SEB Mailbag: Richard L Anderson wants proof.

More fun with the SEB mailbag. I don’t have time this evening to respond to this fellow and most of it’s stuff we’ve covered on the site before, but I thought I’d toss it up for those of you inclined to read it:

    From:
    Date: 11/28/06 7:43PM
    To: Les Jenkins
    Subject: Jefferson quote…

    …gotta be careful, as a slave owner he no doubt held a few views that haven’t held up. By the way, you spewed a lot of vitriol at Carl Baugh, but not a lot of data. I was wondering if you, or someone like you, could provide the test results (evolution being ‘science’ and all, empirical evidence and observation should be easy to come by) that prove a ‘primordial ooze’ could produce the first living organism, how this organism survived by identifying its energy source and converting it to energy (being the first living organism, it couldn’t just go out and kill a cow for hamburger or a bug or pick a plant or fruit…they didn’t exist yet) and while you’re at it, could you provide the tests that show a molecular mutation that produces the new genetic information necessary for one specie to become another one?

    I’m in an argument with a guy who says that nothing about evolution has been proven by accepted scientific standards of observability, repeatability, predictability and disprovability….that it’s all just made up. But surely it’s been proven in lab experiments because it’s science and science is what you can prove, not what you believe, right? This crazy guy says that either the universe was created by a creator or created itself and that there are no examples of self creating entities. Surely scientists have been able to reproduce a miniature ‘big bang’ to prove that it happened.

    He also points out that all of the great scientists of Darwin’s time were creationists who ridiculed and rejected evolution but still made huge contributions to science and that the guy who discovered DNA rejects evolution. That of the very few genetic mutations observed that have been successful and beneficial have always resulted in a loss of information, never an increase which is what evolution requires….that the Second Law of Thermodynamics contradicts evolution. How can this be?

    Surely you are smarter than the guy who discovered DNA…can you provide me with the empirical evidence, not just name calling and hate speech. This guy has asked me how the Big Bang worked? How does nothing explode and create everything? He says if all things are a product of random chance, so is the theory of evolution and therefore has no more chance of being correct than any other theory. He believes that Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead but admits it’s taken on faith. I insist that he prove that could happen by raising someone else from the dead so it can be observed. He says that as soon as I prove that a big bang could produce something out of nothing and prove that a collection of lifeless chemicals struck by lightening or something and produce a living organism complex enough to become the basis of all life, then he’ll believe evolution is science not religion taken on faith.

    But I know that you are so smart and can prove evolution with tests because evolution is science, right? RIGHT?

Somehow I get the feeling he’s being just a tad bit sarcastic. I’ll send him a link to this entry so he can follow along.

19 thoughts on “SEB Mailbag: Richard L Anderson wants proof.

  1. Well, Richard, let’s start with the big bang, okay?

    Try here for a good overview of theory, or Talk Origins for more detailed information.

    As for evidence for evolution theory, I recommend you start here,  then move on to this, this and this.

    Assuming, of course, that you’re actually interested in learning something and not just making a subtle attack on science.

    I realize that this is an awful big assumption, and that you probably have no real interest in the evidence, but I thought the links might prove useful for future reference anyway, so, there you go.

  2. I try to believe that at heart people are basically intelligent and basically kind.  But then someone like Mr Anderson comes along and shows me that there are people who will go to great lengths to preserve their ignorance.  And since their ignorance is driven by fear, it often manifests as hatred.  The fact that such people claim to have a belief system based on faith and love only makes the irony of their ignorance that much more bitter.

    I think Richard L Anderson is right, though, in a small sense: he knows for a fact that evolution is false, because he himself has not evolved.  This may make him less capable of seeing truth where it might be found.

    But it’s never too late, Anderson… you can always throw off the shackles that bind your mind.  I don’t think you will, since you’ve obviously got a lot invested in the hate and self-righteousness side of things, but I still hope that someday people like you will realize that your beliefs are internally inconsistent, and your actions are directly opposed to your beliefs.

