Essay:Me and potholer54

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So for the past week or so... I have been involved in a debate with a notable atheist vlogger potholer54 real name Peter Hadfield...

The debate is ongoing... so i'll probably keep updating... here is what has happened so far! BTW... I am not trying to advertise... but this is my youtube channel... just in case! https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCUT1t20GTnLnPnPgUMME6ZQ


Me: Mr. Hadfield... You are using bad arguments creationists have put forth... You cherry pick which ones you answer... trying to convince the audience that Common Descent is an established fact... I would appreciate if you would pay attention to the videos I have uploaded (Note: I have since deleted ID videos)... And try to put them into a Darwinian perspective... Good day!

Potholer54: Thanks for the message. Please tell me what the "good" creationist arguments are. I doubt if it's anything I haven't already heard and rebutted.



Me: Dear potholer... You did not adress the claim... if we came from monkeys, why are there still monkeys? GOT YOU (yeah that's a joke... which proves creationists CAN be funny!!!!)... Anyways... You seem to misunderstand... we creationists DO NOT deny that speciation occurs... But changes (e.g color difference or other mutations etc.) are not specified... When we are talking about the evolution of the blink reflex, thirst, or blood clotting this same mechanism does not explain it... I am sure you have heard William Dembski's specified complexity... At any rate.. the change of heritable traits in a population over time or evolution and natural selection are FACT and fundamental principles of biology.. When we talk about the ORIGIN of species or universal common descent this is already not the necessary part of biology... Can we keep our minds open... that since, we do not know how life began... Maybe common descent could be wrong... So the belief in a flat earth is NOT THE SAME as not believing that EVERY SINGLE LIVING ORGANISM is descended from a single common ancestor... That is all! Thank you

Potholer54: "we creationists DO NOT deny that speciation occurs" Sorry, but a lot of creationists do. I don't think you can speak for all of them, you need to see what some of them are saying. So OK, you don't deny that speciation occurs, which is good. Let's go with that.


"When we talk about the ORIGIN of species or universal common descent this is already not the necessary part of biology" No, it's a branch of geology called palaeontology, although biology is increasingly playing a part.


"Can we keep our minds open" Not if it means we have to close our eyes to the evidence, no. I mean, sure, if we see a rainbow in the sky we could keep an "open mind" and think it may be caused by millions of little colour pixies floating in the air and arranging themselves in pretty patterns for our benefit, but the evidence is that it is caused by water droplets splitting sunlight. You can have an open mind if you like, I'll go with the overwhelming preponderance of evidence until evidence of pixies comes along to overturn it.


"Maybe common descent could be wrong" By the same token, maybe heliocentric theory is wrong, and the sun is not the centre of the solar system. Maybe germ theory is wrong, and disease is spread by bad smells. And, as you rightly point out, we have to keep an open mind and say that maybe the Earth really is flat. When you open your mind so wide that your brains spill out, anything is possible.





Me: Dear potholer... I have lots of respect towards you, so please, DO NOT TAKE WHAT I will say personally.... Let me illustrate intellectual dishonesty (at least what I perceive as...)in your videos... You repeatedly show Kirk Cameron and other creationists misunderstanding concepts of evolution (crocoduck etc.)... I AM WILLING TO BET any amount of money that atheist lay people will have the EXACT SAME, linear understanding of evolution....... It is hard for someone who does not study science to imagine nucleotide sequence changes... It's much easier to imagine a transformation of one animal to another... So it is NOT just A CREATIONIST THING... You know that Ray Comfort WAS NOT LYING... about the banana... HE HONESTLY believed that would be a good argument... AND YES... one can be an intellectually fulfilled Christian... Sorry for the caps... Respect as always!

Potholer54: "You repeatedly show Kirk Cameron and other creationists misunderstanding concepts of evolution (crocoduck etc.)... I AM WILLING TO BET any amount of money that atheist lay people will have the EXACT SAME, linear understanding of evolution" Yes, of course they do. But the difference is these lay people aren't going on YouTube trying to claim the science is wrong. Just saying that lay people are as ignorant of evolution as creationists only emphasises my point that creationists are ignorant of evolution.


"You know that Ray Comfort WAS NOT LYING... about the banana... HE HONESTLY believed that would be a good argument" Again, you're just confirming exactly what I'm saying. He's ignorant. He didn't know. He didn't check. So far you're doing an excellent job of agreeing with me, I'm just waiting for the other shoe to drop.




Me: Sorry to bother you again... dear potholer, but I have some things I'd like you to sort out...

