Why Evolution?

Question from MiK’la:
Why do you believe in evolution? It is completely unscientific. It cannot be observed, repeated, or tested. Can you give me some evidence for evolution that can be observed, tested, or repeated? (and please give your answer in as little words as possible.)

Answer by SmartLX:
As few words as possible, huh? Okay, I’ll do it in two. Go here.

Seriously though, while evolution itself is very difficult to directly observe or repeat (mostly because it’s so slow), the evidence for it can be readily observed, and some aspects of it can be tested. DNA tests comparing our genome to to that of any other living creature will find at least some similarity, indicating that all life had a common ancestor and therefore we’re all part of the same family. The flu virus evolves so much in a year that the antibodies produced by a year-old vaccine will fail to recognise it. Some species of insects have diversified under observation into two populations incapable of breeding with each other, by definition becoming two species. Artificial selection applied to either plants or animals can radically change their appearance and behaviour in a relatively short space of time, and there’s no barrier to natural selection doing the same over millions of years.

To say that evolution is unscientific is to completely misrepresent science. Let us know why you think the mountains of evidence for evolution somehow don’t count if you like, and on whose work you base this conclusion, but in the scientific community there is no controversy at all over the basic fact that evolution has occurred.

20 thoughts on “Why Evolution?”

  1. SmartLx,

    I find myself suddenly combing through your site. I have recently posted a question (actually, a few) on the “christian question buffet” title that Jake responded to. I appreciate the time put forth in this site, I enjoy talking about these topics.

    Evolution is a sensitive subject for both sides of the debate. It is hard to come to the table with an unbiased, open mind. I’ll try and keep it purely scientific.

    Does evolution occur? Absolutely. Has a new species ever come from another species? Absolutely not. This is the biggest misunderstanding on the topic. Natural selection is observable, but it can never create a new species. As a simple example: a male and female from a dog/wolf group mate and have a variety of pups. Some pups are born with short hair and some with very long hair. They are in a cold region of the world and the short hair pups end up dying and therefore will not reproduce. As time goes on, long hair breeds with long hair and end up surviving in this type of environment. With time you’ll end up with a pure breed of long hair dog/wolf in this climate/environment. By the way pure breeds are more susceptible to disease. More importantly, you end up with a loss of genetic data, never a gain to even begin to create a new species. This is natural selection, not macro evolution.

    Like the above example, all species are found with variety in their dna, that allow them to adapt to differences in environment. It is a scientific impossibility for these differences to become a completely new species.

    You mention the slow process of time as a heavy factor involved. What you are missing is the mechanism that can actually change one species into a completely new one. However, sticking with the gradual slow time debate, here is another issue: millions and millions of years are shown to prove the dates of rocks, not once-living organisms that contain carbon. Yes, I realize that scientists have made a time-scale (that’s severely outdated) and by this they will date the fossils according to which layer they are found. Yet, this is a huge debate among scientific professionals. How did these intact fossils just lay there untouched by nature and not disintegrate, or more than likely get gnawed and taken apart by scavengers, allowing thousands, millions, billions of years to go by as layers of dirt were poured on them? Also, the mathematical probability of the supposed age of the earth would have certainly suffocated us long ago if this dirt/rock had really continued to pile on layer after layer.

    What you have done is made a leap of faith from observed natural selection to unproved millions of years attributing to a fantasy of species evolving into other species. The fossil record doesn’t show it, science can’t prove it, and history cannot fit the pieces together either.


    1. J, your arguments appear to be straight from the Institute of Creation Research, home of some of the most closed minds in America and much of the most dubious “science”.

      A species is defined, even in the dictionary, as being unable to breed with members of another species. There is some leeway, for instance the fact that horses and donkeys are able to produce sterile mules, but this only reinforces the idea that two populations of animals that are genetically unable to breed are definitely different species. There’s a long list on TalkOrigins of species which have been observed in the process of diversifying into two non-interbreeding groups, or in other words producing at least one new species. So what you’ve said about species is simply incorrect.

      This kind of speciation doesn’t “count” for many creationists even if they acknowledge it, because it’s just a fly turning into a fly, or a fish into a fish, etc. But if a type of fish can become two types of fish which don’t breed, there is no barrier to the two types of fish then eventually becoming so different that they are not the same type of animal at all. (There’s also the idea of genetic information, but mutations regularly and obviously increase the information available in a gene pool all the time, as explained very well here.)

