Reviewing “Replacing Darwin” – Part 5: An Admittedly Weak Chapter

Reviewing “Replacing Darwin” – Part 5: An Admittedly Weak Chapter

Now for the final chapter of Part II, a mercifully short one compared to Chapter 5, this time centred around timescales.

Chapter 6 – A Stitch in Time

Prior to Darwin, the scientific community had already settled on a span much longer than several thousand years. Charles Lyell’s Principles of Geology had already laid down arguments for millions of years, and Darwin simply followed suit — as the quote above illustrates.
But is one field — geology — sufficient evidence to conclude an unimaginably long span of time? Or are multiple independent lines of evidence required to verify millions of years of earth — and species’ — history? Have Lyell’s arguments stood the test of time?
Had Darwin taken a more critical view of his own arguments, he might have found ample reason to question the accepted geologic timescale.

Yes, geology is certainly sufficient evidence to conclude that that the earth is billions, not thousands of years old, and Lyell’s (and his contemporaries) ideas have stood the test of time, only being further supported by modern research both in geology and other fields such as astrophysics and molecular phylogenetics (despite what Jeanson claims later).

Consider again the visible variety in breeds and species: The former has far more diversity than the latter. According to the evolutionists’ own timescale, in just 12,000 years, humans have produced hundreds of horse and donkey breeds. Long hair, short hair, all sorts of coat colors, ponies, Clydesdales — the amount of variety is remarkable. Yet the proponents of this timescale turn around and stretch the origin of just seven equid species over several million years. This position is as logically deficient as the species fixity position of 1859. If the greater variety in breeds took 12,000 years, then surely the lesser variety in species took the same amount of time — or less. By the evolutionists’ own logic, species must have arisen in 12,000 years or less.

But breeds are different from species – practically by definition, breeds can interbreed while species (usually) can’t. The logical inference is that in order for what are initially considered 2 breeds to change to the extent that they’re considered different species, a greater amount of time is required. The even more obvious point here is that human-directed breeding involves artificial selection with astronomically higher selection coefficients than natural selection in the wild does. Jeanson anticipates this objection and responds:

As a last objection, some might claim that humans accelerate the process of selection; therefore, no conclusions can be drawn about the speed of speciation in the wild. This assertion assumes the very point in question. In a debate, arguments cannot be won by simply asserting the truthfulness of one side.

So Jeanson’s rebuttal here is basically “this assumes evolution”. But of course it doesn’t, it’s an observation of the rates of change of animals that humans domesticated and breed for different purposes (be it aesthetics or useful traits) and the rates of change of wild animals in nature, as well as the obvious fact that artificial selection is stronger than natural selection.

So, there’s an apparent contradiction between his claim that all species arose within the last few thousand years and the observation that large-scale changes don’t seem to happen in short timescales in nature. He responds by saying that because the habitable area of the planet is so vast, and because humans have only explored (never mind rigorously monitored) only a tiny fraction of it, humans wouldn’t have noticed the formation of the overwhelming majority of new species: we wouldn’t have been privy to this rapid pace of speciation if it were actually happening. His thesis then, is that (on average) all species in the wild are evolving “within their kind” at a similar rate to species that humans modify through artificial selection. He argues this applies to both Darwin’s time and now.

You might have been rejecting my arguments by mentally citing multiple independent geologic lines of evidence. Effectively, this form of reasoning rejects Darwin’s argument a priori — that it can’t possibly be true because it contradicts so much geologic evidence. The problem with this rejoinder is that multiple independent mammal and bird families all show the same breed-species pattern.

This isn’t true at all. Darwin’s argument was that artificial selection by humans that resulted in breeds demonstrates that selection can result in the diversification of morphology. The timescale Darwin had in mind was influenced by 2 separate lines of evidence:

  1. The observation that artificial selection is much more powerful than natural selection, implying that natural selection requires longer periods of time to achieve similar results.
  2. The ancient geological record of life on earth.

Pointing out that inferences from palaeontology suggest that the timescale is longer than human history isn’t an a priori rejection of anything that Darwin argued.

Stood next to scientific disciplines dedicated to the study of earth history, the breed-species analogy might seem weaker.
If these breed-species arguments were the strongest evidences for a recent timescale for the origin of living species, then we might simply chalk them up as a weird anomaly in a sea of evidences for ancient history. However, though these new connections were weak, they were not the end of the controversy on the timescale of species’ origins. They were the beginning.

