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Author Topic:   Discussion of the CMI-AS debate (Meldinoor, NosyNed, Slevesque, Arphy only)
Meldinoor
Member (Idle past 3497 days)
Posts: 400
From: Colorado, USA
Joined: 02-16-2009


Message 1 of 51 (536249)
11-20-2009 6:23 PM


In the "What is the point of this forum?" thread, Arphy contributed by sharing a written debate between Creation Ministries International and the Australian Skeptics. Source NosyNed suggested that a Great Debate be started using the debate as a basis. As nobody has yet taken the opportunity to do so, I will start the Great Debate off here.

I suggest the following participants:
Myself
NosyNed
slevesque
Arphy

My impression of the debate between CMI and AS was of a typical debate on the issue. CMI, disappointingly, offered little to no evidence for a biblical creation, instead opting to use a variety of recycled and oft-refuted arguments against evolution. I will begin by discussing CMI's opening paper. CMI began the debate by writing a paper consisting almost entirely of well known creationist arguments, presenting them in 7 different categories. Below I have a list of their arguments and my problems with them:

-------------------------------------------------------------

1. Natural Law (1 argument)
a)
      A strawman attack on evolution using the laws of thermodynamics
      to show how the universe must have had a beginning. (Strawman)

2. Life (5 arguments)
a)
      Evolution must explain how life began (Untrue)
b)
      Life arises only from life per law of biogenesis
      (Misrepresentation of "law" of biogenesis)
c)
      Even the simplest life needs elaborate "machinery"
      (Unsupported claim)
d)
      There are vast hurdles for chemical evolution to overcome in
      order to produce life (Unsupported claim)
e)
      A well known philosopher becomes a theist because "every
      discovery of molecular biology underlines the impossibility
      of such an entity arising spontaneously." (Appeal to authority?)

3. Biological Changes (1 argument)
a)
      Information is always lost in microevolution (PRATT)

4. Fossils (2 arguments)
a)
      Lack of fossils undermines evolutionary theory (PRATT, Lie?)

b)
      Lack of fossils constitutes positive evidence for biblical
      special creation. (How?)

5. The Age of Things (11 arguments)
a)
      The decay of the earth's magnetic field implies a young earth
      (PRATT)

b)
     Organic molecules in fossils millions of years old
      (No examples given)

c)
     Too much helium in deep zircons

d)
      Not enough salt in the sea

e)
      Carbon 14 in ancient diamonds

f)
      Polystrate fossils undermine an old earth (PRATT)

g)
      Intertonguing of non-sequential geological strata

h)
      Too small a number of supernova remnants

i)
      Magnetic fields on inactive planets

j)
      All arguments for the age of the universe are based on
      assumptions (Mischaracterization of dating methods)

k)
      Canyons have been shown to form quickly

6. Cultural-Anthropological evidence (2 arguments)
a)
      People all over the world have myths about floods
      (Not evidence of a global flood)

b)
      Humans have little genetic diversity (Strawman)

7. Design and complexity (2 arguments)
a)
      The usual argument from irreducible complexity (PRATT)

b)
      Complex organs like the brain are "obviously" created (bare assertion)

--------------------------------------------------------------

Notice that none of the arguments presented offer evidence of biblical creation. Many are fallacious, some are PRATTs, and some are irrelevant to the topic. Furthermore, I believe their reliance on overwhelming their opponent with a rapid-fire of arguments (crappy or no) from a number of different fields constitutes what is known as a Gish-Gallop style of debate. I consider this very bad form for one of world's leading creationist organizations, but in all honesty it is precisely what I would have anticipated.
Their closing of the first paper is very telling of how ICM thinks.

"what tangible basis is there for anyone to reject the claim that there is indeed a Creator who has spoken by His prophets in the Bible?"

In other words: "prove that God doesn't exist". This must be the silliest thing written in the entire debate.

