The Instigator
Pro (for)
5 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
0 Points

Evolution is supported by scientific evidence

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Post Voting Period
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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/22/2013 Category: Science
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 910 times Debate No: 42803
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (1)
Votes (1)




This debate is about wether or not evolution is supported by scientific evidence. While I have the burden of proof, I want to ask my opponent to start this round.

No trolling
No semantics, please use sources to back up definitions of words.
BOP is on Pro (me)
Con starts this round.


Thank you, jh1234I, for issuing the general challenge for this argument. I would like to ask if pro would like me to skip the final round so as to allow both parties the same number of rounds for argumentation? My opponent will also note that I will be using wikipedia as a source. They may rest assured that I will primarily use areas of articles which are clearly cited, but who's citations link to scientific articles that can only be viewed if one decides to forfeit a ridiculous amount of money. I hope this will be acceptable. If not, I will attempt to back up my arguments with other sources.

On to the actual debate: The most obvious argument against evolution is that macroevolution (the origins of novel organism designs, evolutionary trends, adaptive radiations and extinctions.) (1) has never actually been observed, despite scientists' best efforts to bring it about in a laboratory setting. There have been claims of the in-laboratory creation of entirely new species (usually defined as a group of organisms which does not normally produce fertile offspring with other groups of organisms and is not itself normally infertile) (2) through evolutionary processes, but most of these have remained unverified. The most famous example of the creation of a new species was with fruit flies, but this was due to the lengthy breeding of fruit flies to produce the microevolutionary change of a preference for mating in the dark (3). That is to say, the flies genetics would likely be compatible with other "species," but the slight preference differences made this unlikely.

Furthermore, despite the fact that evolution dictates that there should be a continuous and obviously visible change from one species to another, to another, and so on in the fossil record. However, this is not the case. Paleontologists are continually unable to find any continuous fossil record that clearly illustrates the change from one species to another. Perhaps the most significant example is what is known as the "Cambrian Explosion." During this period, extreme numbers of species seem to have suddenly sprung into existence, with no evidence present regarding their ancestors. Richard Dawkins, perhaps one the the most well known advocates of evolution's scientific soundness, remarked that "It is as though they were just planted there, without any evolutionary history." (4) Many other examples can be cited, but that may beat at the point too hard.

Finally (for this round), I shall address vestigial organs. Vestigial organs are often cited as evidence of evolution; and yet, the use for such organs is often discovered after it is proclaimed to be vestigial (for instance, the appendix and the tonsils were both thought to be vestigial, but we now know both to be useful in fighting disease). (5,6) If my opponent were to wish to use the concept of vestigial organs as evidence that new species arise from Darwinian evolution, I submit that they must provide an example of an organ that is definitively vestigial.


I breathlessly await my opponent's response.
Debate Round No. 1


Thanks to Fatso for responding.
I will first refute Fatso's arguments, before moving on to my own.

1. Macroevolution has never been observed

Macroevolution,or the production of new species, has been observed. For example, a new species of goatsbeards, a type of wildflower, produced fertile offspring. However, the new species can only mate with other plants of the new species, but not the normal type of goatsbeards. [1] The goatbeard species appeared naturally without tampering and breeding by people. [1]

2. Lack of transitional fossils/contineous fossil record

The argument that there are gaps between fossils is bunk. For example, many transitional fossils have, indeed, been found. [2] Transitional fossils are not a direct decendent of one organism and what created the next. They just have to have features from both species, and be consistent with the predictions of evolution.[2] Also, saying that gaps in the fossil record means that evolution is false is fallacious. By that argument, your brain does not exist because we cannot observe it, even if there is evidence of it existing. The scientific method works this way: evolution is currently supported by evidence, which is why it is in textbooks. If evidence is against evolution, the theory is changed to fit the new evidence.

3.Cambrian explosion

The Richard Dawkins quote was quote mined/taken out of context. He was actually saying that the "sudden appearance" of organisms was actually caused by the imperfections of the fossil record.[3] Also, the cambrian explosion was caused by evolution, and there WAS evidence of their ancestors. Multicellar complex species have existed before the cambrian explosion, so the cambrian explosion did not create all of them.[4] Also, there were transitional fossils leading up to the cambrian explosion, such as lobopods, between anthropods and worms.[4] The cambrian explosion was hardly sudden, and estimates put it between 5-40 million years. [4] This is evidence that it was caused by evolution.

4. Vestigial organs

Vestigial organs do not have to be useless. They just have to be a trace lost by something that disappeared, like leg bones in snakes. While leg bones in snakes or remanents of eyes in blind cave fish may have a use, they are still vestiges because they were left behind from evolution and used to serve more purpose than now. [5]

Now, to the evidence for evolution.

