15 Questions For Evolutionists (Response)

This is my in-line response to a list of loaded and supposedly unanswerable questions about evolution that someone posted (many of which have nothing to do with evolution):

 

    “How did life originate just by chemistry without a Designer?”

This is irrelevant to evolution which explains how life adapts once it exists, whether it was initially designed/created or not.  Darwin assumed a creator and said so in On The Origin Of Species.  The claim that evolution science says there is no god is simply a lie.  One of many promoted by evangelists.  As for the question itself we don’t know because early life, if it arose naturally, would not have had the fortified cell structures or bony structures that are strong enough to survive fossilization, so there is no record of the earliest stages of life, at least not that we have discovered or can currently detect.  There was a time when nearly all of the fossil record (which is almost entirely microscopic) was undetectable, so this might be a temporary setback.  But strides have been made in understanding how organic chemicals like amino acids and the building blocks of RNA could have formed – apparently they form incredibly easily in nature in a wide array of environments, which to me suggests there may be something to abiogenesis.

    “How did the DNA code originate?”

DNA has to be made by mechanisms in cells so the first life could not have been DNA based, and DNA must have arisen later.  How exactly I do not know since, as I said there is no record, but this video on the origins of pre-DNA, while above my head, seems compelling.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U6QYDdgP9eg

    “How could copying errors (mutations) create 3 billion letters of DNA instructions to change a microbe into a microbiologist?”

This is a lot like saying “how can random changes in slang make this:

http://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2010/03/02/article-1254777-0884A367000005DC-655_468x286.jpg

(an archaic form of early english)

into the language I’m speaking now?”

Obviously it is not a one step process, and recounting step by step every change is impossible.  But once you accept that language does change and become more complex and refined over time and that those changes do accumulate to the point that isolated populations that started out speaking the same tongue are now in effect speaking two different languages, then accepting that english, french, german, italian, spanish etc, etc all split off from a common ancestral tongue is not far-fetched at all.  And if you have any doubts we can simply look at artifacts like the one I linked to above and many intermediate forms of the various dialects recorded over time and verify that yes, the change did occur.  The same is true of biology, all of the nuts and bolts mechanisms of how living things vary and inherit those variations at different rates and these changes accumulate in isolation and produce new species have all been very well documented and accepted virtually universally by even the christians who study them for over a century.  It is therefore as unlikely to seriously study biology and not accept that life has changed dramatically over time as it is to seriously study language and not accept that languages have changed dramatically over time.

    “Why is natural selection taught as ‘evolution’ as if it explains the origin of the diversity of life?”

I don’t understand the question.  Natural selection is one mechanism of evolution.

    “How did new biochemical pathways, which involve multiple enzymes working together in sequence, originate?”

It is impossible to give a direct answer without a direct example, but time and time again we see mechanisms in nature with complex, inter-dependent parts or processes that seemingly could not have evolved without each other – the explanation for this is a concept called homology, which is the tendency for complex biological mechanisms to be made out of mechanisms or parts of mechanisms that do other things.  So for instance if you have a four enzyme process that does x, if you take away two of the enzymes it might do y (which is also useful) instead.  This is often the case.  Or the enzymes might be similar to other enzymes which do something else and thus have possibly been modified by mutation which produced a beneficial function.  This has negative consequences as well since for instance cancer cells which are also subject to natural selection, occasionally mutate in ways that allow them to combat chemo therapy and radiation treatments by using cell mechanisms for other purposes.

    “Living things look like they were designed, so how do evolutionists know that they were not designed?”

Science doesn’t work that way, it does not ask if something is true, it asks can it be tested.  The proposition that life evolves can be tested.  So can common ancestry, natural selection and many other aspects of biology.  The prospect that something was designed however can’t be tested because it has no parameters.  In other words there is nothing that must be true or can’t be true if an intelligent agent designed life, since an intelligent designer could hypothetically design it in any possible configuration.  So asking if god made life is like asking if a genie made life.  How could we tell?  The answer is that we couldn’t.  So does science declare that there is no god?  No, because that can’t be tested either.  So it remains silent on the subject and neither claims one nor the other.

