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25 Common Misconceptions About Evolution


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#1 Isabella

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Posted 30 March 2012 - 10:59 AM

As most of you probably know, a straw man argument involves misrepresenting your opponent’s position and refuting the misrepresentation. One of the best ways to avoid an unintentional straw man argument is to fully understand your opponent’s viewpoint; this holds true for evolutionists and creationists alike. I enjoy posting here because the creationists on this site are well-educated when it comes to evolutionary concepts, but I’ve noticed that there are still a great deal of misconceptions out there. I have compiled this list based my experiences on this forum and in everyday life. My aim here is not to start a debate, but if you feel that any of the below points have been wrongly labelled as false I would like to hear your reasoning.

If you would like me to elaborate on any of the following, please let me know and I will be happy to do so. I purposely limited my explanations to a sentence or two, but in most cases there is a lot more I can say on the subject.

25 Common Misconceptions about Evolution:


1. Humans evolved from chimpanzees.
False. According to evolution, humans and chimpanzees shared a common ancestor that was neither a human nor a chimpanzee.

2. Some organisms are “lower” or “less-evolved”.
False. All living organisms have been evolving for the same amount of time, and thus are equally “evolved”.

3. Evolution results in increased complexity.
False. It certainly can, but complexity is not always advantageous and sometimes simple traits are favoured.

4. Evolution plans ahead to achieve goals.
False. Only traits that provide an immediate advantage will be selected for. Traits don’t stick around with the intention of becoming useful some day.

5. Evolution ignores the impossibility of irreducible complexity.
False. An evolutionary model would be logically incorrect if the necessity of a trait preceded its appearance, and thus no model depends on this impossibility.

6. Humans represent the end product of evolution.
False. If anything, humans demonstrate that intelligence is an extremely powerful adaptation.

7. For a mutation to be significant, it must occur in a gene.
False. Mutations in regulatory elements can affect where and when genes are expressed, leading to major changes.

8. Individuals can evolve, and a developed mutation is passed down on to future generations.
False. This is the logic behind Lamarckism, and we all know Lamarckism is false... right? Mutations must arise in the sperm or eggs to be heritable.

9. Macroevolutionary changes above the level of species occur from one generation to the next.
False. Evolution is a gradual process; it does not predict that one animal will give birth to an entirely new animal, nor does it claim that this has ever happened in the past.

10. Hybridization is an evolutionary mechanism that produces new species.
True, but only in rare cases (ex. certain plants). Frequent hybridization between two species generally counteracts speciation by mixing gene pools.

11. Natural selection is the only evolutionary mechanism.
False. Natural selection is important, but there are several mechanisms driving evolution.

12. “Fitness” refers to strength or power.
False. In the context of biological evolution, fitness refers to reproductive success. In other words, the number of fertile offspring an individual can produce in their lifetime.

13. The phrase “Survival of the Fittest” suggests that the strong individuals should kill the weak.
False. In the context of biological evolution, this statement refers to the “survival” of an individual’s genetic code in future generations via the production of offspring.

14. Social Darwinism and biological evolution are one in the same.
False. Just as religion has been misused to support personal and political agendas, so has evolution. The vast majority of evolutionists do not support Social Darwinist ideas.

15. Richard Dawkins is the spokesman for evolution.
False. Just because he’s famous, doesn’t mean his opinions are representative of what all evolutionists think.

16. Darwin is the leader of modern evolutionary research.
False. Just as you wouldn’t credit Alexander Graham Bell with the invention of the newest iPhone, Charles Darwin is not directly responsible for modern evolutionary ideas.

17. The old earth theory was made up to accommodate the evolution timeline.
False. The old earth view was accepted among scientists long before Darwin came along.

18. Gaps or uncertainties in the fossil record present a serious problem for evolution.
False. Fossil formation, fossil preservation, and fossil discovery are all low-probability events. Gaps in the fossil record are expected.

19. Since humans are animals, it’s acceptable to act like animals.
What does this even mean? Clams don’t act like elephants. Rabbits don’t act like jellyfish. Animal behaviours are diverse and unique, including human behaviour.

20. Evolution promotes racism.
False. Evolution actually promotes racial equality by suggesting that all humans shared a common ancestor and have been evolving for the same amount of time.

21. Evolutionary hypotheses never change—that would be a sign of a weak theory.
False. Hypotheses are revised and discarded all the time, just like any other field of empirical science. This is a strength, not a weakness.

22. Scientific journals only publish results that support evolution.
False. While positive results are often showcased in the news and on non-scholarly websites, journals publish negative/inconclusive results too.

23. Scientists work together to make sure weaknesses in the theory remain hidden.
False. Research is a competitive field, and experimental results are under constant scrutiny.

24. Evolution cannot be falsified.
False. There are plenty of discoveries that could falsify or dramatically alter our current understanding of evolution.

25. All evolutionists are atheists.
False. There are many theistic evolutionists.
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#2 Remnant of The Abyss

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Posted 30 March 2012 - 11:34 AM

Excellent idea posting this. :)

By the way. Could you clear up the misconception that your stated age is "0"? :P

#3 Isabella

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Posted 30 March 2012 - 02:40 PM

By the way. Could you clear up the misconception that your stated age is "0"? :P


I’m a university student and I’m in my 20s.

