4,000 Year Old Mesopotamian Clay Tablet

A 4,000 year old clay tablet from ancient Mesopotamia (modern day Iraq) was discovered and is on display at the British Museum in London. The tablet contains the story of an ark and a flood, and it supposedly predates the Biblical narrative.

Irving Finkel, the curator in charge of cuneiform clay tablets at the museum, claimed that this was “one of the most important human documents ever discovered.” And David Owen, professor of ancient Near Eastern studies at Cornell University, called it an “extraordinary discovery.”

The story on the tablet, like the Biblical narrative, describes detailed instructions for building an ark that would save the animals as they entered two-by-two. But this story is different in that it describes a round boat instead of the rectangular ark we commonly think of. “It was really a heart-stopping moment — the discovery that the boat was to be a round boat,” Finkel said. “That was a real surprise.” Elizabeth Stone, an expert on the antiquities of ancient Mesopotamia said, “Coracles are not unusual things to have had in Mesopotamia.”

A few years ago Finkel says he obtained the damaged tablet (which is the size of a cell phone) from a man whose father- an amateur historian- acquired it after World War II in the Middle East.

Instead of this being a confirmation of the Biblical flood, Finkel says he doesn’t think the ark existed: “I’m sure the story of the flood and a boat to rescue life is a Babylonian invention.” He believes the story about a flood was the result of a real, devastating flood that ended up becoming folklore, and that it was picked up by the Jews during their exile in Babylon in the 6th century B.C.

The ancient Sumerian Epic of Gilgamesh also contains a flood story, and it’s arguably the oldest written work of literature. It’s not surprising that Biblical skeptics claim that the flood reported in the book of Genesis was probably derived from one of these older stories that predate the earliest books of the Bible, and therefore they proclaim Genesis to be a myth.

The problem with these claims is that there’s plenty of evidence demonstrating that Noah’s Flood was a real, global event that wiped out all life on earth. The scientific and geologic evidence is apparent when we consider the thick sedimentary rock formations spanning thousands of miles, and huge coal seams stacked in sequences. Additional evidence are fossils of shellfish and other sea creatures high above sea level and on the highest mountains, the rapid burial of plants and animals, sediment transported long distances, rapid or no erosion between strata, and many strata laid down in rapid succession.

In addition, it’s well known that there are flood legends from all different cultures around the world. Some of these accounts include Native American tribes, such as the Ojibwe and Delaware Indians, and the Inca in South America. There are flood legends across Europe, in Africa, China and Russia.

All the scientific evidence and flood legends strongly point to a real, global flood. It’s not that the Biblical writers derived the flood story from the Babylonians, it’s that the Babylonians and every other culture have flood stories because we’re all descended from Noah and his three sons who were on board the ark and eventually repopulated the earth- along with all the animals that walked off the ark.

Even though the ancient tablets may have been written prior to Moses writing Genesis, it’s an incorrect assumption to suggest that the Babylonian literature inspired the Biblical writers to pass along a myth. Noah is also mentioned in Isaiah and Ezekiel, both of which were written prior to Israel’s exile in Babylon. Noah’s Flood was a real event that has been recorded by many sources. I’d also argue that the Biblical account would be the most accurate version simply because it was inspired by God as direct revelation.

Finally, I think the best evidence comes from Jesus, who believed in Noah and the flood when he said, “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.  For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark;  and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man” (Matthew 24:36-39).

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10 thoughts on “4,000 Year Old Mesopotamian Clay Tablet

  1. I have little doubt that the similarity in stories from around the world regarding a great flood more than likely indicate that at one point in the past there was a period of great flooding. However, there have always been details about the Noah’s ark story that have troubled me.

    First, my recollection of the story: god was angry with the sinful ways of mankind and decided to wipe the slate clean, so to speak. However, Noah was a righteous man and therefore god allowed him to survive, he instructed him to build an ark, put two of each animal on it, and then flooded the planet, effectively killing literally everyone but Noah and his family. The flood lasted about a year.

    My first question is how big is this ark? I’ll assume that every animal that exists today was on the ark. The sheer volume needed to contain millions of creatures along with a year’s food supply is incredible. I don’t recall god granting Noah any super powers to build it faster. So how did he do it? Moreover, how the heck did Noah collect two of each animal? Did the animals report to him? Because if not, how did Noah circumnavigate the entire world in a timely manner? And how did he now when all the animals were collected? Did god give him a checklist?