      Radiometric dating (not just carbon dating, but an array of procedures using about 18 different elements which decay on varied timescales) have established beyond any possible doubt that there are rocks on the Earth’s surface that are millions and in some cases billions of years old. Some of these dated rocks contain fossils, which means the fossils are also millions of years old however they came to be. The parts of living organisms which last long enough to fossilise are usually the bones and shells, which are more resistant to weather and are of no use to most scavengers. Some fossilised animals are practically intact skeletons, perhaps because the dead animal sank straight into a riverbed, but others are scattered as you’d expect of an animal which was violently killed. And the number of available fossils is only a tiny percentage of individual creatures that ever lived, which is perfectly compatible with your argument that the chances of a given animal becoming a fossil are extremely small.

      Finally, regarding the amount of dirt and rock increasing over time, it hasn’t. It has merely been redistributed – abraded from mountains and carried on the wind, washed in by floods and waterways, thrown up by volcanoes and earthquakes. As the most exposed rock structures in the world erode and grow smaller and thinner, the sand everywhere else gets a little bit thicker, and it’s all so slow that we have no trouble keeping on top of it and sweeping out our driveways.

      1. Though I understand your frustration in trying to argue a side for evolution, I don’t see how bringing insult to the table by trying to make an association with a creation company, inferring that I’m “closed minded,” helps your argument. I’m not a creationist, though I am aware of such organizations. Couldn’t your manner of debate much more easily be used against you when you promote “talk origins?”

        Back to science.  The new species definition you mention, needs to be broadened to include the reality that scientists are in constant debate as to what actually defines a species. Darwin even said, “… I was much struck how entirely vague and arbitrary is the distinction between species and varieties.”

        Speciation proves my example in the last reply. Eventually, you end up with a localized group of species that can no longer reproduce and broaden characteristics needed for survival. What’s left is a loss of genetic material, never a gain. This goes against Darwinian theory. There is no vertical movement, only horizontal- and with time, more problems arise that degenerate a species, not make it better.

        I was waiting for you to mention a mechanism for evolution; you briefly mentioned mutations. not really sure why some people still use this as evidence for evolution. Of all the chromosome abnormalities out there, which one has benefited society, or a person, an animal? There is not one shred of evidence that mutations, being very rare, can actually benefit a species. They are all negative. Also, the normal function of a species is lost and creates a degenerative side affect. Most importantly, mutations can never create new information to create a new species. Where is the mechanism that has been proven to create a new species? This isn’t good science.

        Dust and dirt issue: Glad you agree that uniformitarianism isn’t a logical assumption to promote evolutionary theory. Where I disagree is how you came up with the age of fossils. Using your logic, I’ll present an analogy: a 5000 year old mammal dies and falls into a riverbed where it is surprisingly untouched by scavengers/nature. The surrounding rocks and formations at the time are millions of years old. A cataclysmic event occurs and buries the animal’s remains mixed with said formations/rock. At the time, carbon dating may have produced a close guess to animal’s age. Also, the potassium argon method may have produced a close guess to the formations age(though much less accurate). There are several bad assumptions: the potassium argon decay started at an unknown figure, so scientists have to guess, they also have to assume the rate of decay has remained the same with both methods (the amount of carbon in our atmosphere has most likely changed in our recent history compared to 5000 years ago). The biggest mistake: dating a fossil that’s 5000 years old according to the million year old rock its embedded in. This is one of the biggest fallacies of dating and evolutionary thinking.

        This is a theory, turned philosophy, that is attempting to mix in science to sound true. For some, it becomes dogma, a humanistic religion based on nothing more than faith in an elaborate fantasy.

        1. I was not trying to imply anything about you personally J, but I stand by my criticism of ICR and the fact that your arguments are originally from there, even if you found them somewhere else. I did use an argument from TalkOrigins, but I credited them with it and I stand by their merits as an organisation. As for your claim that you’re not a creationist, if you don’t accept evolution do you think a god is responsible for life as it appears today or don’t you?

          Darwin’s comments on species definition were over 150 years ago. While there is still plenty of debate over some details, there is a universal consensus that two animals that are genetically unable to breed are of different species (hence the dictionary definition) and the emergence of non-breeding pairs of species has been directly observed. The mechanism is merely the accumulation of mutually exclusive mutations in the two populations.

          I expected that you would bring up the idea that mutations and diversification do not increase the information in a genome, and I doubt very much that you read the link above which refutes this (the link colour is hard to distinguish), so here it is again:


          In brief, one example of an increase in information is if one of a pair of identical genes in a genome is mutated into something different, resulting in one additional type of gene in the genome. There is enough redundant information in every genome that individual changes can add new information without removing what’s already present.

