Help sought.

Sep 20, 2013


Discussion by: siwel.trebor@bighpond.com

I have received some good advice from here before.  now I would appreciate it if anyone can help me annswer this message I received.  Obviously the time span required is greater than a human life time but 4000 odd years is not enough for evolution (by their time line).  How can I get my message across to this person that evolution is real and the earth is ~4.5 billion years old.  Thanks for any ideas. 

Sorry but I don't share your same belief as you well know. Give me ONE example that anyone has ever observed anything evolve into a totally new species.A Scientific method is based on the collection of data through Observation & experimentation. I know of not one person who can give me observable evidence that Evolution is true- (something I don't have to receive by Faith) Even to believe as Darwin did takes Faith…Darwin said there would be change of KIND over many years but I fail to see even one case. I'm not talking about a slight change in time e.g. Darwin spoke of a kind changing into another kind but A stickleback fish was an adaptation into a different species of stickleback but none the less it still remained a fish. It didn't become a change of kind. Same as Darwin's Finches-they might have become new in difference but they are still birds.
No-one can prove that the earth has been around for millions & millions of years, that would take faith to believe the science teachers. through just fossil data alone as that doesn't prove the evidences through observing in experimentation Everything was created to generate from its own seed. Each after it's own kind. No-One has ever observed that anything can evolve into a total 'different species' ever."

 

 

65 comments on “Help sought.

  • The tyranny of the discontinuous mind.

    I wouldn’t bother arguing with this person, they will just return to the ‘you need faith in science’ schtick and refuse to acknowledge any evidence you present.

    What he as asking you to present is evidence of speciation, not of evolution. By making the false distinction between evolution within species, and evolution which creates new species, they have isolated themselves from evidence to challenge their faith.

    There are a few modern examples of speciation you could try to present. My favourite is of the Herring gull to Lesser black backed gull ring species process. Basically, different sub-species of gull interbreed around the northern hemisphere, and by the time the ring is complete in Britain, you have two species, who cannot interbreed, forming each end of the ‘ring’. This is speciation.



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  • In reply to #1 by bob_e_s:

    The tyranny of the discontinuous mind.

    The Dawkins essay Gaps in the Mind is one of my favorites. I would encourage the OP to read it at the link above. If you aren’t into animal rights try not to let that get in the way, he uses animal rights as the example but the idea he is talking about is very broad and applies to all kinds of misconceptions including the idea that there are “missing links” in evolution. Essentially, there are no “new species” there are just individual organisms that are constantly evolving and we categorize them using concepts like “species” because it helps us better organize and utilize the data. The boundaries as to when we declare a type of organism to be a new species are inevitably somewhat arbitrary and debatable but that in no way diminishes the theory.



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  • 3
    Seraphor says:

    Unfortunately you cannot refute this kind of argument with a concise argument of your own. These kinds of misconceptions require learning various scientific processes and simply cannot be done in a post on the internet when the recepient is this close-minded.

    You could attempt to explain it, but in all likeliness they would fob it off as you haven’t answered their specific question, they have tunnel vision, as bob suggested, they’ve rationalised themselves into a corner from which the only way out is through creationism.

    I suggest you try and persuade this person to read something like RD’s ‘The Greatest Show on Earth’. Or at least the chapters (I forget their actual titles) on radiometric dating and speciation.

    That’s all you can do. If they refuse, you can play the wilfull ignorance card and end the argument.
    That’s usually how these things end after all, a stalemate between ‘wilfull ignorance’ and ‘science is a faith’.



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  • 4
    Kim Probable says:

    Part of the problem is that they’ve created their own definition (well, creationists did and this person is adopting it) of “kind”. No matter what you show them, they will sort it into one “kind” or another and claim that we don’t see transitions. A dinosaur, but with feathers? Well, it’s a bird, and we still don’t see something turning into something else.

    Adding on to the ring species, we’ve also documented a lot of speciation within flies. I’ve been doing entirely too much with flies lately, so they’re on the brain. There are species that, to us, look identical. If you examine their genitals, however, you will see that they are completely incompatible with one another. As similar as these flies look to one another, they are completely unable to mate, simply due to mechanical issues. You can build on this with other species, who may not be able to mate due to genetic issues that cause a failure to develop offspring.



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  • 5
    blitz442 says:

    Faith in science, eh? Start with the science that people tend to have the most “faith” in – physics.

    Ask him or her if he believes that the Earth is round and is revolving around the Sun at great speed, a speed that is known with a very high degree of accuracy and precision.

    If she/he agrees that, yes, the Earth is round and is moving at great speed, then ask them how they know this. After all, it seems to contradict some very basic observations and common sense. As you work through the scientific reasons behind the idea that the Earth is round and is moving at a great velocity, try to draw parallels b/t the methods used to obtain this information in physics and the methods used to obtain information about the age of the Earth and evolution. Do not miss the opportunity to point out that many dating methods rely heavily on knowledge of physics.

    The point is to make them understand that the rigorous methods of science used to obtain knowledge of physics and chemistry are the same methods used in biology. Therefore, if they have high confidence in the findings of physicists, why are they selectively rejecting other findings that were obtained using the same world-class methods?



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  • The problem is that they don’t really understand what is meant by ‘species’. It’s apparent that they don’t really understand much at all because they’re using the word ‘kind’. If you try to get them to concisely define either ‘species’ or ‘kind’ you can end the conversation right there by pointing out that it’s not possible to show something turning from one ‘kind’ to another ‘kind’ when they can’t give a concise definition of ‘kind’. And they won’t be able to define it in a credible way – because no evolution denying person ever has.

    If ‘kinds’ were discrete and recognisable – in that you can tell from remains which ‘kind’ a skull belongs to, for example – then it would be easy for evolution deniers to reliably put skulls into the ‘kind’ of either ape or human – as these are apparently completely different ‘kinds’.

    However, they cannot: http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/homs/compare.html

    So, if ‘kinds’ are so distinct, why can’t they tell them apart?



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  • 7
    hemidemisemigod says:

    Evolution from one species to another takes a very long time; too long for anyone to observe it. There are many processes in this universe that take too long for humans to observe in their entirety.

