The Instigator
Khaz
Pro (for)
Winning
3 Points
The Contender
Jerry947
Con (against)
Losing
0 Points

Evolution is the best theory for the diversity of life.

Do you like this debate?NoYes+0
Add this debate to Google Add this debate to Delicious Add this debate to FaceBook Add this debate to Digg  
Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 1 vote the winner is...
Khaz
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 5/29/2016 Category: Science
Updated: 8 months ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 420 times Debate No: 92038
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (12)
Votes (1)

 

Khaz

Pro

I saw your debate on this topic with another user, but didn't feel like that person did the argument justice (which isn't to trash him/her - it's just my personal opinion).

If you'd be willing to accept, I'd like to discuss this with you.

Rules:
1) Be respectful.
2) Formulate arguments and responses in bulleted or numbered lists, and respond to all of the opponent's points.

notes:
1) scientific theory - is a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world, based on a body of facts that have been repeatedly confirmed through observation and experiment. Such fact-supported theories are not "guesses" but reliable accounts of the real world.
Scientific theory - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

2) As the title suggests, this debate is about evolution's utility as a theory of biodiversity and not an overall origin of the universe or even life. Evolution doesn't necessarily take a position on whether God is real or any religion is true; its explanatory domain starts when and only when life already exists, and only concerns how that life changes over time. If you want to, we can assume that like got here by supernatural means because the origin of life is inconsequential to evolutionary theory.
Jerry947

Con

I thank my opponent for the challenge and I look forward to a good debate.
Debate Round No. 1
Khaz

Pro

1) Vestiges

Like any scientific theory, evolution makes many predictions that can be used to verify its explanation. Anatomical vestiges are one of the features of modern life that are positively predicted by evolution. For example, I'm sure you've heard about the whale's pelvis, the dog's dew claw, and the wings of emus. While not all vestigial structures are "useless" per se, the point of a vestigial organ is that the function that it fulfills, if any, is diminished from the purpose it originally served. In addition, it may also serve a function far too rudimentary for its relative complexity as an organ. If I may quote a talkorigins article:

"For example, wings are very complex anatomical structures specifically adapted for powered flight, yet ostriches have flightless wings. The vestigial wings of ostriches may be used for relatively simple functions, such as balance during running and courtship displays—a situation akin to hammering tacks with a computer keyboard. The specific complexity of the ostrich wing indicates a function which it does not perform, and it performs functions incommensurate with its complexity. Ostrich wings are not vestigial because they are useless structures per se, nor are they vestigial simply because they have different functions compared to wings in other birds. Rather, what defines ostrich wings as vestigial is that they are rudimentary wings which are useless as wings."
-(http://www.talkorigins.org......)

In case you were wondering how exactly evolution predicts this, allow me to explain. Because natural selection acts only on what traits animals already have, and not to work toward some far-off "ideal", all evolutionary changes happen generation by generation by countless generation. Natural selection acts on very small natural variations within the population, so the phenotypical difference between the animal with favored traits and those with non-favored traits could be only slight. So it would be unlikely for an ostrich ancestor that just completely lost its wings due to a mutation to be favored, but one that wasted just a bit less energy and resources in maintaining wings may be that that little bit more able to procreate and out-mate others and get that smaller wing phenotype spread throughout the population in succeeding generations.

However, since the difference is minuscule and not drastic, anatomical vestiges are bound to be left over, at least for a period of time, as evolution continues to whittle down the size of the wings (or, as is the case in our world, ostriches begin using their wings for other purposes). This can be applied to basically any vestigial structure in any animal.
An arguably better example of vestigiality also from the above page is the species Apterocyclus honolulensis, which has perfectly formed wings underneath coverings (elytra) that are fused together and will not open, rendering them useless.

2) Predictions

You might say that this second point is analogous to "fulfilled prophecies", but for evolution, and I'd argue with much more impressive accuracy. My personal favorite example of this is how a transitional species between tetrapods and earlier fish was discovered only because researchers took the knowledge they already had about when and where species before and after the transition were located, and looked nearby in a geologically intermediate rock layer. Tiktaalik roseae, which is by any measure, intermediate between the two groups of animals, was found in the area they were looking (Ellesmere Island in the Canadian Arctic), in a rock layer that they had predicted within five years of starting the search.

A more famous example of this predictive power of evolution came in Darwin's time, when the man himself predicted the existence of a then-unknown species of insect that could feed off of the nectar of a specific flower. Darwin had been sent specimens of the flower, which has nectar that cannot be reached without a nearly foot-long proboscis. At the time, no such insect was known, but Darwin predicted that it would be eventually found, postulating that the nectary of the flower co-evolved with the proboscis of the mystery insect. Forty years later, it was found.

If you're interested in more examples of this, feel free to go to this link (https://skeptoid.com...). None of that is part of my argument, however. It's just supplemental information in case you're interested. If not, don't worry about visiting the link.

3) Nested Hierarchies

This evidence of evolution is probably the least flashy, but it also incredibly effective once you grasp it. A nested hierarchy is basically when one subgroup fits completely within another group without exception. An example would be that all animals with true feathers fit within the subgroup of birds, and there are no animals outside that group with true feathers. In evolution, this makes sense because an adaptation as relatively complex as feathers would be unlikely to evolve more than once. Evidently it hasn't, because all of the animals with feathers can be traced back to a relatively recent common ancestor from which the trait solely originated.

The important part of this evidence is the "no exceptions" part. Under other theories, like creationism, there's no reason that an animal like a pegasus couldn't exist. However, evolution says that the common conception of a pegasus absolutely will not exist, because it has bird wings on an animal that is too far removed from birds. Another similarly complex adaptation is the mammary glands, which appear nowhere else but in mammals.

It's also interesting to note that even in places where the same solution to a problem evolved more than once independently (flight, for example), it always seems to have happened distinctly in each case. Bird wings are morphologically very distinct from those of bats and obviously insects, so there is no violation of nested hierarchies. Endogenous retroviruses also occur in nested hierarchies. They're basically viruses that were inserted into an ancestor's DNA and stayed over generations. When an ERV is inserted into the DNA of a particular species, all descendants of that species will contain that ERV in that particular spot in their DNA without exception, and no other species will have that particular ERV in their DNA in the same location.

