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Responses to an apostate friend

A supporter named Jonathon wrote seeking help in answering a friend who said the evidence for evolution caused him to abandon his Christian faith. Dr Jonathan Sarfati’s comments are interspersed in his correspondence.

Scott Wiessinger, SDO at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center 9439-solar-flare
A solar flare on the Sun.
Hi there, The work that you guys at CMI do is very much appreciated and it is very pleasing to see scientists standing up in support of what God’s Word says, particularly in the book of Genesis.

Glad it has been useful.

I have been in discussion with my evolutionist friend on a number of occasions and topics. He himself was once a Christian until challenged by an atheist friend and subsequently looked into the (interpretations of the) evidence from both sides and concluded that evolution is fact, creation is not.

I always wonder about these apostasy stories. I saw something quite interesting on another site recently (by an author who is an astute critic of Genesis compromisers).

He is therefore familiar with many creationist arguments and some of their flaws (which I suspect came from the ill-informed folk or those who also dabble in evolutionary explanations.

That remains to be seen.

We were discussing the age of the sun, and after he read the article ‘The young faint Sun paradox and the age of the solar system’ by Dr Danny Faulkner, his response was, ‘Yep heard that creationist argument about the sun before: For a start the change in solar output does not direct correspond to a change in the earth’s temperature. While inflow of energy is directly related to luminosity of the sun, outflow is to first order proportional to the fourth power of the earth’s temperature. This is Stefan-Boltzmann’s law, it’s in any physics textbook if you care to check. If feedback affects do not occur, a 25% increase in solar luminescence equals a 7% change in surface temperature on the earth. Funny how they didn’t mention that, I seriously question whether the author really knows what he is talking about or is deliberately leaving out information.’

The author is a full professor of astronomy, so probably knows much more than your friend. He is actually a self-described ‘stellar astronomer’, and it’s basic stellar astronomy to know that black body radiation is proportional to the fourth power of the temperature. Your friend also doesn’t seem to have done the calculations. The article said that the earth’s average temp is 15°C, and ‘we find that a 25% increase in solar luminosity increases the average temperature of the Earth by about 18°C.’ Easy to check: 15°C = 288 K (did your friend realize that calculations must be done with the Kelvin scale?), and 7% of that is about 20 K. So if anything, the article was understating the problem, although mine is just a back-of-envelope so I would go with Dr Faulkner’s statement.

My friend therefore wants to know why that piece of information was not included in the article, the fact that not all of the sun’s energy reaches earth (some is lost into space as well) as this would deem such a (creationist) argument faulty.

The precise statement wasn’t included, but as you can see from the above, the right conclusion was drawn without explicitly showing the working behind it (hence the words ‘we find’). The faint young sun problem is recognized by evolutionists, who try to explain it away.

My friend is also after a creationist explanation or some sort of mechanism that would prevent small scale ‘microevolution’ becoming large scale ‘macroevolution’ given enough time

Evidently your friend is not very familiar with our site, since we counsel against this micro-macro distinction. See ‘Arguments we think creationists should NOT use’. This is not to say that many evolutionists don’t see a problem. E.g. reporting on a macroevolution conference in the journal Science, Roger Lewin wrote:

“The central question of the Chicago conference was whether the mechanisms underlying microevolution can be extrapolated to explain the phenomena of macroevolution. At the risk of doing violence to the positions of some of the people at the meeting, the answer can be given as a clear, No.”

See ‘Variation, information and the created kind.’

But our main theme is the direction of change, as explained in ‘The evolution train’s a-comin’ (Sorry, a-goin’—in the wrong direction)’ (actually a response to Jerry A. Coyne, the author of Why Evolution is True, which we have reviewed at ‘Why evolution need not be true’).

since he says laboratory studies have found new genes emerging, such new genes that have arisen in fruit flies1. Whilst I know the creationist ‘no new information arising’ argument, have new functions been found to arise?

Well, study ‘Can mutations create new information?’ to understand what’s happening here. The claim in the example Coyne provides is about gene duplication, but see ‘Does gene duplication provide the engine for evolution?’ and ‘Do new functions arise by gene duplication?

Or is any case of something ‘new’ arising in the genome simply due to a mutation deleting or changing the order of something already existing and expressing something that was previously ‘hidden’ or ‘turned off’, such as the citrate ‘eating’ bacteria, regardless of the oxidative state of the bacterium’s environment?

As with ‘Bacteria ‘evolving in the lab’? ‘A poke in the eye for anti-evolutionists’?

I appreciate your time taken to read this and look forward to hearing back from you. Thanks, Jono H.

Hope this helps, Jonathan Sarfati

Published: 18 May 2014

References and notes

  1. New genes arise quickly, whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com, 21 December 2010. Return to text.

Helpful Resources

Christianity for Skeptics
by Drs Steve Kumar, Jonathan D Sarfati
US $17.00
Soft cover
Universe by Design
by Danny Faulkner
US $13.00
Soft cover
Genetic Entropy
by Dr John Sanford
US $25.00
Soft cover