrections and clarifications are published. Creationists can only react to current scientific thinking, and if this is not based on accurate data, then the reactions are equally likely not to be so: hence the reason for some of their past mistakes.

*E.g. Dinosaur and human footprints together, mentioned on pages 245-246. Some examples of corrections can be found here and here.

On page 249 Pigliucci cites the lack of variety of background in creationists, which is seen in scientists who have incredibly varied social and cultural backgrounds, as proving their subjectivity. This is one more example of the “If he’s a creationist, then he’s not a scientist” argument. The creationists’ arguments I have used (albeit imperfectly) have originated from scientists, so he is creating a false division and thereby using the straw man technique.


At its heart, the argument is not between scientists and non-scientists, but between creation-scientists and evolution-scientists. Since many creation-scientists began life as evolutionists, often rejecting the theory as a result of their scientific research, the background of creationists is just as varied as that of evolutionists.

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Chapter Eight: What do we do about it?


Chapter 8 looks at ten icons of evolution dealt with by Jonathon Wells, who is an intelligent design creationist at Discovery Institute in Seattle, on page 252. A number of the issues have already been dealt with. However on page 254 Pigliucci turns to Wells’s Argument that nineteenth-century embryologist Ernst Haeckel’s pictures of embryos of various vertebrates at different stages are a fake. He says the real story is that ‘the drawings in question were indeed fudged, but they are not complete fakes, and the fact of their being fudged was discovered by biologists, not creationists.’


Pigliucci is once again nit-picking over words here. The fact is that Haeckel’s idea of embryonic recapitulation, which could only have seen the light of day as a result of his ‘fixing’ the drawings, is totally discredited. The fact that it was biologists who discovered the fraud simply begs the questions, “Why did it take them so long,” and “Why have so many evolutionary textbooks continued to promote the idea as established fact proving the theory of evolution, even right up to the end of the 20th century, when it was exposed as fake well over a century earlier?”


On page 255 he accuses Wells of not understanding that ancestors can live simultaneously with their descendents…He says scientists know of several species in which the original species is still around today along with the species they believe evolved from it.


There is all the world of difference between an individual’s direct relatives (i.e. parents, grandparents, children and grandchildren) living simultaneously and two different species (one assumed to have evolved from the other) doing so! However, since natural selection is supposed to favour the best suited, one expects populations of the less-suited to become extinct and therefore not be living alongside the evolved creatures that superseded them: this is given as the reason transitional forms disappeared without trace. The obvious question then is, why did all the transitional forms become extinct while the ‘complete’ forms still remain alive today, when the former are supposed to have evolved and survived long enough to evolve yet again because they were better adapted than the ‘complete’ forms from which they developed?


Also on page 255 is Well’s argument that the case of the peppered moth is a fake, because textbook pictures of dark and light moths on polluted trees trunks are staged: these moths don’t actually rest on tree trunks. So the original work on this case has been completely dismissed. Pigliucci’s response to this is that it is a case of self-correction because it has been revised by evolutionary biologists, not creationists; the evidence still points to natural selection in response to pollution, but it is more complex than Bernard Kettlewell’s original research showed; and ‘there is nothing wrong with staging pictures for illustrative or didactic purposes’.


Firstly, Pigliucci, both in his outline of the Well’s argument and his reply, ignores the key points. The peppered moth is always presented as an example of ‘evolution of species’, when in fact nothing new has appeared: all that has taken place (if indeed anything happened at all – this too is in dispute) is the proportion of light to dark coloured moths changed, both of which were in existence before the trees became polluted. There is nothing wrong with staging pictures, as long as they show the true picture. In fact the moths do not usually rest on tree trunks but among the leaves in the tree tops. Therefore pollution on tree trunks would have no effect on them. So, portraying them on tree trunks, which is not their normal habitat, is a fraud akin to the Haeckel incident.


