Walt Brown of the Center for Scientific Creation has produced a slick web page full of the usual creationist distortions and falsehoods. The following is my response to some of the allegations in the CSC web site.
Brown admits that small evolutionary changes ("microevolution") can occur but states that large evolutionary changes ("macroevolution") can not because evolution can not produce "increased complexity." He rejects the possibility that a series of small changes over a period of time could produce a large change. However, he provides no documentation to substantiate his opinion.
1. The Law of Biogenesis
Brown states that the emergence of life from non-living matter has never been observed, and that evolution claims that life came from non-living matter through "natural" processes (ie, by mere chance).
There is nothing, repeat, nothing in evolution that requires creation by mere chance. The basic premise of evolution is merely that present day species have evolved from primitive ancestors. How these primitive single-celled ancestors came into existence, whether by chance or by divine miracle makes no difference as far as the geological and biological evidence for evolutionary change is concerned. Creationists arbitrarily reject the possibility that God created living things through a process of evolution because it is contrary to their religious beliefs.
2. Acquired Characteristics
Brown states that acquired characteristics can not be inherited, misleading the reader into believing that evolution teaches otherwise. (An example of an acquired characteristic would be unusual strength resulting from heavy exercise.) Evolution does not and never did postulate that acquired characteristics could be inherited by offspring.
3. Mendel's Laws
Brown states that breeding experiments and "common observation" confirm that Mendel's laws do not permit more than a limited variation in gene combinations, and therefore "macroevolution" can not occur. The possibility of mutations is not mentioned. He refers to the "dog family," but says nothing about the possibility that dogs could be related to foxes and wolves. His statements are not backed up with any specific information and/or data.
What Was Archaeopteryx?
CSC claims that archaeopteryx fossils are forgeries with feathers imprinted on the fossil imprint of a reptile, based on the conclusions of "several prominent scientists." No indication of who these "scientists" were, or even if they had actually examined the fossil. CRC also brings out the standard Chatterjee ":protoavis" argument that bird fossils are found much lower in the geologic column than archaeopteryx. No mention was made of the fact that "protoavis" showed no evidence of feathers. It is interesting to note that Duane Gish of the ICR claims that archy was really a bird, while CSC's Walt Brown insists that it was NOT a bird. A detailed discussion of the archaeopteryx fossils can be found in:
How Accurate is Radiocarbon Dating?
For an explanation of how the age of geological specimens is determined by radiocarbon dating, click on Carbon 14 Dating.
The argument presented in this Radiocarbon Dating "FAQ" of the CSC web page is based on the assumption that the universal Genesis flood actually occurred. Brown believes that a universal flood released into the atmosphere vast quantities of carbon dioxide which contained a greatly reduced percentage of carbon-14. The result of this, according to Brown, is that the percentage of carbon-14 in the primeval atmosphere was much lower than at the present time, but that it has been continually increasing since that time. His contention is that a low carbon-14 percentage in ancient atmospheres would produce results that would indicate an age much older than actual.
As "evidence" supporting his position that carbon-14 age
determinations produce ages far too old, Brown states:
"If all this is true, the ratio of carbon-14 should have been building up in the atmosphere since the flood. In fact, it should still be increasing. This is precisely what recent measurements show."
In fact, the carbon-14 has been increasing only since about 1300 AD. For about 2000 years prior to that date, it was decreasing.
Because carbon-14 is created from nitrogen-14 by bombardment by cosmic rays in the upper atmosphere, the percentage of carbon-14 will fluctuate, depending upon sunspot activity, the earth's dipole field, and amount of carbon dioxide formed from burning fossil fuels, and (possibly) the ratio of plant to animal life on the earth. The variation of C-14 with time and the effect of these factors on the C-14 percentage have been well understood and accounted for by comparison with tree growth rings and dating objects of known age. This information was first developed around 1976 and has been readily available since that time. A detailed description and plotted data can be found in Strahler, Science and Earth History, pp 156-157.
The CSC web page on radiocarbon dating has not presented any evidence to support its contention that radiocarbon dating is grossly in error. It has fabricated a theory based on the unsupported assumption that the Genesis flood actually took place, then made unsupported assumptions that the flood would cause a drastic reduction in the amount of carbon-14 in the atmosphere, then tried to support this contention by extrapolating a recent trend in C-14 concentrations, ignoring the fact that the extrapolation produced a result completely different from the actual data.
Since We See Galaxies Billions of Light Years Away, Isn't the Universe Billions of Years Old?
CSC supports the Setterfield theory that the speed of light has been slowing down exponentially from the moment of creation. Based on this theory, light from the most distant galaxies would have covered most its journey to earth in the recent past, because (according to the theory) at that time it was traveling at a velocity millions of times faster than at present. This argument is refuted in the Speed of Light section of this web page.
Is There Life in Outer Space?
This message of this section is that conventional science is propagating the falsehood that there is advanced life on other planets outside our solar system. It distorts the fact that some scientists think that planets similar to our own, with conditions necessarily to support life, may exist. Conventional science has never claimed that there is scientific evidence to support the conclusion that life, especially advanced life, exists on other planets. Scientists are looking for evidence, but with the exception of the Mars meteorite, they have found none so far. The Mars meteorite is not regarded by mainstream scientists as conclusive evidence, but merely as an indication that primitive microscopic organisms may have existed on Mars during the early stages of our solar system.
The real message of this CSC section is that it is wrong to even consider the possibility that there might be life on other planets.
Brown makes several statements that are either completely wrong, irrelevant, or simply based on nothing other than his religious beliefs. He states: "...the probability of just one living cell forming by natural processes is infinitesimal, even considering the vast number of stars, that the likelihood of life spontaneously occurring anywhere in the visible universe is virtually zero!" The fact remains, however, whatever the mechanism, be it mere chance or Divine Creation, a primeval living cell was formed on earth. Therefore, what Brown is really saying is that if life formed on other planets, it had to be by Divine Creation, and his religion won't allow him to accept that. He also states: "Hundreds of millions of tax dollars have been spent trying to find life in outer space." He provides no references, and I am very skeptical of this statement. I suspect that if any facility or equipment is used in this regard, he charges the entire cost of the facility to the search for extra terrestrial life project.
He also states that reported planets orbiting pulsars could not be planets because life could not exist on them. If we were to follow this same "reasoning", we would be forced to conclude that Venus is not a planet!
The CSC web page resorts to the standard creationist modus operandi of claiming that because some scientific investigations led to dead ends, then all scientific investigations are useless. This, of course, is not true.
Lastly, let me quote the following paragraph from the CSC web page:
"If life evolved in outer space as easily as some people believe, many extraterrestrial 'civilizations' should exist. Some should even be technologically superior to ours. Any civilization within our galaxy that is superior to ours would probably have already explored and colonized our solar system, at least with mechanical robots. Since this apparently has not happened, there is further reason to believe that extraterrestrial life does not exist, certainly not within our Milky Way Galaxy."
This statement is totally absurd. The Milky Way is 100,000 light years in diameter, so there no way space aliens could "colonize" the solar system unless (possibly) they came from the nearest stars. There are no more than seven stars at less than eight light years distance. If space explorers were to travel from a star eight light years away at 10% of the speed of light, it would require 80 years. Using the equation velocity = acceleration x time, it would require 87 hours of 10 g acceleration to reach that speed and 87 hours to decelerate at the end of the voyage. And that's only for the nearest stars! Of course it could be argued that robots could be constructed to withstand far greater accelerations and travel times; however the fact that it would require hundreds or even thousands of years to send and receive radio telemetry of incredibly weak signals makes this scenario questionable to say the least.