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Creation/Evolution

Response to Mashable’s 5 Common Evolution Myths

debunked

I came across an interesting article on Mashable today.  It was called “5 Common Evolution Myths, Debunked” (http://mashable.com/2014/07/29/evolution-myths-debunked).  As of last count it had been shared around 3,000 times and the accompanying video had been viewed over 13,000 times.  The article goes into more depth on the topic than the video.  Although they don’t mention creationism even once, it is obvious that the purpose of the post was to answer what they believe are common creationist arguments.  They are partly right and partly wrong.  Many of their “myths” they list are unfortunately often cited by what major creationist organizations would probably label as ‘armchair creationists’.  In other words those who know what they believe but not WHY they believe it.  We sometimes use the term towards our opponents.  Most of the people who cause a fuss towards creationists are actually ‘armchair scientists’ – those who accept whatever they read in science media, but don’t know WHY they accept it.

 

Let’s jump into it.  Myth # 1:  “It’s just a theory”.  I completely agree with them here.  This is number one problematic statement creationists tend to make.  Theory in everyday language means something different in scientific settings.  It does mean the most comprehensive explanation of the evidence.  I believe that evolutionists honestly believe that evolution is the most comprehensive explanation of the evidence.  I don’t count them down on this point.  It actually IS the best naturalistic-only theory.  If you define science as being naturalistic-only, then this is your theory.

One problem is those ‘armchair scientists’ who equate scientific theory with fact.  Whenever you label a scientific theory ‘fact’, you’ve now inhibited scientific progress.  Since the scientific community now considers evolution fact they now treat all new evidence as having to conform to the theory instead of learning what the evidence may really mean.  I’ve heard it said many times – all you have to do is find a rabbit in the Cambrian and our theory is junked.  I don’t believe them.  What they are basically saying is – one evidence out of place invalidates us.  But what they really do is different.

When scientists began to find red blood cells and soft tissue in dinosaurs they were attacked (some fired) for their findings.  It was until they developed what sounded like an appropriate response that they began to acknowledge the findings.  They needed to find a way to fit this new evidence into their current theory.  Is that exploring new knowledge or is that confirmation bias?  If they found a rabbit in the Cambrian today it would probably be labeled ‘contamination’ until they could find a way to explain it away and keep their theory… because they don’t believe it’s a theory, they believe it is fact.

 

Myth #2 is “Humans are not currently evolving”.  I’ve heard a few select creationists use this, but it is extremely ignorant and an unnecessary argument.  Everything changes – that IS observable fact.  To deny that is to deny air.  Major creationist organizations do not argue that no form of evolution occurs, they argue that change of kind of creature does not occur.  Natural selection, the small adaptations to environment, is obvious.

Trying to equate humans developing a resistance to lactose with all creatures on earth sharing a common ancestor is ludicrous.  Those are two different topics.  They want you to believe that since they observed this change in one species, and since they observe changes in all species, that if you add enough of these up over time that you can trace everyone back to a common ancestor.  Did you notice where one part was observable science and one was a belief system?

 

Myth #3 is “Individuals organism can evolve in a single life span”.  I think the argument they are trying to combat here is when someone says “my daddy don’t look like a monkey”.  The reaction is – well, evolution doesn’t work like that… it takes a long, long time – in a galaxy far, far away. J

First of all, no I don’t agree with this line of creationist argument.  Although I understand the point they are trying to make, you don’t set up a straw man to knock it down.  The article says “new gene variants are produced by random mutation”.  Are they able to clarify?  All we’ve ever seen mutation do is rearrange existing DNA information.  What they don’t admit is that we’ve never seen “random mutation” create NEW information.  You have to admit that for me to believe that an amoeba is in my family line – I’m going to need to see a mechanism that can increase (and not just reassemble) information.  No such mechanism exists.  In fact genetics seems to be confirming the exact opposite.  Since deleterious mutations far outweigh beneficial ones, we are actually degrading over time (genetic entropy).