  3. What KPG said.

    In any event, no we don’t need to be careful about quoting Jefferson if what he said is true.  And if some non-slave owning authority figure came along (say…George W. Bush) and told us that every word Jefferson ever wrote was incorrect, but gave absolutely no reason to say so (as he seems want to do at times), then it does not make what Jefferson said untrue. 

    Anyway, all of Mr. Anderson’s snidely stated questions from his friend, which appear to be attempting to convince us of the veracity of Creationism by making the supposed only opposition sound crazy are appeals to authority:

    He also points out that all of the great scientists of Darwin’s time were creationists who ridiculed and rejected evolution but still made huge contributions to science and that the guy who discovered DNA rejects evolution.

    Honestly, what the heck does “the guy that discovered DNA” (Are we talking Watson or Crick or someone else here by the way?) have to do with whether or not evolution is right or wrong? Was he an evolutionary biologist?  Maybe, but we don’t even have an actual quote, let alone know which “guy that discovered DNA” it was.  This is not only an appeal to authority, it is a totally unsupported claim to authority.  A paraphrase of an un-named source is clearly not going to cut it.  If Whoever this “guy that discovered DNA” is did not believe in evolution, then fine, he didn’t believe it.  That in itself is not even evidence to disprove it. 

    However, given that this guy supposedly made huge contributions to science, and if he felt so strongly about it, he might have written extensively about his reasons for not believing in it.  If this is the case, could a quote from that be provided that might help shed light on the subject?  I’m more inclined to at least listen to authority if it provides a reasonable (or even an unreasonable) argument for it’s statements.

    Also, what exactly does the Big Bang theory have to do with evolution?  The answer is: nothing. 

    Likewise abiogenesis (life from nothing) is not necessarily the most widely accepted theory, though I believe Stanley Miller did some fascinating work on this subject some years ago.  It also does not have a direct connection to evolutionary theory, which in itself is concerned with the adaptation of current life, not the origin of life. The Origin of Species is not the Origin of Life and makes no claims to explain it. 

    Abiogenesis, Big Bang Theory, and Evolutionary Theory are three separate, slightly similar but not generally connected scientific disciplines. 

    Abiogenesis deals with the rise of life from non-life, but there is likewise Panspermia, which theorizes that life was brought here on comets or asteroids, and does not attempt to explain where or how that life originated before that. 

    Big Bang theory is just one of the most widely accepted theories about how the universe in it’s present form came to be.  It is constantly changing as new evidence for or against it arise. 

    Evolutionary theory is involved with the adaptation of species and the rise of new species through said adaptation. 

    There is no point in telling Mr. Anderson any of this though, as his mind is clearly already made up.  To him the world, and everything in it is Binary.  It’s one (my way) or zero (not my way). 

    This means that there can only be two options, and clearly one is true and one is false.  You are either a Christian or you are not, you are either saved or you are not, you believe the account of Genesis or you are a godless evolutionist. 

    There is no point in arguing anything with this guy because until he overcomes that limitation (Yes, it is possible to accept evolutionary theory AND believe in god, they are not mutually exclusive concepts, though you should be careful about mixing them if you wish to preserve both) he won’t really listen to anything anyone says that might go against his precious little worldview. 

    I was once just like this guy, and I could in no way be persuaded from what I knew to be true because frankly, I KNEW it was true.  God had created the earth in six days, the earth was 6,000 years old, evolution was just a crazy satanic plot to fool us away from god, etc, etc, ad infinitum.  How did I know?  Why it was right there in the Bible.

  4. Abiogenesis, Big Bang Theory, and Evolutionary Theory are three separate, slightly similar but not generally connected scientific disciplines.

    Exactly – but they aren’t interested in discussing one at a time, which means the real subject isn’t any of the three.

    What I especially don’t understand is how the big bang – the one big scientific theory that kinda supports the Genesis account – upsets them so much.

  5. Yes.  Organization into a series of logically sequential brief paragraphs would help a lot.  This guy has the ‘paragraphs’ part down but not the ‘logically sequential’ part.

