For the record, for any and all words copied verbatim from Mr. Comfort's document, I am claiming fair use under section 107 of the US copyright code. Specifically, those provisions which allow for use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright. In this case, the intent is to offer criticism of a clearly fraudulent document, and thereby falls under even the most stringent definition of the fair use statute.
That legal mumbo-jumbo out of the way, let us begin.
Consider for a moment whether you could ever believe this publication happened by accident. Here’s the argument: There was nothing.
Within the very first paragraph, Ray Comfort falls on his face. No science, certainly no science to which Darwin's Origin of Species is a pertinent document in even a historical sense ever claims that "there was nothing." Even modern cosmology does not make any such claim, so right off the bat, Comfort is attempting to lump cosmology in with evolution, and trying to present a straw-man argument for the former, as if all of them were under the same umbrella.
They are not. Evolution, put simply, is the non-random survival of randomly-varying replicators. This definition demands that replicators be in existence before evolution can take place. What Mr. Comfort, and Mr. Cameron fail to recognize is that the theory of evolution would not change in any observable way if tomorrow we were to discover that the first self-replicators were magically "poofed" into existence.
Then paper appeared, and ink fell from nowhere onto the flat sheets and shaped itself into perfectly formed letters of the English alphabet.
There are many flaws with this analogy. First, any scientific theory for which Darwin's Origin of Species is a pertinent historic text demands that, at the absolute least, the alphabet is already in existence. So let's start from there.
Let's start with the fact that the english language is an absolutely hideous analogy for the DNA code. The english language possesses 26 letters, punctuation marks, spaces and all the necessary symbols to make a working written language.
The main reason why the english language sucks as an analogy for the DNA code is simple: meaningless sequences of letters exist.
Imagine, if you will, a language which only possesses four letters. This language has another quirk: every single word in this language has only three letters. There are no spaces, no punctuation marks. And let's say that of these three letter combinations, 64 of them have known meanings.
If such a language existed, it would be completely impossible to make any combination of letters which was not meaningful. Even a random sequence of letters would translate into meaningful words and sentences.
Such a language does exist: it's called DNA.
Initially, the letters said something like this: “fgsn&k cn1clxc dumbh cckvkduh vstupidm ncncx.” As you can see, random letters rarely produce words that make sense. But in time, mindless chance formed them into the order of meaningful words with spaces between them. Periods, commas, capitals, italics, quotes, paragraphs, margins, etc., also came into being in the correct placements. The sentences then grouped themselves to relate to each other, giving them coherence.
By pure coincidence, an associate of mine performed an experiment like this. What he did is he started with completely random sequences of letters, then he applied a very simple evolutionary algorithm. The letters would undergo a random modification, and those which were farthest away from the target text were selected out. This is a process generally known as "evolution," and should not be confused with the straw-man version thereof that Ray Comfort presents here.
Initially, the resulting text had very little meaning:
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However, after a mere 540,000 generations (geologically speaking, an eyeblink), we have:
in the beginning god created the heavens and the earth. the earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the spirit of god was moving over the face of the waters. and god said, let there be light; and there was light. and god saw that the light was good; and god separated the light from the darkness. god called the light day, and the darkness he called night. and there was evening and there was morning, one day. and god said, let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters. and god made the firmament and separated the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament. and it was so. and god called the firmament heaven. and there was evening and there was morning, a second day. and god said, let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear. and it was so. god called the dry land earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called seas. and god saw that it was good. and god said, let the earth put forth vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind, upon the earth. and it was so. the earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed according to their own kinds, and trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind. and god saw that it was good. and there was evening and there was morning, a third day. and god said, let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to separate the day from the night; and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years, and let them be lights in the firmament of the heavens to give light upon the earth. and it was so. and god made the two great lights, the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night; he made the stars also. and god set them in the firmament of the heavens to give light upon the earth, to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. and god saw that it was good. and there was evening and there was morning, a fourth day. and god said, let the waters bring forth swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the firmament of the heavens. so god created the great sea monsters and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarm, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. and god saw that it was good. and god blessed them, saying, be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth. and there was evening and there was morning, a fifth day. and god said, let the earth bring forth living creatures according to their kinds: cattle and creeping things and beasts of the earth according to their kinds. and it was so. and god made the beasts of the earth according to their kinds and the cattle according to their kinds, and everything that creeps upon the ground according to its kind. and god saw that it was good. then god said, let us make man in our image, after our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth. so god created man in his own image, in the image of god he created him; male and female he created them. and god blessed them, and god said to them, be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth. and god said, behold, i have given you every plant yielding seed which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food. and to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, i have given every green plant for food. and it was so. and god saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. and there was evening and there was morning, a sixth day.
