Is there hard evidence for macro-evolution?

(Cindy) #81

I’m not sure what that even means. I mean, if we believe that God was the First Mover as described by Thomas Aquinas then every thing that we see is a product of that first move.

What one scientist may see as clear evidence of intervention, others will see as just something else to be explained. I mean, without actually seeing God create something, I don’t see how we can say with certainty that He is “obviously intervening”. Neither can we say that He is not intervening just because we figured out some sort of pattern. That first Move may have set everything up. Or if not, He may be actively playing the Quantum game (whatever that is about).

If one accepts that God could have and is using Evolution for his own purpose. I see no possible reason to say that He could not have done/is not doing it in a manner that is undetectable. In fact, again-since we aren’t seeing Him do it; I’d say by strict definition that He IS doing it in an undetectable way because He is undetectable.

I feel like I’m going in circles here. LOL

(Andrew M. Wolfe) #82

Ha! Indeed. Probably more useful to wait for Marty and Matthew to duke it out.

I agree with you. Fwiw, the ID camp is usually focused on this concept of “irreducible complexity” — that there are certain things that don’t work at all without several complex interlocking elements being present. The idea here is that if any one of them evolved without the others, it would not have had any fitness advantage.

There are a number of counterarguments to this, but it would be a waste of both of our time for me to look them up and trot them out here. Better to hold out for the primary conversational partners here to do their thing…


(Mitchell W McKain) #83

As a Christian. I know God does and did a lot of things. But what a great number of Christians clearly do not know is how – how did God do it. How do I know Christians do not know this? The Bible tells me so. In the book of Job, God makes it clear that at the time this is written we know nothing. Therefore the Bible up to that point, including Genesis logically does not explain how God created the universe and everything in it. As a Christian, why is this so hard for you to understand?

Does this mean that God can wevenicate? There is no such word and thus the question is meaningless. God can do any coherently defined thing, but a jumble of letters or words without consistent meaning is nothing at all and the claim that God can do such things is nothing but gibberish.
God can create a square circle.
This is gibberish because the definitions of “square” and “circle” are contradictory.
God can design living things.
This is gibberish because the definitions of “design” and “living” are contradictory. That which is designed is a machine, that which grows and learns is alive. It is being a product of growth and learning that makes something a living thing.

I would like to see you telling that to your surgeon or your computer repairman. Big problem. This isn’t the middle ages any more, thank God. There are plenty of things we do today, where God has nothing to do with it when it is done correctly. “Goddidit” was a sufficient answer for questions in the middle ages when praising God was all they knew and all they could do that was good and right. Not anymore.

But while a surgeon or a computer repairman doesn’t have to put God in so his work is done right. That doesn’t mean God isn’t involved. So how is God involved in computer repairs, evolution, surgery, or when you drive down the road or in your life as a Christian? Because God is involved in all these things in pretty much the same way. Does God turn the screws to open the computer up? No. Does God make birds appear with a flash in the air? No. Does God make the sutures appear when it is time to close the patient? No. Does God watch the road and hold the steering wheel when you busy texting your friends? No. Does God stop you from committing a sin? No. God is involved as a participant in a relationship with you not as a controller, because you are not a machine but a living being with responsibilities.


Mitchell I have one word for you, context. Commenting on statements taken out of context is a waste of bytes.

(Mitchell W McKain) #85

I disagree. Even if it has nothing to do with you, it still applies to the words posted there earlier in the thread. And perhaps you would agree that it is applicable to the words even if it is not applicable to the context of some convoluted discussion you were involved in.


I disagree. :wink:

I know the context of what I was saying so when I read your words they don’t make sense to me. Now they might make sense to someone that didn’t know the context of what I was saying, but in that case there is no need to quote me but just have your say. In fact that would be less confusing.

(Mitchell W McKain) #87

No. Most of what I said stands on its own. If you don’t see the relevance or disagree with what I said, that frankly only makes it more applicable to you.

(Chris Falter) #88

Hi Marty,

You could apply this philosophy to any scientific discipline. For example, astrophysics:

  • "_How _ does matter deform space-time?
  • What is the mechanism behind the arrow of time?
  • How did the universe get to a state where it has more matter than anti-matter?

