Is Evolution Real?
Debate Rounds (4)
Evolution: "The gradual development of something, especially from a simple to a more complex form" (https://www.google.com...).
Evolution can mean many things and the type of evolution my opponent is discussing is about "how we became who we are today." So they are talking about the evolutionary theory that explains how humans today exist.
a. For starters, evolution does nothing to explain the origin of the universe. So that is already a problem. So it can't explain in full "how we became who we are today." For example, evolution can explain why there are birds with different sized beaks but it can't explain where the birds came from in the first place. That said, the theory does suggest that smaller organisms evolved into more complex organisms. The main issue here is that there is little evidence suggesting that it is absolute correct explanation for why humans exist.
Different kinds of animals have never been observed turning into other kinds of animals. No dog has ever turned into a completely different animal and no ape has ever been seen evolving into a human. In other words, observational evidence is 100% lacking.
b. Now lets turn to the complexity of life. Charles Darwin wrote that "If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed, which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down" (see his book on the origin of species). And quite frankly, this has already been done. For example, the cell is very complex and has 3,000 million base pairs of the letters (A,T,C,G) that make up the DNA. Our bodies have trillions of cells and we make more every second.
Michael Behe sums it up best when he said that "The idea of Darwinian molecular evolution is not based on science. There is no publication in the scientific literature-in journals or books-that describes how molecular evolution of any real, complex, biochemical system either did occur or even might have occurred..."
c. There is also the problem concerning that transitional forms would not have been able to survive. 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?
This is not even to explain the embarrassing fact that we barely have any fossils of these transitional forms. Evolutionist Stephen Jay Gould said that "Most species exhibit no directional change during their tenure on earth. They appear in the fossil record looking much the same as when they disappear."
d. Then there is of course the evidence of the human having around 95% genetic similarity with apes. This does not prove at all that humans came from apes. All this proves is that apes and humans have similar DNA. And the fact that humans having around 95% DNA similarity with apes does not make us 95% ape.
For example, if two paintings looked the same, it wouldn't mean that the one evolved from the other.
That is all I have for now. I look forward to see what my opponent comes up with.
I would like to start be responding to a number of claims you made in your Round One argument.
A) You state that evolution cannot explain the origins of the universe. I agree with this, and it is not what I'm arguing. It may be more clear in this sense: Evolution can explain how humans have developed and become the complex organisms they are today. Hopefully this will clear things up a bit.
In the second part of this point, you say that "observational evidence is completely lacking." This is not true. John Endler preformed multiple experiments on guppies, and by changing the environment they were living in, was able to document changes in the genes and the appearance of the guppies. Due to the short lifespan of the guppies, Endler was able to, in only a few months, document observable evidence for artificial selection and evolution. Similar experiments have been preformed on bacteria and other, short live spanned organisms. (http://www.evolution.berkeley.edu...) These changes are unobservable in organisms such as humans, whose lifespan last upwards of 70 years.
B) In your second point, you quote Charles Darwin, and how in his book The Origin of Species, he seems to disprove his own theory. Unfortunately for you, you neglected to read the following few sentences which state,
"When it was first said that the sun stood still and the world turned round, the common sense of mankind declared the doctrine false; but the old saying of Vox populi, vox Dei, as every philosopher knows, cannot be trusted in science. Reason tells me, that if numerous gradations from a simple and imperfect eye to one complex and perfect can be shown to exist, each grade being useful to its possessor, as is certainly the case; if further, the eye ever varies and the variations be inherited, as is likewise certainly the case and if such variations should be useful to any animal under changing conditions of life, then the difficulty of believing that a perfect and complex eye could be formed by natural selection, though insuperable by our imagination, should not be considered as subversive of the theory." (The Origin of Species, Chapter Six, "Organs of extreme Perfection and Complication)
Here Darwin states that a complex argon, such as the eye, is, to this day, still imperfect. He says that the eye was formed over thousands and thousands of generations, starting with simple, light detecting cells. Over millions of years, tiny changes in the DNA and structure of these cells formed the still imperfect organ called the eye.
