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The Big Picture

'Have you ever heard of Plato, Aristotle, Socrates? Morons.' -- Vizzini from "The Princess Bride"

Friday, May 05, 2006

AiG response -- and my response to it

Please note: I edited out all the irrelevant comments from my original email, leaving only those that the "Answers Department" replied to, or that I thought they ignored, but which should have responded to (in other words, all the snark is right out.)
My original comment is labeled in black, Aig in red, and my response in green.

For a complete copy of my original letter, see here.

[Jeffperado:] I was wondering why the authors chose to attack the NYT article instead of the actual science articles (there were two) in Nature. You criticized the (NYT) article for using "cautionary" words, and the NYT for being the secular press.

[Aig:] I couldn't find anywhere in our article where we criticized the NYT for being secular. What we criticized them for was the fact that since they were a secular press, they should not be so biased in favor of the evolutionists' point of view.

[Response:] Actually, your comment is somewhat true, you do, in fact, use "secular" as a codeword. But the fact remains that the accusation is apparent in the original AiG article. I guess I should rephrase it to say that you use "secular" to suggest to your readers that it is not being fair to creationist thought. In other words, the use of "secular" means to your readers that it is anti-Christian, and all your readers recognize this immediately. But secular to all others means unbiased by generally accepted principles of the press. For example, you would never see the Washington Post (or the NY Post for that matter) refer to the NYT as being "secular" Thus it has a secondary meaning picked up by your readers, and that is what I was referring to.

Point two: You still refused to acknowledge that the authors refused to attack the actual science articles at all, choosing to attack the NYT article instead. Real science (and real scientists) would have used as their basis the actual Nature articles. Thus, again, AiG is not science, rather propaganda.


[Jeffperado:] It should have been obvious to both Dr. David Menton and Mark Looy that the NYT had to use cautionary terms because it is 'secular'; that is the NYT has creationist readers as well as reality-based readers, so it has to cater to those creationist readers by including such cautious' terms.

[Aig:] So where in the NYT article did they 'cater to ... creationist readers'? They are simply using the cautionary words of the evolutionary scientists themselves, which we point out should alert people to the fact that their arguments for the proof of 'missing links' is anything but watertight.

[Response:] Let me clear up a point here. In real science, everything known is "cautionary" The theory of gravity is cautionary. We have the "law of gravity" (simplified as F=MG here on Earth) but it is still cautionary, as Einstein proved that gravity can be affected by other forces, and thus is not constant everywhere and everytime in space. Quantum Mechanics is "cautionary" in that there is a probabilistic nature to it. Then getting into more advanced physics, it is even more "cautionary". The point is thus, our knowledge and our theories are based on what we know to be fact. But since we do not know every single last fact in the universe, we must be "cautionary". But being "cautionary" does not equate to being wrong. It means we have the best explanation given what we know.

You should know this by now: Every time real science uncovers a "missing link" two new gaps are created, making necessary two new "missing links". This should make creationists very happy! So you should be proclaiming the now new existence of TWO missing links where there used to be just one!

[Jeffperado:] So why attack science,

[Aig:] Where did we attack science?

[Response:] Again, what I am saying: The NYT is not science. The NYT is popular press. Using the NYT to "prove" the actual science performed on these fossils is wrong, it is attacking science. If you want to show your point is correct from a science standpoint. DO NOT use the NYT, rather use the actual two Nature articles. That is how you attacked science, by proxy.

[Jeffperado:] Why not use the articles of the actual scientists who made the claims?
I would venture a guess that the reason is that the scientists didn't use those 'cautionary' terms that you built the majority of your response around.

[Aig:] Evolutionary scientists use these and other cautionary words all the time, but most people do not know how to interpret them (i.e. evolution is just a big guess!). See the link below, which was highlighted as a link in our article.
Obviously you did not follow it to see what it had to say.
http://www.answersingenesis.org/docs2006/0326fineprint.asp

[Response:] This is true. Real science does use tenative terms when discussing new breakthroughs. But to call that "cautionary" is improper. It is like calling a child a "short" adult. The child is not an adult, and it is typical height for its age. Science uses tenative terms because more knowledge is out there yet to be discovered. That does not mean it is "cautionary" which is suggestive of likely being wrong.

[Jeffperado:] No matter what your reasoning was, it is dishonest and deceptive to your readers.

[Aig:] Where is the deception and dishonesty?

[Response:] The deception is that you did not answer even one single question. You answered with responses that were not the subject of my questions. That dodginess is what I call deception. The dishonesty is that you say things that you either know to be untrue, or are simply unaware of the real truth, either way, it is dishonest. I will prove this throughout this response to your response. But the best example of AiG's deceptiveness is using the NYT in place of the real Nature articles to attack the credibility of the discovery.


[Jeffperado:] [I]t is easy to pick on the NYT, but you seemed to ignore the real challenge the actual science articles.