 

Myth #4 is “Evolution isn’t science because it’s not observable or testable”.  Again you need to define what you mean by evolution.  Yes, change occurs.  Yes, natural selection occurs.  Yes, adaptation to environment occurs.  No, kinds of animals do not change into other kinds even over eons of time.  The article uses examples of bacteria evolving into bacteria as their master evidence of evolution?  Is that all they got?

 

Myth #5 is “Humans can’t have evolved from monkeys because monkeys still exist”.  I will give them credit for this one!  More creationists need to understand that evolution does not teach that monkeys evolved into humans – it teaches that monkeys and humans shared a common ancestor.  But the issue does raise a much bigger, probably more interesting question:  what about all the “living fossils”?  Creatures alive today that resemble almost perfectly their millions-of-years old ancient ancestors?

Let’s take it one step farther… if evolution is true then how do we know we can trust our senses?  If we are constantly changing and evolving – who is to say we have developed proper knowledge to actually test our world?  Of course I’m facetious here.  The fact is we CAN test our world accurately and it returns consistent results.  This seems to speak of a creator that set up the universe to work in a consistent, orderly fashion complete with laws.  Science is possible because the universe was designed to work orderly unlike how it would have turned out if unguided, random processes were at play.  That is #1 proof of creation.  If a 2-year-old throws paint at a canvas randomly it doesn’t tend to create an intelligent landscape portrait as a skilled painter would.  Now beyond that, atheists also have to admit that it wasn’t even a 2-year-old, the paint created itself and threw itself at the canvas.

This article has some good points about arguments that many ‘armchair creationists’ need to learn but not because the opposite position is correct.  We need to continue learning more about their position to be able to accurately respond to their claims.

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About Tim

http://www.gracewithsalt.com

Discussion

34 thoughts on “Response to Mashable’s 5 Common Evolution Myths

  1. TIM: No, kinds of animals do not change into other kinds even over eons of time. The article uses examples of bacteria evolving into bacteria as their master evidence of evolution? Is that all they got?

    First of all, evolution doesn’t entail that dogs will evolve into cats, which seems to be what you are expecting in your first sentence. Commond descent entails that dogs and cats shared a common ancestor (which the evidence supports rather strongly).
    As for evidence – perhaps instead of using a short non-scientific article, you should refer to the primary literature – there is far more evidence supporting common descent that “bacteria evolving into bacteria”, so no, that’s not “all they got”

    Posted by riandouglas | August 4, 2014, 4:40 pm
    • Yes, I understand the common ancestor explanation – I even spoke of that in my article. But if you can trace all creatures through a common ancestor, then yes – in some form one creature did turn into another. It’s kinda like tracing all people back to Adam. In that sense we are all related – but yes different families broke off. So yes – it’s correct to say that apes evolved into people. Adding the additional step of sharing a common ancestor doesn’t clear it up anymore. At some point an ape-like creature developed human characteristics.

      Posted by Tim | August 5, 2014, 2:24 pm
      • Correct Tim – humans evolved from an ancestral population which we would not classify as human, just as chimpanzees evolved from an ancestral population which we would not classify as chimpanzee. As you go further back, these ancestral populations merge to be the ancestral population which human and chimpanzee share.

        This is what the evidence shows to have taken place.

        So where is the issue for you?

        Posted by riandouglas | August 5, 2014, 3:46 pm
        • The evidence only show that to take place if you accept certain unprovable assumptions before interpreting the evidence.

          Posted by Tim | August 6, 2014, 2:10 pm
          • Which “unprovable assumptions” am I making?
            How do you justify your own presuppositions?

            Posted by riandouglas | August 6, 2014, 3:56 pm
            • Basically you believe the present is the key to the past. The way we see things working today is the way they’ve (for the most part) always worked. So you make guesses about the past based on what you observe today, but you really can’t prove your guesses. Just as I can’t. I make guesses about the past based on what I believe is additional historical information to consider. I can’t prove mine either. That is why this debate goes on.

              Posted by Tim | August 6, 2014, 6:40 pm
              • Basically you believe the present is the key to the past.

                Not really.

                The way we see things working today is the way they’ve (for the most part) always worked.

                Which is a reasonable starting assumption which can and has been tested against reality.
                So why is it a problem?