I link here to the source code of the program itself, so that you can see that no hanky panky was involved.
I include all of this to point out that evolution is not a random process, as Ray Comfort will repeatedly contend. Once the process of random mutation, selection and reproduction are combined, we can, through a completely unguided process, produce a meaningful text from an initial set of completely random characters.
Now, to be clear, the english language is an absolutely horrid analogy for the genetic code. As previously mentioned, no meaningless sequence exists. We could program a computer to spit out completely random genetic sequences and we know without looking how many of them would be untranslatable: zero. The same cannot be said for the english language.
This program, in particular, is not an accurate depiction of evolution, however, the process is just as random as evolution is. We can, using a process that is unguided except to select for specific properties, we can construct the complete first chapter of genesis.
To liken DNA to a book is a gross understatement. The amount of information in the 3 billion base pairs in the DNA in every human cell is equivalent to that in 1,000 books of encyclopedia size.
It's more than a gross understatement, it's an absurd straw-man. Something that Ray Comfort excels at.
Yes, the human genome contains approximately 3 billion basepairs. Of those, at least 2.88 billion do absolutely nothing. Of the remainder, the larger portion are coding regions, and slightly less consist of non-coding regulatory regions.
In short, we can change roughly 96% of our genome without producing any observable phenotypic change at all. The coding regions, we can change any nucleotide at will and it will still produce a meaningful message (remember, DNA has no "meaningless" sequences), and in some cases, we can even insert a base pair, shifting everything downstream down one basepair. And still, it will be possible to translate the sequence.
In short, unlike any book, there is no possible change you can make to any sequence of DNA which will turn it into gibberish.
For example, recently, a group of scientists deleted a total of over two million basepairs from the genome of the mouse. Doing the same thing would render some section of any book illegible. That mouse has no phenotype. No observable change was found between that mouse, and its unmodified siblings.
In short, Comfort's analogy is hopelessly flawed, and bears no resemblance to the reality of the genetic code.
Aside from the immense volume of information that your DNA contains, consider whether all the intricate, interrelated parts of this “book” could have come together by sheer chance.
As previously pointed out, evolution is not an act of chance. It is the non-random survival of randomly-varying replicators. Evolution is largely the product of selection, which is the pretty much the exact opposite of "sheer chance."
Do you think that DNA’s amazing structure could have come together by accident?
Again, we have the key word: accident. Ray Comfort simply cannot resist beating down the same strawman he started with.
Even the director of the U.S. National Human Genome Research Institute concluded there is a God based on his study of DNA. Francis Collins, the scientist who led the team that cracked the human genome, believes there is a rational basis for a Creator and that scientific discoveries bring man “closer to God”
Note, Comfort slyly ignores the fact that Collins, a devout Christian, is also firmly and unambiguously accepts the theory of evolution. A two second search on Google produces this quote:
I think intelligent design sets up a god of the gaps kind of scenario. Well, you know, we haven't yet explained this particular feature of evolution, so god must be right there. If science ultimately proves that those gaps aren't gaps, after all, then where is god? We really ought not to ask people to do that.
Heavens! A devout Christian speaking out against Intelligent Design? Surely Comfort must be up late at nights trying to solve this contradiction.
