Recently a user who identified as a hardcore Christian (6000 year old Earth, literal Bible, evolution disbelief) posted two comments here. As all of the comments posted here have to be moderated, I debated myself for a few minutes before deciding to not let them pass.
Why I did this was rather complicated. If my blog were bigger and there were a bunch of people here that could engage in debates, I would have let it pass, regardless of content. In this case, I got one ROTFLMAO from the user (yes, “T” included) over the idea of “macro evolution” (which doesn’t exist). Also included was the notion that evolution was a “belief” (I don’t believe the user said such directly, but it was hinted at), and the thought that we should teach both sides because whenever you get one side, it’s propaganda.
Well, he’s sort of right.
Groups such as the Discovery Institute have made a crafty disinformation campaign called Teach The Controversy regarding evolution and intelligent design. Now, teaching “both sides” would be OK with me… if it weren’t for the fact that there aren’t two sides.
There is only one side in science, and that’s evolution. Intelligent design might stand a half-assed chance at being seriously considered if you could do the following:
- Prove the existence of a designer; AND
- Study the designer directly.
Failing this, the theory becomes moot because you must study every part of a supposed theory for it to be scientific. Creationism may be true, however unlikely I think it is (up there with Bigfoot and the tooth fairy), but that does not make it scientific because it can not be tested.
How do you prove a designer? By finding that designer. Does intelligent design tell you any of the following?:
- Why the designer created us
- How the designer created us
- What the designer used to create us
No. It just says that evolution doesn’t work, so we win.
The problem scientists have with this is that it’s not how science works. With evolution, we’re able to do all of the following:
- Prove the evolution of microbes, bacteria, et cetera.
- Prove the evolution of organisms of higher complexity, such as dinosaurs.
- Provide a medium for evolution to advance lifeforms.
How do all these work? How do we do this?
- In the lab, we’ve actually evolved species of simple organisms. If that argument doesn’t withstand creationist scrutiny, tuberculosis has evolved in certain strains to be resistant to certain antibiotics and other medicines, including former vaccines. Even then, the flu shot you get every year functions on the basis that influenza strains evolve every year. You’re not getting the same flu shot year by year because every year the strains of flu have evolved to trick your immune system in order to gain access to the vital parts of your body to make you sick. If it hadn’t evolved, you would only need one vaccine, ala smallpox.
- Genetics shows that all species of life on Earth are related. We all share similar DNA. Of course, you can’t see this unless you’re in the field of genetics, which some people actually deny exists. If DNA exists, we still have key clues in nature;
- Transitional fossils, which many posit to not exist, in fact do exist in high quantity. Archaeopteryx is a prime example of this. Incidentally, it’s often said to not be a transitional fossil even though it clearly exhibits traits of both dinosaurs and birds, including the ability to fly, and obviously feathers. Others include tiktaalik, which is a transitional form between fish and amphibians.
- Modern animals, which are still in the process of evolving between forms. For example, see the following PBS mini-documentary on the evolution of Californian salamanders: Evolution in Action. While this may not be evolution between species (such as the aforementioned transitional fossils), it’s interesting to note that when humans first started to domesticate wolves, dogs such as the chihuahua didn’t exist. Wolves were bred to function differently, and as they bred they created what we know as dogs. However, it’s entirely true that a dog is still a dog, and that’s all it will ever be since that’s not how evolution works. In fact, evolution works in the way that animals will be able to breed and at least look moderately similar until they transition to another type of animal. Given that the domestic dog hasn’t been given long enough (thousands of years as opposed to the normal millions), they’ve not had long enough to become an entirely different order of animal. But they are going there through small changes.
For the third, the medium is natural selection, which states that animals with mutations that are harmful will likely be taken out of the gene pool, therefore not spreading their features to the next generation. We can see this in the breeding of hot peppers.
In hot peppers, they were likely first very toxic or had an amplifying heat in respect to their natural predators’ tastes. Therefore, the less hot or toxic ones were more likely to be eaten, while the hottest and most toxic were able to survive and reproduced to create ever hotter or more toxic peppers.
That’s natural selection in action and can be observed in your home garden over very few generations.
The overall point of this really long blog that needs to come to an end now is that evolution with natural selection happens and has more evidence than groups like the discovery institute want you to know of. All dissents from “Darwinism” are about personal religious convictions, although there are scientists in evolutionary biology who are Christians — such as Ken Miller. There is no evidence for intelligent design, at all. I’ve not seen a piece from independent sources or from the very people who promote this nonsense. Therefore it does not qualify as science.
There is no controversy to teach.