The Wieland-Willis debate 2003 Q&A
Some links to further information and answers to questions that the debate may raise
The debate, sponsored by Northside Christian Church, Brisbane, Australia, was held in front of around 1,100 people. Carl Wieland is CEO of Answers in Genesis, Australia [now Creation Ministries International, Australia]. Paul Willis is a science journalist and evolutionary paleontologist who was Australian Skeptic of the Year. For a report on the debate, click here. For reaction to the debate, click here.
The affirmative case (Dr Wieland)
- On the role of assumptions / bias / worldview in addressing scientific issues, see ‘It’s not science’.
- On frog and human digit development, see diagram and description in
Ostrich eggs break dino-to-bird
- On the mathematical absurdity of obtaining even one functional protein, see Origin of Life Questions and Answers.
- On the information in living things speaking of an intelligent creator, see Information Theory Q&A.
- On Professor Paul Davies admitting that scientists have no idea how life could have originated [by natural processes] see Quantum leap of faith.
- On mutations and natural selection being inadequate to explain the accumulation of the voluminous information in living things, see Mutations Q&A and Natural Selection Q&A.
- On the lack of transitional fossils to document past evolution, see Fossils Q&A.
- For the quote from Stephen Gould showing how the ‘slow and gradual’ philosophy had been imposed on the evidence, and that the rocks demand catastrophic explanations, see Quotable Quote: Gould on Lyell.
- For evidence consistent with the rapid formation of rocks and fossils, as in a global Flood, see Flood Q&A.
- On radiometric dating methods, see Radiometric Dating Q&A.
- For the example of the wood in Sydney Sandstone, see Dating dilemma: fossil wood in ‘ancient’ sandstone. (For information on Dr Willis’s claim that it was ‘not wood’, see below under Dr Wieland’s rebuttals.)
- For information on recent research providing evidence for a burst of accelerated decay in the past, which contracts billions of years of radiometric time to thousands, consistent with the biblical time frame, see RATE group reveals exciting breakthroughs!
The negative case (Dr Willis)
- On the creationist scientist, Dr Kurt Wise of Bryan College, as saying
that the majority of the evidence supports an old earth and that he
only believes in a young earth because of the Bible, Dr Wise actually
provides much evidence for a young earth in his book, Faith,
Form, and Time: What the Bible Teaches and Science Confirms about Creation
and the Age of the Earth, Broadman and Holman Publishers, Nashville,
TN. Like we at CMI, Dr Wise recognizes that presuppositions play a big
role in historical science. He gets his presuppositions from the Bible’s
account of history, so this affects the way he interprets the
data regarding the age of the earth. It is unfortunate that Dr Wise
put his statements the way he did, such that materialists can misuse
what he said for their purposes.
- ‘All the evidence supports an old earth.’ See Young Age Evidence Q&A. For material on Dr Willis’s other arguments, see the links in Dr Wieland’s rebuttal.
(Some of the rebuttals listed below came up in the last session—i.e. some of the summary/conclusion time was taken up with further rebuttal.)
- For the claim that the Coconino Sandstone formed in a desert sand dune environment, see Grand Canyon: Startling Evidence for Noah’s Flood.
- For information on the Green River Formation, see Fish preservation, fish coprolites and the Green River Formation and Green River Blues. For the flume tank experiments of Guy Berthault and colleagues, see Sedimentation Experiments: Nature Finally Catches Up!; Sandy Stripes; and Sediments. Dr Wieland used this and the Mt St Helens pyroclastic flows to rebut the notion that the Flood would just mix things up and not form multiple layers—see Mount St. Helens—Evidence for Genesis!
- Regarding the Joggins fossilized ‘forest’ claims, for information on the parallel at Yellowstone, see The Yellowstone petrified forests. This article also mentions the trees in Spirit Lake after the Mt Saint Helens catastrophe. Geologist Dr Harold Coffin gives 10 evidence that the fossilized trees at Joggins, Nova Scotia, were produced by being washed into position. See Coffin, H., 1969. Research on the classic Joggins petrified trees, Creation Research Society Quarterly 6(1):35-44, 70. See also Polystrate Trees and Coal Seams of Joggins Fossil Cliffs (article by Dr John Morris, Institute for Creation Research).
- Concerning the claim by Dr Willis that the Hawkesbury Sandstone wood that an AiG scientist had carbon dated was merely a mineral concretion: the original article by Dr Snelling was published in Creation 21(3), June 1999, which shows a picture of the piece of wood embedded in the sandstone. See Dating dilemma: fossil wood in ‘ancient’ sandstone. A similar claim regarding this sample was refuted by Dr Tas Walker in June 2000, Dating Dilemma Deepens: Moore on ancient radiocarbon. For the wood, with genus identified, dated at thousands of years from Tertiary (not Triassic—a slip of the tongue by Dr Wieland) basalt, see Radioactive ‘Dating’ in Conflict. For more on radiometric dating, see How accurate is Carbon-14 dating? (from chapter 4 of The Creation Answers Book). For more on the almost universal anomalously young 14C ‘dating’ of fossils supposedly millions of years old, see RATE group reveals exciting breakthroughs!
- For the claim that supposed feathered dinosaurs evolved into birds, see ‘Did birds really evolve from dinosaurs?’ under Dinosaurs Q&A and regarding Dr Willis’s attempt at an explanation for the fact that Archaeopteryx was found at the ‘wrong time’, ;see Chinese feathered dinosaurs, where are the skeptics?
The only point that Dr Willis made that was not addressed/rebutted was the issue of dinosaur nests. John Woodmorappe and Michael Oard discussed the evidence for such a site in Korea in TJ 17(1), 2003, suggesting that much of the supposed vertical stratigraphy could be explained by a few events occurring laterally in area but simultaneously in time. Much of the evidence from this Korean site fits better with a catastrophic Flood event than with a slow, gradual deposition. Discussion on dinosaur trackways, egg nests, etc. can also be found in TJ 10(1), TJ 12(1), TJ 16(2), TJ 17(2) and Creation Research Society Quarterly 32(1). For more information on dinosaur nests, read The Extinction of the dinosaurs, by Michael Oard.
In his summing up, Dr Wieland outlined the importance of the issue for the Gospel of Jesus Christ, see Here’s the Good News.
For more on information in living things, see Information Theory Q&A. The total information is not easy to measure with one standard ‘ruler’, but that does not mean there is not a huge amount of information (specified complexity) in living things. See How is information content measured? And the issue was in any case never the total information but rather the following concepts:
- That to get from a single-cell ancestor to a modern-day mammal, for example, would involve a huge net increase of information;
- That neo-Darwinism requires that many information-increasing mutations be identifiable in today’s world.
- That it utterly fails this test.
A link for an analysis of the supposed dino-bird fossils was given earlier that answers Dr Willis’s claims.
Regarding the claim that Martin Luther did not believe a literal Genesis, see Luther on Evolution and What was Martin Luther’s stand on Creation/Evolution?
Regarding the claim that a person could be a good Christian while accepting evolution see Q&A:Genesis—Why goo-to-you Evolution and Biblical Christianity are logically incompatible. (Note that we have never said that it is impossible to be a Christian and believe in evolution; our founding chairman, Professor John Rendle-Short, was a theistic evolutionist while undoubtedly a Christian, for 30 years. He wishes he could go back and have that time again to ‘undo all the damage’. See From (theistic) evolution to creation.)