Finally, although once again Pigliucci points out it that it was biologists who discovered the distortion of the real story here, once again one has to ask, “Why is this evolutionary con-trick still in so many text books, and still taught in some schools as fact?” Creationists have been pointing out the error for very many years, and have always said that while it may be evidence of natural selection, it is certainly not evidence of ‘evolution of species’, which he now admits.


It is interesting to note his reluctance to admit that the peppered moth is not evidence for ‘evolution of species’, but is giving grudging agreement to Well’s argument: it has been “revised” and is an example of “self-correction in science.”


On page 256 we have Wells’s argument regarding the Galapagos finches that it is incorrect to claim they could explain macroevolutionary difference among species. In actual fact environmental conditions have reversed the direction of natural selection, so there is no net change in the current populations of finches. Pigliucci says the real story is that while it is legitimate to extrapolate, it needs to be done carefully, which was not the case with the finches. He says the real importance of the finches is that they show there can be ‘meaningful morphological changes over a fairly brief period of time’. Even though the change was reversed in the case of the finches, this doesn’t mean it cannot continue for longer. Modern genetics has shown there are several distinct species of finches from the same stock, and countless examples of natural selection have been measured.


Pigliucci is moving the goalposts here. Evolutionists produce the finches as evidence of ‘evolution of species’ * (not merely that they show change can take place quickly), and at my visit to the Natural History Museum in London, the rolling display told me it was the best example we have. Now he accepts that the change that is seen was simply an example of the normal kind of see-sawing variation in shape and size that takes place in response to the local environment. No new DNA information has appeared; no step toward a new species has been seen – note that while he talks about several species of finches, they are still finches and not any other kind of creature. Therefore it is not ‘evolution of species’, but ‘natural selection’.

* Of course, in this context, ‘evolution of species’ refers to the development of all living things from a single cell, not merely the tiny changes observed in the finches. See here for more detail.

Once again, “countless examples of natural selection” is exactly what creationists expect to find. What we are waiting for is countless examples of ‘evolution of species’!


He says it gives perfect proof of the rapid change that can take place. Exactly the point creationists make: the large variety in life forms we see today is the result of the down-hill change taking place comparatively quickly from a very much smaller variety at the time of the flood. This is the opposite to evolution, since no increase in specified DNA information has resulted in new ‘kinds’ of life forms.


The evolutionist may try to claim that since these changes can come rapidly, then new life forms can form rapidly too. However this would be based on their error in using the word ‘evolution’ in two different ways. The changes seen in the Galapagos finches, for example, take place throughout the population, since all share similar DNA coding: some will have coding for long thin beaks that is recessive, and coding for short thick beaks that is dominant. For others it will be the other way around. If the food source is best obtained with thick beaks, then those with these beaks will tend to survive, coding for thin beaks become less prevalent and very quickly the population will be seen with thick beaks. It is even possible for coding to disappear altogether through this process, and it would then require birds with that coding to enter the population from elsewhere in order for thin beaks to become possible again. * This is ‘natural selection’ because it is variation in pre-existing DNA coding (not ‘evolution of species’ which requires the appearance of new coding) and can take place very rapidly because the coding that is changed is shared throughout the population, all of which experiences the same environmental pressures.







* However, these changes in DNA can result in incompatibility with others from the same species, making conception impossible.

Mutation can only effect the creature experiencing it, and the odds of two birds experiencing the same mutation are so astronomically high this can be discounted as a possibility. Therefore many generations will have to come and go before it can displace, through natural selection, the rest of the population; and as we saw it is likely to be at least 20 generations before one million mutants can have lived.


On page 259 Pigliucci points out the difficulty in getting errors in textbooks corrected, and it is a fair point. However he must accept that it is of considerable irritation to creationists when their viewpoint is discredited by use of erroneous information in textbooks teaching evolution as fact on the strength of these ‘errors’. One has to question the keenness of some evolutionary scientists to correct these errors, when with the amount of corroborative evidence being so thin on the ground, they clearly have a vested interest in it remaining.


