Helping a Student to Investigate the Origins Debate
Author's note: Recently I had a friendly conversation with a young man who has been researching intelligent design and evolution. He comes from a faith background but was troubled by questions about science and origins. After we were done chatting, I sent him a list of resources on key topics which might be helpful to other readers of Evolution News. In no particular order:
- Unlocking the Mystery of Life: I gave you a DVD of the documentary Unlocking the Mystery of Life. This is great if you want to learn about some of the basics about biological design, including how DNA works and carries information in the form of a language-based code that is converted into proteins through cellular information processing. If you want to watch the documentary online, you can find it on YouTube here.
- The Privileged Planet: I also gave you a DVD of the documentary The Privileged Planet. This is great for learning about the design of the universe. If you want to watch it online, you can find it in 12 parts starting here.
- The Information Enigma: A new online video to watch is The Information Enigma. This 21-minute video is a great way to visualize the "combination lock" analogy to see why it's mathematically implausible for Darwinian evolution to produce new proteins.
- Introduction to ID: For an easy-to-read intro, you might enjoy the article, "A Tale of Two Mountains: Introducing Intelligent Design."
- Hominid Fossils: You asked about hominid fossils like Lucy and Homo naledi. To learn about Lucy, and how there's a LOT of evidence that shows she was a knuckle-walking apelike creature and NOT a transitional form leading to humans, you might enjoy reading the article "Later Hominins: The Australopithecine Gap," which is based upon a chapter I wrote on hominid fossils for the book Science and Human Origins. This chapter discusses how there are apelike and humanlike fossils in the hominid record but a large unbridged gap between them. Regarding Homo naledi, the new fossil that's received a lot of attention, you can read about it here: "Hominid Hype and Homo naledi: A Unique 'Species' of Unclear Evolutionary Importance."
- Recurrent Laryngeal Nerve: You also asked about the recurrent laryngeal nerve, which is said to be a suboptimal design that shows we're descended from fish. In fact the laryngeal nerve's pathway has many functions and evolutionists who claim it's an irrational design have failed to consider it in full. For details, please see: "The Recurrent Laryngeal Nerve Does Not Refute Intelligent Design."
- Tiktaalik: The main claim that has been made is that it is a "fish with a wrist." However, Tiktaalik did NOT have a wrist. For details, please see: "Tiktaalik roseae: Where's the Wrist?" and "An 'Ulnare' and an 'Intermedium' a Wrist Do Not Make: A Response to Carl Zimmer." Another major problem with claims that Tiktaalik is a "transitional form" is the fact that tracks of true tetrapods (organisms with four legs) are known from about 20 million years before Tiktaalik. For details, please see: "Evolutionary Biologists Are Unaware of Their Own Arguments: Reappraising Nature's Prized 'Gem,' Tiktaalik" and "Tiktaalik Blown 'Out of the Water' by Earlier Tetrapod Fossil Footprints."
- ID's Positive Predictions: Another question we discussed is whether intelligent design makes predictions. ID does make testable predictions that have been confirmed by the evidence. For details, please see: "The Positive Case for Design" or "A Positive, Testable Case for Intelligent Design" or "How Do We Know Intelligent Design Is a Scientific 'Theory'?"
- God of the Gaps: We also talked about the objection that ID is a "God of the Gaps" argument. For details on why ID is not that, please see: "Once Again, Why Intelligent Design Is Not a 'God-of-the-Gaps' Argument" or "The Self-Refuting 'God of the Gaps' Critique" or "Intelligent Design Is a Historical Science, Just Like Darwinian Evolution" or "Alister McGrath Mistakes Intelligent Design for a God-of-the-Gaps Argument" or "Why Do Theistic Evolutionist Theologians All Seem to Have Exactly the Same Misconceptions About Intelligent Design?"