          Each one of us humans has an average of 120 mutations in our personal genome, which cannot be attributed to heredity. This has been measured on a very large scale. Most of these mutations are benign or even completely without effect. Some are deleterious, and a very few really are beneficial. Lactose tolerance evolved in Europe. The ccr5-Δ32 mutation confers resistance to HIV, bubonic plague and smallpox. I personally met a man with a mutation that meant he could regenerate lost hearing by regrowing the little hairs in his ears (he inherited it from his father).

          If you consider life outside the human race, the beneficial effects of mutations become even more obvious. The influenza virus mutates to produce resistance to the flu shot so regularly that a regular flu shot is required. Bacteria are evolving resistance to antibiotics which did not exist when they first emerged. Mutant fungi in Chernobyl are resistant to radiation. If you can state with that much confidence that there is not one shred of evidence for beneficial mutations, I have to believe you are simply repeating what you have been told without checking, even on Google.

          Potassium-argon dating is often used to check the age of igneous or volcanic rock, from the point when the rock cooled from lava because that’s when it started to trap the argon gas. Before that point the amount of argon in the material was essentially zero because it couldn’t hold onto any. Since some fossils have been found in volcanic rock, they must have been there for as long as the rock has been solid. Therefore life is at least that many millions of years old, without even considering fossils in sedimentary rocks or any other evidence.

          So far there is very little support for your accusation that evolution is a faith or religion, but what if it were? So is every other idea that purports to explain the same phenomena, and admittedly so. Faced with one pure faith versus another there’d be nothing for us but to either agree to disagree or physically fight one another. The scientific approach is to gauge the evidence for each claim, and where evolution has an abundance of it and is recognised as a valid scientific theory on its own merit, alternative explanations have nothing but assertions of alternative mechanisms (e.g. the “cataclysmic event” of Noah’s flood) which superficially explain the most obvious effects. It’s not good enough.

          1. I don’t stand by either icr’s or talk origin’s merits. While I’m sure both have valid and legitimate arguments, I am open enough not to take a “stand” for one, just because their basis agrees with my point of view. I never brought up creation or icr, you did. The whole point of this argument is whether or not evolution occurs. Why would i need to hold to a creationist point of view to prove evolution doesn’t occur?

            If Darwin’s comments on species/variety are too old to fit your philosophy, what else has he written in his theory that you don’t think is valid today?

            Your “ear hair” friend, HIV resistance, and plague citing’s are still laking the proof that a species has been proven to evolve into a new species. You also forgot sickle-cell anemia that can produce a greater resistance to malaria. Of these seemingly beneficial mutations, the normal function of the species has degenerated and causes a negative outcome. The miraculous mechanism you are looking for is still lost. A society that takes on sickle-cell anemia will die out, regardless of a resistance to malaria.

            When you combine genetic burden with mathematical probability, along with the fact that mutations (again being very rare) are harmful, or if a benefit then a harmful side effect, you get an impossibility to survive a species, much less create a new one. Just take a look at interbreeding: with time, this only creates more harmful mutations. Time is actually a factor against evolutionary theory. Mutations are errors, copies, and mistakes in the midst of vast amounts of code. They don’t make up the code, nor can they form the building blocks of life. They are rare and negative errors that cause a degenerative function in a species. Time only makes it worse. As a real world example: the less our atmosphere protects us, the more harmful ultraviolet rays can mutate our cells and cause us cancer. Look around and its obvious that cancer rates all over the world have gone up. Chromosomal abnormalities are on the rise. This isn’t beneficial, nor can it turn us into a new species over time. It’s easy to extrapolate when you have nothing but faith in your argument.

            As far as the amount of argon starting from “essentially zero” as you put it, this is, well, false. Scientists don’t know and so they have to make a guess. Even if they did know the actual amount, they haven’t allowed for variables such as: leakage, contamination, and the rate of decay being the same-which would be a form of uniformitarianism (no longer accepted as an evolutionary viewpoint). Also, you won’t find fossils in igneous rocks; no animal material would survive the extreme temperatures and volatility required to make such rocks. What you are referring to is the very, very rare instance where igneous material (long cooled) has mixed with with other sediment and water (most likely during a catastrophic event) creating the false statement you have made concerning the date of the igneous rock and the fossil found. Almost all fossils are found in sedimentary rock–water mixed with sediment.

            Glad to see that you’re open to the possibility of evolutionary thought being a movement of faith, perhaps even a religion. Not too sure why you assumed we’d have a physical fight?-I guess this goes along with your evolutionary philosophy?

