Is it reasonable to question the theory of evolution?
Debate Rounds (4)
For this debate, I will not necessarily be trying to prove evolution is false, nor will I be trying to prove there is a god. For this debate, I will simply be trying to prove that it is reasonable to question the theory of evolution. The burden of proof is on me. My opponent will attempt to prove that my arguments are not reason enough to question evolution.
(Theory of) Evolution - the belief that the species of life on earth came about gradually over time through mutations with the aid of natural selection, and that all species share a common biological ancestor. When not used in a biological sense, evolution can also refer simply to a gradual change over time.
Natural Selection - the idea that the species most adapted to their habitats are the most likely to survive, and visa-versa.
Reasonable - appropriate, fair, and/or sensible
Round One: Acceptance, questions, and opening statements only
Round Two: Opening arguments only
Round Three: Rebuttals
Round Four: Summary and closing statements (no new arguments)
- Follow round structure
- No semantics debating, kritiks, or trolling
- No ad hominem attacks
- No forfeiture. If a situation occurs where one must forfeit, it is imperative that the situation be made know to the other side. The debate structure may be changed if this happens.
Hello. I accept your challenge!
- Round 2: I will make my arguments and my opponent will rebut them
- Round 3: I will offer counter-rebuttals and my opponent will defend his/her side
- Round 4: We will make our summaries as originally planned
First, I would like to thank my opponent for accepting this debate. Remember, I am not necessarily trying to disprove evolution. I am just trying to prove that it is reasonable to question the theory of evolution.
Opening Statement: While the theory of evolution may seem solid at first, questionable science and gaping holes prove it's not as rock-solid as many believe.
1. Complexity of Life
There's no denying that life is wonderfully complex. Everything from tiny, single-celled bacteria to the enormous blue whale shows an incredible complexity of life that continues to astonish scientists. For example, spiders produce an incredibly strong sticky substance known as silk. Researchers are looking to make armor for it, because by its weight, spider silk is stronger than Kevlar. 
Let's get on a smaller scale and talk about DNA. Using only four building blocks known as nucleotides, an incredibly thin strand holds all of the essential information about a particular species. DNA is only three nanometers (3x10^-9 meters) wide, but scientists at Harvard were able to store roughly 700 terabytes of information into just a single gram of DNA. Because it is able to store so much information in so little space, DNA is far beyond any storage system we as humans have designed.
Another amazing thing is our own body's ability to heal itself. Blood is typically a liquid, but it possesses the ability to clot and form a gel-like substance. Again, this happens through a complicated process known as coagulation. Scientists have been working on a "healing" plastic that works in a very similar way to the way blood clots.
There are many other things I would like to talk about that show life's incredibly complexity, but I simply do not have the time. However, consider this: Is it reasonable to conclude that incredibly complex yet incredibly effective systems came about by random chance, yet humans, the most intelligent beings on the planet, are astounded by their complexity?
2. Some things shouldn't have evolved
The Gastric Brooding frog is a species of frog thought to be extinct, though its embryos have been cloned. However, while it was still existent, many biologists noted its incredibly unique and unparalleled reproductive system. The frog used its stomach for a womb. While the baby tadpoles are growing up in the mother's belly, the mother does not eat. The mother's stomach bloats so much, the lungs collapse and the frog breathes through its skin. When it is time for the baby frogs to be born, the mother vomits them out.
What makes this so remarkable is how incredibly far this is from any other reproductive system. "It just seemed to many zoologists absolutely impossible... There were frequently insinuations that somehow we were wrong."In order to evolve such a system, an organism would have to make drastic changes. Something of this sort could not evolve slowly or gradually. Evolutionist Michael J. Tyler says, "The habit is totally effective or it fails completely." However, in The Origin of Species, Charles Darwin says, "Natural selection acts only by taking advantage of slight successive variations; she can never take a . . . leap."
Now take a look at sexual reproduction as a whole. Most evolutionists believe that life originated with single-celled bacteria. Bacteria reproduce through a process known as asexual reproduction, which does not involve other partners. However, sexual reproduction does involve two partners, and is a relatively complex system. Bacteria can reproduce rapidly, but sexual reproduction is notably slower and more time-taking. It doesn't stand to reason that organisms that can reproduce very well with no help from other organisms would evolve a much more complicated system, as sexual reproduction doesn't seem to have any special advantages whatsoever.