    But by far the most troubling aspect of this story is that there were only two of each animal, and that only Noah and his family survived. Two individuals or one family is NOT a sufficient gene pool to ensure enough variability for survival. Speaking with regard to humans, most biologists agree that the minimum number of people you’d need to create a healthy, sustainable gene pool is 160, and that ain’t how many people were on the ark. If the biblical account is to be believed, the level of inbreeding would be mind boggling, and the thousands of years that passed would have almost certainly produced infertility, sterility, and an entire population riddled and plagued by congenital anomalies. And the last time I checked, there is no chapter in genesis that speaks to ensuring genetic variability.

    If the ark story is true, then are some humongous scientific gaps, specifically in regard to engineering and genetics. So I pose these questions to you: one, am I missing some crucial detail of the story that would account for these problems? And two, if the details that I’ve presented are indeed accurate (or the details pertaining to the problems are), how do you account for the fact that we aren’t all severely mutated and retarded cousins?

    • Great questions. Your summary of Noah’s Ark is fairly accurate, although there’s a little more to it. God told Noah to “Take with you seven pairs of every kind of clean animal, a male and its mate, and one pair of every kind of unclean animal, a male and its mate, and also seven pairs of every kind of bird, male and female, to keep their various kinds alive throughout the earth.”

      According to Genesis 6:15 the ark was 450 feet long, 75 feet wide and 45 feet high (350 cubits long, 50 cubits wide and 30 cubits high).

      Not every animal that exists today was on the ark because they didn’t exist back then. For example, all the different breeds of dogs didn’t exist back then, nor did all the various species of bears or wildcats. There was a representative of all the different kinds of animals on board the ark, so all dogs were represented by a wolf-like animal, all bears were represented by one kind of bear, cats were represented by one kind of cat (a saber tooth tiger?), and dinosaurs were represented by their various kinds.

      According to John Woodmorappe, 16,000 animals were all that were needed to represent and preserve all the various kinds of animals on board the ark (not millions). Feasibility studies have been done to demonstrate how Noah’s family could have cared for all these animals for the length of time they were on board.

      You’re right that God didn’t grant Noah any super powers to build the ark faster, and no such powers were needed. It took Noah about 100 years to build the ark, and he probably built it with his family, and probably hired workers to help him. They would have had the means to cutting and transporting lumber, and they would have had the necessary tools and technology to do so.

      Noah didn’t collect two of each animal. God brought the animals to Noah: “Pairs of clean and unclean animals, of birds and of all creatures that move along the ground, male and female, came to Noah and entered the ark, as God has commanded Noah.” So, in a sense, the animals did report to Noah.

      The number of animals God commanded Noah to take upon the ark definitely ensured a sufficient gene pool, especially considering that there were seven pairs of every kind of clean animal, and three families represented by Noah’s sons, Shem, Ham and Japheth.

      And if you don’t think this is a sufficient gene pool, then how can you believe in evolution? Don’t you believe that ALL life is descended from a single common ancestor? What kind of gene pool is that? I’d suggest that it’s evolutionists who accept an insufficient gene pool. At least creationists have different kinds of animals repopulating the earth.

      Keep in mind that humans lived to be nearly 1,000 years old prior to the flood (Adam lived to be 930 years, Enosh lived 905 years, Methuselah lived 969 years, and Noah lived 950 years). And that once that gene pool was cut off, human life spans were severely limited as a result of the inbreeding necessary for the survival of humanity. Noah and his sons would have had a gene pool much stronger than what we possess today, which is why I’ve written a number of articles demonstrating how humanity is in decline and not evolving into some kind of super human like we see in science fiction movies, as expected by evolution.

      Perhaps you can be more specific about the humongous scientific gaps in regards to engineering and genetics that you’re referring to because there were no gaps that I’m aware of. I think that’s an unwarranted assumption.

      Here are a couple articles with more details if you’re interested.

      http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/nab/really-a-flood-and-ark

      http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/am/v2/n2/caring-for-the-animals

      • I don’t think evolution dictates we evolve into some sort of superhuman. I’m not even sure where someone would get that idea. Such a supposition rests upon evolution having some sort of goal, or destination, an endgame. It doesn’t. Evolution is a reaction to environment. There’s no logical reason to ever assume that would lead to superhuman powers or anything of the sort. So long as individuals can survive to reproduce, evolution is working.