In 2004, the atheist world was shocked when famed British atheist Antony Flew suddenly announced that he believed in the existence of God. For decades he had heralded the cause of atheism. It was the incredible complexity of DNA that opened his eyes.
It should be noted that Anthony Flew has no formal training in biology. He has no particular familiarity with the theory of evolution or how it works.
And, again, Comfort is assuming that belief in God and acceptance of evolution are mutually exclusive. His own example of Francis Collins refutes this.
DNA is an incredibly detailed language, revealing vast amounts of information encoded in each and every living cell—which could not have arisen by accidental, mindless chance.
Again, Comfort is using the same "chance" argument. Using processes which are just as accidental or chance as evolution is, we constructed the entire first chapter of genesis. No designer was necessary, no input was involved from us. It did it all on its own.
Information requires intelligence and design requires a designer.
The problem with this claim is that nowhere in the initial 50 pages of this edition of Origin does Comfort give a definition of "information" which is quantifiable and pertinent to evolution.
For example, by any standard which is pertinent to evolution, the e. coli bacteria is among the most successful organisms currently inhabiting this planet. Do they have more or less information than human beings do?
There is a mountain in South Dakota that proves what evolutionists have been saying all along: if you just have enough time, wind, rain, erosion, and pure chance, you can get a mountain with the faces of four U.S. presidents on it! If we can all admit that the faces of Mt. Rushmore didn’t just accidentally appear, how much more complex are the people standing behind the podiums who want to be president?… Which is more complex? A. The faces of Mt. Rushmore, B. a 747, C. your cell phone, d. a worm. If you guessed “worm,” you are right. The DNA structures, digestive system, and reproductive system are far more complex than those other things that obviously had a designer. Maybe, just maybe, someone designed that worm, too.
It's worth pointing out that in this quote Janet Porter is stating, and Ray Comfort is citing, the same, tired straw-man argument. Evolution is not, and has never been, any more chance than the fact that a river flows downhill. Certainly, you may not be able to predict the exact path the river takes, but you would never say that "downhill" is a direction chosen at random.
One typical “proof” given for ape-to-man evolution is that chimpanzees and humans have very similar DNA. In
previous DNA studies, based on only portions of the chimp genome, scientists announced that humans and chimps were
98–99 percent identical, depending on what was counted. After completing the mapping of the chimp genome in 2005,
evolutionists are now hailing the result as “the most dramatic confirmation yet” that chimps and humans have common ancestry. Their overwhelming “proof” is the finding that the genetic difference is 4 percent—which is interesting proof, because it’s actually twice the amount that they’ve been claiming for years.
And here, we have Ray Comfort blatantly lying.
Evolution does not demand that there be a particular "amount" of difference between any two organisms. It merely points out the relative amount of difference which should exist. For example, humans should most closely resemble chimpanzees, they should slightly less closely represent gorillas, and they should barely resemble elephants at all. It's not the amount of similarity that is important, as Ray Comfort dishonestly implies here. It's the pattern of similarity.
Interestingly enough Ray Comfort does not mention something else which was found once the chimpanzee genome was sequenced. Endogenous Retroviruses.
We found 16 endogenous retroviruses in the chimpanzee genome which are identical, and located in the exact same location in the chimpanzee genome as we find in the human genome.
If human beings and chimpanzees were created separately, the probability of this occurring by coincidence is approximately 1 in 2x10^138.
However, if chimps and humans share a common ancestor, and that ancestor was infected with all 16 of these endogenous retroviruses, then the probability that we and chimpanzees will have 16 ERVs in common with each other is...
As in, it will happen.
I leave it as an exercise for the interested reader to decide which is the most likely occurrence.
Men and monkeys also have another fundamental difference: humans have 23 pairs of chromosomes while
chimps have 24, so the DNA isn’t as similar as you’ve been led to believe.
Notice how Ray Comfort studiously avoids asking (and heaven forbid that he answer) one simple question: where did the extra chromosome go (or come from).
The sequencing of the chimpanzee genome revealed something very interesting. It revealed that human chromosome #2 resulted from a head-to-head fusion of two chimpanzee chromosomes (with this discovery, retroactively named 2p and 2q).