I have chosen not to provide my birth year because I don’t want my age to be the first thing people consider when the read my posts. Some people have opinions about certain age groups, and I don’t want those opinions to be used against me or result in a biased interpretation of the things I write.
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#4 Remnant of The Abyss

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Posted 30 March 2012 - 04:40 PM

I’m a university student and I’m in my 20s.

I have chosen not to provide my birth year because I don’t want my age to be the first thing people consider when the read my posts. Some people have opinions about certain age groups, and I don’t want those opinions to be used against me or result in a biased interpretation of the things I write.


Age has nothing to do with intelligence. But I see your point and I think it's fair.

Age does have bearing on knowledge but this is not certain. And age often goes hand in hand with wisdom, but not always. ;)

#5 Yirmiyahu

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Posted 30 March 2012 - 05:20 PM

I have a few questions I would like to ask you, also I would like to thank you for your time in advance for reading/answering any questions of mine.

2. Some organisms are “lower” or “less-evolved”.
False. All living organisms have been evolving for the same amount of time, and thus are equally “evolved”.


Could you please explain this to me? It was my understanding that evolution has said that not all organisims are equally evolved. I'm thinking of cases like Ota Benga and human zoos' where these people were put on display shown to be "lower" or "less-evolved."

19. Since humans are animals, it’s acceptable to act like animals.
What does this even mean? Clams don’t act like elephants. Rabbits don’t act like jellyfish. Animal behaviours are diverse and unique, including human behaviour.


This seems more like a creationist argument than a misconception about evolution, and if that is the case I believe the correct way of saying that argument is, If humans are just animals then what basis do we have for acting moral? Because morailty would then become subjective.

20. Evolution promotes racism.
False. Evolution actually promotes racial equality by suggesting that all humans shared a common ancestor and have been evolving for the same amount of time.


I would not go as far as to say that Evolution promotes racism, I would however say that it can and has been used to justify racism. I would again point to Ota Benga and the human zoos' another example that now comes to mind is when Australian Aborigines were hunted and killed as specimens.

#6 gilbo12345

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Posted 30 March 2012 - 05:25 PM

I agree with your point 24... Evolution can be falsified... and it is via the irreducible complex nature of cellular systems.


What I believe the people here are trying to get at when the claim "Evolution is unfalsifiable" is used, is that even when there is evidence falsifying evolution, it will not be accepted due to the emotional attachment most evolutionists have to their pet "theory". If this were not so then serious research would have been devoted to biochemistry and how evolution fits in there... However this falsifying problem is merely ignored.

#7 Frenger

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Posted 31 March 2012 - 01:10 AM

This is a great post, It's a shame there are 25 COMMON misconceptions about evolution.

#8 Isabella

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Posted 31 March 2012 - 11:33 AM

Hi Yirmiyahu,

Could you please explain this to me? It was my understanding that evolution has said that not all organisims are equally evolved. I'm thinking of cases like Ota Benga and human zoos' where these people were put on display shown to be "lower" or "less-evolved."


I would not go as far as to say that Evolution promotes racism, I would however say that it can and has been used to justify racism. I would again point to Ota Benga and the human zoos' another example that now comes to mind is when Australian Aborigines were hunted and killed as specimens.


The concept of racial superiority is part of Social Darwinism, not biological evolution. As I explained in number 14 on my list, Social Darwinism is not affiliated with biological evolution. In fact, it directly contradicts most aspects of biological evolution and thus evolutionists are overwhelmingly opposed to it. Social Darwinists borrowed evolutionary terms like “fitness” and “selection”, then incorrectly redefined them to fit a socio-political context.

Biological evolution states that all organisms, including humans, have been evolving for the same amount of time. Racial variations like skin colour are nothing more than adaptations to different environments and thus cannot be ranked on a linear scale from “higher” to “lower”. There is no scientific basis for claiming that one race is superior to another.

As a side note, it’s important to look at the historical context of human zoos and other examples of racial discrimination. While unfortunate, racism was not uncommon at that time and racist ideologies were certainly not limited to Social Darwinists.

This seems more like a creationist argument than a misconception about evolution, and if that is the case I believe the correct way of saying that argument is, If humans are just animals then what basis do we have for acting moral? Because morailty would then become subjective.



I was not so much referring to the subjective morality argument here, but rather the argument that evolution justifies “animal behaviours” like violence, selfishness, and lack of self-control. My point is that classifying humans as animals says absolutely nothing about how humans should behave, and certainly does not justify copying the behaviours of other animals. In my opinion, morality and self-control are fundamental components of human behaviour.
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#9 gilbo12345

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Posted 31 March 2012 - 12:55 PM

Hi Yirmiyahu,





The concept of racial superiority is part of Social Darwinism, not biological evolution. As I explained in number 14 on my list, Social Darwinism is not affiliated with biological evolution. In fact, it directly contradicts most aspects of biological evolution and thus evolutionists are overwhelmingly opposed to it. Social Darwinists borrowed evolutionary terms like “fitness” and “selection”, then incorrectly redefined them to fit a socio-political context.

Biological evolution states that all organisms, including humans, have been evolving for the same amount of time. Racial variations like skin colour are nothing more than adaptations to different environments and thus cannot be ranked on a linear scale from “higher” to “lower”. There is no scientific basis for claiming that one race is superior to another.

As a side note, it’s important to look at the historical context of human zoos and other examples of racial discrimination. While unfortunate, racism was not uncommon at that time and racist ideologies were certainly not limited to Social Darwinists.