“How did multi-cellular life originate?”

I don’t know, though I’ve read about experiments that supposedly produced it in the laboratory.  Either way multi-celled organisms are just complex colonies of single-celled organisms.  In fact we even have archaic bacteria fused into our cells with their own DNA, we are essentially germ-human hybrids.  We call them mitochondria.  We also have a symbiotic relationship with the bacteria in our digestive tracts.  This would take too long to really go into though.

“How did sex originate?”

Even asexual, genderless microbes can swap DNA.  A better question would be how could sex not originate?  Once species begin copying some form of genetic material some mechanism for swapping it or using the genetic material of absorbed or eaten or dead organisms is bound to arise by natural variation, especially in early life with semi-permiable membranes.  Accessing useful genes multiplies the speed of natural selection and would be highly favored by it.

“Why are the (expected) countless millions of transitional fossils missing?”

The fossil record is pretty well filled in, but the record of life on earth is unbelievably vast and living things evolved in many different parts of the earth at different periods.  To exhume just the history of multi-cellular life we would have to dig a hole as deep as the grand canyon covering every inch of the planet (including your backyard, under every city etc).  This is obviously a comically difficult task even on a small scale, which is why paleontologists do their digging in places where nature has done most of the work for them, like in river canyons (like the grand canyon for instance) that expose many layers of the fossil record for excavation.  Even if we did dig up the entire world many species simply would not have left a trace, since bones rarely fossilize (otherwise we would be literally wading through skeletons when we go into the woods).  However to assert that no intermediates have ever been found when fossils predicted by darwin were discovered in his lifetime is either ignorant or profoundly dishonest.

“How do ‘living fossils’ remain unchanged over supposed hundreds of millions of years?”

I doubt very much that they remain actually unchanged, since life changes measurably from parent to child on both an anatomical and genetic level, but if you mean an animal will not outwardly change very much the answer is that natural selection is not a process of advancement where living things perpetually get bigger or smarter or tougher – it is a process of adaptation where species simply adapt to their environment.  Most likely the environment remained similar for a long time or they were at the top of the food chain or didn’t have any predators or were simply extremely well adapted to that environment.  The major differences between forms of life like reptiles and mammals are generally a reaction to changes in the environment.  For instance warm-bloodedness, hair/fur (two of the major differences between mammals and reptiles) are both adaptations to colder climates.  Had our ancestors’ environment not changed or had we not left it those traits would have no reason to have evolved.

“How did blind chemistry create mind/intelligence, meaning, altruism and morality?”

This question assumes we know how our own minds produce novel ideas or act creatively.  We don’t understand the mechanisms of creativity in ourselves, why be so quick to dismiss them in other parts of nature?  Or to assume that trying to understand them means they must not come from god.  It could be that even god has to have a few bad ideas before he has a good one.  And that the complex, trial and error process of natural selection is a form of intelligence that might be similar in some sense to that mysterious process that happens in our subconscious mind when we act intelligently or creatively.  After all as we get older we do not start off wise and well-informed and skilled, we start off crude and foolish and ignorant and have to learn to be anything else.  Maybe the universe works the same way.  Maybe the mind of god works the same way and god is only wise because he/she/it is so ancient.

But yeah, if you want to understand the basic mechanism, here’s a blog on it:

http://agnophilo.xanga.com/702049213/re-defining-intelligence-how-nature-is-literally-smarter-than-we-are/

“Why is evolutionary ‘just-so’ story-telling tolerated as ‘science’?”

Because it isn’t “just-so” and virtually 100% of your christian peers who have bothered to study any aspect of life science seriously agree.

“Where are the scientific breakthroughs due to evolution?”

