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I’ve been reading blogs over the last couple of days and making comments on a few written by evolution deniers. Normally I don’t do that kind of thing. People can believe what they want. But when outright lies are being propagated, I draw the line. Such people have put the crosshairs on themselves and I have no problems taking the shot. 

One blog I commented on claimed that there is no evidence for evolution.

Horse feathers.! I blogged yesterday on upcoming books on evolution that I’m looking forward to, and included a list of books already out there that present such evidence. The amazing thing is that there is so much evidence out there that these books don’t even overlap! Books on evolutionary development (Sean B. Carroll), molecular biological evidence for human evolution (Daniel Fairbanks), paleontological evidence (Donald R. Prothero), anatomical evidence (Neil Shubin, along with a bit of the importance of the transitional fossil find Tiktaalik.

These books are written with the general public in mind, not those occupying the ivory tower, so there is no excuse for the laziness of such nay-sayers to bother to see what evidence for evolution is out there. Saying that there is no evidence for evolution doesn’t make it so; the fruits of labor from tireless researchers in these fields of science presenting the evidence makes it not so. Evolution occurred and is still occurring. Deal. 

Then there was another blog, which brought out the usual anti-evolution tactic of saying that there are no transitional fossils. This person even brought out the quote from Darwin in Origin of Species that this was a problem for him:

Why then is not every geological formation and every stratum full of such intermediate links? Geology assuredly does not reveal any such finely graduated organic chain; and this, perhaps, is the most obvious and gravest objection which can be urged against my theory.

Okay, there are a couple of things wrong with this (at least it’s not a total quote mine, as is so often the case…). First, the obvious – paleontology was in its infancy in Darwin’s time and it’s been 150 years. Things have changed drastically. We have thousands of fossils demonstrating many different ‘transitions’. Amniote-synapsid-mammals, fish-amphibian, dinosaur-bird (birds are really feathered dinosaurs), land mammal-whale – you name it, we got it. For a beautiful overview of many of these fossils, obtain a copy of Donald R. Prothero’s Evolution: What the Fossils Say and Why It Matters

To get an idea of how silly this argument is, imagine that after quoting Lord Kelvin (ca. 1985):

Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible.

the author of the blog then makes the claim that airplanes don’t exist because he/she has never been near an airport (or never looked up, for that matter)! 

The second thing wrong with this quote is that even without any fossils whatsoever, Darwin would still have arrived at the answer to how life evolves. In Origin of Species Darwin presented a tidal wave of evidence presented so clearly and logically that no room for doubt remained. All anyone has to do is find a copy and read it. The transitional fossils that paleontologists find only strengthen the case for evolution.

I’ve heard others claim that evolution can not be falsified. This is nonsense. I will give one important example where falsification of evolution could have occurred. In developing the molecular clock (the hypothesis that molecular evolution occurs at an approximately uniform rate over time), Pauling and Zuckerkandl1 proposed that if a superposition of molecular phylogenetic tree onto that obtained from comparative morphology showed a close match, then the book could be closed on the validity of evolution. An excellent review of the molecular clock, its uses and limitations has been written by Kumar2. Yet time and again molecular phylogenetic trees and trees developed from cladistic analyses match.

This reminds me of another silly argument. Anyone ever see the claim that a clam was dated using radiocarbon dating to over 1600 years of age? This is actually true. Radiocarbon dating depends on the carbon in the organism being dated having been in equilibrium with atmospheric carbon, which contains radioactive 14C generated by cosmic rays in the upper atmosphere. Clams are not and the purpose of the study was to show why radiocarbon dating is not to be done on such organisms. Does this invalidate radiocarbon dating? Not hardly. It just demonstrates a limitation. Besides, radiocarbon dating is not useful on geological timescales. But since when do IDiots and ‘cdesign proponentsists’ bother with fact?

If evolution deniers prefer ignorance to knowledge, fine. But don’t go spreading it like the disease it is.

References

  1. Zuckerkandl E and Pauling L, Molecules as documents of evolutionary history. J Theor Biol 8:357-66 (1965)
  2. Kumar S. Molecular clocks: four decades of evolution. Nature Rev 6:654-64 (2005)
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3 Comments

