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Opposition to evolution

  1. May 19, 2009 #1
    Can you see a logically justifiable, non-religious argument to oppose the fact that evolution happens? Do you think that there is sufficient evidence to say that the existance of evolution is almost certain, or as close to certain as many other comparable scientific observations?

    Do you know of anyone who disagrees with evolution on non-religious grounds?
    Last edited: May 19, 2009
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  3. May 19, 2009 #2
    I think evolution is an easy theory to doubt, just because its effects are not as immediate as some other physical phenomena's.

    What do I mean? I doubt anybody disbelieves in the idea that gravity acts between massy bodies. Why? Everybody experiences this every day when they wake up. It's easy to test.

    Evolution - at least macroevolution - is impossible to test. We just can't wait around that long and see. Anything that takes longer than a human lifetime to observe is subject to some additional amount of doubt and suspicion. Seeing is believing.

    Perhaps there is also a dimension to this including what the public perceives as an absence of falsifiability of the theory. That is, a theory for which there is no method to try disproving it is suspect. Evolution gives off an aura of "story telling". Also, its claims can't really be easily tested to predict events in the future. Etc. Etc.

    I doubt even the most staunch fundamentalist religious nuts would argue against microevolution. You can observe things evolving to adapt to their environment in short order... bacteria, insects, etc. Many of the issues applicable to the idea of long-term evolution are not present in the more restricted cases.
  4. May 19, 2009 #3


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    Macro and micro evolution are a false dichotomy created by those who oppose evolution who had to find a way to dismiss the evidence of evolution people CAN see in their lifetimes, such as antibiotic resistant bacteria. It is all evolution.
  5. May 19, 2009 #4
    Yes, we know that over many generations (each lasting for only around 10 days), fruit flies can change their genome in certain circumstances. If the genome can change slightly, then it could change more, and as the appearance and characteristics of a species are largely dictated by its genetics, then the whole species should surely be able to change.
  6. May 19, 2009 #5
    And what would be the difference in the biological process between what you call "micro" and "macro" evolution?

    There is really no reason whatsoever to doubt evolution....unless it somehow compromises your "faith" that God created everything. :rolleyes:

    So, to answer the OP's questions:
    NO! ...there is no logically justifiable, non-religious argument to oppose the fact that evolution happens.
    YES!...there is sufficient evidence to say that the existance of evolution is almost certain, or as close to certain as many other comparable scientific observations
  7. May 19, 2009 #6
    Presumably (by "macro..") they are referring to (an apparent dearth of observed examples of) a natural genetic mutation that proves advantageous to the wild organism (or successive such mutations increasing speciation in nature).

    As opposed to deliberate splicing ("engineering"), mere changes in the frequency of pre-existing alleles (textbook "micro.."), or mutations that are disadvantageous in the wild (but advantageous in some artificial medium). They probably also exclude viruses (do those even have species? Perhaps they're waiting on a clear-cut example that affects animal morphology..).
    Last edited: May 19, 2009
  8. May 19, 2009 #7
    Well, the point I was making is that there is no distinction between the two concepts when it comes down to the biological processes involved in reproduction. The same things (and there are many) that create genetic diversity and are responsible for adaptation also drive evolution of species.

    I like how Moonbear put it a couple posts above... (well said) :approve:

    It seems like the whole concept of "macro-evolution" only seems to exist in the minds of those who refuse to believe in evolution.
  9. May 19, 2009 #8


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    I don't think anti-evolutionists use religious arguments to refute evolution. Their religion is their agenda (hidden or otherwise) for doing so, but I do believe they try to use logic (albeit bad, self-serving logic) to make their points.

    Wait. Don't misunderstand me here. I'm not saying their arguments are logical, I'm saying rarely do any of them try to claim "evolution is wrong and the proof is because it refutes the bible (or somesuch)" - which is what it seems like you're suggesting.

    If I may presume to rephrase what I think you want to ask, I think you're trying to ask: are there any anti-evolutionist proponents whose agenda is not religion-based, and/or who are not themselves religious.
  10. May 20, 2009 #9
    There are quite a few people who are not directly religious who oppose evolution, such as extremists on the political left. They hold that evolution is incompatible with their social agenda, because they think it refutes the idea of the blank slate (the idea that you are born with no innate features), and the noble savage (that humans in primitive pre-societial are peaceful but corrupted by state) and their view of equality. As Stephen Pinker argued at great length in the Blank Slate, only the two previous ideologies are disproved by evolutionary sciences (and that we don't really want those to be true anyways). He further argues that real equality is not the proposition that men and females are clones, but that equality means being treated as an individual, rather than the average of the group one has been assigned to. Very readable book about a lot of meta-issues.

    Michael Shermer calls these "liberal creationists". In the below quote, he goes through reasons what he thinks motivates people to reject evolution.

