|email - June 2012|
Apparently, Dylan wasn’t who he appeared to be.
Last month, we published our email exchange with Dylan. He presented himself as someone who wanted to help us by making helpful suggestions. Specifically, he suggested an index to all the peer-reviewed scientific articles we had ever referenced over the past 15 years, and not include abiogenesis in our discussion of evolution. We addressed his concerns in last month’s newsletter. We sent him an advanced copy so he would not have to wait for the normal distribution day (the third Tuesday of the month). When he saw it, he was not happy! Here is his heated response:
While I am honored that you took my concerns so seriously and have used them to encourage more dialogue over these important topics, I may have misinterpreted your website to believe it is something its not. My first impression was that your website aimed to collect and make available scientific data that refuted evolutionary theory. Your language choice however hints at ulterior motives that I find quite troubling and hopefully you can reconcile these concerns before I jump to any conclusions. The first sentence that caught my eye was "We put the definition on our home page as a defense against that dirty trick the evolutionists typically use.". This implies that there is some sort of scientist-driven conspiracy to disseminate misinformation. Your sentence also implies that most evolutionists do not believe in evolution themselves and try to mislead people. Of course such a claim is silly as there is no apparent motive, no one to benefit from this and most of all such a theory would require scientists from all over the world to agree on one unified theory that they could all then fabricate data for. The second troubling item was this "Variation caused by breeding is a scientific fact that creationists not only accept, but depend upon for their argument that Noah’s Ark was big enough to hold all the animals.". This implies a young earth creationist alternative to evolution which is of course nothing more than religion inspired pseudoscience. Lastly your response to my search for peer reviewed literature leads me to question your familiarity with the scientific process. I am aware there is no single paper that refutes evolution entirely however one that raised significant doubts would be very welcomed. You stated the evolutionist response to these articles was "This PORTION of the theory of evolution WAS PREVIOUSLY INCORRECT, but we have a NEW EXPLANATION that corrects this error.”. This is entirely correct and I would expect nothing less from any decent scientist. That is how science works. When peer reviewed literature refutes an accepted paradigm, the paradigm is either adapted to fit the data or it is thrown out and a new more parsimonious paradigm is formed. You also stated that "there are a few wrecking balls that demolish the entire theory" however without peer review they cannot really demolish anything which makes me question their existence. All of this leads me to believe that not only do you not understand the scientific method (that would seem like a prerequisite for running a website with science in the title) but you are also attempting to spread unscientific ideas under the banner of science. I really am sorry if the progression of science conflicts with your religious views but as of now, the theory of evolution is the most parsimonious explanation for the diversity of life on Earth. Please do not see me as some evolutionist trying to ruin your day, my search for evidence against evolution is sincere as I am sure any scientist worth his salt would love to disprove evolution. I really hope I arrived at the wrong conclusion about you and your website but if I did indeed hit the nail on the head, I wish you the best of luck in your ongoing struggle against reality.
Best regards, Dylan
PS: Don't let this stop you from publishing that news letter, regardless of this last email, it probably is still very applicable to your cause.
PS: In your bio, it states you are an electrical engineer. Theories on the origin of life and biodiversity really have no bearing on your life or the majority of people in the world, These theories really only effect people who engage in science as a career. Take a load off, relax, leave it to people who spend decades of their lives researching this stuff.
He certainly sounds like an evolutionist trying to ruin my day! We really doubt that he would love to disprove evolution.
Notice that he has bought into the notion that one can’t question the theory of evolution. One can only question how evolution produced all the various life forms. Furthermore, one can only disprove an evolutionary process if one suggests a different evolutionary process in its place.
Engineers have successfully proved that no perpetual motion machine can exist. If engineers thought like evolutionists, they could only prove that one particular perpetual motion machine would not work unless the engineer proposed a different kind of perpetual motion machine that would work (even if it didn’t work, either).
Creationists do publish peer-reviewed literature that refutes evolution (and even suggests non-evolutionary alternative in its place); but evolutionists don’t consider it “peer-reviewed” because any scientist who doesn’t believe in evolution isn’t really a scientist in their opinion.
Rather than continue a useless debate, I tried to politely end the conversation by saying,
You just might be the scientist worth his salt who eventually does disprove evolution. I certainly hope so.
Dylan wasn’t content to leave it there. He responded,
Thank you for that. You did not deny anything I said so I assume I did hit the nail on the head with my response. In that case would you mind elaborating on your ideas so that I can understand better. I have no malicious intent, I simply want to see the world from multiple perspectives and your point of view is one that I truly do not understand. Specifically the scientist driven conspiracy and the part where they use tricks to mislead people. The rest of creationism makes some sense to me as many devout christians [sic] interpret the bible [sic] literally and nothing will change that. The conspiracy question is really the one that I don't understand and I would appreciate it greatly if you could expand upon your views. I think open dialogue is a great thing to have in any disagreement as it promotes a better understanding for both sides. Some specific questions I have are 1) Who benefits from teaching a bad theory? 2) Why do you think you would know more about how the universe works than the global consensus of scientists? 3) How would such a conspiracy spread worldwide? 4) Why would knowledge of alternative theories be suppressed if they were valid?. I have asked these questions before but just get yelled at by less civil creationists and I do not think you are like that. Your tone and use of scientific arguments gives me the impression that you are a good and intelligent person and that is why I would like these answers from you. If you have any questions for me you can also feel free to ask. I wouldn't call myself an expert but I do have much more knowledge on the subject than the average layman.