I was not so much referring to the subjective morality argument here, but rather the argument that evolution justifies “animal behaviours” like violence, selfishness, and lack of self-control. My point is that classifying humans as animals says absolutely nothing about how humans should behave, and certainly does not justify copying the behaviours of other animals. In my opinion, morality and self-control are fundamental components of human behaviour.



Incorrect. "Social-Darwinism" stems from the root of evolution. Here are a few quotes from Darwin who, in his evolutionary worldview saw "savages" as lesser humans (if he could call them humans). I sickens me that people attempt to sideline this.... doesn't doing so advocate or at least allow such thoughts and actions?

The same as the crusades and suicide bombings stem from Religious piousness and / or human fallibility.


Attempting to sideline the social consequences of evolutionary thought is dishonest. Religions are criticized why not evolution.



Darwin reader: Darwin’s racism
February 14, 2009
In the face of systematic attempts to efface from public view, Darwin’s racism, a friend writes to offer quotes from Darwin’s Descent of Man:

Savages are intermediate states between people and apes:

“It has been asserted that the ear of man alone possesses a lobule; but ‘a rudiment of it is found in the gorilla’ and, as I hear from Prof. Preyer, it is not rarely absent in the negro.

“The sense of smell is of the highest importance to the greater number of mammals–to some, as the ruminants, in warning them of danger; to others, as the Carnivora, in finding their prey; to others, again, as the wild boar, for both purposes combined. But the sense of smell is of extremely slight service, if any, even to the dark coloured races of men, in whom it is much more highly developed than in the white and civilised races.”

“The account given by Humboldt of the power of smell possessed by the natives of South America is well known, and has been confirmed by others. M. Houzeau asserts that he repeatedly made experiments, and proved that Negroes and Indians could recognise persons in the dark by their odour. Dr. W. Ogle has made some curious observations on the connection between the power of smell and the colouring matter of the mucous membrane of the olfactory region as well as of the skin of the body. I have, therefore, spoken in the text of the dark-coloured races having a finer sense of smell than the white races….Those who believe in the principle of gradual evolution, will not readily admit that the sense of smell in its present state was originally acquired by man, as he now exists. He inherits the power in an enfeebled and so far rudimentary condition, from some early progenitor, to whom it was highly serviceable, and by whom it was continually used.”

[From Denyse: Decades ago, I distinguished myself by an ability to smell sugar in coffee. It wasn't very difficult, with a bit of practice, and it helped to sort out the office coffee orders handily. My best guess is that most people could learn the art if they wanted to. Most human beings don't even try to develop their sense of smell - we are mostly occupied with avoiding distressing smells or eliminating or else covering them up. I don't of course, say that we humans would ever have the sense of smell of a wolf, but only that Darwin's idea here is basically wrong and best explained by racism. ]

“It appears as if the posterior molar or wisdom-teeth were tending to become rudimentary in the more civilised races of man. These teeth are rather smaller than the other molars, as is likewise the case with the corresponding teeth in the chimpanzee and orang; and they have only two separate fangs. … In the Melanian races, on the other hand, the wisdom-teeth are usually furnished with three separate fangs, and are generally sound; they also differ from the other molars in size, less than in the Caucasian races.

“It is an interesting fact that ancient races, in this and several other cases, more frequently present structures which resemble those of the lower animals than do the modern. One chief cause seems to be that the ancient races stand somewhat nearer in the long line of descent to their remote animal-like progenitors.”

[From Denyse: The nice thing about teeth is that, if they give trouble, they can simply be pulled. I would be reluctant to found a big theory on the size or convenience of teeth, given that this fact must have occurred to our ancestors many thousands of years ago.]

“It has often been said, as Mr. Macnamara remarks, that man can resist with impunity the greatest diversities of climate and other changes; but this is true only of the civilised races. Man in his wild condition seems to be in this respect almost as susceptible as his nearest allies, the anthropoid apes, which have never yet survived long, when removed from their native country.”

[From Denyse: Native North Americans often perished from human diseases to which they had not become immune in childhood. That is probably unrelated to the inability of anthropoid apes to stand cold climates.]

This includes the degraded morals of lower races:

“The above view of the origin and nature of the moral sense, which tells us what we ought to do, and of the conscience which reproves us if we disobey it, accords well with what we see of the early and undeveloped condition of this faculty in mankind…. A North-American Indian is well pleased with himself, and is honoured by others, when he scalps a man of another tribe; and a Dyak cuts off the head of an unoffending person, and dries it as a trophy. … With respect to savages, Mr. Winwood Reade informs me that the negroes of West Africa often commit suicide. It is well known how common it was amongst the miserable aborigines of South America after the Spanish conquest. … It has been recorded that an Indian Thug conscientiously regretted that he had not robbed and strangled as many travellers as did his father before him. In a rude state of civilisation the robbery of strangers is, indeed, generally considered as honourable.”

“As barbarians do not regard the opinion of their women, wives are commonly treated like slaves. Most savages are utterly indifferent to the sufferings of strangers, or even delight in witnessing them. It is well known that the women and children of the North-American Indians aided in torturing their enemies. Some savages take a horrid pleasure in cruelty to animals, and humanity is an unknown virtue….. Many instances could be given of the noble fidelity of savages towards each other, but not to strangers; common experience justifies the maxim of the Spaniard, “Never, never trust an Indian.”