If a physicist cannot answer these questions about cosmic origins, then why should I believe any of the “mumbo-jumbo” he or she utters about the Big Bang and an inflationary universe?

After you answer that, I will answer the question about why we should believe what biologists say about evolution.


(Mitchell W McKain) #89

Scientific theory becomes scientific fact when it becomes an indispensable tool for the acquisition of knowledge, answering specific questions to increasing levels of precision. So take the big bang for example, we don’t have just the basic theory, but we have a means of discovering all the details of how it happened with an increasingly precise calculation of when it happened. This is because it can be calculated in many different ways. And that is because the evidence support the conclusion from every different direction. All the hard evidence agrees.

We have exactly the same thing happening with evolution. We can ask ask extremely specific question and get increasingly precise answers. We not only know a number of different human sub-species with where and when they lived, but we can and have calculated what percentage of their DNA is found in human beings today – where and how much. We don’t just know that that man and chimpanzees have common ancestors, but can calculate when those common ancestors existed. The evidence is both hard and overwhelming for the theoretical explanation of the origin of all the species – more than any other scientific theory. The flat earthers seem ridiculous because we can take pictures of the earth from any direction. But now we can do exactly the same thing for the evolutionary descent of the species. So how is it any less ridiculous to refuse seeing what is sitting there right in front of us?

(Mitchell W McKain) #90

I am reminded how a toddler asks the question “why” again and again endlessly.

How does matter deform space-time? This question is under the delusion that these are two separate and different things, but they are not. They are all one thing – one interconnected space-time mathematical structure. So your question is equivalent to asking why does it have the structure it does? There is that two year old question again. But it is not really a scientific question. Science only works because of the structure, so it can only answer questions about what the structure is. The question why must ultimately be left to speculations and non-scientific beliefs. “Because God made it that way” is one answer. Not that this will stop us from asking the question “why” again, and this is a question that interests me also. Why did God make it that way? It may not be a question for science, but I think that when something is made then it tells us about the motivations of the maker in doing so.

Quantum decoherence.

Spontaneous symmetry breaking.

They can answer these questions. The real issue is whether someone is willing to listen and whether they are really interested in the questions anyway rather than these just being excuses for not listening to other things they don’t want to hear.

Why? Why does people having answers to one question have anything whatsoever to do with why we should believe the answers found by different people for a completely different question?

This is what someone calls what they hear when someone speaks a language they do not understand, right? They use this especially when they don’t want to make the effort to learn that language but simply want to dismiss it as meaningless because they ultimately don’t even want to know what is being said.

(Chris Falter) #91

And what is dark matter, really?

The reason I asked these questions of Marty is that Marty is a supporter of Reasons to Believe. It was founded by an astrophysicist, Hugh Ross, who lives an exemplary Christian life.

Now RTB treats astrophysics very differently than it treats biology, in my opinion. The ministry is 100% on-board with the standard models of astrophysics, even though they cannot to date explain what dark matter is, what forces lead to symmetry breaking, etc. But the unanswered questions in the realm of biology point ineluctably to the truth of Intelligent Design, in the RTB view.

So the question I am asking Marty is: why should scientific disciplines like astrophysics (and meteorology) get a free pass with regard to the mechanisms behind the mechanisms, but evolutionary biology is supposedly vanquished by ID because it does not provide those mechanisms behind the mechanisms to his satisfaction?


(Mitchell W McKain) #92

At this point it is just an hypothesis to explain some inconsistencies in what we observe in the sky. It frankly comes down to the fact that we don’t know why our equations using estimates of what is out there isn’t working. Are the estimates wrong? Are equations wrong? Is there something out there we just cannot see? Who knows?

I see… We have theories about why baboons do what they do, but what do we really know? They are baboons and maybe all we can do is just make our observations of how they behave.

Yes, that is a good question. The obvious answer is that somebody is being selective according to what they want to believe.

(Marty) #93

First, thanks to those who have spoken somewhat in my defense. Appreciating your friendship here.

Yes, great! I’m in agreement with you. But this thread is asking if there is hard evidence that macroevolutionary changes are by natural processes only, with no outside help. For atheists that is a requirement, and there are some on these threads.