Many people have been persuaded about the validity of evolution on the basis of these fraudulent cases. Indeed one has to wonder how well the theory would survive if all of these errors were indeed removed – particularly if they were replaced by the creationist interpretation of the provable scientific evidence! If you ask the man in the street for evidence of evolution of species, the most likely reply will be the peppered moth and the Galapagos finches, both of which, as Pigliucci has shown, are evidence for ‘natural selection’, not ‘evolution of species’. Common belief in ‘evolution of species’, therefore, is based on erroneous data, as has been the case ever since Darwin published his work.


In a section on the problems within education, on page 265, Pigliucci points out that the belief in the supernatural diminishes as a result of education, although not nearly as much as he would like. This is hardly surprising, bearing in mind that atheistic evolutionists have such a stranglehold in the education system. After a child has had 10-15 years being told evolution proves there is no God, unless he hears balancing information elsewhere he is unlikely to be able to withstand such brainwashing.


In his section on how to improve education, on page 280 he suggests teachers could use creation to give an ‘understanding of how science works and why creationism is pseudoscience.’


He is to be congratulated for moving, if only slightly, in that direction. However it has to be pointed out that if the teachers distort the claims of creationism in the same way he has done in this book, the apparent fair-handedness will be no more than an illusion.


Coda: The controversy that never ends


He briefly sums up his ideas in this short section.


Appendix A:


Introduction to and excerpts from David Hulmes’s Dialogues concerning natural religion, “where the topic of intelligent design is discussed most thoroughly.”


Appendix B:


Bryan’s last speech at the Scopes trial.


I only briefly skipped through the two appendices in my reading, because of lack of time and wishing to concentrate on Pigliucci’s own words. Such old works, which may be of historical interest, do not add a great deal to the debate.


He complains that creationists do not read books by evolutionists. The fact that I have read his book gives the lie to that claim; however, who could blame them if it were true? Why should anyone deliberately subject themselves to a constant stream of insult and abuse? If Pigliucci and his colleagues learned to be a little more civilised in their approach, they might find creationists would be rather more inclined to read their work!

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Conclusion


I am pleased to have had the opportunity to read this work. It is some time since I read a book that gave me such convincing evidence for the weakness of the evolutionary case. I do see, however, how anyone unfamiliar with real creationist arguments could be fooled into believing otherwise by Pigliucci’s straw man presentation of them here.


In spite of Pigliucci’s parody of Bryan in the Scope’s trial, his last speech (on page 306) is well-considered and intelligent: particularly when bearing in mind the scientific knowledge and general outlook of the day.


I conclude with one small part of what he said, which is as true today as the day he said it!


“Christians must, in every state of the Union, build their own colleges in which to teach Christianity; it is only simple justice that atheists, agnostics and unbelievers should build their own colleges if they want to teach their own religious views or attack the religious views of others…


Some of the more rash advocates of evolution are wont to say that evolution is as firmly established as the law of gravitation or the Copernican theory. The absurdity of such a claim is apparent when we remember that anyone can prove the law of gravitation by throwing a weight into the air, and that anyone can prove the roundness of the earth by going around it, while no one can prove evolution to be true in any way whatever…


...the evolutionary hypothesis, carried to its logical conclusion, disputes every vital truth of the Bible. Its tendency, natural, if not inevitable, is to lead those who really accept it, first to agnosticism and then to atheism. Evolutionists attack the truth of the Bible, not openly at first, but by using weasel-words like “poetical,” “symbolical,” and “allegorical” to suck the meaning out the inspired record of man’s creation.”

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INDEX

Chapter One: Where did the controversy come from?

Chapter Two: Evolution-creationism

Chapter Three:  One side of the coin: The dangers of anti-intellectualism

Chapter Four: Scientific Fundamentalism and the true nature of science

Chapter Five: Creationist fallacies

Chapter Six: Three major controversies

Chapter Seven: Scientific fallacies

Chapter Eight: What do we do about it?

Coda: The controversy that never ends

Appendix A:

Appendix B:

Conclusion