All over the place, evolution science is used to do everything from develop flu vaccines (which have to be for a version of the virus which doesn’t exist yet but will by the time the vaccine is synthesized, mass-produced, distributed and administered – they literally have to get out ahead of evolution), to evolutionary algorithms in computer programming to economic models (which use the same math as natural selection because capitalism is an artificial form of natural selection) to combating drug-resistant strains of disease, to fighting cancer (which adapts to both chemo and radiation), to virtually “evolving” more stable airplane wings or stronger bridge structures by simulating decent with modification and selection in a supercomputer, just to name a few.

“Why is evolution, a theory about history, taught as if it is the same as operational science?”

As evidenced by my answer to the above question, evolution is a real force in the here and now.  And experiments and tests can be performed on past events so long as we have artifacts of those past events, such as fingerprint, DNA and other forensic analysis routinely performed on crime scenes and widely accepted as compelling evidence.

“Why is a fundamentally religious idea, a dogmatic belief system that fails to explain the evidence, taught in science classes?”

Why is yo mamma a dumb [expletive]?  Oh, I’m sorry, I thought we were claiming things and being hostile but saying pretending to ask questions.  Evolution is not a religious idea, nor is it dogmatic, nor does it fail to explain the evidence we have.  You would know that if you didn’t get all of your information on the subject from sources that *are* religious and *are* dogmatic.

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About agnophilo

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74 Responses to 15 Questions For Evolutionists (Response)

  1. Clear, succinct, science answers – well done. You summed up a lot of info nicely.

  2. paarsurrey says:

    Science is not designed to tackle everything in life; scientific method is valid only for the things physical and spiritual; beyond that it is just blind.

    The one true God is neither physical nor spiritual; He is attributive.

  3. Hunt 4 Truth says:

    Thanks for putting this together. It really covers a lot of information without getting very complicated.

    I think scientists will eventually be able to create complex organisms from elements (inorganic material). I can’t predict how of course. I am just fairly sure that the creator created by natural laws and that He always will work in ways that make Him thus a mysterious supernatural force that is undetectable using what we have to work with to “see” and “hear” Him.

    • agnophilo says:

      Why believe something which you believe is impossible to ever objectively prove or even logically infer?

      • paarsurrey says:

        Belief in the one true God is useful not only in this life but also in the Hereafter; and there is no harm. We believe in the one true God very naturally; like we believe in our parents or we believe in our own life.

        • agnophilo says:

          If my parents were invisible and no one had ever seen them and I couldn’t prove they were real your analogy would be valid. As for the afterlife I have no reason to think there is one, and if there were lots of religions believe in an afterlife and every one claims you have to do something different to get your reward and avoid punishment.

          • paarsurrey says:

            Quoting your words:
            “If my parents were invisible and no one had ever seen them and I couldn’t prove they were real your analogy would be valid.”
            What I meant that one has not seen one been born out of one’s parents; yet because of the affection they show to a child, the love him, they care for him through thick and thin; that’s why one is never in doubt of having been born of the them and takes them as one’s parents very naturally.

            • agnophilo says:

              People I know personally and invisible beings that supposedly exist but cannot be shown to exist are not comparable. And the connection/communication believers often feel from their deities is not convincing, I’ve never heard a believer claim to get information from their deity that could not have come from their own mind. Or alternately someone will claim they had a feeling about something that turned out to be important and decide that that feeling must have come from god and that the importance of the thing the feeling was about proves god is real and is influencing their lives – but to me this is self-deception.

              • paarsurrey says:

                I think that is your ignorance.