    It takes about 165 years for the planet Neptune to orbit the Sun. Nobody has every seen that happen. Does that mean it cannot be proved? Is it something that we have to take on faith or do we merely accept it as the only rational explanation?

    The continent of India crashed into Asia about 50 million years ago and slowly caused the formation of the Himalayas, a process that is still continuing today, which is why Mount Everest is still growing. Nobody saw this happen but the evidence for tectonic plate movement is strong and the only rational explanation. An irrational explanation might be that some magical being set it up far more recently but made it look exactly like it happened millions of years ago.

    The same is true of evolution of species, you can’t sit and watch it happening because it’s so slow, but the theory of evolution is the only theory that fits the observable facts. You don’t need faith in science, you just need to consider the alternatives and realise that they are all fairy stories – most of them made up a long long time ago when humans understood very little about their world. They didn’t know why the wind blew, why it rained or what the sun was. And yet some modern humans would rather accept their bronze-age teachings than all the accumulated wisdom of modern science. Now that proves just how slowly humans evolve!



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  • 8
    blitz442 says:

    I once asked a creationist whether a white-eyed vireo (a bird) was of the same “kind” as a red-eyed vireo. They said yes. So I then pointed out that there was less genetic difference b/t us and chimps than there was b/t the two types of vireos. So could we not also be of the same “kind” as chimps?

    In reply to #6 by BenS:

    The problem is that they don’t really understand what is meant by ‘species’. It’s apparent that they don’t really understand much at all because they’re using the word ‘kind’. If you try to get them to concisely define either ‘species’ or ‘kind’ you can end the conversation right there by pointing o…



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  • 9
    Alan4discussion says:

    Each after it’s own kind.

    “Kind” as a substitution for the nomenclature of – genus, species etc. It is creationist “arky-speak”!

    Your first problem is that this person is very uneducated and is ignorant of astronomy, geology and biology.
    As such they a fully qualified faith-head-know-it-alls!

    If their grasp of life is that all “fish” are “just fish” and all “birds” are “just birds” this indicates a basic zilch understanding of classifying biodiversity.

    I could show them the range of colours and sizes of named varieties dwarf and giant Dahlias, but they would probably claim they were “just flowers”!

    What should be clear, is that a person at this level of ignorance is only repeating words they have heard from fellow ignoramuses. They have no experience of any study of living things. The problem with the closed mind, is that while science can prove many things, you have to understand SOME science to follow the methodology and understand the proof.



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  • 10
    Red Dog says:

    One more point. In regard to this statement by the person you are debating:

    Give me ONE example that anyone has ever observed anything evolve into a totally new species.A Scientific method is based on the collection of data through Observation & experimentation.

    This is a misunderstanding of the scientific method. The writer seems to think that the only way you can get valid data in science is to see the exact behavior you are trying to explain. If that were true we would have to throw out a lot of science and not just biology. Physics for example. No one has ever seen the Big Bang or a Big Bang and unless we master time travel no one ever will. That doesn’t mean we can’t make theories with hypotheses such as “if there had been a Big Bang we would expect to see X” and then go looking for X.

    Another example would be geology. We’ve never seen continents break apart and form smaller continents but the data indicates that is what happened and no one seriously challenges the theories by saying “we can’t hypothesize that continents can break up into smaller continents until we see it happen”.

    Also, one good example of evolution in the real world that impacts our daily lives is what is happening to bacteria as the result of antibiotics. New bacteria have evolved that are resistant to the most common antibiotics. Whether these new bacteria count as a new species of bacteria or not I don’t know enough biology to say but clearly they have evolved.



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  • 11
    SaganTheCat says:

    No one could have ever stepped back and observed a spherical planet yet this has been known for centuries, even the size of the planet.

    this is done through extrapolating available data, and it does not require faith. for the extrapolation to be wrong would require the inclusion of a phenomena that is not known about or observable (this does require faith)

    The first question is what’s the big deal with evolution? the concept of geological change doesn’t seem to get so many knickers in a twist.

    Furthermore evolution has been observed, by Darwin himself, albeit not through natural selection but artificial selection. breeding is something everyone accepts, even religious types who care so much about who their children will breed with.

    the issue comes down to “species” and I can guarantee no one who deny’s (honestly) evolution understands what it means. some species can interbreed, some can’t, some are not even genetically different by any real measure but are seperate due to other reasons (i.e some can’t interbreed, some just don’t).

    If you can get them to think hard enough about what they’re talking about, they may be able to get onto an intellectual platform high enough for you to mention two examples of where actual evolution of seperate species can be observed in a human lifespan.

    1. the Lenski experiment. it’s pretty damn conclusive and gets round the timescale issue by using bacteria with a reproductive cycle many thousands of times faster than animals

    2. Ring species. here we see the separation not by time but by space.

    Considering we know of nothing that stops species evolving (we know mutations exist, we know some survive, we know populaitons change, we know gene frequencies change, we know the fittest survive. these are all observable), to demand evolution does not happen requires evidence of what stops it.

    if they think earth is young, ask how god made it, and what out of (creationists love to sneer at the idea of something out of nothing so here’s their chance to explain themselves).

    A Scientific method is based on the collection of data through Observation & experimentation. I know of not one person who can give me observable evidence that Evolution is true

    if the inability to observe past evolution is evidence of evolution not occuring I suggest the following experiment:

    take a feather. take your friend and the feather to a deep dark well after sunset. hold the feather over the well and let go. 10 minutes later, ask them where the feather is. If they claim it’s at the bottom of the well, ask for proof



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  • 13
    Stephen of Wimbledon says:

    Frankly, I’m getting bored of seeing posts from people who can’t use a Search Engine. Am I alone in this?

    A suggested response:

    Sorry but I don’t share your same belief as you well know …

    Understanding the fact of evolution requires and open, enquiring, mind and some energy – you need to spend some time looking at the facts.

    You can believe any nonsense you like, that’s your privilege, I’m interested in evolution because I value truth.

    Give me ONE example that anyone has ever observed anything evolve into a totally new species.

