Anti-Darwin speaker gagged at Vatican evolution conference

March 4, 2009

Pontifical Gregorian University in RomeThe start of a high-powered Vatican-sponsored acadmeic conference on evolution was anything but fossilized.The third STOQ International Conference, called Biological Evolution, Facts and Theories, began on Tuesday at the Pontifical Gregorian University (picture right) under the patronage of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Culture.The conference, which has been organised together with the University of Notre Dame to mark the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin, had barely gotten underway when charges of censorship and undemocratic and unacademic behaviour began flying.At the end of the first session Oktar Babuna, a Turkish doctor and collaborator of prominent Turkish anti-Darwin campaigner Harun Yahya,asked for the floor to put forward a question. Babuna, a proponent of the Islamic creationist campaign against evolution, spoke about his view that there were insufficient transitional forms from species to species to support the theory of evolution.After he began speaking two professors on the dias, Francisco J. Ayala of the University of California at Irvine and Douglas Futuyma of the State University of New York were visibly irritated. Someone in the hall can be heard saying “turn the microphone off” and seconds later two organisers approached Babuna. One of them abruptly took the microphone away from Babuna and another ordered him to go back to his seat. Watch it all here“After I walked back to my seat someone said “only evolutionists can ask questions,” Babuna told Reuters afterwards. “This is very anti-democratic and very unacademic. If this is a scientific meeting … if you have scientific questions to ask, they should be responded to scientifically, everybody accepts that … if you force people to shut up and don’t let them ask any question … then it is not a scientific theory but an ideology.” The spat was filmed by Babuna’s associate Dr Cihat Gundogdu, who put Atlas of Creationan edited version on the Harun Yahya website.Both men attended the conference with English and Italian versions of Harun Yahya’s super-slick mega-book Atlas of Creation (picture left) in hand. We have done numerous blogs on Islamic creationism, its proponents and its opponents. Some of the links are listed below. But what do you think about the debate and, more importantly, do you think officials at the Gregorian University were right or wrong to yank the microphone from Babuna at a scientific conference?http://blogs.reuters.com/faithworld/2009/02/05/just-before-darwin-day-pew-reviews-faith-and-evolution-in-us/http://blogs.reuters.com/faithworld/2008/12/24/a-one-stop-shop-for-the-latest-on-islamic-creationism/http://blogs.reuters.com/faithworld/2008/11/25/harun-yahya-dangles-big-prizes-for-creationism-essays/http://blogs.reuters.com/faithworld/2008/10/27/richard-dawkins-rips-into-harun-yahya-and-muslim-creationism/http://blogs.reuters.com/faithworld/2008/06/19/harun-yahya-preaches-islam-slams-darwin-and-awaits-jesus/http://blogs.reuters.com/faithworld/2008/04/07/harun-yahyas-islamic-creationist-book-pops-up-in-scotland/

196 comments

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“To deny that God created the world is to claim that the world has always existed, which is to claim that the world is “god”.” Since there is no scientific theory that states that the world has always existed your point is irrelevant. And if there are people who believe that the world has always existed, that is still different from believing in an eternal supernatural being with unlimited powers. Worlds are material objects that we can see; there is no evidence to support assertions of the existence of gods.

Posted by GalapagosPete | Report as abusive

Gallapagos Pete, your say so does not do justice to the dream you put forward.

Posted by JLS | Report as abusive

Gallapagos Pete, your error is in confusing facts with your ideas. Of course there are many objects, but making sense out of them is not a fact, but this is what you are claiming.

Posted by JLS | Report as abusive

It is asserted that species evolved into one another by successive minute variations, and that this happened over billions of years, then evolutionist have to show us these slow minute changes in the fossilized examples of those species. They must show us half-fish half-reptile half bird fossils. These imaginary species are called transitional forms. There can be no doubt that if there is no such fossil proof concerning changes among the fossil of stable species, then there is nothing left to discuss as regards the theory of evolution…But the number of the so called transitional forms transitional species must be much higher than that of the stable species we observe today.If we check 100 million fossils that we have today we see that fossils show that each species appeared abruptly, complete and perfectly formed.That of course falsifies the claims of Darwinism and proves the fact of Creation by God. Briefly the theory of evolution is not science, but a dogma kept alive despite science.

Posted by Roger Wilson | Report as abusive

GalapagosPete says “when you defend Guy Berthault’s work you are tacitly accusing many thousands of geologists of incompetence or dishonesty, so what’s your point? Mine is simply that Berthault’s results are not accepted, and are easily explained by other geologists,”I think this is a bit strong. Any new fundamental advance in science means that the majority of scientists have been left behind. The widely held view that the atom was the smallest particle of matter when shown to be wrong wasn’t accusing the majority of being incompetent, just that they didn’t get there first. Getting new knowledge to be accepted is always hard. Objectively speaking the Russian Academy of Sciences publication of Berthault’s experiments is a pretty good indication of their viability.Of course, we know that evolutionist leaders will never admit, even with absolute scientific proof, the impossibility of evolution because it would take away the rationale of their atheism. Any doubts on this score can be assuaged by the earlier note on this forum that promoters of the theory are hardened materialists whose agenda includes eugenics, and bio-un-ethics.Moreover, the supposed proof of tevolution by he fossil record is completely removed in the knowledge that rock strata form quickly and the principle of superposition is invalidated by the experiments in stratification. There would just be insufficient time for evolution to take place. All this is explained in peer reviewed papers in http://www.sedimentology.frAll sceptics have to do is to produce one simple experiment showing formation of strata by superposition of sedimentary particles in water moved by a current. The opposite has been fully documented.Peter Wilders

Posted by Peter Wilders | Report as abusive

Here is the confusion in the debate with Gallapagos Pete: He is a relativist who does not think with any recognition of the sense of an absolute. Those who incorporate the understanding that there exists absolute truth also understand what it requires to prove an hypothesis. The relativist sees the concept of “prove” to mean something like what the majority decides, or how a court of law decides, or how a democracy decides. As every argument has to have a common understanding of terms, so any argument involving relativism and absolutism need to come to some mutual understanding of these concepts. In realizing this, I realized why G.Pete launched an emotional flurry at my insistance that he needs to prove his ideas in order to win an argument … and prove them absolutely, not by common consensus. So, let us see how this mutual recognition of terms can be incorporated into the debate … whether in this debate or in any debate anywhere.

