Maybe this can become more of a compendium of responses than a place for extended discussions. Something that others can refer or link back to later. If it is too redundant with discussions already happening in other threads, we can delete it. But I thought I would give it a try here.
This is to be a respository for people who actually have a solid understanding of the subject so it can be a valuable scientifically-informed resource for others who need access to good information. It is not a place for ideological commentary (informed or otherwise) about what others imagine or try to bundle with the actual science.
What would or would not constitute a legitimate argument against it.
People who try to challenge the theory of evolution need to understand that science has rules, and if you want to challenge a scientific theory—any theory, evolution included—your challenge needs to follow those rules.
In order to stimulate conversation, I thought I will come up with few “challenges”:
if life has been evolving for billions of years and produced humans, why are there still life forms that are very primitive? Sure, not every specie can be as advanced as us… but bacteria?
The old meme “if people evolved from monkeys, why are there still monkeys” springs to mind, but as funny as it was, I don’t think I could explain this coherently.
Irreducible Complexity. Whilst I don’t struggle to imagine that evolution produced some complex structures, I thought I will ask an AI chatbot what it “thinks” and it came up with this “Critics argue that components of such structures would have no function until fully formed, making gradual evolution unlikely”. Do any such structures exist?
And @Mervin_Bitikofer please be assured I am not trying to inject any ideological commentary or challenge to actual evolution
One recurring misunderstanding is that the significance of the nested hierarchy, or taxonomy of the tree of life, is selective; that is, it is simply a matter of grouping particular identified traits. On that basis, similar hierarchies of various human designs, such as vehicles, are offered as examples in support of design. But the nested hierarchy in nature is rooted in the basic and accessible reality of reproduction with variation, unlike anything designed. Therefore, apart from very limited instances of horizontal gene transfer, traits at the tips of biological trees cannot be transferred to other branches. This is a vital distinction. In human design, such transfer of technology across categories is routine and pervasive, and the schema is that of a web, not a tree. Human design is free of the constraints of reproduction; in contrast, in nature the nested hierarchy is as much defined by constraint of traits as it is by the presence of traits.
Hi, Marta. Actually - yeah. Raising questions to be addressed (or that are commonly asked) is I think a great use for this space too. In fact - I think I do have enough lay knowledge to address yours, and will do so here. Subject to any needed correction or addition from the many here who know much more of course!
Bacteria have also been evolving all that time. Nothing ever stops evolving. It’s just a fallacy to think that the theory of evolution makes use of or depends on some “pre-programmed direction” - so that there is such a thing as definable “progress” from protazoa to us. In reality things just continue to fill and evolve in existing niches. Just because an evolutionary branch diverges from another branch doesn’t mean that suddenly the original branch ceases to exist.
There seems to be a (false) dichotomy to micro- and macroevolution. When explained what biological evolution is, people may somehow accept that ‘microevolution’ happens but absolutely deny ‘macroevolution’. Usually these people do not even think what is the difference between ‘microevolution’ and ‘macroevolution’, they just have read from somewhere that ‘microevolution’ is ok but ‘macroevolution’ is bad.
If you believe that the history of life is short, then there is some sense in this division (there has not been time for ‘macroevolution’) but accepting that life is millions of years old, the border between micro- and macroevolution becomes blurred.
Just like trying to define species boundaries between successive taxa in a series of deposits. At what points are they separate species? And no, the simplistic answers of “every layer is a separate species” a la Petuch et al., and “until there’s a break and we can’t see a distinct connection” don’t help.
One of the most popular ones to cite is eyes. The standard problem with “wouldn’t have any function” is that usually, they would: just “There is suddenly now a shadow above me. HIDE!” is useful, even without the ability to tell “the shadow is a fish that might eat me” versus “the shadow is a mass of algae floating past”.
We see many creationists who claim that we accept evolution because species share similarities. This isn’t true. If there was a species that shared three middle ear bones and mammary glands with mammals and feathers and a flow through lung with birds these shared similarities would actually cast serious doubt on the theory of evolution, especially if these types of combinations were common. Not only does the nested hierarchy exist in living species, but it exists in fossil species too. In fact, we can use the nested hierarchy to predict what new combinations of features we will see in the fossil record, such as fossils that have a mixture of dinosaur and bird features or ape and human features.
The common simple answer is “life is a tree, not a ladder”.
When a lineage splits, one of the branches can evolve something new while the common ancestral features will be conserved in the other branch. Even then, all branches will evolve in one way or another. Therefore, the bacteria we have today are different than the bacteria that would have existed in the distant past.
No one has found any structures that are known to have no function until all the parts of the IC system are present. They only speculate that they couldn’t have had function in the past with different or fewer parts. Also, IC systems were predicted to be an outcome of evolutionary mechanisms back in the 1920’s:
We could add the Mullerian Two-Step (make it beneficial then make it necessary) to the list of things we wish people would understand about evolution.
Another analogy for this is electricity. If you suddenly shut down the electricity in NY City it would be a mess (which has actually happened a few times). Does this mean NYC has always had electricity? Obviously not. When electricity was first introduced it was a luxury, something beneficial that some people had but was not necessary for the city to function. However, over time more and more functions within the city became dependent on electricity to the point that removing it would cause the city to stop functioning.
No one is stopping creationists from doing the research and publishing their results. That’s how debates are done in science, with peer reviewed primary research papers.