4) I'll use the fourth point to let you make your own case if you so choose. I contend that no other theory explains the diversity or characteristics of life as well as evolution does. If you think your theory (creationism, I presume?) does so better, this fourth point can be used to explain why you think it does. Where do you think evolution fails? Where does creationism do better?

5) Finally, I want to clear up one misconception that you seem to have. It's about this micro- vs. macroevolution distinction that is so often made. Both processes are identical in how they work. It's just that "macro" is over a larger timescale. At some point, this is inevitable, and an understanding of evolution makes this obvious.

Evolution states that evolutionary pressures lead to changes in the allele frequency in a population. Much of this change happens when two previously interfertile populations become reproductively isolated from each other. Once this happens, the two populations may be subjected to different selection pressures, meaning that they undergo completely different changes. After enough of this, the may no longer be interfertile. Once they're no longer interfertile, their gene pools become permanently isolated and can no longer be mixed to "recombine" the populations. As long as they can't do that, the only direction they can evolve is away from each other - becoming less and less similar over time. So even though they share an ancestor, they can eventually be completely different from each other. By any definition, I'd have to assume this is macroevolution.

It's getting really late and my eyelids are getting heavy, so I think it should suffice to end it here. I look forward to your response and a friendly debate.
Jerry947

Con

1. Vestiges

A Vestigial structure is "a structure in an organism that has lost all or most of its original function in the course of evolution, such as human appendixes" (https://www.google.com...). I am giving the definition for those that may not be familiar with it.

Robert Wiedersheim happened to be an anatomist who claimed to have identified 186 vestigial structures in the human body. Ironically, functions for all of the things that he claimed to be vestigial structures were found. So whenever people claim that they found some vestigial structure, that doesn't prove anything except that humans are ignorant beings that don't know everything. Simply because we our ignorant of a function of a specific structure does not mean that the evolutionary theory is supported.

My opponent then sites a website that supposedly talks about ostriches (link only leads to a home page by the way). I don't see how this example helps my opponent's argument. My opponent's source even mentioned several functions that the ostrich wings do. They are used for balance in running, courtship displays, and etc...So the wings do not actually count as vestigial. Besides, if the wings were completely useless, why are the muscles functional, allowing these birds to move their wings?

My opponent then states that "as evolution continues to whittle down the size of the wings (or, as is the case in our world, ostriches begin using their wings for other purposes)." The problem is that this is all speculation (literally no evidence provided) on my opponent's part. Functions for the wings have been thought of. The speculation comes in when we assume that the bird used to be able to fly. It is possible that the creature was always that way. Or it may also be possible that the bird used to be able to fly but lost the ability due to whatever reason. But I don't see how this loss of genetic information would be evidence for macroevolution anyway.

2. Predictions

I was actually surprised to read what my opponent wrote about transitional forms. That is a main problem for evolutionists considering that there is no way that transitional forms would have never survived anyway. For example, evolutionists claim that birds were once reptiles. This means that the animals had to have had scales and then lost them and got feathers. So how would a creature with no scales and not quite having functional feathers survive? It couldn't. So this this part of my opponent's argument isn't going to help them much.

As for the Tiktaalik roseae, I am not sure where my opponent is going with this. I don't see how some fossil discovery helps prove that evolution is the best explanation for the diversity of life.

My opponent then states that none of this is part of his argument anyway. Guess what I have written in point two doesn't do much then.

3. Nested Hierarchies

I was hoping that my opponent would bring this up. Yes, this evidence could support evolution, but the nested hierarchical tree can also easily give evidence for a common designer. The "clear, organized arrangement of living things into groups and sub-groups is evidence for intentional forethought. For instance, man-made vehicles are obviously intelligently designed, and yet we can organize them into a clear tree structure, with groups inside groups. For instance, we have the main groups: airplanes, buses, trains, ships, and automobiles. Inside of automobiles we have cars, trucks, minivans, SUVs, jeeps, etc" (http://www.christcreated.com...).

So my opponent asserts that "under other theories, like creationism, there's no reason that an animal like a pegasus couldn't exist. However, evolution says that the common conception of a pegasus absolutely will not exist, because it has bird wings on an animal that is too far removed from birds."

This is not even close to being true. In the intelligent design theory, birds and the other animal would have been created very different and hence there would never be a pegasus.

4. Yes, I am a creationist. But there are a lot of misconceptions about creationism. That said, I believe that a creator created life in the beginning of time and then the creatures he created naturally reproduced and etc...New breeds of animals formed due to adaption and due to mating. The only main difference between the intelligent design theory and the evolution theory is that we creationists do not believe in a common ancestor.

As for what creationism does better, well, evolution doesn't offer an explanation for how life began and it can't explain the existence of morality and etc...Creationism does do these things and I think it also does a better job accounting for the complexity of living organisms.

5. There is a huge difference between microevolution and macroevolution. Microevolution is an "evolutionary change within a species or small group of organisms, especially over a short period" (https://www.google.com...). Macroevolution is "evolution on a scale of separated gene pools. Macroevolutionary studies focus on change that occurs at or above the level of species, in contrast with microevolution, which refers to smaller evolutionary changes (typically described as changes in allele frequencies) within a species or population" (https://www.google.com...).

In other words, micro focuses on small changes within specific kinds of animals (Example: Darwin's finches) and macro focuses in on organisms changing into new organisms.

I thank my opponent for a good round. Lets have another one!
Debate Round No. 2
Khaz

Pro

1)
Robert Wiedersheim happened to be an anatomist who claimed ... not mean that the evolutionary theory is supported.

They are used for balance in running, courtship displays, and etc...So the wings do not actually count as vestigial.

As per the definition you gave yourself, vestigial does not mean useless or without function.
I also made a point to quote the article on the logic of calling ostrich wings vestigial.

"For example, wings are very complex anatomical structures specifically adapted for powered flight, yet ostriches have flightless wings. ...The specific complexity of the ostrich wing indicates a function which it does not perform, and it performs functions incommensurate with its complexity."
-http://www.talkorigins.org...

The problem is that this is all speculation (literally no evidence provided) on my opponent's part.

The point of that whole paragraph was to explain why evolution predicts the existence of vestigial organs.

"However, since the difference is minuscule and not drastic, anatomical vestiges are bound to be left over, at least for a period of time, as evolution continues to whittle down the size of the wings (or, as is the case in our world, ostriches begin using their wings for other purposes)."

