Does evolutionary theory provide any useful scientific benefit?


How do pseudogenes test that a reptilian heart became an avian heart via a process of biological evolution? You seem to be assuming that a “test” is the same as “evidence”.

Incidentally, don’t you find it a bit odd that an organism retains a pseudogene (so called) for a morphological feature that may have disappeared from the ancestral line millions of years previous? I mean, why should the morphological feature disappear but not the DNA remnant? I suspect there is much we don’t know about “pseudogenes”.

Tikitaalik. So, a single find is statistically significant?

I accept that biological evolution is the best SCIENTIFIC explanation for the fossil record, but I also accept that there is much more to reality than the very limited parameters of science, so I accept that the best scientific explanation for the fossil record may be a very long way from being a “fact”.

Atheists claim biological evolution as a “fact” because (a) they have no other choice, and (b) it makes them feel “intellectually fulfilled”.

But because the creation of the first life-forms were supernatural events, then it’s a fair bet that the fossil record was also the result of supernatural events. God is the author of life, after all (or was He so disinterested in creating life on earth that He subcontracted that boring task out to a mindless biological process?).

  1. The Cambrian explosion is an example of “only altered them slightly from everything before” and demonstrates that “common descent is true”? I don’t think so - the Cambrian explosion not only contadicts Darwinism, it is powerful evidence of creation.
  2. Where are all those transitional fossils that evolution predicts? They should be plentiful, not rare.

(Steve Schaffner) #501

Every time you go looking for “evidence for a theory” (or evidence against a theory)
you are testing a theory. If the theory that the inner ear bones of a mammal evolved from the jaw bones of a reptile is true, there should have been intermediate forms. So you look for them.

The genomes of extant creatures can be used to test if they share a common ancestor in a creature that lived millions of years ago.

Give me DNA from you and from your cousin and I can tell you that you shared a set of grandparents. I don’t need to have access to the grandparents’ DNA to do so.

Unless your knowledge of the practice of biology is both broad and deep, you are in no position to judge whether my statement was true. “All mammals share a common ancestor” is a scientific statement, it has been tested extensively, and it is of great practical use in generating more scientific knowledge.

(Randy) #502

Let us not throw stones, lest we get our own glass houses broken. This is not at all the reasoning I have found in speaking with atheists, let alone evolutionists.

Do we ignore evidence because it would disrupt our world view?

(Steve Schaffner) #503

No, it’s not odd in the slightest. Organisms generally pass on their DNA to their descendants quite faithfully. A single mutation can remove the trait while leaving most of the DNA that coded for the trait intact. You can even calculate how long the DNA is likely to remain and be recognizable.

Certainly – if the probability of finding the single find under the null hypothesis is less than your significance threshold. And what makes you think there’s only been one intermediate predicted and then found?

I’m not an atheist and I claim that common descent is a fact because it is so well supported by evidence that we can treat it as true. Now it is certainly true that supernatural events could have occurred that left traces that merely look exactly like the result of common descent. So sure, common descent could still be false. But the same could be same about every other conclusion we draw about the world around us, from particle physics to auto mechanics. What’s the point in having the word ‘fact’ if you can never apply it to anything?

They are plentiful.

This is a figure I post from time to time. It shows measurements of one lineage of vertebrate fossils; the numbers next to the lines show the number of fossils in each measurement. The plot covers 5 species. It’s chock full of transitionals. What do you think is going on here?

(Stephen Matheson) #504

Classy. Happy Easter.

(Phil) #505

Including linguistics and archeology, which would certainly
put us in a bind in Bible translation and reading as my ancient Hebrew and Ancient Greek language skills are a little rusty.


Yes there is, even on the common scenarios. Eg. fact - the apple fell to the ground. Apple and ground contacted each other. Fact - speed of fall, weight of apple. Theory - all objects will attract to demonstrate the effect of gravity. All objects have some kind of attractive force between them. In this case, we have so many facts, uncontradicted facts of attraction, of falling, that the theory is treated as fact, with well known exceptions of magnetism, centrifugal force, or wind or updrafts not negating the theory.

A substantive qualitative difference between fact and theory, nevertheless. So, another eg. fact - animals are different from each other, and generally cannot breed between species. fact - differentiation is much more prevalent in the plant and animal kingdoms than is ambiguity. fact - many fossils have been found of apparently distinguishable species. fact - many gaps exist in the full spectrum potential of animal and plant kingdoms. fact - there is a huge variety of species in the plant and animal kingdoms, which are mostly speciated to the point of dissasociation from other species. Theory - All plants and animals are descended from some common ancestor, because we can put them on a progression line of size and complexity and time.

This theory does not have the qualitative resemblance to the theory of gravity, and has exceptions and blanks in evidence sequence, that make gravity look like a fact, and evolution look like nothing more than speculation, comparatively speaking.


This is false for a couple of reasons. “All” is exclusive. Simply demonstrating that everything has DNA with similarities in it, presupposes the conclusion. Therefore such a statement can be believed, but cannot be proven.

Second, with or without descent, the similarity of DNA between species is what really allows the scientific benefit, not the descent. In other words, DNA will help to deal with issues of organ donation, tissue transplants, etc., whether or not descent has been considered or not. If for example, you say that DNA is similar in some ways between some species, you might suppose there is some potential for transferability of something… tissue, resistance to disease. But this is true whether common descent is considered or not. Most animals can consume similar foods, and have both fatty tissue and muscle tissue. There are similarities in structure and function. This would be true whether there was common descent or not. And so the supposed scientific benefits are extrapolated, but they depend on actual similarities of tissue, or dna, or organ function. They do not require common descent, in order to work.

