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The Bible and Science:
Westminster Theological Seminary
April 20-21, 2001
- Dr. Mastropaolo vs. Dr. Weisenberg Debate
- Dr. Cuozzo vs. Dr. Mann Debate
- Survey and Replies
- News Links
Dr. Mastropaolo's Presentation
Dr. Mastropaolo shocked the audience Saturday morning by proclaiming the extinction of mankind by 2085 due to 100% infant mortality because of genetic defects.
This reminded me of reading Future Shock in High School that proclaimed there would be standing room only on the planet earth by the year 2001(?).
There are many, many, many things wrong with his prediction. My Biblical proclamation must therefore be that Mastropaolo is a false prophet. Why? Because the Bible does not teach that man will go extinct. According to the literal interpretation of Old Testament laws, he must be stoned to death; however, today we live in the New Testament Age of Grace.
Most of what Mastropaolo said was with loud rhetoric and name calling. He repeatedly proclaimed:
- Evolution is non-existent.
- Evolution is a state supported religion
- Therefore evolution is against the constitution
- Evolution is therefore criminal
- Evolution must be expunged
There was very little evidence given to back up his claims, except for problems in the 1950's text books that have been corrected. All his arguments were old like the Piltdown Man and the Nebraska Man that science knows is fake. The only real new evidence was his prediction of human extinction in 2085.
Mastropaolo's claims that evolutionists are criminals and their evolutionary views need to be expunged, reminded me of Hitler's call to exterminate the Jews. What is even worst is the willingness of the crowd at the debate to go long with Mastropaolo's statements of annihilation. An even closer parallel is the Spanish Inquisition.
I asked a few people, "Who won the debates?" Friday night was seen as a tie with no clear winner, whereas on Saturday Mastropaolo was seen as the clear winner. This astounds me, but it shouldn't knowing that most of the people who came were conservative Christians.
The mentality behind fundamentalism is the false notion that one false claim can invalidate all of evolution, or one false statement in the Bible proves the Bible wrong. It is an all or nothing mentality that does not work in this world. Fundamentalists end up throwing the baby out with the bath water.
My statements may seem harsh, but that is the way Mastropaolo came across to me.
--Dr. Stephen C. Meyers
What's wrong with Mastropaolo's Claim of Extinction by 2085!
Mastropaolo makes a number of assumptions that are not true, and his curve is not a true exponential curve.
Dr. Petto states, "He (Mastropaolo) took data from *reported* cases of infant mortality due to genetic defects from 1916-88 and showed that the number of cases thus identified has gone up he said exponentially, but it was not an exponential curve --- a fact that at least one thinking creationist observed to me later). He seems untroubled by the fact that screening programs have increased the number of genetic defects both reportable and identifiable at birth, and therefore there is more likely to be a diagnosis of one of these at an infant's death. He also is untroubled by the fact that, even today, not all 50 states have uniform reporting (in fact, when I worked with PKU disease in Boston, the head of the lab there would travel to PA to study PKU disease among the Amish, noting that PKU disease was not "reportable" at the time as a genetic defect at birth). Finally, he projected (based on these flawed numbers) that there would be 100% infant mortality due to genetic defects by 2085 (so, don't make any plans for the end of this century, he said). Of course, if the projection were correct, then the conclusion would be that 100% of infant mortality would be due to genetic defects and not that there would be 100% infant mortality. (The thinking creationist also agreed that he saw through this point and could tell the difference between what the data should say and what Mastropaolo was implying, but not saying, about the projection)."
Mastropaolo sent a reply, but did not give permission to post it. Most of his comments to me have been ad hominem arguments.
Dr. Petto has written some additional comments to help clarify this. Dr. Petto writes, "You (Mastropaolo) do not seem to understand my objections to your use of the OMIM data, so I will be pleased to explain them to you. These are the same as the objections raised at the DAIC meeting, where I was present. There was agreement among several researchers there that you misunderstood the question at that time, as you have misunderstood the post on Stephen's website. If you would like to discuss how these data are used and the mathematical modeling of this problem, then I will be pleased to do so. Herewith are the objections to the use of the data in your presentation.
- The OMIM database is not a database of the incidence or the prevalence
of genetic defects, but rather a record of the discovery of the source
or causes of genetic disease inherited in a Mendelian way. It is, essentially,
a record of the progress of medical research, not the accumulation of
new genetic defects. However, your presentation seems to overlook this
distinction and gives the impression that these are new genetic disorders
brought about by a degeneration of the human genome.
