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Evolution

An Immediate Counter to the Same Old Tired Arguments

Some simple statements to make right before getting into a discussion about evolution. Feel free to just copy and paste this list to any forum or web page you choose to discuss evolution on. Stand by for more updates as we continue to build this page. To start things off, I highly recommend that you read "Creationists, Read This!" as a companion to this page.

 

* It's just a theory.
Yes, just like gravity is "just a theory". Anti-evolution types tend to not understand what "theory" means in a scientific context. It means that the idea started out as an hypothesis, based on observation; that researchers made predictions based on the observations and the hypothesis; that they collected more data, tested those predictions and re-examined the original ideas, and that this process has been done over and over and over until the idea is supported by so much evidence that it is as close to fact as science can come. Further, like any theory in science, it can be falsified if some new data comes along showing it to be wrong. Contrast this with the "theory" (and I use the quotes on purpose, there) of Intelligent Design or Creationism. ID consists pretty much only of questioning evolution. It makes no predictions. It has no research testing any ideas. It cannot be falsified. The "evidence" provided of supposed irreducible complexity does not rule out evolution of the structures examined, nor does it show how such a structure may have been designed and created as is. In short, though evolution deniers claim that ID is a theory, it is not.

 

* There are no transitional fossils.
Every fossil, and indeed every living creature, is transitional between an older form and a newer (or yet to come) form. We have a pretty good collection of fossils that show a transition from older forms to newer forms, such as the transition of large land mammals to whales. Scientists using the Theory of Evolution have even predicted a transitional form and where to find it. This transitional fossil, tiktaalik, was found based on these predictions.

 

* Evolution denies god(s).
Nothing in the Theory of Evolution denies the existence of god (or any other deity). At best, it merely contradicts a literal interpretation of either of the two biblical creation stories (and any of the countless other creation stories from other religions/cultures). All that the theory of evolution does is show how everything came to be the way it is without the need for god(s).

 

* Evolution says that life just sprung out of nowhere.
Not true. The Theory of Evolution says nothing about the origins of life. Rather, the theory examines how life changes over time and across environments after it already exists. There is a branch of science, however, that is examining the origins of life: abiogenesis. But, that is currently separate from the ToE and is still in its infancy, scientifically speaking.

 

* Why not teach the controversy?
That's just the thing, there is no actual scientific controversy! The only controversy is that which has been manufactured by creationists and intelligent design proponents. Sure, there may be specific elements where one scientist may disagree with another scientist, but those are specific mechanisms and particulars of the theory, not the entire theory itself. By this same logic, one should teach the "stork" theory of human reproduction.

 

* I can accept micro-evolution, but not macro-evolution.
That argument makes no sense. There is no such thing as micro or macro evolution in a scientific sense. They are both the exact same thing, one is just a matter of greater time. The terms were also manufactured in order to lend a false legitimacy to evolution deniers when it was even beyond their denialism to reject observed and proven instances of evolution happening. So instead of accepting a proven fact, the goalpost was moved.

 

* Evolution violates the Second Law of Thermodynamics
This statement not only highlights a poor understanding of evolution, but also of all physics. First of all, the earth itself is not a closed system. The sun provides a great deal of energy for order to be built from. Not only that, but I highly doubt that most creationists can actually state the Second Law (or even the first) of Thermodynamics. I suggest a strong course in actual science taught by an accredited school of science.

 

* What about the list of scientists that disagree with Evolution?
This list is probably one of the most dishonest pieces of propaganda out there. It was put together by the "Discovery Institute" (an organization with no credentials and fewer scruples). The list of "scientists" generally are not scientists, and if they are, most are not in any way qualified to talk about biological evolution. Also, the initial statement as presented to some scientists was twisted as to project a meaning different from what the actual reputable scientists contend. Just because a certain aspect may be in question, the entire theory is in no danger of suddenly falling out of favour. This video may give you some insight into the nature of that list.

 

* Do you honestly think that all this came about by chance?
Again, this shows a fundamental misunderstanding and denial of basic chemistry, physics, and even biology. While there are certain "random" elements involved in evolution and pretty much every natural process, keep in mind that the "room" for order in the universe is increasing. Not only that, the majority of processes are not at all left to chance, but rather follow very natural and orderly constraints of the universe. What is basically being erected by this question is a "strawman argument".

 

* What about the "Irreducible Complexity" of the eye, blood, flagellum, etc.?
Well, first of all, "irreducible complexity" is a non-sense term invented by creationists and intelligent design proponents. All it really says is that they can't possibly understand a particularly complex mechanism, so therefore something else did it. The basic premise behind irreducible complexity is to take a well designed item, remove a part to break it, and proclaim that it's broken... The problem is that it's entirely backwards thinking, and doesn't take into account how something was actually built up. Every single item of irreducible complexity has an answer, however creationists and intelligent design proponents will keep throwing out examples of complex systems until they hit upon one that their debate opponent may not have all the facts on. As soon as they find that one thing that someone may not know the answer to, they proclaim victory for their entire side, totally ignoring all the other instances where their argument was trounced.

 

* What about the woodpecker's tongue, the panda's thumb, the whatever's thingy, etc.?
Again, this is all part and parcel of the "throw enough poo at your opponent, and eventually you'll hit on something they don't know" strategy. Most of the things that creationists and intelligent design proponents will throw out are horrid misunderstandings of the basic biological mechanisms at work, so not only are you debating evolution with them, but you need to correct them on how whatever strawman they have thrown out is wrong from the sense of basic biology, not only from an evolutionary standpoint.

 

These are only some of the more common and oft repeated arguments. Those who deny evolution are really denying nearly ALL science that has been conducted in the past 200 years, and the sheer amount of education needed to catch them up to reality is nearly insurmountable. Many other authors have attempted to get to the root of the arguments, and we have reproduced a couple of them (with the author's permission) in the sub-menus for this page. Please read those as well. I also encourage folks to read the works of Victor J. Stenger. Many of his works deal with a lot more detailed science that even more handily refute the ridiculous notions of those who deny evolution.

 

 

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