            1. If you are truly not a creationist, I apologise for miscategorising you, but please understand my confusion as I have only ever heard of one other person living today who rejects evolution for anything other than religious reasons. That person is David Berlinski, and his reason is money; he is paid handsomely by the Discovery Institute to speak against evolution. As for you, if not by evolution, intelligent design or special creation then may I ask how you think life did acquire its current diversity? And if you think acceptance of evolution leads to violence as you imply, where do you think good morality comes from?

              Darwin had no knowledge of DNA or genetics in general. This area was largely established by Watson and Crick about 100 years later, which led to the modern “neo-Darwinian” concept of evolution and applies directly to the concept of distinct species. Aside from this, Darwin was a Victorian gentleman with all kinds of opinions which have no place in today’s world. This does not affect the validity of his work on natural selection in the slightest.

              The emergence of new species requires only the ongoing possibility of beneficial mutations, which we’ve established, natural selection, which we observe constantly, and lots of time, which is our other point of contention. To say that all new resistances to disease or poison result from ultimately degenerative conditions because one of them does would be affirming the consequent; some mutations are just good, and new. And as I’ve said several times now, the emergence of new species according to the universally accepted definition has been directly and repeatedly observed, so we need no “miraculous mechanism” in order to merely hypothesise that it’s possible.

              Natural selection is the mechanism that allows a population to thrive despite a large number of mutations occurring. Those individuals who receive harmful mutations are far less likely to survive to adulthood and reproduce, so their genes are passed on far less and are bred out of the gene pool by those with benign or beneficial mutations. Mutations are not rare at all, it is a scientific fact that we all have about 120, many of which might manifest in every single cell of our bodies. Their direct effect on survival and breeding is what weeds out the bad ones and supports the good ones. This is the core concept of evolution.

              Inbreeding is indeed harmful, because it compounds any genetic defects over multiple generations and can make them deadly. This is why nearly all plants and animals on the entire planet have evolved instincts and/or practical barriers against inbreeding, and do everything they can to mate with others not closely related to them. Without inbreeding, new mutations are exposed to a range of other mutations, and the more beneficial mutations have the chance to triumph.

              As you mention, the rise in cancer is due to increased exposure to radiation from the sun and other sources, not an accumulation of natural mutations. If mutations were responsible then the rate would have gradually increased since the beginning of recorded history, instead of skyrocketing in the last few decades.

              Scientists do allow for leakage and contamination of radiometric dating samples, and have identified examples of each. A second, naturally occurring source of argon besides potassium contaminated one well-known K-Ar sample, artificially inflating its age, but the error was detected. This is why several different types of radiometric dating are used whenever possible, to achieve a consensus on at least the approximate age of the rock or fossil. Some extent of uniformitarian thought can indeed be applied to the process, as the few circumstances in which a rate of radioactive decay changes are incredibly rare. When hundreds or thousands of samples of the same layer of rock are taken from all over a continent, or the world, and multiple dating tests return the same result for every sample to a high degree of accuracy, a high level of confidence in its true age is justified despite everything that can go wrong with a single test. This applies to sedimentary rock as well as any other kind.

              If you want an example of fossils in igneous rock, see the impressions of trees at Lava Tree State Park in Hawaii. Incidentally, the K-Ar test which is often used on igneous rock is not accurate below 200,000 years, so any fossil in any kind of rock which has been dated reliably using repeated trials of this method is practically certain to be at least that old, and probably much older.

              I brought up the idea of a fight because if each of us relied on faith, there would be no rational way for either of us to convince the other. We would either have to let the disagreement stand, which I would prefer in this case, or resort to coercion, e.g. physical, to make any progress. Incidentally, if you see faith as such a negative as it applies to science (with which I would agree if it were used), on what is your opinion of these topics based?

  2. “Artificial selection applied to either plants or animals can radically change their appearance and behaviour in a relatively short space of time, and there’s no barrier to natural selection doing the same over millions of years.” Millions of years. Looks like faith to me. You don’t know that it happens. You just guess. When u say that something could happen, u jump from science to religion. And just because two things have similarities, it doesn’t mean that they came from a rock 4.6 billion years ago. It proves they have a common Designer. Evolution is so silly but still it makes me sad that people believe it. Evolution is extremely stupid. Who ever heard of something coming from nothing? And this very beautiful universe with so many complexities? How could that come from nothing?

    1. We know through radiometric dating among other ways that millions of years have passed since the formation of the Earth. We know from fossils that vastly different lifeforms existed millions of years ago. We know that all life on earth is genetically related (the similarities are such that a common designer would have left some of them out for obvious practical reasons) and therefore has a common ancestor, so the fact that one species becomes another is implied from that alone. We know that based on rates of directly observed evolution, it has taken millions of years for that common ancestor to multiply and diversify into the countless species alive today. It’s quicker to extrapolate from the rapid and profound effects of artificial selection, but when all the evidence is considered as a whole the conclusion is inescapable unless you are required by your faith to deny it. That is the only reason anyone rejects it, which is why there are no secular creationists who are not being paid large amounts by creationist organisations.