[From Denyse: If early modern Europeans in Canada had not trusted "Indians," they would all have died off pretty quickly.]

“The other so-called self-regarding virtues, which do not obviously, though they may really, affect the welfare of the tribe, have never been esteemed by savages, though now highly appreciated by civilised nations. The greatest intemperance is no reproach with savages.”
“I have entered into the above details on the immorality of savages, because some authors have recently taken a high view of their moral nature, or have attributed most of their crimes to mistaken benevolence. These authors appear to rest their conclusion on savages possessing those virtues which are serviceable, or even necessary, for the existence of the family and of the tribe,–qualities which they undoubtedly do possess, and often in a high degree.”
[From Denyse: Charles Darwin, let me introduce you to Hollywood, before you say any more silly things about the supposed immorality of "savages." ]

Making slavery understandable, though of course distasteful now:

“Slavery, although in some ways beneficial during ancient times, is a great crime; yet it was not so regarded until quite recently, even by the most civilised nations. And this was especially the case, because the slaves belonged in general to a race different from that of their masters.”
[From Denyse: Not really. In ancient times, slaves were typically unransomed captives in war, convicted criminals, or people who had fallen into irrecoverable debt. In Roman times, there would be nothing unusual about being a slave to someone of the same race as oneself. Slavery based on race alone was an early modern legal invention, aimed against blacks.]

Mass killings of savages is understandable as a type of species extinction:

“At some future period, not very distant as measured by centuries, the civilised races of man will almost certainly exterminate, and replace, the savage races throughout the world. At the same time the anthropomorphous apes, as Professor Schaaffhausen has remarked will no doubt be exterminated. The break between man and his nearest allies will then be wider, for it will intervene between man in a more civilised state, as we may hope, even than the Caucasian, and some ape as low as a baboon, instead of as now between the negro or Australian and the gorilla.”

“The partial or complete extinction of many races and sub-races of man is historically known….When civilised nations come into contact with barbarians the struggle is short, except where a deadly climate gives its aid to the native race…. The grade of their civilisation seems to be a most important element in the success of competing nations. A few centuries ago Europe feared the inroads of Eastern barbarians; now any such fear would be ridiculous.”

“[Flinders Island], situated between Tasmania and Australia, is forty miles long, and from twelve to eighteen miles broad: it seems healthy, and the natives were well treated. Nevertheless, they suffered greatly in health….With respect to the cause of this extraordinary state of things, Dr. Story remarks that death followed the attempts to civilise the natives.” [--Obviously the problem was trying to civilize these barbarians!]

“Finally, although the gradual decrease and ultimate extinction of the races of man is a highly complex problem, depending on many causes which differ in different places and at different times; it is the same problem as that presented by the extinction of one of the higher animals.”

Of course the degradation extends to the intellectual:

“There is, however, no doubt that the various races, when carefully compared and measured, differ much from each other,–as in the texture of the hair, the relative proportions of all parts of the body …Their mental characteristics are likewise very distinct; chiefly as it would appear in their emotional, but partly in their intellectual faculties. Every one who has had the opportunity of comparison, must have been struck with the contrast between the taciturn, even morose, aborigines of S. America and the light-hearted, talkative negroes. There is a nearly similar contrast between the Malays and the Papuans who live under the same physical conditions, and are separated from each other only by a narrow space of sea.”
[From Denyse: I would imagine that the aborigines of South America felt some resentment over the loss of their continent to invaders from Europe ... ]
” A certain amount of absorption of mulattoes into negroes must always be in progress; and this would lead to an apparent diminution of the former. The inferior vitality of mulattoes is spoken of in a trustworthy work as a well-known phenomenon; and this, although a different consideration from their lessened fertility, may perhaps be advanced as a proof of the specific distinctness of the parent races.”

“So far as we are enabled to judge, although always liable to err on this head, none of the differences between the races of man are of any direct or special service to him. The intellectual and moral or social faculties must of course be excepted from this remark.”

And… drum roll.., the main conclusion:

“The main conclusion arrived at in this work, namely, that man is descended from some lowly organised form, will, I regret to think, be highly distasteful to many. But there can hardly be a doubt that we are descended from barbarians. The astonishment which I felt on first seeing a party of Fuegians on a wild and broken shore will never be forgotten by me, for the reflection at once rushed into my mind-such were our ancestors. These men were absolutely naked and bedaubed with paint, their long hair was tangled, their mouths frothed with excitement, and their expression was wild, startled, and distrustful. … He who has seen a savage in his native land will not feel much shame, if forced to acknowledge that the blood of some more humble creature flows in his veins.”

[From Denyse: Sounds like a local rave to me. Not my ancestors (who were, as it happens, rigidly correct people, but my 2009 fellow Torontonians.)]
“For my own part I would as soon be descended from …[a] monkey, or from that old baboon… –as from a savage who delights to torture his enemies, offers up bloody sacrifices, practices infanticide without remorse, treats his wives like slaves, knows no decency, and is haunted by the grossest superstitions.
[From Denyse: Yuh, I know. I know women who have divorced guys like that too ... but, when founding a theory in science, it strikes me that ... ]

And let’s not forget S*xism!

“The chief distinction in the intellectual powers of the two sexes is shewn by man’s attaining to a higher eminence, in whatever he takes up, than can woman–whether requiring deep thought, reason, or imagination, or merely the use of the senses and hands…We may also infer, from the law of the deviation from averages, so well illustrated by Mr. Galton, in his work on ‘Hereditary Genius,’ that if men are capable of a decided pre-eminence over women in many subjects, the average of mental power in man must be above that of woman.”