PS: I am sorry if I was a bit harsh at the end of my last email. Scientific integrity is something that is very close to my heart and I can get a bit defensive when I fear science is being manipulated or misunderstood.
Since he asked some reasonable (although somewhat misguided) questions, he deserved answers. So, I gave him some.
1) Who benefits from teaching a bad theory?
People with an agenda. Tobacco companies benefit from "science" that says cigarette smoking isn't harmful. Tyrants who want to control the economy and freedom of movement benefit from the "science" of global warming. Atheists benefit from teaching evolution.
2) Why do you think you would know more about how the universe works than the global consensus of scientists?
When you talk about "consensus" you are not talking about science—you are talking about philosophy. True science depends upon experimental verification, not an opinion poll.
What most people want to believe is not necessarily correct. I put my trust in objective science rather than the biased, subjective consensus of philosophers calling themselves scientists. (There is a reason why their degree is "Doctor of Philosophy.")
3) How would such a conspiracy spread worldwide?
I don't believe there is a conspiracy. I just believe there are lots of people who want to believe in evolution because it absolves them of responsibility. It lets them determine their own standards of morality, which they can set comfortably low. In addition to those people, there are also lots of people who have been told all their lives that evolution is true and have never questioned it. It isn't a conspiracy--it is simply a commonly held erroneous belief.
4) Why would knowledge of alternative theories be suppressed if they were valid?
Because people don't like to discover that they are wrong. Ignorance is bliss. Furthermore, if the alternative theory hinders the advancement of their agenda, they certainly would try to suppress it.
You didn't ask,
5) Why would knowledge of alternative theories be suppressed if they were INVALID?
They wouldn't! Because it would be easy to prove that the alternative theory is invalid. For example, engineers are taught about perpetual motion machines because it teaches them why they can't possibly work. Christian schools typically teach about abiogenesis and Darwinian evolution—including why some people believe in them and why some people don't. It is only the public schools that teach only one side of these issues.
P.S. Apology accepted.
From this point on, hopefully you can see why these conversations are a waste of time. Dylan just keeps repeating himself. Here is his reply:
If I may dig a little deeper, I don't think that fully answered my questions.
1) I still do not quite understand the agenda. I'm sure you would agree with me that it is completely useless to teach something that was not based on evidence. Is your argument that to accept evolution is a way atheists are trying to destroy Christianity by removing god [sic] from creation? If so that reeks of conspiracy.
2) You are absolutely correct science is not an opinion poll, it is not a democracy. However I was not talking about philosophy, I was referring to peer review. Scence [sic] is based on a system of merit that comes from peer review. That has always been my problem with the [“]teach the controversy[”] approach because there is no controversy within scientific literature. There are many quite strong philosophical arguments for creationism but none translate well into peer reviewed studies papers.
3) This one your answer made sense and while I may not believe it is true, I thank you for that insight into your point of view. This one really just comes down to which side is the commonly held misconception which you and I differ on.
4) While it is true that people do not like to be wrong, that mindset is not how science works. Any time a new theory has revolutionized the way we see the world, it has been met with skepticism but as more evidence is built to support that theory, it is accepted. Science is about refuting bad theories more than it is about affirming good ones. Any scientist who could conclusively refute evolution would be instantly awarded a Nobel Prize as that would be truly revolutionary.
And lastly I did not ask your 5th question as I have an answer for that myself. Its [sic] the same reason we do not teach ancient aliens in history class.
If it is useless to teach something that isn’t based on evidence, why teach evolution?
He seems to believe that Nobel Prizes are granted on scientific merit without regard to political ramifications. That hasn’t been the case for several years.
Since we weren’t getting anywhere, I tried politely to end the discussion with a little bit of humor.
I'm sorry you did not find my answers satisfactory.
Perhaps if we did teach the evidence for and against ancient aliens in history class, the belief in ancient aliens would have been completely rejected by now. (Or maybe it would have been confirmed. [image: winking smile])
But Dylan had to have the (insulting) last word, so I gave it to him.
For any given topic there are theoretically infinite bunk explanations for one true to teach every bad theory is not useful. As your argument now hinges upon teaching ancient alien theories (like creationism is regarded as pseudoscience in case you were not aware) in schools I can only take this to mean that these questions have provoked a significant amount of thought for you, or you just got tired of thinking. Either way it doesn't seem like I got through to you but as you do admit yours is a religious idea, you can still do America a favor by not trying to turn us into a theocracy like Iran. I may waste my time talking to people like you or Don Batten of the Discovery Institute because its [sic] a little fun and gives me insight into how fundamentalist minds work but thanks to the First Amendment I don't have to worry about people like you setting us back 200 years. Like I said within science evolution is a non-issue so this is really just for myself and the delusional hope that one of you will see the light and start thinking for yourself. So you can go join the flat-earthers, the ancient aliens and the AIDS denialists and form an equal rights group for bunk theories so we can ignore you together. I again wish you the best of luck in your struggle against reality.
Some of our readers had this reaction to Dylan's email.
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