For example, here is one of the updates from May 2001:
Pfeifer, D.; Poulat, F.; Holinski-Feder, E.; Kooy, F.; Scherer, G. : The SOX8 gene is located within 700 kb of the tip of chromosome 16p and is deleted in a patient with ATR-16 syndrome. Genomics 63: 108-116, 2000. PubMed ID : 10662550
It reports on the locus of a particular gene associated with a known medical disorder, not a new genetic defect caused by what you call "devolution".
Indeed, many of the OMIM updates are similar elaborations on previous reports, including corrections, further studies, and confounding variables.
Furthermore, the OMIM FAQ makes it clear that this is not the sort of database that one needs to chart the incidence of new genetic defects. Updates do not report NEW genetic defects only; but rather genetic defects for which the loci and sequences have been newly discovered. In many cases, these are diseases that have been known for a long time, but the molecular biochemistry has just been discovered.
Your presentation is a record of the progress of biomedical research to identify the causes of inherited genetic diseases, not a chronicle of an increase in the rates of these diseases. These data simply do not represent the phenomenon that you wish to demonstrate; and they never will without a significant amount of work within the database to extract ONLY those new genetic disorders.
- Your analysis of the increase in the percentage of infant deaths due
to genetic defects is also faulty, because you do not adjust the data
for the declining number of infant deaths. Confirming the rates you cite
by using the NIH Faststats website and examining the trends in infant
mortality from all causes on the CDC (MMWR) website, we see that both
the rate of infant mortality from all causes AND the rate of infant mortality
from genetic defects are declining, not increasing. The result that you
report is only an artifact of the current trend that sees the decline
in infant mortality from genetic defects declining at a slower rate than
the rate in infant mortality from all causes. In effect, the calculation
is arithmetically precise, but both misleading and an incorrect use of
the data. Indeed, neither the rate of infant mortality nor the rate of
infant mortality due to genetic defects has been going up in this country
during the time span in your presentation (or at the present time).
- Your regressions are also arithmetically precise, but do little more
than describe the inappropriate relationships that you made in your data
selection. I have similar data (which I use to teach students to spot
the inappropriate use of statistics) that "prove" unequivocally
(r^2 values greater that 0.9995) that (a) marriage causes divorce and
(b) that the secret to living a long life is to have more birthdays. But
more important are the bizarre y-intercept values in your regressions.
In your graph of the trends of the percentage of infant deaths attributed to birth defects, 1916-1988, your y-intercept value appears to be -163,910%. This makes no sense based on the data values shown on the axes of the graph. The same is true for the graph of the MIM reported genetic disorders; the number of disorders when x=0 must be -4,437,000,000. Neither of these x=0 values for y makes any sense biologically, and this is always a clue that there is something wrong with the data analysis (in the case of the latter, because of the characteristics of the database itself, as I indicated above).
- None of these equations is an exponential equation --- which should
have the form y = a + b^x. You have a polynomial regression, to be sure,
which usually describes a curvilinear relationship; but the x^3 term usually
describes a second "bend" in the data (which you do not show),
unless the coefficient is so small as to contribute very little to the
relationship (such as in your percentage of birth defects graph, in which
this term is practically zero, 0.000022226). When the untransformed graph
is practically a straight line (as in this graph), then we conclude that
the terms beyond the first (252.65x) add little to the explanation of
the data (although they will necessarily increase the r^2).
- This is NOT --- repeat NOT -- about the quality of the data themselves,
but about how they have been used. Speaking for themselves, the OMIM data,
for example, say only that we have an increasing number of genetic defects
inherited in a Mendelian manner whose causes (and loci) have been specifically
identified. The "medically reported genetic disorders" as you
call them do not record previously nonexistent genetic defects, just previously
unknown loci in the human genome.
- Lately, you have claimed that it is up to your critics to provide better
data. Well, you are mistaken. You have chosen to use data in a certain
way, which, at the very least, suggests that you have misunderstood what
the data really are. The fact that you have made several serious errors
in your use of the data does not obligate your critics to provide a better
database to invalidate your claims. Indeed, as I have indicated above,
the existing data are sufficient to prove you wrong about both of your
major claims --- that the number and rate of genetic defects are increasing,
and that we are facing an increased rate of infant mortality due to genetic
defects. It is not the data that are mistaken or in error, but the user
of those data.
- Finally, there is the strawman argument that you use to set up your
so-called "devolution" scenario. You show a graph that indicates
that the number of "medically reported genetic disorders" should
go down if evolution is true. This is a common misunderstanding of anti-evolutionists,
and there is no such prediction of perfection in evolutionary theory.
Indeed, the adaptation mechanisms underlying most evolutionary models
specifically eschew perfection, since all adaptation is to local conditions.