      Evolution has nothing to do with “something coming from nothing” or the origin of the universe in general, because it only takes effect once life exists. And it only relates to the complexity of living things, not that of the whole universe. If you want to argue on those points, search the site for keywords “origins” and “design” to find some more appropriate places.

  3. Just interjecting here to J,

    J, you claim to not be a creationist, and are not even offering your stance on the subject at all (and even acted slightly offended when being lumped into that crowd). However, the nature of this website is to ask the atheist what the atheist thinks. So it’s usually safe to assume that if you are here asserting a scientific theory is false, your reasons behind that are religious or supernatural. Evolution, while accepted by most atheists (and the majority of non-atheists to my knowledge), is NOT an atheistic concept, and does not have anything to do directly with atheism. So, when a person such as yourself is asserting that a widely accepted and established scientific theory such as evolution is incorrect, but then you don’t take ownership that the reason you are making this assertion is religious, it is actually quite confusing.

    Did you come here to talk to atheists? Or did you come here to have a scientific debate? Now, SmartLX is very well informed, this is obvious, but it seems to me that if you aren’t opposed to evolution due to religious reasons, then you would go to a more appropriate forum for discussing scientific theories.

    Sorry, I just seem to see this idea very often that atheism = science, or the two are married in some way or another. If you want to have a discussion about science, but not religion, I would ask somebody claiming to be a scientist, not somebody only claiming to be an atheist.

    1. Hi, Adam

      Its also safe to assume that the atheists who created this site, are, and have asserted that a scientific theory, evolution, is correct, as this is, to my knowledge, the only viewpoint accepted by atheists as to how we got where we are. You see the combination of science mixed with faith and philosophy?

      Adam, my reason for commenting here, was to interject, as you just have. This post was originally asked by “MIK’la.”

      I can only assume, from your last paragraph, that you don’t think SmartLx, is of a scientific persuasion. If my comments, somehow bother you, (or maybe its the science that you are uneasy with), you too, are free to look elsewhere. I’ve enjoyed talking with SmartLx, and I assume they have too.

      1. Hey J,

        I don’t know whether or not SmartLX is of a scientific persuasion professionally or academically (so I guess that makes me agnostic about it, hah). But I wouldn’t presume that he was.

        My point was that you appear to either be looking for a scientific debate without mention of theism (in which case going to a scientific community forum would do you better IMO), or you appear to be hiding your own beliefs, while assering that another person’s “belief” (or knowledge) is false. From what I recall, when SmartLX asked you about what you believed, you ignored the question completely.

        At least take ownership of your own belief on the matter, whether it is, “I don’t know” or “god did it” or whatever, I hardly find it appropriate to tell somebody that they are wrong without even saying what you think is the correct alternative (unless you don’t know it). Especially when you are contesting common modern knowledge.

        1. I don’t believe it’s a requirement to state ones beliefs in order to debate a scientific theory. If you re-read this post you’ll find that ive also posted on “christian question buffet” with jake on the 6th of this month. There you can find my beliefs more specific to your inquiry. This thread, however doesn’t necessitate such theological debate. There are many terms and labels out there such as: creationist, species, natural selection, evolution, and “young-earther” etc. When dealing with this topic, clarity is of extreme importance; there’s far too much misunderstanding out there. This is why I don’t label myself as such. I’m open to science and don’t easily side with opinions or companies that are prone to misuse talents and assets.  I’m not a creationist Darwinist, or neo-Darwinist. I’ve simply looked at the facts of science and concluded that its an impossibility for species to evolve into new species. Evolutionary thinking takes more faith than many Christians probably have.

          By the way aren’t you interjecting on a thread that has nothing to do with your argument. The meat of this debate is whether or not macro evolution occurs. Do you believe evolution is true? We can always talk about that if you’d like. The argument you make about suggesting that I comment in a more appropriate thread could just as well be used for yourself. Though I don’t mind commenting with you.

  4. SmartLx: I wasn’t able to reply directly to your last comment so I posted instead.

    Apparently commenter Adam is trying to help you out. My attention was taken away for a bit. The reason why evolution is a theory is because it works, in theory. Reality, however, paints a different picture. Taking your ear hair friend, we will assume he had a positive mutation without any side effects (though There always is). Nevertheless, I’ll give you that one. He’s still able to breed with his own species. If a time comes where his offspring, generations down the line, can’t produce with their own kind they will be severely disadvantaged and die out. Here’s why: they will end up interbreeding and narrow down their gene pool, increasing the probability of degenerative mutations. Never mind the mathematical impossibility to produce just one positive upward evolutionary movement. Mathematicians have come up with differing figures for this astounding probability. The chances are so astronomical that many evolutionists have turned to other theories such as alien involvement.