It wasn't the retelling of some orthodox evolutionary narrative, but an explanation of why this fact is evidence, namely that it is directly predicted by evolutionary theory.

I'm also disappointed to see that you didn't address my second example of vestigiality, which I definitely see as being stronger on an intuitive level.

2)
This means that the animals had to have had scales and then lost them and got feathers.

It most certainly does not mean that. This misconception seems to come from the kind of Pokemon model of evolution - one previous, "inferior" form is done away with completely in favor of the evolved "superior" form. This is just wrong. There's no reason that feathers and scales couldn't coexist on early bird ancestors, especially considering that they coexist on modern birds.

So how would a creature with no scales and not quite having functional feathers survive? It couldn't.

Or, as I said, the two traits coexisted and an animal dominated by scales gradually evolved into an animal with mostly feathers.

As for the Tiktaalik roseae, I am not sure where my opponent is going with this. I don't see how some fossil discovery helps prove that evolution is the best explanation for the diversity of life.
Tiktaalik was a discovery prefaced by a very specific prediction based on what evolutionary theory had previously uncovered. Essentially, evolution said they should find a proto-tetrapod on Ellesmere Island, and so a small team went and actually found it. Predictive power is crucial in any scientific theory.

My opponent then states that none of this is part of his argument anyway. Guess what I have written in point two doesn't do much then.

Actually, no, I was saying that the information contained in the link I gave you wasn't part of my argument. As I said:

"If you're interested in more examples of this, feel free to go to this link (https://skeptoid.com......). None of that is part of my argument, however. It's just supplemental information in case you're interested. If not, don't worry about visiting the link."

3)
"...but the nested hierarchical tree can also easily give evidence for a common designer. The "clear, organized arrangement of living things into groups and sub-groups is evidence for intentional forethought. For instance, man-made vehicles are obviously intelligently designed, and yet we can organize them into a clear tree structure, with groups inside groups. For instance, we have the main groups: airplanes, buses, trains, ships, and automobiles. Inside of automobiles we have cars, trucks, minivans, SUVs, jeeps, etc"

This actually is a great time to illustrate my point further. Yes, we can agree that those machines for transportation were intelligently designed, but they actually bolster my argument. See, the point of my nested hierarchies argument was that there is a clear pattern in complex derived traits with no exceptions.

Let's take the example of a jet. If we were to make a nested hierarchy including jets, it might look like this:

machines_________________
| machines used for transport
| | ...that fly______________
| | | ...and have jet engines_
| | | | jets_______________

What I was saying was that, assuming for the sake of argument that machines are subject to evolutionary theory, we should never expect to find some example of something with jet engines that is not a flying machine used for transport. This is because the jet engine is too unlikely to have formed exactly in the same way more than once over the course of evolutionary history.

However, since we know that machines aren't subject to evolution, we can find violations of the nested hierarchy. My favorites of these are those people who attach jet engines to their bikes (https://www.youtube.com...) or cars (https://www.youtube.com...), for example. Both are machines used for transport, but they violate the nested hierarchy at the point of "...that fly".

Seriously, this become much easier to grasp with the real-life example of a nested hierarchy in our DNA, ERVs (https://youtu.be...), which I also noticed you didn't address.

This is not even close to being true. In the intelligent design theory, birds and the other animal would have been created very different and hence there would never be a pegasus.

This is just your personal opinion. What I was saying is that while evolution prohibits such violations of nested hierarchies, creationism can account for them easily (e.g. "That's just how God designed them").

4)
evolution doesn't offer an explanation for how life began

It's not supposed to. Evolutionary theory has a very specific role, and that's to explain how life changes once it already exists. The origin of life is studied in the field of abiogenesis, which I'm not here to discuss. What you're doing is akin to criticizing atomic theory for not explaining where atoms come from. It's not supposed to. As I said in the first post of this debate:

"...this debate is about evolution's utility as a theory of biodiversity and not an overall origin of the universe or even life. ...its explanatory domain starts when and only when life already exists, and only concerns how that life changes over time."

and it can't explain the existence of morality

It's not necessarily supposed to, but a sort of extension of evolution can explain morality pretty well. There are few things that all humans see as universally abhorrent, but killing other humans in the "in-group", for example, wouldn't make much sense in evolutionary terms. Societies that were alright with killing their own members en masse wouldn't survive as long unless strict prohibitions were placed on killing. This is what we see; killing is generally seen as justified in self-defence and in the defence of one's kin, but not for fun. Early humans, as a social species, relied heavily on each other to survive.

5)
In other words, micro focuses on small changes within specific kinds of animals (Example: Darwin's finches) and macro focuses in on organisms changing into new organisms.

I'm well aware of what the distinction is, and stand by what I said. They're the same process on different time scales. Your last sentence is something I want to specifically clear up - macro- focuses on changes from one species to another. Species is an objective term with a decent (although not unanimous) definition. Whatever the controversy, I'd say any scientist would agree that two animals of opposite sexes that can never produce fertile offspring together cannot be the same species, so we'll use this definition.

So, once one ancestral group has given rise to two daughter groups that can never produce fertile offspring with each other, by any credible definition, speciation has occurred. As "macroevolution" is defined by your own definition as "at or above the level of species" and "on the scale of separated gene pools" (and two groups of animals that cannot interbreed with each other and produce fertile offspring are, by definition, separated), the above scenario has to constitute macroevolution.

I eagerly await your replies, and thanks for taking time to discuss this with me so far.
Jerry947

Con

1. Vestigial Structures

My definition of vestigial structure was "a structure in an organism that has lost all or most of its original function in the course of evolution, such as human appendixes."

In other words, the structure is vestigial if it has no function or if it basically has lost all of its function. So the ostrich wings do not count as vestigial structures since their wings do serve multiple purposes like my opponent has already admitted. Yes, the wings do not allow the creature to fly. So what? That doesn't make the wings vestigial since the wings serve many other purposes.

And evolution fails when it comes to the supposed existence of vestigial structures because the ignorance of man is the problem. Like I said, Robert Wiedersheim's list of vestigial structures were refuted. All 186 of those structures on the list had functions. We humans just couldn't figure out what they were for the longest time. I bring this up again since my opponent pretty much dropped the argument.