In stark contrast to ICM's opening paper, AS does not attempt to overwhelm the opponent with a flurry of arguments and claims, but begins by providing the definition of science, and showing why creation science does not fit the definition. They also ask the creationists to provide evidence for their claims. Which, incidentally, ICM never provides. They then illustrate how different fields of scientific study yield results consistent with evolutionary theory. This they do without throwing in 24 PRATTs and bare assertions.

I have begun by discussing the first two papers in the debate. Two things become apparent from the very beginning:

1. ICM does not bother presenting evidence of special creation (let a lone biblical special creation)

2. ICM relies almost exclusively on an array PRATTs and fallacies to further their case

Why is this? Is this because their case is too weak to defend with actual evidence?

Respectfully,

-Meldinoor

ABE: Apologies. I just noticed that NosyNed started the Great Debate on the same topic just before I did.

Edited by Meldinoor, : No reason given.

Edited by Meldinoor, : No reason given.

Edited by Adminnemooseus, : Added the "(Meldinoor, NosyNed, Slevesque, Arphy only)" part to the topic title.

Edited by Meldinoor, : Changed ICM to CMI in thread title


Replies to this message:
 Message 4 by slevesque, posted 11-21-2009 2:30 PM Meldinoor has responded
 Message 6 by Arphy, posted 11-21-2009 9:34 PM Meldinoor has responded

  
Meldinoor
Member (Idle past 3497 days)
Posts: 400
From: Colorado, USA
Joined: 02-16-2009


Message 5 of 51 (536326)
11-21-2009 6:30 PM
Reply to: Message 4 by slevesque
11-21-2009 2:30 PM


Hi slevesque,

PRATT is an acronym for "Point Refuted A Thousand Times". In other words, an argument that Creationists like to make, but that has been shown repeatedly to be false.

I agree that we should not discuss every single argument posed by ICM. The reason I listed them was to illustrate what I think is wrong with ICM's debate style: Throwing out a plethora of outdated arguments that have been debunked many times before. I think you yourself condemned Gish Galloping in another thread, so I was curious to see what you think of their debate style.

The second fundamental flaw with the ICM side of the debate is that they never present evidence of Biblical Creation. While they attempt to undermine the TOE, they do not feel that they carry a burden of proof themselves. Curiously, I have never come across a single piece of evidence of Creation as described in Genesis. Why is this?

slevesque writes:

Oh, by the way NosyNed. The salt in ocean was the very first subject I made here I find it to be legit, since after discussion in that thread (over 6 months ago), the overall response was an an appeal that other sodium sinks would be found eventually.

When I went through the list of arguments ICM presented, I did not label every single one a PRATT. This was either because I did not understand their argument (too few supernova remnants?? how do they know how many to expect?), or because I wasn't immediately familiar with an answer to it. (Although in retrospect I should have labeled the canyon one a PRATT as well)

The sea salt is one of the latter. There are many dissolved minerals in the ocean, and I don't know what mechanisms are responsible for removing all of them and maintaining an equilibrium. I'll have to do some research on this one. (Maybe I'll start off by looking at your thread)

So perhaps we should narrow the list of arguments down to those that we all agree are not PRATTs or are otherwise worth discussing. This leaves (by my list):

1. Too much helium in deep zircons
2. Not enough salt in the sea
3. Carbon 14 in ancient diamonds
4. Intertonguing of non-sequential geological strata
5. Too small a number of supernova remnants
6. Magnetic fields on inactive planets

Are there any other arguments from the ICM side that you would like to discuss? Any thing from the AS side?

So in summary:

1. ICM does not bother presenting evidence of Biblical Creation. Why is this?

2. What is your opinion of the Gish Galloping approach taken by ICM?

3. Which topics would you like to narrow our discussion down to?

Respectfully,

-Meldinoor


This message is a reply to:
 Message 4 by slevesque, posted 11-21-2009 2:30 PM slevesque has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 8 by slevesque, posted 11-22-2009 1:27 AM Meldinoor has responded

  
Meldinoor
Member (Idle past 3497 days)
Posts: 400
From: Colorado, USA
Joined: 02-16-2009


Message 7 of 51 (536339)
11-22-2009 1:12 AM
Reply to: Message 6 by Arphy
11-21-2009 9:34 PM


Response to Arphy
Hi Arphy, and welcome to the discussion,

I'm going to start by responding to some of the things you said in your post.

