Does the evolution model offer sufficient explanation for the diversity of life forms
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|Updated:||7 months ago||Status:||Debating Period|
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"Evolution model" - the accumulation of small genetic changes over long periods of time
"Diversity of life forms" - all life forms from the smallest insect to the largest mammal.
These are mybdefinitions, expressed for the purpose of this debate. If you disagree with how I define these terms, and want to claim they are not scientificalky accurate, then you are not getting my point. Simply put, did life crawl out of "pond scum" and evolve in to every living creature past, present and future, due to changes (whether those changes are from genetic drift, random mutations, of -God forbid- you should argue natural selection)
A bit of background about me and this debate. I am for all intents and purposes a conservative Christian, and have been for over 20 years, roughly half my life. I started believing in Christianity midway through high school, and had very little religious upbringing, so I did "inherit" my faith from my parents or from society in general. One last important note, that even before I even started being exposed to Christianity, I remember going through biology class in school and before God was even an issue in my life I did not believe what the teacher was telling me about large scale changes in the taxonomy of animals were caused by the accumulation of small changes. I had none of the knowledge that I have now to back up my lack of belief of macro-evolution, but I just didn't "buy" what science was selling.
Clarification of some points:
Evolution - is a fact! Animals (including humans) do change! I am not here to say evolution does not happen. That would be utterly rediculous. However, what makes evolution NOT A FACT, is the theory of the wide range in diversity of life supposedly resulting from these small changes.
So, please, please, don't point out how "Darwin's finches have modified their beeks depending on theor food source. They are finches, always were finches and always will be finches. The same goes for the various other charts that I have already seen before. As in, the "evolution of the whale", or "evolution of the horse". In every case these charts ALWAYS start with the same type of animal they began with (in other words, as the old saying goes "a horse is a horse, is a horse, of course".
I also realize that there are some cases, like the whale, where we have fossil examples that appear to be "walking whales", or other cases where science seems to "predict" what we should see, if evolution caused large scale transitions. I do want to warn anyone who accepts this open debate something that I have been saying for a long time, and that is...
SIMILARITIES DOES NOT PROVE TRANSITION. However, if that is the best argument that can be produced in order to prove the "pro" in this debate, then know that many people who believe evolution in it's entire theory have often said that it takes the accumulation of the multitude of scientific fields to prove evolution true.
With that being said, whomever accepts this challenge, I hope that you are up for completing the debate in it's entirety, as I looked for similar debates and wasn't impressed with what I have seen on DDO from the most popular of search results.
And, to the voters and commentors, I hope you do not bring your pre-existing prejudices in to your votes (both those are are pro and those who are con).
Thanks you, and I look forward to hopefully seeing the best of the evidences to support the theory of evolution.
Most everyone is probably familiar with a basic understanding of the original theory as proposed by Darwin, but for those who have been cryogenically frozen for over a hundred years, I refer you to the following;
"Darwin viewed evolution by natural selection as a very gradual mechanism of change within populations, and postulated that new species could be the product of this very same process, but over even longer periods of time. This eventual process of speciation by natural selection is illustrated by a sketch drawn by Darwin in his personal notebook nearly 20 years before the Origin of Species was published "
Now, according to the same referenced website, modern evolution theory has actually realized something very important (something that most laymen - non-scientists don't realize) that natural selection is a NEGATIVE affect. Meaning it eliminates "non beneficial" character traits.
"The Modern Synthesis
A major turning point for evolutionary research occurred in the 1930s when Fisher, Haldane, Wright, Dobzhansky, and others, developed mathematical population genetic models to illuminate the genetic mechanisms of evolutionary change (Mayr & Provine 1998). The integration of genetics with models of natural selection shed tremendous light on, and strengthened Darwin's views on, evolution — here was the missing mechanism that introduced new variation into populations via mutation and recombination"
Notice that last sentence (hopefully everyone sees is bold)... the MISSING MECHANISM (in other words, "natural selection" had something missing), as well as "INTRODUCED NEW VARIATION .. VIA MUTATION AND RECOMBINATION"
Most people who aren't in the know, still think that "new variations" are introduced through "natural selection", but as I explained, and this citation confirms, IT DOES NOT!
The funny thing is how scientists are contradicting their own self when trying to explain processes like "natural selection". I have a different website to prove this.