C) In your third point, you mention that certain changes would have led organisms to die. Yes, this is true. But, if certain changes led organisms to die, that change would not be passed on through generations of the organisms. Only traits that gave organisms an advantage in surviving and later mating were passed on, and the organisms with the unfavorable traits died or were not mated with. When you bring up the bird-reptile relationship, I must remind you that we are talking nearly 65 million years ago, when birds and reptiles were more similar and had more similar genes. Certain species found it easier to survive with feathers, and others with scales. After 65 million years of change and evolution, they become so drastically different that they are considered two different types of animals. Yet, similarities are still seen. "Like all other reptiles, birds have scales (feathers are produced by tissues similar to those that produce scales, and birds have scales on their feet). Also, birds lay eggs like other reptiles." (http://www.ucmp.berkeley.edu...).
D) In your fourth and final point, you say that just because humans share 95% DNA with apes does not mean we came from apes. No, humans did not evolve from monkeys. Instead, primates and humans share some common ancestors that, at some point, split and evolved into two different species, and , in the case of primate, many more.
Thank you, I look forward to your rebuttal.
a. My opponent argues that evolution "can explain how humans have developed and become the complex organisms they are today."
I understand what my opponent is arguing. However, the fact that evolution can't explain the origin of the first living organism (AKA the supposed common ancestor) severely limits the evolutionists ability to answer the question: "how are there humans now?"
As for the guppies experiment, that was artificial selection. And artificial selection usually involves human intervention. So your example does not support evolution (as defined earlier) at all. And besides, the guppies never became anything other than guppies. So again, nothing here represents evolution. And same thing for the bacteria. The bacteria never became anything other than bacteria. So these experiments do not show evolution as defined in the first round.
b. I don't think Darwin was trying to disprove his own theory. I think he was mentioning what would it take for his theory to be disproved. And I think that what he was worried about has happened.
As for my quote, it came after the stuff Darwin wrote about the eye (http://www.talkorigins.org...). The full quote is "If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed, which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down. But I can find out no such case. No doubt many organs exist of which we do not know the transitional grades, more especially if we look to much-isolated species, round which, according to my theory, there has been much extinction. Or again, if we look to an organ common to all the members of a large class, for in this latter case the organ must have been first formed at an extremely remote period, since which all the many members of the class have been developed; and in order to discover the early transitional grades through which the organ has passed, we should have to look to very ancient ancestral forms, long since become extinct."
In other words, no kind of complex living thing was known to exist like a cell at the time so his theory was safe.
c. My point about organisms dying was that a reptile becoming a bird would not survive in its transitional form. My opponent did not really address what I said. A reptile losing its scales and not having feathers would not survive. So in other words, the transition (reptile to bird) could not have happened since the transitional forms couldn't have survived anyway.
d. My opponent gave a bare assertion about common ancestry. But again, I will say that DNA similarity does not prove that all living things have a common ancestor anymore than the fact that paintings look similar proves that they evolved from each other. The argument from similarity does not prove evolution as defined in round one.
A) No, the theory of evolution does not tell us how the first life form came to Earth, that is not what the theory describes and predicts. Evolution simply is the idea of organisms changing in appearance an structure. Darwin defined his theory as "Decent with modification" (http://www.darwins-theory-of-evolution.com...) which is exactly what is seen in the guppies experiment. Natural Selection and speciation (the creation of a new species) are two different, but very entwined ideas. Allopatric speciation is the most common, and occurs when, let's call it Pop A., is split into two or more groups (Pop A1 and Pop. A2) by some naturally occurring event, and, they are unable to rejoin each other for some time. Over hundreds of year, small, seemingly minute changes is these species DNA would give Pop. A1 different traits from Pop. A2 based on the environment they are now living in. Eventually, if these two groups ever came back into contact with one another, they would be unable to breed, making them separate species. No longer Pop A1 and Pop A2, but Pop B and Pop C.