“The greater intellectual vigour and power of invention in man is probably due to natural selection, combined with the inherited effects of habit, for the most able men will have succeeded best in defending and providing for themselves and for their wives and offspring.”
[From Denyse: Re women vs. men: Actually, if we leave Darwin's obsession with natural selection out of the matter for a moment, we can come up with a simple explanation for the difference between men's and women's achievements. Men are far more likely to win Nobel Prizes than women - but also far more likely to sit on Death Row.
For most normal achievements, women will do as well as men, given a chance. Women do just as well as men at being, say, a family doctor, an accountant, a real estate agent, a high school teacher, etc.

It's only in outstanding achievements - either for good OR for ill - that men tend to dominate. One way of seeing this is that the curve of women's achievements fits inside the curve of men's achievements, either way.
Natural selection does not explain this because most men who have outstanding achievements do not contribute a great deal to the gene pool as a consequence.
Either they produce few or no children, or their children do nothing outstanding. So Darwin did not really have a good explanation for this fact.

What should we do? Breeding of people and letting the weak die off:

"The advancement of the welfare of mankind is a most intricate problem: all ought to refrain from marriage who cannot avoid abject poverty for their children; for poverty is not only a great evil, but tends to its own increase by leading to recklessness in marriage. On the other hand, as Mr. Galton has remarked, if the prudent avoid marriage, whilst the reckless marry, the inferior members tend to supplant the better members of society. Man, like every other animal, has no doubt advanced to his present high condition through a struggle for existence consequent on his rapid multiplication; and if he is to advance still higher, it is to be feared that he must remain subject to a severe struggle. Otherwise he would sink into indolence, and the more gifted men would not be more successful in the battle of life than the less gifted. Hence our natural rate of increase, though leading to many and obvious evils, must not be greatly diminished by any means. There should be open competition for all men; and the most able should not be prevented by laws or customs from succeeding best and rearing the largest number of offspring."

"We civilized men, on the other hand, do our utmost to check the process of elimination; we build asylums for the imbecile, the maimed, and the sick; we institute poor-laws; and our medical men exert their utmost skill to save the life of every one to the last moment. There is reason to believe that vaccination has preserved thousands, who from a weak constitution would formerly have succumbed to small-pox. Thus the weak members of civilized societies propagate their kind. No one who has attended to the breeding of domestic animals will doubt that this must be highly injurious to the race of man. It is surprising how soon a want of care, or care wrongly directed, leads to the degeneration of a domestic race; but excepting in the case of man himself, hardly any one is so ignorant as to allow his worst animals to breed.”


http://www.uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/darwin-reader-darwins-racism/

#10 Isabella

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Posted 31 March 2012 - 04:57 PM

I agree with your point 24... Evolution can be falsified... and it is via the irreducible complex nature of cellular systems.


I’ve already addressed the irreducible complexity misconception (see number 5). If a trait or behaviour is necessary to an organism’s survival, then the appearance of the trait must precede its necessity. For example, if an organism requires trait X to survive, the trait must have arisen in an ancestor in which trait X was advantageous but not required. The problem with the irreducible complexity argument it that it treats organisms as unchanging machines made up of unchanging parts. In evolutionary models, both the overall machine and its composite parts are constantly changing.

What I believe the people here are trying to get at when the claim "Evolution is unfalsifiable" is used, is that even when there is evidence falsifying evolution, it will not be accepted due to the emotional attachment most evolutionists have to their pet "theory". If this were not so then serious research would have been devoted to biochemistry and how evolution fits in there... However this falsifying problem is merely ignored.


I can’t speak for everyone, but I personally have no emotional attachment to evolution. If conclusive falsifying evidence showed up tomorrow, I would have no problem rejecting the theory. I’m not sure what you mean about devoting serious research to biochemistry... can you elaborate?
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#11 JayShel

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Posted 31 March 2012 - 07:33 PM

I’ve already addressed the irreducible complexity misconception (see number 5). If a trait or behaviour is necessary to an organism’s survival, then the appearance of the trait must precede its necessity. For example, if an organism requires trait X to survive, the trait must have arisen in an ancestor in which trait X was advantageous but not required. The problem with the irreducible complexity argument it that it treats organisms as unchanging machines made up of unchanging parts. In evolutionary models, both the overall machine and its composite parts are constantly changing.



I can’t speak for everyone, but I personally have no emotional attachment to evolution. If conclusive falsifying evidence showed up tomorrow, I would have no problem rejecting the theory. I’m not sure what you mean about devoting serious research to biochemistry... can you elaborate?


Blood must clot in order for someone to not bleed to death. If blood clots all at once (as in the sci-fi book (good book by the way) The Andromeda Strain) it results in instant death. Your argument is that there existed an organism in the past that had a substance like blood, but they could "bleed out" without the need for such specified clotting because such a substance was unnecessary for their life but advantageous?

Do we have observable proof of this assertion or is this just an assumption that we must believe in order for evolution to have formed such complex interdependent biological features and systems?