"Because natural selection can produce amazing adaptations, it's tempting to think of it as an all-powerful force"
It clearly states that BECAUSE it CAN (is capable of) producing adaptions....etc.etc.
However, in the very same page, just a few sentences later, in a close paragraph, we have the same scientist telling us...
"Natural selection just selects among whatever variations exist in the population"
Now I can see why laymen (non-scientists) can be easily confused, because even the scientists are confused and as a result confusing to others.
Now, quiet frankly, I could end my argument right there, because of the way this debate is worded, the opposition has to prove not what evolution IS by citing reference after reference about what scientists have found and believe to be true, but actually SHOW these theories in action. And, since science ADMITS that macro-evolution is NOT OBSERVEABLE, then that becomes a nearly impossible challenge to meet (not without speculation and assumptions that are not proven true or false).
But, I won't do that. Because I am already initimately familiar with many of their arguments, I can argue against them without their being an opposition. But don't worry, I won't (and can't) go too far with doing that (because of character limitations).
Going back to the very same website citation (the only one I have posted to this point), we can find just exactly how well science itself views "mutation" as a means for the vast diversity of life forms. (Does mutations occur, and do they change animals, certainly, but you will see that even evolution scientists do not believe this is the answer to diversity of life forms).
Some models of speciation do not include a role for selection of any sort, but rather invoke a key role for chance events. Such models include speciation by polyploidization, genetic drift in stable populations, and founder-events/population bottlenecks. Although such models have a long history in speciation research — for example in relation to speciation of small populations which colonize new islands — clear empirical support for such models in nature or even in laboratory experiments is relatively limited (Coyne & Orr 2004)"
Let me conclude this round (because of certain logistical circumstances, I am limited in what research I am capable of doing) by citing the new "page" in the Berkeley website on evolution.
It discusses "coevolution" where a plant can make an adaptation that affects a herbavoir that eats the plant, causing the herbavoir to change, causing the plant to change again, and so on and so forth.
This, my friends, is called a THEORY, and/or HYPOTHESIS, and quiet frankly, many people have tried using these statements (that are not shown to be proven true or false) to somehow support the idea that evolution is true. Not only does the burden fall upon a person to prove that (macro) evolution COULD explain the diversity of life, but in the real world (not on this actual debate itself), scientists should be proven that it DID, not just that it COULD! And, of course, for things like cosmic evolution (ie the Big Bang) these sort of things will never be proven! EVER! The BEST that science can come up with is to prove it POSSIBLE and that it COULD HAVE happened that way.
Perhaps I worded my debate challenge poorly, because even proving that (macro) evolution provides enough explanation for the diversity of life, it still begs the question DID IT HAPPEN THAT WAY. Well, I will have to stick with the wording of the debate the way it is - and that is find with me, because what I DO know about evolution (which despite what you opponents may believe, is more than most layment) doesn't measure up to the task.
My opponent starts by claiming Darwin’s conception of evolution had natural selection at the focal point of his theory, which is insufficient to establish the resolution. However, this shouldn’t be taken into current consideration. This isn’t a debate about scientific history, but on the current status of evolution, which includes mutation. Just because Darwin didn’t have evolution figured out to a T doesn’t mean anything here and now. As Con quoted, evolution by mutation and natural selection are the forefront of evolutionary theory.
He states scientists are confused on the issue, but his citation is all about clearing up misconceptions about natural selection. Natural selection produces adaptations in a negative sense, not in some guiding hand sense. That was the point of the Berkeley’s article.
He also states that scientists reject the claim that mutations can explain the variation of life. But the first sentence of his quote clearly states they are dealing with “Some models of speciation”. It is only dealing with some models, not making a statement about all models. And second, it’s dealing with speciation, not macroevolution. Speciation is creation of a new species. I assume this isn’t what Con means by macroevolution, as speciation has been observed many times .
Ultimately, Con’s main argument has to do with attacking the history of evolution and misconstructions of evolution (such as claiming the big bang has something to do with evolution), rather than the current status of evolution itself.
My opponent has stated the common creationist claim that macroevolution hasn’t been observed. However, just because something hasn’t been directly observed doesn’t mean it’s unreasonable to believe it. For example, Pluto was discovered in 1930 , yet Pluto’s year is 248 Earth years . If it’s irrational to believe something that hasn’t been observed, then how could we believe in Pluto’s revolution period, or that it even fully goes around the sun? This is because we understand certain conditions of our universe. The same goes for evolution.