The creation of a new species is brought about by countless renditions of the guppies experiment, and it would take longer than any of our life times to see the emergence of a new species.
B) At the time Darwin came up with his theory in 1835 soon after the time he landed on the Galapagos Islands, the cell theory had been a working theory ever since their discovery in 1665 by Robert Hooke. In other words, the cell theory had been a working theory for almost 200 years by the time Darwin came up with his theory. Darwin was well aware of the existence of the cell, along with other complex organs, like, once again, the eye. The quote I used from my Round 2 argument shows why just because the existence of complex organs is improbable, it does not disprove his theory.
Darwin wrote "Natural selection acts only by taking advantage of slight successive variations; she can never take a great and sudden leap, but must advance by short and sure, though slow steps." In other words, a complex organ did not suddenly emerge, but was a slow development. There were countless versions of the eye that probably failed and did not allow the individual possessing that version to live long enough to reproduce. That is what that version of the eye is not the one common today. The genetic make up of that version of the eye died along with the individual who was unfortunate enough to have it.
(http://www.galapagosislands.com... and http://www.softschools.com...)
I feel that points C and D have come to close, and I'm satisfied with where I left my argument on both of those points.
Theory: an idea or set of ideas that is intended to explain facts or events
I should add that most well known scientific theories are backed by loads of evidence and support from peer-reviewed scientific papers.
I ask my opponent, if the theory of evolution does not explain the diversity of life we see today, what does? There must be a reason, and while my opponent has spent much time and effort disproving the theory of evolution, but has failed to produce an explanation of his own. With out anything to fill the space of the theory of evolution, my opponents argument disintegrates. There is a reason for the biodiversity we see today, and if you have no alternative to what you've been arguing against, you have no argument. It cannot be chalked up nothing, or that it always was this way. I ask my opponent to please provide an alternative theory to the one I have been arguing, as he has failed to do so as of yet.
a. My opponent agrees with me that evolution cannot explain the origin of life. This was my whole point originally. My opponent said that evolution could explain "how we became who we are today" in their opening argument. They later explained that they meant how "humans have developed and become the complex organisms that they are today." The problem is that that question isn't fully answered if you can't explain where the first life came from.
As for the guppies experiment, that wasn't evolution as defined in the first round. That was an example of artificial selection like my opponent already admitted. Not just that, but the guppies never became anything other than guppies. So no new organism was created. Therefore my opponent has not succeeded in proving evolution.
b. Darwin was aware of the existence of the cell. But they didn't know how complex it actually was. They were pretty much clueless when it came to the different parts of the cell. Darwin's response to complexity does not hold up (it is a bare assertion). Having more time does not make the existence of a more complex organ more probable. Yes, Darwin did say that "there were countless versions of the eye that probably failed..." but this is all speculation. None of this proves evolution as being true.
c. I don't understand why my opponent still hasn't responded to this point. More time does not explain how a transitional form could survive. How could a bird with no scales and no fully formed feathers survive?
d. This point is different than c. This point shows that DNA similarity does not prove common ancestry. And it most certainly does not prove evolution as valid.
My opponent then concludes his argument mentioning that scientific theories are backed by loads of evidence. The evidence that my opponent has provided for evolution (as defined earlier) is DNA similarity and some experiments that proved nothing as already stated. I feel like I have refuted my opponents claims.
As for the question about what theory does explain the diversity of life...I would personally say that intelligent design does. However, this debate is not about intelligent design. So I didn't really want to go into it. This debate is about whether evolution is true or not. So I don't feel a need to talk about intelligent design since that wasn't what I was supposed to do in the debate.
I thank my opponent once again and I look forward to the last round.
As far as the guppies go, they fit into Darwin's model of evolution. Survival of the fittest. Species varied in fitness, and the larger population evolved to survive better.