    Look at the fossil records. There are no intermediate forms. Every species is found abrupt and fully formed. The majority of mutations are harmful, or if a benefit then an opposing side effect. Show me a mutation that has evolved a species into another species-how about a thousand? A million? The math is against this theory.

    Your dating methods are science mixed with wrong interpretation. Fossils don’t occur when igneous material is created. Fossils are created by water and sediment; many times catastrophically. We can’t date animals beyond 50 thousand years and even then scientists most of the time have to use recorded history (within 5000 years) to cross reference. Uniformitarianism, as mentioned before is not accepted by scientists as any proof.

    Natural selection is not a mechanism for evolution. Natural selection can survive a species, never transform it. As I’ve stated previously, we end up with a horizontal “playing field,” not a vertical one. Species are found with variety already in their DNA that allow them to adapt to differing environments. This is scientifically different than a miraculous mechanism, not yet found or proven, to create a new species. There is simply a complete lack of proof. You are taking area’s of science and either wrongfully interpreting them and/or making a huge leap of faith over non-existent proof to say that species have evolved into new species over millions of years.

    1. Sorry about the technical issue, the Reply button only works for a set number of levels.

      Something which is an observable fact cannot in truth be a mathematical impossibility, and the fact is that beneficial mutations happen. Most of the mutations that work towards the diversification of species are benign rather than beneficial anyway, because the definition of a new species is not improvement but simply variance. A bird is not objectively better than a dinosaur, just different. Natural selection rapidly wipes out any mutations which are detrimental enough to affect survival and procreation, and the rest soldier on as the creatures change and change and change.

      Two very good examples of intermediate fossils are ambulocetus, the “walking whale”, and the fish-to-amphibian intermediate tiktaalik. They are each a fully formed species (each individual creature must be), but they each simultaneously possess characteristics of one older and one newer family of animals. Later, as one set of characteristics was consolidated in the population the other set was slowly bred out to form the modern animal type. This is how the transition occurs, not through malformed chimerae.

      Again and again you say one species cannot evolve into another species, even over millions of years, but we’ve established pretty well by now that some species have literally evolved into new species only in the last few years. Would you kindly give us your own definition of a species, since it clearly doesn’t agree with ours? Since we have now heard about your personal relationship with God and Jesus in another thread, are you by any chance using the definition of a “baramin” or Biblical “kind”?

      1. I agree that mutations happen. The argument is whether or not a mutation that seems like a benefit, can turn a species into another species. My contention is absolutely not. There’s no evidence for it. Your interpretation on species is ignoring the facts that i’ve already brought: that along with Darwin himself, there’s huge debate among scientists as to what constitutes a species. Also shown already, is that even when a species can no longer breed (creating your definition of a new species; dictionary.com isn’t a group of scientists and doesn’t include the relevant arguments scientists have about it), they will lessen the gene pool for themselves creating pure breeds that are more susceptible to disease and harmful mutations. You are still missing the miraculous mechanism that turns a so-called “positive mutation” into a new species. It is genetically impossible. What you are “observing” is natural selection, variety within species and the second law of thermodynamics: from complex to simple, order to disorder. We aren’t getting better, we’re getting worse. There are more std’s, cancer, and life threatening diseases than ever.

        Your “walking whale” is a fallacy. Do you know how big it was? The size of a crocodile. The scientists who found this already had a bias in mind formed by unproven evolutionary thinking. They were looking for a whale ancestor. What they found was an extinct carnivorous land animal that could also maintain time in water–not unlike our modern crocs. Look at the mammoth and the now days elephant. That is variety. It would be scientifically impossible to get ambulocetus into a whale or vice versa through time, chance, an unknown driving force for evolution, and helpful mutations out of mostly harmful. And, by the way, where are all the millions of intermediate forms between these two creatures.

        If a fish “yearns” for land and attempts to stay on said land it will die. How many mistakes must its offspring make to form one tiny bone? A few bones? A foot? Muscle structure? lungs for land? Eyes for land? Teeth for hunting on land? An out of water instinct to survive? This is a simplified version of what you are talking about. The reality is that it would take trillions, upon trillions, upon trillions of mistakes and harmful mutations just to create a positive upward movement in evolution, never mind the fact that mutations cannot create a whole new species.