        With regard to evolution and a limited gene pool, I think the mistake there is to believe that the first time life evolved was the “only” time it evolved. An evolutionist would argue that of course there was a first creature…but it wasn’t the only one. If one creature spontaneously comes into existence or however you want to define it, that means that the environment is favorable for life. All life. Not just the first life form. If the environment was favorable enough for the first life form to come into existence, why couldn’t this have occurred more than once?

    • In theory, you’re right that evolution doesn’t dictate that we evolve into some sort of superhuman. That’s the textbook response. However, in all practicality, this upward trend towards superior abilities, advanced survival mechanisms, and increased intelligence is apparent and cannot be denied. In fact that’s what has happened and is happening if evolution is to be believed. If evolution is accepted as true, then life came from non-life, and that life became a single celled organism and evolved gills, blood, bones, feathers, skin, scales, heart, brain, muscles, eyes, an immune system, reproductive system, etc., until it finally became human and developed consciousness, and that organism whom we call man… we would expect it to continue evolving in the upward direction it proceeded from into an advanced being with feathers and an avian lung system that would allow it to fly, or advanced telepathy so that it could read minds and move things by thought, or even teleport by the power of the mind, etc, etc. So while the textbook tells us evolution doesn’t have a goal or destination, we can observe and point to examples of an upward goal towards a greater consciousness, awareness, and survival abilities. Therefore it is logical to assume that mankind will develop superhuman powers, like the X-Men.

      If all modern organisms have evolved to their current state, then it’s reasonable to expect organisms to continue to evolve in an upward, superior direction rather than stop evolving and remain static. This upward direction in evolution is what we observe, not stasis (except in those cases where we don’t observe any evolution). In fact I’d suggest that stasis, speciation, adaptation and the failure to evolve is evidence against evolution. The existence of human beings are supposedly the crowning achievement of evolution and demonstrates the upward trend of organisms. In other words we don’t observe these single celled organisms becoming fish and failing to advance any further while simply reproducing different species of fish.

      I guess my point in all that is that evolution is so elastic that it can mean anything you want it to, so it really isn’t much of a scientific theory. It predicts one thing, unless it doesn’t. But whatever it does (or doesn’t do) is evolution. I like this quote from Answers in Genesis: “If stasis means anything, it means staying the same; if evolution means anything, it means change. It seems to me, then, that evolutionists are actually saying (without quite meaning to, of course) that the most fundamental fact of their theory of change is that everything stays the same!”

      So you reject the evolutionary notion of a single common ancestor? That means you accept that life could have spontaneously come into existence multiple times. Of course that goes against all observational evidence- we only observe life coming from life and never observe life forming spontaneously from non-life. This is perhaps the best and most consistent of all the laws of science. But if we want to reject science and observational evidence to entertain the notion that life could form spontaneously, not just once, but multiple times, then we’ve got to consider the ramifications. First, I don’t think multiple evolutionary lines would create a sufficient gene pool for all organisms today, while at the same time deny a sufficient gene pool to the animals coming off Noah’s Ark. Such an imagined multiple evolutionary lineage probably wouldn’t interact, and they’d have to pass along their genetic material generation after generation until today, and after some point in time those genes would be producing deleterious mutations within that limited gene pool.

      Have you ever considered the improbability of life spontaneously forming? The notion is so absurdly impossible that it’s been likened to a fully functioning Boeing 747 being assembled in a junkyard by a tornado. So if that could happen once, then we must assume the conditions are favorable for tornados to build fully functional 747s, and thus we would expect this to happen on occasion. There are a number of people who’ve come up with the odds of life spontaneously forming, and the numbers are staggering. In fact it’s so unfavorable to evolutionists, many “scientists” have suggested panspermia, like Francis Crick and Richard Dawkins. They’ve recognized that we have too little time available and that the earth’s early atmosphere wasn’t favorable to life; therefore they throw the problem out to the stars and hope that wins them credibility. The fact that some scientists resort to panspermia is evidence against life spontaneously erupting once, let alone multiple times. The need for multiple lines of life just makes the notion of evolution even more absurd.