    No problem, here’s eight.

    A Scientific method is based on the collection of data through Observation & experimentation. I know of not one person who can give me observable evidence that Evolution is true (something I don’t have to receive by Faith).

    Then you haven’t looked very hard. Seriously, there’s not merely a mountain of data – there are whole mountain ranges of data on evolution. Start here. Don’t stop there, keep looking, any good search engine will help you find (in seconds) more factual information on evolution than you can read in a lifetime.

    Even to believe as Darwin did takes Faith …

    Here’s a [detailed response(http://www.butterfliesandwheels.org/2011/why-evolution-is-not-faith/)], written by someone else because I can’t be bothered to personally refute a ridiculous canard that has been so easily refuted more times than ‘there are little green men on Mars’.

    Darwin said there would be change of KIND over many years but I fail to see even one case.

    ‘Kind’, (I assume your using it to refer to taxonomic types, a.k.a. species) is a bible word. The bible is not a science textbook.

    I can’t find that quote in Darwin – would you please be so kind as to highlight where he said that?

    Speciation has been recorded so many timesboring!

    I’m not talking about a slight change in time …

    That’s the definition of evolution – change over time – small time = small change, big time = lots of small changes = the appearance of big change. If you’re not talking about small changes and changes over time, then you’re not talking about evolution – QED.

    I’m not talking about a slight change in time e.g. Darwin spoke of a kind changing into another kind but A stickleback fish was an adaptation into a different species of stickleback but none the less it still remained a fish.

    This is incoherent. Do the three-spined stickleback and the nine-spined stickleback inter-breed; no. Is that because they are different species; yes. Are the three-spined stickleback and the nine-spined stickleback both members of one paraphyletic group (Fish); yes. Do elephants and whales inter-breed; no. Is that because they are different species; yes. Are elephants and whales both members of one Class (Mammalia); yes. Your point would be?

    It didn’t become a change of kind (assumed: kind = species).

    We’ve already covered this.

    Same as Darwin’s Finches-they might have become new in difference but they are still birds.

    So now you’re saying that Kind ≠ Species. What does Kind mean; Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus … ? You do know that taxonomy was invented by scientists to help them in their work? You do know that a taxonomy is just a human model for classification of species – in the same way that censors class movies, subjectively? You do know that the study of systematics is how we write taxonomies? You do know that because academics study systematics taxonomies are constantly evolving (i.e. changing over time)? Taxonomy ≠ the supernaturaly ‘revealed’ identification of ‘kinds’, taxonomy is simply humans putting a summary interpretation on nature.

    Changes over time mean differences emerge. When those differences become big enough (when two groups with the same ancestors no longer inter-breed), speciation has occurred. That’s all speciation means.

    No-one can prove that the earth has been around for millions & millions of years …

    Yes they can, like this, and this, and this – it is important to follow links on those three overview pages to get the full picture. The overviews were enough for me.

    [to] prove that the earth has been around for millions & millions of years, that would take faith to believe the science teachers.

    No it wouldn’t, science is an open project. You can check what professional scientists who have spent whole lifetimes studying these issues have discovered, at any time, like these Geologists. Or you can go to the Universities that specialise in questioning and exploring.

    … just fossil data alone … doesn’t prove the evidences [sic] through observing in experimentation …

    Again, incoherent. Evolution is not merely supported by fossils – it is supported by data, observation, catalogues and comparisons of several routes of inquiry – and it has been discovered that those lines of inquiry are both independently coherent and mutually supporting.

    Everything was created …

    On what factual basis do you base this opinion?

    No-One has ever observed that anything can evolve into a total ‘different species’ ever.

    Already covered this.

    To round off, here is a very simple 46-page guide that summarises evolution.

    Now stop wasting my time – go and study. Please note that the answers were always there – it took me ten minutes to find them using a well-known search engine – proving evolution is true is that trivial.

    End of suggested response.

    Peace.



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  • 14
    steve_hopker says:

    I won’t add to the excellent links that your person needs to see, especially Stephen of Wimbledon’s.

    But Stephen’s point that this and much more is quickly and freely available raises the question why this person, or indeed any Creationist, hasn’t already found and accepted it. So I partly agree with bob_e_s and others who doubt the value of attempting persuasion, so far as there might be limited value in simply pointing to the facts.

    But, the problem may not lie in ignorance as such but in divergent epistemologies, such that your stance (I assume) is that knowledge is obtained from nature, whereas for a believer such as your person it will be from scripture and associated teaching. This might be a starting point – as surely in reality your person will accept quite a lot of knowledge from the world (eg in their daily lives, perhaps at work etc). Then, it is probable that your person’s faith based epistemology will be confined to evolutionary biology (and maybe cosmology) – but avoiding immediate head on clashes but engaging about science outside the no-go areas might be wise. Encouraging a questioning of science might get into details enough to show doubt is at the heart of science (as the opposite of dogma) and so move to how scientific evidence is actually obtained. Looking at how biology is applied might suggest how science is not all theory and that evolution is bound up with many aspects of life – such as anatomy in surgery (the same anatomic knowledge in comparative, ie evolutionary anatomy) : or in ‘fossil fuel’ prospecting (the use of microfossils) or DNA fingerprinting’ (applying the genetics that also trace species relatedness).

    But I think it likely to take a long time to shift this person’s views far (if at all) and unlikely that you alone will do it. Indeed sometimes faith is lost through non-intellectual reasons, such as first hand experience of serious illness in oneself or others.

    As for things not being observable in real time, maybe ask them if they can see their fingernails growing?