        Tiktaalik is the same biased expectation of something evolutionists need to keep their theory alive. This link shows how this particular “ancestor” caused them to change their views (admittedly still holding to evolutionary thinking) http://www.theguardian.com/science/2010/jan/06/footprints-tetrapods-walked.

        Note the quote from this article: [ “”The closest elpistostegids were probably contemporaneous with these tracks,” he said. “We now have to invent a common ancestor to the tetrapods and elpistostegids.”
        Jenny Clack, a palaeontologist at Cambridge University, echoed Janvier’s belief that the findings would force scientists to re-examine their beliefs about the timing of the transition to land. “It blows the whole story out of the water, so to speak,” she said.
        Clack added that it may also give pause for thought over what drove fish from water to land in the first place. Some theorised that tetrapods originally went ashore to lay their eggs out of reach of aquatic predators, or that their ancestors grew legs to scurry from pool to pool. She had favoured the notion that fish emerged from oxygen-deprived waters in order, quite literally, to catch their breath.
        None of those theories was supported by the Polish find, she said.]

        These are the same as archaeopteryx, piltdown man ( though this one was exposed as a fraud), neanderthal man, lucy, etc.

        1. As I explained in my previous post, beneficial mutations are not required to create new species, only a reasonable proportion of benign-or-better mutations. It is difference that causes speciation, not necessarily improvement. Regardless, some purely beneficial mutations do occur, and spread rapidly if they positively affect survival and procreation. Rabbits evolved significant resistance to myxomatosis, a disease they had never encountered in their entire history, over a period of less than 20 years. This was not a feature already built in and then somehow unlocked, it was brand new.

          Once speciation has occurred and two populations of similar-but-now-distinctly-different creatures exist, they will each have a smaller gene pool to begin with by virtue of having fewer creatures. But again you assume that they are stuck with a fixed amount of genetic information for all eternity, when that is not the case at all. As the population increases (provided the new population is sufficiently large to begin with) the DNA is recombined in new ways with every new offspring, and augmented with dozens of mutations for every one of them. The gene pool grows along with the population, until it’s as large or larger as it was before the speciation event.

          Again, species definitions disagree on some details, but there is no definition of a species endorsed by any biologist (not counting baraminologists) where two individuals who are genetically unable to breed together could possibly be counted as members of the same species. Since populations have been observed dividing into non-interbreeding groups, speciation is a very obvious reality, in the face of the real-world ratio of beneficial mutations to benign mutations to harmful mutations.

          Ambulocetus was not confirmed as a forerunner of whales on a whim. Its specific jaw structure is now found only in whales, and the chances that the same exact structure would have developed a second time in any other branch of fauna are infinitesimally small. All it had to do was lose its legs, and grow. If you want more transitional forms from the same family, see here.

          In the same vein, Tiktaalik was a fish with unmistakable qualities of a tetrapod, for instance in its neck and head. While the timing is now in dispute thanks to those footprints, the fossil is real and the evidence is clear that some fish evolved into tetrapod amphibians (which later produced reptiles and then mammals).

          You have at last brought up the Second Law of Thermodynamics directly. If you think that because of this (or in fact for any reason) the information in a gene pool is limited to a maximum of its present amount without divine assistance, you do not understand evolution any more than you are required to in order to coherently relay the creationist arguments you have been using, which is not very much at all. (If you say you are not creationist I will not argue, but your arguments are echoes of creationist material from everywhere.)

          Your principal argument is an argument from personal incredulity; you claim that large-scale evolution is not possible because you personally do not see how it could be. You demand a “miraculous mechanism”, having asserted that one is necessary when it is not, and claim victory when it does not appear. Natural selection has been shown to be more than adequate for favouring non-harmful mutations over harmful ones, but because you do not grasp how it does so you claim it is insufficient.

          Finally, when all is said and done, what do you intend to achieve? If you have in fact disproved evolution completely and we poor misguided atheists finally realise that you’ve done so, what changes? Just like 160 years ago, the diversity of life is once again not sufficiently explained, but it is not proven to be the work of an even more unlikely, inexplicable entity such as a god. As Adam was saying, why even have this argument with an atheist rather than an actual evolutionary biologist?

          1. Speciation doesn’t create new species out of another. We didn’t evolve from monkeys through speciation, mutation, or natural selection. Your rabbits didn’t evolve into a new species through any Darwinian or neo, macro evolution. Your rabbit is still a rabbit, and if it cannot breed with other varieties of rabbit, it is still a rabbit, with variation- this was the problem Darwin saw. We agree that these changes, mutations and slight variation can and does occur within species. This does not prove that a fish can turn into a land walking animal nor a monkey into a human. You’re still missing the whole vast connection (I call it miraculous because it takes great faith) that proves any of these species have evolved into new ones over time. Again you’re taking areas of science, most of which I agree with, and postulating that over time macro evolution occurs. It is still an unproven theory.

