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Micro vs. Macro Evolution: a real scientific debate

Creationists often argue that there is a big difference between “micro-evolution” (adaptation, small changes within species) and “macro-evolution” (large changes over time from one species to another).  Evolutionists are quick to respond that no “real” scientist makes this distinction between the two.  Recently redditor JoeCoder was able to find a few good quotes from secular science journals that a debate does indeed occur among mainstream scientists:


  1. “There is a striking lack of correspondence between genetic and evolutionary change. Neo-Darwinian theory predicts a steady, slow continuous, accumulation of mutations (microevolution) that produces a progressive change in morphology leading to new species, genera, and so on (macroevolution). But macroevolution now appears to be full of discontinuities (punctuated evolution), so we have a mismatch of some importance. That is, the fossil record shows mostly stasis, or lack of change, in a species for many millions of years; there is no evidence there for gradual change even though, in theory, there must be a gradual accumulation of mutations at the micro level.”
    The coming Kuhnian revolution in biology, Nature Biotechnology, 1997


  1. In arguing for an erasure between the lines of micro and macro, Sean B. Carol states: “A long-standing issue in evolutionary biology is whether the processes observable in extant populations and species (microevolution) are sufficient to account for the larger-scale changes evident over longer periods of life’s history (macroevolution). Outsiders to this rich literature may be surprised that there is no consensus on this issuee, and that strong viewpoints are held at both ends of the spectrum, with many undecided”
    The big picture, Nature, 2001


  1. “the symposium ended with a panel discussion about questions of microevolution (evolution within the species) and macroevolution (evolution after speciation). The issue at stake was whether extrapolation from the selection theory operating on organisms is sufficient to explain all patterns of macroevolution. In other words, do we need an independent body of theory to explain the changes occurring above, as opposed to at, the species level? There was no general agreement among the panel members. It seems that the jury is still out on this important question. … Many speakers emphasised the role of internal constraints, which had not been considered in conventional Darwinian thinking. Constraints set, for example, by developmental gene networks, and probably many other unforeseen rules of complexity, define the boundaries of what is possible.”
    Meeting report – Evolution in a nutshell. European Molecular Biology Organization reports, 2001



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