      • There is no “upward” or “superior” trend in evolution. Evolution is only a response to environment. Your theory about evolution ignores one of the most basic tenants of biology: parsimony. If a system doesn’t have to expend energy, it won’t. If an organism is suited for it’s environment, then why on earth would it continue to expend energy? There’s a point of diminishing returns with evolution, as there is with any physical system. Once that equilibrium has been reached, where energy expenditure results in survival and reproduction, it makes no sense to continue using energy and resources. The laws of physics are pretty clear on that one. But as a case in point: people with sickle cell anemia. Pretty inferior to us “normal” humans, right? After all, their red blood cells are a genetic aberration and result in poorer tissue oxygenation and host of other problems. Except that it turns out that sickle cells are particularly resistant to malaria. Even an “inferior” trait or mutation can have a benefit.

        With regard to probability (or improbability), I can’t speak much to that. I’ve heard the 747 argument before, and I’ve heard arguments against it. Personally, I’m not a mathematician. I’m curious to know how anyone could accurately forecast the odds of life spontaneously evolving. It seems like there would be a lot of incalculable factors and unknowns involved in such a computation. To me, claiming to be able to calculate the odds of life spontaneously occurring is about as dubious as claiming to be able to calculate the probability of God existing.

    • I disagree that there’s no “upward” or “superior” trend in evolution. We can observe it. Start with man and work your way backwards to first “life” and it’s undeniable. Look at whales and work your way back; look at birds and work your way back. Whatever animal is considered to be at the top of the evolutionary tree, go backwards until you’re at the bottom of the tree. Evolutionists can deny this, but anyone can see it and chart it if they’re being honest and acknowledge the obvious.

      In fact why call it an evolutionary tree if it’s only imaginary? A tree starts off as a seed and grows “upward”, sprouting branches, leaves, and fruit. There’s nothing imaginary about it, even if you want to invoke parsimony. Actually, the evolutionary tree of life has already been turned upside down, falsifying evolution, so it’s hard to take it seriously when one of its major predictions has failed.

      I’ll admit that I haven’t taken parsimony into consideration. I don’t recall hearing that term before. But the way you’ve described it would be evidence against evolution. If a system doesn’t have to expend energy, then it won’t. If an organism doesn’t have to evolve, it won’t. So why would a system expend energy in the first place and go from a non-living organism to a living organism? Doesn’t that violate parsimony? A non-living system wouldn’t have to expend any energy to remain a non-living system. There’s no need for a molecule to expend the energy necessary to become a living organism. This is the simplest explanation according to Occam’s Razor.

      And why would a fish need to expend energy to evolve legs and feet in order to walk on land? Wouldn’t it expend less energy by not evolving? Did the ocean environment become so crowded that they had to evolve legs or face extinction, and is there any scientific evidence to support this? Were they driven to evolve? What was the response that triggered the evolution? If necessity required fish to evolve legs, then that’s certainly an upward trend towards greater complexity and intelligence. But I thought evolution was unguided, with no goal, destination or endgame? Yet here you’re saying that evolution is guided by a response to the environment… which is it? Is evolution guided by a response to the environment, or is it unguided? This is one of the many problems I have with evolution… it’s so elastic that it’s meaningless and doesn’t offer any predictive power that could falsify it. If one prediction fails, then that “proves” evolution is true. Where’s the consistency?

      Question: Are there any environments that don’t change? If evolution is only a response to environment, then evolution should be happening all the time because the environment is constantly changing. In fact that’s one of the reasons why animals change, adapt and speciate. There’s a good article on white deer (not albino) becoming more abundant in winter environments. But this isn’t “evolution”. Yet it does demonstrate how animals respond to the ever changing environment without evolving, thus disproving evolution. You asked, “If an organism is suited for its environment, then why on earth would it continue to expend energy?” The answer is because the environment is constantly changing.

      Yes, sickle cell anemia is resistant to malaria, but, if you lived where malaria was rampant, would you want your offspring to suffer from sickle cell anemia and hope that your future descendants would be more fit for survival? Sickle cell anemia isn’t an improvement to the human condition- it’s a genetic mutation that’s harmful, and while it may offer certain benefits to survival in malaria infested environments, they’re less fit than a healthy human being.