                So you make guesses about the past based on what you observe today,

                “Guesses” doesn’t do justice to it. We make predictions about what we would expect if something were and were not the case, and then go out and test those predictions.

                but you really can’t prove your guesses.

                Not in the sense of having 100% certainty, but in the sense of “very well supported by the current evidence such that we can assume truth provisionally unless and until there is further evidence available”.

                Just as I can’t. I make guesses about the past based on what I believe is additional historical information to consider. I can’t prove mine either. That is why this debate goes on.

                How about you start assessing that belief concerning historical information rather than just assuming it to be certainly true?

                Posted by riandouglas | August 6, 2014, 7:02 pm
  2. Tim: Let’s take it one step farther… if evolution is true then how do we know we can trust our senses?

    Because we can and have tested them. We don’t need to simply assume our senses are reliable, we can test just how reliable they are (and we have). We can also explain how and why an evolutionary process would result in generally reliable senses.

    Tim: The fact is we CAN test our world accurately and it returns consistent results. This seems to speak of a creator that set up the universe to work in a consistent, orderly fashion complete with laws.

    Complete non-sequitur.

    Tim: Science is possible because the universe was designed to work orderly unlike how it would have turned out if unguided, random processes were at play.

    That sounds like something you need to support with evidence Tim, rather than merely asserting it. Since even a completely random seequence will contain subsequences which appear ordered, simple order does not provide evidence of agency.

    Tim: That is #1 proof of creation.

    If this is true, then you have no good reason to believe creationism is true, since your #1 evidence is very poor indeed.

    If a 2-year-old throws paint at a canvas randomly it doesn’t tend to create an intelligent landscape portrait as a skilled painter would.
    If you had a very large canvas, and painted it randomly, there would certainly be sections which reproduced landscapes.

    Tim: Now beyond that, atheists also have to admit that it wasn’t even a 2-year-old, the paint created itself and threw itself at the canvas.

    Are you speaking here about evolutionary biology, or something else?
    It sounds like you’re speaking about the beginning of our universe, and are parroting another persistent creationist myth (which is ironic in an article discussing the same) 🙂

    Posted by riandouglas | August 4, 2014, 4:47 pm
    • You said “We can also explain how and why an evolutionary process would result in generally reliable senses.” I would love to hear this explanation.

      Posted by Tim | August 5, 2014, 2:25 pm
      • Tim, how long would a population of animals survive if their senses were unreliable. I don’t mean poor, as in not having high-def colour vision, but actual unreliable senses such that predators appeared harmless, and safe locations appeared to be dangerous?
        The answer is not very long at all. Such animals would fare very poorly against their fellow that had even slightly more reliable senses. So we can say with confidence that reliable senses provide a survival and reproductive advantage, and hence would likely to be favoured by evolutionary mechanisms such as natural selection.

        It such a simple thing to understand that I really don’t see why anyone insists on claiming otherwise.

        Posted by riandouglas | August 5, 2014, 3:50 pm
        • How does DNA know what is favored? Where does its intelligence come from? Why does it have this logical, sorting fashion in a random universe?

          Posted by Tim | August 6, 2014, 2:12 pm
          • DNA doesn’t “know” anything. And there is no need to invoke such in order to provide an explanation.
            DNA effects the survival and reproductive success of the organisms which have it in a particular environment. Change the environment and a previously beneficial trait can become detrimental (and vice versa). Change the DNA and a previously benign or favourable environmental condition can become detrimental (and vice versa).

            And who said the universe is random? I look around and it doesn’t seem to be random – in fact the order seems to be a result of the interactions of “stuff” (eg. quantum fields, or particles of the standard model etc).

            Posted by riandouglas | August 6, 2014, 4:00 pm
            • If DNA doesn’t know anything how does it know what to select out and what to keep?

              Posted by Tim | August 6, 2014, 6:41 pm
              • DNA doesn’t select anything. Your question doesn’t make any sense, and seems to support my statement that you don’t understand evolutionary biology.

                Posted by riandouglas | August 6, 2014, 7:03 pm
                • That’s fair. What does the selecting?

