The Skeptic's Guide to The Universe

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Response to Senator Josh Brecheen of Oklahoma

One of the bills I will file this year may be dismissed as inferior by “intellectuals” so I wanted to devote particular time in discussing it’s merits. [You put intellectuals in quotes so we do not know exactly what or who he is referring to here. “it's” means, “it is.” This makes no sense grammatically.]

It doesn’t address state waste, economic development, workers comp reform or lawsuit reform (although I have filed bills concerning each) but it is nonetheless worthy of consideration. [This clearly is a stated opinion.]

It is an attempt to bring parity to subject matter taught in our public schools, paid for by the taxpayers and driven by a religious ideology. I’m talking about the religion of evolution. Yes, it is a religion. [No. Evolution is a study of science. Evolution has no dogma. It has no group meetings, It has nothing such as a tax-exempt status. It is simply an area of study such as aerodynamics.]

The religion of evolution requires as much faith as the belief in a loving God, [This again is a stated opinion and is clearly an un-American statement as faith in a deity is not required in this country. Plus he makes an empirical statement comparing faith or two different items yet fails to show the relationship between these two items. This is a logical fallacy. ] when all the facts are considered (mainly the statistical impossibility of key factors).

Gasp! Someone reading this just fell out of their enlightened seat!!! [Again this is a logical fallacy, It is an ad Hominem attack.] “It’s not a religion as it’s agreed upon by the entire scientific community,” some are saying at this very moment. Are you sure? Let’s explore the facts. [This is another logical fallacy called a straw man.]

As a high school and university student forced to learn about evolution I was never told there were credible scientists who harbor significant skepticism toward Darwinian Theory. [This is a reasonable expectation as one wouldn't expect to learn about religion in a science class.]

I easily recall a full semester at SOSU where my English 1 professor forced us to write almost every paper over the “facts” of evolution. [Two issues here, One, while your English professor may indeed a great English teacher, he is not a teaching biology and may be much more interested in the ability you have to make a persuasive argument. Two, I am sure you were not forced to write anything for any class. As more than likely you were a voluntary student and could end your time in school anytime you wished. Please, try to refrain from dramatics.]

That professor had a deep appreciation for me by semester end due to our many respectful debates as I chose to not be blindly led. I specifically remember asking how in 4,000 years of recorded history how we have yet to see the ongoing evidence of evolution (i.e. a monkey jumping out of a tree and putting on a business suit). [Again, in an English course, the standards are different than in a biology class. This example really has no relevance and is a personal experience as well. Your biography states that you are a motivational speaker so it comes as no surprise that you are able to excel in an formal English class. But The example you need is one from your biology professor.]

Following a 2001 PBS television series, which stressed the “fact” of evolution, approximately 100 physicists, anthropologists, biologists, zoologists, organic chemists, geologists, astrophysicists and other scientists organized a rebuttal. So much disagreement arose from this one sided TV depiction that this group produced a 151 page rebuttal stating how the program, “failed to present accurately and fairly the scientific problems with the Darwinian evolution”. [Another logical fallacy. This is a false dichotomy . Failure of the evolution model is not confirmation of the creation model.]

These weren’t narrow minded fundamentalists, backwoods professors or rabid religious radicals; these were respected world class scientists like Nobel nominee Henry Schafer, the third most cited chemist in the world and Fred Figworth, professor of cellular and molecular physiology at Yale Graduate School. [Again, another logical fallacy. This is an appeal to authority.]

Ideologues teaching evolution as undisputed fact are not teaching truth. [Stated opinion.] Renowned scientists now asserting that evolution is laden with errors are being ignored. That’s where we should have problems with state dollars only depicting one side of a multifaceted issue. [Another logical fallacy. non-sequitur . You make a statement however the purpose of science is to continually search for weakness in there accepted views plus also challenge the conventional wisdom. There is nothing wrong with science concepts being challenged. Unlike with ideas that result from dogma.]

Using your tax dollars to teach the unknown, without disclosing the entire scientific findings is incomplete and unacceptable. [Stated opinion.]

For years liberals [false generalizations] have decried how they want to give students both sides of an argument so they can decide for themselves, however when it comes to evolution vs. creation in the classroom, the rules somehow change.

Their beliefs shift, may I say... evolve to suit their ideology. [These statements include several logical fallacies. One is the special pleading of “the rules changing” when they are not demonstrated to do so and the logical fallacy of ad hoc reasoning or Special pleading when you exert that a ideology is changed to suit the actions of the liberals. Plus you use the term liberals as if it is a disparagement which is also an opinion and it is a gross generalization that all of these people are liberal without proof to support your statement.]

We [Who are we? Those that understand and accept the conclusions of evolution surely cannot be included in the “we” you speak of.] must discuss the most recognizable icons of the evolution religion [Again, a stated opinion.].

