Why won't the Creationists talk turkey?

I’ve been hearing some creationist rumblings here and there on the SDMB lately, but no one really comes out and makes an argument. Wildest Bill claimed that evolutionists are trying to indoctrinate children with the “ole trick” of claiming it’s a fact when it isn’t. ImNotMad has made some vague, handwaving statements about “design.” Mahaloth states that evolution is “just a religion.”

Talk is cheap, folks! You could just as well talk about the “ole trick” of claiming that the sky is blue when it isn’t, or talk about the “religion” of General Relativity. But where’s the evidence?

In particular, why has no one attempted to answer the stumper questions?

  1. Why do the calculated phylogenetic trees (ie “family trees”) of orthologous proteins agree with the pattern of relationships between species which evolutionists claim to have reconstructed from the fossil record? Why do unrelated proteins serve similar functions in cases where evolutionists claim that those functions evolved independently in the fossil record? (For example, odorant binding proteins in vertebrates and insects, and lens crystallins in vertebrates and molluscs.)

  2. Why does the arrangement of genes and pseudogenes in the hemoglobin clusters correlate with their calculated phylogenetic trees?

  3. Why are similar functions sometimes served by completely different proteins? Why are completely different functions sometimes served by similar proteins?

  4. Why do retrogenes lack introns, and have a poly-A tail? Why are they sometimes cut short? Why are they flanked by repeat sequences which are characteristic of transposons and other inserted sequences?

  5. Why do pseudogenes exist? How do you explain their observed features?

  6. Why do transposons exist? Why do some transposons carry pseudogenes for transposases?

  7. Why do introns exist? How do you explain their observed features?

  8. Why are exons predominantly of class 1-1? Why is exon class conserved when particular exons appear over and over again in different proteins?

  9. Why do pseudoexons exist?

  10. Why do we see the observed mutation rates (creationists might prefer to think of them as “observed number of differences”) for different classes of genetic information? Why do pseudogenes differ between species roughly as much as introns and fourfold degenerate sites do, while protein coding genes differ much less?

  11. Why do amino acids on the outside of proteins show higher mutation rates (or observed differences, if you prefer) than amino acids in the hydrophobic core or active sites of proteins?

Go right ahead, guys. Prove the superiority of creation science over the evilutionist house of cards. I ask any and all believers in creation science to put their money where their mouth is by answering these eleven questions.

(Please note that weaselling is not permitted. Your task is to provide a scientific explanation of the biological facts within a creationist framework. Diversionary tactics, such as attacking evolution without supporting creationism or introducing irrelevant subjects such as the Paluxy tracks or moon dust will be considered an implicit admission of abject defeat.)


You really think there are many creationists out there who understand any of that?

I can (In the guise of a creationist) answer all eleven with “That’s how G-d designed it”.

But I guess that you’d see that as a cop out too…


Because creationists know that what they beleive has no evidence, they have to have all faith. Evolution has alot of evidence. It may not be a fact, but neither is gravity, but it’s still here.

I think Mangetout hit the nail on the head - if someone got far enough in science to know what the heck you’re talking about, they would have to abandon theocratically-dictated substitutes for science. It’s hard to pass a geology test about the formation of a mountain range over millions of years if you believe the universe is less than ten thousand years old. That doesn’t mean they would have to abandon the notion that a supernatural being created the universe or even that the same being directs things in it, but they would have to quit jabbering about dinosaurs and people living side-by-side.

Bloody hell. I can’t talk turkey myself, then.

I alwys thought it was a matter of Occam’s Razor. Who needs a omnipotent omniscient intangible super-creature of which there is no evidence of existence, outside of a dubious and political text, when you have Darwinian principles?