One reason to accept macroevolution is because it logically follows from microevolution. Con has already conceded microevolution, he accepts small changes can happen. However, macroevolution is simply the result of many small changes.
Microevolution is analogous to the ability to collect coins and macroevolution is the state of having a large amount of coins. Rejecting macroevolution yet accepting microevolution is like claiming you can collect coins, but you cannot have a large amount of coins. Therefore, Con must show there is a limitation on the number of small changes over time.
Another analogy is outlined in this graphic below.
Therefore, since we know of no limitation, we are rational in accepting macroevolution as an explanation for life.
Fossils provide a snapshot into the past. So, we would expect to see the ordering of fossils in accordance to our evolutionary models.
This is exactly what we see, life goes from simple to complex and the ordering has no marginally misplaced fossils. As Richard Dawkins put it
"Evolution could so easily be disproved if just a single fossil turned up in the wrong date order. Evolution has passed this test with flying colours.” 
The last reason for accepting evolution is the presence of ERVs. These are sequences in the genome that comes from ancient viral infections . If we were to find common ERVs this would be evidence of evolution, it would point to a common ancestor that had a viral infection.
We have discovered that we do indeed share ERVs with other primates.
"In humans, endogenous retroviruses occupy about 1% of the genome, in total constituting ~30,000 different retroviruses embedded in each person's genomic DNA . There are at least seven different known instances of common retrogene insertions between chimps and humans, and this number is sure to grow as both these organism's genomes are sequenced. The picture below shows a phylogenetic tree of several primates, including humans, from a recent study which identified numerous shared endogenous retroviruses in the genomes of these primates . The arrows designate the relative insertion times of the viral DNA into the host genome. All branches after the insertion point (to the right) carry that retroviral DNA - a reflection of the fact that once a retrovirus has inserted into the germ-line DNA of a given organism, it will be inherited by all descendants of that organism.
This is powerful evidence that we have a common ancestor with other primates, which itself shows that evolution has huge explanatory power in regards to the diversity of life.
The resolution is affirmed.
Back to Con.
 Theobald, Douglas L. "29+ Evidences for Macroevolution: The Scientific Case for Common Descent." The Talk.Origins Archive. Vers. 2.89. 2012. Web. 12 Mar. 2012
Also, limitations are observed in scientofic endeavors such as animal and plant breeding. For example, the dairy cow. Breeders have tried increasing the fat contebt of milk peoduced from dairy cows, because a higher fat contebt means that more milk can be processed and produced from the same amount given by the dairy cow. Dairy farmer breeders have reached the highest level of fat content that can be reached. The exact same thing is true with sugar beets. The difference being, instead of more milk able to be produced, we get more sweet sugar, if they could only breed a higher content in a sugar beet, but again, they have reached a limit.
And, since there are these easily verifiable limits, it stands to reason that macroevolution is not logically deduced from microevolution, no matter how simple an analogy is made, evolution is not a simple matter of counting coins. It would be the equivalent of deducing you can make a quarter, if you only gather enough nickels.
I don't recall ever claiming that all scientists do not believe mutations can account for macro scale evolution, not here in this debate or anywhere else. However, there are actually different "camps" of evolutionary scientists, and I am glad you brought up the point. Because there are a group of scientists that believe the mutations occur during the development of the fetus, called evo-devo, because they don't see it occuring any other possible way. This concept says that the mother of the animal evolving hasn't changed but that the inherited evolved trait starts in the fetus and then gets passed on from there. While another camp says it happens to the mother and is passed on that way. There are a few of these distinctions and I hope to post them specifically in one of the following rounds. But the fact remains that all of these differing camps have come up with their theory because they do not believe the other theory possiblw (not in the way that sufficiently explains lifes diversity) and they all deny that natueal selection is sufficient as well.
Speaking of which, you clearly don't understand natural selection of what other scientists have said (recently) about it, because as I tried explaining before "natural selection" only works by removing anything not "adapted" o its surroundongs. Natural selection can not explain a giraffes neck growing, or a turtle having a shell, of wings supposedly showing up on animals that become birds. It ONLY removes animals that can't fly, if wongs are necessary for survival, nor does it cause a neck to stretch when there is a lack of food lower on the ground.