      As for the probability factor, it’s necessary to realize that the genetic code is a real code that exists. Instructions are formed, and the cell’s factory goes to work doing what it’s instructed to do. There’s a tremendous amount of information and regulation in a cell. It’s kind of like figuring out the odds of taking all the letters in the encyclopedia Britanica, tossing them in the air, and they randomly fall into a perfect sequence that can be interpreted and acted upon. There’s nothing dubious about it. How did such a complex genetic code, likened to powerful computers, come into existence by pure chance? The odds are staggering for the most basic living organism to survive independently and reproduce. To waive it off as dubious is fascinating.

      • To (sort of) answer your probability question, my answer is time. Probability is directly correlated with time. It’s the law of averages; given a possibility of two outcomes, the longer you perform the experiment, say a flip of a coin, the closer to 50/50 you get. What are the odds of getting 1000 heads flips in a row? Pretty spectacular if you only flip the coin 1000 times. Or ten thousand. But how about ten MILLION times? How about five hundred billion flips? Statistically speaking, if you could flip a coin for infinity you’d see all sorts of crazy things. If you flipped a coin 500 billion times getting 1000 heads in a row is a lot more likely to occur than if you only flipped it 100,000 times. That’s the same argument I would apply to evolution. Does life spontaneously occurring seem improbable? Sure, if you believe that the earth is only 6,000 years old. But if the earth is 4,000,000,000 years old, the probability naturally increases. Again, I can’t speak to an exact number, but what’s likely to occur over 4 billion years is a lot different than what’s likely to happen over only 6,000.

        But the reason that I don’t like the 747 analogy is because it represents another misconception about evolution. Saying that, “it’s been likened to a fully functioning Boeing 747 being assembled in a junkyard by a tornado” is the biological equivalent of saying that we went from atom to human with zero steps in between. The analogy itself makes no sense in relation to evolution, since that isn’t what evolution is claiming. Evolution claims that everything changes in very small, gradual increments. These changes are cumulative and over time add up. So the 747 argue is flawed right off the bat. To be truly analogous to evolution, the 747 metaphor would have to be: all of the parts for a 747 are sitting out in the open. A tornado comes by, and two of the pieces get attached during the commotion. The following year another tornado comes by, and four more pieces happen to get attached in the winds. The third year during the storm, two of those pieces are ripped apart. The fourth year during the next storm one more piece is affixed during the storm. Eventually, after ten thousand tornadoes, a functional aircraft, something we would recognize as an airplane, exists. But again, the notion of pile of parts to fully functional 747 with only ONE tornado is not an apt analogy, since evolution does not claim that it only took ONE single mutation to go from ooze to human being.

        I would disagree with you about the superiority. That’s an entirely subjective word. Am I really superior to my dog? I don’t know, most likely intellectually. The extent to which my dog can feel and think is open for debate, but due to our respective cranial capacities I’m probably much smarter and philosophical than she is. But does that make me a “superior” creature? My dog’s sense of smell is 10,000x superior to mine. My dog has a tapetum lucitum that let’s her see better in the dark; I don’t have those. My dog’s fur and fat distribution let’s her swim in below freezing water for prolonged periods of time while I’d die of hypothermia. She’s also immune to a lot diseases that I am not immune to. Sure, I could beat a blue jay at chess, and sure, I can swim and it can’t, but at the end of the day the blue jay can fly and I cannot. Evolutionary trees are not meant to be hierarchical; they delineate relationships between individuals and time. They do not represent a qualitative or quantitative “ranking.”

        With regard to parsimony, I’d first like to say that we don’t consciously evolve. I can’t will evolution. So in that respect, evolution is a passive force. I don’t control the random mutations that generate some sort of change. At the same time, those passive mutations are selected for by the environment. Whether that relates to camouflage or whatever, mutations are only passed on so long as they have some environmental benefit that provides a reproductive advantage. And yes, of course the environment is always changing. The question is to what extent and over what period of time? If it’s a slow change, then perhaps evolution can keep pace. A genetic variation might not even be needed if the change is minor. An evolutionist would say that if an environment changes rapidly enough, that’s why animals go extinct, they can’t adapt so they die.

        I would say that evolution IS happening constantly. There are mutations constantly happening in our genetic structure. Some of them don’t get passed on. Some of them them do, but don’t have an immediate benefit–like sickle cells and malaria. And that’s why it’s important not to conceptualize evolution as a linear process–what’s negative today might be protective or beneficial tomorrow if there’s a significant change (or vice versa).

