Talk:Objections to evolution

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edit·history·watch·refresh Stock post message.svg To-do list for Objections to evolution:

Here are some tasks awaiting attention:
  • Cleanup :
  • Expand :
  • NPOV :
  • Other : *Consider other objections as possible sections, such as "evolution presupposes..." arguments (currently discussed briefly under "Evolution is unfalsifiable"). Discuss possible alternative section schemes, particularly to remedy ambiguity in "Objections to evolution's plausibility" and "Objections to evolution's possibility" oversections.

Proposing the removal of a paragraph[edit]

I believe the following paragraph should be removed:

Some creationists argue against evolution on the grounds that it cannot explain certain non-evolutionary processes, such as abiogenesis, the Big Bang, or the meaning of life. In such instances, evolution is being redefined to refer to the entire history of the universe, and it is argued that if one aspect of the universe is seemingly inexplicable, the entire body of scientific theories must be baseless. At this point, objections leave the arena of evolutionary biology and become general scientific or philosophical disputes.

First of all, the source that is provided at the end of the paragraph is deceitful and does not support such claims. Indeed, that page clearly shows a cosmologist answering creationists, not an evolutionist answering creationists. Here are some examples:

Claim CE440: Cosmologists cannot explain where space, time, energy, and the laws of physics came from.

Response: (quoting the relevant parts to make my point) Cosmologists have hypotheses for the other questions that are consistent with observations (Hawking 2001). One should keep in mind that our experiences in everyday life are poor preparation for the extreme and bizarre conditions one encounters in cosmology. The stuff cosmologists deal with is very hard to understand. In the explaining game, cosmologists are far out in front.

Therefore, this reply concerning the origin of the universe, among other matters, was made by a cosmologist, not an evolutionist. As a source, it is useless. It does not support the claim that "Some creationists argue against evolution on the grounds that it cannot explain certain non-evolutionary processes, such as abiogenesis, the Big Bang, or the meaning of life."

If an honest source can be found to support such claims, then great, but it seems highly unlikely to me that this can be achieved. One prime example is Richard Dawkins; he is a famous evolutionary biologist AND a famous atheist. Some of the attacks leveled against him are not because he's an evolutionist but because he's an atheist; there is no reason to believe that when he's asked about the meaning of life, for example, it is due to his thoughts on evolution; rather, it's in the context of his fame as an atheist. Likewise, many other evolutionists are self-confessed atheists, and therefore they are often challenged with questions that have to do with atheism, not necessarily because they believe in evolutionary theory.

After all, this article is entitled "Objections to evolution", so unless a valid source can be found to demonstrate that evolutionists are told that they "cannot explain certain non-evolutionary processes, such as abiogenesis, the Big Bang, or the meaning of life" (as evolutionists and not in the broader sense of being atheists), the paragraph should be removed. Dontreader (talk) 21:28, 23 February 2015 (UTC)