Can someone point out the flaws in Darwinism, at least so I’m aware of them? I’d heard that there were some kangaroos which escaped from a zoo on a Hawaiian island which had developed distinctive characteristics within a few generations, when they shoudn’t have…

[hijack] Halfway through reading your post, I thought of asking you if you had read “Darwin’s Radio”. Having now finished reading your post, I think it may be more appropriate to ask if you wrote the thing. :wink:

You see, the creationists would then have to understand and actually know about evolution instead of just blasting it from a position of faith induced certainty and ignorance. That’s the problem. That’s why none of them will discuss cold hard facts with you.

Hi Ben

Consider that everything stems from God. My view (expressed previously in an other thread) is that God would have to be a pretty smart cookie. I mean, to create the heavens and the earth and all the… etc etc. A bit smarter than me at least. With respect, a bit smarter than… well anyone I ever met, real or virtual.

How would you expect a creationist to be able explain the manner in which it all happened, given the magnitude of a creating power that could have created the heavens and the earth etc etc and the relative feebleness of even the most advanced human intellect in comparison.

If there is a God, then it’s arrogant to believe that we could even begin to comprehend anything meaningful in relative terms, particularly, how everything was created.

What does science tell about creation (with any degree o certainty) in relation to the bits we don’t know… diddly squat! Science, as I’m reliably informed in another thread, simply states our current level of understanding. It does not (cannot) present anything as the ‘truth’. If we knew that much about how it all happened, how come we don’t have a cure for the common cold yet?

I accept that science is ‘helpful’ in practical ways… that science is a healthy part of our search to understand things. I use the fruits of scientific research and deveopment on a daily basis. By its very nature though, science tells us that it is part of a journey and not a destination. We haven’t really got anywhere yet.

It’s not that long ago that people were certain about a flat earth! How certain can we be about anything that science teaches us today?


PS Where did you learn all that stuff, and more importantly, do you use it on a daily basis? (Rude to ask but genuinely curious)

[nitpick]It really was actually quite a long time ago. More than 2,000 years, anyway.[/nitpick]

To answer the title question: tried it, didn’t work out - two reasons:

  1. I don’t know enough about science to answer questions such as those posed in the OP. (Frankly I would venture to guess that the vast majority of people who believe in evolution are in the same position.) At the time that I participated in a few evolution/creation threads, I avoided - for this reason - making definitive statements about evolution. But I did think that it might be possible to discuss and argue specific points about evolution even without knowing the answer to every technical scientific issue. And I did make a good faith issue to understand the complex scientific arguments that were addressed to me (interestingly, Ben was actually quite helpful in this regard). However it ultimately became apparent that people regarded this approach as being less then fully honest, and felt that it was disingenuous to make any arguments at all if I couldn’t address every issue.

  2. There seems to be an extraordinarily high level of emotion coming from (many members of) the evolutionist camp. A very high percentage of their arguments consisted of nothing but ridicule, insults and rehashed slogans. Whereas one might suffer these if there was some enlightenment to be had, past a certain level there ceases to be value in engaging in this sort of “debate”.

There’s an old story about a Hasid who went into the cheese business. So as to bring himself good luck, he brought his Rebbe (Hasidic master) in as a partner. But the Rebbe mixed into the running of business, and it wasn’t long before the business went bankrupt. And the scoffers laughed “what kind of Rebbe is that? Look how he ruined your business”. But the Hasid laughed back “fools! As a Rebbe he’s great - He’s just not good as a partner in a cheese business”.

The SDMB is great for many things - it’s just not good for discussing creationism.


I don’t expect anything of the sort. I’ve outlined a mere 11 questions asking creationists to make sense of a few bits of very basic physical data. Saying “God is too smart for us to understand” is no explanation at all. If your child asks you, “Why is the sky blue?”, do you reply, “God did it, and we can’t explain his creation”?


By juxtaposing creation science vs. science, are you saying that creation science is actually pseudoscience?


So you feel that tomorrow you might, just possibly, read a big announcement which states that the earth is a big cube? Or will you wake up tomorrow to learn that- silly us- we thought the moon was a big rock when all along it was made of green cheese?

