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[FAQs]: The talk.origins FAQ archive (1 of 2)

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Archive-name: talk-origins/archive/part1
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URL: http://www.talkorigins.org/

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[The talk.origins FAQ Archive Announcement, Part 1 of 2]

SUMMARY

        WWW:            http://www.talkorigins.org/
        FTP:            ftp://ftp.ics.uci.edu/pub/


MOTIVATION

Talk.origins is a Usenet newsgroup devoted to the discussion and
debate of biological and physical origins. Most discussions in the
newsgroup center on the creation/evolution controversy, but other
topics of discussion include the origin of life, geology, biology,
catastrophism, cosmology and theology.

The talk.origins archive is a collection of articles and essays, most
of which have appeared in talk.origins at one time or another. The
primary reason for the archive's existence is to provide mainstream
scientific responses to the many frequently asked questions (FAQs) and
frequently rebutted assertions that appear in talk.origins.


FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

The following is a list of questions that appear frequently in
talk.origins.  Brief answers follow each question along with a World
Wide Web URL pointing to one or more relevant FAQs that answer the
question in more detail.


[Q.]   What is the purpose of talk.origins?
[A.]   The purpose of talk.origins is to provide a forum for discussion of
       issues related to biological and physical origins.
[U.]   http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/faq-welcome.html


[Q.]   I thought evolution was just a theory.  Why do you call it a fact?
[A.]   Biological evolution is a change in the genetic characteristics of 
       a population over time.  That this happens is a fact.  Biological
       evolution also refers to the common descent of all living organisms
       from shared ancestors.  The evidence for historical evolution -- 
       genetic, fossil, anatomical, etc. -- is so overwhelming that it is 
       also considered a fact.  The theory of evolution describes the 
       mechanisms that cause evolution.  So evolution is both a fact
       and a theory.
[U.]   http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/evolution-fact.html
       http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/faq-intro-to-biology.html
       http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/faq-misconceptions.html#proof


[Q.]   Don't you have to be an atheist to accept evolution?
[A.]   No.  Many people of Christian and other faiths accept evolution as
       the scientific explanation for biodiversity.
[U.]   http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/faq-god.html
       http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/interpretations.html


[Q.]   Isn't evolution just an unfalsifiable tautology?
[A.]   No.  Evolutionary theory is in exactly the same condition as any 
       other valid scientific theory, and many criticisms of it that rely 
       on philosophy are misguided.
[U.]   http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/evolphil.html


[Q.]   If evolution is true, then why are there so many gaps in the fossil
       record?  Shouldn't there be more transitional fossils?
[A.]   Due to the rarity of preservation and the likelihood that speciation
       occurs in small populations during geologically short periods of
       time, transitions between species are uncommon in the fossil record.
       Transitions at higher taxonomic levels, however, are abundant.
[U.]   http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/faq-transitional.html
       http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/fossil-hominids.html
       http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/punc-eq.html


[Q.]   No one has ever directly observed evolution happening, so how do you 
       know it's true?
[A.]   Evolution has been observed, both directly and indirectly.  It is true.
[U.]   http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/faq-misconceptions.html#observe


[Q.]   Then why has no one ever seen a new species appear?
[A.]   Speciation has been observed both in the laboratory and in nature.
[U.]   http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/faq-speciation.html
       http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/speciation.html


[Q.]   Doesn't the perfection of the human body prove Creation?
[A.]   No.  In fact, humans (and other animals) have many suboptimal 
       characteristics.  
[U.]   http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/jury-rigged.html


[Q.]   According to evolution, the diversity of life is a result of chance 
       occurrence.  Doesn't that make evolution wildly improbable?
[A.]   Evolution is not simply a result of random chance.  It is also a result
       of non-random selection.
[U.]   http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/chance.html
       http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/faq-misconceptions.html#chance


[Q.]   Doesn't evolution violate the second law of thermodynamics?  After all,
       order cannot come from disorder.
[A.]   Evolution does not violate the second law of thermodynamics.  Order
       emerges from disorder all the time.  Snowflakes form, trees grow, and
       embryos develop, etc.
[U.]   http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/thermo.html
       http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/faq-misconceptions.html#thermo


[Q.]   Didn't Darwin renounce evolution on his deathbed?
[A.]   The Darwin deathbed story is false.  And in any case, it is irrelevant.
       A scientific theory stands or falls according to how well it is 
       supported by the facts, not according to who believes it.
[U.]   http://www.ediacara.org/hope.html