    "6. The fear that evolutionary theory implies we have a fixed or rigid human nature. This is a variant of genetic determinism and is a criticism leveled against sociobiology and evolutionary psychology because of the deterministic implications that we are resistant to political reforms and economic reapportionment policies. Interestingly, the first five reasons above tend to arise from the political right because of its strong religious conservative bent that sees evolutionary theory as a challenge to fundamental religious doctrines; this last reason surfaces from the political left because it is strong liberal bent that sees evolutionary theory as a challenge to their fundamental political doctrines. I call these positions conservative creationism and liberal creationism, respectively." (Shermer, Michael, "Foreword: Why People Do Not Accept Evolution" in Prothero, Donald, R., "Evolution: What the Fossils Say and Why it Matters", Colombia University Press, 2007. pp. xii)

    However, the arguments used by the extremists on the political left to attack evolution are also invalid.
  11. May 21, 2009 #10


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    Lysenkoism (in Stalinist Russia):

    Interesting that while that was Soviet / communist thought, the Nazis were into eugenics and (racially tortured interpretations of) survival of the fittest. Equally pathological, but an interesting dichotomy, nevertheless.

    Never heard of liberal creationism, though. Maybe it's just that they're not as evangelical (no pun intended, if any) or vocal as those on the right (Discovery Institute, various centers of creation "research", etc.)
  12. May 21, 2009 #11
    It is correct that the leftist opposition to evolution is not as evangelic as the rightist. As you noted, there are many right wing think tanks, such as the Discovery Institute, The Institute for Creation Research, Answers In Genesis etc. The term "liberal" is a bit of a misnomer in this context though, but used to differentiate between the two I guess. You can see these type of leftist extremism in the controversies regarding books such as The Bell Curve or A Natural History of Rape, for instance.

    But even scientists like Stephen Jay Gould was a modest proponent on some version of the blank slate, although not as extreme as others.
  13. May 22, 2009 #12


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    "Macroevolution may or may not be an extrapolated form of microevolution". http://books.google.com/books?id=xPAPgcZflzYC&printsec=frontcover#PPA550,M1
  14. May 22, 2009 #13

    This whole concept (micro vs. macro) has more to do with semantics than it does biology.

    Technically (or biologically), there is no such thing as "evolution on the large scale". It all comes down to nothing more than gene expression essentially, and there is nothing large scale about that.
  15. May 26, 2009 #14
    It is like saying you accept that micro-structures consist of atoms, but you cannot understand how macro-structures could ever consist of atoms.
  16. May 26, 2009 #15


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  17. May 26, 2009 #16
    When it comes to evolution, the "macroscopic" point of view is not really going to get us anywhere. Indeed for the last 150 years or so, we have been studying the macroscopic point of view, and we know it fairly well.

    It is only recently that we have had the tools and the knowledge to really get down to the "nitty-gritty" details of how evolution works on the microscopic level. This is where all the answers lie...in knowing how the systems work on a molecule by molecule basis. Missing pieces of knowledge are being filled in every day and we will have a much more complete understanding of the mechanisms that play a role in evolution in the next decade or so.
  18. May 26, 2009 #17
  19. Jun 23, 2009 #18
    Assuming that the first self producing molecule appeared close to 5 Billion years old, there is no feasible alernatives to evolution .It might need a lot of tweaks and minor or even major modilfications to explain certain observed criteria . But the fact the all of life is made of proteins which are made of 20 or so basic amino acids in a complex folded 3D structure explains that things are reused.

    Testrosteron works the same way in a chimp and in human so also most of the other hormones. chimp DNA and human DNA shares 99% same sequence.

    evolution should be more like crime scene analysis , relying solely on the evidences left
    by the progressive modification of DNA and fossils
  20. Jun 29, 2009 #19
    I have frequently been appalled by the poor quality of arguments offered by creationists on forums. On a number of occassions I have created a sockpuppet account with the express intention of arguing an anti-evolution case. In every instance I have quickly abandoned the idea because the position simply was not defensible when evidence and scientific methodology were applied.

    Several posters have asserted that macroevolution and microevolution are different only in scale and hence the duration over which they act. They have further asserted that this dichotomy has been conceived and promoted by creationists as a means of discounting the evidence for microevolution.

    The first point might be correct: micrcoevolution and macroevolution may be the same, but this is not necessarily so. The second point is certainly incorrect. The notion of macroevolution as a distinctly different phenomenon arose within the field of evolutionary biology.

    For example, consider this abstract:

    R.Goldschmidt and J. Huxley: creative parallelisms
    Authors: M D GolubovskiÄ­, Ia M Gall
    The comparative analysis of scientific heritage of Richard Goldschmidt and Julian Huxley shows convincingly the resemblance of these two scientists' views over the core problems of evolutionary theory, genetics and development biology. They both contributed to developing a triad "genetics--development--evolution". The problem of a relative growth of animals was the central point in both Goldschmidt's and Huxley's works. Huxley developed a formula of the allometric growth (law of constant differential growth) while Goldschmidt was the first to draw up the broad interpretation of the consequences of that phenomenon. Both scientists belonged to initiators of development genetics and used the "non-morganian" genetics in their efforts of solving problems of macroevolution. Goldschmidt tended toward an idea of an important role of macromutation in the process of macroevolution, though Huxley adhered to more moderate views. But at the same time the concept of preadaptive mutations proposed by Huxley was close to Goldschmidt's idea of macromutants. It is shown that both scientists analyzed profoundly the changes in early stages of embryogenesis in respect to macroevolution. It is not likely to be reasonable to oppose firmly Goldschmidt's saltationism to the evolutionary synthesis of Huxley. They developed the larger biological problems in a similar way, and undoubtedly their works in the field helped to enrich the development of the views over genetics and evolution. The open-minded analysis of Goldschmidt's and Huxley's concepts leads to creating modern and up-to-date views over the theory of evolution where seemingly incompatible things go together rather well and supplement each other. Evo-Devo rediscovered Goldschmidt's Biology and Huxley's Synthesis.
  21. Jun 29, 2009 #20
    What publication is this abstract from? It kind of sounds like a book review....

    Ahhh the good ole days when eugenics was all the craze! :smile:
  22. Jul 2, 2009 #21
    Zh Obshch Biol. 2003 Nov-Dec;64(6):510-8.
  23. Jul 7, 2009 #22
    For all the claims by the staunch evolutionists in this thread that those who doubt evolution are wrong and illogical, they seem to be making a lot of emotional, misleading, misinformed, and canned statements themselves.

    The whole business about macroevolution and microevolution being the same because it's all genetic material is a sleight of hand. The issue at hand is this: while the changing of the color of a moth's wings over the course of, who knows, 30 years as a result of microevolution in accordance with the idea of survival of the fittest is probably beyond reproach, the idea that what we today see as two fundamentally distinct animals - people and turtles, for instance - share a common ancestor is a more controversial statement.

    I don't see how this is an issue of ideology, at heart. If there were the kind of directly verifiable evidence for macroevolution as there is for microevolution, the debate would be a non-issue.

    When I say that releasing things on Earth will cause them to fall, and then explain this via the idea of gravity, this is a weighty argument I'm making. When I claim that the universe is mostly comprised of a "dark" substance that we have never observed but which must exist so that physical theories work, this is a somewhat less weighty assertion. The burden of proof is on the evolutionist, if others are to be convinced.

    It would be well to remember that what might pass for evidence in tightly knit scientific circles may not be adequate for public opinion. Non-specialists need evidence anybody can understand, or they have only two options: trust or disbelief. If you don't provide compelling evidence (and what you might count as compelling others might not), how can you complain when they choose disbelief over trust? You put them in that situation.

    Perhaps the proponents of macroevolution should calm down and ask themselves the following question: if you knew nothing about evolution at all, and you had a bet with a friend that they could not really make you accept the truth of the theory, say for some large amount of money, would the best evidence they have actually convince you beyond any doubt?

    If you would answer yes, you either overlooked the presence of the word "any" or have become just as fanatical as the other side.
  24. Jul 7, 2009 #23
    Sleight of hand? Microevolution over time and many generations in isolated populations will most likely result in what you call "macroevolution". As stated before, the biological process is the same...

    It is a non-issue (except for those that refuse to believe it) and comparative genomics along with the fossil record provides lots of evidence.

    These "tightly knit scientific circles" you speak of seem to include the entire scientific community, for the most part. So yes, you can trust the experts, or disbelieve them...whatever floats your boat. Or a third option would be to read up on the subject and learn the truth for yourself.
  25. Jul 7, 2009 #24


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    theories are replaced by other theories and not rejected out of hand without an alternative

    are there any alternative theories to evolution that a reasonable person could hold? I don't think so

    of course this is limiting evolution to its broadest interpetation - common descent, natural selection and variation etc without getting into the specific mechanics about which there is legitimate disagreement
  26. Jul 7, 2009 #25


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    The vast majority of science is performed out of view of the general public. Scientists quite simply don't care if you believe them or not. Why should they? It has no relevance to their work! The universe doesn't care if you believe in its laws or not!

    Evolution has no effect on your everday life, but a similar example that does is quantum mechanics. A lot of people object to quantum mechanics for various reasons, but that hasn't stopped scientists and engineers from making quantum mechanics the foundation on which most of our modern technology is based. There is no need to argue with a crackpot about the double-slit experiment because they don't have to convince the crackpot of the validity of the idea before they impliment it. But it is ironic that such crackpots will argue against QM using computers, who'se operation relies heavily on the vailidy of QM!
    You can view gravity operating first hand. I get it. But the fact that you aren't able to think outside of what you can see with the naked eye and on a human timescale isn't a problem with evolution, it is a problem with your ability to use rational thought.
    Openly adding the word "any" makes the exercise an intentional logical fallacy. You gave us an improper question and told us that it is an improper question*! Moreover, this implies that you have no real desire to apply rational thought to this issue. You're playing games with us and you need to stop.

    *Rest assured: we're smart enough here that you need not have pointed out that the question was flawed. We would have noticed and would have rejected the question accordingly.
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