1: Something From Nothing Or Is It?
“You can’t get something from nothing”
A common creationist argument. It is based on the assumption that the big bang theory states that before the big bang there was literally nothing. Of course the big bang theory says nothing about what was before the big bang. The big bang theory is not a theory of the origin of the universe.
The truth is we don’t know what was before the big bang. Information from before the big bang has been lost, with out information we don’t have anything to base hypotheses on.
“In the beginning there was nothing and it exploded.”
This variant of the argument goes beyond “something from nothing” it is a full on straw man.
Firstly: The term “big bang” was coined by Fred Hoyle an astronomer who rejected the idea of the big bang in favor of the steady state theory. He coined the term “big bang” as a derisive term and it stuck.
Secondly: The big bang was not an explosion, it was an expansion of space time. Space time itself rapidly expanded.
Links and information.
Time line of The Big Bang
Frequently Asked Questions in Cosmology
Sir Fred Hoyle (1915-2001)
Wikipedia – Big Bang
Wikipedia – Time line of the Big Bang
2: Cosmological Argument
“Everything that comes into existence has a cause, the universe came into existence thus it had a cause and that cause was God.”
The Cosmological Argument starts out with a decent premiss and then plunges head first into stupidity.
“Everything that comes into existence has a cause” this makes sense and fits with our observations (except maybe on the quantum scale) but beyond this point, it fails.
“The universe came into existence” this is where that argument starts to fail. The closest we have to evidence that the universe had a beginning is the big bang but as I’ve said in part 1 we don’t know what was before the big bang. The universe could have existed in some form before the big bang, the big bang (and thus the universe) could have came out of another universe or some combination of the two. We don’t know.
“and that cause was God” This is where the argument goes from a fail to an epic fail. Even if the universe had a beginning, that does not mean what cause the universe was some deity. It is much more plausible the the universe would have came out of another universe though some natural process.
To get out of the two fatal problems of the cosmological argument creationists claim that infinity is impossible, there needs to be a first cause because with out a first cause you get an infinite regress and infinity is impossible.
Of course infinity is not impossible. When asked why its impossible they will probably say something like “you can’t have an infinite number of points between two points” (paraphrased). This argument is bullshit because infinity is not a number, infinity is a mathematical concept. Of course you can’t have an infinite number of points between two
points but outside the two points it goes on infinitely, forever.
Links and Information
Wikipedia – Cosmological Argument
Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy – Cosmological Argument
All About Philosophy – Cosmological Argument
3: The Fine Tuned Argument
The argument is self explanatory. The universe, the earth, blah has been fine tuned fro life. Some take the argument further and say the universe, the earth, blah has been fine tuned for human life.
I’ll start with the universe: The majority of the universe is empty space. The vast majority of the matter in the universe is in galaxy’s with millions of light-years between them, the vast majority or all of the galaxy’s are in large clusters with hundreds of millions to billions of light-years between them. Galaxy’s them themselves are wispy things with most of the baryonic matter in nebula, stars and black holes.
Most of the “stuff” in the universe isn’t baryonic matter (the matter we are made of). Most of the “stuff” in the universe is dark energy (about 73%) and dark matter (about 23%). Baryonic matter only make up about 4% of the matter and energy in the universe and most of that is interstellar and intergalactic gas (about 0.4%).
Then there is space itself. Beyond the protection of the earths magnetic field you have cosmic rays coming at you from all directions, coming from stars, gamma ray bursts and the sun. Cosmic rays can damage DNA. If your hit by a solar flare, your dead.
Space is cold, very cold too cold for life. Beyond the inner solar system the only places that could have life are are moons of gas giants large enough to have an atmosphere and close enough to the planet so that the gravitational title forces to heat the moon enough to have a liquid ocean. And too close to the sun its too hot for life.
As for other stellar systems: We don’t know how common planets are, we have found other planets but nothing earth like because we are unable to find planets the size of earth, we can only find planets that are large enough for their gravity to cause their star to wobble so we don’t know how many earth like planets are out there. However we do know from our own solar system that planet formation is quite chaotic. Venus rotates very slowly in the opposite direction from the rest of the planets in the solar system, Uranus is on its side and the earth is the only planet with a single large moon. The best explanations for these are planetary collisions.
Sometimes used with the “universe is fine tuned” argument or could be used as a rebuttal to the points above: the claim that the Earth is fine tuned for life. Of course it isn’t.
The best they have is “the earth is in the perfect place for life to exist. A little bit too close and the earth would be too hot a little bit to far and the earth would be too cold.” But that claim ignores one huge fact, the earths orbit is elliptical, the earth does get closer and further from the sun. Further more the habitable zone of the Sun is estimated to be between .95 and 1.37 AU (and AU is the average distance between the earth and Sun) so the Earths orbit is not fine tuned.
While it can seem that the earth is fine tuned to life or even us, its not. Life is very adaptable, there are animals living deep in the ocean, animals can live on mountains at reliantly high altitudes there are even worms living in glacial ice. Live is very adaptable. The earth is not adapted to life, life is adapted to it.
Life on earth lives on a thin layer of crust, the vast majority of the earth is uninhabitable. It’s far too hat in the mantle, its far too hot in the core, it is only the crust where life can live.
Now to the idea that the universe is fine tuned for human life: We only live on 1/3rd of one planet. We can’t live in the oceans, we can’t live in space. And much of that land is difficult to survive on. We have thin skin, we cool our selves through sweat, we lack the fur and body fat needed to protect us from the cold. It is our large brains and opposable thumbs that have allowed us to survive. It is our intelligence that allows us to survive in the desert, we had to learn how to survive in the desert despite our cooling system that causes humans to loose water much faster than other animals. We had to kill other animals to get they’re skin and fur to protect us from the cold of colder environments. It is the development of farming that made us the dominant species.