The giraffe, by the way, is a perfect exampke of why macro-evolution is impossible. The giraffes circulatory system is so powerful because it has to pump blood all the way up the neck in to the brain. However, if a giraffe bends his head down (as they do at times, even for grazing), the pressure of the circulatory system would cause their head to explode. However, they have a ballast type system, similar to how submarines work. Therefore, NO giraffe would have survived an elongated neck, wothout the ballast system, and they would have never developed a ballast system without having an elongated neck.
Con states he is using speciation in the sense of one species evolving into another. Again, if this is what Con means by macroevolution, then he is wrong. As this has been observed .
Con states he doesn’t recall claiming that scientists don’t accept mutations as an explanation for the diversity of life. Despite saying in round 2 “Does mutations occur, and do they change animals, certainly, but you will see that even evolution scientists do not believe this is the answer to diversity of life forms”. Then he claims there are two different camps of evolutionary theory. He gives no technical names for these camps nor any sources, but I believe he is referring to the Lamarckian and Darwinian camps of evolutionary thought. If this is true, then his point is moot, as Lamarckism is dead . Nonetheless, even if we were to assume Lamarckism (or whatever else Con might be referencing) is alive and well, this doesn’t mean anything. Scientists may disagree on specific points of evolution, but this doesn’t entail they disagree that macroevolution happened.
Con also reiterates that natural selection isn’t sufficient for macroevolution. Con has misunderstood what I have said. Natural selection basically states those who are better adapted to an environment are more likely to survive and have children. Nobody is claiming it will add information, that is the job of mutations. Natural selection does produce negatively in the sense that those who cannot survive in an environment will die off. I never claimed otherwise, nor has Con’s quote.
I don’t exactly know why Con is focusing on natural selection, as even he stated evolution is much more than natural selection. To quote Berkley “Natural selection is one of the basic mechanisms of evolution, along with mutation, migration, and genetic drift.” . Claiming natural selection isn’t sufficient to explain a macro event is a category error and does nothing to prove Con’s point.
My opponent claims the giraffe’s neck proves macroevolution to be false, as there’s an interdependence on the neck and its circulatory system. However, just because there presently exists co-dependency, doesn’t mean there always has been co-dependency.
As Mark Isaak writes 
“Partial valves would have been useful for reducing blood pressure to a degree. An intermediate heart would have produced enough pressure for a shorter neck. A smaller net of blood vessels in the head could have handled the lesser pressure. As longer necks were selected for, all of the other components would have been modified bit by bit as well. In other words, for each inch that the neck grew, the giraffe's physiology would have evolved to support such growth before the next inch of neck growth. “
So the giraffe neck fails to refute evolution.
Con argues that there are limitations. He doesn’t explain why or how the limitations work, he just gives examples of the limitations of selective breeding. The problem is, selective breeding is very different from evolution by mutation and natural selection. Breeding has an end goal and masters to direct it, which is not so with evolution. Using an example with the milk of the cow: “People breed cows to make lots of milk, without caring a lot about nutrients in the milk. In the wild, as long as the cow can produce enough milk for her calf, the cows with the most nutritious milk are more likely to have offspring that will survive. Also, holding a lot more milk in her udder inhibits the movement of the cow, which in nature would make it harder for her to survive.” 
As the source also says “These differences are caused by people having only one interest in mind”. Therefore, it is wrong to assume that because there are limitations in one area of evolution, that it’ll also be true in all areas of evolution.
Lastly, Con’s counter analogy doesn’t really make sense. He states “It would be the equivalent of deducing you can make a quarter, if you only gather enough nickels.” But, microevolution involves small minute changes, not groups of changes all at once.
My opponent fails to take into account that evolution in the wild and selective breeding are two different things. Furthermore, he hasn’t explained exactly how these proposed limitations work in the first place.The argument remains.
Fossil Record & ERVs
My opponent ignores these contentions. I extend them.
While my opponent acknowledges that the fossil record is a "snapshot" of what existed in the past, he seems to believe that seeing a record of what existed somehow peoves 1) presumptions about what supposedly existed but there is no fossil record for and 2) how these creatures came to exist.