The source quotes several authors, not one 'cosmologist'. The author of the article is a biochemist. And of course we go by what the sources say, WP:VERIFY, not WP:NOR. Dougweller (talk) 21:54, 23 February 2015 (UTC)
  1. Don't confuse evolutionism with evolutionary biology
  2. Theism and atheism are irrelevant here
  3. Isaak documents creationist claims about evolution; his work is well-respected and widely cited. His background does not turn those claims into criticisms of cosmology. And his work is just one of many places this is documented. Guettarda (talk) 22:05, 23 February 2015 (UTC)
(edit conflict)Being a cosmologist does not bar one from accepting evolution. The source very explicitly says: "CLAIM: Cosmologists cannot explain where space, time, energy, and the laws of physics came from.", and it goes on to discuss this with respect to creationists. I'm not sure why you'd say this source doesn't demonstrate that creationists make this claim.   — Jess· Δ 22:08, 23 February 2015 (UTC)
Also note the section Objections_to_evolution#Defining_evolution where the topic is discussed, citing Larry Moran, a biochemist and evolutionary biologist. Guettarda (talk) 22:10, 23 February 2015 (UTC)
Dougweller, what I see in that source is this: "Index to Creationist Claims, edited by Mark Isaak". You say he's a biochemist. Of course I believe you, but did he write the article? I'm not sure why it says it was edited by him, as if someone else perhaps wrote it. The references for that article are Stephen Hawking (a theoretical physicist and cosmologist), Charles Seife (a mathematician and journalist), and apparently an article called "A cyclic model of the universe". If in fact Mark Isaak wrote the article, my claims are weakened, but I hope you see my point. The article is written very clearly as cosmologists (not evolutionists) answering creationists. It's the perspective of cosmologists. No argument is made from an evolutionary theorist's point of view. The three references are entitled "The Universe in a Nutshell", "Eternal-universe idea comes full circle.", and "A cyclic model of the universe". All of those sources are cosmological, not evolutionist. I still think it's a weak article to justify this claim: "Some creationists argue against evolution on the grounds that it cannot explain certain non-evolutionary processes, such as abiogenesis, the Big Bang, or the meaning of life." I must insist that the defense made in the article is from the viewpoint of cosmology, even if the author is a biochemist, but apparently he's just the editor who borrowed cosmological literature.
Guettarda, first, please read my reply to Dougweller. And even if Isaak documents creationist claims about evolution, he certainly does not do that in the article that is being used as a source. I never said that he had ever criticized cosmology. I'm saying that the article counters arguments made by creationists from a cosmological perspective entirely, not from an evolutionary or biological perspective. Is the article good enough to support this claim: "Some creationists argue against evolution on the grounds that it cannot explain certain non-evolutionary processes, such as abiogenesis, the Big Bang, or the meaning of life." That's the core issue. Thanks.
Mann_jess, please read my replies above. Hopefully I made myself clearer. Thanks for your views. I only see this article having a chance at properly supporting the claim if the author is a biochemist as opposed to a cosmologist, but I don't know if that's good enough. To me, that paragraph makes creationists the object of ridicule in an encyclopedia. I would prefer a better source for that claim.
Finally, what can I do about this person that keeps on undoing my edit regarding "some creationists" since otherwise it's implied that ALL creationists make those outrageous claims? He's not making any sense to me. I proved that his arguments are wrong. Do I have to ask for a third opinion, or can you all help us settle the matter here? Thanks. Dontreader (talk) 23:06, 23 February 2015 (UTC)
The profession of the author isn't relevant. It is relevant that it is 1) a reliable source, 2) addressing the topic. A respected scientist is a reliable source regarding a claim about science (or a claim about creationists making claims about science, as it were). Whether he's the author or editor isn't pertinent here, either. Do you have any source which indicates these aren't claims being made by creationists? In the interim, your desire to have a specifically non-cosmologist respond to a claim concerning cosmology is not going to help us improve the article.   — Jess· Δ 23:11, 23 February 2015 (UTC)
Mann_jess, I do believe the profession of the author is extremely relevant. Let's look at this sentence again:
"Creationists argue against evolution on the grounds that it cannot explain certain non-evolutionary processes, such as abiogenesis, the Big Bang, or the meaning of life."
Is this true? Is this supported by the source? Do creationists argue that evolution is a false theory because it cannot explain abiogenesis, the Big Bang, or the meaning of life? I don't see evidence of this in the source. Even if the author is a biochemist, is that claim supported by the source? Dontreader (talk) 23:24, 23 February 2015 (UTC)
All I see in that article is an answer to creationists who don't believe that the universe had a natural origin. Dontreader (talk) 23:30, 23 February 2015 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────Let me paraphrase the article: "Creationists argue against evolution on the grounds that it cannot explain certain non-evolutionary processes, such as [other areas of biology, chemistry and geophysics], [cosmology]/[physics] or [philosophy]." We cite two sources: [1], [2]. The first source explains evolution does not include those subjects, and to paraphrase the 2nd source: "[Creationists - while arguing against evolution] claim cosmologists cannot explain [cosmology] and [physics]." It also cites a book by Walt Brown, which discusses the claim. Yes, our sources back up the statement. If you think you have a better source, feel free to propose it.   — Jess· Δ 23:45, 23 February 2015 (UTC)