So… Jeanson devoted an entire chapter of his book to a line of evidence that he admits is pretty weak? Yes, it’s an incredibly weak argument, because it ignores every line of evidence (e.g. from geology and palaeontology) that Darwin had available to him that strongly suggested that the timescale was greater than a few thousand years. There’s no “controversy” in science about the timescale of species’ origins, at least not on the level that he asserts. This is just a continuation of his claim in the last chapter that there’s been a scientific battle between evolution and creationism raging ever since Darwin when in reality creationism isn’t even remotely a contender.

This chapter serves to set the stage for the final part of the book: “Part III: Dawn of a New Era”, where Jeanson attempts to marshal the “research” he’s been doing for the last 6 years or so at ICR and AIG to argue that it supports young earth creationism, flying in the face of all the other evidence, although he will take a few weak jabs at that as well.

Comments and queries are welcome.

-RM

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20 thoughts on “Reviewing “Replacing Darwin” – Part 5: An Admittedly Weak Chapter

  1. Interesting that recently Young Earth creationism seems to have shifted from denying that evolution can occur in the timescale available (this still seems to be there Discovery Institute position), to asserting that it can occur at ridiculously high speeds, the motivation being to explain how the diversity of life as we know it could have arisen from know about manage to fit into his Ark.

    But does Jeanson really have nothing to say about geology,with this independent lines of evidence from petrology, sedimentology, and radiometric dating?

    Btw, I’d enjoy an “about me” page

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    1. Their argument is that all the diversity of life could arise from a few kinds specifically because God created the kinds that way, so I suppose the only thing stopping them from believing in universal common ancestry is that they don’t believe God created the first organism in a similar way. Some ID proponents have argued that the last common ancestor of eukaryotes (IIRC) was created in this kind of way – with a massively diverse genome that was capable of giving rise to all eukaryotic life today by taking subsets of that original genome. In other words, if you “added up” all eukaryotic genomes today you’d basically get the genome of the last common ancestor.

      Jeanson says very little about geology in the book, which I can forgive since the book is focused on Jeanson’s genetic “evidence”, but he throws in a few sentences about it to reassure his readers that geology doesn’t definitely show the earth to be old. In Chapter 7 (the review of which I’m currently working on) he briefly mentions “evidence” for the flood (fossils that look like they were buried rapidly e.g. a fish in the process of eating another fish), and says:
      “These YEC geologists have developed testable scientific models and have documented phenomena in the field that are consistent with their ideas. For example, they’ve made and experimentally tested hypotheses on accelerated rates of radioactive decay,36 accelerated rates of plate tectonic movement,37 and accelerated rates of geologic deposition and erosion.38”

      He doesn’t explicitly argue against things like radiometric dating, he just mentions that it “assumes” a constant decay rate, and since his genetic arguments rely on a constant (fast) molecular clock, he basically says “if evolutionists can assume constant rates, so can I!”

      I may add an “about me” page at some point, but I don’t feel like there’s much to tell, and I want to remain anonymous so I couldn’t go into too much detail anyway.

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      1. Thanks. If you prefer anonymity, that’s fine too. Jeanson might be invoking the YEC doctrine that mutation can only remove information.

        Any chance of your passing on those refs 36, 37, 38? I know about RATE which claims to find 14C on diamonds, but the only “acceleration” of decay that I have heard of involves a decay of a fully ionised atom under stellar conditions, and don’t recognise the other claims

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      2. He doesn’t seem to talk about mutations “adding information” anywhere, his argument is that the original kinds were somehow created with a huge amount of heterozygosity that was divvied up among the extant members of the kinds today.

        36. Hypotheses: L. Vardiman, A.A. Snelling, and E.F. Chaffin, eds., Radioisotopes and the Age of the Earth: A Young-Earth Research Initiative. Vol. 1 (El Cajon, CA: Institute for Creation Research and St. Joseph, MO: Creation Research Society, 2000).
        Experimental Results: L. Vardiman, A.A. Snelling, and E.F. Chaffin, eds., Radioisotopes and the Age of the Earth: Results of a Young-Earth Research Initiative. Vol. 2 (El Cajon, CA: Institute for Creation Research and Chino Valley, AZ: Creation Research Society, 2005).
        Responses to critics: https://answersingenesis.org/geology/radiometric-dating/are-the-rate-results-caused-by-contamination/, http://creation.com/argon-diffusion-age, http://creation.com/russ-humphreys-refutes-joe-meerts-false-claims-about-helium-diffusion, http://creation.com/helium-evidence-for-a-young-world-continues-to-confound-critics, https://creation.com/images/pdfs/tj/j24_1/j24_1_14-16.pdf, https://creation.com/images/pdfs/tj/j24_3/j24_3_34-39.pdf, http://creation.com/images/pdfs/tj/j26_2/j26_2_45-49.pdf, https://www.trueorigin.org/helium01.php, https://www.trueorigin.org/helium02.php.

