Grey Thoughts
Evolution - AIG vs Australian Skeptics Debate
The debate over at Margo Kingston's Web Diary between Answers In Genesis (AIG) and the Australian Skeptics (AS) is continuing, with both sides releasing their second statements. You can find their first statements here. There are certainly some interesting observations that I would like to make, and perhaps the most informative would be to say that I am amazed that the Australian Skeptics continue to ignore evidence, even when presented to them in a debate. I was lucky enough to be able to catch a debate between Paul Willis and Carl Wieland in late 2003 in which Paul Willis kept repeating the claim that Carl Wieland had not shown any evidence the earth was young, when Carl had indeed given several evidences. We see that again in this debate (whose 'speakers' include Carl and Paul again), where the AS again proclaim that
If someone who claims that the Earth is only about 6,000 years old is going to debate the science of the claim, then those arguments should include evidence to support the claim. Instead, what we get from creationists is obfuscation, misrepresentation and logically fallacious arguments which purport to prove that an alternative theory is worthless because it is not perfect. That there are flaws in the evidence for a very old Earth and universe does not in any way validate the theory that the ages must be very short. Still, when you have no evidence you have to do the best with what you’ve got.
in response to the AIG comments in the first statement which said
The evidence for a 'young' earth/universe is, by definition, evidence for biblical creation, because naturalistic evolution, even if possible, would require eons. There is much evidence consistent with a relatively young age of the universe, such as the decay of the earth's magnetic field, including rapid paleomagnetic reversals; fragile organic molecules in fossils supposedly many millions of years old; too much helium in deep zircons; not enough salt in the sea; carbon-14 in coal and oil supposedly many millions of years old; polystrate fossils that extend through strata supposedly representing many millions of years; inter-tonguing of non-sequential geological strata; the small number of supernova remnants; magnetic fields on 'cold' planets; and much more ...)

The Australian Skeptics don't deal with the evidence, they just pretend it is wrong or doesn't exist. This is because their presuppositions about (i.e. faith in) naturalism FORCE them to ASSUME that young age evidence MUST be wrong. But notice how AIG has provided many links for people to backup their claimed evidences, whereas AS provides none in their first statement and some fairly useless links in the second. We are apparently meant to accept their claims on Authority.

What is even more bizzare is that the AS first statement
The scientific position makes the following claims, again among others:
• 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
• The Earth is approximately 4.5 billion years old
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
and then as AIG responds to these claims in their second statement, AS proclaims in its second statement
Before going on it would be worthwhile to say what evolutionary theory is not about. It neither requires nor denies the existence of a god. It is not about the origin of life. It is not about the origin of the universe. It is about the journey which has brought us from there to here; whether that journey was initiated or guided by God is outside the realm of scientific investigation. To say that evolution cannot explain the Big Bang or abiogenesis is no criticism of the theory at all and is just a logical fallacy. To say that evolution is predicated on the non-existence of God is to talk nonsense and attempt to couch the debate in religious rather than scientific terms.
A pitifully transparent attempt to portray AIG as ignorant of evolution if they attempt to address the first statements claims from AS.

Notice also however that they seem to be saying that these facts are irrelevant to evolution. But are they? The manner in which the universe and life was caused is vitally important because they speak to both the age of the universe, and so the age of the earth (perhaps some rapid process created the universe and all in it) and to common descent (More complex creatures are assumed to have 'evolved' from less complex as the less complex creatures are more likely to have been generated by unguided, naturalistic processes). So it seems these issues are very important to evolution and it is somewhat disengenious to pretend otherwise.

AS in this one short passage also trot out the oldest equivocation in the book in saying that evolution is not incompatible with 'god'. But which 'god' are they talking about. Quite clearly, evolution can not be compatible with all gods as they make contradictory claims. (E.g. the God of the bible claims that he made man and woman at the beginning, not 14.7 billion years after the beginning).

Even more transparent is when the AS talk about
predicting what creationists are likely to say is not considered to be a psychic power. In 1997, Michael Shermer published a small tract named How to Debate a Creationist in which he lists 25 arguments used by creationists and the answers to those arguments.

Answers in Genesis offered 14 of those arguments in their initial statement, and of the other 11 several do not apply here because they specifically relate to the teaching of creationism in schools. This suggests that creationism has not advanced since 1997 and that lessons learned back then have been forgotten.

Talk about a load of rubbish. Much of creationist works deals with dismantling the claims of evolution. Is it that suprising that they would mention mutations? Yet the AS people seem to think they are so 'bright' when they proclaim 'Again, it is almost impossible to imagine discourse with creationists without the matter of mutations coming up.'. But what follows next is even more informative...
The fact that evolution doesn’t require mutations (although they are a useful source of genetic change and diversity) has been explained many times, and will no doubt have to be explained many times again
Essentially, they appear to be saying that it is not necessary to know of a naturalistic method of generating genetic variation in order to believe in evolution. They don't care about whether it is possible, they are just happy to assume it is possible. And they say that creationism is faith based? Hello... Pot. Kettle. Black!

I will leave the rest as the AIG people will more than likely respond in their third statement.
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