Posted by JLS | Report as abusive

How can you say he is gagged when instead of asking his question he continues to make bold statements about a theory and claiming it’s not scientific? Do people have to listen to that in such a conference – is that the place to teach the ABC of biology to a Turkish islamic-creationist very well known for his ignorant campaign? Imagine a physics conference where an astrologist takes the microphone and start explaining to the physicists why physics is wrong and why the facts support astrology! You really cant be serious.

Posted by Baris | Report as abusive

Rauf says:”As you know 99% of Turkey do not believe in Evolution. But how about the 1%? In Turkey I have never seen such a rude behavior to any evolutionist. Although they are minority, they are the first class citizens for all of us. Because we have opportunity to COMMUNICATE as HUMAN in Turkey”What are you talking about? They just censored a bunch of articles about evolution which where about to be published in a science magazine? Or Biology teachers being mobbed because they try to teach propper biology in public schools. The gang we just say at vatican has been the main figure when it comes to censoring websites in Turkey, like richarddawkins.net, wordpress.com (no kidding!) and many many more. Even youtube is banned in this “oh so free” Turkey. Dont try too fool people with nonsense… And you said molecular biology? yeah, suddenly you are all biologist.One last word; Science will never change the way it works just to fit your dogmatic worldviews. Get used to it… and please dont lie in the process…gosshh!

Posted by Baris | Report as abusive

“…species evolved into one another by successive minute variations…”Yep”…and that this happened over billions of years…”Yep yep”…then evolutionist [sic] have to show us these slow minute changes in the fossilized examples of those species.”They’re called transitional fossils.”They must show us half-fish half-reptile half bird fossils.”You know that’s 3 halves, right?”There can be no doubt that if there is no such fossil proof concerning changes among the fossil of stable species, then there is nothing left to discuss as regards the theory of evolution…”Good thing we have transitionals, then.http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/ CC/CC200.html“But the number of the so called transitional forms transitional species must be much higher than that of the stable species we observe today.”Absolutely, if all dead animals fossilized, we’d be up to our armpits in fossils.”If we check [the greater than] 100 million fossils that we have today we see that fossils show that each species appeared abruptly, complete and perfectly formed.”Actually, no, not really. See the link above.”That of course falsifies the claims of Darwinism and proves the fact of Creation by God.”Even if Darwinian evolution were falsified, it would in no way “prove” anything else.

Posted by GalapagosPete | Report as abusive

The ongoing difficulty with the problems of the fossil record will inevitably continue, unless the rapid deposition of sediments is understood as leaving insufficient time for macro-speciation. This means that the empirical evidence published by the French and Russian Academies of Science on the Berthault experiments must be recognised as replacing the speculative interpretations of geologists and paleontologists. In science, fact always trumps theory except, it seems, in the case of Darwinian evolution.Not only does this experimental research resolve the fossil record anomalies, it puts back into perspective orthodox teaching. It is only because Catholic theologians were led to believe that geology had positive proof that the rocks formed slowly over millions of years (and therefore the fossilised remains of previously living organisms buried in them must have lived millions of years ago) that they were prepared to change magisterial teaching to allow for it. This meant rejecting the traditional teaching of the Church Fathers on such matters as Adam the first perfect man and the creation of Eve from his side, Original Sin, and the doctrines associated with it (Redemption, the Immaculate Conception, the Eucharist etc, etc.), the Deluge, inerrancy of the Bible, and the ‘de fide’ definition of Creation by the 4th Lateran Council confirmed by all subsequent Theological Doctors of the Church. Of course no such positive proof has been forthcoming, on the contrary, proof is available showing that the principles undergirding the geological time-scale are invalid.Isn’t it about time that the tubes giving oxygen to the soul-destroying Darwinian theory be unplugged?Peter

Posted by Peter Wilders | Report as abusive

The proof needs to be absolute. Why or how Catholic theologians went with scientific conjecture and mistook it for truth is odd. And how science has often failed to recognize even the possibility of absolute truth is odd. The answer of course is easier said than done: As in any experiement, all the conditions need to be known. Now the scientist experiences a continuing unfolding of conditions; yet why not the question as to the limit of these conditions? What, that is, is the absolute limit? Now why would a scientist avoid this necessity? Don’t tell me that the explanation has to do with the need to fulfill research contracts? No, don’t tell me that the limit question has to do with money and putting bread on the table? And for this bread how many scientists give up the absolute? How many trade God for bacon?

Posted by JLS | Report as abusive

JLS: “The proof needs to be absolute.”Provide absolute proof that proof must be absolute.