The only place that this march to perfection appears in contemporary writings
on evolution is by anti-evolutionists who wish to show that evolution
does not lead to perfection. But more important, why would "medically
reported" genetic disorders go down? These are, after all, only those
that are medically reported. As one questioner objected at the DAIC meeting
(and I conveyed to Stephen Meyers), there is still no national standard
for reporting genetic defects, and these reports are still inconsistent
from state to state. Therefore, the trend you report does not take into
account changes in reporting requirements or detection and screening programs
over the course of the study (or, if they do, you do not seem to be able
to tell us how).
Once again, these are not objections to the data themselves, but to your use of them. No amount of protesting that the data are the best available will resolve these objections. If you are interested in exploring the issues brought up by the use of these data, I would be happy to explore them with you. Otherwise, I consider it sufficient that I have conveyed these objections to you in enough detail to make my objections clear.
Mastropaolo has responded to Dr. Petto with ad hominem attacks, but has not responded to any of his comments.
I contacted a number of Creationist organizations. I have not found any creationist group that believes what Mastropaolo says is true about the extinction of mankind by 2085. It seems that Mastropaolo is the only one that I know of who believes we will be extinct by 2085. To see the specific comments by Creationist organizations about Mastropaolo's claim click here!
Side Bar: Exponential Curves!
Young-earth creationists are fond of misusing exponential curves to prove something that really is not truth. Here are a few other false extrapolations:
- The speed of light is slowing down
- The sun is shrinking showing it is young
- The earth's magnetic field is decaying showing the earth is young.
- Population growth shows earth is young
Dr. Weisenberg's Presentation
God is a She!
Dr. Weisenberg stunned the mostly fundamentalist audience by proclaiming that he believed God to be a She. This only confirmed to fundamentalists that evolutionists must be reprobates. Dr. Weisenberg pointed out that the creation/evolution controversy is just among fundamentalists who take the Bible literally which he stated was bad theology.
Weisenberg challenged creationists to do more than just criticize evolution. They must be able to explain things better than evolution like why islands have different species. Why have mutations? He brought out an instrument so the audience could hear cosmic rays coming through the building and through our bodies which hit our DNA and change the DNA. Resistant Bacteria is an example of a good mutation.
Dr. Cuozzo's Presentation
Astounding Discoveries Revealed For the First Time by Dr. Cuozzo!
Dr. Petto states, "The real "coup" of the night were several findings that Cuozzo presented from his recent trip to Swanscombe. According to his story, he picked up some random stones at the site and took them home as souvenirs. When he began cleaning them up at home, one appeared to be a mastoid process and the other appeared to be the symphyseal face of the left pubis (female, aged 45+, according to modern standards). Once he realized the import, of course, he returned the specimens to Britain ASAP, but he made casts that show that the mastoid fits into the left side of a Swanscombe cast. He told the audience that the mastoid and pubis were both left-sided, so this was probably the same individual, which N-FL analysis would determine (Alan Mann quickly corrected both these errors).
But the BIG surprise was the presented of "microcarvings" --- markings on some of the stones that, according to Cuozzo, represented birds and other animals. For scale he juxtaposed orthodontic wire (0.46 mm) which was anywhere from one-half to 1/4 the size of the markings. So, Swanscombers could see and carve at this scale without optical instruments and fine engraving tools. Ergo, earlier humans were perfected and we are degenerate --- the process is devolution, not evolution."
If there are microcarvings, there would be tools found at the sites, but there is only evidence of large cumbersome tools at Neanderthal sites (Dr. Mann). Experts need to examine these finds. I am highly skeptical of these finds which require the use of optical instruments and fine engraving tools by Neanderthals.
Cuozzo also claims there is a picture of a dinosaur next to a mammoth in a cave. The picture below does not look like a dinosaur to me. Judge for yourself.
For more information about this picture see The Secret of Bernifal. You may need to scroll down to see this article.
Jack Cuozzo has written the book Buried Alive: The Startling Truth about Neanderthal Man (Green Forest, Arkansas: Master Books. pp.349; more information at Jack Cuozzo's website). There is an excellent review of this book by Colin Groves.
The main thesis of Cuozzo's arguments is that man today has degenerated from the Neanderthal.
|Slower growth rate||Faster growth rate|
|Later puberty||Earlier puberty|
|Later eruption of teeth||Earlier eruption of teeth|
|Teeth are larger||Teeth are smaller|
|More enamel on Teeth?||This is questionable|
I see things just the opposite! A faster growth rate means a better survival rate. Earlier puberty also means better survival and earlier reproduction. This is more like evolution than devolution. It should be noted that children with plenty of healthy food will grow faster. Children who are starving will grow slower.