Now take a look at the eye. The eye is a very astonishing feature of any organism. It uses a special gel called the vitreous and special nerves to interpret light in order to see. However, the first organisms had no eyes. Again, it doesn't stand to reason that organisms would evolve a complex organism to interpret light, when they had no idea such a thing existed.
Again, there are many other things I would like to talk about, such as how there are aquatic mammals when supposedly mammals evolved to live on land. However, I have a limited amount of time (and characters).
3. Questionable Fossil Record
Many evolutionists will tell you that the fossil record is substantial evidence towards evolution. However, it really may be quite the opposite. If evolution were true, then we should see fossils of animals gradually appearing throughout all of Earth's history. However, the fossils tell a very different story.
Almost all of the fossils of animals living today we have discovered come from a very short time period known as the Cambrian Explosion. However, this suggests the sudden appearance of species, not the gradual appearance as the theory of evolution proposes. If many species of life appeared suddenly, and evolution was a fact, would it not stand to reason that life could evolve relatively rapidly?
However, for all the species of life today, there is a substantial lack of "missing links". A living species that is the direct link between two species has never been found. However, there is no reason why there should be none living today according to the theory of evolution.
It is also worth noting that the supposed "missing links" to humans are really not conclusive. When it comes to the fossils found that supposedly link apes to humans, the majority of fossils found are only teeth or other bone fragments. While these are interesting, they are far from conclusive. One cannot prove the existence of a species from a few small bone fragments. Complete skulls, let alone complete skeletons, are very rare.
A huge uproar was created at the discovery of a fossil known as "Ida" that supposedly was the missing link to humans. However, I found multiple sources showing how this media buzz was unfounded and that Ida was not the missing link.
That's all I have time and room for. I look forward to seeing your rebuttals.
Before I begin, I want to clarify my position in this debate. I will attempt to demonstrate that my opponent's arguments lack sufficient reason to doubt evolution. I am not arguing that the Theory of Evolution should never be questioned. That said, let's have some fun!
I will now respond to my opponent's arguments in the order they were presented.
1). Complexity of life
My opponent discusses various complex, seemingly impossible details of life that we see in animal species around the world. Pro then asks if it is reasonable to believe that these "incredibly complex yet incredibly effective systems" came about through chance. The only reason that these systems are still alive today is because they are incredibly effective. This is how natural selection works. Any species whose system is ineffective at keeping itself alive and is not suited to live in Earth's environment will eventually die out.
One of the fundamentals of evolution is the ongoing transition from simple to complex. Life has been around close to 4 billion years . To give this some practical meaning, it only took 20 million years for the Sinonyx, a land mammal, to evolve into the Dorudon, a fully aquatic mammal which closely resembled the modern whale . If this complex change can happen in just 20 million years, imagine how much life can change in billions of years. Given that amount of time, I believe it is perfectly reasonable to expect the level of complexity that we observe today.
2). Some things shouldn't have evolved
Evolution is a theory, meaning it is the best possible explanation for the diversity of life we see today. There will always be a few cases that we cannot immediately explain. But for the vast majority of life on Earth, there are evolutionary reasons that explain their physical, psychological and biological characteristics which is why over 99% of scientists accept that evolution is true .
In the case of the reproductive system of the Gastric Brooding frog, while quite bizarre, there are surely evolutionary reasons to explain this habit. While we may not currently be able to pinpoint a specific cause, we can conclude that some sort of change in the environment caused the female frogs to begin holding their babies inside their stomach. Most frogs spawn their babies in a pond, leaving them vulnerable. Perhaps other animals had begun preying on the mother"s eggs upon spawning them, forcing the mother to keep its eggs in a safer place until the babies had matured to tadpoles. Just because we do not currently understand exactly what caused the Gastric Brooding frog to adapt this peculiar habit does not mean evolution is any less reliable.
My opponent writes that it is nonsensical that asexual organisms (which reproduce relatively fast) would evolve into sexual organisms (which reproduce slower), writing "...sexual reproduction does not seem to have any special advantages whatsoever." There are plenty of advantages to sexual reproduction over asexual reproduction. With sexual reproduction, you allow the offspring to inherit a greater variety of traits, since two parties are contributing their genetic information. This allows for the inheritance of new traits which may be beneficial to survival. Rather than resulting in a genetic duplicate through asexual reproduction, sexual reproduction allows for greater variation, which makes the species more prepared to evolve. Varying offspring also betters the species" chance of survival since certain offspring may have better defenses against diseases than others, allowing those with better defenses to pass on their genes. Under asexual reproduction, a disease could wipe out an entire species since they all contain the same biological weaknesses .