Darwin sketched for The Origin of Species a visual to explain his hypothesis that all living creatures evolved from a common ancestor. The tree of life scenario, engrained upon most of our memories, depicts gue [Not sure what “gue” means.] transitioning into a hunched over monkey which then turns into a business suit. [Not sure where you get your information but that is not only an logical fallacy it is also an irrational statement. Never has a money been shown to turn into a business suit. That would be a total non-sequitur.]

[“On The Origins of Species” which was the first published work of Charles Darwin on the subject dealing with evolution never deals with the subject of human or ape evolution. If you had read the work you would have realized that. Plus this work was publish in 1859 and as in any area of study much more work has been done on it. Do we still use the same means of transportation we did when the locomotive and automobile were invented? Are we still using the same type of phone that were shown to the public in 1876? Are we still using the same telegram and telephone and radio devices that Marconi and Tesla came up with at the turn of the last century? Senator Josh Brecheen, your explanation on this subject is far from knowledgeable.]

Darwin himself knew the biggest problem with his visual (cornerstone concept of his hypothesis) was the fossil record itself. He acknowledged major groups of animals, he coined “divisions” (now called phyla) appear suddenly in the fossil record. The whole basis for evolution is gradual differences and changes to be confirmed by modified fossils (phyla cross-over). Even Christians believe in biological change from species to species (adaption) over time.[It shouldn't be any surprise that factual data is believed.]

The taxonomic hierarchy which includes species, genus, family, order and class must be visualized for understanding separation from phyla and species classifications. As an OSU Animal Science graduate I readily admit the adaption of animal species from interbreeding such as Santa Gertrudis cattle, a “weenie” dog or even a fruit fly. Even the difference among lions, tigers and cougars could be attributed to species adaption and interbreeding if one so decried. Additionally, human differences seen notable in ethnicity proves that change among species is real but this is NOT evolution, its adaption. [Natural selection is the process that is used to achieve adaption over time in nature. The process of change over time is that the adaptation leads to more and more divergent speciesazation. This was predicted in Darwin's work and has been found to be true in many examples. You clearly understand the common and divergent process that can happen in a short time. It is the same divergent process that happens over 100.000 to millions of years.]

Changes with the classification of species is DRAMATICALLY different then changes among Phyla. Phyla changes would be if an insect, with its skeleton located on the outside of soft tissue (arthropods), transformed into a mammal, with its skeleton at the core of soft tissue (chordates). Phyla changes must be verified for Darwin’s common ancestor hypothesis to be accurate. [Thanks to the genetic record, this has happened. This is why there is no doubt as to the relations between species any longer among scientists that understand these processes. Plus a general example is shown with animals such as seals, walruses, manatees, sea lions and other animals that live on both sea and land that are mammals. Since the process of natural selection takes place over many thousands of years the offspring of one seal will never produce an animal that isn't related to the parents but given the period of time the ancestors will not be the same species as their prodigy. Of course the process requires much more explanation than I can do here easily. To find out more please contact graduate researcher Abby Smith in the Endogenous Retro virus field in The University of Oklahoma. She is well known statewide and nationally for her work in genetics]

The rapid appearance of today’s known phylum-level differences, at about 540 million years ago, debunks the tree of life (common ancestor) scenario. This biological big bang of fully developed animal phyla is called the Cambrian explosion. The Cambrian explosion’s phyla fossils and the phyla of today are basically one in the same. These phyla fossils of that era are fully developed, not in a transitional form. [You need to learn what a transitional species is. You do not seem to be using the terminology correct. A TS is any species that is between any other two. All plants animals and all life when they are a live are actual and transitional species. Homo sapiens are transitional species.]

In fact we don’t have a transitional form fossil crossing phyla classification after hundreds of years of research looking at sediment beds spawning the ages. There are certainly plenty of good sedimentary rocks from before the Cambrian era to have preserved ancestors if there are any. As for pre-Cambrian fossils being too tiny or soft for secured preservation there are microfossils of bacteria in rocks dating back beyond three billion years. Absolutely ZERO phyla evidence supporting Darwin’s hypothesis has been discovered after millions of fossil discoveries. Darwin’s cornerstone hypothesis where invertebrate’s transition into vertebrates is majorly lacking and so is Darwin’s “theory”. [Again you show you lack of understanding of the topic as there is clear understanding of the transitions and you also show you lack of understanding of the scientific use of “theory.' Theory means a set of data in a discipline that supports a most likely concept. This theory is also able to predict and be used as a model for understanding new information and can be used to predict how the process operates. This applies for cell theory, theory of gravity, theory of relativity and so on. Many of the theories in science that we rely upon everyday are accepted as fact just as evolution is.]

I will be introducing legislation this session to ensure our school children have all the facts. [Please make sure you have the facts first.]

This discussion is to be continued in next week’s column..

Josh Brecheen

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