Both 1 and 2 are presumptions, based on the validity of the theory in question. In other words, one must assume evolution is true, in order for the fossil record to prove it is true. Why? Because there is not one single solitary fossil record of a transition of one species changing in to a species that falls into a different classification of higher taxonomy (in other words, show us which exact fish turned into which exact amphibean, or which exact amphibean turned in to which exact mammal, which exact species tuened in to the first bird, etc... and not only which exact species, but show the intermediary steps that took place, now THAT would be undeniablw proof! But there isn't even a single transition that is proposed where one animal turns in to the next aninal through small intermediary changes. What I mean is that all supposed transition involve more than a single evolutionary step, let alone the transition from one higher taxonomy in to another).
And, as far as ERV's (or retroviruses), let me post a summation of the problems with ERV's and why they don't prove evolution.
"a strong case can be made pointing to the view that ERVs were not inserted by retroviruses. They have function, should have been ridden by apoptosis, are different than their ancestral genomes, and it is incredible that the organisms did not die after being infected with so many viral genes. With so many problems, a lot of explaining must be done before using ERVs as evidence for evolution."
How is a "strong case" made? Because of apostosis (a process of the body that kills dangerous cells). Foreign DNA injected into a cell by a virus would surely trigger the cell to commit suicide (apoptosis). So if tens of thousands of ERVs were really introduced by retroviruses, we should expect apoptosis to have ridden most of them long ago. Also, ERV's are functional;
"If ERVs are found to have function, they would be highly unlikely to have come from retroviruses. It"s hard to think that viral DNA could be injected into an ape"s genome and somehow be functional. Evidence has surfaced that they do have function.
One scientist said about junk DNA, of which ERVs are all part:
"The failure to recognize the full implications of this " particularly the possibility that the intervening noncoding sequences may be transmitting parallel information " may well go down as one of the biggest mistakes in the history of molecular biology."
ERVs are important in much of the genome. Does that means ERVs absolutely didn"t come from retroviruses? No, but there are certainly some questions evolutionists need to answer"
All of the above references are from my source reference found here http://evolutiondismantled.com...
(I had to cut much of the article out for brevoty, please read it for details)
My conclusion is that IF ERV's are what evolutionary scientists claim them to be, then it would be a strong case (as is stated by my source article), however these scientists are assuming assumptions that have not been priven to be true, just like many other "proofs" of evolution are either based on assumptions, or just plain outright theories that have no backing evidence to support them. For example, when discussing how complex the eye is, evolutionists will cite the theory about how an eye can develop from a very simple form, gradually into the modern complex form it is in today, but they have no supportive evidence to back up this theory of the development of the eye (just like the developmwnt of genders) and yet it is used as "proof" of evolution.
My opponent accused me of claiming he stated natural selection creates changes. That is not what I said, but if he had read my quotation from the cited website in round 2, he would have known that I said "sciebtists" make this claim, but then they proceed to contradict that claim, here is the quote I am referring to, please reread round 2 for the entire segment
"Because *natural selection* --> can produce amazing adaptations <--, it's tempting to think of it as an all-powerful force"
Also, my opponent completely misses the point about my example of dairy cows having limitations. I thought it was clear from what I posted (please reread it, if needs be) that the limitation is not woth the amoubt of milk that is being produced, but rather the fat content of that milk. The difference being that if two cows produce the same amount of milk, the cow that has a higher fat contebt contributes more PROCESSED milk (from the dairy plant processing the raw milk from the cow). Higher fat content means the dairy farm can dilute it more, or whatever pricess they use (in addition to the pasterization process, that is). This truth is also reflective in the sugar beet plant, which I believe I referenced, and because it has no "evolutionary impairative" as my opponent claims a cow does, I notice that my opponent skipped it.
Also, to ask they "why" or "how" of a natural process, like limitations in small changes, isn't really relevant, because while natural selection does answer a "why" and "how" it really doesn't support the idea of evolution. On the contrary, evolution hints at mutations aiding animals in overcoming envirenmental variables, while natueal selection is more accurately reflected as a peocess of extinction! Seeing that natueal seldction is only a negative process.
Seeing that there is at minimum one more round, leaving my opponent two chances to address the following, I have made it a poibt to pull out the research for my "big guns", in showing that the evolutionary model is not sifficient to explain the diversity of life. These "big guns" being prominent non theistic evolutionary scientists, and what they have said, or better yet, admitted, about evolution.