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  • 15
    Coffee Addict 83 says:

    Reading Richard Dawkins own works should be sufficient. He goes into detail about evolution of species being observed both in the lab and in the wild. There are many factors involved in evolution. You need pressure of some kind to cause dramatic changes, and you need populations to be separated for long enough for one species to turn into two descended species (or two with one still being close enough to the parent species that it wouldn’t be considered “separate” as such). As for the age of the earth, radiometric dating is a good place to start. If you have any tolerance for USA Today: http://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/columnist/vergano/2012/11/24/rubio-earth-age-explained-clair-patterson/1722705/

    But, I highly doubt anything is going to convince your friend. S/He treats evidence as “faith”. You generally can’t convince such people of anything. Remember the one crazy eyed lady that Professor Dawkins conversed with who, after discussing the evidence of evolution to her, still inquired where the evidence was? If a murderer is caught on film in the act, is covered in the victims blood, and is seen holding the knife, there are further several eye witnesses (including police), etc., you’re still going to have that kind of person ask, “but where’s the evidence?” Don’t treat it as a situation where you’re actually trying to convince them. You probably won’t, and it’ll make you frustrated. Treat it rather as a way to sharpen your own arguments (for the people who can be convinced).



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  • I think it is a fair request, provided it comes from someone who had read the first few lines of Genesis, but never opened another book that might help him. If he is serious and can afford just one book then I suggest “The Ancestor’s Tale”, a sort of shorthand in 528 pages of the evolution of life. However, if he goes to a Natural History Museum and expects to see three consecutive fossils, the first a rhino, the second a horse, and the third a unicorn, then he will be very disappointed.



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  • 18
    bob_e_s says:

    Maybe I am defeatist, but if this person was really interested they could read up on the science. And if they did that I cant imagine a way they wouldnot be convinced.
    I,m watching an Attenborough documentary right now, the evidence for is just staggering.



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  • 19
    steve_hopker says:

    Hot off the press – well UK TV – David Attenborough’s “Rise of Animals” takes viewers from early vertebrates to mammals – with a lot of ‘missing links’ – or creatures close to them having been found, including feathered dinosaurs that surely make sense of the transition to birds. These fossils have I think been known in the last few decades, but the programme makes it clear that the gaps are getting narrower.

    Worth a look if you can



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  • 20
    justinesaracen says:

    I would not waste a lot of time on this person. In the past, I have engaged theists and written long, friendly, engaging, explanations only to have them rebutted with some cliché that revealed they had barely read what I had written. They have their ‘talking points’ and will simply keep coming back with them, regardless of how often or well you disprove them.
    You cannot explain evolutionary biology to a complete ignoramus.



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  • In reply to #20 by justinesaracen:

    I would not waste a lot of time on this person. In the past, I have engaged theists and written long, friendly, engaging, explanations only to have them rebutted with some cliché that revealed they had barely read what I had written. They have their ‘talking points’ and will simply keep coming back…

    I agree but sometimes you have to take on a fight for your own satisfaction. I have preached to Jehovas witnesses a couple of times. One was a particularly difficult case, she came back twice before she left declaring that there was no hope for me. I totally agreed. Another brought a set of arguments from well-known, respected scientists debunking the evolution theory. I did not recognize a single name and got into details, very interested and questioning this and that. After more than 30 minutes he left in total confusion and despair and I declared – There is hope for you!
    A seriously religious biology student believing in creation was in crisis after studies of all the arguments for evolution. He just did not want to give up his belief in God. I suggested that he did not have to but could simply put God closer to Big Bang. Eventually he smiled. Be stubborn is my advice and spend the time you can afford to expose your conviction. Pile up books rather than referring to internet. Much bigger pile than the bible.



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  • 22
    Reckless Monkey says:

    The best quick argument I’ve come up with when confronted with the ‘KIND’ argument is this. Firstly by accepting that genes can produce change in say beak size etc. in organisms they are accepting both genetic mutation and the natural selection of those genes to produce preferential survival. All you now need to ask anyone who doubts the obvious extension of this is to ask them to show the mechanism that stops this process from causing speciation. In theory if such a thing existed the churches have had over a hundred years to discover it.

    Experiments in the lab with bacteria include those where a species of bacteria fed a toxin have not only evolved to tolerate it but in fact rely on it.

    Genetic evidence is probably the strongest. Chimps could look and behave exactly as they do and have a complete reshuffling of their genes in comparison to ours, it matters not a jot that a particular gene exists on one particular chromosome or another, certainly the inactive genes (junk DNA) do not need to be anywhere in particular but not only are those gene (with about 1% difference in chimps) in the same chromosomes they are in the same order. In fact chimps have an extra pair of chromosomes this is because in two chomosomes fused in us at some point creating 1 less set. Now this was used by creationists before our ability to read genes as proof that we didn’t share a common ancestor. Scientists suggested it was likely that two chromosomes had fused into one. This if found to be wrong would have definitely brought into question the prediction that humans and chimps where cousins. As it turns out the fusion point has now been found at the predicted site with the same genes on either side in both humans and chimps. So either God is a tricky mischievous prankster trying shove evidence in our direction to test our faith or we did in fact evolve from a common ancestor. So what your friend say is wrong, science doesn’t need to see the event happen in a lab many discoveries like plate tectonics are discovered by making predictions about we would expect to see if this were true. My example for chimps and humans not only hold for humans and chimps but also holds for all the species we have measured. The odds that this would be the case by accident are so supremely remote you would have to be ignorant or self deceiving to deny it.



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  • 23
    Reckless Monkey says:

    Just one more thought, reading through a few of the comments I see loads of people suggesting you don’t try to argue. I agree in many cases you are probably wasting your time. However as a former believer myself I can tell you until the very moment I became an atheist I was sprouting this sort of nonsense. It was because in my case my father began to answer my questions with evidence that set a cognitive dissonance that broke the spell thoroughly, when I look back I can see the cracks forming earlier to to anyone observing from the outside I would have seemed godly, godly, godly – atheist! Keep it up. You may not convince this person but I’m sure reading the threads you’ve learned something, what you are doing is knocking out arguments (even if they don’t admit it) and setting them up for when they are ready to face the truth. And if not them then anyone else reading the debate will learn also.



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  • 24
    crookedshoes says:

    Hey, human beings have watched Culex molestus evolve into a new species. The subway mosquito. Research it.

    Every single scientific field of inquiry has evidence within it that the earth is more than 4000 years old. There is no faith necessary. You are stuck in your paradigm and think that the extent of human vision is as far as you can see. For shame. For shame.