Posted by GalapagosPete | Report as abusive

“This means that the empirical evidence published by the French and Russian Academies of Science on the Berthault experiments must be recognised as replacing the speculative interpretations of geologists and paleontologists.”You consider decades of work by thousands of geologists speculative, but two or three appearances in journals is definitive? Have you considered that your perspective just may be a little skewed?By the way, Answers in Genesis says that these articles were published versions of papers presented to the French Academy of Sciences. Were these peer-reviewed by the Academy? It sounds to me like they were just publishing in their journal the minutes of what said in their meetings as a part of the record. Perhaps you can clarify that point.Also, in the 20+ years since the first publication, why has he been unable to publish in British, American, Spanish, Canadian, etc. academies or geological publications? Has even the French Academy had him back recently? Is anyone important taking him seriously?”In science, fact always trumps theory except, it seems, in the case of Darwinian evolution.”Actually, in science, theories are things that explain facts, so neither “trumps” the other.”Not only does this experimental research resolve the fossil record anomalies, it puts back into perspective orthodox teaching.”Science is not about people’s feelings about what is orthodox and what is not.

Posted by GalapagosPete | Report as abusive

Galapagos Pete: Finally you’ve risen to the occasion. You tell me that I have to prove that proof needs to be absolute. Exactly the issue … exactly; now you are there, Pete. You’re there, right where your science is, which is faith. You have to believe that proof needs to be absolute; there is no way to prove such a thing. And there is no escape from this absolute reality of faith, not even in Darwinian science. It is a faith, Pete, a religion. You as much as say so yourself. Thankyou for admitting your belief.

Posted by JLS | Report as abusive

JLS: In science, faith and absolutism are useless, in fact, they would impede science. You can’t have “faith” in your theory or believe it to be absolute; new evidence can and has caused even the most cherished theories to be changed or even abandoned. Evidence trumps belief every time. (Yes, sometimes not as quickly as one might like; scientists are human, and can be slow to give up an idea they have adopted. But ultimately, when presented with evidence that requires it, they do. If that ever happens with evolution or geology, those theories will be overturned as well. Doesn’t look too likely to happen, though.)Now, I’m sure that it’s true that there are people who simply accept what scientists say, even though they don’t understand at all what is being said. It seems that it might, on the face of it, be fair to say that these people have “faith” in science. Two points should be made, however:1) Since science has given us a great many things to make our lives easier, longer and more comfortable – medicine, electricity, communication, transportation, computers – people can actually see, every day in their daily lives, verifiable evidence that science works, that it works well and that it produces real things you can use; you really can’t call it faith since the evidence is in front of you at all times;2) How people feel about – whether they have “faith” in – a particular scientific theory – such as evolution, or the age of the Earth – has nothing to do with whether that theory is true. Theories stand or fall based on the evidence, not whether people, even scientists, believe in – or deny – them.So it is clear that absolutism has no place in science (except for math!) and faith has no place at all.

Posted by GalapagosPete | Report as abusive

GP writes :“Theories stand or fall based on the evidence, not whether people, even scientists, believe in – or deny – them.”This being the case why do evolutionist scientists not drop their theory in favour of the evidence against it?Without mentioning the evidence from genetics, entropy, radio-isotope dating, etc.: sedimentology has produced empirical laboratory proof showing the principles of stratigraphy are invalid (see http://www.sedimentology.fr)? The consequences for the stratigraphic time-scale upon which evolution theory is based should be clearBerthault’s experiments were peer reviewed. Such a review is the first requirement of scientific journals such as the French and Russian Academies of Sciences, and the French Geological Society. Casting doubt upon the scientific integrity of his work cannot be obtained by dismissing recognised members of the scientific community that have published them.You don’t have to go back 20 years or more, the most recent article published by one of his team by the Russian Academy of Sciences in 2007. Another is under review for publication.In all fairness, as a critic of work of such importance shouldn’t you at least refer to the literature posted on his website?Peter

G. Pete, in a state of the art vacuum chamber, is there a temperature of absolute zero? If so, can it be measured? If so, but it cannot be measured, how could you prove it? If it is obvious that absolute zero exists in a vacuum chamber, but is unproveable, then would you call that a theory, a belief, or a fact? Would you call your answer, whatever it might be, a belief or a theory? If a theory, then what would your evidence be? Or should you just scratch your head and walk away from the problem?

Posted by JLS | Report as abusive

Galapagos Pete, it just occurred to me that the word “science” here may have several different meanings. When you use this word, “science”, do you mean applied science or some other kind of science? Certainly Darwinian evolution type science has many applications, and so would have standing as an applied science. But what about ramping it up to some kind of science that exists beyond utility? What exactly is science to you?

Posted by JLS | Report as abusive

Peter asks, “This being the case why do evolutionist scientists not drop their theory in favour of the evidence against it?”Genetics shows all life on Earth is related, which supports evolution; radio-isotope dating supports an Earth old enough for evolution to have occurred; entropy has no bearing on evolution. So I guess I’d have to say that there seems to be no evidence against it, except in some people’s minds.”Berthault’s experiments were peer reviewed.”I’m happy to take your word that they were peer reviewed by the French and Russians, but it doesn’t seem to have helped him get published except in France and Russia. I think that casts more doubt on the validity of his work than anything I might say.As for referring to the work on his website, there is no point; even if all of it were available in English, which I understand it isn’t, I am not competent to review it, being neither a geologist or hydrologist. I have no opinion about his hypothesis except that, since it is not only not accepted by the scientific community but is basically 180 degrees from what is accepted, and science tends to be more right than wrong about things it’s studied for hundreds of years, and scientists in the field say he’s wrong and nobody is teaching it anywhere outside of, maybe, Liberty University – eh, he’s probably wrong.On the other hand, even if under certain conditions layers of rock CAN build up and harden quickly (they harden quickly, too, right? I mean, they’d have to, wouldn’t they?) doesn’t mean that all, most or even a significant percentage of layers were built up that way. So for now, evolution, to whatever extent it depends of the stratigraphic time scale, is safe. Whew!But again, convincing me or everyone who reads this blog isn’t the point. He has to convince the scientists, and that doesn’t seem to be happening. So your statement that he has evidence that current stratigraphic theory is invalid is premature, to put it mildly.