                I quote form Mirza Ghulam Ahmad; he had Converse with the one true God:

                “The Speaker is Honoured with Divine Converse”
                “I would be guilty of doing great wrong to my fellow beings if I were not to declare at this stage that divine bounty has bestowed upon me the status which I have just defined and has honoured me with the kind of converse the features of which I have just set out in detail, so that I should bestow sight upon the blind and should guide the seekers of the One Who has been so far lost, and should give to those who accept the truth the good news of that holy fountain of which many speak but which few find. I wish to assure the listeners that the God, meeting with Whom is the salvation and eternal welfare of man, cannot be found without following the Holy Quran.”
                “ The Philosophy of the Teachings of Islam” Page: 207

                http://www.alislam.org/library/books/Philosophy-of-Teachings-of-Islam.pdf

          • paarsurrey says:

            “As for the afterlife I have no reason to think there is one, and if there were lots of religions believe in an afterlife and every one claims you have to do something different”

            I don’t think that yours is a reasonable approach. The reasonable approach should have been that with your good reasoning you would have chosen the right one from the wrong one.

            Do you agree with me?

            • agnophilo says:

              The right religion/afterlife? On what basis, they are all said to be taken on faith, ie believed without evidence. The reason people believe in the christian or muslim or hindu etc version of a god/creation/afterlife is almost exclusively due to bias from indoctrination. If you were raised in a muslim country with muslim parents, neighbors and friends do you think you would be christian?

      • Hunt 4 Truth says:

        Ah, now you are asking a question that seemingly places me in a mysterious place too. Is it strange to you that I make this choice to believe in a creator?
        You probably have knowledge of that there are actually known to be four dimensions in three dimensional space when time is factored in. So, add in perhaps five more dimensions that are not even perceived by human devices and believe or not that more than 90% of what makes up this universe is also undetectable. Where then is the payoff for no believing only what we can hear, see, touch? Black holes were once a joke–no more. Take care not to over use the post hoc ergo propter hoc.

        • agnophilo says:

          I don’t think most people choose to believe in a creator. I believed in one growing up, but I never decided to. It was just programmed in from before I knew how to think. In response to your other question, we cannot justify a position based on our own ignorance. We can’t say “I don’t know x, therefore I should believe y.” Not understanding something doesn’t mean we do understand something else. Yes there may be some kind of god, but there might also be fairies, elves, a giant pineapple in the sky that controls the thoughts of libertarians and an almost infinite number of other things. I am not going to believe any of them exist unless I have a reason to. And I’m certainly not going to base my morality or my decisions on an unjustified what-if assumption. I care about truth and morality far too much to be careless with it.

          • I’ve not said that you should believe in God. I chose to do so. You choose your path. I’ve not got any issues with your beliefs. If I remember correctly, we’ve already agreed that I believe in God and you do not. So, maybe I’m reading what you said to the other respondent as if it was to me.
            I’m not sure on these thread whom is replying to whom. So, if I’ve gotten something crossed, forgive me.

            • agnophilo says:

              I was replying to you which is why my response was indented to the right of yours. No crossed wires. And I wasn’t trying to argue, just responding to what you said.

              • Okay then. Actually, I’d share about my choice to believe in God, but this post wasn’t about my belief in God. I watch Mutant Planet and I read some papers and so on and I happen to agree that evolution occurs — and I also happen to disagree with many Christians about that God doesn’t use natural laws — in fact, I believe that He devised the physical laws of the universe. My belief about God is not otherwise relevant in this topic discussion.

      • paarsurrey says:

        Then why believe in Atheism which is another name of doubt. What is your evidence for your belief that the “one true God does not exist”?
        Now please don’t find an excuse to shift the question of evidence to the believers.

        • agnophilo says:

          I don’t believe there isn’t a god, I simply don’t believe there is one. You can’t prove vishnu doesn’t exist, but you are not hindu. To quote a character from Game Of Thrones, “why is a thing alright for you but not for me?”

    • paarsurrey says:

      The one true God evolved the creation from nothing that existed; the scientists (more pertinently their eulogizers who identify as Atheists attribute to them) use all the materials that already exist in their endeavors and then set pretty as if they made a great feat. The science never boasts of these things; it is the Atheists who become its spokespersons of themselves and they boast about, in my opinion.

  4. Pingback: Science is not designed to tackle everything in life | paarsurrey

  5. I’d like to propose a discussion of evolution. I can’t really fathom why we use our time deciding if evolution is the source for life or not when we don’t solve the simpler problems.
    How do intelligent organisms (lets stay with animals) change? What changes cause species changes? Is there a reason that the species evolve other than DNA? Is there a species consciousness (for example)?