And you will go in circles if you remain exclusively in the biologos sphere because for you it is an echo chamber. For the Progressive Creation perspective, check out Definitively not perfect either, but you’ll see another take. I came to my Progressive Creation view long before I ran across RTB. It has taken me quite a bit of time and effort to understand and respect the Evolutionary Creationist perspective, and I feel I can articulate it fairly. In fact, I try in presentations I give to even present it convincingly. I think there is plenty to commend it, even though there are things I don’t agree with.

Interesting summary. Minor Clarification: I think there are good reasons to doubt the scientific consensus. I’m OK with people having different opinions until someone claims that the receipts have arrived. Then I ask for the proof, and don’t get it. We’ll see if Matt’s paper brings anything new in that regard.

Thanks, Bill!

Interesting Chris… thoughtful question. This kind of exchange is more fun.

I see your specific questions as probing what we don’t understand, whereas there is plenty of hard data about the big bang. In particular, big bang cosmology and relativity made specific predictions which were testable and found true. So there are things we know, and questions that are open.

Contrast that to the assertion that all of life came about by natural processes only. Having run the math myself, I have my doubts that mutations are adequate to present to the other processes enough delta to bring about all we see. I feel there is a fundamental problem mathematically, so I am skeptical.

Since this thread is asking if there is enough hard evidence that natural processes are adequate to do it all, first of all I have reason to doubt it from the math, and then I don’t think the data proves me wrong.

As we enter the genetic era, this becomes more testable and we’ll see what that shows us. I’m going to dive into the paper Matt (and Bill) linked, and will respond to that.

First of all, I think there is a bell curve of people believing what they want in all camps. But to assume that this is the reason someone disagrees with you is bad form. These kinds of comments were why I posted my first entry on this thread. These forums are difficult to decipher sometimes, but I come here because people disagree with me and that’s where I learn the most. But I also speak in defense of those who disagree with you.

Chris and I have some history of exchanging questions and perspectives, which, I think, has led to enough respect to try to engage well. If your opinion is that everyone who disagrees with you is a scoundrel, well, I sure don’t respect that and I won’t be engaging you much. Please consider @Bill_II comments above as we are both trying to argue for a more connected and gracious approach. Please help us keep these forums from going the way of politics in our country!

(Cindy) #94

Thanks for the link. I will check it out.

(Cindy) #95

A requirement for what? Are you saying that in order for them to believe that there has to be proof that evolution could not have occurred on its own? This sounds like just another way of “proving God”. I don’t think that is possible. Faith is the belief of things unseen. Though that may not mean that one should not use some reason when deciding what to believe; I don’t think that it swings completely the other way either. In other words, one may well find that Science does not dispute their beliefs but I don’t think that they can accurately say that Science supports them either.

(Marty) #96

No Cindy, not saying that! Definitely not saying that.

(George Brooks) #97


Please correct me if I’m wrong… but based on your choice of words, it would appear that you think the fossil evidence is ambivalent?

The fossil record shows that large mammals do not appear until dinosaurs disappear.

And that large bears do not appear until after smaller versions first appear.

That large cats like lions and tigers do not appear until after smaller versions of lions and tigers appear.

And that large elephants do not appear until aftersmaller versions of elephants appear.

The only other way to interpret this evidence is to believe God systematically used special creation to make the small versions of each type of creature … and then allowed them to evolve (or, the more usual Old Earth position that God created small versions by super-natural means, and then, later, also created the larger versions by super-natural means).

Is this a more-or-less reasonable description of the general level of your skepticism about macro-evolution at this point, @Marty

(William DeJong) #98

My latest post (nr. 58, Jan 17) received a number of comments, which I did not answer yet.

Indeed, tsunamis and mudslides routinely happen on this planet. But they do not produce fossils, because the covered dead organisms are digested quickly by micro organisms and disappear. See further the Biologos scientific evidence thread: ‘Do 100 or 1000 years old fossils exist?’

Also the cross checks and the decisions which measurements are correct and which are not, are based on presuppositions.