I’m a molecular biologist, and I learned it from class and from my own readings in papers and textbooks. I use my knowledge of molecular evolution when I interpret my data and when I read papers, so you could say I use it on a daily basis. You have to understand, there’s nothing far-out or abstruse about the data I listed; it’s the basic data of molecular biology. If you want to try to find a cure for cancer, you can’t use creationism, because creation science doesn’t take into account the most basic facts. You might as well hire a flat earther to compile an atlas; he would have so little understanding of what to do that he would be completely useless.


Well, the “common cold” can be caused by any one of a very large group viruses known as “rhino viruses.” Rhino meaning that the are found in the nose (you actually find them throughout the upper resiratory system.) Since it is not a matter of killing off just one specific virus, but rather finding a way to clobber a bunch of similar but not identical viruses, you should be able to see the problem.
Not that the above has anything to do with the OP, or proving or disproving evolution. I think that this is the problem Ben was referring to in the OP: The lack of factual arguments from the supporters of Creationism.

Well now. Ben didn’t ask how everything happened. He put up a series of questions based upon factual observations that agree with the theory of evolution, and asked the “creation scientists” out there to provide an explanation of the observed facts that does not support evolution.
If we grant the existence of a God, then yes, it would be arrogant to aspire to equality - especially in light of all the things such a God would have to be capable of. If, however, we don’t take the existence of God as a given, then it would be a total waste of the potential of the human race not to discover everything possible about the workings of the Universe. Actually, on further thought, it would still be a waste of the potential of the human race not to learn all that we can about the Universe, even if the is a God. Learn all that we may, if there is a God there is no way in (pardon me) hell for us to even come close to challenging his superiority.

Give that Doper a prize for the most obvious statement of the millenium.


I don’t think I did say that.


I suspect that over the next week, scientists all over the world will announce the results of their latest piece of research. Inevitably, in doing so, they are likely to disprove or replace paradigms that were previously held as truths by earlier researchers and scientists who were equally as certain that they ‘knew’ for sure. Some of your 11 issues may be challenged someday… who knows. ( By the way, I’m not aware of anyone working on the green cheese bit right :wink: )

Ben, that’s great and I’m sure that it is better for us to try to understand this stuff than not to. I don’t suspect that many creationists have any problem at all with us all trying to understand more. I guess what I’m saying is that just because I can’t answer your questions doesn’t mean that I’m wrong and just because you can, doesn’t mean that you’re right.


I don’t know the specific answers to all of the questions presented in the OP. But I can infer from the presentation of the information that all of the items that you mention are basic things common to most species. Please correct me if I am misunderstanding this basic premise.

As a Creationist it makes perfect sense to me that there are things common to all living/non-living beings. Everyday of my life I see common objects being used in different ways. If humans have the ingenuity to take materials found on the earth to create many different things used for different purposes, why couldn’t our creator have done the same?

An example; wood is used as a building material and as a material in paper. Did it naturally evolve from a tree to a house? Did the pulp left from manipulating the wood naturally evolve into paper? No, there were people who saw the materials and thought of a different application for them.

Science cannot state, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that everything in the universe evolved from a couple atoms (or whatever) that happened to be in the same place at the right time. Nor can Creationists say beyond a shadow of a doubt that our universe was intentionally created by a being greater than humans. Neither one of these can be proven by humans to be absolutely true, but I believe that it is highly improbable that our existence happened by accident.


So, we’re not that smart then… really. I’m not trying to be a smart alec here… doesn’t this tell us that there has to be so much that we don’t know. Thus, anything that we do appear to have stablished scientifically has still to be viewed with less certainty than some scientists sometimes attribute to their findings.

That’s the point for me and why I’m content to rely on my faith, rather than the latest piece of scientific ‘truth’.

Agree. See my response to Ben above.

What is it and where do I collect? :cool: Okay, so I might sometimes say obvious things but that doesn’t make me a bad person. :smiley:

If humans have the ingenuity to evolve new solutions to problems, why couldn’t our creator do the same? Granted, our evolutionary technologies aren’t quite on the same scale as biological life just yet–but they’re also relatively new.