Can you show us any quality original research papers that were unjustly denied publication? And how are people being banned from discussing anything?
The ironic part is that BioLogos allows comments both on the article pages and in this discussion forum. Where can you find the same features at places like Evolution News & Views, Answers in Genesis, or Reasons to Believe? In order to attend a seminar at the Discovery Institute you have to get references from people they trust so they know you already accept Intelligent Design before attending.
The other part of the problem is that a good debate requires one thing: both sides should care about facts and honesty. Unfortunately, many creationists don’t believe in these things. Answers in Genesis flat out says that they will ignore any data that contradicts their beliefs:
“No apparent, perceived, or claimed evidence in any field of study, including science, history, and chronology, can be valid if it contradicts the clear teaching of Scripture obtained by historical-grammatical interpretation.”–Answers in Genesis
How can you have a debate where one side will ignore any evidence that contradicts them?
If there is a piece of evidence you think the scientific community is ignoring then I implore you to post that evidence and we will see how it survives a debate.
The Intelligent Design folks believe that, not the scientific community.
I have to disagree here…science autocorrects to accommodate new data, as Dr Schweitzer, the evolutionary paleontologist who discovered the remnants you allude to, did. Unfortunately, people can be dogmatic. From religious doctrine to scientific models (even the germ theory was disputed), we have difficulty changing. It is true that some did disbelieve initially, but with further understanding and nuance, the skeptics joined her, too. She has not wavered in her stand on evolution.
This brings me back to the point that I raised at the start of this thread:
It is perfectly legitimate for scientists to reject challenges that fudge or cherry-pick measurements, that quote people out of context, that exaggerate or downplay the significance of discrepancies, anomalous results and error bars, that misrepresent evidence, or that attempt to challenge an incorrect straw man caricature of evolution that is not found in any school or university textbook. It is perfectly legitimate for scientists to shut down objectors who repeatedly do such things even after having been told that their arguments are fallacious for that very reason. Lying about facts is lying about facts, and those who engage in such behaviour have no right whatsoever to describe the rejection of their falsehoods as “dogmatic” or “anti-science” or “brainwashing.”
Soft tissue in dinosaur fossils is a case in point here.
Young earthists repeatedly present the soft tissue findings as if they consist of unstable biomolecules that should not last for millions of years. Yet whenever you go back to the original literature and examine what was actually reported, it turns out that the scientists concerned only found the ultimately stable breakdown products of those unstable biomolecules. Heme breakdown products and porphyrins are not haemoglobin. DNA breakdown products are not sequenceable DNA. Structures that had to be soaked in a demineralising solution for a week are not unpermineralised. And so on and so forth.
One of the most fundamental rules of science is that you must get your facts straight about what the evidence actually consists of before attempting to discuss what it does or does not prove. There is nothing “evolutionist” or “dogmatic” whatsoever about this; it is simply a matter of basic honesty.
First: in the words of Wikipedia, . Who exactly was the creationist to which you refer, and what exactly did they predict?
Secondly: the James Webb Space Telescope is another case in point here.
Another fundamental rule of science is that you must not exaggerate nor downplay the extent or significance of discrepancies, discordances and sources of error in scientific findings. Surprising findings and anomalous results occur all the time in science, but they do not justify throwing out any and every established scientific fact that you don’t like. Once again, there is nothing “evolutionist” about this whatsoever: it’s simply a matter of basic honesty. Exaggerating the significance of surprising findings is lying, and those who do so have no right whatsoever to accuse scientists who call them on it of “dogmatism” or “brainwashing” or any kind of discrimination.
There’s been a lot of hype in the popular press about the JWST findings posing some sort of threat to the Big Bang. They do nothing of the sort. The claim that they do is based on an out-of-context quote from a single scientist that was blown up out of all proportion. Quote mining is lying.
The JWST findings have shown that large galaxies formed earlier in the history of the universe than was previously thought possible—about 200 million years after the Big Bang. This is surprising, and it does mean that scientists need to rethink some details of galaxy formation, but it does nothing whatsoever to reduce the age of the universe from 13.8 billion years to just six thousand. That would require a complete rewrite of everything that we know about physics, chemistry and cosmology.
I would most like people to understand that natural selection is really no different than the basic learning process. Thus rather than this being a mechanical explanation, it is an explanation at the very roots of what it means to be alive. Thus in theology, it is not about excluding God but changing His role from the Deist Watchmaker designing machines to the Christian Shepherd guiding his flock to better pastures.
Constructive neutral evolution is an interesting topic that I recently came across again. This idea suggests that complexity is a result of larger cell size, smaller effective population sizes, and slower reproduction which reduces the overall cost of genome size and genome complexity as well as reducing selection against complexity. In bacteria there is selection against complexity because the cost of the genome is a much larger proportion of the bacterial lifetime energy budget and larger population sizes allows for selection to see much smaller changes in fitness.
So it could be that multicellularity and overall eukaryotic complexity is due to the removal of selection against complexity, not necessarily selection for complexity.
It’s a tough one. I think that the one thing that I have taken away is that evolution isn’t an easy concept to grasp–and God is also a hard one. With that, I need to give others (and myself) more patience. I think that begs the question–with the Bible being so unclear and irrelevant to nature, does God really care that we get things that accurate–or does it matter more that we love others as ourselves?
He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly[a] with your God. (Micah 6:8)