Thanks, Mann_jess. Well, look, I would prefer to remove the part about the meaning of life from that sentence. It just seems to portray creationists as halfwits since there is no way to confuse evolution with that philosophical topic. I just don't think either of the sources you provided makes that connection. I have yet to see evidence of a creationist asking a biologist or a biochemist, etc., the meaning of life just because he's an evolutionist. I have seen creationists ask that stupid question to atheists because they are atheists, not because they are evolutionists. Anyway, I appreciate your replies. I won't insist on that issue, but could you please give me your opinion on whether or not the article should say "some creationists" instead of "creationists"? That's a more simple matter. As I said, my edit was reverted twice. To me it's not right to imply that ALL creationists think this way or that way. I mean, please, can anyone at least agree with me on that issue? I don't want to ask for a third opinion, but I will if no one tries to reach consensus. Thanks. Dontreader (talk) 00:11, 24 February 2015 (UTC)
I don't have a strong opinion on the "some creationists" discussion, which is why I haven't commented above. They both seem about the same to me. When there is broad agreement in a community with rare exceptions, it is sometimes acceptable to leave those exceptions out. Around 3% of scientists dispute evolution, but we don't say "some scientists accept evolution", we say "scientists", because those 3% are a fringe minority. I don't know how many creationists would accept these arguments. I'd venture a guess it's probably more than "some"; it might be more or less than "most". If so, "some" gives the mistaken impression that the view is not largely held, when in fact it may be. I'm not familiar enough with the literature on these points to have an informed opinion, but many other editors frequenting this page are, so I have to leave you in their capable hands.   — Jess· Δ 03:25, 24 February 2015 (UTC)
And regarding the claim that creationists don't purport that evolution cannot explain the meaning of life: [3], [4], [5], [6]. I think the creationist community is broader than you imagine; they make all sorts of claims that seem to back up their position. Our job isn't to pass judgement on them, it's just to report them.   — Jess· Δ 03:53, 24 February 2015 (UTC)
Thanks for your thoughts. I guess it's better to leave it the way it is, or else we would have to decide when to use "some creationists", or "many creationists", or just "creationists" depending on the claim. I'm quite certain that I objected to the generalization in two extreme cases, which I will paste again:
"It is frequently argued that a great weakness of evolutionary theory is that it does not, or cannot, explain a certain aspect of the natural world. Although there is broad agreement that certain aspects of life remain unexplained, creationists argue that evolution should be abandoned altogether because of the phenomena it does not explain."
"Creationists argue against evolution on the grounds that it cannot explain certain non-evolutionary processes, such as abiogenesis, the Big Bang, or the meaning of life."
I think you might find that mindset quite often in American Evangelical Christian circles, but not among most creationists, certainly not in Europe. I lived for 30 years in Latin America, and almost everyone I knew believed in both creationism and evolution. They would never make such drastic arguments. I don't know about Muslims or Far East Asians, for example. Anyway, as I said, I now think it's better to leave it that way.
Now, the new sources you brought up are highly interesting. You see, the sole source that is being used to support what looked like a ridiculous paragraph to me (the source only shows someone answering the creationist question about how the universe originated without a supreme being) should be accompanied by at least one of your sources because they cover the other outrageous statements made in the paragraph. Without an additional source (such as the ones you provided), that paragraph gives the average reader the impression that the editors of the article are bashing creationists, as if there was an agenda to make them look stupid. However, you have sources now that would make that paragraph look entirely honest. I think the second one is the best to add to the existing one at the end of the paragraph, but anyway, you've connected the dots very well. That's why I believe that contentious articles need heavy sourcing. Please add one of those sources. If you do, I promise to fix some of the ref section issues (red letters here and there), because I'm mostly a WikiGnome. I can't stand obvious ref section errors, in particular. Thanks a lot for your research. That was pretty awesome! Dontreader (talk) 04:32, 24 February 2015 (UTC)
You should try to get your hands on Ronald Numbers' book, The Creationists. It may be starting to get a little long of tooth now, but it's a thorough, and sympathetic, treatment of this topic. Guettarda (talk) 15:41, 24 February 2015 (UTC)
Thanks, Guettarda. It does look like a great book. I appreciate the suggestion. I currently think that both creationists and evolutionists are right and wrong on some issues. The young Earth concept is particularly ridiculous, in my opinion. But I also don't know how evolutionists can say with a straight face, for example, that a certain species of fish in the ocean evolved into salmon, with its highly complex reproductive cycle. I see Pauline faith on both sides. The book should be very helpful. Thanks again. Dontreader (talk) 16:59, 24 February 2015 (UTC)