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  • 25
    crookedshoes says:

    Wait a minute! Where did all the water go? What language do they speak in heaven? What color eyes/skin did adam and eve have? Why do we revere adam and eve as the “founders” when in actuality, all humans were murdered by god during the flood and the real “re-populators” were Noah and his kin? Oh, wait, isn’t incest wrong?



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  • On rare occasions I will trot out Dan Dennett’s classic question to certain believers: “Have you considered the possibility that your entire life has been devoted to a delusion?” It’s an honest question.

    In the face of obstinacy, sometimes you have to be content with leaving them with questions to think about rather than answers they’ll likely never verify for themselves. Character also is indispensable. This person cares enough about you to question your thoughts. That’s not a bad thing at all. It means you are at least somewhat respectable in their eyes already. Build on that by being scrupulously honest which means saying, from time to time, “I don’t know.”

    Good luck!

    Mike



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  • 27
    CdnMacAtheist says:

    For all the reasons noted in the previous Comments, you can’t expect rationality or comprehension from a person of 1 book – and most likely they aren’t even deeply familiar with their 1 book, nor have they considered all the mythtakes contained in it.

    These pathetic, ignorant mind-slaves have been indoctrinated, blinkered and primed to recite a few cherry-picked anecdotes that support the presuppositions required by their primitive, unevidenced, unchanging dogmas – driven by fear of the promised everlasting punishment by their all-loving, sky-fairy dictator.

    It takes a lot of reading, watching, listening and thinking to understand evolution – and even then there are many deeper levels that few are educated or competent enough to fully appreciate. I have a basic but wide-ranging comprehension of the scientific method, touching on physics, biology, evolution, geology, archaeology, and cosmology.

    This allows me to superficially understand and accept the wonderful work done by many thousands of scientists who build upon previous experiments, demonstrated facts and accepted theories to further explain our cosmos and our pale blue dot in considerable mutually-supporting detail.

    The fact that we don’t yet know everything – or even enough to fully answer many questions – is due to rational inquiry by known methodologies which doesn’t start with fixed ‘my particular non-specific god-did-it’ conclusions looking for distorted answers to support them.

    We look for real answers to logical questions, despite being threatened with damnation for thinking outside the book, and not fearfully accepting the comforting, ego-stroking bribes of everlasting paradise that would rapidly sicken any free-thinking human…. Mac.



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  • A new species is one with chromosomes sufficiently different they cannot breed and produce fertile offspring.

    Read the book The Human Effect and Why It Matters by Daniel Fairbanks. It describes some fish in Mexican rivers evolving into two species without human intervention as the scientists watched. That book also explains how you can trace the history of a species by studying the DNA.

    After you understand the DNA mechanism, creation of a new species no longer seems such a magical event.

    Once you have a new species, you stop the gene flow between the old and new species, and the new species is free to evolve in a completely new direction.



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  • You can explain evolution to a creationist in great detail. Then you turn around and catch them trying the same lies on someone else. (e.g. Evolution is only a theory).

    They have a bag of fishing flies. They try them all out on any suspect. That they are all lies and straw men is irrelevant.

    They are not seeking understanding. That pose is part of the con.

    They know perfectly well they are lying, but for various motives they think this is the thing to do:

    1. if creationism collapsed, morality would collapse.
    2. if creationism collapsed, a “church” (religious con organisation) would starve.
    3. God wants them to believe this crap, despite the fact it is obviously nonsense. If they fail to sufficiently fake belief, God will torment them. Consider the strange idea that God fabricated the fossil beds to test belief in the bible. God demands irrationality.

    We keep treating creationists as if they were unbelievably stupid. We might get further treating them as unbelievably dishonest.



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  • 30
    realthinktank says:

    First thing you have to do is to get the person to recognize that emotion should not be a factor when debating the truth of an academic claim such as evolution. Facts are facts no matter how one feels about them. It is important that you get them to acknowledge and agree that emotion plays no role in whether something is true or not. This is because your questioning will inevitably trigger an emotional defensive mechanism that will prevent them from hearing or rationally thinking about what you have to say. The reason they get emotionally defensive is easy enough to understand seeing that they are basing their beliefs on emotion, while trying to convince themselves and others that they are being rational (its ironic that they know being rational is an intellectual achievement to be proud of, yet they abandon it immediately for the emotional comfort they find in a supernatural view of the world.) Basically, there is giant elephant always in the room, and if you want to have any kind of constructive discussion you must make sure that the other person does their part to keep that elephant quiet.



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  • 31
    DocWebster says:

    You have to come to grips with the fact that this person doesn’t care about facts and evidence, they will most likely live the rest of their life believing they will live forever right after they die and that you are trying to ruin that forever life by turning them away from the truth. This person is afraid of permanent death and would gladly wish for your demise rather than face the fact that they will die and there is nothing that’s going to change it. They are cowards, sniveling, self-deceptive cowards, and you’re better off pulling a lions tail than trying to break through that wall of fear.



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  • 32
    JoxerTheMighty says:

    Ugh. This shitty “you only know for sure through observation” argument. Basically saying that, since there was no guy with a digital camera 10 million years ago to provide live footage of what was happening, then all you have is “faith”; he believes earth is a few thousand years old, you believe it’s 4 billion years old and it’s the same, “faith”.

    Of course it’s nonsense, otherwise that would mean that the verdict of every trial ever conducted in every courtroom anywhere, that did not use camera or sound recordings as evidence, was just based on “faith”. Right? Well, except there is this thing we humans have we call “deduction”. If I see a house that looks all burned down, I logically deduct that at some point in the past it was engulfed into flames. If it’s still smoking, I deduct that this event happened relatively recently. I don’t need a camera recording of the house actually being on fire for those statements to be valid and not based on “faith”.

    In all seriousness, maybe some of Conan Doyle’s works about a particular eccentric detective and his trusty friend would be much more beneficial to this person than anything else? In fail of that, meh, the Robert Downey Jr. flicks would do I guess, they’re not half bad, that is if he doesn’t mind the constant homoerotic innuendo in those 😛



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  • 33
    Ornicar says:

    Tell him that if he postulates that a species cannot appear on its own because it’s too complex therefore improbable, then a creator able to design and build any species at all (let alone all of them) would be even more complex therefore improbable. That means that even if the whole theory of evolution were proven wrong tomorrow and we would be left saying that we don’t know how species appear, your friend would come and give us his point of view and we would still be left saying that we don’t know. So he’d better keep sure his faith and his knowledge of nature stay two different things unlike when he supported the last campaign against embryo cells research.