Posted by GalapagosPete | Report as abusive

Gal. Pete: Your entire post is nothing more than, “Since everybody says it’s so, then it’s so”. Within that structure, you implicate the quick sediment thing as not proving a thing … but you didn’t prove it. Nor have you cited any proof of vast time span sediment set up. Review what I pointed out to you that you are indeed engaged in religion and not science. Pete Wilders on the other hand is actually holding forth a scientific postulation.

Posted by JLS | Report as abusive

JLS, Science refers to a system of acquiring knowledge based on the scientific method, and to the organized body of knowledge gained through such research. To be termed scientific, a method of inquiry must be based on gathering observable, empirical and measurable evidence subject to specific principles of reasoning. A scientific method consists of the collection of data through observation and experimentation, and the formulation and testing of hypotheses. Read more in Wikipedia.In science, a fact is an observation: if you release an object it falls to the ground. A law is a collection of observations where the results are always the same: All released objects fall to the ground. A hypothesis is a first crack at explaining the observations: either something is attracting the objects to the ground or something is pushing them from above. A theory is an explanation that has been repeatedly tested by multiple researchers and experiments and is the best explanation: the objects are attracted to the ground. A good theory can be applied to other observations: gravity is why the moon doesn’t fly away from the Earth, or the Earth from the Sun.So, to answer your questions: it would be an observation/fact, and a scientist would have designed the chamber in the first place so that the temperature could be measured, if that was what he was trying to find out. A scientist would not state what the temperature was unless it could be measured, although he would probably predict what he would expect it to be, based on previous observations in similar or identical situations.

Posted by GalapagosPete | Report as abusive

JLS: No, my position is, “Because thousands of scientists – not “everyone”, scientists – working and researching – not “saying so” – in a field for decades, all building on and checking each others’ work, have come to a series of conclusions about how the world works, and these conclusions hang together rather than contradicting each other, then if someone else comes along with findings that do contradict everyone else’s findings, that person is likely either wrong in their findings – screwed up – or is wrong in how they apply to the real world – all layers weren’t formed according to their ideas, but perhaps some were.”I don’t need to prove anything, once a theory is accepted it stays until it is falsified. And even if it’s falsified that doesn’t automatically mean someone else’s idea is correct. A new idea will still have to prove itself. This is a concept that ID-ers just don’t get. If evolution was falsified tomorrow, ID is not the automatic default position, ID-ers would still have to provide evidence to support their assertions.

Posted by GalapagosPete | Report as abusive

GP says “In science a fact is an observation.”From “interpretations” of his observations of strata in the 17th century Nicolas Steno formulated his principles of stratigraphy. These principles have been accepted as facts ever since (over three hundred years). They have now been invalidated by Berthault’s (peer-reviewed) experiments. This is an empirical example showing that in science observations are subjective: they are not objective facts.GP also says “once a theory is accepted it stays until it is falsified”. Agreed, this is supported by the above example. However, he continues “And even if it’s falsified that doesn’t automatically mean someone else’s idea is correct.” This is incorrect because in this instance Steno’s principles were falsified by scientific experiments, i.e. facts, not ideas.His argument that the majority view is the means of deciding the validity of experimental results, is, of course unscientific. If not, the overwhelming belief that the atom was the smallest particle would have prevented Walton and Cockroft from advancing the frontiers of physics.To contest experimental proof that the principles of stratigraphy are invalid, all that has to be done is to produce an experiment validating them. No one has been able to do this. All revolves around the fundamental principle, that of superposition, which subtends the geological column and hence evolution theory. It is quite natural that the largely atheist scientific community are diffident about revealing the results of Berthault’s experiments, knowing they have no experimental evidence to the contrary. Remove superposition and the evolution card castle collapses.Peter

The point is, Gal. Pete, that you believe the theory. Belief is not knowledge. Science is knowledge. Belief is religion. You are trying to offload your error onto those who believe in a competing theory … you are saying that you are allowed to believe, but they are not allowed to believe.