My opponent says that "It wasn't the retelling of some orthodox evolutionary narrative, but an explanation of why this fact is evidence, namely that it is directly predicted by evolutionary theory."

My opponent thinks that evolution has whittled down the size of ostrich wings so that they could use them for other purposes. Good for him. But my opponent has only stated a bare assertion. So for now, all we know is that ostriches can't fly yet their wings serve other purposes.

As for the second example my opponent gave, they only spent a single sentence discussing Apterocyclus honolulensis. If they want to expand on that point a little, I could address it further.

2. Predictions

I said last round that transitional forms would have died off during the supposed evolutionary process. My opponent disagrees with me. They write "This misconception seems to come from the kind of Pokemon model of evolution - one previous, "inferior" form is done away with completely in favor of the evolved "superior" form. This is just wrong. There's no reason that feathers and scales couldn't coexist on early bird ancestors, especially considering that they coexist on modern birds."

I think there is very good reason to doubt the evolutionary theory here. A reptile evolving into a bird would have to slowly lose most of its scales and then slowly gain feathers. They wouldn't just coexist right away and hence the transitional form would not be able to survive.

My opponent then states that "Essentially, evolution said they should find a proto-tetrapod on Ellesmere Island, and so a small team went and actually found it. Predictive power is crucial in any scientific theory."

I would appreciate some links or some kind of information on this matter. Just saying that evolution predicted something is pretty vague. And the links my opponent gave were just links to home pages of some websites.

3. Nested Hierarchical Tree:

My opponent states that "this actually is a great time to illustrate my point further. Yes, we can agree that those machines for transportation were intelligently designed, but they actually bolster my argument."

For the record, my opponent losses the point as soon as they admit that something is intelligently designed. The illustration obviously represents intelligent design and the nested trees in the fossils represents that as well.

Then they claim that "since we know that machines aren't subject to evolution, we can find violations of the nested hierarchy." I am not sure if I would call these violations. I would say that humans created different groups of machines and some of them resemble each other and some of them look more different than each other.

As for DNA, my answer is literally the exact same thing as I would say for your last point. Nested hierarchical trees do not have to indicate common descent. They could easily indicate a common designer as well.

My opponent says "This is just your personal opinion. What I was saying is that while evolution prohibits such violations of nested hierarchies, creationism can account for them easily (e.g. 'That's just how God designed them')."

My opponent seems to forget both of us interpret the evidence differently. The nested tress can either show common ancestry or intelligent design depending on what worldview we bring to the table. So we both have opinions based on the same evidence.

4. Evolution

My opponent asked me what evolution couldn't explain. I mentioned a few things. I wasn't tying to get them to prove abiogenesis or where morality came from. I was simply answering their question.

5. Micro Vs Macro

My opponent thinks that microevolution is the same process as macroevolution. The problem is that macroevolution has never been proven. The evidence used to support it is DNA similarity, nested trees in the fossils, and etc...My opponent has brought them up but as we can see, the evidence can also support a creator.

Thanks to my opponent. It has been fun so far.
Debate Round No. 3
Khaz

Pro

So the ostrich wings do not count as vestigial structures since their wings do serve multiple purposes like my opponent has already admitted.

As your own definition states, the ostrich wing counts as vestigial because it has lost all or most of it original function. Again, they are clearly designed to be wings - "The specific complexity of the ostrich wing indicates a function which it does not perform, and it performs functions incommensurate with its complexity." This is a key quote that you shouldn't be glossing over. That's a big part of the evidence that it is vestigial.

Robert Wiedersheim's list of vestigial structures were refuted. All 186 of those structures on the list had functions.

Firstly, my quick Google search said that he found only 86, not 186. Secondly, I haven't been given a source for the claim that they were actually all found to be functional, even after searching for a short while myself.

But my opponent has only stated a bare assertion. So for now, all we know is that ostriches can't fly yet their wings serve other purposes.

No, as I said before, the point of that paragraph was to explain why evolution predicts vestigial structures. I'm presenting evidence of evolution, and so I was making sure to cover all my bases and explain why it is that vestigial organs are evidence. I repeat again: the sole purpose of that paragraph was to explain, in case you didn't know, why vestigial structures are predicted by evolution.

As for the second example my opponent gave, they only spent a single sentence discussing Apterocyclus honolulensis. If they want to expand on that point a little, I could address it further.


There isn't much more to it. Beetles of that species have perfectly designed wings underneath wing covers that do not open.

I'm also very frustrated that the link I keep posting still only redirects to the homepage, so I'm going to try a different page (http://daphne.palomar.edu...)

Another example is the beetles from the genus Colophon, which have elytra (wing coverings) that do open, but the wings underneath are useless. I mean, just look at them: (http://www.biodiversityexplorer.org...)

This condition is called brachyptery, which is explained here (https://en.wikipedia.org...)

A reptile evolving into a bird would have to slowly lose most of its scales and then slowly gain feathers.

You keep saying this, but you haven't explained why feathers and scales can't coexist.

I would appreciate some links or some kind of information on this matter.

Gladly (http://tiktaalik.uchicago.edu...)
This link explains what I'm trying to say quite well. There are a couple of web pages (so you have to click on the green buttons at the bottom to continue to the next page), which isn't ideal, but it has the information I was talking about plus more.

For the record, my opponent losses the point as soon as they admit that something is intelligently designed.

I "admitted" that man-made machines are intelligently designed... I don't see why that loses me points.

I am not sure if I would call these violations. I would say that humans created different groups of machines and some of them resemble each other and some of them look more different than each other.

No, they are violations. I get the feeling you do not fully understand exactly what this argument is. The nested hierarchies in evolution occur when one complex trait occurs only within a specific hierarchy of other traits. For example, wings with bird-like complexity only occur in birds and appear nowhere else in the animal kingdom. Note that this applies to complex traits, and not the animals or themselves.

Man-made objects defy the nested hierarchies because we can mix and match parts, no matter how complex, from one hierarchical tree to another. In evolutionary theory, this is not possible. If one lineage develops a complex organ, it is far too unlikely that another lineage develop the exact same organ independently, so all complex traits should be found only in clades - that is one ancestor and all of its descendents.

As for DNA, my answer is literally the exact same thing as I would say for your last point.