  6. Alas, it appears Mr. Anderson won’t be playing along. Instead he opted to send me a lengthy email complaining, among other things, that KPG suggested he check out Talk.Origins. Here’s his email in full:

      Exactly what I expected….all talk, no EVIDENCE….I want tests and results, observable and provable, not talk about what others ‘have accepted’…don’t point me to Talk Origins….they got nothing. Please send me the link where I can observe for myself a molecular mutation that produces the new genetic information necessary for micro evolution (for selfish reasons…since this has never been done, it would make us all famous, maybe rich too!).

      You remind me of the guys who believe crop circles are proof of UFOs landing…they have a belief system that says 1) UFOs exist 2) they come to earth 3) they leave crop circles where they land, so in their circular reasoning a crop circle is ‘proof’ of a UFO landing. I want to see the UFO landing, creating the crop circles, not come to that conclusion based solely on a belief system that produces an interpretation of evidence that will always reinforce the belief system that produced it (circular reasoning). You guys say evolution produced the fossil record therefore the fossil record is proof of evolution. No, actually seeing evolution is proof of evolution, not having some evolution fundamentalist look at 2 fossils and then conclude, SURPRISE!, that they are ‘proof’ of evolution.

      I’ve had people tell me they want to see a man walk on water, raise the dead, etc. before they can believe it happened. That’s strikes me as perfectly rational. So why not hold evolution to the same standard. Don’t flaunt your college degrees and hostility toward religion at me. That’s not evidence for evolution. They say a fish came up out of water and eventually became a bird. I want to see the half bird/half fish fossil. Where is it?

      I asked for primordial ooze tests. Where are they? All you’ve given me is a evolutionist true believer circle jerk. How disappointing. By the way, have you ever answered SJ Gould’s question “What good is 2% of a wing?”?

      Regards…

    As you can see he has no intention of having an honest discussion, but wishes to dictate the terms of the debate and the evidence he’ll accept. Typical of his sort he wants reality to bend to his beliefs instead of bending his beliefs to fit reality.

  7. I sent Mr. Anderson a reply indicating that he should reply to this thread if he really wants to have a discussion and he followed up with another lengthy rant:

      Your ‘evidence’ isn’t evidence…that’s my point. Case in point…the first link says “The evidence for the Big Bang comes from many pieces of observational data that are consistent with the Big Bang. None of these prove the Big Bang, since scientific theories are not proven. Many of these facts are consistent with the Big Bang and some other cosmological models, but taken together these observations show that the Big Bang is the best current model for the Universe. These observations include…”. I like this quote especially because it is astronomers who are abandoning evolution in droves…

      Here’s the problem….the only ‘evidence’ for the Big Bang is the universe itself. It exists and got here somehow…either was created by something other than itself or was created out of nothing by nothing (hardly rational, but a self creating universe). “Big Bang” itself was a term of derision coined by Hoyle. What follows is the circular reasoning I was talking about…a bunch of evolutionists interpreting ‘observational data’ using a belief system that predetermines a
      conclusion about the data that reinforces the belief system. It’s a locked system that proves nothing.

      Evolutionists have long believed that genetic likeness is ‘proof’ of evolution, but such likeness is explained every bit as well by a common creator. Evolutionists begin from a philosophical starting point that there is no God, creation didn’t happen that way but it did happen so it must have happened another way and the Big Bang is ‘the best current model’.

      It’s still religion….you believe things about past events that had no witnesses and can’t be reproduced in a scientific setting. I’ve been to the websites and I’ve read books (I particularly like the quotes of famous evolutionists when they admit that there is no evidence) and the bottom line is that you’re doing what all of them do…checking out of the debate because you can provide no empirical evidence to support any aspect of evolution and I refuse to accept assertions on blind faith.

      No amount of preaching will convince you that Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, but seeing that happen would. No amount of theory or assertion or putdowns will convince me that there has ever been a mutation that (miraculously) created the new genetic information necessary for a fish to become a bird, but seeing that happen would. I asked you for real evidence and you gave me hot air.

      All you got are the crop circles and a belief in UFOs, no actual UFO. If you had it, you’d provide it and the debate would be over. Despair not…God still loves you and he’s cracked harder nuts than you before. “Professing themselves to be wise, they are as fools, ever learning but never coming to wisdom”. I’ll pray for you…

      Regards…

    I replied and told him he was again responding in the wrong place and that I would not address his claims in private email. If he wants to have this discussion then we’ll do it here otherwise, no.