C) There was never a transitional form. Birds today still have scales on their feet. If there ever was a form that developed with out either scales or feathers, it died very quickly and the traits were not passed on. Instead, this "transitional" form had both feathers and scales, as most birds still do. As a side note, the term "transitional" I don't fell is appropriate. Reptiles did not one day decide, "Hey, let's grow feathers and fly". They were not constantly working towards becoming birds, it was just the path the brought them there. No form is transitional, as every form, even humans, are subject to change.
D) Humans and monkeys are surprisingly similar in their DNA, brain make up, and physical appearance. Humans and chimps share 98.8% similar DNA. (http://www.amnh.org...) whereas we only share about 50% DNA with fruit flies (http://www.askabiologist.org.uk...). By your argument, we are equally related to these two species, or as you may put it, not at all related. Is that really logical to assume that a species we share 98.8% of our DNA with is in no way related to us? This is simply unrealistic.
E) My final point. My opponent has yet to provide a substantial alternative to evolution. Yes, the debate topic is "Is Evolution true?", yet, although the debate should primarily be about evolution, there should be a counter example. You have to back your claims up with an alternative. So far, all my opponent has done is attempt to disprove a century and a half of research and has failed to present an viable alternative to one of the most widely accepted scientific theories today.
I would like to thank my opponent for what has been a very enjoyable debate. I'm thankful for the lack of animosity presented while we had two very different views on a very controversial subject. I hope my opponent feels the same. Thank you.
As for the guppies, my opponent was suppose to prove that organisms developed into more complex forms (macroevolution). The guppies experiment showed artificial selection which is different than what my opponent is trying to prove and no new organisms appeared in this experiment. The guppies always remained guppies.
b. My opponent hasn't said anything more on this point. But I do stand by my original point was that the existence of complex organisms does do some serious damage to Darwin's theory and he (Darwin) even admitted that this could happen.
c. My opponent claims that there was never a transitional form. They even admit that "if there ever was a form that developed with out either scales or feathers, it died very quickly and the traits were not passed on."
That was actually my whole point! The reptiles would have had to slowly evolve over time into birds. This would mean that the transitional forms would not survive making that scale of evolution impossible. I mean, the reptiles would have to lose their scales and then to slowly form feathers in order to become a new species. If they had no scales and no functioning feathers, they would die. So my opponent has affirmed my original point.
As for using the term transitional, I was only referring to the supposed transitional period in which a reptile would evolve into a bird. I wasn't trying to say that the animals make this transition due to their own choice.
d. My argument was never that organisms being similar makes them 100% equal or 100% different. My point was that organisms being similar doesn't prove common ancestry. I originally said that "the fact that humans having around 95% DNA similarity with apes does not make us 95% ape. For example, if two paintings looked the same, it wouldn't mean that the one evolved from the other."
In other words, apes do have very similar DNA, but this doesn't prove they share a common ancestor. They could have a common designer. The evidence can go both ways. But the evidence sure doesn't prove evolution as true.
I recognize that apes and humans have similar DNA, but I wouldn't say that this automatically means we have a common ancestor. The similarity in DNA is expected to to our similar size, shape, and etc...but this evidence could support humans being made similar.
e. My opponent seems to think I have to provide an alternative to evolution. I disagree. The debate was about evolution and bringing up intelligent design would have made the debate a different debate. I don't have to show a counter example in order to show that evolution is not true. That said, I have no interest in disproving years of research, I simply just don't make the same assumptions other people do when they look at the research. My opponent and I look at the evidence from different worldviews and that leads us to coming up with different answers. But the evidence shown in this debate does not prove evolution as a valid theory. And for the record, I am the only one who actually made an opening argument in the first place so I don't think it's fair to say that I should have talked about another theory as well.
I also would like to thank my opponent. This debate has been fun and I certainly feel the same about the quality of the debate as my opponent does.
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