I was approached by a Christian, and we are now in the midst of an intelligent debate (a first for me :-P). The debate has lately centered around evolution; he has an evolution page that I commented on sometime in our discussion. We're still stuck on the definition of evolution. As best as I remember, evolution was a species accumulating enough changes to become a new species (like a land mammal becoming a dolphin). I try to communicate this to him, but he tells me that the form I talk about is called microevolution and what he's talking about is macroevolution. He also cited the Second Law of Thermodynamics. I'm not sure exactly how to counter this, and I know (reading through some of your replies) that there is much more evidence for evolution than I personally know of. Please help me out.
PS: I have a text-only email client, so if you reply, please do not send HTML.
From: "Positive Atheism Magazine" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
To: "Veronica Greene"
Subject: Re: micro- vs. macroevolution
Date: Sunday, January 21, 2001 12:12 AM
Creationists speak of a difference between macro-evolution and micro-evolution. In the former, species accumulate enough changes to prevent them from being able to interbreed with the parent species or another daughter species. The latter recognizes that a Chihuahua could conceivably breed with a St. Bernard. In order to defend, for themselves, their dogma of biblical special creation, they must deny macro-evolution. In their attempts to bring their dogma into the curricula of our public schools, they must lie in their attempts to discredit the theory of evolution. It is in this latter debate, the public discussion wherein we are called upon to agree with their notions, that we must respond.
The National Academy of Sciences, America's most prestigious scientific organization, has a section on their website dealing specifically with countering the false claims of creationism, while at the same time bring forth solid arguments in defense of the Theory of Evolution. We have several web sites dealing with creationism listed in our Web Guide under Science.
The Second Law of Thermodynamics states that in a closed system, you can't finish any real physical process with as much useful energy as you had to start with -- some is always wasted. This means that a perpetual motion machine is impossible. However, the creationists show their colors when they invoke the Second Law of Thermodynamics to counter the Theory of Evolution because they fail to mention that the Earth is not a closed system, it is an open system that receives energy from the Sun. In furnishing real physical processes on Earth, energy is wasted, but enough energy is reaching the Earth to make this possible.
On the level of the Universe, the Second Law of Thermodynamics once posed a real problem for the natural sciences, because there was no room in the Universe for order to form. This error was solved when Edwin Hubble showed that the Universe is constantly expanding, and an expanding Universe leaves room for more order to form without violating the Second Law of Thermodynamics.
|"For example, an unassembled bicycle that arrives at your house in a shipping carton is in a state of disorder. You supply the energy of your muscles (which you get from food that came ultimately from sunlight) to assemble the bike. You have got order from disorder by supplying energy. The Sun is the source of energy input to the earth's living systems and allows them to evolve."|
-- Tim Berra, Evolution and the Myth of Creationism
The First and Second Laws of Thermodynamics are covered very concisely in my interview with particle physicist Victor J. Stenger, where he counters the creationists' attacks against science and shows their misuse of science in their attempts to sway the public to their point of view.
The bottom line is that scientists overwhelmingly favor the Theory of Evolution. A creationist needs to show not only why we should distrust the overwhelming consensus of science, but also make a compelling argument for an alternative hypothesis. Creationists' attacks on science and evolution have been, for the most part, lies and chicanery. Their alternative hypothesis is pure superstition, merely complicating the issue and explaining absolutely nothing.
Finally, after losing an entire computer to a virus attack, we've entirely stopped using anything but text. Even our responses to HTML or RTF or Active-X files are text, and our system translates all files into pure text, with the ability to look up such things as italics, etc. However, it's just as easy to indicate italics with a pair of asterisks or underscores, and anybody who formats a lot of e-mail to HTML has already written a macro to take care of that convention.
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