A. Useless genetical material

The human genome project has found useless genetical material, such as instructions for making a tail and other organs that are not present on the human body anymore. [6] This is evidence for evolution because it shows that, because we no longer need a tail to balance ourselves, a mutation that prevents humans from growing tails will not be harmful, but rather will be neutral. Because it was a neural mutation, individuals with the mutation are just as likely to survive to reproduce as the ones without. This is why humans no longer have tails.

B. Observed speciation

If we do observe macroevolution, and the observation was proven to be true, then it is pretty strong evidence for evolution. The logic is like this:

P1: If macroevolution is observed, it is most likely to be true
P2: Macroevolution is observed
C: Macroevolution is most likely to be true

A new species is defined as a group of organisms that can reproduce and give fertile offspring. For example, different races of humans are not species because they can produce fertile offspring. However, if there were to be a new species that can only produce fertile offspring if it mates with the same species, it is a new species.

Knowing that, we know that the goatbeard example I stated above is speciation, or macroevolution, because the new species of goatbeard can only produce fertile offspring when breeding with the new species of goatbeard.




I would like to ask my opponent if the evolution this debate is about is implied to be Darwinian evolution (the physical change of organisms over time guided by natural selection)? In any case, my following arguments rely on that point.

1. The source my opponent has provided lists a number of examples of speciation, which is indeed evidence of evolution. It is not, however, evidence of Darwinian evolution. I would request that my opponent provide clear evidence of Darwinian macroevolution.

2. The points my opponent has made regarding the existence of transitional fossils stand. So does the point that gaps in the fossil record do not disprove evolutionary theories. However, so does my original point that a continuous, complete change from one species to another has not been found in the fossil record. Furthermore, even if it had, it would not be evidence of Darwinian evolution.

3. All my opponents points regarding the Cambrian explosion stand, except for the final one, that being that the length of time that the "explosion" took place over is evidence of (Darwinian) evolution.

4. My opponent seems to suppose evolutionary theory is correct in the writing of this section. In any case, as they don't seem to intend to use vestigial organs as a point of argument, I see no reason in debating that point.

A. My opponent argues that inactive genetic material in humans that, were it active, would produce a tail is evidence that humans are descended from something with tails, and this point stands. However, they then go on to explain this change in terms of Darwinian evolution, without providing evidence that this was indeed the reason for this change. I would ask my opponent to provide such evidence, if possible.

B. All my opponent's arguments regarding observed speciation as evidence of evolution in general stand. However, no evidence is provided for Darwinian evolution.
Debate Round No. 2


Sorry for forgetting to say this last round: Yes, you can get an extra round, because I forgot to put it in the rules. Don't post new arguments, though. Only reutations and conclusions.

This debate, is indeed, regarding darwinian evolution.

1. and 2. Con states that speciation and transitional fossils is not evidence of darwinian evolution until I say it is evidence for it or come up with something else. It is evidence for darwinian evolution because it shows that it CAN happen, and the fossil record says it did. For example, we have seen transitional fossils between birds and reptiles, and mammals and reptiles, which was exactly how darwinian evolution predicted it. [1]

2. Con states that transitional fossils stand, but the argument that there was no complete and contineous change between species also stands. The problem is, there is no easy way to dig up every fossil in the world without digging archeological sites everywhere, which means that it is not evidence against darwinian evolution, and does not make darwinian evolution "not supported by scientific evidence".

3. When I wrote the argument, I meant that all of the points I made were evidence that the cambrian explosion was caused by darwinian evolution.(S&G gong to con! Sory fo badd gramr and spelingz confusion to con!) The time that the explosion took was evidence that it was caused by evolution because evolution needed time: It is not "multicellar organisms popping out of nowhere".

4. As con concedes this argument, I will not address it.

A. Con states that I have to prove that darwinian evolution was indeed the reason for this change. The genetics to produce a tail present in the human body was likely caused by darwinian evolution because it states that humans had a common ancestor as other primates, which had a tail. This is further proven by the transitional fossils that show humans did have a common ancestor as primates.[1] If we know what can cause tail genes in humans and that it is the only possibility (apart from the possibility that we evolved from another tailed animal), and we know that what can cause tail genes in humans already happened, then it implies that that was likely the cause.

B. Addressed in 1. and 2.



1. Pro states that speciation and transitional fossils are evidence of Darwinian evolution because they show that Darwinian evolution is possible, and the Darwinian evolutionary theory predicts this. I would submit that any evolutionary theory would have predicted this, and that both examples are clear evidence of EVOLUTION, but not of Darwinian evolution.

2. Pro states that a lack of evidence for Darwinian evolution and a lack of evidence against it does not contribute to it being not supported by scientific evidence. I would respond that, as Pro has the burden of proof, it most certainly does contribute to Darwinian evolution not being supported by scientific evidence.

3. Pro states that the Cambrian explosion is evidence for Darwinian evolution because it took time for species to evolve. I would argue that evolution taking time is axiomatic, and that it is simply evidence for evolution, not Darwinian evolution. I am also not certain whom pro is quoting.

