Following John Harshman's and Deaddog's suggestions, I've added in a few others into this growing list. I've also taken out the sections, realizing I had some challenges that walked the line between the two. So now in no particular order are the challenges. I think that they'll each end up with their own web page eventually and the front page will just end up as an index to each challenge.
Can the authors of the following challenges suggest updates/corrections, etc to the blurbs I included? Or if they're happy with what I've got listed here, they can feel free to add more.
PS -- Lenny: Yea, I'm going to keep this to scientific challenges right now. Though there might be a call for a page for other kinds of challenges?
Standing talk.origins challenges to creationism and/or the intelligent design idea.
Dozens of posters in the talk.origins Usenet newsgroup have offered various challenges to creationists or people enamoured of the intelligent design idea. It is true that all biological, chemical, and physical experimental evidence "out there" offers challenges to creationists, and must be accounted for by creationism or the intelligent design idea.
Here, however, we document current, specific challenges made by talk.origins posters.
The challenges contained in this document are of two types, or a combination of the two:
1. Challenges that offer data that creationism (or ID) must explain. 2. Challenges that require (scientific) evidence in favor of creationism or the intelligent design idea.
These challenges are in no particular order. There is no precedence in the numbering.
Responses to these challenges will be posted.
An html-formatted version of this document is available at
1. Transitional Fossil Existence Challenge
Originator: Wesley R. Elsberry Example Message-ID: <[email protected]> Date: Sat, 8 Feb 2003 06:45:39 +0000 Google link: http://tinyurl.com/2lapm
Claim addressed: The fossil record contains no transitional fossils.
Challenge to creationism/ID: Support the claim that the fossil record contains no transitional fossils, by addressing published data.
Synopsis: Creationists must show that a fossil sequence published in an offered scientific journal article contains no transitional forms.
Excerpt: "This challenge is to show just how much familiarity the anti-evolutionist making the claim of no transitional fossil sequences has with the actual evidence of the fossil record. By making a universal claim concerning transitional fossils, the anti-evolutionist should be prepared to back up the claim with extended technical discussion of the reasons why all sequences that others believe to be transitional in nature really are not transitional. Because there have been many such sequences put forward by various researchers, this challenge focusses upon one case at a time."
2. Evidence for human relationships to the other apes.
Originator: John Harshman Example Message-ID <[email protected]> Date: 17 Sep 2003 18:19:34 +0000 Google link: http://tinyurl.com/2dzlq
Claim addressed: Evolution is not falsifiable (evolutionary theory does not provide a testable hypothesis)
Challenge to creationism/ID: Explain the evidence for a multiple nested hierarchy from genetic data using creationism or the intelligent design idea.
Synopsis: Specific gene data from the mitochondria of several primate species best supports the unique expectations of the common descent of humans through the African ape connection, over any other hypothesis.
Excerpt: "This result would be very difficult to explain by chance. By itself, this is pretty good evidence for the African ape connection. But if I did this little exercise with any other gene I would get the same result too. (If you don't believe me I would be glad to do that.) Why? I say it's because all the genes evolved on the same tree, the true tree of evolutionary relationships. That's the multiple nested hierarchy for you. So what's your alternative explanation for all this?"
3. Provide scientific theory of Creation (or Intelligent Design.)
Originator: Lenny Flank Example Message- ID: <[email protected]> Date: Sat, 13 Dec 2003 05:41:16 +0000 (and many others) Google link: http://tinyurl.com/yqmal
Claim addressed: Creationism (or ID) is not merely religious doctrine because a scientific theory of creation (or intelligent design) exists and therefore can be taught as such..
Challenge to creationism/ID: Creationists are asked to support this claim by presenting a scientific theory of creation (or intelligent design) that satisfies the definition of a scientific theory and the demands of such a theory.
Synopsis: Scientific theories are the highest organizing principle of scientific knowledge. The Theory of Evolution currently provides the best explanation for biological data. Creationists claim that they have a "theory" that is not merely religious apologetics. In order for this to be true, creationists should present an organized explanation in the form of a scientific hypothesis that could be tested against real data. Thus far however, no person has provided either a scientific hypothesis of creation, or a scientific hypothesis of Intelligent Design.
Excerpt: "Any testible scientific theory of creation should be able to provide answers to several questions: (1) how did life begin, (2) how did the current diversity of life appear, and (3) what mechanisms were used in these processes and where can we see these mechanisms today."