You criticize Mr. Ham's distinction of Historical vs Observational science... I agree that science is science... and operates under the same method... But you have to realize that the margin of error increases as we go further in time... If we study modern Egypt... We know days, minutes... hell even seconds of historical occurrences... You go back a thousand years... And we have a pretty good historical records of Egypt... But the margin of error increases... You go back 3000 years... And we are already disagreeing on basic things... E.g... if a certain king even existed... So going back to pre-historic times... This margin of error is ONLY going to grow... Why is this not a good argument?

Again... I am aware that you are a busy person... But along with the entertainment and pleasure come questions (after listening to your videos)...

Thank you!

Potholer54: "Why is this not a good argument?" For a number of reasons:

1) You don't say what you mean by a "margin of error." What's the "margin of error" of a mastodon jawbone? 2) Why is this "margin of error" that you don't explain less reliable as you go back in time? Why is a fossil found in the Tertiary more or less reliable than a fossil found in the Devonian? Why is a Silurian cross-bedded sandstone less reliable than a Cretaceous cross-bedded sandstone? 3) You don't make any point. Once you have explained what a margin of error is you need to explain why this invalidates evolutionary theory. After you figure out what this margin of error is, try using the words "...and therefore...." -- then you have made a point. Until then you have no argument at all, good or bad.




Me: Dear potholer, I can't help but think that you COMPLETELY ignored my argument... You state that criticism of common descent is analogous to being a flat earther etc. All of the examples you gave are observable... Let's take your rainbow example. I could easily take a prism and demonstrate the rainbow effect... Simply because it is happening in REAL TIME.

Let me illustrate what I mean when I say the margin of error increases...

If you stated today that Donald Trump began presidency somewhere from 2010-2019... You would be laughed at... We know the day... The hour of Donald Trump's inauguration... Go to the Early Dynastic period of Egypt... We only have pyramid inscriptions, and half destroyed texts as our source... We can't even compare them with Greek and Roman sources...

Ancient Egyptian king Narmer is estimated to have reigned somewhere in the 31st century B.C... If you gave a date within nine years... It would be SUPER-IMPRESSIVE... Simply because it IS NOT OBSERVATIONAL... History cannot repeat itself... If new evidence shows up, we might possibly have to re-think the idea that this king even existed!!!

But we are not even talking about this... We are talking about the time when humans did not even exist... Why can't we make a distinction between being skeptical of common descent c. 3.7 billion years ago... and being skeptical of atomic theory. What is so hard to understand about this simple truth?


Another thing I would like to ask you... What evidence would make you seriously reconsider the modern understanding of common descent... Set a standard, which if met.. would make you re-think the idea of common descent...

Potholer54: "you COMPLETELY ignored my argument... " I'm answering each of your questions and each of your points. If you think I missed something, my apologies, ask again. I have no interest at all in avoiding your questions, I find them very amusing and very easy to answer. You'll find each of your questions or points in quotes, with my answers below:

"All of the examples you gave are observable... Let's take your rainbow example. I could easily take a prism and demonstrate the rainbow effect." But you cant show that that's what's happening in the sky. This isn't as nonsensical as it sounds. I can demonstrate that CO2 traps heat in a laboratory experiment and a lot of people accept that, but they don't accept that it does the same thing in the atmosphere. I can demonstrate that animals evolve in a laboratory, and change morphology with each succeeding generation, but I can't prove that the changes in morphology found in fossils as they go though time is due to the same evolution. That's why science is a matter of inference.

"But we are not even talking about this... We are talking about the time when humans did not even exist." So what? The sediment is still there. The fossils are still there. All the evidence we need is there. You seem to think it's impossible for us to reconstruct any event unless someone was there to witness it and write it down. But the police do it all the time. So do air crash investigators. So do you, I'm sure. If you woke up in the morning and found a window broken and a big rock in your garage, with the glass on the inside, and blood on a shard of glass and your car missing and the roller door open with a bit of blood on the roller door latch, would you infer that someone had thrown a rock through the glass, cut his hand as he climbed through, opened the roller door and stolen the car? Or would you think "Oh dear, my car has vanished into thin air and I have no idea what's happened because no one was there to witness it and write it down."