        And finally, with regard to parsimony. The question regarding energy expenditure is answered on a cost/benefit analysis. Does the cost of me growing wings outweigh the benefits? I would say yes for a variety of reasons. I can’t really think of how wings would help me survive and reproduce any better than I already survive and can reproduce. But let’s go back to your examples. The fish that suddenly finds it’s able to breathe on land. That mutation, that change, required energy or work obviously. But do the costs outweigh the benefit? Well, the first thing that springs to mind is that if you’re the FIRST creature to be able to live on land, you just eliminated the problem of all of those predators trying to eat you back in the ocean. So would it help you to survive and reproduce? Sure, living on land would represent decreased predation, so the expenditure is worth it (especially if you’re an asexual or bisexual creature…like an amphibian).

    • I like where we’re headed with this discussion, so humor me as I analyze some of your arguments. I disagree that time is the hero. Neither of us are mathematicians, but is there ever a point at which the probability is essentially zero? I’d suggest that there is. Here’s a quote from Desmond P. Allen, PhD., regarding the probability of us getting here from the Big Bang.

      “Regardless of the timeframe, the statistical probability of such events occurring is absolute zero at every critical step. How can one calculate variables that do not exist? How does one calculate the first obstacle, the probability of absolute nothing spontaneously generating a dense mass? One does not calculate zero variables; one imagines them. Likewise, the probability of lifeless matter spontaneously generating life, no matter the timeframe, is zero. There are simply too many conditional demands for even the lowest life-form to emerge. One of many such conditions is the sequencing of amino acids. As the physical chemist Dr. Jonathan Sarfati explains, “Life requires catalysts which are specific for a single type of molecule. This requires specific amino acid sequences, which have extremely low probabilities (~10-650 for all the enzymes required)” (Sarfati 2007). And that is but one of many requisite conditions of impossible contradicting scenarios that must be met to generate life from nonlife. Another such difficulty is that “the alkaline conditions needed to form sugars are incompatible with acid conditions required to form polypeptides with condensing agents.” So too is the detail that certain requisite building blocks are not formed; “ribose and cytosine are hard to form and are very unstable” (Sarfati 2007, pp. 1–3). The list continues, but the point is that the probability of life spontaneously generating from nonlife is essentially zero; for these and the many other conflicting conditions to be simultaneously reconciled by their own accord is beyond the realm of probability.”

      http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/arj/v1/n1/unification-theory

      I think the 747 analogy works, and the analogy isn’t suggestive of any evolutionary misconceptions. The concept is actually attributed to the atheist, Sir Fred Hoyle, who believed in panspermia. The analogy demonstrates the absurdity of life forming spontaneously and evolving. However, if you really do believe that time is the hero, then you’d have to admit that the 747 scenario is possible, given enough time. Even Richard Dawkins- who’s known for his assertion that a monkey could type a quote from William Shakespeare’s Hamlet- understands how improbable the origin of life is.

      ”imagine a monkey typing on a typewriter with 27 keys, all the letters in the English alphabet and the space bar. How long would it take for the monkey to type something that made any sense? Dawkins suggests the sentence spoken by William Shakespeare’s Hamlet who, in describing a cloud, pronounces, “Methinks it is like a weasel.” How many attempts at typing this sentence would it take a monkey, which would presumably be hitting keys randomly, to type the sentence?

      The odds can be easily calculated as the probability of getting each letter or space correct raised to the power of the number of positions at which they have to be correct. In this case, the probability of the monkey typing “m” at the first position of the sentence is 1/27 (we won’t worry about capitalization). The sentence has 28 characters in it, so the probability is (1/27)28 or 1.2 x 10–40. That is about one chance in 12,000 million million million million million million!”

      http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/isd/timothy-standish

    • Thomas Huxley argued that, given enough time, a team of monkeys typing random letters on typewriters would produce Shakespeare’s works if they had enough time.

      Nobel prize-winning scientist George Wald once wrote:

      However improbable we regard this event [evolution], or any of the steps it involves, given enough time, it will almost certainly happen at least once. . . . Time is the hero of the plot. . . . Given so much time, the impossible becomes possible, the possible becomes probable, the probable becomes virtually certain. One only has to wait; time itself performs miracles.

