Does biology need the theory that all life shares a common ancestor?

Thanks for your encouragement - I need it! It didn’t take me long to work out there are many highly intelligent and highly educated folks on this forum. Pretty impressive and very humbling.

I’m not a scientist either. But as I understand it, the distinction between microevolution and macroevolution is one that creationists like to make a big deal out of, but their reason for rejecting macroevolution has much more to do with rejecting deep time than the biological processes involved. With micro and macro evolution, all the mechanisms are the same, the changes are just as incremental, it’s just a matter of the time scale involved.

Creationists organizations like AIG are now promoting the idea of rapid post-Flood speciation that requires a much more aggressive form of evolution than traditional scientists propose. You might be interested in this analysis of their claims and how similar they are in some ways to traditional “Darwinian” claims over at Natural Historian: Unless you want to claim ongoing special creation of species, you have to go this route to get the diversity of species we see on earth in the young earth time frame (that is, if you accept a literal global flood and all the current animals descending from ancestors on Noah’s ark).

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There is a thread that has been going on for two years that asked the question “Does evolutionary theory provide any useful benefit?

It is long and some of the contributions are not all that helpful, but lots of examples are given of important applications of evolutionary science to research and industry.

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@Dredge

Perhaps there have already been reactions to your comment here.

But how could you take a dictionary definition that describes common descent and speciation as something that a Creationist could accept?

Though, if you are referring to some Creationists now allowing for hyper-speciation after the Flood… all you are doing is revealing the inconsistencies of these Creationists … rather than revealing any special problem with the definition of Darwinism.

NOTE: BioLogos always includes God’s participation in evolution in its Mission statements. Take due notice !

I would say that it would be a lot harder to figure out understand structural biology without the concept of natural selection. I have used sequence similarity to figure out structures. I suppose we could just say that that was some strange coincidence that evolutionary distance and structural and sequence homology correlate and these too correlate with a time axis along the fossil record.

So I suppose if one hates darwin so much, it is still possible to use the correlation between time and evolutionary distance in structural and sequence homology but call it something else. The fact of the matter is that evolution as a model works very well. In fact, evolution often works a lot better than our prediction methods using physics.

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@Sy_Garte
Yes, you understood it well. You are welcome & I’m glad you aim at more precision in the future. I have no idea what you mean by a ‘philosophical worldview’ (you also use “overarching philosophical view,” apparently same meaning) as that is non-standard terminology, but you nonetheless identify a need to distinguish more than one meaning of ‘Darwinism’ for the sake clarity. We are on the same page certainly with that.

On one hand is science, the other is ideology. Sometimes people blurr them … and sometimes on purpose, as the IDM does. BioLogos seems to have pushed away the term ‘Darwinism’ as generally not helpful. ID people, however, and their creationist forebears simply cannot give it up, as outdated as it makes them look does not seem to matter to them.

Non-Darwinist doesn’t need or make use of Darwin’s theories, certainly, but also rejects or has no application of Darwinism ideology in their works. I don’t need Darwinism or Darwin in my writings, although he makes an excellent foil when needed given his philosophical naivety and assisted assault (via Huxley, Haeckel, etc.) on religious humanism.

It is an unfortunate reality that to deal with YECs, sometimes people allow their language to ‘take the shape’ of their opponent, in order to challenge them ‘on their own ground.’ In this case, I find it better to stick firmly to one’s position. The term ‘Darwinism’ is largely a relic of outdated 20th century (young earth) ‘Creationist’ discussions-debates-battles that most normal, rational people no longer engage, including normal, rational Christians. If it were not for trying to educate and elevate the understanding of these ‘Christian laggards’ regarding evolutionary theories, few people would use the term ‘Darwinism’ anymore, though it is still notably used by relatively small clique of anti-religion biologists (i.e. those whose focus seems to distract ID people from doing creditable scientific research).