With respect to the eye, the early organisms would not have known to develop eyes. No animal ever knows how their species is going to evolve. The eye only came about due to mutations that allowed organisms to gradually begin detecting light. During the very early stages, the "eye" would have only been able to detect whether there was light or not, allowing the organism to tell day from night. Many years later, the eye likely began forming a concave shape, which would allow the organism to tell which direction light was coming from. The following video gives a good representation of what this process looked like.
"A predator who can see its prey from a distance, or a prey animal that can see the shadow of a predator approaching, has a clear survival advantage over those who can't. Even a slight improvement in image quality provides a significant survival advantage, allowing for the step-by-step evolution of increasingly complex eyes" . Over a long period of time, these mutations would improve odds of survival for the organism and thus allow their genes to be passed down. Organisms lacking this genetic advantage eventually died.
3). Questionable fossil record
Fossils are not the only method that scientists use to demonstrate evolution as a fact, but they are a good way of visually showing changes in a species. While we have plenty of fossils, there are sometimes "gaps." My opponent writes "If evolution were true, then we should see fossils of animals gradually appearing throughout all of Earth's history." This is a logical statement, and here are some reasons that certain fossils appear to be missing from time.
A common notion is that since there have been so many different forms of life on Earth, we should be finding fossils everywhere. In reality, fossil formation is neither common nor easy. The animal usually needs to die near a body of water and become buried by sediments. "Fossils are relatively rare because of all of the elements that have to fall into place before an organism can become a fossil. Fossilization usually can only happen to hard parts of the organism's body, so that is another obstacle in the way of making fossils" . This is why most fossils are bones and teeth. Speaking of bones and teeth, these characteristics were rare (if not nonexistent) in lifeforms before the Cambrian Explosion, which my opponent brings up. Most life prior to the Cambrian Explosion did not have hard parts like shells and skeletons, thus most species before this time would have likely decomposed rather than become fossilized . Therefore, it makes sense that we should see a surge in the amount of fossils during this time period (hence the explosion) since life now has hard parts that are easier to become fossilized.
My opponent introduces the common rebuttal to evolution, the "missing link." The problem with saying that there is a missing link is that people will never be satisfied by what science has to offer. If creationists are presented with a fossil which fills the chronological gap between a younger fossil and an older fossil, they will likely say "well now there are two gaps, where is the missing link between these gaps?" It seems that the only way to satisfy these people would be to find every single generation of a species in fossil form, which is impossible. We do not need to find every fossil in order to point out the transitions. Currently, we have found plenty of fossils and bones that we no longer need to look for the supposed "missing link."
Lastly, my opponent writes that the evidence which shows that we shared a common ancestor with chimpanzees is lackluster (humans are considered one of the five great apes, by the way). While most scientists would disagree, there are other ways we can logically conclude that we are related to chimpanzees other than studying fossils. We can consider the 98.8% DNA similarity . We can observe the incredible similarity in appearance and bone structure. We can note the way chimpanzees smile and laugh like humans do. The evidence that humans had a common ancestor with chimpanzees is substantial.
I look forward to my opponent's response!
1. Complexity of life
"The only reason that these systems are still alive today is because they are incredibly effective. This is how natural selection works. Any species whose system is ineffective at keeping itself alive and is not suited to live in Earth's environment will eventually die out."
This is indeed how natural selection works, but it doesn't explain sufficiently how these complex systems could come about, just how they stay.
"One of the fundamentals of evolution is the ongoing transition from simple to complex. Life has been around close to 4 billion years . To give this some practical meaning, it only took 20 million years for the Sinonyx, a land mammal, to evolve into the Dorudon, a fully aquatic mammal which closely resembled the modern whale . If this complex change can happen in just 20 million years, imagine how much life can change in billions of years. Given that amount of time, I believe it is perfectly reasonable to expect the level of complexity that we observe today."
This evidence was based on two skulls and one or two skeletons. Interesting, no doubt, but it is far from conclusive. It's just not possible to assume that there was evolution taking place from so little.