Posted by JLS | Report as abusive

“GP says “In science a fact is an observation.” From “interpretations” of his observations of strata in the 17th century Nicolas Steno formulated his principles of stratigraphy. These principles have been accepted as facts ever since (over three hundred years).”Actually, they’ve been modified over the centuries by geologists as they’ve learned more. For example, Steno believed that all layers were originally laid down horizontally; it is now known that this is not the case.”They have now been invalidated by Berthault’s (peer-reviewed) experiments.”All Berthault has demonstrated is that he can make layers in a flume; how does this support his assertion that this must be how all or most or any geological layers on Earth ever formed?”This is an empirical example showing that in science observations are subjective: they are not objective facts.”Competent observations are merely descriptions, therefore they are objective. Interpretation of observations and the conclusions drawn may very well be subjective, which is why having as many people as possible – scientists who understand the science behind the claim, not just a large number of laypeople, or even scientists from other disciplines – reviewing and investigating these observations and conclusions is important.”GP also says “once a theory is accepted it stays until it is falsified”. Agreed, this is supported by the above example. However, he continues “And even if it’s falsified that doesn’t automatically mean someone else’s idea is correct.” This is incorrect because in this instance Steno’s principles were falsified by scientific experiments, i.e. facts, not ideas.”My statement is correct as a general principle, which is obviously how it was intended. I did not say “never means someone else’s idea is correct”, I said, “…does not automatically mean someone else’s idea is correct…” Your choice of phrase, “in this instance” shows that you understood this. Sometimes someone just falsifies an existing theory without having a theory to replace it.And since the best case for Berthault is that maybe somewhere some layers may have been laid down quickly, even if he’s correct that would in no way falsify the current theory that most layers were laid down over millions of years, so “in this instance” there is only a so-far failed attempt to undermine modern geological thought.”His argument that the majority view is the means of deciding the validity of experimental results, is, of course unscientific.”Theories are not powerful explanations because a lot of scientists accept them; scientists accept theories because they are a powerful explanation of the observed phenomenon. And having a lot of people work on a theory is a good thing; that means it’s constantly being tested, and so the more likely it is to be falsified if it’s wrong.The mere fact that there might be a general consensus about how a phenomenon works is certainly a barrier that must be overcome by someone with a radically new idea, but that’s the way it must be. If you can get past that, then you really have something. If your idea is a good explanation, it will survive. If it isn’t, it won’t.”To contest experimental proof that the principles of stratigraphy are invalid, all that has to be done is to produce an experiment validating them. No one has been able to do this.”There’s no need. Berthault has only demonstrated that he can create layers in a flume of slowly-moving water. Good for him, I’m sure that’s exactly what he did. What he hasn’t done, and is apparently unable to do, is show that his flume experiment applies in the real world, or that if it applies it is a significant force at all, much less that it is responsible for all – or even most – or even any – geologic layers on Earth.

Posted by GalapagosPete | Report as abusive

“And having a lot of people work on a theory is a good thing; that means it’s constantly being tested, and so the more likely it is to be falsified if it’s wrong”: Wrong, Gal. Pete. Statistically this makes no sense … since the number of tests nor the tests have proven anything. You can flip a coin plenty of times and always come up with the same side … Inductive reason such as this does not prove, but only suggest; hence the thing remains a theory. These theories are no less theories today than yesterday.

Posted by JLS | Report as abusive

JLS: It is true that, in science, no matter how much evidence is accumulated in support of a theory, it is ever considered to be “proved”, “proved” meaning that there is simply no chance that the explanation is even slightly wrong. That said, statistically speaking, it is far more likely to discover a weakness or error in a theory if more rather than less scientists study the theory.And when theories such as evolution and stratification have survived as long as they have, it is simply perverse to deny that they are true, no matter what your preference in the matter may be.If science were based solely on inductive reasoning you would be correct. But while it is true a hypothesis may be formed inductively, that is only the start of the process. A hypothesis is tested repeatedly before it is granted the status of a theory; and even when it is considered a valid theory, it is still tested.And, no, a theory never becomes a fact. A theory is the highest thing in science, so to say that a theory yesterday is a theory today is a compliment to the process, because it means it’s a good, strong theory.

Posted by GalapagosPete | Report as abusive

Gal. Pete: When you state, “And when theories such as evolution and stratification have survived as long as they have, it is simply perverse to deny that they are true, no matter what your preference in the matter may be”, what you are arguing is that long held beliefs should not be challenged because to do so is perverse. Don’t you see that you are blowing your own argument out of the water? You are in effect saying that science is only challenged by perverts, that majority rule is the truth and that minorities are perverse. One theory to explain your argument is called the “Follow the lemmings over the cliff” way of life.

Posted by JLS | Report as abusive

JLS, If you go back, you’ll see that in the sentence preceding the one you quote, I point out that theories are always being tested.Therefore, a theory that has been around a long time has survived repeated testing. It is not strong because it has been around a long time, it has been around a long time because it’s strong.That some people are uncomfortable with the implications of some scientific theories is unfortunate, but it has no bearing on the theories’ accuracy.

Posted by GalapagosPete | Report as abusive

Gal. Pete: Yet, the best theories are guesswork, as educated as they may be. Also, you are neglecting the important element of the length of time. People have been guessing about the age of creation for a long time, and have many theories which change continually. The great span of time you’re dealing with in the theory of evolution has been guessed at for a few centuries because that is the age of science. It took almost the entire history of science to realize that they do not know where the center of creation is located, nor how it got there. So, the best guess is that God exists, existed prior to the universe, and put a center to it all. This one has been around the longest with the greatest minds in history. So, by your own reasoning, then you do indeed believe in God.

Posted by JLS | Report as abusive

This wasn’t a question put to a serious conference, but merely a rant and the organizers were quite right to silence someone who was wasting everyone’s time. The guy was not a ‘speaker at the conference’ but simply a heckler. It was difficult to hear everything but it sounded to be on the level of the drunk shouting to passers by at the station, simply inane rubbish. It’s pointless to counter these lies, evidence of transitional forms is easily available to anyone, but the creationists carry on lying.

