Fringe voices continue their unsuccessful attacks against mainstream evolutionary theory

Do we need a new theory of evolution?

Do we need a new theory of evolution? | Evolution | The Guardian

The Guardian has the following article:

A new wave of scientists argues that mainstream evolutionary theory needs an urgent overhaul.
by Stephen Buranyi

Do the comments on the Senegal Birchi fish support YEC ideas?

Not in the slightest. Once again, you’re taking debates and unanswered questions about the fine details of evolution and trying to present them as if they falsified the entirety of the bigger picture. You can’t knock an entire house down simply by rearranging the furniture.

In any case, even if evolution did turn out to be “only a theory,” and progressive creationism or ID did turn out to be true after all, it wouldn’t do a smidgen to change the fact that the earth is 4.5 billion years old and not six thousand. That would require a complete rewrite of everything we know about physics, chemistry, biology, geology, paleontology, anthropology, history and cosmology.


When straws are all you’ve got, what else are you going to grasp at?


Most likely a reconsideration of their interpretation of evolution; there are multiple schools of thought after all.

@Paul_Allen1 I think you should have a read of this:

In particular:

You must also make sure that the facts that you are bringing to the table concern something that is essential to the theory. In other words, they need to overturn the core fundamentals, and not just one side detail. You don’t chop down a tree in its entirety by cutting off leaves, twigs, or even branches.

Things that are not contradictory evidence:

3. Unanswered questions or gaps in the theory. Scientific theories are not overturned by unanswered questions, but by contradictory evidence. No scientist claims to have all the answers, and no scientific theory is complete, nor ever will be. But that is why people do PhDs. Unanswered questions are only of value in challenging a scientific theory if the lack of an answer is in itself evidence of a contradiction.

As I recall, the article referenced is a rehash of the discussion dating back years regarding refinement and adjustments to evolution, not an overhaul. It seems the big questions are in epigenetics. The basic framework of common descent with modification remains unchanged.


The new theory of evolution they are proposing is completely natural. I don’t see how it would support either ID or YEC.

I also don’t see how phenotypic plasticity supports the idea that species were created separately a few thousand years ago. Care to explain?

We each start out as a single cell and go through several stages of development in a 9 month span. Do you think embryonic development somehow falsifies evolution or supports YEC? If so, why?

In the case of vertebrates, the epigenetic patterns are an emergent property of the underlying DNA sequence of the genome, so there is really no rewrite needed for the theory. The vast majority of epigenetic patterns (e.g. DNA methylation) are wiped clean during the production of sperm and ova, so any patterns that emerge after the single cell stage are produced by the organism based on the DNA sequences in their genome. This is due to the fact that tissue differentiation often involves changes in DNA methylation patterns, so in order for a single cell to differentiate into different cell types it would have to start as a blank slate. The only way to change how epigenetics develops and interacts with the environment is to change the DNA sequence.

At the same time, there are a few exceptions. There are plant species that are able to pass on epigenetic patterns, as well as some nematodes. However, these are the exception to the rule. Transgenerational epigenetic inheritance is very rare among species.

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Nothing in classical Darwinian evolution, the Modern Synthesis, or the Extended Evolutionary Synthesis support ID or YEC.

Buried near the end of the Guardian article is the sentence "As with so many of the arguments that divide evolutionary biologists today, this comes down to a matter of emphasis. " That’s a far better summary of the situation than the headlines, and than what many of the protagonists claim. Perry Marshall titled his book claiming that EES constitutes Evolution 2.0. Personally, I think that the EES is more like Evolution 1.376b, but it’s pretty much a matter of emphasis. Yes, there are aspects to evolution that have been historically either neglected or unknown (in the case of some molecular discoveries). But the overall picture has not actually changed. Mutations, recombination, sexual reproduction, etc. create new information in the form of a new set of genetic directions. Natural selection and random factors (i.e., probabilistic or humanly unpredictable events such as genetic drift, asteroid impacts, whether a particular individual happens to not find a mate…) determine if that new information goes on into the next generation. What is the relative role of these different factors? That probably varies drastically from situation to situation.

Misuse of such headlines to attempt to argue against evolution is probably a major reason why many are suspicious of the EES-type rhetoric. As the article alludes to, practically everyone wants to claim that their area is particularly important. Part of that is confirmation bias - if you study something, you are both looking at settings where it is likely to be prominent and noticing it a lot, besides the “my field deserves attention, recognition, and funding” aspect.


Carl Zimmer wrote a great article on the subject over at Quanta. Zimmer attended a meeting focused on EES, and he got some great quotes.

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Sorry just asking some interesting questions Mr. Cupcake.

Either way it is important to discuss David. Sincerely.

Thanks for the discussion, though brief. Sincerely.

And I’m just answering them.

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If you say so.

Paul can I ask how important it is to your faith to defeat evolution? Do you believe if we accept evidence which shows all life on earth is related by common descent that Christian faith has to go given your understanding of science and theology? A lot of people here don’t give up on either their faith or the evidence of their senses (science included). Isn’t their stance a more promising path forward for Christianity rather than seeing leaving the church in droves who feel as you do?

I am not sure what you are talking about Mark.
I am not seeking to defeat evolution.
I am not sure how you came to that conclusion.
I don’t know who are the “lot of people here” mean?
I am not giving up my trust in Christ
I was simply asking questions.

Well - so then a lot of us would like to hear what you are seeking then, Paul. You’ve said you’re “just asking questions”, but your ‘questions’ have appeared to be aligned more with a “merchants of doubt” philosophy than any real questions. (E.g. Tobacco execs or climate science deniers who know that the data isn’t on their side, try to turn it instead into a PR war of headlines to at least get people to doubt settled science and then also mistrust mainstream science generally.) When so-called ‘questions’ are nothing more than misleading statements in disguise, one quickly learns to distinguish between real skepticism that is honestly pursuing deeper, more clarified - even corrected - truth - and the faux skepticism that isn’t at all interested in real clarification, but instead in spreading an ideology.

Since some of your interactions and posts have appeared similar to the latter sort, it is natural that you have a chance to clarify so that readers here don’t unfairly confuse you with that if it isn’t true.


Merv, the articles I quoted had worthy points to discuss. Some responses like David Campbell were enlightening others not so much.


“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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