A. Pro seems to be arguing that the evolution of primate ancestor to human was linear. I do not dispute this point. Pro, however, seems to be conflating evolution in general with Darwinian evolution. I would remind pro that Darwinian evolution is the evolution of an organism over time guided by natural selection. The example Pro has given here contains no evidence of this point.

I. Finally, I would say that as Pro has provided ample evidence of evolution in general, but does not seem to have provided any definite evidence for Darwinian evolution, it cannot be logically argued that the latter is supported by scientific evidence.
Debate Round No. 3


Thanks to Fatso for responding.

1. If we define darwinian evolution as "What Darwin said happened", then the transitional fossils are evidence for darwinian evolution. It shows that it can happen, but does not show whether or not it happened the way Darwin said it did. However, the fossil record, as I said earlier, confirms that it happened the way Darwin said it happened: That reptiles evolved from birds, etc.

If we define darwinian evolution as

"A theory of biological evolution developed by Charles Darwin and others, stating that all species of organisms arise and develop through the natural selection of small, inherited variations that increase the individual's ability to compete, survive, and reproduce. Also called Darwinian theory."[1]

Then it DOES confirm darwinian evolution perfectly.

2. Con has misrepresented my argument. I was trying to explain that the gaps in fossils does not make me fail my burden of proof, as it is impossible to dig up every fossil and it is not evidence against Darwinian evolution. Con's logic is this:

P1. Darwinian evolution requires a contineous fossil record
P2. There are gaps in the record
C. Darwinian evolution is not supported by scientific evidence

The logic does not follow. The only way for it to follow is for us to add an assumed premise.

P1. Darwinian evolution requires a contineous fossil record, or else it is most likely not supported by scientific evidence
P2. There are gaps in the record
C. Darwinian evolution is not supported by scientific evidence

But if we add an assumend premise, premise 1 will be wrong, as one single objection (that does not disprove evolutionary theories because it is not really sound, as we found some of those missing links and transitional fossils already (in round 2), and there might be more) does not make me fail my burden of proof, even if I concede the point, which I will not.

3. I said that the time and the transitional fossils were evidence that the cambrian explosion was caused by evolution, not that the cambrian explosion was evidence for darwinian evolution. I was trying to prove that it is not a valid objection to evolution in other words. It was a rebuttal, not a positive argument. I wasn't quoting anyone, I was just trying to make the words in the quote stand out.

A. I said "humans have a common ancestor as primates", not "humans evolved from primates" so what I said was not linear.
There are many examples of natural selection.
For example, the rat snake adapts to their surroundings through natural selection. Rat snakes that have a mutation that turns them yellow might be beneficial in a desert, but not when in an urban area.[2] That is an example, right there.
Another one is pesticide resistance in insects. While the cause for the selection was artificial, humans were not purposefully breeding them, so it is technically natural selection happening in an artificial environment. Insects that have mutations that allow them to resist pesticide have been shown to survive and reproduce. [2]



1. As Pro as already confirmed the definition of Darwinian evolution in round 3 in response to my inquiry in round 2, I see no reason to discuss conclusions based on it being defined as "what Darwin said happened."
Regarding the agreed upon definition, pro claims that transitional fossils "...confirm [D]arwinian evolution perfectly." And yet, they provide no evidence for the natural selection referenced in the definition they have just provided.

2. Pro states that the logic of my argument flows like this:

P1. Darwinian evolution requires a continuous fossil record.
P2. There are gaps in the fossil record.
C. Darwinian evolution is not supported by scientific evidence.

I would revise this to be:

P1. Scientific proof of Darwinian evolution within the fossil record requires fossilized examples of a continuous change from one species to the next, along with evidence that this change was driven by natural selection.
P2. No continuous changes from one species to the next are known in the fossil record, and no evidence has been provided to suggest that changes observed in species via the fossil record were caused by natural selection.
C. Darwinian evolution is not supported by scientific evidence.

As this is the last round and pro cannot respond, it will be up to the readers to decide if this progression is sound.

3. As pro has agreed that no evidence supporting Darwinian evolution is present in this section, I will not address it.

A. Pro finally provides some evidence that relates to natural selection. However, reading pro's source for this information, one will realize that it simply offers up natural selection as a plausible explanation for differences or changes in a species; the definite reasons for these are not actually known.

Finally, I would like to thank jh1234l for providing the challenge of this debate, and for being a worthy opponent.

I hope to participate in further debates with you.
Debate Round No. 4
1 comment has been posted on this debate.
Posted by Ragnar 2 years ago
Good opening. Con has a harder task, and pro has politely given them one extra round.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Concade 2 years ago
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Total points awarded:50 
Reasons for voting decision: I found the weight of Pro's evidence to be more convincing as support for Darwinian evolution.