Dontreader Just follow the cites and... That para looks like an editing glitch not belonging in this article.. The para starting "Creationists argue against evolution on the grounds that it cannot explain certain non-evolutionary processes, such as abiogenesis, the Big Bang, or the meaning of life." came in at the massive rewrite from "Misunderstandings about Evolution" on 22 Jan 2007. This para cited to CE440 in the Index to Creationist Claims, "Cosmologists cannot explain where space, time, energy, and the laws of physics came from." -- You're right, that's nothing to do with the text of the para or Evolution, it seems simply out of the Cosmology section. The wording about "evolution is being redefined" googles to "29+ Evidences for Macroevolution", but as for the para that is here -- it's a creationist objection to cosmology, not an objection to biological evolution. I'm thinking you were right and drop the para as not something that fits the article. Markbassett (talk) 01:40, 3 March 2015 (UTC)
Dontreader - p.s. I'm not too sure about the Hoyle two paras after that either... it seems to be remarking on panspermia for origin of life, but did not make a statement of objection and origin is not evolution so it's not technically an objection per se, it just one of many lots of theories for origin of life. Anf why the forgery emark here makes no sense as that one could be moved to evidence credibility claims. Markbassett (talk) 01:47, 3 March 2015 (UTC)
Markbassett, thanks for your comments. I'm glad to see that you clearly understood my problem with that paragraph and with the source that is still being used to support the claims in it; I had no idea that it was the consequence of a rewriting that took place such a long time ago. To me, it was very obvious the first time I read the paragraph that there was a problem. Even if the author of the article is a renowned biochemist (which the average reader cannot know), the source gives the reader the impression that a cosmologist is answering a creationist, instead of an evolutionary biologist answering a creationist (concerning the origin of the universe, basically). What else can a reader infer from "Cosmologists cannot explain where space, time, energy, and the laws of physics came from."? That's the title of the article, and then there's a response from the perspective of cosmology, not evolutionary biology. That's all. Besides, the paragraph states that evolution cannot explain abiogenesis nor the meaning of life. Now, where does the source back those claims? Nowhere. It doesn't take a veteran Wikipedian to realize that the source is a very poor one, at best. However, someone else provided other sources that do back those claims (at least they would do a much better job). I told him to please use one of those sources, but nothing happened.
Concerning the following paragraph that mentions Fred Hoyle, I agree with you completely, now that you mention it. That is another example of extremely flawed editing. Just look at the first sentence: "Astronomers Fred Hoyle and Chandra Wickramasinghe have argued in favor of cosmic ancestry,[121][122][123][124][125][126] and against abiogenesis and evolution.[127][128]" If that's not an example of WP:CITEOVERKILL, then nothing is. Seriously, can anyone here defend the need for eight citations in a short sentence? Besides, as you pointed out, that sentence has nothing to do with the subsection "Unexplained aspects of the natural world" in an article called "Objections to evolution". Evolutionary theory has nothing to do with the origin of life, which is something that Fred Hoyle knew very well. The fact that Hoyle argued in favor of cosmic ancestry and against abiogenesis does nothing to help the reader understand real objections to evolution. And the next sentence is just as bad, if not worse (even though I improved it recently): "Hoyle and Wickramasinghe also stated that the Archaeopteryx fossil finding is a forgery, a charge that the expert scientific community considers an untrue statement." How can anyone defend the inclusion of this information in this article? What's the purpose? All I see is a massive POV issue, with an editor that hates Hoyle trying to make him look bad (especially the way it was phrased before I modified the sentence). His mistake is relevant in other Wikipedia articles, surely, but not this one.
Furthermore, in the "Improbability" subsection of "Plausibility", we read, "A common objection to evolution is that it is simply too unlikely for life, in its complexity and apparent 'design', to have arisen 'by chance'." What does this have to do with evolutionary theory? Again, the article is entitled "Objections to evolution", not "Objections to abiogenesis". That opening sentence only confuses the reader, who might assume that evolutionary theory deals with the origin of life. Then, not surprisingly, this leads to Fred Hoyle again, and it is stated that Hoyle's Boeing 747 analogy is "known as Hoyle's fallacy", with a source that does not even mention the term "Hoyle's fallacy". So, a source that supports the claim does not exist, and the reader will make the assumption that everyone in the scientific community believes that this analogy is a fallacy (again, to harm Hoyle's reputation). As far as I know, this fallacy charge was made by Richard Dawkins; if so, then why doesn't the article say who made the claim, instead of merely stating "known as Hoyle's fallacy"?
Thanks again for your views. Hopefully some of these blatant mistakes will be addressed by one or more of the 200+ page watchers. Dontreader (talk) 07:02, 3 March 2015 (UTC)
Concerning implausibility: While, yes, a lot of deniers and skeptics of evolution do tie abiogenesis together with biological evolution, some really do consider the idea of one species evolving into another to be implausible to the point of laughable impossibility. That's why we have the ridiculous strawmen of comparing evolution to a gameshow, or of "a cat evolving into a dog," and the ever popular "if people evolved from (insert primate of choice here), why are there still (insert primate of choice here) here?" I've even had people try to pray me into Hell for daring to try to explain to them how we got chihuahuas from wolves over the course of 15,000 years of selective breeding in simple, easy to understand terms.--Mr Fink (talk) 16:20, 3 March 2015 (UTC)
I really think it's fine for the article to include and refute even the most ridiculous objections concerning evolution, as long as such objections have been raised by a significant number of people. My problems with the article, as stated above, deal with other issues. No one has replied to the concerns raised by MarkBassett or myself. I was hoping that we could reach consensus on the talk page. P.S. The origin of the domestic dog is not as obvious as it may seem. Thanks. Dontreader (talk) 18:52, 3 March 2015 (UTC)