Please read the peer-reviewed paper: The Evolutionary Dynamics of Digital and Nucleotide Codes: A Mutation Protection Perspective. After spending 30 minutes you will know the basic scientific facts on how living nature adapts to changing circumstances.

Underneath the thin crust of our Earth, there is no gigantic nuclear powerplant present which is keeping the rocks fluid for 4,532 billion years yet. The horrendous melt down in Tsjernobyl and recently in Fukushima did not make the solid rock underneath fluid. There are many areas on earth (for instance on the Canary Islands) where the earth crust is no more than 10 meters thick and meat can be roasted above the fluid red rocks that can be seen below. Tourist are allowed to walk there, without protective clothing against nuclear radiation.

The difference between change of a (biological) system in its parameters : (a1, b1) --> (a2, b2) , and the change of a (biological) system in its dimensions : (a1, b1) --> (a2, b2, c2) can be seen by anyone who has followed an elementary course in mathematics. Nothing mystical about this! Please accept the mathematical fact that changing the parameters of a system billions of times for billions of years, cannot change its dimensions.

You keep thinking that living nature adapts to changing circumstance by mutations. Please read the scientific basic facts in the peer-reviewed paper: The Evolutionary Dynamics of Digital and Nucleotide Codes: A Mutation Protection Perspective.

Mutations are continually repaired by mutation repair systems, for the discovery of which the Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded in 2015. If they are not repaired, they cause cancer and hereditary diseases and severe selective disadvantage.

(William DeJong) #99

Dear Moderator Pevaquark

As soon as the theory of evolution is criticized (for instance: first-order change cannot be extrapolated to second-order change), you frame the opponent as someone who is missing enough knowledge on the theory of evolution, or as someone who makes a strawman version of the theory. You make the theory of evolution immune for criticism. By this, you take away the predicate ‘scientific’ from evolutionary theory, because a scientific theory must always be open for refutation. A theory that cannot be refuted, is a dogma. Please allow the theory of evolution to be criticized from science, and do not push us back to the Dark Ages.

You referred to a paper that would provide hard evidence for macro-evolution:

Molecular evolution tracks macroevolutionary transitions in Cetacea, by Michael R. McGowen, John Gatesy and Derek E.Wildman. McGowen and his colleagues have ordered proteins of Cetacea (whales, dolphins, and porpoises) into a family tree. But this does not prove that natural processes can transform simple proteins into more complicated proteins. In general, natural processes cannot transform simple molecules into an ever growing amount of ever more complicated molecules. If natural processes would be able to do so, energy would become available for free, and the chemical industry would be out of business. This is absurd. Therefore, this claim must be rejected, according the rules of science.

See further conclusion 1,2 and 3 at the end of my post nr. 53 on Jan 13; and conclusion 4 at the end of my post 58 on Jan 17. For the convenience of the followers of this discussion, a reprint below.


1. ‘ Evolution ’ (= slow change) is not a robust scientific concept. After more than one hundred and fifty years, the concept of evolution urgently needs to be defined more accurately by distinguishing ‘ first order change/variation ’ (= the change of a system in its parameters) + the motor of first order change + the empirical evidence for it, from ‘ second order change/innovation ’ (= the change of a system in its dimensions) + the motor of second order change + the empirical evidence for it. The consequence of this distinction will be that the empirical evidence for variation of the DNA (for instance, the change in the form of the beaks of Darwin finches, produced by the mechanism of recombination of gene variants and selection and by gene regulation), can no longer be used as evidence for innovation of the DNA (for instance the transformation of a land animal into a whale, by the supposed mechanism of accumulation of non-repairable, heritable, instantly advantageous, code-expanding mutations).

2. The claim that natural processes can transform simple molecules into an ever growing amount of complex molecules and structures of molecules, is pre-Victorian Alchemist faith.

3. ‘ Macro evolution ’ (= the transformation of a bacterium into a human, by natural processes) can only happen in a fantasy world, not in our physical reality.

4. The claim that the family tree of fossils can be seen as a billions of years lasting ’film’ of second order change of bacteria into humans, is contradicted by a multitude of scientific facts and must be rejected according the rules of empirical science

(George Brooks) #100


Ah… so, magical mathematics now.

You can’t be serious…