Posted by Geoff Lake | Report as abusive

G. Lake: Name one.

Posted by JLS | Report as abusive

“Yet, the best theories are guesswork, as educated as they may be.”No, an educated guess would be a hypothesis, the beginning of the explanatory process, based on what has been observed and the scientist’s knowledge. To proceed beyond that point to where it becomes a theory requires a great deal of work on the part of the scientist, and then review by other scientists in the field. It is published, and many, many more scientists have the opportunity to tear it to shreds. A hypothesis must be revised or abandoned altogether if it does not pass these tests. This is the strength of the scientific process.If it does pass, eventually it becomes a theory.Obviously, an idea that goes through all this is much more than an “educated guess.”“People have been guessing about the age of creation for a long time, and have many theories which change continually. The great span of time you’re dealing with in the theory of evolution has been guessed at for a few centuries because that is the age of science.”Yes, until fairly recently we did not have the tools or knowledge to accurately measure the age of the Earth, and this was indeed the subject of some not very accurate guesswork. In the twentieth century radiometric dating was developed, and according to that process, Earth is around 4.5 billion years old.It is, therefore, no longer true that guesswork is significantly involved, nor is it true that there are “many theories” about the age of the Earth, or the age of the universe.Life, as near as we can place it, first showed up about 3.5 billion years ago. According to biologists this is sufficient time for life as we know it today to have evolved to where it is today.“It took almost the entire history of science to realize that they do not know where the center of creation is located, nor how it got there.”It is certainly true that, in science, the more we learn the more we find out what we don’t know. Ideas once held as true – often, though by no means exclusively, as a result of religious belief – are discovered to be false as we discover more, and mere belief is replaced by actual knowledge. This is the primary difference between religion and science: religion believes it has already arrived, that it already has complete truth; science knows that the journey is a long one, and likely will never be completed. To a scientist, “I don’t know” is a phrase that opens a door to the opportunity for new knowledge.You can’t find real answers if you believe you already have them all.

Posted by GalapagosPete | Report as abusive

A theory is still guesswork: As you say, theories have many scientists trying to destroy them … only because they are not proven facts. Facts cannot be destroyed, but theories sometimes fall. Odd you don’t see the difference, even as you describe it, yet you label it otherwise. Example: Airplanes fly is a fact; Air exists is a fact; Of course there are belief systems that dispute such claims. Is religion a fact or a theory? We know it exists, but not all people agree that its substance exists. Evolution is like this: Its substance is not fact, but theory and not only theory but several theories some of which conflict. One important fact involved in the dispute over evolution is motive: What is the motive to suppress rival theories to evolution? You can’t say “truth”, because then that brings in the logical extention which is the notion of the “prime mover”, which evolution can’t accept. So, what is the motive to suppress creationism?

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Galapagos Pete: You say, “You can’t find real answers if you believe you already have them all.” Obviously; so we agree on something. Great! Science requires the human capacity to look from as many different perspectives as possible … which can be an art in itself. Why would evolutionists deny others the human capacity to look at evidence from perspectives that don’t give credence to what evolutionists insist are the correct ones? Doesn’t that fly in the face of your claim that science involves tearing at theories? What science supports this suppression?

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Gal. Pete: You define religion in an erroneous way. The way you define it provides a rationale for dismissing it, and your definition would indeed conflict with science. However, what you define as religion applies to some but not all religions. It does not apply to Christianity. Why? Because to believe “that it already has complete truth” (from your post), would make such a religion a superficial one wherein the content were subject to the imagination. This in fact is what evolution does, not true religion. When, for example, Catholicism claims that it has “complete truth”, it does not claim this to meant that any member has full knowledge of truth, but only that truth is God and God is with and in His Church. There are many analogies explaining this further; but the main thing here is that we are advised to ask questions, seek the truth, and knock on doors to further insight … Does this sound like a workable plan? Isn’t that what the scientific method does? So, again, as there are authorities in any organization, whether it be in a religion or a science, those members in authority cannot claim to know and be in total awareness of everything. Christianity does not make such a claim, although some members of it might. I believe and I reason that the Catholic Church entertains evolution scientists for the purpose of seeking this level of exploration, where the errant claims can be laid aside so that everyone can take an unhindered look at the evidence and let the nature of the human mind explore it.

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JLS: R. balochistanensis wouldn’t be a bad place to start, then look at the other species of the genus Rodhocetus and go on from there. Trying to review all the transitional forms discovered to date will keep you busy for a long time.

Posted by Geoff Lake | Report as abusive

OK, I checked these two creatures out. The fit a niche of their time. To say they are transitional, in the sense that they are evolutionary links from one type of creature to another is like saying that since worms are composed of material, and man is composed of material, then we’re linked by evolution.The problem with the hypothesis of transitional forms is that it presupposes that such forms are transitional. There are similarities in both form and function among all sorts of creatures; it boils down to belief as to whether they should be considered created without being transitional or not.Have you considered linking the idea of “purpose” to each? What is the purpose of evolution? What is the purpose of creation? If this is not enough, then how did “purpose” evolve? Or is “purpose” created?You see, if there is evolution of material things, then this supposes some sort of an immaterial thing intrinsic to evolution. Thus, the question has to be asked as to whether such immaterial things evolve or not.Finally this takes us to the question of the “big bang” of immaterial things: God. Does God evolve? A serious and honest evolutionist has no option but to tackle this question.

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Geoff Lake, looking more closely at an artist’s presentation of Rhodhocetus , it becomes obvious that early cavemen would have trained them to fetch the ducks (ptera-duck-tyls) they shot with their bows and which fell into the water. One can easily see how these primitive beasts evolved into our modern day water dogs what with the webbed toes, otter-like tails and strong swimming conformations.

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JLS, you asked me to name one example, so I gave you one and not two. I chose it because it fits neatly into a complex pattern of extinct creatures well represented in the fossil record, which is why I suggested you look at other species of the same genus. Yes, it would have been suited to it’s time, which is a central part of evolutionary theory. Your comparison between worms and men is facile.Your second missive to be humorous, perhaps written late at night. This creature lived almost two hundred times further in history than the earliest human. Some people don’t realize that ‘The Flintstones’ wasn’t meant to be a documentary.Neither purpose nor god is part of evolutionary theory, so ‘evolutionists’ have no more need to tackle either than does anyone else.