DeLay quote[edit]

Concerning my March 19, 2015, edit: Upon further inspection, I found that DeLay, like Gutknecht, read into the Congressional Record (June 16, 1999) a column by Paul Harvey. The words used by Harvey on his radio show were written by Addison Dawson in his letter to the editor of the San Angelo Standard-Times, according to DeLay. See:

Gutknecht's use of the material:

This matter is covered by Mark Paxton in his book, Media Perspectives on Intelligent Design and Evolution (2013), p. 167. Alan G. Archer (talk) 08:41, 20 March 2015 (UTC)

Then... Restore it? Quinto Simmaco (talk) 07:44, 21 March 2015 (UTC)
I do not fully understand your comment, but it's probably best to keep the Dawson>Harvey>DeLay>Congressional Record indecent confined to DeLay's wiki page, which I edited on March 20/21 to counter link rot and provide clarification. Alan G. Archer (talk) 09:57, 21 March 2015 (UTC)

Moving tidbits[edit]

As note in TALK 'Proposing removal of a paragaph', the end of article section 'Unexplained aspects of natural world' continued after a mention of Hoyle a mention of abiogenesis opposition and also mention re fraud for archaeopteryx. Archaeopteryx fraud is under "Unreliable evidence" and fraud isn't 'unexplained aspect of natural world', so I'm moving the cite to there. Markbassett (talk) 21:38, 10 April 2015 (UTC)

How is abiogenesis possible?[edit]

I don't understand how abiogenesis is possible. Please prove that abiogenesis is or isn't possible here. Thanks!The Pokémon Fan (talk) 00:02, 21 April 2015 (UTC) And yes, I understand this isn't technically the place for it, but a good explanation would help. The Pokémon Fan (talk) 00:05, 21 April 2015 (UTC)

Well, you should see Abiogenesis and the "Defining evolution" section of this article, where we cover that topic already. If you have a specific proposal, please provide suggested wording and sources.   — Jess· Δ 00:10, 21 April 2015 (UTC)
The Pokémon Fan - to be clear, this article involves what happened after that, it's about evolution after life got started, and objections to that ... Markbassett (talk) 00:19, 21 April 2015 (UTC)

Progression of animals by natural selection[edit]