            If I share arguments with creationists, then so be it. Don’t you share arguments with atheist scientists and “talk origins?” Jake brought up a good point that you might do well to heed: argument from authority. Quote from Wikipedia: ” Though reliable authorities are correct in judgments related to their area of expertise more often than laypersons, they can still come to the wrong judgments through error, bias or dishonesty. Thus, the appeal to authority is at best a probabilistic rather than an absolute argument for establishing facts.” This is one reason, mentioned previously, that I don’t label myself a creationist, young earther, Darwinist, or neo. Yes, I have my bias concerning a personal walk with God. When it comes to science, however, I currently conclude that macro evolution does not and cannot occur, even when a scientist says so because he/she just so happens to be a professional.

            If you and Adam share the same sentiment, why are you continuing this debate with me? I assume you’d like to keep talking about it. I’m having fun. This wasn’t originally posted by me, but I felt it was laking a side so I interjected. You engaged, and here we are. I didn’t see a notice on the “front” that says “only ask these questions.” Your first reply to this post makes you seem open to questions of this nature. I’ll ask you the same: what do you intend to achieve with this argument? This is your website, do with it as you please. You can stop communicating, block me, or move on to another subject. I do appreciate your time though. Thanks

            1. It’s almost like you aren’t reading SmartLX’s comments but skimming over them. He covered most of what you’re commenting on already, but you seem to be ignoring his points.

            2. When you can tell me on principle and in all sincerity that an event whose name literally means the creation of a new species does not create a new species, there is little or no progress left to be made in this discussion.

              The evidence for the long-term, large-scale effects of evolution is not merely in the speciation events we have directly observed, and if you think these mean nothing then I have dwelt on them too long. It is also in the varied extent and nature of the genetic similarities between all living things, and their geographical distribution, and the vestigial remains of the creatures they once were, and half a dozen other separate fields of scientific investigation. The Wikipedia page on evidence of common descent is a good overview, but if you are genuinely seeking an understanding rather than attempting to tear down a theory you are certain is impossible, I suggest you read Your Inner Fish by Neil Shubin or Why Evolution is True by Jerry Coyne or, for a believer’s perspective, Finding Darwin’s God by Ken Miller.

              I’ll answer your personal questions next.
              – I do use arguments and evidence by evolutionary biologists (not all of whom are atheists – see Francis Collins and Ken Miller) and Talk Origins in particular, but I use them because I find the arguments and evidence themselves to be convincing, not simply because I trust the sources. This is the difference between researching a topic and arguing from authority.
              – I have continued the argument until now for several reasons. You have continued to reply, for one, and on a topic which is worth discussing. One purpose of ATA is to provide an atheist’s viewpoint on anything where people want to know it, and by attempting to justify my position for you I have also done so for a larger audience. Another purpose of the site is to demonstrate that atheists have answers to the questions many believe they cannot answer, and this issue of “macro-evolution” is one of those questions. It has now ceased to be productive because your refusal to accept the answers has us going in circles, which doesn’t advance either purpose.

  5. Hi J,

    You are correct, it isn’t necessary to state your beliefs in a scientific debate. But that was my point, (to reiterate) you appeared to be trying to have a scientific debate without mention of theism. And again, if that’s what you want, then it would make more sense to go to an actual scientific forum.

    As for my views on evolution. I don’t care too much about it as it doesn’t impact my life, and I am not the type who considers learning about such things interesting or fun. From what I’ve heard about it, it makes sense to me. I trust (call it faith, if that makes you feel better) the scientific method (which is the modern method by which humans can acquire knowledge about our world), and the world-wide scientific community enough to consider it true until valid reasons for its falseness are given. Unlike faith-based hypotheses, scientific theories are discarded when they don’t hold up in practice, testing, or research. At the same time, even though I say evolution is true, I don’t particularly care if it is true or not, and wouldn’t care if it was shown to be false some day.

    And no, I wasn’t trying to “help” SmartLX haha. I’ve read almost everything he’s written on this site, and I know he can handle himself just fine. I was speaking for myself, and merely trying to point out that coming to an atheist website to have a (purely) scientific debate seems to promote that false notion that atheism and science have a connection. Or that atheists must be scientists. Through science we have a method of understanding the world and using that understanding towards innovation. It doesn’t matter if you are an atheist, or a completely devout theist, you can still be a scientist.

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