"What evidence would make you seriously reconsider the modern understanding of common descent... Set a standard, which if met.. would make you re-think the idea of common descent..." If you can find modern mammals alongside Cambrian trilobites that would be a start. If instead of the neat order or evolving organisms that have been found over the last 200 years we suddenly started finding organisms mixed up in different strata, so that bears came before dinosaurs and pelicans came before crocodiles, that would certainly shake things up. It shouldn't be hard to meet that standard if everything got created at the same time and buried at the same time in a great global flood. On the other hand if everything got buried in different strata in chronological order of evolution then you've got your work cut out.






Me: Dear potholer, I did not mean you are trying to avoid my questions... You , unintentionally of course, position my questions in such a way as to avoid going into deeper discussion...

Let us take your evolution example...

You remember I told you I DO NOT deny speciation? If this is the meaning you put into evolution (change of heritable traits), I am an evolutionist. I do agree that this meaning of evolution is an IMPORTANT aspect of biology, and anyone understanding it and denying it, is, no doubt, ignorant... Hell, this is how we get different breeds of dogs..

But now you want to convince (well NOT YOU... but I hope you are not a grammar nazi), an X person that this EXACT SAME mechanism can be responsible for the development of something as complex as an eye. Do you understand where the ID comes in? No doubt you have heard of Specified Complexity.

Yes... Yes... I understand how natural selection works. But being an aspiring cardiologist, I love to study these sort of things. And some of the complexity, specifically in the human body, could raise a few questions... specifically against "random mutation (copying error) + natural selection mechanism"...

Another point I would like to show you...

I suppose you will admit, that in the evolution of life, there comes a time where everyone takes a cut off point, beyond which we cannot scientifically test. Let me explain... Most of the scientists, I presume take the cut off point somewhere at 500 million years... Where they can talk about the Cambrian age... but pre-Cambrian era is already less clear... Or others take the point, at the beginning of life...

Now, we creationists, take this cut off point with each family already developed, after which the species diversified. So the only difference between me and you would be this point.

I am NOT a fan of the God of the gaps argument... but you must admit that even you see that this process of speciation is NOT the same, as say, sexual reproduction evolving...

So demonstrating that a rabbit can adapt to its environment does not lead me to a conclusion that my ears developed the same way...

While showing me the prism example is EXACTLY the same as the rainbow effect!

Potholer54 "I DO NOT deny speciation? ... Hell, this is how we get different breeds of dogs." Just to clarify, different breeds of dogs is not speciation. All the different breeds of dogs are the same species (canis familiaris.) Speciation is where you get different species. And real evolution, as understood by the theory of evolution, is where these different species evolve to the point where they can no longer interbreed. I'm sure you knew that, I'm just clarifying.

"the development of something as complex as an eye. Do you understand where the ID comes in?" No. The evolution of the eye is not that hard to understand. Starting with cells that can detect light and dark. Gradually evolving into cells in a pit that can detect the direction of light and dark. Then evolving a membrane that can focus the light into a fuzzy "picture." All of the various stages have been found in nature and can be seen in the fossil record. Please explain how and where -- at which stage of development -- an invisible hand was needed to make these eyes.

"Most of the scientists, I presume take the cut off point somewhere at 500 million years" There is no "cut-off point" as yet. The history of life on Earth goes back about 3,500 million years, to when the first fossils have been found so far. No doubt older fossils will be found one day. And if we ever reach a point where not one single fossil has survived, biologists will probably have new techniques for tracing back the origins of life further, to the very first replicating nucleic acid.


"Now, we creationists, take this cut off point with each family already developed" That's your belief, but it's very scant on details. When was that? How many families were there? Which families? What is the fossil evidence for that? I'll start taking an interest in this when creationists are prepared to lay down some hard details that can be checked and verified.

"you must admit that even you see that this process of speciation is NOT the same, as say, sexual reproduction evolving." It's not "the same" but it's certainly based on the same principle, which is natural selection. There is an advantage in organisms mixing genes because that leads to diversity, and diversity means some organisms will be better adapted

"So demonstrating that a rabbit can adapt to its environment does not lead me to a conclusion that my ears developed the same way." No, but showing that a rabbit's ears have evolved -- or "developed" as you prefer to call it -- does lend support for the fact that your ears might have developed in the same way. After all, if a rabbit doesn't need ID, why should apes? And the fact that we can see how our own ears evolved ("developed") through the fossil record from tiny mammals to lemurs to monkeys to ancestral apes and then to us is the clincher. You have to explain why we find this progression of changing morphology over time, and so far you haven't been able to.

"While showing me the prism example is EXACTLY the same as the rainbow effect." Likewise, evolution that we can see today is EXACTLY the same as we see in the fossil record.