It wasn't about DNA, it was about endogenous retroviruses. These viruses insert their DNA into our cells' DNA, where sometimes it sticks without actually triggering any normal kind of viral reaction. As a result, these insertions are passed down through generations in the same spot in or between genes in our DNA. These occur in nested hierarchies, and can be used to confirm phylogenetic trees.

I highly recommend you watch the video I linked in the previous round regarding ERVs.

This video explains it at a snail's pace, and hopefully can help you understand exactly what my argument is. If not, let it be on record for the voters that I'm doing my best (https://www.youtube.com...).

My opponent seems to forget both of us interpret the evidence differently. The nested tress can either show common ancestry or intelligent design depending on what worldview we bring to the table. So we both have opinions based on the same evidence.

My quote had a very specific meaning. I was saying that your objection to me saying that a pegasus could exist given creationism is based on your personal opinion and not in the "theory" of creationism itself. In contrast, evolution positively says that they could not exist, because a mammal with avian wings would violate the nested hierarchy that exists and potentially falsify evolution, or at least a part of it.

The problem is that macroevolution has never been proven.

In science things aren't proven. Only disproven. It's worth noting that despite over a century of scrutiny, evolution has not been disproven. A big part of all of science is justified inferences. Based on the established age of the Earth and the mechanisms known to act on living things, as well as the fossil record and evidence in our DNA (such as the fact that our Chromosome 2 is largely identical to two chimpanzee chromosomes when fused, leading to the conclusion that a fusion event happened in our chromosomes between our divergence from chimps and the rise of modern humans, (http://www.evolutionpages.com...)). Just like you make plenty of justified inferences based on evidence in your everyday life, science is allowed to as well. Of course, the difference is that science's inferences are always subjected to much harsher scrutiny, yet still manage to survive.

My opponent thinks that microevolution is the same process as macroevolution.

I was saying that they are based on the same processes, and I stand by what I said. According to UC Berkeley:

"Microevolution happens on a small scale (within a single population), while macroevolution happens on a scale that transcends the boundaries of a single species. Despite their differences, evolution at both of these levels relies on the same, established mechanisms of evolutionary change..."
(http://evolution.berkeley.edu...)
Jerry947

Con

1. Vestigial Structures:

My opponent states that "they are clearly designed to be wings." As I recall, that is something a proponent of intelligent design might say. Aside from that, I think that my opponent is assuming a lot here. It is quite possible that the wings were always there to serve other purposes (balancing and etc...). But even if they did lose the ability to fly, this wouldn't prove evolution as a valid theory.

Then my opponent questions the list that Wiedersheim came up with. I found a few sources that might help. Although "Wiedersheim's originally published list contains 86 items, later interpretations enlarged his list to 180 vestiges" (https://en.wikipedia.org...). The zoologist Horatio Newman also said "in a written statement read into evidence in the Scopes Trial that 'There are, according to Wiedersheim, no less than 180 vestigial structures in the human body, sufficient to make of a man a veritable walking museum of antiquities" (https://en.wikipedia.org...).

You can also read about it here: http://www.apologeticspress.org...

Lastly, my opponent writes that "No, as I said before, the point of that paragraph was to explain why evolution predicts vestigial structures. I'm presenting evidence of evolution, and so I was making sure to cover all my bases and explain why it is that vestigial organs are evidence."

Yes, and my point was that there are no true vestigial structures since functions are always found (eventually). The ostrich wings do have functions (not flight) and therefore are not vestigial.

As for the Beetles, your third source says this: "In some species however, wings that are vestigial in the sense of not retaining any function related to flight, may have other functions, such as organs of aposematic display in some Orthoptera and Phasmatodea. Brachyptery occurs commonly among insects. An insect species might evolve towards brachyptery in reducing its flight muscles with their associated energy demands, or in avoiding the hazards of flight in windy conditions on oceanic islands, in which flying insects are prone to drowning. Brachyptery also is common in ectoparasitic insects that have no use for wings, and inquiline insects with socially parasitic life strategies that do not require functional wings" (https://en.wikipedia.org...).

Your own source admits that the wings are only vestigial in the sense of having no function related to flight. But they are not truly vestigial since they do have other functions. Therefore my point remains valid.

2. Transitional Forms

Then it is said that "but you haven't explained why feathers and scales can't coexist."

I have done this but I am happy to do it again. A common reptile has no feathers. When the creature supposedly starts to evolve into a bird, it has to slowly loose scales (not completely) and then to slowly gain feathers. So the creature would eventually come to a point where it could not remain in the water (due to lack of scales) and then it couldn't fly (due to incomplete feathers). The creature would die off easily. Therefore transitional forms could not have survived in the first place.

As for the Titaaliks, I did some more research since you posted some working links. I found all kinds of interesting things. Here is a video: https://www.youtube.com...

What happened was that "the discovery of fossil tracks in the Zachelmie mountains of Poland, in rocks dated twenty million years earlier than the Canadian find, forced an embarrassing second look" (http://www.examiner.com...).

I mean, literally everyone started to question these findings. Statements about this findings are listed below:

"They force a radical reassessment of the timing, ecology and environmental setting of the fish-tetrapod transition, as well as the completeness of the body fossil record."5
"[It] will cause a significant reappraisal of our understanding of tetrapod origins."6
"[They] could lead to significant shifts in our knowledge of the timing and ecological setting of early tetrapod evolution."7
"We thought we"d pinned down the origin of limbed tetrapods. We have to rethink the whole thing."8
"That"s surprising, but this is what the fossil evidence tells us."9
"These results force us to reconsider our whole picture of the transition from fish to land animals."10

Source: http://creation.com...

This creature found in 2004 was not a transitional creature and we have to be careful when we look at the evidence before jumping to conclusions.

3. Intelligent Design

My opponent says "that man-made machines are intelligently designed... I don't see why that loses me points."

All I am saying is that when you use an analogy to show evolution and instead it shows intelligent design, that makes the analogy help me more than it does my opponent.

My opponent states "Man-made objects defy the nested hierarchies because we can mix and match parts, no matter how complex, from one hierarchical tree to another. In evolutionary theory, this is not possible. If one lineage develops a complex organ, it is far too unlikely that another lineage develop the exact same organ independently, so all complex traits should be found only in clades - that is one ancestor and all of its descendents."

