What is space?
Looking at this list of questions reminded me how difficult to express the answers to some of the fundamental questions are, although that is not to say that there are no answers. By difficult to express, I mean that they are hard to state in a way that doesn't simply prompt more questions. Naturally, it's easier for the guy posing the questions. He can simply say "God made it so".
For example, the space in the universe is created as matter expands away from itself. It is fundamentally a property of the matter itself, not a background into which it expands. Well shit, I can barely get my head round that, although I do believe it to be true -- and verifiably so, let alone explain it.
Some of the answers are far more trivial than the guy thinks, but not "provable" in any real sense. When, where, why, and how did life learn to reproduce itself? It happened roughly three and three quarter billion years ago. Where is impossible to answer at this point because life has dispersed across the whole planet. Why implies that physical processes are purposeful, which they are not necessarily (I say not necessarily rather than not at all because I certainly cannot prove that they do not have a purpose -- it might add nothing to our understanding of them to say that they do, but that doesn't mean they in fact do not have one). How? Well, no one is sure. Probably a molecule of RNA picked up the ingredients to make its counterpart from the waters that surrounded it and bang! How that RNA was formed is a complex question that does not have a simple answer. There are several candidate mechanisms. If we are left with, say, three mechanisms that are all tolerably plausible, we cannot with confidence say which created our precursor.
With what did the first cell capable of sexual reproduction reproduce? One of the problems that antiscientists have is that they do not understand that evolution happens to populations, not individuals, and that, as with many areas of science, there is not this thing and that thing but this kind of thing and that kind of thing. The answer, of course, is itself. Sexual reproduction involves some of the same processes as asexual reproduction. It's far more reasonable to assume that it evolved piecemeal than that suddenly sexually reproducing cells sprang into being. Perhaps a cell ingested a bacterium or caught a virus and reproduced with that? This is more possible. We believe our genomes have included bacterial DNA and we know that we live in symbiosis with at least one type of bacterium: mitochondria.
How can mutations (recombining of the genetic code) create any new, improved varieties? (Recombining English letters will never produce Chinese books.) This is a poor analogy. English letters in the recombination called pinyin actually can produce Chinese books.
Anyway, let's ignore the poor analogy and answer the question. First, the notion of improvement is alien to evolution. Evolution does not create absolutely better organisms, only relatively better ones. Good today is bad tomorrow (if the world were inundated with water, gills would be at a premium and lungs, well, if you only had lungs you'd better be a good swimmer). How can it make new varieties?
Well, English has 26 letters. It can only be combined in so many ways. Some just don't work. Kngrph. You see? But not only does it contain over a hundred thousand words, new ones are coined every day. What is more, it has "evolved". It has changed over time. Not to become better, but to fit its circumstances. Hmmm. The genetic code has billions of combinatorial possibilities. How can it make new things? By creating proteins that work on each other and on cells in a myriad ways with an awesome synergy that makes the whole incredibly complex and diverse.
Is it possible that similarities in design between different animals prove a common Creator instead of a common ancestor? You what?
The fact that *all* life shares a basic pattern despite its apparent differences would show that its creator used a very limited palette. Similarities in design strongly suggest a common ancestor. But it runs deeper than that. That the differences systematically reflect differences in the code that builds the different organisms, we can say with confidence that they share a common ancestor.
Why would it show a common creator? That's a crazy thing to suggest. Surely God could have created any kind of thing he liked? Why would there not being much variety at base prove that he created it?
Natural selection only works with the genetic information available and tends only to keep a species stable. How would you explain the increasing complexity in the genetic code that must have occurred if evolution were true?
You know, it would be a damned sight harder to explain there being no complexity! This question is of course of two parts, with little or no connection between them. Natural selection works with the genetic information available -- true. I don't know what "keeping a species stable" is supposed to mean. I presume the guy means that it tends to destroy mutations. Yes, it does. Harmful ones. That's the point. If you grow an extra leg in the middle of your forehead, natural selection will tend to weed you out. You won't survive long enough to have progeny and so the extra leg allele will tend not to be passed on. But if, say, you had a mutation that made you a tad stronger than other organisms, so that you had a kid or two extra, well then...
I don't know that evolution, if it were true, requires increased complexity. The guy is too wrapped up in notions of progress. Yes, it's quite clear that less complexity means fewer possibilities for different types of organisms, and fewer different organisms means fewer niches that can be filled, so complexity will be selection-positive. But this is simple common sense, not evolutionary theory as such.
Whales, it might astonish "Dr" Hovind, evolved from something a bit like a hippo (they had been thought to have evolved from something like a wolf but in recent times the case for artiodactyls and particularly hippo-like ones has become much stronger). It's thought it was a dweller of the water margin that evolved to become amphibian and, in time, marine. Whales have a fairly clear fossil record, which is very interesting, so much so that one would have to ask Hovind "if God created all the 'kinds', what the fuck are those whale-like fossils?"
Is it wise and fair to present the theory of evolution to students as fact?
Evolution is, without question, a fact. You can see it happen in a lab. Of course, Hovind uses a very broad definition of evolution that makes it mean "any naturalistic explanation of the world or anything in it". But science *is* in large part, and biology entirely, the description of the world as a natural system. That doesn't exclude God but he must fit science's schema to be included in it.
What Hovind wants is to deny science. He wants *his* prior explanation of the world and what's in it to be given equal footing with science, and to be taught to children as equal to it. But science is not a creed. It is a framework for explaining the world around us. It doesn't claim to be *true* or *right*. It simply claims to be a means of description. It is a powerful tool for a child. It can be used to build an understanding of things. A belief in God cannot. This is not to say that it does not have its place -- I would never say that. But "God did it" is not as powerful as an explanatory mechanism.
Do you honestly believe that everything came from nothing? Why not? Hovind does. Because God was not created. He is turtles all the way down and as such he didn't come from anything either.
The thing is, it makes no great difference to our understanding of cosmology whether the universe came from nothing or from God's hand. So long as he created it in a Big Bang about 17 billion years ago, no worries.