Debate Summary (by Dan Ryder)

I just received a nice email from Mr. Mackay, in which he admits that he’s got it all wrong. He now accepts evolution, and is willing to interpret Genesis as being somewhat metaphorical.

Just kidding! But he should, shouldn’t he?

We’ve seen that John’s religious dogmatism is so strong that no amount of distorting or ignoring evidence is beyond him. As long as it’s fashioned to fit with Genesis, he hears a melodious ring of truth. If it can’t fit, he doesn’t hear it at all.

The evidence suggests that this is exactly how creationists manage to misread the data so dramatically. John owed us a similar explanation for how, as he believes, the biologists could be so wrong – but he manifestly failed to do so.

Instead, we got quotemines and a failure to answer the vast majority of my challenges. When he did answer them, he fell into absurdities: for example, his comments on so-called flood geology commit him to denying myriad facts in geology, chemistry, biology, astronomy, archaeology, and even basic laws of physics.

The main theme I pursued was that there are multiple lines of utterly conclusive evidence for common descent, all based on the same common sense reasoning. John’s comments on this theme descend into contradiction. For example, he’s happy to accept the conclusive evidence for common descent in some cases (e.g. kangaroos and bacteria), but arbitrarily rejects that very same evidence in others (e.g. primates and mammals). He argues that species-level gaps in the fossil record show common descent to be impossible in those cases, while blithely admitting that exactly similar or bigger gaps exist among current organisms that are related. He denies that we’ve ever observed evolution, but needs it to happen so fast that we could film it.

John: When your hypothesis leads to contradiction, that means the hypothesis is false. (John’s not worried, though, because if the Bible says black is white, or that there are circumstances in which it’s OK to beat people to death, it must be true.)

Since I’ve been denied the right to post even the smallest comment in response to John’s debate summary (in which it’s rumoured he’ll be linking to lots of rubbish without fear of me exposing him), here are some links that might help you figure out where any new mistakes are:

Talk Origins (see especially here [updated here] and here. If John falsely implies that a common creator can explain the pattern of organism similarities, see here.
Talk Reason
• evangelical Christian biologist Dennis Venema
The Panda’s Thumb group blog
• A simple introduction to evolution

Thanks to John Mackay, the Creation Club… and to you for reading!

Debate Summary (by John Mackay)

Most of what Dr. Dan did over the past weeks was attack straw men and shown his misunderstanding of the biblical creation model.

Dan tried (and failed) to connect languages with biological evolution. Fact – languages/dogs change, but this is not evidence organisms change to completely different kinds

Dan also claimed small mutational genetic changes accumulate to evolve new organisms. The late biology professor Lynn Margulis famously stated: “Never, however, did that one mutation make a wing, a fruit, a woody stem, or a claw appear…No evidence in the vast literature of heredity changes shows unambiguous evidence that random mutation itself, even with geographical isolation of populations, leads to speciation.” I agree. No one has observed the evolution of a single new body part let alone new organisms. Supermutagenesis experiments of fruit flies for over 100 years underscores this failure. Organisms give rise to progeny only slightly varied from their parents. I support common ancestry in that every organism can be traced back to separately created parents.

Likewise Erwin’s paper challenges Dan’s claims;

As for fossils, they support the creation model very well. “Most fossil species appear suddenly without transitional forms in a layer of rock and persist essentially unchanged until disappearing from the record of rocks as suddenly as they appeared.” (Graham and Campbell, Biology: Concepts and Connections, 2006, p. 290.) This means the first fossil bat, seal, ant or shrimp is essentially identical to modern versions with no hint of differing ancestors from which they supposedly evolved. Fossils are a record of sudden death, representing catastrophically torn apart ecosystems transported and buried, first during Noah’s flood, and later in smaller cataclysms

Dan supports geologic strata of great age and cited varves in the Cache Creek area. But I have a buried complete fossil mesosaur across many varves which proves multiple varves can be deposited rapidly. Also, Guy Berthault’s flume experiments showed that mixed mineral laden currents do RAPIDLY produce strata explaining how fish can be fossilized in the act of eating one another, again undermining Dan’s deep time argument.

During the debate, I asked for evidence of molecules-to-man evolution (macroevolution). Dan boasted science overwhelmingly favours evolution because of “the sheer weight of evidence,” which he would cite in the online debate.

Dan still hasn’t cited this evidence. Put up or shut up as they say. Sadly Dan has done neither.

More Observable evidence