Lie #1: “Evolution is a FACT”
In his first post on this topic, Bentley's problem was that evolutionists would demonstrate the fact of a change in allele frequencies in a population, then claim that this makes evolution as a whole a fact. His issue was the equivocation of observable evolution with long term evolution leading to common descent. But Bentley missed my point, when we say evolution is fact we are not just talking about a change in allele frequencies; we are saying that the theory of evolution explains the fact of common descent. Within the scientific community common descent is a fact. Bentley's exact statement was, that "[the Palaeobabbler] goes on to say that I am,“completely unaware that most scientists consider common descent to be the fact of evolution.” I assure you that I am well aware of that. I said as much in my post. To quote, “A person who says, “Evolution is a FACT” is merely stating his conviction that “evolution” is true; that doesn't make it true regardless of his use of all capital letters!” I did indeed say this, but if you carry on reading my original response, I then added, "It is beyond reasonable doubt with scientists, so if Bentley wants to claim that this is a lie he must demonstrate why evolution does not occur. He cannot do so. "
So, I maintain from my original response that the equivocation is not there and as such this cannot be a lie of evolution. If Bentley wants to claim that common descent is the lie of evolution, well, then he has to demonstrate that evolution is false. So far none have succeeded.
Lie #2: “Evolution and the Bible are compatible.”
In his response to the second "lie" of evolution, Bentley does not say too much, but does raise a glaring misconception of his own:
"TP [the Palaeobabbler] and I had a protracted discussion on Face Book about the genre of Genesis. Anyway, he asserts overtly that the creation account in Genesis is a “powerful creation myth and is not meant to be literal.” In other words, the Bible doesn't mean what it clearly says."
To maintain such a statement requires the Bible to be taken out of its cultural and historical context. The plain meaning of words constantly change. Not only do the meanings of words change and languages evolve, but we also find that ways of teaching and ways of thinking change too. We live in a society which favours dry, "scientific" prose when making truth claims; poetic language is for artistic expression. If we want to know how something works we ask the scientist, not the local painter. Our society tells us to ask certain questions, not least how we got here. But Genesis was written thousands of years ago, by a culture which had a very different appreciation for how to express truth and different ways of thinking. To claim one has the clear meaning of Scripture is borderline arrogant and is ignorant of context. What the Bible "clearly" says to a modern reader is not likely to be the same as it was to the ancient Hebrews.
On this point Bentley has only established that this is a lie of evolution if his view is correct. I still maintain that this is not a view promoted by evolutionists, they are divided on the issue. It is a claim of compatibilists, but Bentley has not demonstrated that this is a lie.
Lie #3: "There is no evidence for Creation"
Helpfully, Bentley restates his claim quite succinctly, saying, "My point is that theories are attempts to explain the evidence while the evidence itself is neutral". This is a common creationist argument and tends to be the view of those who have managed to get a PhD in sciences involving evolution. Under one paradigm the evidence suggests evolution, under another it suggests that there is a designer. If this were true then paradigm shifts would be difficult, if not impossible. Using the language of theory, a good theory must be flexible, but must also be able to make predictions and be falsified. This means that there can be evidence in favour of it and also evidence against it. It also means that new evidence with surprise value can completely change our views. Under the static paradigm view of many creationists, this just would not be possible. Thankfully the creationists during the early 1800s who began to explore the rock record in detail did not cling to their views. Perhaps a list of lies of creationists would include "we all have the same evidence, we just interpret it differently". Creationism requires the ignorance or rejection of evidence in order to be maintained.
During the first discussion of the third lie, Bentley also put forward the Bible as evidence. He has now stated that "their explanations as to why they don't accept the Bible don't make the Bible disappear. It is still on the table for people to consider as evidence." I have no desire to make the Bible go away, but I also have no desire to abuse and misuse it by claiming it as a scientific treatise. I do wonder if creationists would be comfortable if we turned to every Holy Book whilst conducting science and not just the Bible.
Lie #4: “Evolution has been tested and proven even more than gravity.”
The fourth lie is an interesting one as Bentley believes I have contradicted myself, so I need to be more clear. He said:
Now it's TP's turn to contradict himself. He claims I'm making a straw man then immediately says, “I have certainly seen the claim that gravity has been tested more, but this needs some qualification.”Indeed it does need some qualification but not from me.
In my response I was stating that lie four is a strawman, the statement that "evolution has been tested and proven even more than gravity". However, the statement that "evolution has been tested more than gravity" is not the same claim, it lacks the proven aspect and is a worthwhile distinction. I'm not sure why Bentley quite indignantly states that it does not need qualification from him, I would not expect it, which should be obvious by the fact that I went on to qualify the statement myself.
As I have never seen anyone claim the proven aspect of the "lie", Bentley's argument is a strawman. No contradictions here.
Lie #5: "Microevolution over time leads to Macroevolution"
In an interesting twist, Bentley starts by saying that we did not get his point, which oddly enough I agree with. His claim is that time is not a mechanism in evolution. The reason we did not get his point is that it is one of the biggest straw men I have ever seen, rivalling the one in The Wicker Man with consummate ease. Time is not a mechanism of evolution, it is simply what occurs when there is change, when things go from one state to another. Populations constantly change state and this happens in the dimension of time. What Bentley does not realise is that I agree with him and did so in my original response. Natural selection plus time does not result in new species, if that is all that is happens then we will simply end up with a depleted stock.
What we need is a mechanism for the addition of variation. Interestingly enough I said this in my first post: "With more variation entering the gene pool, natural selection can become more versatile, often being directive. " If we did not have new variation then we would only see stabilising selection, just as my first post mentioned. Bentley seems to think that time is what we think adds variation to a population and I can't fathom where he got this idea.
He even has the audacity to put words into my mouth: "Natural selection is a process by which traits not suitable to an environment are removed from a population. Contrary to TP's claims, it indeed does remove variation from a population." In my original response, whilst discussing an analogy Bentley used, I had this to say: "If Bentley is selecting against new colours then the population will remain static, much like stabilising selection does." How much more clearer do I have to make it that stabilising selection is what Bentley is describing? I even gave a link for more information on natural selection, in which I also said:
In stabilising selection the existing mean of the distribution of inherited variability is favoured. In other words, variance is reduced as extreme variants are selected out. For example, in a population both the largest and smallest individuals may be selected against, maintaining a mean between the two. This is often seen with birth rates in populations.
In the same post I linked to I discussed the other forms of selection and how they are not the same as stabilising selection. Bentley's next audacious statement is as follows:
"TP makes the unsubstantiated claim that, “variation does not run out.... With more variation entering the gene pool, natural selection can become more versatile.” So what is the mechanism that adds variation to the gene pool? I know what the mechanism supposedly is and it isn't time."
Of course it isn't time, nobody thinks it is. Time is indeed required, for going from A to B is not possible without time. If Bentley wants to know how variation is added to the gene pool, well, he could have kept reading my response to him, where I clearly said that "[mutation] is the major source of variation and it happens every time a sperm or egg is made, followed by the recombination of DNA in sexual reproduction which gives a completely unique offspring with new variation. Natural selection works on this variation and so microevolution can add up to macroevolution."
Bizarrely he then goes on to mention that "Time doesn't add traits to a population – mutations do." This has been the point all along, nobody claims that time adds traits, it doesn't, it merely allows traits to be added by mutations and acted on by selection. Bentley's "lie" has nothing to do with micro and macroevolution, it is to do with time and is nothing but a straw man.