To address a couple other points: it is true that science does not offer us absolute certainty. Can anyone prove to me beyond a shadow of a doubt that this is the Straight Dope Message Board, and not just a very clever fake?

What science does offer us is a degree of certainty that I think is lacking from any other source of knowledge. Gravity may not work normally tomorrow, but if you want to place money on that, I’ll take that bet.

Science is not a place of absolutes. Old theories and paradigms will be discarded or modified in favor of new ones that better fit the available evidence, and as more evidence becomes available, those theories and paradigms will be discarded or modified.

Can you give me an example of a scientist who attibuted too much certainty to his findings?

It’s been my experience that scientists are highly circumspect about their claims. Scientists have hundreds of ways, qualitiative, and quatitative, to express exactly how certain (and thus also how uncertain) they are about their statements. Unfortunately, such qualifications somehow evaporate before they can take root in the minds of the public.

However certain or uncertain some facet of evolutionary theory is, though, evolution as a concept, as a guiding principle, is so certain that the likelyhood of it being overturned in favor of another paradigm is up there with the headline:

Scientists Discover That Sun Circles Earth!
Baffled NASA official admits: “The Moon landing was a hoax that we all fell for.”


That’s one helluva opening post. :slight_smile:

I’ve steered pretty clear of the bulk of the EvC Threads I’ve seen around here. But, if I had to publish a Position Paper for some reason, I would have to identify myself as someone who believes in a God that created Everything.

Now, I said a very specific thing there. There’s quite a bit that I did not say. I said nothing about school curricula, who is right or wrong, where federal monies should go, whether what any specific person believes is worthwhile or not, etc, etc, etc.

You asked a series of questions in your OP and I am not equipped with the scientific education to answer them. If you are serious about proceeding with a debate, I’d be glad to participate, but you’re going to need to lower the bar a bit - Let’s make a deal: You don’t use words I don’t understand (without explaining them to me) and I won’t toss off references to the metaphysical musings of the Arizal and Rambam. 'Kay?

I’ve always considered the basic question of dinosaur fossils to be an interesting one. I mean, how did fossils that seem to be much much older than 5600 or so years get into the ground?

Is that a good place to begin? If so, I’m satisfied with any one of a couple of possible answers:
[li]Design Theory - The Creator placed those fossils in the Earth’s crust and made them appear to be much, much older than they are. Why? I don’t know. I could guess, but to be sure, you’d have to ask Him.[/li][li]Scientific Error Theory - Scientist aint’ as smart as they think they are. There’s an error in the calculations, Carbon-14 dating is flawed, someone dropped a decimal point, etc. I’m going to guess that you’re not happy with this one.[/li][li]Time Warp Theory - This is the one usually attributed to Dr. Gerald Schroeder. Basically, he uses Relativity to explain that, as the universe expanded from the Big Bang/Moment of Creation, time started to slow down, when viewed from God’s Perspective/Outside the Universe (deep stuff). So, the first “day” of creation was longer than the second, which was longer than the third, etc. This allows us to say that everyone is right; the Universe is both 5700 years old and millions of years old, depending on your perspective.[/li][li]Multiple Creation Theory - As far as I know, this finds its origins in the writings of classical Jewish Philosophers. The idea is that God created many Universes and this one (ours) is merely the most recent one. The things that we find that suggest an Older universe are left-overs from previous Creations.[/li][/ul]
So, Ben take your pick. Again, I am willing to discuss, if you’re willing to cut me a little slack for not being able to debate in your language.

You accuse Creationists of intellectual deceit. I’m gonna play this hand open - you want to sit down?

Ben: I’m taking your OP to be an “explain this!” challenge to creationsists rather than a list of specific flaws in creation science. If I’m wrong, could you explain for those of us who are not molecular biologists what specific problems these pose?