Hi everyone, sorry I can’t reply too quickly but I am quite busy these days. There are some good points you guys made! I will try to address…“Above in bold is the current understanding/paradigm of evolutionists, but this evolutionary tree is not set in stone. Let me explain. If you DID find an bird with mammary glands, or a whale with feathers in the fossil record, then your understanding of HOW "evolution happened" would change, and so would the diagram. This pursuit of a fossil outside of current paradigms would not falsify evolution, so it is a dead end for creationists, and so you are just dangling a carrot.”
I agree to a point, but there are two important points to make here. The first is that yes, the theory of evolution, like all sciences, can change as new observations are made. This is why I am more inclined to trust it than religious creation accounts - evolution can correct itself it it finds itself to be wrong, and consequently get closer and closer to the truth. Creationism, like any faith based belief, cannot, because once written, the scriptures are forbidden to be changed. If it is wrong at the start it will remain exactly that wrong, forever. Even you cannot escape the conclusion that the vast majority of faith based beliefs are wrong, for you do not believe the creation accounts of the Egyptians, the Norse, the Mayans, the Aboriginal Australians, the Hopi, the Mbombo, the Ngai etc. the list could go on for some time! Seeing as these accounts are all mutually exclusive, you must admit that at the very least most
faith based accounts are wrong. And since they must be taken on faith and already have what they believe to be the whole story they do not look for more evidence. I have heard some people argue that science is always changing but the Bible is forever therefore they do not trust science. However while they see the mutability of science as its weakness, I see it as a great strength. Simply put, if you are wrong in science, you can change your mind so that you are right. This is why science and reason gradually get closer and closer to the truth with each new discovery while faith stays exactly the same distance from the truth as it always was, unless of course it happened to be right all along. This is why I distrust faith - not faithful people but the principal of faith itself. I hope I haven't offended Christians here, because I have nothing against people who honestly believe that Christianity is the way because they have weighed up the evidence and really think that it's the best fit. Hey if that's the case I want to hear from them because I might be wrong and in that case I should change my mind! What I don't agree with is the principal of picking a predetermined position and then defending it against any and all evidence to the contrary, and this is as far as I can see, exactly what Creationism is and does. If you think I am wrong here and that Creationism is science, then can you give me an example of how Creationism could change or has changed in the light of a new discovery?
The second point is that while evolution is changeable, there are some changes that would force so drastic a revision that I don’t think we would even call it the same theory anymore! To put this into perspective, it was once thought that megachiroptera (large bats) were more closely related to the colugo (a kind of gliding lemur) while microchiroptera (small bats) were closer to insectivores. However it was recently discovered through genetic analysis that small and large bats are both closer to each other than any other group and so the phylogenetic tree had to be revised to bring them closer together. This was unexpected, however it wasn’t a huge problem because they are all fairly similar animals so determining their relatedness based on morphology alone is always somewhat inaccurate, and genetics typically has the last word on these things. A bird with mammary glands or a mammal with feathers, however, would be such a drastic change I think the whole mechanism of evolution would need major revision. That is of course assuming it was not thrown out entirely! The family trees of mammals and birds are so well supported that there really isn’t room for this kind of thing, it would either require some kind of completely unknown and utterly revolutionary mechanism of horizontal gene transfer, or it would mean that our whole mechanism of constructing trees based on the hierarchies of traits would be utterly wrong. Either way, big changes, possibly theory wrecking changes. It would be very difficult to explain. Of course, I’m not expecting Creationists to go out looking for a mammal with the genes for making feathers but who knows, as more and more genomes are sequenced we may find one!“You have essentially prematurely halted investigation (or curiosity) into possible biological functions of these traits in-utero, and stated "these features have no biological purpose" so you can claim victory for evolution. As I pointed out in post #7 this is an argument from ignorance, which is a logical fallacy:”
I called them leftovers yes, but that’s because they look very much like what I would expect a genetic leftover to look. While I fully agree that an argument from ignorance is not a good argument, I disagree that what I said constitutes one. Take a hypothetical situation here - suppose every single tenet of evolution was proved wrong tomorrow - mutations were found to be impossible, natural selection was proved not to exist, the earth proved beyond a shadow of a doubt to be 6000 years old and Angels descended from heaven to hand out fresh copies of genesis to everyone in the world (note I am not
saying Creationists believe all these things, but it would certainly wreck evolution, which is all I’m trying to suggest here). Now suppose I were to say “Look, I still believe that everything evolved.” You challenge me to justify my claim, and I reply with “We don’t know how
it evolved, but if you say it didn’t, that’s just an argument from ignorance!” and while I might technically be right, no-one would take me seriously. The claim of “argument from ignorance” has its limits. I maintain the burden of proof rests on those making the positive claim, and I would therefore challenge you to come up with a use for the ear muscles in whales which in most mammals are used to move external ears.“Similarities between different animals and grouping and classifying them is being presented as evidence of evolution. But we could find similarities between all kinds of things on earth and classify them into some kind of tree, despite the fact that they were designed.”
Not in the same way. This is one of the main reasons I don’t think life was designed – if you make a phylogenetic tree out of designed objects it does not look like the tree of life at all. For example, you might start making a tree of cars from the invention of the first car through the early designs of various manufacturers, however I guarantee you they would not fit a hierarchy of derived traits. You might start off with a base form which has an engine, transmission to 2 rear wheels and drum brakes. This could “evolve”, if you like, into a number of early cars which used this setup, each on their own branch of the tree. They continue to evolve as different manufacturers play with their designs. Then, one of the manufacturers invents disk brakes. They’re fitted to one car on one branch of the car tree of life. They are, however, much better than drums and soon every manufacturer is using them in their new models even though their old models didn’t have them. A similar thing happens when air conditioning is invented – it rapidly spreads to all the branches. Real life evolution cannot allow this. It would be like if the first birds evolved feathers and the mammals decided “hey, that’s really good insulation, we should get those too!”. Bats especially would find them useful, however they do not have them. Designers can and do use this method in real life, however evolution could neither produce nor permit it. This is why I don’t think the phylogenetic tree of life looks designed – when we apply the same principals to objects we know have been designed (by humans) it does not work. Phylogeny is one of the ideas I find most convincing about evolution, and for this reason. It looks exactly like a family tree, and not
like the artificial trees we can construct from items which were designed.