(Chris Falter) #508

Hope your Resurrection weekend was joyous, @johnZ

Your understanding is far off the mark, John. The conclusion of common ancestry is not based on mere similarity. Instead, it is based on a host of maximum likelihood estimations of nested hierarchy. The statistical significance of the models vastly exceeds the threshold required for forming a scientific theory. This mathematical rigor gives biologists great confidence in the strength of the theory.

How many peer-reviewed papers have you studied on phylogenetic analysis among mammals, @johnZ?

If you have any questions about the math or other aspects of the methodology, consider addressing some questions to our friend Steve (@glipsnort). He has co-authored some important papers in the field. He writes analytical pipelines in C++ to perform such modeling. He very much knows what he’s talking about.

The remainder of your paragraph addresses medical benefit, but the title of the thread addresses scientific benefit.

Chris Falter


You seem to have missed the point. When conditions occur to create a new habitat, a new environmental condition, then the natural thing is a great reduction of species, not a great expansion or new diversity of species. All the previous species would need to either change or die. A few might adapt, somehow, but most would not.

Then you say that a niche becomes occupied by a partially adapted population (of assumed variety of species), it fills the niche better than a different population. But that is only stating the obvious, and does not answer the question, nor deal with the fact that not just one species, but many many species would need to adapt or die.

This exhibits the kind of confused thinking that is difficult to pry apart, yet it must be dissected. Fish do not escape to tidal pools, but are in fact trapped by tidal pools. If the water evaporates or soaks into the ground before the next tidal wave comes, the fish die. The fish who avoid the tidal pools will likely survive better. The conditions of the tidal pools are most tenuous, and while avoiding larger predators would be a benefit, the tidal pools themselves can only be a temporary respite, or the fish will die in the pool. Unless the pool is large enough, and lasts long enough to be a perennial reservoir for fish habitat.

And this of course, makes no sense at all. Because if stress caused a mammal to leave the land to survive, then what about all the other mammals that continued to live on the land? Why did they not die? Why did they also not adapt to the water? Why are there still elephants and hippos on that same land, or caribou, elk, pronghorns, bison, who survived better than the nameless mammal that poor thing, could no longer walk back on the land after it went fishing or hunting for seaweed. A hippo turning into a manatee is a presumption, no more valid than the manatee running out of seaweed and wanting to eat grass on the land, and turning into a hippo in order to maximize its potential.

(George Brooks) #510


Please tell me where you get your psychedelics … I just saw a video of this imaginary creature … I almost got worried… but then I remembered what you taught me about how evolution really doesn’t work … and there wouldn’t be anything like this … just in my dreams or nightmares…

(Stephen Matheson) #511

This is so thoroughly wrong that it has to mean that you don’t understand the words you are using.


No one wastes money on the useless information that all life on earth descended from a common ancestor (the theory of common descent).

It’s my understanding that geologist use known fossils to estimate the absolute/relative ages of strata. However, this technique doesn’t depend on the theory of common descent - ie, it is the data that is useful, not a theory that attempts to explain the data. All a geologist needs to know is, Fossil A indicates age X, Fossil B indicates age Y, etc. Even if fossil sequences are found to be useful, an explanation for those sequences is unnecessary and irrelevant.

No pharmacology firm wastes money on the theory of common descent - it’s useless.

I’m sure they do, but no one has any practical use for the theory of common descent.

(George Brooks) #513


Please invite me to your 21st birthday; I’d love to buy you a drink.


Don’t be naive. Do you really think atheists will admit that their personal philosophy plays a major part in their acceptance of the theory of common descent?

It works both ways, of course: I have no theological objection to the evolution of non-human creatures but I have a theological objection to human evolution … but the difference is, I can admit my prejudices.

I don’t, but many atheists do - eg, they do their best to explain away the Cambrian explosion. They do their best to explain away the scientific impossibility of natural abiogenesis.


George: sorry, but this is a very poor argument. If you disagree with my comment, please explain why.


Thank you. Atheists hardly need to study evolution or look for evidence for it in order to accept it, as evolution is the only explanation available to them. Unsurprisingly, there’s nothing new about theories of evolution - they’ve been around for at least 2500 years.

(Chris Falter) #517

If it were not for common descent, pharmacological tests on animals like rodents, mice, and primates would not make sense.

This is a very poor argument. Arguing from motivation does not imply anything about the quality of the evidence or reasoning involved.

Ancient Greek speculations and today’s theory of evolution are about as similar as the ancient Near Eastern cosmology and today’s Big Bang cosmology.

Why do you think that motivation for atheism is the driving factor? Thousands of Christians who have earned Ph.D.s in natural science accept evolution and universal common descent. They are not motivated by atheism.

Chris Falter

(George Brooks) #518


When you say:

you are flat out wrong. The CDC

use “common descent” theory to understand where a disease vector comes from.

And the FBI, CIA and all the major law enforcement agencies of the world use the same logic as archaeologists to test kinship ties between perpetrators and victims, and/or suspected perpetrators.

If you don’t know how this is possible, you are way out of your league with your sweeping generalities of foolishness.


If a catfish can walk on the street, then why in the world would it need legs? a picture seems impressive, but means nothing without understanding. Perhaps the catfish is really just a salamander that has lost its legs… poor thing. Or perhaps, like worms or snakes, it gets by just fine without legs. And will leave the legs to the frogs and salamanders and geckos.