Posted by Geoff Lake | Report as abusive

Geoff Lake, when you claim that neither purpose nor God is part of evolutionary theory, then where did they come from? Also and more to the point, the only thing validating the these artifacts as evolutionary links is the imagination. Imagination is good of course, yet conclusions that are valid only due to peer pressure or political force are not scientific conclusions. Your conjecture that these creatures lived millions of years ago and not while man was living has no validity other than imagination, and is being forced politically or by peer pressure. But thanks for recognizing my humor … it was indeed late at night; and, this leads to the further wonder of how the late at night imagination evolved. The theory of evolution is simply a way that many minds operate, and is subjective, which itself is a fact of evolution I guess you’d have to say. Or could the way minds operate be the way they always operated, and not a product of evolution? It seems to me that this blog wants to stick to material evolution, and that is fine; however, how does one justify the isolation between material evolution and immaterial evolution? And did the two evolve at the same rate?

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JLS writes :“It seems to me that this blog wants to stick to material evolution”How right! The only interest of any forum or blog on this subject is to determine the facts from which evolution can either be affirmed or rejected.This has been amply done by the Berthault’s experiments on stratification whose results invalidate the geological time-scale. The last time this was raised it was dismissed by GPete with the following words“What he hasn’t done, and is apparently unable to do, is show that his flume experiment applies in the real world”This despite the fact that his website gives examples where research by sedimentologists in the real world have shown conclusively that the laboratory result are confirmed by paleohydraulic analyses in the field. Shouldn’t one take the time to look at the data before criticising it?These experiments, by demonstrating the rapid formation of rocks (0.01% of the time in the time scale) show that inferences drawn from the fossil record are groundless. Many of the fossilised creatures must have lived around the same time.This is why Geoff Lake‘s statement regarding a proposed transitional:“This creature lived almost two hundred times further in history than the earliest human”has been held for a long time, but in the light of the new experimental empirical evidence can no longer be promoted.So in order to avoid bloggers continuing to use the argument, it can’t be true because no body accepts it, I recommend they visit the website http://www.sedimentology.fr where they will see that the work has been published by the French and Russian Academies of Sciences. Of course the scientific community is not falling head over heels to embrace such an advance in science, but who would if their entire world view based upon evolution is put in question? Has any previous breakthrough in science threatened belief in the existence of cave-men? Moreover, ongoing experiments continue with current velocities of 20 metres per second and more.

Posted by Peter Wilders | Report as abusive

I read an explanation of Bertault’s work, and it seems reasonable. I will go to the recommended website and see if I can deal with any of the specialized technical material.” … if their entire world view based upon evolution is put in question?” For me, this phrase by Peter Wilders provides a look at a science that is most intriguing: What are the foundations and motives for one’s world view, and what would persuade one to question these things?

Posted by JLS | Report as abusive

What I’m getting from reading the link to Guy Berthault’s site is that the concept of time matters a great deal to the theories and dating techniques. When one says “time is measured”, that refers to the construct we call time. I differentiate this construct from another use of time, which is the change from one state to another, where time is irrelevant; but what is relevant is the relationships among the various changes. The only reason I can see for applying the concept of time to these changes is to package the whole thing, which then gives us some sort of intellectual control over it.When I first encountered phyics in high school, we were told that there were two theories for light. One was that it was continuous with a solid substance, and the other that it consisted of packets. Isn’t the same thinking what we find in the evolution / creation controversy? Evolution describes a continuous morphing of material, whereas creation posits discrete new things connected by no material continuity.One enigma I learned of when observing an experiment a few decades ago, was that electrons jumped from one orbit to the next with no evident path of travel (no time measureable either by instrument or theory). My point here is that no one has yet proven the existence of time, except within a “box” we call science. But this is also to say that time has limits.Thus, we can see the arguments have never changed since the earliest known written accounts. It has always been a struggle of the intellect to discern the link between one thing and another. That ancient whale looking beast that was also like a crocodile. Was it a morphological stage or an independent material event?I’m not sure where I got the next idea but how do we know if space is a uniform size? That is, how are we so sure that some supernova is a hundred million light years away? Maybe space shrinks as the distances increase, or seem to increase. What would the arguments be based on? And how stable would these bases be? Is the space a substance or is it nothing with substances in it?Finally is there a morphology between man and that which is immaterial? Some cowboy character on the silver screen once said, “A man’s got to know his limits”. Well, we have to be honest and admit the limits. What are the limits of evolution? Of creation?These issues are way off track, but they illustrate that arguments will not be won by the assumption of immaterial links, without defining the limits of such suspected immaterial links. What is the immaterial link connecting an ancient whale / crocodile like beast to some other type of beast with similar features? Is it not reasonable that in science the occasions when immaterial connections are part of the mix then they have to be defined?Morphing from one creature through a missing link, ie an immaterial connection, to another should require the gap to be defined and its limits agreed figured out. So it is not quite a level playing field nor even the same playing field for evolution which does not define these limits, and creationism which does.