#12 gilbo12345

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Posted 31 March 2012 - 07:57 PM

I've already addressed the irreducible complexity misconception (see number 5). If a trait or behaviour is necessary to an organism's survival, then the appearance of the trait must precede its necessity. For example, if an organism requires trait X to survive, the trait must have arisen in an ancestor in which trait X was advantageous but not required. The problem with the irreducible complexity argument it that it treats organisms as unchanging machines made up of unchanging parts. In evolutionary models, both the overall machine and its composite parts are constantly changing.



I can't speak for everyone, but I personally have no emotional attachment to evolution. If conclusive falsifying evidence showed up tomorrow, I would have no problem rejecting the theory. I'm not sure what you mean about devoting serious research to biochemistry... can you elaborate?



You're point 5 is mimicking what Darwin said in that his theory breaks down if something irreducibly complex was discovered. I am here to tell you that we have already discovered it.




And that is their assumption that there MUST have been a precursor to a function, but this begs the question... what was the precursor before the precursor. There is always an origin.






In terms of the first cell, there is agreement that there was a minimum standard of requirements. For example a cell cannot exist without the mechanism of transcription and translation being operational, (as well as other systems). Transcription and translation require many different parts, hence in order for the function to be utilised these parts must have existed... An experiment to test this could be to have cells with all their helicase genes removed. Or how about the genes coding for polymerase, or what about ligase... I am sure if you had a cell with one of these components missing it would die.

Compounding this are the systems that require other systems or parts in order to be functional at all. In terms of cellular respiration glycolysis requires the citric acid cycle in order to dispose of its product, (since a build up of its product- pyruvate will lead to a pH change eventually killing the cell... It also leads to a slowdown and eventual stop in the system). Whereas the electron transport chain requires the citric acid cycle and glycolysis to supply NADH and FADH2, which in turn replenishes NAD and FAD to be re-used... (if these are not replenished the system stops automatically).

Now what this means is that celluar respiration cannot come about via a bit-by-bit method that Darwin proposes, hence just as he says his theory falls apart. Yet what do evolutionists do? I haven't seen anyone investigating how cellular respiration "evolved" hence my claim stands that the evidence against evolution is ignored, (or if it is addressed it hasn't been given much attention, downplaying the problems I guess)

#13 Isabella

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Posted 02 April 2012 - 02:58 PM

Hi Gilbo,

Incorrect. "Social-Darwinism" stems from the root of evolution. Here are a few quotes from Darwin who, in his evolutionary worldview saw "savages" as lesser humans (if he could call them humans). I sickens me that people attempt to sideline this.... doesn't doing so advocate or at least allow such thoughts and actions?

The same as the crusades and suicide bombings stem from Religious piousness and / or human fallibility.


Attempting to sideline the social consequences of evolutionary thought is dishonest. Religions are criticized why not evolution.


Social Darwinism does not stem from the root of evolution, but rather from a misunderstanding of evolution. Social Darwinists completely redefined terms like “natural selection” and “fitness”, and then applied them to a non-biological context. I’m not attempting to ignore Social Darwinism, but I want to make it absolutely clear that it is not the same thing as biological evolution, and it does not reflect the views of evolutionists today.

I’m also very aware that early writing on evolution often contained racist content, but then so did much of the writing from that period. Darwin lived during the peak of the British Empire, at a time when white Europeans saw nothing wrong with calling themselves the superior race. This mentality was widespread and not limited to evolutionists or Social Darwinists. As I explained in number 16 on my list: Charles Darwin is not the leader of modern biological evolution! He is an important historical figure, but his work is outdated by over 150 years. In science, a source that’s outdated by even 10 years is considered weak, unless the source is being used in a historical context. Evolutionists do not look to Darwin for moral or ethical guidance, nor do we take everything he wrote as the truth. So if you want to criticize Darwin, that’s fine. Just make sure you realize you’re criticizing a historical work rather than modern evolutionary research.

So in conclusion, I am not trying to “sideline” or justify the unfortunate racial discrimination that occurred in the past. I just want to make it absolutely clear that in modern times, biological evolution does not promote racism and is not affiliated with Social Darwinist ideologies.
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#14 JayShel

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Posted 02 April 2012 - 06:25 PM

Hi Gilbo,



Social Darwinism does not stem from the root of evolution, but rather from a misunderstanding of evolution. Social Darwinists completely redefined terms like “natural selection” and “fitness”, and then applied them to a non-biological context. I’m not attempting to ignore Social Darwinism, but I want to make it absolutely clear that it is not the same thing as biological evolution, and it does not reflect the views of evolutionists today.

I’m also very aware that early writing on evolution often contained racist content, but then so did much of the writing from that period. Darwin lived during the peak of the British Empire, at a time when white Europeans saw nothing wrong with calling themselves the superior race. This mentality was widespread and not limited to evolutionists or Social Darwinists. As I explained in number 16 on my list: Charles Darwin is not the leader of modern biological evolution! He is an important historical figure, but his work is outdated by over 150 years. In science, a source that’s outdated by even 10 years is considered weak, unless the source is being used in a historical context. Evolutionists do not look to Darwin for moral or ethical guidance, nor do we take everything he wrote as the truth. So if you want to criticize Darwin, that’s fine. Just make sure you realize you’re criticizing a historical work rather than modern evolutionary research.

So in conclusion, I am not trying to “sideline” or justify the unfortunate racial discrimination that occurred in the past. I just want to make it absolutely clear that in modern times, biological evolution does not promote racism and is not affiliated with Social Darwinist ideologies.


