Stephen G. Saupe - Biology Department, College of St. Benedict/St. John's University, Collegeville, MN 56321; (320) 363-2782;

Gink and Go Discuss Creationism

Gink:   Can you believe that Saupe actually thinks that creationism should not be taught in biology classes?
Go:   I agree with him.
Gink:   What?  Get real.
Go:   There is no other valid scientific explanation to account for the origin and diversity of life on earth.
Gink:   Of course there is - it's written plain as day in Genesis.
Go:   If you say so.  Let's analyze the account of creation in Genesis.  And remember, if we're going to teach creationism in a science classroom then we have to do it using the methods of science. 
Gink:   It's a deal.  Let's get going.  Creationists believe that the earth and its inhabitants were specially created by God according to the account in Genesis.
Go:   Why Genesis?  Why not other creation stories?  And even if we use Genesis, we have another problem.
Gink:   Huh?
Go:   Which account in Genesis should we use?  After all, there are two separate accounts for creation in Genesis and they do things differently.
Gink:   Minor detail. 
Go:   Not really since this is a science class we have to analyze all of the available evidence and we already have a conflict in your major, and only, source of information.
Gink:   So what Mr. Smarty Pants. 
Go:   And which translation of Genesis should we use?
Gink:   Enough already.  Anyway, according to creationists life was suddenly created and it didn't evolve slowly over time.
Go:   If that's true, then we hypothesize that the fossil record should show a mixture of  simple and complex life forms that are present at all times.
Gink:   Maybe the fossil record does show that fossils vary with the age of the rock stratum.  But what about all the gaps in the fossil record?
Go:   Sure there are gaps.  Fossilization is a random and haphazard process.  You can't expect that fossils of every species would have necessarily formed fossils.
Gink:   The Bible says that living organisms are "fixed" since creation and that there have been no changes or variations in forming new species. 
Go:   Good.  Another hypothesis to test.  If this hypothesis is true, then we would predict that species should appear suddenly in the fossil record and that there aren't any transitional fossils.  But guess what?  Your hypothesis fails once again because there are countless transitional fossils.  We have numerous transitional from reptiles to mammals - and what about Archaeopterx - a link between birds and reptiles?  How else would you explain them and also extinct life forms?
Gink:   Well, maybe there are some transitional fossils, but creationists know that natural selection and mutations are insufficient to account for any changes in species.
Go:   Well, if that's true then we hypothesize that plants and animals domesticated by humans, like maize, should be similar to their wild ancestor but not be completely new species.  Maize easily falsifies this hypothesis - it is essentially a new species that doesn't exist in the wild. 
Gink:   Oh yeah....I remember now that Saupe said there is no "wild" corn, that it only grows in association with humans.  Our ancestors domesticated corn from some wild ancestor or ancestors but that our modern corn is so different it doesn't occur in the wild.
Go:   That's right! 
Gink:   Well, perhaps you got me there.  But I can tell you that humans and apes definitely have a separate ancestry. I ain't no monkey boy.
Go:   Of course not banana breath....humans simply share our most recent common ancestor with other primates.  We aren't apes any more than apes are humans.  Let's hypothesize.  If apes and humans have a separate ancestry, then we should find minimal similarities between them.
Gink:   I'll buy that.
Go:   Then why are 18 of the 23 chromosomes of chimpanzees and humans identical?  And why are 99% of proteins the same?  Should I go on?
Gink:   Oh, shut up.  Creationists believe that the earth's geological features were fashioned and molded by catastrophic events like Noah's flood.
Go:   Noah's flood was a real event?
Gink:   Of course it was, it says so in Genesis.
Go:   Well, then we must analyze it scientifically.  What does our reference book tell us about the Flood?
Gink:   Well, we know from Genesis that it was a real event, all life perished, water covered the surface of the earth, water came from rain and subterranean sources, and it lasted about 40 days.
Go:   Very well.  Now let's ask some questions about this event - where did the water come from?  where did it go? If everything perished, then all life must be descended from the passengers on the ark.  If true, then.....what caused the creatures to migrate to the ark and back home? How did they get there?  How did Noah collect the non-motile creatures?  Where did the dove find the olive branch if all life perished?  What did everyone eat on the ark?
Gink:   Enough.  Maybe the flood didn't occur exactly like it was written.
Go:   I agree.  I don't doubt that there was a big flood and that it was a significant part of the religious beliefs of the people.  I think that we can learn a lot about our religious beliefs by analyzing this story, but our scientific analysis shows that it certainly couldn't have happened the way it was described in Genesis.
Gink:   I'm getting tired of arguing with you.  Since no one observed evolution, evolution can't be tested either so it's not any more scientific than creationism.
Go:   Of course evolution is testable and falsifiable.  We make predictions and test them constantly.  And all the data we have ever collected support evolution.
Gink:   Give me a break, evolution must be taken on faith.
Go:   Not a chance.  I've already given you several examples.  Remember we predicted that the oldest rocks should have the simplest fossils and more complex life forms would be found in newer rocks.  Our data match perfectly with these predictions.
Gink:   But someday we could find complex life in old rocks.
Go:   That's certainly an extremely remote possibility - and that would be a falsifying case for evolution.  But, as you know, there is no way to falsify creationism.  What evidence would you accept to discount your hypothesis?
Gink:   Ah!  You evolutionists are atheists!
Go:   It's true that some evolutionists are atheists.  But, many evolutionary biologists are devoutly religious.  They simply agree that evolution is God's way of doing business and that God has not interfered with the process since it began.  Besides, would you call the Benedictines here atheists?
Gink:   Well, no.
Go:   Good, because the Catholic church fully accepts evolution.  In fact, most religions do except for fundamentalists who believe in a literal interpretation of the Bible.
Gink:   But life is so perfect it just had to be the product of God.  Someone intelligent clearly designed organisms and the universe
Go:   Ah, you're describing the creationists' newest ploy to weasel creationism into school classrooms -'intelligent design.'  You're correct that life is very complex and well adapted, but it is simply the product of evolutionary change.  There's no need to directly implicate a creator.
Gink:   You win.  We shouldn't teach creationism in biology class because it's a religious idea.  And besides, if we test it using the methods of science, it is easily disproved.
Go:   You bet.  Creation as it is written in Genesis belongs in a theology or history or other class - but not a science class. 


  You and Saupe may be right about evolution - but I still think that Saupe looks like he never evolved very far from a monkey!

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Last updated: October 18, 2005   
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