I still don't see what the big deal is here. You can mix and match parts of any hierarchical tree to another (even with evolution). Creatures have a lot in common when considering what their made of and etc...

My opponent says that "wings with bird-like complexity only occur in birds and appear nowhere else in the animal kingdom. Note that this applies to complex traits, and not the animals or themselves."

I would say that humans creation is not much different in a sense. Machine like complexity will only occur in machines and will appear no where else in human creation.

4. Endogenous Retroviruses

I took a look at the video. I thank my opponent for finding links that actually work this round. That helps me out a lot. Aside from that, a study "revealed that retroviral sequences in the human genome encode tens-of-thousands of active promoters; transcribed ERV sequences correspond to 1.16% of the human genome sequence and PET tags that capture transcripts initiated from ERVs cover 22.4% of the genome" (http://creation.com...).

The article later states that "These ERVs aid transcription in over one fifth of the human genome! "These data illustrate the potential of retroviral sequences to regulate human transcription on a large scale consistent with a substantial effect of ERVs on the function and evolution of the human genome." This again debunks the idea that 98% of the human genome is junk, and it makes the inserted evolutionary spin look like a tacked-on nod to the evolutionary establishment. These results support the conclusions of the ENCODE project, which found that at least 93% of DNA was transcribed into RNA."

We currently do not know if the similar sequences are functional. But like I said earlier, functions are usually found. Human ignorance is the real problem. Many of the DNA labeled as Junk DNA have had actual functions and there is no reason to doubt that we will find functions for the other DNA still in question.

My opponent states that "My quote had a very specific meaning. I was saying that your objection to me saying that a pegasus could exist given creationism is based on your personal opinion and not in the "theory" of creationism itself."

The theory of intelligent design proposes that a creator made all of life. And a Pegasus couldn't exist simply because the creator didn't make that a possibility. I don't see how this is just my opinion. If a creature doesn't exist, then it wasn't created by an intelligent designer. It is pretty simple logic here.

5. Micro Vs Macro

My opponent says something cool. They say that "In science things aren't proven. Only disproven."

That is very true. However, the evidence they provide for macroevolution could again be used to support an intelligent designer. The evidence of the chromosome two doesn't prove common descent. All it proves is that humans have very similar DNA to apes. This could easily mean that a God created humans and apes similar. The evidence could literally go both ways.

While I agree that science is allowed to make inferences, people keep claiming that macroevolution is fact when the evidence could equally support a God as well. And that, I have a problem with.
Debate Round No. 4
Khaz

Pro

My opponent states that "they are...did lose the ability to fly, this wouldn't prove evolution as a valid theory.

What I was referring to was the specific complexity of the feathers and muscles that match those of flying birds. Feathers, most notably, are incredibly complex and used in flying in most other cases where they exist (excepting, of course, other flightless birds).

And obviously I never claimed that this fact alone proved evolution because, as I said, science doesn't prove things.

"Then my opponent questions the...vestigial structures in the human body, sufficient to make of a man a veritable walking museum of antiquities'"

I must have missed the part about his original list being expanded, that's my fault.

Anyway, I still await a list of the functions attributed to all of these organs that supposedly were uncovered. Judging by the rhetoric of your source and the fact that they provided no citations, I'm suspicious of the accuracy. I have no doubt many and maybe most of the organs have been assigned functions, but just a cursory glance at some of the organs listed on the Wikipedia page showed that several of the ones I chose at random still don't have a well-established function.

Yes, and my point was that there are no true vestigial structures since functions are always found (eventually).

Obviously we're using different definitions of vestigial. At any rate, that is quite a bold claim to make, saying that all vestigial organs will eventually have a function assigned to them.

As for the Beetles...is common in ectoparasitic insects that have no use for wings, and inquiline insects with socially parasitic life strategies that do not require functional wings"

If you'll note that the article I gave you was not about the beetles, but brachyptery in general. Neither of the insects used as examples in the article were the beetles I showed you, which were Apterocyclus honolulensis and several members of the genus Colophon, the former of which has fused wing covers over functional wings, and the latter of which have functional wing covers over Brachypterous wings.

(http://daphne.palomar.edu...) The left side of this page has the first beetle and mentions its functional wings covered by fused elytra.

(http://www.biodiversityexplorer.org...) The photo on the left in this link is the second example, with wings that are reduced vastly from the size that other beetles have.

In fact, the excerpt you gave yourself gives several reasons for the evolution of brachyptery and also acknowledges that many of the cases of brachyptery are totally vestigial in the sense that they have no function. I suspect that at least one of these above beetles fit that mould.

I have done this but I am happy to do it again. A common reptile has no feathers. ... it couldn't fly (due to incomplete feathers). The creature would die off easily. Therefore transitional forms could not have survived in the first place.

I finally found where you're misunderstanding this. First off, there's nothing in evolution that says one trait has to completely or even mostly disappear before new traits can evolve. As such, birds didn't evolve from just "common reptiles," with only scales, the reptiles that birds evolved from would have had feathers before they could fly.

It's already well-established that many theropod dinosaurs had feathers or proto-feathers, including velociraptors (http://science.sciencemag.org...), Sinosauropteryx (http://news.nationalgeographic.com...), and Archaeopteryx (which I'll even cite a creationist source for, since Mr. Gish at least got the part about its feathers right, while not much else on this page) (https://www.icr.org...).

My favorite piece of indirect evidence (although it could be seen as direct, I suppose), is the fossil Oviraptor that is brooding her eggs like a chicken. Without feathered wings to cover the nest, a position like this (https://www.newscientist.com...) would not be of much use (https://www.q-files.com...).

So not only were the first animals to have early versions of feathers not birds, they weren't even avian dinosaurs and much closer to these "common reptiles" that you reference.

What happened was that "the discovery of fossil tracks in the Zachelmie mountains of Poland, in rocks dated twenty million years earlier than the Canadian find, forced an embarrassing second look"

This displays a fundamental misunderstanding of what "intermediate" means. I certainly know I didn't claim that it was the one link from fish to tetrapods, but I can't speak for anyone else. The point of this piece of evidence wasn't necessarily that Tiktaalik is the one and only transitional animal. No, as the heading suggested, it was that scientists predicted that they'd find an animal morphologically between fish and tetrapods on this particular island, and that they then went and found it where they expected. It was the predictive power of the theory, because predictive power is one of the most important aspects of a scientific theory (and part of the reason that creationism doesn't qualify).