When people grow older their head grows larger and the brow comes forward. Therefore, Cuozzo contends Neanderthals must be 300 years old. Dr. Mann countered with a picture of a young australopithecine child with a forward brow. Dr. Mann stated that Neanderthal teeth and bodies develop at about the same rate as we do today.
Post Debate Notes
In 1992 in Israel archaeologists discovered an infant Neanderthal that had all the anatomical features of the adult like a large forward brow, and jaw showing that these features are not due to old age as Cuozzo says. The same is true for about a dozen other Neanderthals arranging from infant to juvenile. See Hugh Ross, "Neanderthal Tot Discovery," Facts and Faith,, vol. 8. No 1 (1994), p. 4. and Christopher P. E. Zollikofer, Marcia S. Ponce de Leon, Robert D. Martin, and Peter Stuckl, "Neanderthal Computer Skulls," Nature, 375 (1995), pp. 283-285.
On July 25, 2001 I met with Paul Humber and he showed me the supposed bones he had taken from Swanscombe. They are small irregular lumps averaging about 2-3 inches in size. I brought with me several real fossilized bones to compare. There was a big difference between his supposed bones and my bones. He admitted there was a difference.
The supposed bones looked like chert. When I got back home I looked at my rock collection, and the chert I have looks very similar to the supposed bones he had. Chert forms as irregular lumpy nodules. Chert is made of microcrystalline silica that is very dense and hard.
My conclusion is that his supposed bones are just stones, probably chert.
Paul showed me some x-rays taken by Jack Cuozzo of the Swanscombe mastoid bone, gravel, and a modern mastoid bone. The x-ray of the modern mastoid bone had clear hollow cavities, the gravel had none. The x-ray of the Swanscombe bone looked more like the gravel x-ray with some more dense areas. I did not see any clear hollow cavities like in the modern mastoid bone. For pictures of this bone see New remains from Swanscombe discovered by Dr. Jack Cuozzo .
Paul sent me an e-mail that he now thinks his bones are really chert, but the supposed mastoid bone of Cuozzo's is different. Probably just a different kind of chert.
Chert can form in two ways; from organic and inorganic material. Chert formed from organic material may still have fossils in it. My guess is that these micro-carvings are actually micro-fossils embedded in the chert.
Dr. Alan Mann's Presentation
From Monkey to Man!
Dr. Alan Mann brought a number of skull casts to visually show that there are definitely part monkey-part human skulls. Dr. Mann did a very good job of presenting the evidence and pointing out the problems with Cuozzo's statements.
Dr. Mann accepts modern radiometric dating which fundamentalist reject. His arguments would have been helped by pointing out a few reasons why radiometric dating is accurate. See How Old is the Earth.
I am taking a survey of your opinions about the creation/evolution debate on Friday and Saturday. Would you please take a few minutes to let me know what you thought about the debates?
- Who do you think won the debate on Friday night? Dr. Cuozzo or Dr. Mann.
- Who do you think won the debate on Saturday morning? Dr. Mastropaolo or Dr. Weisenberg.
- What was the most convincing argument of the debates?
- Any other comments?
Replies to the Survey
First, let me say how much I appreciated the opportunity to hear and see
these live debates. They were handled in a very professional and respectful
way so that a good exchange of opposing ideas and concepts was presented
to the audience. Thanks to Skilton House Ministries for their
- I did not attend the Friday night debate.
- Clearly, I believe Dr. Mastropaolo won the Saturday debate. He was much better prepared, consistently focused and presented his material in an effective manner. Dr Mastropaolo also stuck to the issues when challenged so that his responses enabled me to better understand the issues and his position.
- The devolution antithesis to macroevolution was very logically presented on the basis of scientific data analysis.
- Comment. Please keep sponsoring these type of debates for public education. I trust also that the promise to send a response to those whose questions were unanswered will be carried out. I submitted two cards with my name and address on the back--a question to DR Mastropaolo and a question to Dr. Weisenberg.
- Who do you think won the debate on Friday night? Dr. Cuozzo or Dr. Mann. Dr. Mann. No contest. His erudition was combined with a practiced debating style and a sense of humor. He used hard evidence, unlike Dr. Cuozzo, whose arguments were frequently circular and whose evidence lacked conviction. Dr. Cuozzo often failed to clarify just what it was he was showing and how it related to the creationist position. He frequently descended to ad hominem arguments and emotional playing to the audience, and ----unlike Dr. Mann----clearly was not listening to his opponent. He also kept referring to Lucy and similar specimen as "apes," when Dr. Mann had repeatedly given sound evidence that they were proto-humans.