How do we know this? Well, for starters,
1) The analogous chromosomes (2p and 2q) in the non-human great apes can be shown, when laid end to end, to create an identical banding structure to the human chromosome 2.
2) The remains of the sequence that the chromosome has on its ends (the telomere) is found in the middle of human chromosome 2 where the ancestral chromosomes fused.
3) the detail of this region (pre-telomeric sequence, telomeric sequence, reversed telomeric sequence, pre-telomeric sequence) is exactly what we would expect from a fusion.
4) this telomeric region is exactly where one would expect to find it if a fusion had occurred in the middle of human chromosome 2.
5) the centromere of human chromosome 2 lines up with the chimp chromosome 2p chromosomal centromere.
6) At the place where we would expect it on the human chromosome we find the remnants of the chimp 2q centromere.
7) The order of the genes is in the exact same order as is found in the two ape chromosomes.
Every last one of these is rather easily explained if one posits that humans and chimpanzees possess a common ancestor. Actually, it's kinda hard to explain in any other way, unless one posits that a deceptive, malicious, and horribly unimaginative deity wanted to make it seem exactly as if humans and chimpanzees shared a common ancestor.
More importantly, this claim of evolutionists makes a huge assumption. What is the scientific basis for assuming that similar DNA means a common ancestor?
Again, Comfort is presenting a straw-man here. It is not the similarity in DNA that assumes a common ancestor. It is, among other things, the pattern of endogenous retroviruses, the presence of fusion in human chromosome 2, the nested similarities in DNA (specifically, the pattern of similarities), redundant pseudogenes shared between humans and all the other great apes, nested morphological similarities...
When you see a biplane and a jet—which share common features of wings, body, tires, engine, controls, etc.—do you assume that one must have evolved from the other naturally, without a maker?
From one exceptionally bad straw-man, Comfort jumps straight into constructing an even worse one. Evolution only applies to systems capable of making slightly different copies of themselves. Does this apply to an airplane?
It’s more reasonable to conclude that similar design indicates a common, intelligent designer. An architect
typically uses the same building materials for numerous buildings, and a car manufacturer commonly uses the same parts in various models.
Until buildings are capable of reproducing, this is utterly irrelevant to evolution.
After all, DNA is the coding for the way our bodies look and operate, so creatures with similar features or body
functions (eyes for vision, enzymes for digestion, etc.) would have similar coding for these things in their DNA.
Which doesn't explain the presence of endogenous retroviruses, the fusion point in human chromosome 2, or the "broken" gene for vitamin C synthesis in all the apes, but only in the apes, including you.
Take this analogy. Suppose you're a teacher, and you have two students who turn in extremely similar papers. You call them in, and accuse them of plagiarism. They argue that they were working together, and therefore, the similarities are a reflection of their close working environment. What if, you point out, they had misspelled all of the exact same words, made the exact same mistakes, and had unique and identical errors in their respective papers that existed nowhere else, in none of the rest of the papers any of your other students had written? Would it not be reasonable to posit that both of these papers had a common origin?
So, even though we share 96 percent of our genetic makeup with chimps, that does not mean we are 96 percent chimp.
Since nobody is claiming that human beings are 96% chimp, Comfort is again constructing straw man over straw man.
According to evolutionist Steven Jones, a renowned British geneticist, “We also share about 50% of our DNA with bananas and that doesn’t make us half bananas...”
So, Comfort claims that evolutionists are looking to make a banana out of you, then cites an evolutionist who specifically says that sharing 50% of our genes with a banana doesn't make us a banana. The logic of that somehow eludes me.
And again, it should be mentioned that Comfort is again using the same straw-man argument. It's not the amount of similarity that's critical, it's the relative amount. The fact that we share about 50% of our genes with a banana is exactly what we expect. If we found that we shared the exact same amount with a chimpanzee would be about the most dramatic disproofs of evolution imaginable.
Well, that, and a crocoduck.
I'll continue tomorrow.