The claim that Tiktaalik has somehow been "dethroned" by this finding of earlier footprints is not accurate. It still represents a near perfect morphological intermediate within the time period expected. The only thing that may happen is that it is no longer considered the first proto-tetrapod, but it still is a proto-tetrapod by any measure. The earlier footprints could well have been from tetrapods (which is still highly debated, by the way, but we'll assume your creationist commentators are correct), but that doesn't matter because nothing in evolutionary theory says that tetrapods couldn't have evolved earlier. It could be the case that these earlier tracks represent the first tetrapods, and Tiktaalik represents a second or third transition from water to land, because the fact that it is morphologically transitional is not in dispute.

I will repeat again: Tiktaalik is a clear transition that was discovered only because a team of researchers knew what data had already been collected and knew where to look based on the fossil record. I was not using it as an example of the first proto-tetrapod because we don't know that it is. It is simply an illustration of the predictive power of evolution.

All I am saying is that when you use an analogy to show evolution and instead it shows intelligent design, that makes the analogy help me more than it does my opponent.

As I explained before, the analogy you gave helps to explain my piece of evidence. It showed that systems that are subject to intelligent design are not constrained by nested hierarchies like evolution is. Here's a video explaining why since I'm running out of characters and apparently haven't been able to articulate myself in a way that will get you to understand (https://www.youtube.com...). In fact, have two: (https://www.youtube.com...).

And I'll also try one more time to explain this myself.

Starting with an arbitrary example, we know that all animals with hair or fur lay (or possess) amniotic eggs. Then, all animals with amniotic eggs have four limbs (tetrapods). All tetrapods have vertebrae, and all vertebrates have notochords and eukaryotic cells. Outwardly there's no reason for this perfect hierarchy to exist. You will not find an animal that has amniotic eggs that does not also have a notochord. You won't find an animal with fur or hair (or feathers for that matter) that does not have four true limbs. You also will not find an animal that lays eggs with hard shells that are not amniotic, or without four limbs, vertebrae, and etc... .

All you'd have to do to blow a huge whole in evolution would be to find a couple examples of violations of these nested hierarchies.

Machines, however, don't fit. There's no way to arrange them to form a perfect, unviolated nested hierarchy. There are no sweeping statements you can make about machines' traits because they aren't subject to descent with modification except in the loosest sense. I can easily pop a jet engine (which, in evolution, would only exist in flying machines with cylindrical cockpits, wings, wheels, etc...) on my car and produce a machine that violates a nested hierarchy.

This is because intelligent designers can mix and match parts from different machines to produce more machines, whereas evolution only builds on what already exists in an animal's ancestors, and adds to it. This is why all vertebrates are chordates, which are all eukaryotes, while not all machines with wheels necessarily share any characteristic other than wheels. Evolution can't tinker to mix and match parts, and that's why we don't find truly mix-matched parts in animals today.

The point of the nested hierarchies argument is that the nested hierarchies we see in nature are indicative of an evolutionary sequence. If we know the specific traits of any animal we can always, without fail, trace the rest of its classification. You can't take a specific trait of a machine and derive the rest of its broader characteristics; we know all diapsids are amniotic, tetrapodal vertebrates with bilateral symmetry and eukaryotic cells, but not all things wheels also have engines or a composition of metal or any other trait other than wheels.

Descent with modification. Evolution only builds on what already exists and can't borrow from neighboring branches like intelligent designers can.

*

You didn't at all address my point about the hierarchies in ERVs, and instead construed it to be something about junk DNA that I didn't mention.


As far as your last paragraph, all I can say as that it seems that your God went to great lengths to make it look like we evolved.


Since this is my last round, I thank you for the civil debate and wish you well.
Jerry947

Con

I will quote my opponent and then respond to what he wrote underneath of it.

"And obviously I never claimed that this fact alone proved evolution because, as I said, science doesn't prove things."

I think my opponent and I agree on the first point. The complexity of the wings do not prove evolution. Though, we still disagree on the fact about whether the wings count as vestigial or not. However, I will extend my previous arguments and leave it at that.

"Anyway, I still await a list of the functions attributed to all of these organs that supposedly were uncovered. Judging by the rhetoric of your source and the fact that they provided no citations, I'm suspicious of the accuracy. I have no doubt many and maybe most of the organs have been assigned functions, but just a cursory glance at some of the organs listed on the Wikipedia page showed that several of the ones I chose at random still don't have a well-established function."

The second source I showed that functions were found for all of the 186 structures. That said, the source only mentions a few structures. We would probably have to buy Wiedersheim's original book in order to see the full list.

"Obviously we're using different definitions of vestigial. At any rate, that is quite a bold claim to make, saying that all vestigial organs will eventually have a function assigned to them."

Well, considering that functions have been found for most of the structures we thought were vestigial, I don't think the claim is so bold to make.

"In fact, the excerpt you gave yourself gives several reasons for the evolution of brachyptery and also acknowledges that many of the cases of brachyptery are totally vestigial in the sense that they have no function. I suspect that at least one of these above beetles fit that mould."

The except I gave listed several functions. They are only vestigial in the sense that they do not work as a means for flying.

"I finally found where you're misunderstanding this. First off, there's nothing in evolution that says one trait has to completely or even mostly disappear before new traits can evolve. As such, birds didn't evolve from just 'common reptiles,' with only scales, the reptiles that birds evolved from would have had feathers before they could fly."

No, you are misunderstanding me. I am not saying that the scales have to completely disappear. The problem is that enough of the scales disappear so that the creature could no longer live in the water. Not all of them have to disappear though. And the feathers also would not have been fully formed. So the creature would die off easliy.

"It's already well-established that many theropod dinosaurs had feathers or proto-feathers, including velociraptors (http://science.sciencemag.org......), Sinosauropteryx (http://news.nationalgeographic.com......), and Archaeopteryx (which I'll even cite a creationist source for, since Mr. Gish at least got the part about its feathers right, while not much else on this page) (https://www.icr.org......)."

No, it has been established that a bird was found. Your creationist source says that "It has been asserted that Archaeopteryx shares 21 specialized characters with coelurosaurian dinosaurs. Research on various anatomical features of Archaeopteryx in the last ten years or so, however, has shown, in every case, that the characteristic in question is bird-like, not reptile-like."