---------------------------------------------------------

Arphy writes:

How is this a strawman argument? Yes, many evolutionists believe the universe had a beginning, however there are also some who don't i.e. as explained in CMI's final essay. If we take it that the universe did have a beginning then this is good supporting evidence for a creator. In a materialistc explanation this evidence can at the most provide neutral evidence but not positive evidence for a materialistic explanation.

Today most scientists accept that the universe had a beginning some 13.7bya. I don't know which "prominent cosmologists" CMI is referring to in their final essay, nor do I know the specifics of their "steady state model", as CMI apparently forgot to leave a reference. There are fringe-theorists among evolutionists too, so it's not hard to find an evolutionist who's promoting some obscure theory, point at him and say "this is what evolutionists believe".
In any case, showing that the universe has a beginning does nothing to support the claim that the world was created in six days some 6000ya.
Nor does it really provide evidence for a creator.

---------------------------------------------------------------

Arphy writes:

2. Life (5 arguments)
a)
Evolution must explain how life began (Untrue)

I have only written this once or twice in my life but this situation calls for it. LOL!!
The AS really blew it big time here.
Let me quote from their (AS) opening essay:

Self-replicating molecules first appeared on the Earth about 3.5 billion
years ago.

All life on Earth is descended from these molecules, although there may
have been many originations at different times and in different places.


This is simply incredible. They first make these claims and then run away from them by the second essay! What sort of a tactic is that?! You complain about "Gish gallops", well this sort of tactic is at the very least confusing or very bad debating.

Admittedly, AS does make the claim about self-replicating molecules without backing it up on the spot. Later on in the same essay, they do provide evidence in general terms, but do not reference any specifics. I agree that they could have done a more thorough job in the evidence department, however, considering their constraints (the essays were presumably of limited length) they probably wanted to present their position in general terms in the opening essay, and focus on the specific issues that CMI wanted to discuss. I don't think they anticipated the Gish Gallop CMI ended up giving them.

You wrote that AS "ran away from [their claim about self-replicating molecules] by the second essay". In reality, they offer several competing theories and state that science hasn't determined which one is the correct theory yet. There are many ways self-replicating molecules might have formed (see the abiogenesis article on wikipedia for a summary of several theories).

Arphy writes:

The same goes for cosmic evolution.
They (AS) make the claim

According to the latest research, the universe is about 13.7 billion years
old. The conditions and events which initially brought the universe into
being are unknown at this time, but not necessarily unknowable.

Apart from an extremely tiny period of time following the universe
coming into existence, there are certain rules, processes and constant
values which operate across time, so that some observations made now
have applied to the universe since it began and some conditions of the new
universe still apply today.


Note especially the 2nd claim "Apart from an extremely tiny period of time following the universe coming into existence". Here they are definatly making a claim for cosmic evolution. Yet they turn around in the second essay and deny it! What the....?

Where do they deny cosmic evolution? Quote please.

Arphy writes:

These two clear examples of, well not too sure what to call it, but perhaps hypocrisy, is just very bad debating. And then they try to blast the creationists for bringing up the subjects! That is just incredible!

In the first example you seem to have missed the fact that AS provided several examples of how life might have originated:

quote:
There are several competing theories, such as the production of amino acids from atmospheric gases and lightning as demonstrated by Miller’s experiments, or panspermia as suggested by Hoyle, where the relevant molecules came from elsewhere in the universe (which simply moves the answer further away), or the effects of ultra-violet light on the contents of ponds. Perhaps God did it. The last option removes the need for any further research into the ‘little bang’, but it says nothing about what happened afterwards. For more about abiogenesis, see here

And the second example is apparently not a very clear example of hypocrisy as I can't seem to find it. Then again, maybe I'm just stupid.