      I won’t take up space quoting the next article, but take a look at it if you have time to get an idea of how staggering the probabilities of amino acids forming proteins, and proteins becoming living cells.
      http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/nab2/natural-processes-origin-of-life

      I totally understand the evolutionary point you’re making about superiority, complexity, intelligence, unguided goals, no destination, direction or endgame. I’m using these terms to illustrate a point- which is that these concepts are undeniable based on what we observe if evolution is true. This is a problem for evolutionists. It’s a problem because evolutionists are basically telling us to ignore whatever it is we see. It’s like Richard Dawkins saying, “biology is the study of complicated things that give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose [but are not].” In other words it appears that there’s some kind of upward trend towards complexity, even though evolutionist often deny it (although I’ve dialogued with those willing to acknowledge it). All good evolutionists will say that evolution has no goals or long-term plans, but, if we follow long enough, we see that they do evoke these forbidden words in other ways.

      To illustrate, if you watched the Nye vs. Ham debate, Ken Ham explained that evolution is a bait-and-switch, and I think you’re using it here. Believe it or not creationists believe much of what you’re describing: trees not being hierarchical; they delineate relationships between individuals and time; they don’t represent a qualitative or quantitative ranking. We can agree on all that, but it’s evolution that creationists disagree with- the belief that primates evolved into man.

      I’ll admit that you do a splendid job masking any evolutionary hierarchy, but “molecules to man” is real if evolution has occurred. I think evolutionists, in general, want to avoid any implication suggesting that there’s direction because they don’t believe in God; evolution must be natural and unguided. What I’m getting at is that, even though evolutionists don’t always acknowledge it, there really is a hierarchy that we observe (if evolution is true). Here we humans are, having evolved from a common ancestor, but you deny that we’re any more complex or intelligent than any of our supposed ancestors.

      Going back to parsimony, I know you understand evolutionary theory, but I don’t think you’re willing to recognize the difference between theory and observational evidence. I don’t think you’re being consistent. I get it when you say that evolution is passive and not conscious. But you’ve also mentioned that it’s active because it’s a response to the environment. Can you see how the two concepts are contradictory? Reacting to the environment is active, yet evolution is passive, in the sense that we don’t consciously evolve. Again, this is another example of the elasticity of evolution, making it a poor scientific theory or unsubstantiated hypothesis. Is evolution passive or active? Well, it’s both, except when it’s one or the other.

      You mentioned that you can’t really think of how wings would help you survive and reproduce any better than you can now. Okay, let’s use that as our starting point. Couldn’t the same be said about dinosaurs before they supposedly evolved feathers, wings, an avian lung system, and began to fly? Couldn’t the same be said of our supposed ape-like ancestor who became bipedal? Who could have imagined that wings or bipedalism would have helped them survive and reproduce better than they did for thousands and millions of years? Obviously there was a benefit, otherwise they wouldn’t have evolved, right? So perhaps there’s a plausible explanation as to how wings could help you survive and reproduce better, it’s just that you can’t imagine it at the moment. Like you said, evolution isn’t conscious. Anyway, supposedly the environment changed for our imaginary ape-like ancestor, and it was forced out of the trees because trees in Africa were becoming less abundant, and they needed to see above the grass to avoid predators, like lions. Of course, if they were forced out of trees, then they’d have to become bipdedal pretty darn quick so that they could see those lions and flee into the trees and avoid being eaten… oh, wait… weren’t the trees becoming scarce, which would mean they wouldn’t have trees to climb for protection? But if they did have trees to climb for protection, wouldn’t they be better off to stay there where it’s safe and not evolve? Oh, it sounds like a mess. Don’t you think it would have been better had our mythological ape-like ancestor not evolved bipdealism? I’d think they’d spend less energy by not evolving. Evolving would require energy. But they’d have to evolve really, really fast to avoid the predators somehow. Ah, but we’re here, so they must have! 😉

      As for the fish argument, it sounds like a great fable, but keep in mind that the fish was well-suited for its environment to begin with, and if evolution is unguided, then why would it suddenly evolve the ability to breathe and live on land? It doesn’t consciously evolve these traits to avoid predators, right? So why are these mutations happening in the first place if they’re not going to help the creature avoid predators for another 30,000 years? It’s expending all that energy to become a land-dwelling creature, even though there’s no force guiding it to that new, uncharted environment. It would seem, in your example, that there has to be some sort of guiding force or direction in order for it to expend all that unneeded energy for something that wouldn’t benefit it until the distant future. And if it could survive that 30,000 year period in order to develop the traits necessary to survive on land, then why change at all? What benefits did those incremental changes have before it needed them for land? What cost/ benefit analysis would have warranted that expenditure of energy? Obviously it survived 30,000 years with those predators chasing after it, so there’s really no benefit to expending all that energy, unless you can foresee some kind of benefit in the future.