  8. I’m afraid I have to agree with him…My mom told me a seed would grow into a tree if I put it in the ground. I stared for almost 20mins and nothing! Science is all lies!

  9. Mr. A: I like this quote especially because it is astronomers who are abandoning evolution in droves…

    I like this quote because astronomers study the sky, and all the strange crap that floats around in it.  Let’s hear about the droves of biologists and anthropologists that are abandoning evolution.

    Mr. A: Here’s the problem….the only ‘evidence’ for the Big Bang is the universe itself.

    Wrong.  Clearly, Mr. Anderson read through the cosmology FAQ that KPG so nicely provided, but he still doesn’t get the the difference between scientific evidence and his notion of proof.  There is no proof for theories – but rather evidence that supports them.  When evidence is found that contradicts the predictions that a theory makes – the theory must either accommodate the new evidence (change) or the theory is rejected.  Simple.  To date – neither the Big Bang Theory nor the Theory of Evolution have been rejected based on reliable evidence.

    Mr. A: It (the Universe) exists and got here somehow…either was created by something other than itself or was created out of nothing by nothing (hardly rational, but a self creating universe)

    Mr. Anderson clearly believes that either God created the universe, or nothing did.  There’s a false dichotomy if ever I saw one. 

    Mr. A: you’re doing what all of them do…checking out of the debate because you can provide no empirical evidence to support any aspect of evolution and I refuse to accept assertions on blind faith.

    Wrong again – there really isn’t a debate.  What we have is simply two groups yelling past one another because neither group accepts the premises of the other.  Scientists, for their part, require evidence – direct or inferred – that either support or refute a given conceptual framework (or theory).  Religious types actually accept assertions on blind faith.  In some religions, blind faith is an entrance requirement.  I’m glad to see that Mr. Anderson won’t decide questions of science on blind faith – as that sort of makes him a scientist.  I suppose that, unlike Mr. Anderson – many of us are unwilling to accept anything on blind faith.

    Mr A. All you got are the crop circles and a belief in UFOs, no actual UFO. If you had it, you’d provide it and the debate would be over. Despair not…God still loves you and he’s cracked harder nuts than you before. “Professing themselves to be wise, they are as fools, ever learning but never coming to wisdom”. I’ll pray for you…

    How the hell did he get on UFOs?  Doesn’t matter.  Instead of praying for anyone, just be nice to your neighbor.  I’m sure he’d appreciate that more than anyone would appreciate your prayers.

  10. Okay, I’m posting this response not so much for Richard, but for those lurking and reading along who MIGHT actually want answers to these questions.

    First, you’re talking apples and oranges here. You can not possible compare walking on water with evolution. One is a gradual process that takes many years, the other, if it were possible, would take a few minutes. So, the evidence Richard wants is impossible, not because it’s not there, but because he won’t adjust his mindset to allow himself to see it.

    Look, Richard, spend an hour and watch an episode of CSI or read an old Sherlock Holmes story. Now think about it. From the evidence that remains after a crime, a trained investigator can piece together what actually happened without seeing the actual crime in progress. Evolution (and many other scientific theories) work the same way. The fossil record IS EVIDENCE. Like all after the fact evidence, it needs to be interpreted.

    Your problem, Richard, isn’t with the evidence, it’s with your inability to understand how science works.

  11. KPG: First, you’re talking apples and oranges here.

    You’re too kind – he’s talking about UFOs and half bird/half fish fossils.

    Speaking of which, I don’t know what crackheads he’s been talking to, but I’ve never heard of fish turning into birds.  There are a bunch of transitional fossils, however.  Apparently fish evolved to amphibians, from which reptiles evolved, and from there bird evolved.  Going straight from fish to birds is a bit like going from Mediterranean Ave. to Boardwalk in one roll.  It just doesn’t happen.

  12. Okay, I’m posting this response not so much for Richard, but for those lurking and reading along who MIGHT actually want answers to these questions.