[Q.]   Where can I learn more about evolution?
[A.]   You might start with the talk.origins FAQs.  If, however, you want a
       deeper understanding of evolution, a library would be a more appropriate
       place to look. The FAQs listed below provide some good references.
[U.]   http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/reading-list.html
       http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/faq-intro-to-biology.html
       http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/evolution-definition.html


[Q.]   How do you know the earth is really old?  Lots of evidence says it's
       young.
[A.]   According to numerous, independent dating methods, the earth is known
       to be approximately 4.5 billion years old.  Most young-earth arguments 
       rely on inappropriate extrapolations from a few carefully selected and
       often erroneous data points.
[U.]   http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/faq-age-of-earth.html
       http://www.talkorigins.org/origins/faqs-youngearth.html


[Q.]   But radiometric dating methods rely on the assumptions of non-
       contamination and constant rates of decay.  What if these assumptions
       are wrong?
[A.]   Isochron dating techniques reveal whether contamination has occurred,
       while numerous theoretical calculations, experiments, and astronomical
       observations support the notion that decay rates are constant. 
[U.]   http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/isochron-dating.html
       http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/faq-age-of-earth.html


[Q.]   I heard that the speed of light has changed a lot. This means that light
       from galaxies billions of light years away might not be billions of
       years old.  Is this true?
[A.]   Barry Setterfield's hypothesis of a decaying speed of light was based 
       on flawed extrapolations from inaccurate measurements, many of which 
       were taken hundreds of years ago.
[U.]   http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/c-decay.html


[Q.]   If the Earth is so old, doesn't that mean the Earth's decaying magnetic
       field would have been unacceptably high at one time?
[A.]   No.  The Earth's magnetic field is known to have varied in intensity
       and reversed in polarity numerous times throughout the planet's history.
[U.]   http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/magfields.html


[Q.]   Isn't the fossil record a result of the global flood described in the
       Book of Genesis?
[A.]   No.  A global flood cannot explain the sorting of fossils observed
       in the geological record.  This was recognized even prior to the
       proposal of evolutionary theory.
[U.]   http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/faq-noahs-ark.html


[Q.]   What about those fossils that cut through multiple layers?
[A.]   They have natural explanations: tree-roots that grew into soft, 
       underlying layers of clay, and fossils found in inclined strata.  They
       can also be observed forming in modern environments.
[U.]   http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/polystrate.html


[Q.]   What about those human footprints that appear next to dinosaur
       footprints?
[A.]   The "man-tracks" of the Paluxy Riverbed in Glen Rose, Texas were not
       man tracks at all.  Some were eroded dinosaur tracks, and others
       were human carvings.
[U.]   http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/paluxy.html


[Q.]   Didn't they find Noah's Ark?  I saw something on TV about this.
[A.]   The producers of America's 1993 CBS television show, "The Incredible 
       Discovery of Noah's Ark," were hoaxed.  Other ark discovery claims have 
       not been substantiated.
[U.]   http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/ark-hoax.html


[Q.]   The odds against a simple cell coming into being without divine
       intervention are staggering.
[A.]   And irrelevant.  Scientists don't claim that cells came into being
       through random processes.  They are thought to have evolved from
       more primitive precursors.
[U.]   http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/faq-abiogenesis.html


[Q.]   Creationists are qualified and honest scientists.  How can they be 
       wrong?
[A.]   The quality of an argument is not determined by the credentials of its
       author.  Even if it was, a number of well-known creationists have 
       questionable credentials.  Furthermore, many creationists have engaged 
       in dishonest tactics like quoting out of context or making up 
       references.
[U.]   http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/credentials.html
       http://www.talkorigins.org/origins/faqs-creationists.html


[Q.]   What about Immanuel Velikovsky?  Didn't he show that the Earth has
       experienced a lot of major catastrophes?
[A.]   No, he simply claimed that certain written legends must have described
       real events.
[U.]   http://www.talkorigins.org/origins/faqs-catastrophism.html
       http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/faq-velikovsky.html


[Q.]   Where can I find more material on the Creation/Evolution debate?
[A.]   Contact the National Center for Science Education, or see the 
       talk.origins archive and its "Other links" page.
[U.]   http://www.NatCenSciEd.org/
       http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/reading-list.html
       http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/organizations.html
       http://www.talkorigins.org/origins/other-links.html


[Continued in part 2]

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