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  • 34
    Pabmusic says:

    I doubt you will ever convince this person that they’re wrong. The misunderstanding we all have from time to time is that we assume such people seek the truth, whereas they merely try to defend or bolster a position they already hold, which (to them) is unchangeable. The scientific approach undermines their position, so it is the scientific approach that must be attacked by alleging that “it’s just a faith, like mine”. (By that way, what does that say for their position?)

    It’s little use talking about ‘species’ since they usually don’t accept that species are the same as ‘kinds’ anyway. They’re interested in kinds. I’ve never been able to tie a creationist down to a satisfactory definition of ‘kind’ – except that fish and birds are different kinds, so are bears and mice.

    The best tactic I’ve come across is to ask what prevents one ‘kind’ becoming another. They usually accept DNA (progress?) and sometimes will say the DNA doesn’t allow such change (which gives you an opening about just what process it is that prevents change) but often they’ll just say “God doesn’t allow it”.



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  • 35
    crookedshoes says:

    Roedy,

    We keep treating creationists as if they were unbelievably stupid. We might get further treating them as unbelievably dishonest.>>

    I have read your stuff for a long time and always think you bring something great to the discussion. BUT, you have never before hit the nail on the head. I am (with your permission) going to steal this meme from you and try to get it to be the next viral idea. Goddamn, you crystallize so much with two sentences. Thanks.

    Crooked

    In reply to #29 by Roedy:

    You can explain evolution to a creationist in great detail. Then you turn around and catch them trying the same lies on someone else. (e.g. Evolution is only a theory).

    They have a bag of fishing flies. They try them all out on any suspect. That they are all lies and straw men is irrelevant.

    Th…



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  • 36
    OHooligan says:

    In reply to #13 by Stephen of Wimbledon:

    Frankly, I’m getting bored of seeing posts from people who can’t use a Search Engine. Am I alone in this?

    Even language evolves. At school I was taught it was correct to write “bored with”, but “tired of”, “sick of”, and “annoyed by”. These days it’s “bored of”. Not sure I’ve heard “tired with” yet. Oh, yes, and “pissed (off) by/with/at” but never “of”.



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  • In reply to #25 by crookedshoes:

    Why do we revere adam and eve as the “founders” when in actuality, all humans were murdered by god during the flood and the real “re-populators” were Noah and his kin? Oh wait, isn’t incest wrong?

    I often bring this up: Why was incest ok in the beginning?

    Religious response: because how else could they have populated?
    My response: You know god was omnipotent enough to create once, why not again, and avoid breaking the incest=sin paradigm?

    Theological response: because the 613 commandments hadn’t been given yet, so they couldn’t be judged by Moses’ code.
    My response: god is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow (so says the bible) so why would his stance on sin change? Shouldn’t his law have applied for all time?

    Ah the minds of the faithful….



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  • 38
    crookedshoes says:

    Ah the minds of the faithful….>>

    I know, I know… Like being hammered drunk and trying to fit your car key into your front door.

    In reply to #37 by Jogre:

    In reply to #25 by crookedshoes:

    Why do we revere adam and eve as the “founders” when in actuality, all humans were murdered by god during the flood and the real “re-populators” were Noah and his kin? Oh wait, isn’t incest wrong?

    I often bring this up: Why was incest ok in the beginning?

    Religio…



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  • 39
    OHooligan says:

    The only thing I think worth adding to the responses already here is this reminder:

    Science did not set out to attack religion, it simply strives to increase our understanding of how the world around us actually works. Contradicting religious teaching is an accidental consequence, and is entirely the fault of religions that continue to teach as “Truth” things that are demonstrably false.



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  • 40
    OHooligan says:

    In reply to #22 by Reckless Monkey:

    God is a tricky mischievous prankster trying shove evidence in our direction to test our faith

    Yes, that’s a God Hypothesis that science cannot refute. QED.



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  • 41
    siwel.trebor@bighpond.com says:

    I agree that there is no point in arguing with this person. She is so sure of her self and her god that nothing I can say or do will have any effect on her. I have told her tyhat science has nothing to defend and to even discuss the issue with her gives people the wrong message. I reserved the right to correct her moisuse of science.The ring of gulls ia a good argument and convincing to anyone who will listen and I will keep it in mind.
    In reply to #1 by bob_e_s:

    The tyranny of the discontinuous mind.

    I wouldn’t bother arguing with this person, they will just return to the ‘you need faith in science’ schtick and refuse to acknowledge any evidence you present.

    What he as asking you to present is evidence of speciation, not of evolution. By making the false…



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  • 42
    siwel.trebor@bighpond.com says:

    In reply to #2 by Red Dog:

    In reply to #1 by bobes:
    Have read the link on gaps and it helped understand a bit better
    The tyranny of the discontinuous mind.

    The Dawkins essay Gaps in the Mind is one of my favorites. I would encourage the OP to read it at the link above. If you aren’t into animal rights try not to let that get in the way, he uses animal rights as the example but the idea h…



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  • 43
    siwel.trebor@bighpond.com says:

    Thank you Kim. I can see one problem with this women. she does not know the difference between species and to use her word kind. It would be futile to even try and explain the difference. A few other replies point out this lack of understanding on her partIn reply to #4 by Kim Probable:

    Part of the problem is that they’ve created their own definition (well, creationists did and this person is adopting it) of “kind”. No matter what you show them, they will sort it into one “kind” or another and claim that we don’t see transitions. A dinosaur, but with feathers? Well, it’s a bird, an…



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  • 44
    siwel.trebor@bighpond.com says:

    Thank you. I will keep these arguments up my sleeve in case I ever get a chance to talk rationally with her. I will not be holding my breath till this happens however.In reply to #5 by blitz442:

    Faith in science, eh? Start with the science that people tend to have the most “faith” in – physics.

