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Debate: Evolution

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Is evolution fact or fiction?

Background and context

This article outlines some of the arguments surrounding evolution, looking at evolution from a logical, rational & scientific view point. Before Darwin, 'evolution' was a word with a Latin origin, that implied change over time, that described any aging process and there is nothing in the universe as we know it that doesn't age or change over time and therefore could be called an example of evolution. Darwin's tried to elevate the concept to a higher abstract or theoretical level. His studies of animal species in the Galapagos Islands in the mid-19th century fostered his conclusion that species evolve through the natural selection. That is, animals in a species with slight variations and mutations that enable them to survive and thrive more successfully are more likely to propagate themselves, whereas those that are less successful are not as capable of propagating their particular DNA and traits. Overtime, this process will happen many times and the overall traits in a species will change, usually continually toward those traits that make the species more "successful". The theory has been very controversial right from the outset, because it clearly contradicts the account of God's creation of the world and the creatures in it in the book of Genesis. The aim of this debate is to discuss whether or not the theory of evolution is valid as a scientific theory and worldview.


Regarding the Age of the universe

Pro

  • No real proof at all regarding the age of the universe appears to be a point to tie in the inception of the universe with evolution. These two scientific inquiries are only marginally related. For example, The Big Bang, and whether it is true or not has nothing to do with the validity of evolution. If we'd like to discuss that issue it should be in another debate. I'd suggest Debate: Big Bang

Con

  • No real proof at all regarding the age of the universe. The age of the universe cannot be used to prove evolution. A young earth would definitely disprove evolution but not all creationists align themselves with this view, as the Hebrew word for day- "yom" can also refer to an unspecified period of time, similar to the English idiom "in my day..." which usually means something like "when I was younger" as opposed to referring to a particular day which allows Christians to accept conventional dating methods (whether accurate or not) whilst maintaining integrity in their belief in Biblical inerrancy. The age of the universe is debated between creationists, and so is irrelevant to this debate. The Evolutionist debater is right to point out that this question should be debated elsewhere. The new debate, Debate:Age of the Earth would be an excellent place to develop this. Those interested in debating the various creationist interpretations of the age of the Earth should go to Debate: Old Earth Creationism vs Young Earth Creationism.

"Transitional" Species

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Pro

  • "No real proof of an animal ever changing into a different kind of animal." - There are hundreds of "transitional fossils", here is a list. Exactly how many fossils does someone need to find that are "transitional" before this is acceptable? If you don't want to look through the long list I point to the VERY notable example of dinosaurs to birds.

Con

  • No real proof of an animal ever changing into a different kind of animal. In fact, we know of hundreds if not thousands of species that have become extinct during recorded history, but how many animals do we know of, that have evolved during the same period?
  • Of the supposed "transitional fossils" that have been found, most of them have turned out to be frauds (such as "Piltdown man"), insufficient bones collected (a supposed "missing link" between apes and men in Nebraska turned out to be a pig's tooth), or otherwise explainable. In view of this, it would be rather foolhardy to assert that the fossil record actually supports evolution.
  • Dinosaur to bird evolution is often taken for granted as fact. However, scales and feathers share too few similarities for to support this hypothesis- and no intermediate forms between feathers and scales have been found.
  • Perhaps the biggest problem with trying to use fossils to prove evolution is that there is more than one way of interpreting fossils. Fossils have no DNA so you can't get any genetic information from them, which would be a big help in solving this problem. However, similarity between fossils of different species can perfectly logically be put down to the two kinds having been created by the same God. So similarity between fossils of different species will only ever be able to undeniably prove macro-evolution if God's existence is categorically disproven- but God's existence should be debated on Debate: Atheism, not here, so as not to alienate any theistic evolutionists from this debate.


Scientifically Observing/Recreating Evolution

Pro

  • "In fact, we know of hundreds if not thousands of species that have become extinct during recorded history, but how many animals do we know of, that have evolved during the same period?" - The length of time that life has existed on earth is VERY VERY much more then the length of time there has been recorded history. Compare about ~3,500,000,000 to ~10,000. They are VERY different things. BUT if you need something an easy example is plant polyploidy. There has also been speciation (or, in other words, "evolution") in fruit flies in a controlled experimental setting.
  • You have to define "major variation", and if you mean speciation, it's because it takes MANY generations. The fact is that cats+dogs+mice+cows simply have too long of a gestation and life-span for us to have watched them evolve in a controlled setting. We're talking thousands of generations, that is just impossible to do with those particular lifeforms. But as said above, it has been done in other lifeforms with much shorter lifespans.