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Amongst JLS’ reflections after visiting Guy Berthault’s website on the notion of time were:1. “Evolution describes a continuous morphing of material, whereas creation posits discrete new things connected by no material continuity”To describe a phenomenon such as a continuous morphing requires an account based upon observation. Evolution claims the object of observation is the paleontological record. But the experiments in stratification show that record is dependent upon the geological time-scale which the same experiments have invalidated. This is not a time problem but a false teaching resulting from an untested observation. The test determines the accuracy of the interpretation stemming from the observation. In the case of rock strata the principles of geology were formulated from Nicholas Stenon’s interpretation in the seventeenth century of the strata he saw. Not having a hydraulics laboratory to put his observations to the test, his principles went unchallenged. Now that equipment is available to test his interpretations it has become clear that one of the vectors he didn’t take into account was that of the velocity of the water current. Having eventually included it in the formula the result demonstrated that strata form much faster than shown by application of the flawed principles. What is involved is not a philosophical idea of time but scientific facts.2. “Morphing from one creature through a missing link, ie an immaterial connection, to another should require the gap to be defined and its limits agreed figured out.”His reference to missing links strongly indicates an acceptance of the fossil record together with its gaps, and its use as a time scale for observing evolution. This seems to be contrary to his theme that the concept of time can in some way be dissociated with the theory; and suggests a difficulty to conceive that the fossil record is not a measure of geological time.In any case, from someone who wrote earlier:“It seems to me that this blog wants to stick to material evolution”his latest post appears somewhat disloyal to this affirmation, with which I totally agree.Peter

Posted by Peter Wilders | Report as abusive

Thanks, Peter, for taking the time and trouble to critique my last post. I tried to say too much in too few words. I intended to expand on my previous post, the one you agree with, but confused my point.I could have left out the deal about “time”.My premise is that there is no tangible evidence for presupposing that one form led to another, but only philosophical speculation.What I have been trying to do is encourage a completely versed evolutionist to explain what the immaterial force is that makes the evolutionary morphing happen. So far no such explanations. Therefore, I wonder why they disdain discrete creation so much, when there is no evidence that does not support it.Also, as I reflect on this thread, I am more and more realizing the importance of Berthault’s experiments that show rapid stratification. Now, I am wondering if a “layman” such as myself can see the proof of rapid stratification, rather than depend on professionals to vouch for it. It makes sense to me, but what would it take for ardent evolutionists to go over it thoroughly enough to see for themselves?JLS

Posted by JLS | Report as abusive

“…how the late at night imagination evolved.”Pizza and beer.

Posted by GalapagosPete | Report as abusive

Peter writes,”This despite the fact that his [Guy Berthault's] website gives examples where research by sedimentologists in the real world have shown conclusively that the laboratory result are confirmed by paleohydraulic analyses in the field.”If his experimental results have been independently, conclusively confirmed by other sedimentologists, why have his ideas not been accepted? Or at least being seriously discussed? The French and Russians published his results; are even they discussing it? If not, why not?Does anyone – even Berthault – claim in a peer-reviewed paper that this IS what happened, or just that, under certain circumstances, it MAY have happened? And did it occur everywhere, or just in some cases? And if so, how can he prove it, or, rather, how can he disprove that it happened as sedimentologists now say it did?”Of course the scientific community is not falling head over heels to embrace such an advance in science, but who would if their entire world view based upon evolution is put in question? Has any previous breakthrough in science threatened belief in the existence of cave-men?”Since geologists, paleontologists, astronomers, etc., have all reached their own conclusions (independent of the conclusions of evolutionary biology, or indeed, even whether evolutionary biology is even true) about the ages of the Earth and the universe, you seem to be saying that scientists in those and other disciplines are all lying about the results of their research in order to support evolution. Or that they’re deluded.Also, you started by saying, “The only interest of any forum or blog on this subject is to determine the facts from which evolution can either be affirmed or rejected.”My inference from that statement is that you believe that Berthault’s experiments undermine evolution, i.e., the Earth isn’t old enough for evolution to have occurred. Now you seem to be saying that scientists in other disciplines cling to evolution because it supports their theories. Certainly evolution and the age of the Earth dovetail nicely, but each is independent of the other. Generally speaking, geologists aren’t interested in supporting evolution, per se. If life on Earth was 6,000 years old, that would have no impact on the age of the Earth. On the other hand, a young Earth would invalidate evolution.There seems to be a contradiction here. Or perhaps I’ve misunderstood your point.

Posted by GalapagosPete | Report as abusive

And just to be clear, it isn’t enough to come up with an alternate hypothesis.Berthault must demonstrate to the scientific establishment that his hypothesis is a BETTER explanation and is MORE LIKELY TO HAVE HAPPENED than the existing theory. Obviously, he has not done this.

Posted by GalapagosPete | Report as abusive

JLS writes, “My premise is that there is no tangible evidence for presupposing that one form led to another, but only philosophical speculation.”Try your premise on evolutionary biologists instead of a religious blog. Tell them that they operate from philosophical speculation, and not from evidence.”What I have been trying to do is encourage a completely versed evolutionist to explain what the immaterial force is that makes the evolutionary morphing happen.”Again, go talk to an evolutionary biologist. Of course, the first thing they’ll ask you to do is explain what you mean by “immaterial force” and why you believe that it “makes morphing happen”.”Now, I am wondering if a “layman” such as myself can see the proof of rapid stratification, rather than depend on professionals to vouch for it.”Yet again, you need to talk to some professionals and see why they reject rapid stratification? Or if they support it, for that matter.If you are convinced of your positions you should be comfortable discussing them with scientists who have been working on their fields for a long time and who disagree with you to find out why they disagree. Don’t you think there must be a reason?And if you assert that it’s because they are dedicated to an atheistic explanation, then aren’t you saying implicitly that your position is based, not on evidence, but on your religious faith? If so, why is your religious faith a better explanation than scientific inquiry based on evidence from thousands of researchers working for decades?As I said above, a theory can only be replaced by another theory if the new theory is a BETTER explanation, not merely different. Why is yours better?

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