    Ask him or her if he believes that the Earth is round and is revolving around the Sun at great speed, a speed that is known with a very high degree of accuracy and precision.

    If she/he agrees that…



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  • 45
    siwel.trebor@bighpond.com says:

    I had not thought of the Neptune idea before, a good argument for sanity. Unfortunately she only allows for a 6000 odd year age for the universe I will certainly keep these ideas in mind for if I ever get a chance to use them. thank you In reply to #7 by hemidemisemigod:

    Evolution from one species to another takes a very long time; too long for anyone to observe it. There are many processes in this universe that take too long for humans to observe in their entirety.

    It takes about 165 years for the planet Neptune to orbit the Sun. Nobody has every seen that happen….



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  • 46
    siwel.trebor@bighpond.com says:

    Very true, Unfortunately she has no understanding of science so can’t even begin to know what i am saying. My best bet is to have arguments ready but avoid getting exasperated with her god talk and being drawn into a battle I cant win in her veiw. It will only encourage her thanks for the replyIn reply to #9 by Alan4discussion:

    Each after it’s own kind.

    “Kind” as a substitution for the nomenclature of – genus, species etc. It is creationist “arky-speak”!

    Your first problem is that this person is very uneducated and is ignorant of astronomy, geology and biology.
    As such they a fully qualified faith-head-know-it-alls!…



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  • 47
    siwel.trebor@bighpond.com says:

    Thank you Sagan TheCat All very good points. Unfortunately her mind is closed to anything that does not make god all powerful, even to creating the universe from nothing. Science does something similar but at least science can put forward mechanisims by which this could happen. An argument she would throw right back at me. I could possibly explain it to her but would never get the chance.In reply to #11 by SaganTheCat:

    No one could have ever stepped back and observed a spherical planet yet this has been known for centuries, even the size of the planet.

    this is done through extrapolating available data, and it does not require faith. for the extrapolation to be wrong would require the inclusion of a phenomena that…



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  • 48
    siwel.trebor@bighpond.com says:

    In reply to #12 by pwuk:

    What about animals that have traits of two “species” Duckbilled Platypus, Mudskipper, Lungfish?

    A very good question. Of course evolution has the answer and it is a good one. Of course a somewhat tounge in cheek religious answer is that they were designed late on friday night after the apples had fermented. Will also keep this question on stand by. Thanks



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  • 49
    siwel.trebor@bighpond.com says:

    thank you for the reply. reading back over my plea for help I can see that I did word it badly. I was asking for help with replying to the person in such a way as to get through to her. I can see from the other answers that I should really not argue with her as she has a totally closed mind. I agree with this analysis…but I will be ready with more and better arguments should the need arise. I have been studying this and other science subjects for many years and have used in the past many of the arguments presented in these replies. Some are new and thank you all for these. Though I am not really overly smart when it comes to using the net I do have some ability. When it comes to presenting ideas and arguments to people I fall down. It is the social interaction I lack in situations such as those. Thank you for your reply. I have kept a copy for further reference (If you object please let me know and I will delete it) because it puts much of what has been said here in a nut shell. Thank you for taking the time to reply.
    In reply to #13 by Stephen of Wimbledon:

    Frankly, I’m getting bored of seeing posts from people who can’t use a Search Engine. Am I alone in this?

    A suggested response:

    Sorry but I don’t share your same belief as you well know …

    Understanding the fact of evolution requires and open, enquiring, mind and some energy – you need to spend…



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  • 50
    siwel.trebor@bighpond.com says:

    In reply to #14 by steve_hopker:
    Thanks for the thoughts. Time is a good point here. She has plenty of it being young and I have 6 months (NO; this is based on the 3 score and ten years we are supposed to have). I have better things to do than argue with a closed mind, such as study and read.

    I won’t add to the excellent links that your person needs to see, especially Stephen of Wimbledon’s.

    But Stephen’s point that this and much more is quickly and freely available raises the question why this person, or indeed any Creationist, hasn’t already found and accepted it. So I partly agree wi…



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  • 51
    siwel.trebor@bighpond.com says:

    In reply to #16 by ZedBee:
    Thank you. This person has attended classes and taught the bible and her brand of interpertation of it. A very hard nut to crack. I will read the ancestors tale again as i have forgotten much of it but know it was well worth the reading.
    I think it is a fair request, provided it comes from someone who had read the first few lines of Genesis, but never opened another book that might help him. If he is serious and can afford just one book then I suggest “The Ancestor’s Tale”, a sort of shorthand in 528 pages of the evolution of life….



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  • 52
    siwel.trebor@bighpond.com says:

    Now this one I like, I never thought about that but as soon as she starts again I will certainly bring the subject up. Thank you.
    In reply to #17 by Mr DArcy:

    To the OP,

    Please ask for ONE INSTANCE of a snake with vocal cords.



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  • 53
    Pabmusic says:

    In reply to #37 by Jogre:

    In reply to #25 by crookedshoes:

    I often bring this up: Why was incest ok in the beginning?

    You don’t realise that there were other people living at the time of Adam and Eve (or rather at the time of Cain and Abel). Cain kills Abel, is cast into the wilderness where he ‘knew’ his wife (we’re never told she was his sister – we’re only ever told that Eve had two children and then a third son at the age of 130).

    Suspension of disbelief.



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  • 54
    siwel.trebor@bighpond.com says:

    thank you. I have anywhere from 750 to 1250 books on science covering all science. I am studying anatomy, life on earth and geology. I have books on everything from animals to zoology and have read most of them cover to cover. A theist reads one book and knows it all. an a-theist reads many books and clims to know very little. All the replies i have had make good valid points and have helped me enormously. I will thank every one of you for your help. i will have to learn to be socially more interactive, not an easy task at my age. The women is smart and a great talker but also a bit nutty at times. It is not a winable argument with her.
    In reply to #21 by Agge:

    In reply to #20 by justinesaracen:

    I would not waste a lot of time on this person. In the past, I have engaged theists and written long, friendly, engaging, explanations only to have them rebutted with some cliché that revealed they had barely read what I had written. They have their ‘talking point…



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  • Then I think justinesaracen is right 100%. Don’t bother. If she is close and you have to bother – just tell her you cannot be bothered with her ignorance just now, e.g you are busy catching up with the literature on the role of polyploidy in speciation. And that will possibly include searching for literature you do not yet have. Perhaps. Very important is a happy outlook – you have to show that you are pleased with your interests and efforts. Be kind and understanding of her predicament – she probaly cannot move over the threshold of terminology, digest the massive amount of literature available to see for herself, and then what can you do? When she doesn’t trust the summary made by very many different professionals who have done so and arrived at a consensus with immensely strong factual support. Good luck! I would like to see your library.