      The way I look at it, evolutionists can talk a good story, but when it comes to reality, it becomes messy. I don’t see any consistency. If evolution really is unguided, and if there’s any kind of cost/ benefit analysis to determine if it’s worthwhile evolving for a new environment, then it sounds like it’s not unguided. It sounds very intentional. Who’s doing that cost/ benefit analysis, and why? It almost sounds like the fish is expending energy and experimenting to see what is beneficial. What’s the purpose of determining if it’s worthwhile expending that energy if it’s not going to result in anything for thousands, if not millions of years?

      • There was a lot here to read here, and I’ll try to get to all of it as I can, but if I forget to address a point you brought up, please forgive me.

        First, I think we should clarify something. With all of this talk about parsmony, it feels like evolution has taken on a conscious form. I obviously didn’t do a good job articulating it, but evolution is not an active force, in that it can’t be willed or consciously accelerated or whatever. It’s only “active” in the sense that it’s related to the environment. Perhaps “passive” and “active” weren’t the correct words to use, because they carry a connotation that doesn’t quite fit. Perhaps a better terminology would proactive and reactive–evolution is always reactive (to the environment), never proactive.

        With regard to what you’ve said of complexity. I don’t think that anything I’ve said thus far implied that things never become more complex or that they won’t become more complex. What I believe I’ve been saying, and forgive me again if I haven’t articulated this well, is that things won’t become MORE complex than they NEED to be at a given moment in a specific environment. And that’s what parsimony is supposed to reflect. Are their advantages to increasing complexity? There certainly can be, and I wouldn’t deny this.

        So why do things become more complex–if they’re suited for their environment, why evolve at all? These are two questions that I hear you asking (and if I’m wrong about that, feel free to clarify). And the evolutionist answer is that it comes down to an environmental stressor. Mutations are occurring all of the time naturally. And I’ll assume that you know enough biology to know why mutations occur. Sometimes mutations are deadly–those organisms don’t survive to pass them on and rightly so, as such a dire mutation wouldn’t enhance the ability to survive and reproduce. Sometimes a benign mutation occurs–something that doesn’t help or hinder us. This would be passed on, but wouldn’t make a difference. And sometimes a mutation happens that’s beneficial. Like the bird and the wings. Mutation, again, is a natural process. I feel like we’ve been using the wrong words here again, and it’s been sounding like birds somehow chose to grow wings. They didn’t. And for the same reason, you and I don’t have wings. When I first used the example of why we don’t have wings, I should have related it to mutations, instead of passive/active forces, which somehow sound conscious.

        And again, this is my fault, for using inadequate language in my examples. “If evolution really is unguided, and if there’s any kind of cost/ benefit analysis to determine if it’s worthwhile evolving for a new environment, then it sounds like it’s not unguided. It sounds very intentional. Who’s doing that cost/ benefit analysis, and why? It almost sounds like the fish is expending energy and experimenting to see what is beneficial. What’s the purpose of determining if it’s worthwhile expending that energy if it’s not going to result in anything for thousands, if not millions of years?”

        That’s a great question, especially given the rather crummy way I framed the example. I guess in a sense energy expenditure is guided, but to my knowledge not intentionally. Any expenditure of energy is guided by the laws of physics. The same laws of physics apply to biology. Why doesn’t water naturally flow uphill? That’s a limit set by physics–a limit that can’t be overcome without input of additional energy. Like the sodium/potassium balance in a cell. The same principles that apply to water flowing uphill apply to those two electrolytes–and again, that limit can be overcome but only with the input of additional energy (ATP and a sodium/potassium pump).

        So, to clarify a few things with what I believe to be better language: evolution is reactive, not proactive. Mutation is a natural, constant process that serves as the foundation of evolution by allowing for increasing complexity. How does it do this? Mutation makes it easier for systems to overcome the natural forces of the universe. The natural forces of the universe can be overcome, and are overcome all the time (every time you walk or jump or get up out of a chair you’re overcoming the force of gravity).

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