Yeah I tend to find that people with prejudices or homicidal tendencies can use any worldview to try to justify their actions.

#15 gilbo12345

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Posted 02 April 2012 - 09:35 PM

Hi Gilbo,



Social Darwinism does not stem from the root of evolution, but rather from a misunderstanding of evolution. Social Darwinists completely redefined terms like “natural selection” and “fitness”, and then applied them to a non-biological context. I’m not attempting to ignore Social Darwinism, but I want to make it absolutely clear that it is not the same thing as biological evolution, and it does not reflect the views of evolutionists today.

I’m also very aware that early writing on evolution often contained racist content, but then so did much of the writing from that period. Darwin lived during the peak of the British Empire, at a time when white Europeans saw nothing wrong with calling themselves the superior race. This mentality was widespread and not limited to evolutionists or Social Darwinists. As I explained in number 16 on my list: Charles Darwin is not the leader of modern biological evolution! He is an important historical figure, but his work is outdated by over 150 years. In science, a source that’s outdated by even 10 years is considered weak, unless the source is being used in a historical context. Evolutionists do not look to Darwin for moral or ethical guidance, nor do we take everything he wrote as the truth. So if you want to criticize Darwin, that’s fine. Just make sure you realize you’re criticizing a historical work rather than modern evolutionary research.

So in conclusion, I am not trying to “sideline” or justify the unfortunate racial discrimination that occurred in the past. I just want to make it absolutely clear that in modern times, biological evolution does not promote racism and is not affiliated with Social Darwinist ideologies.


Except in the case of Eugenics... Which is a modern stance taken based on evolution to "improve the human race", its tendencies are linked to what Darwin said about not letting your worst animals breed... Hence proponents of Eugenics have sterilized many people who they deemed the "worst". I find it ironic that proponents of evolution wish to smooth over this dark past, yet most are happy to lay into the dark past of Christianity, (crusades etc). I'm not proposing you yourself do these things, just that when the boot is on the other foot its interesting to see what happens.



When you have evolution which claims that traits are hereditary and that the organisms with the most well adapted / useful traits survive better, this leads to a reduction in not as useful traits

and

that circumventing human breeding will allow for the faster accumulation of useful traits and lessen the accumulation of not as useful traits



It doesn't take a rocket scientists to see that the later stems from the ideas of the former.

This isn't to say that modern scientists agree or practice the notion of Eugenics, I am merely pointing out the logical conclusion if you extend evolution out far enough. When life becomes an account book and lives are just numbers giving different "fitness" values.

#16 Frenger

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Posted 03 April 2012 - 02:03 AM

Except in the case of Eugenics... Which is a modern stance taken based on evolution to "improve the human race", its tendencies are linked to what Darwin said about not letting your worst animals breed... Hence proponents of Eugenics have sterilized many people who they deemed the "worst". I find it ironic that proponents of evolution wish to smooth over this dark past, yet most are happy to lay into the dark past of Christianity, (crusades etc). I'm not proposing you yourself do these things, just that when the boot is on the other foot its interesting to see what happens.



When you have evolution which claims that traits are hereditary and that the organisms with the most well adapted / useful traits survive better, this leads to a reduction in not as useful traits

and

that circumventing human breeding will allow for the faster accumulation of useful traits and lessen the accumulation of not as useful traits



It doesn't take a rocket scientists to see that the later stems from the ideas of the former.

This isn't to say that modern scientists agree or practice the notion of Eugenics, I am merely pointing out the logical conclusion if you extend evolution out far enough. When life becomes an account book and lives are just numbers giving different "fitness" values.


Do we blame Einstein for the Nuking of Japan and the Cold War? Well it was his theory that made that bomb possible so why not? It seems weird to me that physicists hide behind this fact when they clearly have a lot of explaining to do. For shame.......

As you can tell, I am being sarcastic. Darwin wrote about artificial selection because it was a way of explaining a new idea through an old one. People were already well aware that breeding for selected traits would increase that trait, he then applied this common knowledge to nature, stating that in the wild, nature is the selector, not man.

How people use that information is NOTHING to do with biological evolution through natural selection. Saying that if people stretch evolution far enough, they get to eugenics or any kind of world view is a complete strawman, it only explains the diversity of life. There is no stretching, no applying to society, no applying to politics and no connection to a "world view".

You can understand evolution and be a humanist, a secularist, a nihilist, a nazi, a right wing catholic fundamentalist, a pacifist, Mr T or Sgt Bash from Robot wars. I wouldn't claim to know ANYTHING else about you if you told me you believed in the heliocentric system, I couldn't and wouldn't even try.

So to try and connect the theory of evolution to any other kind of personal world view or belief is a strawman, and a terrible one at that.

#17 NewPath

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Posted 03 April 2012 - 04:30 AM

As most of you probably know, a straw man argument involves misrepresenting your opponent’s position and refuting the misrepresentation. One of the best ways to avoid an unintentional straw man argument is to fully understand your opponent’s viewpoint; this holds true for evolutionists and creationists alike. .


Good post! As a creationist I see a lot of scientific bias in the creationist viewpoint, including the use of straw man arguments. As Christians I believe there is a lot of scope for us to recognise truth when its there, even if it comes through evolutionist research.

#18 gilbo12345

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Posted 03 April 2012 - 03:13 PM

Do we blame Einstein for the Nuking of Japan and the Cold War? Well it was his theory that made that bomb possible so why not? It seems weird to me that physicists hide behind this fact when they clearly have a lot of explaining to do. For shame.......