The term ‘Darwinism’ cannot be ‘reclaimed’ by BioLogos as it said it might possibly like to try to reclaim the term ‘design’ and thus is better left on the side of the road. Darwin’s due celebration in the annals of natural scientific history remains solid but not exaggerated among natural scientists and those not playing Pilate vs. Darwin games. But there is little need anymore to hype Darwin, especially after such events and talks, papers and books published in 2009.

Yes, I notice you have written about the EES. Do you know why doesn’t BioLogos write more about it, since that’s really where the action is now? Fighting against creationists seems to now as a kind of 20th century pastime or hobby that should be replaced with more edifying common ground away from YECism in evangelical America. Decline in YECism in America would seem to be long overdue for a significant dwindling in #s.

A better question mho for this thread would be: Does biology need the (extended) Modern Synthesis? Some biologists are simply saying to include more things into the synthesis that were originally left out mid-20th c. Others are saying something new is needed that is not just an add-on. What does BioLogos say? How far can the evolutionary synthesis be extended before it becomes not evolutionary anymore, i.e. undoes ‘the synthesis’?

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I think any future progression will most likely subsume what the current work has determined. For example, is natural selection going to be disappear as a significant mechanism in the next generations of evolutionary thought? No, because we already know it has a significant effect. We also know that neutral theory has a big role. What I think most likely is that the combinations of various mechanisms will be better modeled and the interplay between mechanisms and specific conditions will be examined.

My biggest worry is that such modelling will require such complex simulations that while we may be able to learn that particular evolutionary trajectories are possible, we won’t be able to actually comprehend the whole and deduce general principles from that.

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[quote=“wkdawson, post:45, topic:35756, full:true”]
I would say that it would be a lot harder to figure out understand structural biology without the concept of natural selection.[/quote]
i accept natural selection as a fact and the indispensible role it’s plays in microevolution. I part I can’t accept is macroevolution.

I don’t hate darwin; the problem I have with milllions of years of evolution is simply that I can’t see how it can be reconciled with Scripture, especially when Adam and Eve aren’t regarded as real historical people and/or notions of poplygenism are entertained.

I accept that microevolution works very well as a model, but I suspect that believing that whales evolved from a deer, for example, is superflous to the needs of applied biology.
Imo, microevolutionis a demonsrtable fact that is eminently useful to applied biology; in stark contrast, macroevolutionis a theory that appears to be useless to applied biology … at least, so thinks this potential ignoramus who doesn’t even have a degree in biology.

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@Dredge,

I just created a thread on this article:

Answers in Genesis doesn’t have a problem with Speciation … it just doesn’t believe Speciation will lead to any dramatic new kinds of life.

But that’s where the inconsistency seems to lie. If more and more Creationists are allowing for speciation after the Flood… then there is really no scientific barriers any more. It’s purely whether you think God used Evolution or God *didn’t use Evolution" for those crucial, bizarre, weird 6 “days”.

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[quote=“gbrooks9, post:49, topic:35756, full:true”]Answers in Genesis doesn’t have a problem with Speciation … it just doesn’t believe Speciation will lead to any dramatic new kinds of life.

But that’s where the inconsistency seems to lie. If more and more Creationists are allowing for speciation after the Flood… then there is really no scientific barriers any more. It’s purely whether you think God used Evolution or God *didn’t use Evolution" for those crucial, bizarre, weird 6 “days”.
[/quote]
I accept speciation as a fact, and as microevolution. But I beilieve speciation is limited to the “kinds” boundary - this is the scientific barrier that creationists face. Green Warblers, for example, speciate, but imo, this speciation is like a merry-go-round - there is motion and change but it actually doesn’t go anywhere. Green Warbers will only produce more Green Warblers, no matter how many milllion of years of speciation go by, imo.


If the “six days” weren’t literally six days of 24 hours duration each, then it seems Yahweh wasn’t telling the truth in Exodus 20:11.

[quote=“gbrooks9, post:44, topic:35756, full:true”]

But how could you take a dictionary definition that describes common descent and speciation as something that a Creationist could accept?[/quote]

I take your point. I discussed speciation in my previous post; but re common descent … I get the impression that when some biologists refer to “common descent” they are sometimes simply referring to an example of microevolution - a sheep dog descending from a wolf, for example; or one strain of bacteria decending from a earlier strain. I might be wrong about that, but that’s how it seems to me.

