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.
“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:
(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:
“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.