                  Posted by Tim | August 6, 2014, 9:39 pm
                  • Differential reproduction. There is no “selector” planning things out. The phenotype resulting from the organisms genotype interacts with the environment (including other organisms). Those organisms which have traits which provide it an advantage in the current environment will tend to pass more copies of it’s genes into the next generation.

                    It’s a directionless and “blind” process, rather than something which has knowledge and plans.

                    Posted by riandouglas | August 7, 2014, 12:20 am
                    • That’s a contradiction. You said it has no knowledge and is blind, but you also said that the phenotype interacts with the environment and decides what traits are advantagous. So which is it? Can’t be both.

                      Posted by Tim | August 7, 2014, 2:20 pm
                    • No contradiction, just a misunderstanding. There is no decision being made. The interaction of the phenotype with the environment dictates whether a trait is advantageous or not. For example, being able to metabolise nylon is an advantage in environments which contain nylon, but is neutral at best, or disadvantageous in environments where there is little to no nylon.

                      Posted by riandouglas | August 7, 2014, 4:28 pm
                    • How does the phenotype know whether the trait is advantageous or not? What is that mechanism? I’m asking where that intelligence comes from in an unguided system.

                      Posted by Tim | August 7, 2014, 4:34 pm
                    • How does the phenotype know whether the trait is advantageous or not?

                      It doesn’t – it’s ill informed questions like this which lead me to think you don’t understand evolutionary biology.

                      What is that mechanism? I’m asking where that intelligence comes from in an unguided system.

                      The mechanism is, generally, differential reproduction. There is no intelligence there. There is no guidance.

                      Why do you think there needs to be a chooser or an intelligence of some kind?
                      Perhaps if you explained further what it is that you expect from evolutionary biology in this regard (and why)?

                      Posted by riandouglas | August 7, 2014, 5:02 pm
                    • If it knows what is advantageous and what is not – how does it know this to select or not select it in the next generation?

                      Posted by Tim | August 8, 2014, 3:11 am
                    • Just to clarify – the phenotype doesn’t know whether a trait is advantageous or not. The genotype doesn’t know whether a trait is advantageous or not. The environment doesn’t know whether a trait is advantageous or not.

                      Whether or not a trait is advantageous is basically determined by whether it gets passed along to future generations, whether it increases it’s frequency in the population of organisms. There is no forward planning here, no decision about whether a trait is advantageous or not, or whether a trait will be aquired or not. It’s simply down to the survival and reproduction of DNA (or, in the case of some virus’, RNA).

                      I’m not sure where or how you got the idea that there must be some decision being made, some intelligence somewhere which does the selection.

                      Posted by riandouglas | August 7, 2014, 8:56 pm
                    • If it knows what is advantageous and what is not – how does it know this to select or not select it in the next generation?

                      It doesn’t. The fact that it is an advantage to the organism(s) leads to it being passed down.

                      Tim, where are you getting this misunderstanding from?

                      Posted by riandouglas | August 8, 2014, 1:32 pm
          • You don’t seem to have a firm grasp on what evolutionary biology actually is.

            Posted by riandouglas | August 6, 2014, 4:00 pm
  3. Tim: If they found a rabbit in the Cambrian today it would probably be labeled ‘contamination’ until they could find a way to explain it away and keep their theory… because they don’t believe it’s a theory, they believe it is fact.

    Initially it would be thought to be contamination – there is a lot of evidence showing that such a thing would not have happened.
    However, if the results were shown to be legitimate, then this evidence would need to be explained.
    This would result in changing the theory – that’s because evolution is both theory and fact. The theory of evolution seeks to explain the fact of evolution.

    Posted by riandouglas | August 4, 2014, 4:50 pm
  4. I received an error message that the comment cannot be posted, but not why. If it’s a fluke, please delete this one.

    Unfortunately, there are enthusiastic but underinformed creationists who use incomplete, outdated or just plain silly “arguments” to refute evolution. They can’t learn to defend the faith or to refute evolution from cute slogans posted on graphics in social media, or because they read a comic tract many years ago. There have been times that I’ve seen some of the “Arguments Creationists Should Avoid” posted, and given a link to an article by that name.