4. Second Law of Thermodynamics.
Originator: Dave Oldridge Example Message-ID: <[email protected]> Date: 28 Jun 2001 01:12:27 -0400 Google link: http://tinyurl.com/ytxe4
Claim addressed: Evolution violates the second law of thermodynamics.
Challenge to creationists: Show one hypothesized event -- one single step -- proposed by the Theory of Evolution in the evolution of single-celled organisms to Homo sapiens that violates the 2LOT.
Synopsis: Creationists abuse the Second Law of Thermodynamics (2LoT) by claiming that order cannot rise from disorder and therefore life cannot form from "non-life", or life cannot evolve from simple to more complex forms because of the limits imposed by the 2LoT. Dave Oldridge offers creationists a chance to show to the world exactly where and how the 2LoT is violated.
Excerpt: "If evolution violates the second law of thermodynamics, then it follows that at least one hypothesized event in the evolution of man from a single celled organism must violate it. My challenge to creationists who claim that the evolution of man from micro-organism is a violation of the second law is for them to produce one single, necessary hyothesized event in that evolution that is a violation."
5. Explain molecular evidence of repeat elements
Originator: Deanne Taylor Example Message-ID: <[email protected]> Date: Sat, 3 Jan 2004 20:34:07 +0000 Google link: http://tinyurl.com/2k3bc
Challenge to creationism/ID: Explain the evidence of shared repeat elements between closely-related genomes without invoking common descent.
Synopsis: Chimpanzee and human (for example) have shared genomic "repeat elements" in common. The nature and signature of these elements indicate that humans and chimpanzees once shared the bulk of their evolutionary history, in the form of a common ancestor.
Excerpt: " Evolutionary theory escapes the "function begets genomic form begets function" tautology by acknowledging the historical aspect of the "garbage" that carries along through subsequent generations and through speciation events. The neutral mutation pattern and position of endogenous retroviruses provides a historical record that two closely related species are expected to mainly share (as they both recently shared a common ancestor)."
6. The Sequence Discrimination Challenge (part I)
Originator: Andy Groves Example Message-ID: <[email protected]> Date: Tue, 23 Dec 2003 21:31:40 Google link: http://tinyurl.com/2rc43
Claim addressed: Intelligent Design is an adequate scientific hypothesis for the origin and evolution of life. Dembski's filter is able to detect the handiwork of Design over that of stochastic, "natural" processes.
Challenge to creationism/ID: Detect design in a set of four bit streams. Show that Dembski's "explanatory filter" has any power in actually detecting design. Proponents of ID are given four bit streams, and are challenged to use Dembski's Explanatory Filter (see below) to distinguish "complex specified information" in some strings versus others.
Synopsis: Dembski's "explanatory filter" (see http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/CI/CI110.html) is said to discover the signature of design through detection of Dembski's "complex specified information". If Dembski's filter has any applicable merit, it should be able to detect design in some of the strings, by discriminating between items with "specified complexity", and those without.
Excerpt: "My puzzle for Tony this year (and anyone else who might be interested)is simply this. Take the following four data streams, and tell me which ones exhibit specified complexity."
7. The Sequence Discrimination Challenge (part II)
Originator: Andy Groves Example Message-ID: <[email protected]> Date: Sun, 28 Dec 2003 23:10:17 Google link: http://tinyurl.com/2bsjk
Claim addressed: Intelligent Design is an adequate scientific hypothesis for the origin and evolution of life. It is able to detect the handiwork of Design over that of stochastic, "natural" processes.
Challenge to creationism/ID: Detect design in a set of four alphabetic strings. Show that Dembski's "explanatory filter" has any power for detecting design. Proponents of ID are given four bit streams, and are challenged to use Dembski's Explanatory Filter (see below) to distinguish "complex specified information" in some strings versus others.
Synopsis: Dembski's "explanatory filter" (see http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/CI/CI110.html) is said to discover the signature of design through detection of "complex specified information". Andy Groves provides yet another set of strings, this time of alphabetical characters and not binary digits.The challenge is to decide which of these strings contains Dembski's complex specified information using the mechanism of Dembski's explanatory filter linked above.
Excerpt: "It seems that Tony and Mike didn't think the first version of my Christmas puzzle was sufficiently daunting to merit their attention. Accordingly, here are four more bit strings for their attention, which I hope they will now insert into Dembski's explanatory filter and use its rigorous mathematics to show which ones exhibit specified complexity. Because they complained that the original strings weren't complicated enough, I have made the strings longer, and used letters instead of binary digits."