    In reply to #54 by siwel.trebor@bighpond.com:

    thank you. I have anywhere from 750 to 1250 books on science covering all science. I am studying anatomy, life on earth and geology. I have books on everything from animals to zoology and have read most of them cover to cover. A theist reads one book and knows it all. an a-theist reads many boo…



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  • 56
    DwightL says:

    I think you friend is asking you for an example of the emergence of a new genus, or perhaps even family, not species. From our observations changes of this scale take place over great spans of time. Biological systems do not suddenly sprout new orders, families, or genera. LIke a tree, new leaves, or species, occur at the tips of twigs.



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  • In reply to #53 by Pabmusic:

    You don’t realise that there were other people living at the time of Adam and Eve (or rather at the time of Cain and Abel). Cain kills Abel, is cast into the wilderness where he…

    I understand there were others. Theologically speaking, they all had to come from Adam and Eve – not separate divine creation. Doctrine of original sin makes this clear, meaning incest was the original means of creating these other people living at the time. All had to come from A+E, biblically speaking of course. If god had a separate creation, it would not have been incest. As there is no biblical proof to a second creation (other than immediately after the first where the order is mixed up) we must conclude that everyone had to come through A+E via incest.

    • J



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  • 58
    ikinmoore says:

    I often debate Creationists manly because of their rather odd ideals of the earth being only 6,000 years old. It is rather odd that they have to have evidence of Evolution yet cannot produce any evidence of Creation. They question Evolution because of an old book written some 4000 years ago by those who did not know any better. As a lay person who science knowledge is pretty basic even I acknowledge that Evolution is now fact.



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  • 59
    logicophilosophicus says:

    I think you can be a bit more Socratic about this. Point out that even before fossils were known, and even before anyone theorised about evolution, Linnaeus noticed that all creatures naturally fit into a (family) tree. When fossils were found, they fitted into the earlier gaps in the tree. Evolution was an obvious conclusion. So why would a good God mislead us so? There is the Bible and there is Nature. One is a lie, and either way you have to blame your God. Unless the Bible doesn’t mean what you think it means…



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  • 60
    crookedshoes says:

    If Adam and Eve were the first two people and they were created just 6000 (or so) years ago, then the processes that have generated all of the differing eye/hair/skin colors must far outpace the processes that scientists claim to be at work. I mean, dammit, if we can arrive at all this diversity within 6000 (or so) years, and must adjust for the “bottleneck” that occurred when god murdered everyone on earth except Noah et al, then the forces at work changing living things must be crazy crazy fast.

    But, they do not claim that, now do they? By their own admission, we should be seeing DAILY speciation. Maximo Stupido. They are not stupido; they are DISHONESTO….



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  • 61
    Mr DArcy says:

    In reply to #60 by crookedshoes:

    If Adam and Eve were the first two people and they were created just 6000 (or so) years ago, then the processes that have generated all of the differing eye/hair/skin colors must far outpace the processes that scientists claim to be at work. I mean, dammit, if we can arrive at all this diversity wi…

    Ah, but crookedshoes, you left out the magic bit !



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  • 62
    siwel.trebor@bighpond.com says:

    just counted the books. About 850 plus many articles, magazines and notes of my own. I have always been interested in any science subject but only recently have I turned to the life sciences. I have much to catch up on. Its not just the womens attitude about religion but the fact that her kids are totally brainwashed too. One even put on fb that if he died tomorrow he would be happy as he would meet Jesus. Age 12. There is no santa, christmas is because of Jesus. age 10. Now we have lost our minister for science in Australia and Phony Rabbit has closed the committee for climate change here as well. What hope does the world have in face of such ignorance and aragance. Too many other more immediate problems to worry about her. Ta
    In reply to #21 by Agge:

    In reply to #20 by justinesaracen:

    I would not waste a lot of time on this person. In the past, I have engaged theists and written long, friendly, engaging, explanations only to have them rebutted with some cliché that revealed they had barely read what I had written. They have their ‘talking point…



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  • 63
    Jon Sims says:

    In a short time the opportunity for people to live for indefinite amounts of time will be a reality. Living for 4,000 years will not be an issue. I wrote a bit about this, god and time travel. {http://www.simplesite.com/JonSims/132729954} . I’m not a pro writer but you may have fun with it.
    As to the person who wrote you that message.. He or she is an idiot. Do not waste your energy trying to reason with him or her. If you need to, ask the fool how the KIWI bird got to New Zealand after the flood. It cannot fly and cannot swim. Obviously a non flying bird would have been eaten by the lions as soon as they got 100m away from Noah..
    The problem is the fool will tell you God put the kiwi there on NZ because it could not fly and would be safe from the Lions. You are wasting your time trying to reason with people who have no reason.



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  • 65
    Verticalling says:

    Basically, you are trying to convince someone of the non-reality of their world view using the non-reality of your own. Unfortunately, science, the way it is employed by most, is used to perpetuate the falsehood that reality can be captured in words and understood by means of our (necessarily) limited human intellectual apparatus. Observable facts can be – because we speak their language. But we cannot go beyond facts to truth (reality as it is) because whatever we contact in life can only be misinterpreted using our instruments of weights and measurements. Truth is whole. It cannot be manipulated or used. Therefore, few are truly interested in it because it holds no technological or survival value. Science – rather than being an exciting means of discovery and wonderment – is most often embraced because of its ability to help one be a success in life.



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