------------------------------------------------------

Arphy writes:

Please don't be too quick to label something an unsupported claim. CMI provide an example which contains a reference for further reading. Yet you have made a judgement on the evidence even before we have discussed it. If you feel that the evidence given is insubstantial, wrong, misunderstood, or should be discarded for some other reason then you can say so. But then it is up to you to provide reasons for why this is so, otherwise you are just making unsubstantiated claims as well, i.e. you provide no evidence as to why you reached that conclusion.

Indeed, I am always willing to give CMI the benefit of the doubt, and I have not ignored their references. Anywhere I wrote "unsupported claim" I first checked their reference to see how they backed up their claim. None of my labeling of their arguments was done lightly, and I'd be willing to back up any of the assessments I have made.

In this particular case I searched their reference for support for their claim

quote:
Even the simplest life needs much elaborate machinery

I certainly couldn't find any. Can you? And it would seem that actual scientific discoveries disagree with them as well.

My favourite example of a "replicating molecule" is the QB (actually Q-Beta) virus. Without going into too much detail, its RNA was reduced to 220 nucleobases, and still it continued to function and replicate just fine. Without "much elaborate machinery". That is why I labeled it an "unsupported claim".

See here and here.

Arphy writes:

There are vast hurdles for chemical evolution to overcome in order to produce life (Unsupported claim)

The AS claim on this topic is also unsupported with any references. However, in the next essay the AS run away from the claim (as shown above) while CMI does go into more detail and provides references.

As I've shown you, AS does not run from their claim.

---------------------------------------------------------------

Arphy writes:

Pardon me but they definatly rattle of some PRATTs about the ark and then make a whole list of claims. They don't provide a single reference in their opening essay compared to the 35 references given in the CMI opening essay!!!!!

Indeed. And this highlights an important difference in how both sides approached their first essay. Remember, neither side had seen the other's opening essay beforehand and thus did not know what to expect.

While CMI begins by presenting a host of arguments on a number of topics (what I'd call Gish Galloping), AS takes a more cautious approach by outlining their position and the creationist position. Their "list of claims" appears to me to be an attempt to establish common ground. Once both sides of the debate know what the other side actually believes, they can engage in an effective debate.

AS at first provides a list of claims for both sides, without trying to prove their list of claims, or attack the opposing ones. They then provide, in general terms, the fields of study that support their claim. The difference: CMI begins by rattling off a list of arguments, thus the need for many references. AS simply starts off by presenting their side in general terms, so that the debate can be narrowed down in the later essays.

Which brings us to our Great Debate. How are we going to do this folks? The CMI-AS debate touches on a lot of topics, and we're going to have to agree on what we want to discuss. We can continue to argue about which side were the better debators, but I'd rather we picked a few of their arguments, or related ones and discussed them.

I suggest Arphy and slevesque settle on what they think are the strongest arguments put forth by CMI. Maybe just 2 or 3, to keep our discussion focused. NosyNed and I will do the same for AS.

Of course, I want everyone's approval of the idea before we continue.

Respectfully,

-Meldinoor

Edited by Meldinoor, : No reason given.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 6 by Arphy, posted 11-21-2009 9:34 PM Arphy has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 9 by slevesque, posted 11-22-2009 1:33 AM Meldinoor has not yet responded
 Message 11 by Arphy, posted 11-22-2009 4:46 AM Meldinoor has not yet responded

  
Meldinoor
Member (Idle past 3497 days)
Posts: 400
From: Colorado, USA
Joined: 02-16-2009


Message 10 of 51 (536345)
11-22-2009 2:51 AM
Reply to: Message 8 by slevesque
11-22-2009 1:27 AM


Hi slevesque,

I appreciate your friendly and direct response to the questions I posed to you. I'll try to provide some short comments on your answers before we decide on what topics this debate should cover.

-----------------------------------------------

slevesque writes:

Finally, evidence for the 6-day creation is probably the type that you say is not present. It is, of course, a bit tricky, as I doubt we could find a fact of nature that would prove that 'God created birds before humans'.

Yet most creationists (including CMI) include the six days as described in the Bible in their creation model. If there truly is no evidence to support this, and no way to falsify it, how can they claim their model is scientific? Why not make the Quran a part of the model as well? If it's just because they happen to be Christians, they have no scientific rationale for choosing any particular creation story.