        37. Prediction: J.R. Baumgardner, “Numerical Simulation of the Large-scale Tectonic Changes Accompanying the Flood,” in R.E. Walsh, C.L. Brooks, and R.S. Crowell, eds., Proceedings of the First International Conference on Creationism, Vol. 2 (Pittsburgh, PA: Creation Science Fellowship, 1986), p. 17–30, available online at http://www.icr.org/article/large-scale-tectonic-change-flood/.
        Fulfillment: S.P. Grand, “Mantle Shear Structure Beneath the Americas and Surrounding Oceans,” Journal of Geophysical Research, 1994, 99:11591–11621; J.E. Vidale, “A Snapshot of Whole Mantle Flow,” Nature, 1994, 370:16–17; P. Voosen, 2016. “Graveyard of Cold Slabs Mapped in Earth’s Mantle,” Science, 2016, 354(6315):954–955.
        For a broader overview, see: A.A. Snelling, “Can Catastrophic Plate Tectonics Explain Flood Geology?” in K. Ham, ed., New Answers Book (Green Forest, AR: Master Books, 2006), p. 186–197, available online at https://answersingenesis.org/geology/plate-tectonics/can-catastrophic-plate-tectonics-explain-flood-geology/.

        38. S.A. Austin, 1986. Proceedings of the First International Conference on Creationism, R.S. Crowell, editor (Pittsburgh, PA: Creation Science Fellowship, 1986), p. 3–9, available online at http://static.icr.org/i/pdf/technical/Mount-St-Helens-and-Catastrophism.pdf; S.A. Austin, “Rapid Erosion at Mount St. Helens,” Origins, 1984, 11(2):90–98, available online at http://static.icr.org/i/pdf/technical/Rapid-Erosion-at-Mount-St-Helens.pdf; S.A. Austin, “Excess Argon within Mineral Concentrates from the New Dacite Lava Dome at Mount St Helens Volcano,” Journal of Creation, 1996, 10(3):335–343, available online at http://creation.com/excess-argon-within-mineral-concentrates.
        For a broader overview, see the following: S.A. Austin, “Why Is Mount St. Helens Important to the Origins Controversy?” in K. Ham, ed., New Answers Book 3 (Green Forest, AR: Master Books, 2009), p. 253–262, available online at https://answersingenesis.org/geology/mount-st-helens/why-is-mount-st-helens-important-to-the-origins-controversy/; J. Morris and S. Austin, Footprints in the Ash: The Explosive Story of Mount St. Helens (Green Forest, AR: Master Books, 2003).
        See also the following references: J. Schieber, J. Southard, and K. Thaisen, “Accretion of Mudstone Beds from Migrating Floccule Ripples,” Science, 2007, 318(5857):1760–1763; J. Schieber and Z. Yawar, “A New Twist on Mud Deposition — Mud Ripples in Experiment and Rock Record,” The Sedimentary Record, 2009, 7(2):4–8.

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  2. What about the amount of known genetic differences between dog breeds for example and between cat species, measured by actual genome sequencing? There is more variation between wolves that are morphologically, almost identical, than there is between domesticated dogs that vary a lot in the morphology. The amount of variation between species is orders of magnitude larger than that and therefore follows logically that it takes much longer, and that doesnt include rates of speciation and fixation, all which have to take far longer in the wild.

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    1. He touches upon this kind of this in Part 3 when he claims that measured modern mutation rates agree with a 10,000 year time frame and also constrains the clades which can have common ancestry, but ultimately he doesn’t really explain how his hyper-adaptation and hyper-speciation is supposed to work.

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  3. Will you be reviewing chapters 8-10 of the Jeanson book (which I haven’t read btw)? The chapters outlining his ‘created heterozygosity’ notion (which I assume he has no evidence for)? Thanks. Ashley Haworth-Roberts (Mr)

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    1. I’m planning on getting back to this series in a fairly soon, so I hope to have the the review of chapter 7 out sometime in August and the others in the subsequent weeks.

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