Its not that the earth is fine tuned to us it’s that we have the intelligence to learn how to survive and are adaptable enough to survive. But we are not the most adaptable things on this planet. Smaller simpler organisms are far more adaptable than we are. Single celled organisms can adapts and thrive in environment that are very hostile to us. 
If the universe is fine tuned for life, its not fine tuned for us.
Then there is their best argument: “If gravity was a tiny bit stronger or weaker or if the electromagnetic interaction was a little bit stronger or weaker blah, blah, blah”
This argument has two problems. The first one is that the assumption that if the the strength of the fundamental interactions were different life could not form, that assumption is baseless. If you change them enough then yes, stars would never form, etc but the claim that changing them slightly makes life impossible is baseless, there is no evidence to support it. Second: Fred Adams of the University of Michigan Ann Arbor tested the assumption using a computer simulation. He found that if the fine-structure (alpha) and gravitational were off by as much as a hundred fold stars would still form. In fact it is conceivable that if the strength of the fundamental interactions were different life may be more probable.
1. Imagine the Universe – Dark Matter
2. NASA Home- News and Topics – Universe
3. Wise Geek – What are the Health Effects of Cosmic Rays on the Human Body?
4. Ask an Astrophysicist – Retrograde rotation of Venus
5. Universe Today – Formation of the Moon
6. Stars and Habitable Planets
7. Ice Worms and Their Habitats on North Cascade Glaciers
8. Structure of the Earth
9. Eukaryotes in extreme environments
10. New Scientist – Is our universe fine-tuned for life?
4: Not So Irreducible Complexity
The irreducible complexity argument was developed by Michael Behe and first used in his book Darwin’s Black Box.
The argument is that some biological systems are so complex that they could not have evolved though mutation and natural selection; if you remove one peace, it brakes, it no longer functions. Creationists often use the analogy of a mouse trap; remove one part and it doesn’t work. A mouse trap is surprisingly a good analogy, take out the catch and the hold down bar and you you have strong paper clip or if your defending evolution is Dover, a tie clip. Hell if you remove the spring and the hammer you have a paper weight.
One of the most popular examples of irreducible complexity is the eye. It is so popular because of a quote from The Origin of Species that would seem to say that the eye could not have evolved.
“To suppose that the eye, with all its inimitable contrivances for adjusting the focus to different distances, for admitting different amounts of light, and for the correction of spherical and chromatic aberration, could have been formed by natural selection, seems, I freely confess, absurd in the highest possible degree”
However this is a quote mine. Darwin continued with:
“Yet reason tells me, that if numerous gradations from a perfect and complex eye to one very imperfect and simple, each grade being useful to its possessor, can be shown to exist; if further, the eye does vary ever so slightly, and the variations be inherited, which is certainly the case; and if any variation or modification in the organ be ever useful to an animal under changing conditions of life, then the difficulty of believing that a perfect and complex eye could be formed by natural selection, though insuperable by our imagination, can hardly be considered real. How a nerve comes to be sensitive to light, hardly concerns us more than how life itself first originated; but I may remark that several facts make me suspect that any sensitive nerve may be rendered sensitive to light, and likewise to those coarser vibrations of the air which produce sound”
Then the fact that we have a pretty good understanding of the evolution of the eye makes the claim even more disingenuous.
Another popular example of irreducible complexity is the bacterial flagella. On the surface its would seem like a good example, it certainly looks designed however it is not. Remove a few parts and you get a type III secretory system: a type III secretory system is sort of like a tiny molecular syringe that injects toxins into other cells.
And last example in this post: wings. Its seems like a legitimate point; “whats the use of half a wing?” But with a little bit of imagination and some research you’ll find that half a wing has benefits.
The most obvious benefit is gliding. Being able to glide would increase the distance an animal can jump and it would be especially beneficial to animals who live in trees. Being able to glide would make it easier to escape from predators and easier to capture pray.
Before any one decides to try and stump me with some example of irreducible complexity, use a little imagination and do some research. If you don’t I’ll use some imagination and some research to show you that you are wrong.
Links & Sources
Idea Center – Irreducible Complexity: The Challenge to the Darwinian Evolutionary Explanations of many Biochemical Structures
Talk Origins – Irreducible Complexity and Michael Behe
The Mousetrap Analogy or Trapped by Design
Evolution – Library – Evolution of the Eye
Science Daily – Evolution of the eye
Evolution of the Bacterial Flagella
The Flagellum Unspun The Collapse of “Irreducible Complexity”
Type III protein secretion systems in bacterial pathogens of animals and plants.
Darwin Watch.com – The Irreducible Complexity of Wings Refutes Evolution
Vertebrate Flight Exhibit – The Evolution Of Flight (a.k.a. How To Wing It)
Talk Origins – Index to Creationist Claims – What use is half a wing?
Its basically the argument “why don’t we find fossils that are half ‘this’ and half ‘that’?” where said “this” and “that” are usually modern species that are often unrelated to each other (well not really, more distantly related). For example: The crocoduck (imaged above), half cat half dog, half man half monkey (half ape half man doesn’t count because humans are apes).
It’s ignorance of evolution that is on an astonishing but not surprising scale. Even many creationists world cringe at hearing such an argument knowing how stupid it is.
Transitional fossils will not look like a cross between two currently existing species.
Populations change over time, species change over time. Millions of years ago, our ancestors did not look like modern humans. The same goes for the vast majority of species.
Of course there are some exceptions. Like Tiktaalik
But of course finding what they want will not convince them, they will either move the goal post or just ignore it entirely.
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