At this point in time, I would like to thank the person who posted in the commebts what was said by a rather prominebt scientists, in one of his speechs\lectures. I hope to be compiling a list of quotes, someday, including who saod what, what their quslifications are and when they said it (be it a speech or a book). However, I will point out for everybody's sake that the quote I am referring to in the comments of this debate is from over 25 years ago. While, this quote was spoken right around the time I graduated from high school, I would like to add that I was taught, in high school, that the theory of evolution was pretty much fact, and despite not being a Christian atthe timw (and having very little religious background) I felt that what I was being taught was very inadequate for explaining why an animal would need to evolve, if it had everything it needed to survive (safety and food), and if it didn't have everything it needed, how would it have survived long enough to have evolved, when it was being taught that evolution is a very slow peocess! It was very much a conundrum that I felt either science needed to develop more details to it's theory, or that it did have them, and that I would likely be taught them in college. While I haven't taken any natueal sciences in college, I do happen to know that my first guess was the right one! The theory needed to develop better details, but I was actually slightly over optimistic, actually science needs to reinvent it's theory, as attested to by very prominent scientists!
There was a group of 16 prominent evolutionary biologists, that met in Austria, called the Aletnberg 16, who all had differing ideas about the mechanics of evolution but they all agreed that neo-Darwinism had failed in explaining the development of new life forms (as in sprouting the first wings and other similar body forms). This conference happened not even 10 years ago, in 2008.
Also, noted Cambrian paleontologists (as in the Cambrian explosion) James Valentine and Douglas Erwin stated "neither punctuated equilibrium, nor neo-Darwinism (mutations + natural selection) has accounted for the origin of new body plans and that, consequently, biology needs a new theory to explain 'the evolution of novelty' "
There has been new theories developed, by non of the, what I call psuedo-scientists of the web (people who post on YouTube about how "dumb" Creationists are, or people who would debate evolution vs. Creation on DDO) have ever brought up any of these new models, because they are stucj with the old outdated model that they were taught was true.
Some examples of these new models are;
"Self organization" Developed out of a think tank in New Mexica, the Santa Fe Institute, self-organizational theorists claim that biological form often arises spontaneously as a consequence of the laws of nature (what this law is, they don't say). They think "spontaneous self-organizing order, not random genetic mutations, typically provides the ultimate source of new biological forms.
However, this goes against what was discovered in epigenetics shows that it is inherently implausible to think that the specificity necessary to coordinate the movemebts and arrangemebts of billions or trillions of cells present in adult animal forms.
Because I am running out of space, I will have to waot to conclude other theories like "evo-devo", which I dod already specifically mention but did not detail, or the Hox gene theory, or Neutral\non-adaptive evolution and each of their shortcomings. But be clear about this, that I have named no less than 5 theories that ALL agree Darwinian evolution is too flawed for explain the diversity of life!
Again Con misunderstands Berkeley’s saying about natural selection. Natural selection does produce adaptations, just in a negativesense.
He also presents some new arguments. He presents his history about how he came to feel that evolution a wasn’t sufficient explanation for life, talked about a group of people called the “Altenberg 16” and brought up the Cambrian explosion.
Con says was troubled with a dilemma. If an animal has what it needs to survive, then it doesn’t need to evolve. If it doesn’t, then it’s dead. The problem is that this is black and white thinking. Just because an animal might survive to pass on its genes doesn’t mean that it does so as well, on average as another animal. Presenting an example, let’s say there’s a rabbit that can outrun its predator a substantial amount of times. It essentially has everything it needs. Most of the time the rabbits will pass on their genetic code. Now let’s say there is a rabbit with the ability to kill its predator every time, somehow. These rabbits will become prevalent because they are better adapted to their environment. Their chances of success are nigh 100% whereas its comrade’s chances are lower. Both types of rabbits will survive, but one type will survive much much better.
He claims a group of 16 scientists came together and agreed Darwinian evolution is false. Even if this was true, 16 guys are hardly the whole of scientific consensus. Nonetheless, this isn’t actually what happened. The Altenberg meeting was completely blown out of proportion by creationists. One of the participants in the meeting states 
“In real life, the meeting discussed the possibilities for an “Extended Synthesis”[emphasis mine]in evolutionary biology which incorporates development, evolvability, complexity theory, etc. into the old “Modern Synthesis” of population genetics. But in the land of cranks & ID/creationists, the Altenberg 16 meeting has become the latest bit of evidence that evolution is a theory in crisis.”
So, the goal of the meeting was to discuss a possible addition to evolutionary theory, not to overturn it. In fact the agreed upon statement of the meeting shows us that the participants accept modern evolutionary theory.
