Wednesday, 25 May 2011

The Star's Great Creationism Debate

Sent to The Star, Johannesburg, Tue 24/05/2011 20:46 – Published with minor changes and minus the parts in blue, as “Gaping holes in creationists’ argument” on Mon May 30, 2011.

The Creationism Debate of Thurs May 19 2011 needs a whole page of rebuttal, which the Editor is unlikely to give me, but here goes:

Dr AM Levin makes a creditable attempt to reconcile the Creation myth with what happened according to science.  He interprets the "days" of creation as mapping to various geological eons.

For him these are not literal days but "ages".

However he misses a vital point: For each "day" the bible repeats "And the evening and the morning were the n-th day" (in those days, and still in Jewish tradition, the day was taken to start at sunset).

These were meant to be understood as literal, 24-hour days, not symbolic ages.  Or what are "evening and the morning" symbolic of?  

If we are to take the bible as symbolic, perhaps the gods of the bible are also intended to be symbolic, rather that actual existing entities?

Ron Schurink wants us to believe that modern civilization has a debt to monotheistic religion, i.e. Christianity.

We can debate whether Christianity, with its three gods that somehow get shoe-horned into one, is really monotheistic.

However there are two genuinely monotheistic superstitions, namely Judaism and Islam, which he totally forgets.  Both developed high cultures, as did the non-monotheistic superstitions of the east.

History shows that Christianity vehemently opposed scientific progress as far as possible, and its remaining centres of power still do so, as in the Catholic Church's opposition to contraception.

Leon du Toit raises the hoary red herring of the missing links in the fossil record.

It is difficult for us as humans, with a lifespan of the order of 100 years, to understand a hundred times a hundred times that, i.e. a million years.  For anything to survive that long is amazing.

Fossils do not form easily: They need very specific conditions.  So, the fact that we find fossils at all is remarkable.  To find a complete record is well-nigh impossible.  

As Richard Dawkins has wittily pointed out, when a fossil is found that fits neatly into the gap between two others, the creationists are very happy, because they now have two gaps to complain about instead of one!

The case of the eye is another one that Dawkins has dealt with more than adequately.

To inadequately summarise a whole chapter, would an awareness of light in certain cells give the animal an advantage?  Obviously yes.  

That individual would then be more likely to survive, breed, and produce more offspring.  The rare mutations that produced better vision would be favoured, and would propagate.  

As to partially-developed eyes, the eye is a soft structure not preserved, like bones, in fossils.  

However, throughout the animal kingdom today we find eye-like structures in various stages of development: All the way from mere sensitivity to light, through to the eyes of the eagle.

Finally, du Toit says that we have not yet been able to synthesise life.  True.  How long have we been at it, and how long did it take evolution?  Nature, experimenting on a huge number of whole planets, took billions of years –so at least give the scientists a few thousand!