- Who do you think won the debate on Saturday morning? Dr. Mastropaolo or Dr. Weisenberg. I was unable to attend.
- What was the most convincing argument of the debates? Dr. Mann's patiently constructed time-line of human evolution and his assertion that "proof" was not at issue here.....what constituted genuine scientific inquiry was the gradual accumulation of evidence.
- Any other comments? If creationism aspires to the status of science, it has a long way to go. I do not find it intellectually credible, especially after the debate on Friday. Dr. Cuozzo was preaching to the converted. "Preaching" seems an apt verb for his activities. Dr. Mann was engaging in an intellectual exchange of ideas.....but there were very few ideas to be had from Dr. Cuozzo.
I enjoyed the debate greatly. I felt that Dr. Mann handled his topic and audience very well. I was disappointed that most of the rebuttals were actually new material unrelated to the last speakers points. Both argued independent of each other so it is not easy to decide who won the debate.
I felt like writing to Dr. Cuozzo to tell him that he ought to stick to his thesis and not go into fields that he is not formally trained in (i.e. radiometric dating). The Creationist community is rightly criticized for not doing any original research (Dr. Cuozzo being an exception), for speaking out in areas that they are not qualified to represent themselves as scholars, and for deriving their data from Scripture rather than from observation. While I hold Scripture to be inerrant it is not the place to do original research. Science demands testing.
- Dr. Mann
- Dr. Mastropaolo
- The dating of materials, the evolution stand is up held by the passing of billions of years.
- I think the format is ok as is. I think more debate with no changed would be great.
Let me thank first the organizing committee for wonderful event. It's very interesting . I hope you 'll have more of those debates. It's a very good tool to evangelize.
On Friday , both DR Mann and DR Cuazzo came out good.
DR Mann was more more pragmatic, (that's usually better) he came out very objective, "presenting data" however talking to him in private afterwards, he did not so impartial, he showed true colors.
DR Cuazzo also presented convincing data however he was a little emotional, that may not go very well in the scientific world.
On Saturday, I got there late.
DR Masropaolo came out much better.
DR weisenberg seemed not prepared.
Better directions and a map would be very helpful to get there on time.
Saturday morning 10 am is too early, attendance was low.
DR Mastropaolo had a very good argument about the fox who changes fur color between white and grey quickly , therefore a designer.
Age measurements and dating seem to be a problem ( at least for me) I wish people explain the techniques used and how reliable is each.
Dear Brother Myers:
I noted your report of Masterpaolo's prediction. My first impression was that he must be somewhat of a loose cannon.
My first reply to your question is that the prediction contradicts very clear unambiguous prophecies in both the N.T. and the O.T. For example, 1 Thes. 4:13-18 tells us how our blessed hope referred to in Titus 2:13, John 14:1-3 and 1 Corinthians 15:51-54 will occur. At that glorious moment in history there will be living Christians on the earth and deceased believers (OT and NT) who are in their graves. The bodies of dead believers will be raised and united with their souls brought down by Christ from heaven. Then, immediately afterward, the living Christians will be taken up to be with them and with the Lord Jesus in the clouds, and so we will every be with the Lord. Therefore, Masterpaolo's prediction is FALSE. I frankly felt embarrassed for the people who organized the seminary in which his prediction was made.
Second, if there were any valid scientific evidence of a genetic wipe-out of the human race some 84 years from now, it would certainly be found in the standard scientific literature somewhere. For several decades I have subscribed to SCIENCE, NATURE, SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN and NATURAL HISTORY MAGAZINE. I have never seen the slightest hint of such a future genetic catastrophe for the human race.
Keep up the good work, dear brother.
Yours because His,
Creation-Science Research Center
I cannot speak for other members of the Creation Research Society. With nearly 650 scientists as members of our Society, I suspect you could find quite a variety of views on this subject. However, my own opinion is that the 2085 date is a bit pessimistic.
On the other hand, with 85 more years of development of weapons of mass destruction, of inching toward a one world government, of secular evolutionary humanism, and without Divine intervention, things might terminate a lot sooner.
Forecasting things 85 years down the road is a bit tedious from any point of view.
The one thing I do know is that we are called to be faithful witnesses and to be faithful to His Word regardless of what the future holds.
John R. Meyer, Ph.D.Director, Van Andel Creation Research Center
Chino Valley, AZ
- Nimble fingers - Modern man may have out-competed his Neanderthal cousins by having a finer touch, according to studies of ancient hand fossils.
- A New Face Joins the Family - Flat-Faced Hominid Throws Human Lineage Into Confusion.