I understand how the whole evolutionary mechanism works, but how would an animal live with a half developed liver or half developed legs? I understand how natural selection works to prevent the downfall of a species from a harmful mutation, (95% of the time, most of rest do not affect animal) but wouldn't an organism need several "good" mutations before it could evolve a new device/organ (not to mention the intelligence to use external traits)? and in the between time be suffering from it? The Pokémon Fan (talk) 00:38, 28 April 2015 (UTC)

Per WP:NOTFORUM, this isn't the place to ask. You can do some research on this page and Introduction to evolution, or you can ask at the reference desk.   — Jess· Δ 00:41, 28 April 2015 (UTC)

Santorum Amendment[edit]

Markbasset added content about the Santorum Amendment, and updated some of the wording. It's important to remember that the overall point of the sentence is that "equal time appeals to creationists", so I'm concerned about removing that wording and migrating closer to "equal time has been supported by legislators and presidents." Overall, I don't have a problem listing attempts at pushing ID, but we shouldn't stray from the original point of the sentence, or give the impression of broad US government support. Thanks.   — Jess· Δ 14:29, 30 April 2015 (UTC)

User_talk:Mann_jess The phrasing of 'the appeal .. appeals to creationists' is mangled -- neither reading it as 'it asks creationists' or 'this principle is pleasing to creationists' seems a reasonable intent. What is here seems like writing simply muffed the transition of the prior sentence which describes 'equal time' with an example of it in the real world, and also missed a more notable example of Santorum. The meaning seems the 'balanced treatment' of Creation Science in 1982 Louisiana Balanced Treatment for Creation-Science and Evolution-Science Act of Edwards v. Aguillard and the phrase 'equal time' is the same without adding anything so is deletable. Certainly neither Bush nor Santorum - real noted events - said "equal" nor "time" nor were they endorsing some external bill or item, they just expressed logic that seems relevant so could be mentioned here to show the relevance of the section. I didn't move the phrase "equal time" as the prior line seemed clear enough, and to add the phrase "equal time" would lead to wikilinking Fairness doctrine or Equal Time Rule and a diversion into explaining the legal term 'equal time laws' means 'present equally' rather than 'the same amount of clock time'. Will check back later and unless you have some better phrasing or logic, try the same edit again. Markbassett (talk) 16:17, 30 April 2015 (UTC)
I'm not understanding what you're trying to say. The base sentence is "This appeal to fairness appeals to creationists." You've expressed you're having difficulty understanding the intent. Do you understand that base sentence? The point isn't to highlight George bush, or any failed legislation, or to discuss any part of US politics in particular. The point is: "creationists say it's 'unfair' to teach only evolution and not teach alternatives equally." Your suggestion changes the sentence to be about U.S. politics.   — Jess· Δ 19:25, 30 April 2015 (UTC)
OK, so I will separate that phrase from the Bush and Santorum bit. I'll leave "appeals to creationists" for you to deal with. (Just will again point out again that I see no reading that makes a reasonable intent -- neither "This appeal to fairness pleases creationists" nor "This appeal was directed to creationists" seemed sensible or about the cites, so I believe it is simply SNAFU mangled phrasing and deletable.) Markbassett (talk) 16:08, 1 May 2015 (UTC)
On reflection, the sentence on appealing to creationists is redundant. I think we can remove it, since the following paragraph handles the intent fine on its own. I'm still concerned about the proposal (Santorum + Bush), since it appears to convey that there is broad support for this idea in U.S. politics, when in reality there is some support, but it has been mostly rebuffed. I don't know if the mention of George Bush is even worth mentioning. The Santorum amendment may be - it was a failed piece of legislation, but it may have received significant coverage. I tried incorporating that into the existing content on the wedge strategy and other attempts within the U.S. to legislate for teaching creationism.   — Jess· Δ 18:10, 1 May 2015 (UTC)
I'm OK with Bush in or out. I was introducing the Santorum since it seemed a gap to mention Bush and miss it when it was larger than those random side comments and was more directly a link to the Teach the Controversy topic. Think we're at closure with the Santorum edit. Markbassett (talk) 13:12, 12 May 2015 (UTC)