“...the people at the Altenberg 16 were the friggin academic community! All of them leaders in various evolutionary specialities. And what did they officially conclude at the end of their meeting? Not that evolutionary theory was in crisis, but simply that our understanding is advancing in many areas at once.” [ibid]
It also seems Con is stressing that evolutionists disagree on certain things. This is moot. There may be certain specific details about evolution which are disagreed upon, but this doesn’t follow that evolutionary scientists disagree that evolution is an explanation for the diversity of life. Only about 5% of all scientists reject evolution . For example, Con listed “Self-organization” as a competing theory to Darwinian evolution, but all self organization does is slightly change the way we think about natural selection . It doesn’t overturn Darwinian evolution at all. Other things he listed such as “evo-devo” merely refer to the development of embryos, which again does nothing to refute Darwinian evolution .
Con has clearly misconstrued the supposed “debates” in modern evolutionary theory. Nor has he even tried to show how anything he listed contradicts Darwinian evolution, he merely asserts it.
The Cambrian Explosion
Con brings up the cambrian explosion. He never attempts to explain what it is or why it’s suppose to be a problem for evolution, he just uses an uncited quote of two scientists claiming evolution can’t explain it.
Typically creationists claim the cambrian explosion refutes evolution by stating that it shows complex life developed suddenly (analogous to an explosion).
However, the cambrian event wasn’t the origin of complex life. Early vertebrates were already in existence before this event . So too were complex cells like Eukaryotes  and trace-like fossils .
The seemingly sudden presence of new divergent groups of species can be explained by many factors. For one, hard parts on animals may have evolved due to the number of predators in the precambrian era. Since hard parts are much easier to fossilize, we’d expect to see a “burst” of them around this time. There are also environmental factors which could increase the rate of evolution. Two of many examples are, rapid plate movements affecting the climate  and increased radiation levels .
Furthermore, the cambrian explosion was roughly about 40 million years. This is hardly sudden .
This can hardly be counted as evidence against evolution.
My opponent dropped his argument here.
Con completely misunderstands why I mentioned the breeding of cows. It wasn’t an attempt to respond to Con’s claim about cow breeding, as I said it was merely an example. Rather or not people breed cows for fat content or the amount of milk is totally irrelevant. The same goes for the beet plant. The point is, selective breeding is different from evolution in the wild. Not about the examples presented.
He also states the “whys” and “hows” are irrelevant. This misses the very nature of explanations. Pointing to an example isn’t sufficient to establish the nature of that thing. It’s much like pointing to a falling apple and proclaiming you’ve explained gravity. Without the “whys” and “hows” you have no explanation. Therefore, Con has no explanation of how microevolution can’t build up to macroevolution.
Con says my argument contains assumptions that assume evolution because there aren’t any transitional fossils. However, we actually do have transitional fossils. One of my sources in my original round actually provided numerous examples.
A transitional fossil is a fossil that shares aspects of its biology with its ancestors and descendants . For example Aetiocetus is transitional from Pakicetus to today’s gray whale. Pakicetus has its nostrils on the front of its skull, Aetiocetus has them on the middle of its skull and the gray whale has its nostrils on the top of its head [ibid]. There are also others such as Archaeopteryx, which has avian and dinosaur features . Lastly, the famous Australopithecus afarensis or “Lucy” had the brain the size of a chimpanzee, yet walked upright . All of these would be counted as transitional.
Transitionalfossils.com  contains a good sized list of transtional fossils and these are only a few out of many.
Con states ERVs are not evidence of evolution because some ERVs are functional, yet their functionality would’ve been destroyed by apoptosis. Some portions of ERVs are functional, “..but there are no wholly functional ERVs—only functional components, with the remainder deleted or mutated into non-functionality….any functional components are necessarily post-insertion exaptations, and the fact that they are necessarily insertion means that they can not be part of any 'original design.' The issue of functionality is simply a red herring, when discussing how ERVs necessitate common ancestry.” 
Basically, these functional ERV parts were adapted after insertion. The original genes are still nonfunctional as a result of apoptosis.
Ultimately, Con’s objections are all based on misconstructions of evolution. My arguments still hold weight.
 Morris, Henry M. 1985. Scientific Creationism. Green Forest, AR: Master Books, pp. 80-81.
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