Your first and second sources seem unsure. It seems that there is still a lot of debate on the subject.

"The point of this piece of evidence wasn't necessarily that Tiktaalik is the one and only transitional animal. No, as the heading suggested, it was that scientists predicted that they'd find an animal morphologically between fish and tetrapods on this particular island, and that they then went and found it where they expected."

Ah okay. I thought you were still focusing on transitional forms when I wrote that.

"It was the predictive power of the theory, because predictive power is one of the most important aspects of a scientific theory (and part of the reason that creationism doesn't qualify)."

No, we just don't disagree on as much as you thought we did. Creationism does not take issue with some of the things evolution predicts. Like I told you earlier, the only issue is with macroevolution (including transitional forms) and common descent.

"As I explained before, the analogy you gave helps to explain my piece of evidence. It showed that systems that are subject to intelligent design are not constrained by nested hierarchies like evolution is. Here's a video explaining why since I'm running out of characters and apparently haven't been able to articulate myself in a way that will get you to understand."

Again, I disagree with you. The clear, "organized arrangement of living things into groups and sub-groups is evidence for intentional forethought. For instance, man-made vehicles are obviously intelligently designed, and yet we can organize them into a clear tree structure, with groups inside groups. For instance, we have the main groups: airplanes, buses, trains, ships, and automobiles. Inside of automobiles we have cars, trucks, minivans, SUVs, jeeps, etc."

I know that you tried to refute what I said by bringing up a bike with an engine on it (or something like that), but that isn't a violation of the nested tree.

"All you'd have to do to blow a huge whole in evolution would be to find a couple examples of violations of these nested hierarchies."

What about the eye that an octopus has? For instance, "the octopus has an eye much like a human, but they are so distantly related according to evolutionists that they must say this type of eye evolved twice independently" (http://www.christcreated.com...).

"This is because intelligent designers can mix and match parts from different machines to produce more machines, whereas evolution only builds on what already exists in an animal's ancestors, and adds to it. "

Well, the intelligent design theory would only state that things were created in the beginning and then the creation builds off itself.

"Descent with modification. Evolution only builds on what already exists and can't borrow from neighboring branches like intelligent designers can."

Remember the octopus eye? Evolutionists literally have to say that the eye evolved twice independently.

"You didn't at all address my point about the hierarchies in ERVs, and instead construed it to be something about junk DNA that I didn't mention."

Yours points were kind of confusing when you moved away from your original rule which was to formulate arguments in numbered lists or to use bullet points. I got a little mixed up myself and was trying to figure out what you were tying to argue half the time.

"As far as your last paragraph, all I can say as that it seems that your God went to great lengths to make it look like we evolved."

Saying that something looks similar is one thing. To say that the evidence of the chromosome 2 proves macroevolution is just not fair/true.

"Since this is my last round, I thank you for the civil debate and wish you well."

Same to you! It was a descent debate.
Debate Round No. 5
12 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by MagicAintReal 8 months ago
MagicAintReal
btw, I'm voting on this on behalf of the voter's union
Posted by Jerry947 8 months ago
Jerry947
Wow, I didn't even realize I did that. That is pretty funny...
Posted by MagicAintReal 8 months ago
MagicAintReal
Hey Jerry, at the end of the debate you said it was a "descent" debate...that was hilarious if you did it on purpose...if not, it's ironically funny.
Posted by Jerry947 8 months ago
Jerry947
You have nothing to worry about when it comes to the voters. With a debate like this, either no one will vote or an atheist will vote Pro. Or a creationist will vote Con. But there aren't many active creationists voters on here...
Posted by Khaz 8 months ago
Khaz
Just a couple points that were left open that I couldn't otherwise respond to:

"The problem is that enough of the scales disappear so that the creature could no longer live in the water."

Evolution doesn't say that birds evolved from scaled animals that lived in the water.

And your comment on octopuses needs addressing, too. Yes, human and cephalopod eyes are similar because they evolved to address a common problem, but they are still clearly different enough to not violate nested hierarchies. In fact, some scientists have argued that there was a sort of "proto-eye" in the common ancestor of our branch and theirs (http://genome.cshlp.org...). It's far from a settled question in evolutionary theory.

As much as I'd like to keep talking about this, I'm gonna try to stop and let the voters make their judgments for the rest of the things I'm leaving unaddressed. Thanks again for a great discussion.
Posted by Jerry947 8 months ago
Jerry947
Sounds good. I will accept the debate now.

PS: I will post my rebuttals whenever I get the time. So don't expect them right away after you post your opening argument.
Posted by Khaz 8 months ago
Khaz
Alright, I'll have my opening argument posted by tonight if you make your first round post just an acceptance of the debate.

As far as alternatives, that's up to you. Maybe each of your rebuttals can contain an alternative explanation where applicable? Honestly it doesn't matter to me.
Posted by Jerry947 8 months ago
Jerry947
Okay, thanks for clearing things up for me. I will accept the debate but will let you post the first argument. I think that would be the best way to go this time.

Do you want me to provide an alternative to the evolutionary theory? Or do you just want to focus on evolution (which is perfectly fine by me).
Posted by Khaz 8 months ago
Khaz
By "over time", I mean over the long history of life. In hundreds of millions of years, "macroevolution", as you put it, would be what causes change. Biodiversity has to do with all the differences in different forms of life, and the debate is whether or not evolution provides the best explanation of how this came to be. I know we disagree on this issue, so there's no question about that. So yes, I'm basically arguing FOR common descent and "macro"-evolution.
Posted by Jerry947 8 months ago
Jerry947
Can you summarize what exactly you would be arguing? I still don't get what you mean by "this debate is about evolution's utility as a theory of biodiversity."

By biodiversity, are you referring to macroevolution or microevolution? They both arguably cause variety in life. I have no issue with microevolution causing diversity in life but I do have a problem with people saying that macroevolution causes diversity.

If the debate is about you proving microevolution causing biodiversity...then we already agree with each other.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by MagicAintReal 8 months ago
MagicAintReal
KhazJerry947Tied
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:Vote Checkmark--3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:30 
Reasons for voting decision: RFD here: http://www.debate.org/forums/miscellaneous/topic/88269/