[Aig:] Can you provide us with some good examples of pro-creationist writing in the NYT to balance their evolutionary reporting?

[Response:]
NYT 1
NYT 2
NYT 3
NYT 4
NYT 5

This was just a quick google of "creationism" and "intelligent design" at the NYT. And again, it is easy for you to pick on the NYT, but that is not the heart of the science is it? This is precisely why AiG was being deceptive -- they were passing off the NYT as the actual science.


[Jeffperado:] Then out of the blue, the authors wrote: "For the moment, we can confidently state that evolutionists have no examples of mutations or evolutionary processes that can lead to an increase in genetic information[...]" What does genetics have to do with the paleontological facts? No one claimed there was an 'increase in information' concerning this fossil.

[Aig:] I quote from the NYT article: "other scientists were not so reticent. They said this should undercut the creationists' argument that there is no evidence in the fossil record of one kind of creature becoming another kind." In order for one kind of creature to become another kind, new genetic information would have to be added to its gene pool, which has never been demonstrated.

[Response:] Here is a perfect example of the AiG being dishonest. The article does not speak of "information" or of "genetic information" at all. That quote is a quote referring to creationism. It is NOT a quote discussing the actual genetic information contained in the fossil at all. The fact that genetics was involved in the original creature is completely irrelevant. No one, not a real scientist or a creationist, would dispute that the original creature was based on genetic information. But the truth is, and what you are obscuring is that the fossil itself, and the study of it, had nothing to do with genetics or any sort of "information increase" at all. It was purely, 100%, a study of macroscopic feature preserved. Surely even the "scientists" at AiG would recognize that there was exactly zero genetic material in the fossil, and there were exactly zero molecules or atoms in the fossil that were present in the living creature. Thus no matter how you word it, this was not a study about information increase. Again I will say that the genetic and microscopic study of how this creature came to be will take years and has not yet even begun. Thus to even bring the topic up now is purely meant to confuse your readers.


[Jeffperado:] The evidence being discussed was macroscopic in nature, while genetics are molecular in nature,

[Aig:] Again you are showing your ignorance of the nature of biological change. Please tell me how macroscopic changes would come about without first having changes at the molecular level.

[Response:] Again, you are mixing apples with oranges. THERE WAS NOT ONE MOLECULE OF DNA OR ANYTHING OF THE ORIGINAL LIVING CREATURE FOUND. Thus there was no study done at all of genetics in this creature. All that was studied were the features found. Again, I will say this: Of course the living specimen was a product of genetics, but that was not the focus of the science article. There was no genetic material present, so no science of that was possible. So, again, everything you argued was merely smoke and mirrors.


[Jeffperado:] My question to the authors is what you think the definition of 'transitional' is, if it doesn't mean intermediary, possessing some features of fish and land animals, but not all the features of either? How do you define transitional then?

[Response:] Since AiG chose not to comment, I take it that they had nothing to say in their defense.

[Jeffperado:] My question is what research? The AiG, ICR, or any creationist 'researchers' are free to examine the fossils, but the truth is no creationist actually ever does any research at all. A thorough examination of the AiG q&a, and creationism journal turns up zero research. You never do any research. All that does appear are articles disputing what scientists claim, and that is not research. It is commentary, pure and simple.

[Response:] No comment from AiG. The reason is it is true; AiG does no original research.


[Jeffperado:] In this very article you make the claim of species being static, or only 'losing information' (whatever that means). Yet where is any research by even one creationist scientist investigating what the mechanism that acts as a 'stop sign' to prevent microevolutionary (variation within a species) changes from adding up to a macroevolutionary (a new species evolving from an old species) change? Surely if you claim to accept that small evolutionary changes occur within a species, then you could develop a research program that determines what mechanism prevents those changes from creating a new species... Is it a genetic 'stop sign' or something else? Do some actual research, and not just critiquing real research and calling that 'research' and you might gain some respect from real scientists.

[Aig:] Obviously you are unaware of the new scientific information that creationist PhD scientists have just published. See the link:
http://shop5.gospelcom.net/epages/AIGUS.storefront/en/product/10-3-112

Please read this voluminous peer-reviewed book before criticizing creation scientists any further.

[Response:] I am familiar with creationist "peer reviewing" it is nothing more than proof-reading. I have read it all before, and I will read this as well. But there will be nothing new in it, as every new creationist book or article is simply rehashing old and widely debunked creationist arguments. I can guess right now what it contains: peppered moths, Piltdown Man hoax etc., no evidence of transitional fossils (even though even the authors here admit this find is a transitional fossil), information increase not possible, and basically just retelling Henry Morris throughout with just a fresh coat of paint.

P.S. However, if you care to send me a complimentary copy of this book, I will be happy to read it, and will even return it with notes on how it deceives and is dishonest.

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