    In the section under Myth #1, you mentioned that there are things that would overturn evolution. It has happened many times, and you can read things like, “This goes against everything we know. Now we have to rethink all of it”, or similar. So what happens? Excuses are made, or the impossible thing is ignored. Evidence must indeed be forced into an evolutionary worldview instead of realizing that it does not support evolution, but supports creation and the Noachian Flood.

    Myth #2, I encountered someone that was insistent on the fixity of species and believed that any modifications, including those that were observed (as well as freely discussed by creationists), and he had to be banned from my Page until he settled down. We do admit to modifications; natural selection was, in fact, first proposed by a creationist as a preserving factor, but not as a means to a new life form.

    In Myth #3, we get some word games where people will claim that since DNA information is mutated or rearranged, it is new information.

    With Myth #4, the ol’ bait-n-switch, equivocation on the word “evolution”. (Some use the worthless “change over time”, nice and vague for their purposes.) Yes, I believe in evolution. No, I do not believe that there is any evidence supporting microbes-to-microbiologist evolution.

    I like your response to the bad “argument” in Myth #5. Science itself is not possible in a materialistic, chance-driven universe. There is a 4-part series by Michael Butler on the origins, nature and so on of science. He points out that science itself is a philosophy, and that the Dover legal decision against Intelligent Design was actually a legal and logical travesty. Sure, the judge ruled from the testimony of “experts”, but they presupposed that science is based on atheistic naturalism, so there was no way ID could be “science”!

    By the way, this post was shared on our Facebook Page.

    Posted by Bob Sorensen (Cowboy Bob) | August 5, 2014, 11:49 pm
    • Thanks Bob! Sorry I have to moderate all comments now. I wanted to just set that for certain commentors but it didn’t give me that option. Thanks for the exposure!

      Posted by Tim | August 6, 2014, 2:21 pm
    • Bob: It has happened many times, and you can read things like, “This goes against everything we know. Now we have to rethink all of it”, or similar. So what happens? Excuses are made, or the impossible thing is ignored. Evidence must indeed be forced into an evolutionary worldview instead of realizing that it does not support evolution, but supports creation and the Noachian Flood.

      Project much Bob? That’s the behaviour that is routinely seen in creationists 🙂
      Perhaps you could provide an example of these “impossible” things?

      Bob: In Myth #3, we get some word games where people will claim that since DNA information is mutated or rearranged, it is new information.

      I like that you have now rendered an entire field of study “Information theory” as mere word games.
      Perhaps you’d like to provide an objective means to measure information which could replace those used within that field (ie. Shannon information, Kolmolgorov complexity) and show that mutations can’t actually provide an increase of information in the genome of a population of organisms?

      Bob: Yes, I believe in evolution. No, I do not believe that there is any evidence supporting microbes-to-microbiologist evolution.

      It’s good to see that you know and understand more than literally millions of people who have dedicated their lives to trying to understand biology. Remember, these millions of people are from all sorts of backgrounds, hold all sorts of religious beliefs, and still happen to agree on the biology. Just what are your qualifications, and how have you studied this field?
      And why is it that people with varied religious beliefs (and none) can agree on this field, but it’s basically only people of the Abrahamic faiths (and of those, only those who are rather hard line in their beliefs) makes claims about creationism of the variety you support?

      Bob: Science itself is not possible in a materialistic, chance-driven universe.

      That’s quite an claim you have there Bob – care to provide justification for it?

      Posted by riandouglas | August 6, 2014, 4:10 pm
  5. This thing does not like my G+ profile, so I have to use another one.

    Thanks for the personal attacks. Having people give me those in a condescending manner make them especially memorable.

    Posted by Question Evol Proj (@PiltdownSupermn) | August 6, 2014, 7:11 pm
    • Bob (I assume it’s you) – I notice you didn’t try to provide any support for your claims, or address any of my questions about your claims.
      Why make a fuss about me claiming that you were projecting without actually showing that I’m mistaken (by producing some of those “impossible” things you referred to?)

      Posted by riandouglas | August 7, 2014, 12:25 am

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