Me: Well what I meant was... that if someone does not believe in speciation, they can then look at breeding. In the same way that Caucasian Shepherd and a Cane Corso didn't descend from each other but share a common ancestor, Bonobos (Pan paniscus) and Chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes), for example, share a common ancestor.

The first thing that strikes me odd about your comment on the eye is that you do not object it starting out as a product of random copying error. As a side note, you are not obliged to explain the evolution of every organ and system I mention here, but thanks for taking your time. I fully understand natural selection is NOT random... But if the eye started out as a result of a genetic error (which was later advantageous), wouldn't that mean that the eye just "happened" to evolve?

You would have to argue the same way for ALL OF THE ORGANISMS... and at any time you have an escape hatch... See it is easy to look at things in hindsight, and say, they developed slowly one by one. And also, you do realize that you argue that we are a product of a chance ultimately...

Being interested in cardiology, this notion is ANYTHING but consistent with reality. Take your heart, for example, this is the ONLY muscle that can generate electric signals without the brain. It has the SA node (pacemaker), which controls the electric impulses. Now if the SA node stops functioning, IMMEDIATELY, the AV node will take over, if this stops functioning too, then the ventricle will start generating electric impulses. It may sound childish, but it is almost like the body understand the significance of this organ (I am using humans as an example, many mammals have similar organ functions).

I want to talk about ID too... In your video, "Creation Science made easy"... You explain ID, rather inaccurately, if I may. You say that Intelligent Design takes a simple 2 step approach. Find something we don't understand, and claim that it was designed... I don't know if any ID proponents do this, but this is NOT the definition of ID. Intelligent Design claims that the complexity that is UNDERSTOOD in biological systems is best explained by intelligence... The question I would like to ask you, why would you be against teaching this in the school? We are not talking about flood geology etc. Teaching evolution and also explaining that some living organisms display signs of intelligence. Why is this so bad?

And another question, please. You do realize that common descent is an extraordinary claim... Do you think that a sequence of a collection of bones is an extraordinary evidence for this? Thanks

Potholer54: "if the eye started out as a result of a genetic error (which was later advantageous), wouldn't that mean that the eye just "happened" to evolve?" I don't know, I studied science rather than English. I don't see the difference between "the eye evolved" and "the eye happened to evolve." As a science major I would simply state a fact as a fact: The eye evolved.

"You would have to argue the same way for ALL OF THE ORGANISMS" Yes. I would say that all organisms evolved.


"you do realize that you argue that we are a product of a chance ultimately." Yes, I am the product of a chance meeting between my father and mother, and the chances against two people meeting on this Earth are astronomical. They are the result of a chance meeting between two sets of grandparents, which makes the odds even higher. A mathematician would say the chances of me being born are so high as to be impossible.


"Find something we don't understand, and claim that it was designed... I don't know if any ID proponents do this" Yes, they do. "Intelligent Design" is just a fancy name for "God did it." Every natural phenomenon we don't understand has been ascribed to a deity. Rainbows were thought to be intelligently designed signs from God, until they were discovered to be the result of refraction. Lighting and earthquakes were designed by an angry God, until their cause was understood. The only thing left that we don't understand in detail is the origin or the big bang and the origin of nucleic acids.


"Intelligent Design claims that the complexity that is UNDERSTOOD in biological systems is best explained by intelligence." But that throws up far more questions that it answers. "Intelligence" on its own can design things, but it can't make things. That requires a set of hands, and tools, so where are they? And if you believe something as complex as a biological system must be designed by an intelligent being, then who designed the intelligent being, which must be even more complex?


"Why would you be against teaching this in the school?" Because what is taught in science class is science, not speculation. Teachers shouldn't start going outside published science with their own whacky ideas, otherwise where would it end? Start telling kids that earthquakes are caused by an intelligent being shaking the ground?

"You do realize that common descent is an extraordinary claim..." So is the claim that continents can move thousands of miles. So is the claim that when you move faster, time slows down. So is the claim that the universe once fit into a dot the size of a pinhead. So is the claim that an electron can be in two places at the same time. Compared to most scientific theories, the claim that animals evolved is almost commonplace. We can even observe it happening.


"Do you think that a sequence of a collection of bones is an extraordinary evidence for this?" You're asking me to make a subjective opinion, which is meaningless. But OK, yes, for the sake of argument the sequence of fossils going back over 500 million years is anything but ordinary. It is fascinating, mind-boggling, and exciting. It shows us that all organisms evolved, and we now understand the mechanism by which they evolved.