-------------------------------------------------

slevesque writes:

Although I'll say that it wouldn't have been my approach to this, at least not in the opening essay.

I think both sides could have improved their presentation. I also think the debate should have been more focused, that way both sides could have spent more time exploring each topic. We'll do better than they did.

------------------------------------------------------

slevesque writes:

Well the topics you selected are all about the age of the earth, I don't mind discussing these as I've all encountered them before (except for geological strata)

I think we should discuss the magnetic fields of other planets with the other argument about our own magnetic field, as the two are related by Humprheys theory of the origin of paleomagnetic fields.

We could also discuss the creationist fossil claim. And also how mutations generate noise in the genome. On the AS side, they are very broad in their assertions, and so it's difficult to discuss any specific one. Maybe discuss their intro about what is science, and how creationism doesn't fit in it ?

You can pick any of the topics. I suggested a few that I thought seemed more convincing than the PRATTs, but it makes much more sense if you and Arphy each pick one or two arguments freely. I suggest we each present an argument from the debate. That's two for each side of the debate. That should be focused enough to start out.

I'll be presenting my argument tomorrow when I have some time. That, and whatever arguments the three of you choose, should get this debate rolling.

Respectfully,

-Meldinoor

--------------------------------------------

Also, a quick response to your other post.

slevesque writes:

VIruses uses the machinery of the host bacteria in order to replicate. So even though they do not themselves possess the machinery, they still require it.

True, in most cases. However, the QB virus evolved within the lab to no longer require a host cell in order to replicate. Instead, the final version of the virus was capable of simply taking whatever it needed to replicate out of a solute.

ASA writes:

The Qb virus doesn't need anything as complicated as a cell in order to replicate: a test tube full of suitable chemicals is enough

Source

This simple 220 nucleobase replicating string of RNA may be analogous to early life. At the very least it proves that life does not require complex machinery to function.

Edited by Meldinoor, : No reason given.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 8 by slevesque, posted 11-22-2009 1:27 AM slevesque has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 14 by slevesque, posted 11-23-2009 2:01 AM Meldinoor has responded

  
Meldinoor
Member (Idle past 3497 days)
Posts: 400
From: Colorado, USA
Joined: 02-16-2009


Message 15 of 51 (536433)
11-23-2009 2:22 AM
Reply to: Message 14 by slevesque
11-23-2009 2:01 AM


slevesque writes:

That Qb virus thing is very interesting, I had never heard of it, and CMI has no articles whatsoever about it. I'll document myself a it more on it, and send them a question about it. If your interested in their answer to this, I'll probably post it somewhere around here (although it takes a lot of time to receive answers usuallly)

Please do. Or e-mail me what you learn. My e-mail is in my member profile.

Sorry that I haven't gotten around to posting my argument yet as I'd planned. I'm in college and I have a number of assignments that I don't seem to be making any headway with. In the meantime, go ahead and present the arguments you've chosen.

On a sidenote:

slevesque writes:

It is more directed at christians who accep the theory of evolution

That's me! I think you'll find that we share many core beliefs, yet they have influenced our perspectives differently.

Looking forward to seeing your arguments.

Respectfully,

-Meldinoor


This message is a reply to:
 Message 14 by slevesque, posted 11-23-2009 2:01 AM slevesque has not yet responded

  
Meldinoor
Member (Idle past 3497 days)
Posts: 400
From: Colorado, USA
Joined: 02-16-2009


Message 21 of 51 (537189)
11-27-2009 1:22 PM
Reply to: Message 19 by slevesque
11-26-2009 1:31 AM


Re: Helium retention in Zircon crystals
I second NosyNed. You've raised an interesting argument, and you wrote a very nice post presenting both the argument itself and the critique. I'm currently a bit busy in real life, but I'll be back once I've got the time.

Respectfully,

-Meldinoor


This message is a reply to:
 Message 19 by slevesque, posted 11-26-2009 1:31 AM slevesque has not yet responded

  
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