Con

  • We have been doing tests on mice and rabbits and whatever have you. We have been breeding cats & dogs & cows etc, but what we see as the end product is still mice and rabbits and cats and dogs and cows etc. Why is it we have not observed a single major variation?
  • The theory of evolution is based around the idea that creatures genetically mutate to survive better, but mutations (which are caused by concentration of the gene pool due to competitors with less helpful-to-survival genes having died off) have actually only served to distort a species when they occur. Such disadvantages caused by mutations include things like spina bifida, cleft palate, and suchlike. Basically these deficiencies occur due to inbreeding, which the evolutionary process requires. So mutations would actually make animals less able to survive instead of more, which completely undermines Darwin's theory. Evolutionists claim that there are some mutations that have a positive effect on the creature in question, ones that increase the genetic information in the genome as opposed to deleting it or distorting it, but such mutations have never been observed in a living creature.
  • Since evolution would theoretically take so long to occur, there has been no recorded occurence of one species evolving into another in all human history. As skeletal "proof" of evolution can be otherwise explained as has been mentioned elsewhere in this debate, living proof is the only possible valid proof of the theory, however since the very time consuming nature of the theory cancels out the possibility of such proof being available, the theory is doomed to remain hypothetical forever. How can evolution be called scientific, empirical, or factual if it is merely theoretical?
  • We're not saying that species never go through any changes whatsoever (microevolution), we're only arguing that it is impossible for really drastic changes to happen. We aren't saying that mutations never occur, they obviously do, but they just never increase the information in the creature's genome. Speciation is not true macroevolution, as it doesn't necessarily involve an increase of information in the genome. As our opponents point out, speciation has been observed, but has always involved distortion or deletion of genetic material, never an increase.
  • Even if mutations could increase genetic information by adding completely new genes, they would be severely outnumbered by the amount of other mutations, which make up 100% of the mutations that we have observed in a living species. So for every "positive" mutation that occurs, goodness knows how many more "negative" mutations will occur in the same species- for every one small evolutionary step taken forward there is a ridiculously large number of steps taken back. So how come we aren't all terribly mangled prokaryotes (simple bacterial lifeforms)instead of plumbers, secret agents, basketball players, haiku critics, and so on unless the first lifeforms were more complex?

Evolution defying creatures

Pro

Con

  • The Duck- billed platypus is an excellent example of a living creature which completely undermines Darwinism. Evolutionists theorise that some reptiles evolved into mammals whilst others became birds. The Platypus has somehow got traits similar to all three types of creature, but how how on earth can this be evolutionarily explained? By the time the supposed missing links between reptiles and birds and reptiles and mammals had developed the traits found in the Platypus' genome, the two species would obviously be unable to reproduce with one another, and could by no means therefore produce a creature capable of evolving into a Platypus. The only rational explanation for the striking similarities the Platypus, being a mammal, has with a duck, is that both creatures were separately designed by the same God.
  • Another thought provoker for evolutionists is the development of human languages. Their theory is that we all evolved from ape-like creatures, and therefore our languages must have developed from simplistic animal grunts and similar noises and became more and more complex over time, however there are two massive problems with this idea: firstly, it really doesn't take a genius to figure out that no known human language sounds a thing like animal noises, and secondly, the earliest languages we have records of are actually the most complicated ones, but they have all simplified over time, some quicker than others. A good example of this is writing systems- the oldest known writing systems are pictographic with a letter for every word instead of for each sound. A system such as this (they are still used today in China and Japan) naturally contains thousands of symbols, whereas most written modern day languages tend to use symbols that represent sounds and so are much easier to learn. There are many other examples of linguistic simplification, especially with regards to grammar- take Latin- it had a rather complex case system, but few of its descendants share this feature. How can Evolutionists explain what it was that reversed the trend of human language from complexification to simplification as soon as writing was invented?

Geological Column

Pro

  • "Geologic column is just impossible to explain. Why is it the layers in for example Grand Canyon, are virtually flat! Was there no erosion for millions and millions and millions of years?" - taking 10 seconds and one picture I see that it's not really that flat at all: [1]. In terms of the grand canyon, obviously there has been erosion, it's well accepted that the canyon itself was formed by the erosion due to the Colorado River.

Con

  • Geologic column is just impossible to explain. Why is it the layers in for example Grand Canyon, are virtually flat! Was there no erosion for millions and millions and millions of years?




See also

External links and resources:

Evidence for Truth: Science By Dr E.K. Victor Pearce

http://www.creationism.org/csshs/v06n1p25.htm

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