This Kemp article is often helpful to Catholics considering this issue.

The diversity of post-Flood life presents no problem to this Floodite: To the God who created the universe and everything in it out of nothing, creating the observed diversity from the creatures that survived the Flood is simply a matter of waving His magic wand. There is no record of this “hyper-speciation” in the Scriptures, but so what? It could have happened nevertheless.
Consider the account of the Tower of Babel: Besides creating a diversity of languages, the Lord could have used this occasion to create the diversity of races we see today - even thought there is no mention of race diversification in the Tower’ account.

Muchas gracias. (So much homework I need to do!)

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Keep in mind, the six days is the English translation of the Hebrew word yom - which has a much less precise meaning in that language. I’m certainly not a Hebrew scholar, but I do know the word can refer to a standard “day”, but also to much longer periods of time, even epochs.

@Dredge

Yes, yes. We’ve all heard these exact same objections all the time. But these aren’t logical objections, they are rationalizations.

[1] But I beilieve speciation is limited to the “kinds” boundary - this is the scientific barrier that creationists face.
So explain what happened with the Alaska Rabbits vs. the Florida Rabbits? Both of these groups can reproduce with the Fargo Rabbits… But Alaska rabbits are not compatible with the Florida Rabbits. This is known as a “ring species” … though in this case, instead of a “ring” it’s more of a “rail”. It proves that over time, genetic differentiation can not only lead to different colored fur … or different eyes … but also the very compatibility between the average member of one population vs. the average member of another.

[2] If the “six days” weren’t literally six days of 24 hours duration each, then it seems Yahweh wasn’t telling the truth in Exodus 20:11.
Now once 2 populations are no longer similar enough to be reproductively compatible, then all bets are off. Yes, Dredge, there are no limits to the kinds of changes that one population might eventually adopt, vs. another population, under different environmental stressors and different food supplies and so on.

What if one of those rabbit populations eventually loses their floppy ears because they are too vulnerable to a disease they find in Alaska (or in Florida)? After a while, you have ear-less rabbits … and maybe they start reproducing better after they start hunting other rabbit species for food … instead of just eating vegetation. Pretty soon … you got a pretty vicious predatory mammal without rabbit ears hunting down the soft, fuzzy lovable rabbits with floppy ears. So what does it mean “of a kind”?

They lost the status of “one kind” when they are no longer reproductively compatible. And there’s no way out of that dead end argument.

  1. Now as for this whole dispute about what God meant about “days”… are you telling me that God wrote Genesis? Did he have a pen in his hand? What color was the ink? And how long was God’s thumb of the hand that held the pen? Genesis was written by men … inspired men, for sure. But not perfect men.

The preachers who say that the Bible has to be infallible or you have nothing - - make the same sounds, to me, as the Austrian politicians just before WWII … it was all or nothing. It was a lie then. And it’s still a lie.

Exactly! Darwinism has absolutely no value to biology.

Many biology and medicine books have a tendency to include a chapter on evolution right along one on Mendelian genetics. However, while Mendelian genetics can readily be verified experimentally and has real and immediate implications in medicine, biology, food science and much more, the “knowledge” that organism A evolved from organism B, or the two are just products of “convergent evolution”, adds nothing to our understanding of either A or B. More… http://nonlin.org/mandatory-evolution-statement/

Would Kemp’s article not be helpful to protestant Evangelicals or evangelical Protestants also?

@NonlinOrg

You are wasting your time. Many times disease vectors and cures for them are made possible by understanding how many unique populations of the virus or bacteria exists that is causing the symptoms.

Sure. But I don’t have the same theological constraints as a Roman Catholic, so some interpretations that won’t work in their theology are open to me. That article is sensitive to RC theological constraints, some of which may not be of concern to Evangelicals or other Protestants.

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

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