  1. What about the Cambrian explosion? Did you know that the collection of the discovered transitional fossils are mainly made up of small fragments and teeth, and that full skeletons and skulls are rare within the collection? Milford H. Wolpoff wrote in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology that “Neanderthals may have been a true human race.” And that was in 2009! The theory of evolution rests on three “mini theories”: 1. Mutations provide the raw materials needed to create new species 2. Natural Selection led to the creation of new species 3. The fossil record documents macroevolutionary changes. Consider this: 1. In the 1930’s, scientists (at the Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research in Germany) embraced a new idea, that natural selection could produce new species of plants and animals by means of random mutations. But here’s the twist. They thought that by inducing and selecting favorable mutations, they could produce new and better plants and animals, in a controlled environment. They attempted to recreate the theory of evolution, except this time it wouldn’t be by chance…they planned everything carefully. All calculations and experiments were done meticulously and intensively for the next 40 years. Their findings? Peter von Sengbusch said, “In spite of an enormous financial expenditure, the attempt to cultivate increasingly productive varieties by irradiation (to cause mutations), widely proved to be a failure.” Wolf-Ekkehard Lonnig added, “Almost all the mutants…died or were weaker than wild varieties. Mutations cannot transform an original species (of plant or animal) into an entirely new one. This conclusion agrees with all the experiences and results of mutation research of the 20th century taken together as well as with the laws of probability.” 2. Regarding “Darwin’s Finches”: Peter R. and B. Rosemary Grant of Princeton University began studying the finches of the Galapagos in the 1970’s. In their study, they found that finches with slightly larger beaks had survived more readily than those with smaller ones, after a year of drought. They “estimated that if the droughts occur about once every 10 years on the island, a new species of finch might arise in only about 200 years.” Their results were featured in a brochure published by the National Academy of Sciences (NAS). What they forgot to include in their brochure was that in the years following the drought, finches with smaller beaks dominated the population. They found that as the climate conditions changed, the finches with the longer beaks dominated the population one year. However, later, those with the smaller beaks became dominant again. Also, some of each species began to interbreed, creating a hybrid that survived better than it’s predecessors. In 1999, evolutionary theorist Jeffrey H. Schwartz wrote that natural selection may be helping species adapt to the changing demands of existence, But It’s Not Creating Anything New. 3. Niles Eldredge, a staunch evolutionist, states that the Fossil Record shows, not that there is a gradual acculmulation of change, but that for long periods of time, “little or no evolutionary accumulates in most species.” To date, scientists worldwide have unearthed and cataloged some 200 million large fossils and billions of small fossils. Many researchers agree that this vast and detailed record shows that all the major groups of animals appeared suddenly (LOOK UP CAMBRIAN EXPLOSION) and remained virtually unchanged, with many species disappearing as suddenly as they arrived.

    I hope this “comment” finds you well. I LOVE doing research like this. It’s good to be well informed, whether it be from books or the web. Knowledge can only keep you well-equipped. But yeah, check out that Cambria Explosion thing. It’s REALLY interesting. All this new info is surfacing. I love it! http://personal.georgiasouthern.edu/~etmcmull/Noev.htm

    • Thanks for stopping by, Melissa.

      I am very well versed on the Cambrian explosion. I agree that a number of body plans seem to suddenly appear in this period. That is if one defines “suddenly” as meaning “within 70-80 million years”. And I haven’t even gone to where we have far older fossils from the Precambrian such as the Ediacaran fauna. The remainder of your comment is similarly fatally flawed. If you really are interested in learning about evolution as you say you are, you should read the books I am going to list below. Definitely stop reading books from creationists who have no expertise in what they are writing about! The ones that aren’t spreading falsehoods like the “explosion of life in the Cambrian” or (especially) “Mutations cannot transform an original species (of plant or animal) into an entirely new one” (that’s nonsense- speciation has been observed numerous times – for instance, Rhagoletis pomonella, the apple maggot fly, is undergoing sympatric speciation. Its native host in North America is the Hawthorn, but in the mid-1800s, a new population formed on introduced domestic apples…), they are outright lying. I can’t sugar-coat it any more than that.

      The fossil record shows us that what you call macroevolution (there is no difference between micro- and macroevolution – a lot of microevolution will produce what you call macroevolution…) occurred. Period. There is no denying this. One can argue till they’re blue in the face, but it is outside of reason to do so. The evidence is simply too strong and at the point that it can not possibly be overturned any more than quantum mechanics can.

      So, look up “Cambrian explosion”. But discard the lies you’ve been fed and read something on the subject written by people who are experts in their relevant fields on the subject. Here’s a list (by no means exhaustive):

      Prothero, D. Evolution: What the Fossils Say and Why It Matters (paleontological evidence for evolution, and has an awesome chapter devoted specifically to the Cambrian “explosion”)
      Coyne, J. Why Evolution is True and Dawkins, R. The Greatest Show On Earth (two great primers for the lay reader on evolution and natural selection)
      Shubin, N. Your Inner Fish: A Journey into the 3.5-Billion-Year History of the Human Body
      Carroll, SB. The Making of the Fittest: DNA and the Ultimate Forensic Record of Evolution and Endless Forms Most Beautiful: The New Science of Evo Devo (more advanced, and both deal in the molecular genetic evidence)
      Fairbanks, DJ. Relics of Eden: The Powerful Evidence of Evolution in Human DNA (gives the smoking-gun evidence for a common ancestry between chimpanzees and humans)

      I would start with Dawkins’ and Coyne’s books, then Shubin’s.

  2. The biggest flaw’s with evolutionism is that is contradicts 2 of the most proven laws of nature, being the first and second law of thermodynamics. After reading your article I am guessing that you are very familiar with theses two laws and have probably heard this argument before. How can something go from simple to complex, nothing to something? Given the conservation of energy, and the constant increase of entropy, 1st and 2nd laws of thermodynamics, how would you refute this? Also, how can you scientifically explain macro evolution? (the biggest problem with evolution)


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