Transition SmanzitionJuly 7, 2006 at 6:02 am | Posted in Journal of Anti-Science meetings | 6 Comments
There weren’t many people at this CORR meeting, the first since Lucas’ infamous second visit, only 11 in total. The format was an examination of religion and religious sects, although one of the first topics was science. I was outnumbered 10-1, but all went well.
The first warning sign that this was not a religious meeting was that the library of books Mr. Lehman brings with him to each meeting didn’t change much. Many titles by noted creationist Henry Morris were present.
The introduction of the presentation was religious, which I don’t concern myself with. I only asked Lehman for a definition of “apologetics” because I was ignorant of the term.
Then Lehman said something I found a bit strange. “Science has two ways. History is valid as scientific proof, and so is the reproducible lab stuff.” I found it strange because a common creationist argument is that the fossil record is moot because it didn’t happen in a lab.
After this brief introduction, Lehman began his powerpoint presentation. He ended up making obvious statements that science works without consideration of a supreme being in a light that made it look as though all scientists are inherently atheists. Then he went into special creation, but conceded that microevolution happens, that is variation within a species but not speciation itself, because certain genes are turned off.
Me: Are you meaning to say that all organisms simply change by a gene shutting off?
Lehman: Yes, there’s no new information.
Me: So, then you’re saying that we have the same number of genes than bacteria.
Lehman: I mean in each kind. It’s like dropping a bunch of cats off in Siberia, the ones with short haired genes will die and so their shorthaired genes will be shut off.
Then Dr. Ackerman, a psychology professor at WSU listed at both AiG and ICR, interrupted and what ensued was a somewhat nonsensical discussion with me about how to go about reintroducing the now extinct Dodo. He said something about from a creationist perspective you could reintroduce the Dodo by cross breeding different birds until you end up with a Dodo. It took me awhile to clarify what exactly he was trying to say, but honestly, I’m still not certain.
Me: Well, you can’t crossbreed birds to get a Dodo, that’s pretty crazy. But a scientist could possibly clone a Dodo if we had some Dodo DNA.
Dr. Ackerman: Right, because you had the information.
I didn’t realize that he meant “information” in the creationist sense, and he seemed to be conceding and he was correct enough with his comment, so I let it go.
Somehow Lehman and I kept on with the cats. He mentioned that if you take the cats out of Siberia and put them in the equator they’d die from the heat.
Me: So, do you have any evidence that it this will go one way or not the other? I mean, how do you know your cats didn’t eliminate their long haired genes already?
It was a logic trap I planned on hanging Lehman with, but Dr. Ackerman interrupted again.
Dr. Ackerman: I think some things have a bigger range, morphologically, than others, and can adapt better. And we don’t have the sort of range, our adaption comes from up here. (Ackerman pointed at his brain).
Me: Actually, we get a lot of strength from our generalization and hips and these (I wiggled my thumbs).
Dr. Ackerman: Aren’t those great?
Me: They’re amazing. We can eat pretty much anything, we’re pretty generalized and that helps us adapt as well. But to say that humans don’t have much variation is horribly wrong. We have a ton of variation, attributed largely to our population of 6.5 billion people. You’re not going to find 6.5 billion of anything outside of microbes and insects. There aren’t 6.5 billion cows.
Lehman went on to say something about “berrymans” or something. I didn’t quite catch it. Something a creationist uses to explain variation, and it made no immediate sense to me.
Dr. Ackerman (puncuating): You see, we’re just not willing to accept that all of this happened by chance.
Me: You mean evolution?
Dr. Ackerman: Yes.
Me: It’s not by chance. To me your implying that by saying ‘by chance’ you mean that everything has an equal probability of happening. That’s not true in the physical world and how matter interacts with matter. There are charges on atoms and molecules, gravity, electro magnetics, etc. Everything doesn’t have an equal probability, it’s directed by physical forces. As I have established in many previous meetings, anyone who says evolution is by chance shows they don’t know the first thing about evolution, because you have physical forces and natural selection. Nothing about evolution is by chance, that’s very basic.
Dr. Ackerman: Well, see if that were made more public I think less people would have a problem with it. That it’s not by chance.
Me: Well, it’s not going to come to you Dr. Ackerman. And I totally agree, science doesn’t do too well with PR, but what I’m saying is what science says.. The information is there, you have to study it, the real science to find out what it says. Not the people who are telling you that it’s ‘by chance.’
I ended up mentioning that bacterial evolution is a nuisance in some biology labs and about the recent speciation of a butterfly species in lab conditions. Lehman asked me for a citation, and I told him I didn’t have it on me, but I’d send it to him (and I did).
With that, the scientific discussion was over and Lehman stuck to religion and theology for the rest of the meeting.
I talked to Lehman afterwards and emphatically suggested he read Ken Miller’s book, Finding Darwin’s God, which I had the WSU Library copy of and am almost finished reading. He said he would. After that, the Indian man and I had a long discussion, in which he apologized to me for being mad at me for the Lucas meeting because he thought I was being very rude simply because Lucas is my elder. So, all is well.