- Fossil Record and Evolution: For details on how the fossil record shows a pattern of abrupt and explosive appearance of new forms, and does not support Darwinian evolution, please see "Punctuated Equilibrium and Patterns from the Fossil Record" or "Intelligent Design Has Scientific Merit in Paleontology" or "Problem 5: Abrupt Appearance of Species in the Fossil Record Does Not Support Darwinian Evolution."
- The Human Eye: We also discussed the origin of the human eye. The human eye has NOT been shown to be able to evolve by Darwinian evolution. For one, evolutionary scenarios always assume a "light sensitive spot" which is extremely complex to begin with; the origin of that "spot" is never explained. The only thing that Darwinians have explained is the increased concavity of the eye -- NOT all the other parts. For details, please see: "Rebutting Karl Giberson and Francis Collins's Argument for Eye Evolution."
- Loss of Eyes: A related issue we discussed is loss of eyes in certain organisms. ID has no problem with the notion that unguided evolutionary mechanisms can mess things up and destroy information. In fact, this is probably what Darwinism is best at doing. For more information, please see: "Christopher Hitchens and His Cave Myths."
- Recapitulation and Embryonic Development: You mentioned briefly the idea that human embryos "recapitulate" their ancestry during development and go through a "fish stage" where they have gill-like structures. This is all simply not true. We don't have gills, and we don't replay our evolutionary ancestry. These claims have been debunked. For details, please see: "Haeckel's Embyros and Evolution: Setting the Record Straight," by Jonathan Wells.
- Genetics and Evolutionary Trees: As I mentioned, the DNA evidence has NOT revealed a "tree of life." In fact, the more we learn about DNA the more it becomes clear that there are many genetic similarities that do NOT fit into a "tree of life". For details, please see: "A Primer on the Tree of Life" or "Problem 6: Molecular Biology Has Failed to Yield a Grand 'Tree of Life'" or "Problem 7: Convergent Evolution Challenges Darwinism and Destroys the Logic Behind Common Ancestry."
- Bacterial Flagellum: You mentioned that there are "simpler" forms of flagella and that some flagellar subcomponents can function on their own, refuting irreducible complexity. In reality, all flagella share a common core set of components. This shows that you can't have a functional flagellum that has less than some minimal amount of complexity. I addressed this argument specifically in "Flagellar Diversity Challenges Darwinian Evolution, Not Intelligent Design." For more details, please see: "Responding to Criticisms of Irreducible Complexity of the Bacterial Flagellum from the Australian Broadcasting Network" or "Spinning Tales About the Bacterial Flagellum" or "Do Car Engines Run on Lugnuts? A Response to Ken Miller & Judge Jones's Straw Tests of Irreducible Complexity for the Bacterial Flagellum."
- Whales: Regarding whale evolution, whales appear too abruptly in the fossil record to be explained by Darwinian evolution. And their similarities to mammals just show that they are a mammal -- not that they evolved. For more details, please see: "Now It's Whale Hips: Another Icon of Darwinian Evolution, Vestigial Structures, Takes a Hit" or "Fact-Checking Wikipedia on Common Descent: The Evidence from Paleontology" or "'Fossils. Fossils. Fossils.' Does Ken Miller Win?" or "Of Whale and Feather Evolution: Nature's Two Macroevolutionary Lumps of Coal" or "Discovery of 'Oldest Fully Aquatic Whale' Fossil Throws a Major Bone into Whale Evolution Story."
- Cosmic Evolution: The Big Bang and "cosmic evolution" are very different issues from biological evolution. Cosmic "evolution" just means the laws that govern galaxy formation, etc. This doesn't imply that life could evolve naturally. In fact, the physical laws of nature provide evidence for intelligent design because the laws of nature appear finely tuned to allow life to exist. For details, please see: "Evidence of the Design of the Universe through the Anthropic Principle" or "List of Fine-Tuning Parameters." Again, the video The Privileged Planet does a great job of outlining the evidence for cosmic fine-tuning.
Because many of these are issues that commonly arise, I wanted to post what I sent to the young man. I hope others find this useful and worth sharing.
Image: � shock / Dollar Photo Club.