Activation Energy

I had been interested in the evolution/creation controversy for some time, but while growing up this was just a matter of some curiosity. It wasn’t until 1986 that I discovered that I had to get involved in a more serious way.

In chemistry, IIRC, one sometimes finds that a reaction whose free energy indicates that it should be favored nonetheless doesn’t happen at the rate one might predict. When an intermediate state actually requires an energy input, that’s called the activation energy . It makes possible a significant release of energy in some reactions. Mix together powdered aluminum and iron oxide at room temperature and nothing much happens. Drop a chip of burning magnesium onto the mix and you’d better stand back (or, better yet, run), since thermite reactions are exceedingly exothermic.

What I’m about to share with you is the event that gave me my personal “activation energy” to get beyond simply curiosity and head toward activism. Through high school and college, I had a habit of carrying along small pocket notebooks, the cheap little wire-bound things that just about any convenience store carries. I was going through the boxes here looking for a jewel case for Voyetra Music Write which apparently has a “product ID” number that has to be entered at installation. I have my install CD, but no jewel case, which is frustrating. Voyetra won’t be bothered to help, since “Music Write” is discontinued. Anyway, I haven’t yet found that case, but I did find a collection of my pocket notebooks, including the one I was carrying around in 1986. Here’s the notes I made concerning a lecture I attended:

Gary Kellogg
“The Creation Explanation”

Expected: Creationist pep rally
“Missing link” and other non-issues

Why give lecture? 20 years ago, re-thought claims, changed ideas as college student, from evol. -> creat.

Icelandic studies
Hansen, EE dept.

[I think those were establishing credentials. — WRE]

Where design is, -> designer

Works studies geology
1. Disconformity
2. Nonconformity
3. Thrust fault
4. Use of fossils alone for dating

* mentioned Dollo’s law as simpler -> complex

Fossil reversals
1. Fishes in Idaho
2. Ammonites
[diagram of suture complexity from Cambrian to more recent]
3. Winged insects, earthworms, humans

[I don’t recall exactly what all these were supposed to do. — WRE]

T. M. George, David Kitts: lack of fossils, “Gaps in record”

The tuatura (iguana) unchanged through f. record.

Young earth not necessary for creat. model

74 ways to date earth
1/3 < 10^4 yrs no assumptions 2/3 > 10^4 yrs unstable assumptions

Time scale — wants to question

uniformitarianism –
the things happening today happened at the same rates in the past

Creat. requires greater rate in the past

Over thrusting of rocks
Said that thrust “older” rock is called that solely because of fossils within

From “Modern Geology and the Deluge”, Billings
No physical evidence of overthrusting

Differential reproduction < --> survival of the fittest
he used as population, not individual

1. Biston betularia
No change in species

2. Drosophila
No change in species

Selection and mutation

* Says creat. accounts for selection, pop. gen.

Transitional forms

Peter Mora – Evolutionist
“no practical chance of life starting from nothing”

Says bird preening zips up feathers otherwise they fall off

G.G. Simpson
“Most families, classes appear suddently without precursors”
Didn’t mention ancestors soft-bodied, don’t fossilize

William J. Moister, Sr.
sandal print embedded with trilobite fossils

Entropy – “the tendency of things to go to pot”

takes work to bring order to a system

Evolution < --> Fossils (Enc. Brit.)

operative science – doing studies bringing order

origin science – can never be falsified, whether evol. or creat.
observational science

Harry Fuller, Osald Tippo: Creat. has as much justification for belief as evol.

“The reason people are afraid of people like me is that they would have to throw out all sorts of order based on evolution.” “not so, I use order every day.”

Claims evol. says man is getting better, that man will save himself through adaptation

Personal application
Man makes an intellectual ascent using evol.

“my model has helped me to organize facts”
Evolution “is a valid scientific model”

Structure of creat.
take geol. data and put it into order

A pretty typical creation science lecture for the time. After it was over, I recall talking to Kellogg and requesting further information. He gave me a book, Henry M. Morris’s “The Scientific Case for Creation”. If Kellogg’s talk hadn’t been enough, Morris’s book certainly put me over the edge. I got into letter writing to papers and online discussions. In the mid-1990s, I helped keep the National Center for Science Education informed of what was going on in Texas concerning textbook adoption. In 1997, I presented at an “intelligent design” event (it was done in stealth mode as a philosophy conference). A couple more high-profile talks, and then I took my job at the NCSE.

So be careful what lectures you attend at college. They could change your life.

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Wesley R. Elsberry

Falconer. Interdisciplinary researcher: biology and computer science. Photographer. Husband. Christian. Activist.