    I think that evolution of highly evolved intelligent species occur in leaps of significant changes in just months and a few years and not just slowly over thousands and millions of years. I think so because of studies that I’ve read about or that I’ve seen on shows like Mutant Planet.

    I think that human consciousness evolves in us. I think that the fight-or-flight (survival instinct) responses bring about a slow evolution of the body and even its mind. However, I think that the mind needs makes use of evolving methods that especially from mature, mentally healthy minds tend to bring about changes rapidly. This possibly stimulates human evolution for groups when the groups share in conscious awareness of solutions.

    The key to rapid advances may lie in ability to stay in solutions and to evade known problems.

    Your a bright young man. I think you ought to focus on solutions and les on arguments that rage on without end.

    • agnophilo says:

      You seem to be confusing hardware and software. The human mind obviously “evolves” as we get older and learn more and is greatly influenced by culture which of course changes how people think too and of course culture also evolves, but this is not the same as the actual nuts and bolts of our brains changing. It is like the difference between putting a faster processor in your computer or more memory vs installing a new program onto it. Evolution in the darwinian sense is fueled by natural variations (caused by mutations and recombination of genes) which then get passed on at different rates based on how they effect the rate of survival and reproduction of the organism that possesses them. We do not fully understand this process on the most mechanical level simply because life is complicated and we’re still learning but the basic idea of variations being inherited due to environmental pressures is well understood.

  6. So, are you saying that evolution of brains or bodies only occurs randomly?

    • agnophilo says:

      Neither natural selection nor social “evolution” are random, they are both guided by non-random environmental pressures.

      • then I wasn’t at all confused

          • I get it that all matter forms from the basic building blocks — hydrogen through nuclear fusion into all of the elements and also that molecules form and perhaps that evolution began the process toward cells that replicate and form dna and such — you get it that animals (and maybe other forms) can “learn” and adapt. So, are we not saying the same thing? Can’t people for instance change their thinking and so therefore speed up an evolution of their brains and use of their bodies? Do the choices that we make contribute to our (human) evolution?

            • agnophilo says:

              Evolution in the darwinian sense is a specific mechanism, you are conflating that sort of evolution with evolution in the general sense meaning any progress or change. Yes we can change our thinking and behavior and technology and speed up the rate at which society evolves, but this is like changing the software on a computer, it’s not the same as changing the way the hardware of the computer. Our physical minds are more or less the same, they’re just learning and thinking about different things in different ways. Imagine you had grown up in the wild and never learned to read or interact socially, you would be like a wild animal. You would be as smart as you are now on a basic level but you would have much less information at your disposal to think about.

  7. I’m not thinking about rejecting in any way Darwin’s theory that states (as I understand) that animals that are best suited to the environment survive and therefore pass on genes whereas if they are not suited they tend to perish before they have offspring. Thus, evolution contributes to the brain and bodies to survive and perform best the particular environmental tasks; as the brain/body may affect living long enough for passing on genes. The social brain hypothesis proposed by the British anthropologist Robin Dunbar states that human intelligence did not evolve primarily for solving ecological problems. He says intelligence evolved for surviving and reproducing and to do so to support living in larger and more complex groups. Thus the best suited humans now even include all levels of intelligence and all manner of disabilities — group consciousness prevails.
    ___
    “Imagine you had grown up in the wild and never learned to read or interact socially, you would be like a wild animal. You would be as smart as you are now on a basic level but you would have much less information at your disposal to think about.”
    I strongly disagree — I’d be dead.

    • agnophilo says:

      As far as group consciousness, I can’t even fathom how the human race is evolving neurologically. I wish some time traveller would come back and let us know how (or if) it all turned out. As far as being dead, yeah anyone probably would. But then we are heavily domesticated : )

Speak yer mind.

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