    I have said before that an exchange with True Believers™ like Richard Anderson is futile unless one conducts an a) field study in the psychology of religious beliefs or cognitive bias or b) plays to the gallery for the education of the random reader.

    With that in mind, I sense a certain hypocrisy in Richard’s remarks. By his own evidentiary standards, what of scripture?

    I want tests and results, observable and provable, not talk about what others ‘have accepted’

    Right back at you, eh.

    Time to hit the snooze button again wink

  13. KPG: Your problem, Richard, isn’t with the evidence; it’s with your inability to understand how science works.

    Richard’s using his brain is far too hard otherwise he’d question who made god. wink

  14. Please send me the link where I can observe for myself a molecular mutation that produces the new genetic information necessary for micro evolution

    Does anyone have a link to any of the studies showing evolution in insects.  There is that insect that has a really short generation period of a couple of days that scientist like to use as you can fit in a couple of hundred generations a year.  It was mentioned on QI here in the UK a few months ago (a repeat) but for the life of me I can’t remember the insect (Every thing I need to know I learned from Stephen Fry…)

  15. LH, Drosophila?

    Google should turn up examples for micro-, macro-, mini-, maxi-, and sideways-evolution of these critters.

    Start with the search terms Drosophila speciation…

  16. LH –

    Why bother?  This guy is too lazy to go to the frickin’ library and look it up himself, he wants others to do it for him.  He could find any scientifically published study on the subject all by himself through his local library, but he wants a bunch of non-scientists to present him with proof.  Even if we were able to present him with a video of evolution occurring (I know it’s too slow to do that, but for example if it could be done), he’d just say it was just a fluke, or it was faked or a satanic plot, or

    .

    The real issue for fundies is that they cannot accept that someone other than them could possibly hold a different view point and not be a total tool of the devil.  They cannot accept the fact that evolution is not a religion, since everything to them has significance, meaning and purpose, and all of it is either caused by god or the devil. 

    I believe that Mr. Anderson is trying to get someone here to state that evolution is their religion, and then he can start saying what he really means. He doesn’t really give a fuck about any evidence that may or may not be presented.  He just wants the license to start calling anyone who is not participant of his narrow little world view a tool of the devil.

    Anyway, here is a question that I’ve never gotten a straight answer out of from fundies, maybe Mr. Anderson could help me out with it:

    If you accept the Bible as the infallable word of God, you accept the flood story.  Likewise, you accept that the ark held all the species of the world within it.  Given that we know roughly about how many species exist in the world, and that some continents have native species that do not exist elsewhere, my question is this:  Why the fuck did the koala bears and kangaroos decide to swim to Australia, and how exactly did they get there?

  17. Clever Dick:there are no examples of self creating entities.

    So god was created by a ubergod? Should we start to worship that dude?

    Someone who wants to observe evolution in progress before accepting the possibilty that evolution could be plausible does not understand anything about evolution.

    I want to see the half bird/half fish fossil. Where is it?

    First he rants that fossils are not acceptable as proof, then he wants a fossil as proof…..yeah, right.

  18. I suppose you may be able to use cartilage as a structural support that won’t fossilise, but it wouldn’t account for a sudden introduction of that limb’s skeleton in the case of a fishbird. Fossilisation requires certain conditions and often doesn’t happen, it is possible the intermediate species to account for evolution were in environments that wouldn’t support fossilisation.

    That said, the skeletal change need not be always be gradual even if the DNA change was, i heard somewhere the transition from 4 legged primates to upright 2 legged was not gradual. DNA codes for protein, so i don’t fully understand how it can determine bone position and shape since most bone at least would probably be made from the same enzymes regardless, because the same materials would be required.

    Indeed how could something that says only how to make proteins define size and position of organs, since when the initial stem cells divide they are all equivilent and what is to define how many change function to form an organ, at what point it occurs, and why it’s function should be any different from cells of other organs with the same DNA. Explaining specialisation of cells in multicellular organisms is difficult if they have the same DNA and there is no obvious factor to tell certain cells to ignore sections, afterall this factor would have to be present in different amounts in the different types of cell, which before specialisation shouldn’t happen.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.