As you can tell, I am being sarcastic. Darwin wrote about artificial selection because it was a way of explaining a new idea through an old one. People were already well aware that breeding for selected traits would increase that trait, he then applied this common knowledge to nature, stating that in the wild, nature is the selector, not man.

How people use that information is NOTHING to do with biological evolution through natural selection. Saying that if people stretch evolution far enough, they get to eugenics or any kind of world view is a complete strawman, it only explains the diversity of life. There is no stretching, no applying to society, no applying to politics and no connection to a "world view".

You can understand evolution and be a humanist, a secularist, a nihilist, a nazi, a right wing catholic fundamentalist, a pacifist, Mr T or Sgt Bash from Robot wars. I wouldn't claim to know ANYTHING else about you if you told me you believed in the heliocentric system, I couldn't and wouldn't even try.

So to try and connect the theory of evolution to any other kind of personal world view or belief is a strawman, and a terrible one at that.




"Eugenics is the self direction of human evolution" this quote explains my position..

The nuke claim is a strawman.





If you believe that life "evolved" via random changes / improvements that were selected for, then you quickly come to the idea that if we did the same for humans then we could make humans better. This line of thinking leads to Eugenics, now as I said not all evolutionists advocate Eugenics, (making your worldview claim another strawman / misrepresentation). However you cannot doubt that Eugenics arose from the idea of evolution.

As I said

This isn't to say that modern scientists agree or practice the notion of Eugenics, I am merely pointing out the logical conclusion if you extend evolution out far enough. When life becomes an account book and lives are just numbers giving different "fitness" values.


By extend evolution out, I mean apply it on a different stage other than wild animals and plants... in this case the stage is humans.

#19 Isabella

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Posted 03 April 2012 - 03:42 PM

Blood must clot in order for someone to not bleed to death. If blood clots all at once (as in the sci-fi book (good book by the way) The Andromeda Strain) it results in instant death. Your argument is that there existed an organism in the past that had a substance like blood, but they could "bleed out" without the need for such specified clotting because such a substance was unnecessary for their life but advantageous?

Do we have observable proof of this assertion or is this just an assumption that we must believe in order for evolution to have formed such complex interdependent biological features and systems?


The Andromeda Stain is a great book :)

I’ve never studied blood coagulation in any great detail, but here are my thoughts on the subject.

Firstly, not all organisms use the same molecular system for blood coagulation. Vertebrates and invertebrates use completely different proteins to clot their blood, and even within vertebrates there is variation in the blood clotting cascade. In my opinion, a system that can still function with different/less parts cannot be accurately called irreducibly complex.

Secondly, blood clotting and blood development are not necessarily two discrete events, with one occurring before the other. The two likely evolved in tandem, with the blood clotting cascade becoming increasingly complex as dependence on blood increased.

Thirdly, blood clotting most likely evolved in marine organisms. Many aquatic organisms can exchange oxygen and waste through their skin, which reduces the necessity of a closed circulatory system with blood.

I realize this is mostly speculation on my part (there are empirical studies on the subject if you're interested though), but my point is that it’s possible to build a hypothetical evolutionary model for blood clotting that is not irreducibly complex or logically impossible.
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#20 gilbo12345

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Posted 03 April 2012 - 06:35 PM

1.Firstly, not all organisms use the same molecular system for blood coagulation. Vertebrates and invertebrates use completely different proteins to clot their blood, and even within vertebrates there is variation in the blood clotting cascade.

2.In my opinion, a system that can still function with different/less parts cannot be accurately called irreducibly complex.

3.Secondly, blood clotting and blood development are not necessarily two discrete events, with one occurring before the other. The two likely evolved in tandem, with the blood clotting cascade becoming increasingly complex as dependence on blood increased.

4.Thirdly, blood clotting most likely evolved in marine organisms. Many aquatic organisms can exchange oxygen and waste through their skin, which reduces the necessity of a closed circulatory system with blood.



1. This is evidence against evolution since how did one evolve from the other, or how did both come from an ancestor template. It is merely assumed to have "evolved"

2. Incorrect, having different systems can still be irreducibly complex. Irreducible complexity comes straight from the name, it is where you cannot remove any parts and still function effectively. Adding in the fact that there needs to be a fitness gain for evolution to occur this makes the origin of these systems a very hard proposition for evolutionists... Since the simple incomplete system must (somehow) provide a fitness benefit, same with each change after that.

The less parts (and differences) claims are due to the differences of vertibrates to invertibrates... Or do you assume that both require the same system?

3. ...... Firstly having two traits working in tandem which rely on each other would be a very rare occurrence due to the randomness of the mutations involved. A change in either can totally upset the balance and screw things over.

Secondly how does the mulit-cellular organism survive without a blood system to provide nutrients for each cell?... (Plus is there any evidence of this older system?)... Keep in mind that while these changes are occurring the organism and its offspring need to live, function and reproduce. It seems all to often that evolutionary stories forget this fact.


4. How is this "likely"?

Lets put this claim to the test. Lets get one of these organisms and remove its heart, thus making the blood system useless... Then lets see if it can function without a blood system. IF it does then your claim holds water, if it dies then the blood system is required for the transportation of digested nutrients.



I'm glad you admit that its hypothetical, however I hope now you can admit it is also impossible.




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