But, I'll oblige. Let's assume that it really did evolve. It would explain how there could be so much life on Earth today, but it certainly wouldn't explain the complexity of life. I'll explain more in the next section.
2. Some things shouldn't have evolved.
Admittedly, I didn't fully explain my point here of why some things shouldn't have evolved. I would like to do so.
Evolution is believed to take place through mutations. A mutation is an incidental, unintended change in the genetic code, causing genetic defects. Here are some common defects:
- A defect causes some clovers to have four petals
- A defect causes sickle-cell anemia
- A defect causes albinism
These are just a few, but note a few things:
1. None of these are beneficial
2. Most of these are objectively bad
3. These are all relatively minor effects that only require a slight change in the genome.
This is very important to note. Even inherited genetic defects all started with a mutation. Mutations are rarely beneficial for the organism with a mutation. In fact, of a list I found of eleven common human mutations, nine were objectively bad, one could be good or bad depending on the situation, and one was neutral. None were strictly good.
What does this have to do with anything? Well, all of this applies to evolutionary mutations. Remember, mutations affect small things. Often, they only affect one single base in a pair. This wouldn't allow for the development of complex things such as the Gastric Brooding Frog's birthing system or asexual reproduction. If just one thing were off in either of these systems, they wouldn't work. They would have to evolve all at once, and mutations can't explain this happening.
3. Questionable fossil record
Admittedly, this was one of my weaker points. It's just that fossils always come up in evolutionary debates, so I felt like I would be cheating myself by not including something about them.
As far as the first part of my opponent's argument goes about why we do not have many fossils from before the Cambrian Explosion, I have no refutation. However, I would still like to point out that the fact that there weren't many fossils created then still isn't evidence. It's just a logical justification for a lack of evidence.
However, I don't agree with the justification of why the Cambrian Explosion isn't something to be concerned about. Most major animal phyla came about from the Cambrian Explosion. This still means that life evolved rapidly during this time period. However, the explosion was short. After the Cambrian period, evolution slowed down a bit.
The theory of evolution itself does not have an explanation for this. If life could evolve so quickly back then, why couldn't it today? There doesn't seem to be any real reason for it. Some would attribute this mass explosion of life to creation.
I would like to thank my opponent for recognizing that this is a creation vs. evolution debate, and not on whether or not we should be questioning theories. After this is done, do you want to do another on the Big Bang?
I look forward to seeing your responses!
In this round I will defend my case and respond to my opponent"s rebuttals.
1. I believe that the term "complex life" is a bit of a loaded term, because it hints toward intelligent design. No one species is necessarily more complex than another; they have simply developed very differently in ways which suit the environment they live in. One species may appear more complex to us than another, but this only shows that certain environments require more "effort" by natural selection.
2. My opponent mentions how mutations, or changes to the genetic code, bring about genetic defects which may be harmful or beneficial to the species. He introduces three cases of mutations that, despite still being present today, clearly seem unhelpful and disadvantageous. I will address each example and demonstrate that my opponent is quite mistaken in his claims.
a). the defect that causes some clovers to have four petals
The four leaf clover is certainly rare, occurring once in every 10,000 specimens, which means that this trait is likely recessive [a]. From an evolutionary perspective, I can think of one clear advantage to having extra leaves: more leaves equals more photosynthesis. Photosynthesis takes place in plants" leaves, thus the greater number of leaves a plant has, the more energy it can produce [b]. It is plausible that there is a gene that causes the photosynthetic efficiency of a clover leaf to weaken, which over time caused the clover to grow an extra leaf to make up for the loss. This would be a pleiotropic gene, or a gene that affects multiple traits [c].
b). the defect that causes sickle-cell anemia
Sickle-cell anemia is in fact an evolutionary adaptation. It came about in West African people and actually benefited them by giving them immunity to the disease called malaria [d]. The reason the trait is still around is likely because natural selection hasn"t yet had the time to "remove" the trait, especially given the speed of globalization and cultural diffusion which causes the trait to show up in more parts of the world [e].
c). the defect that causes albinism
Albinism is a disease where an animal does not produce melanin, the pigment which makes skin darker and gives the animal better protection from the sun. The only significant disadvantage of being albino is being more susceptible to skin cancer, such as melanoma. However, "the vast majority of these skin cancers strike when a person is well past reproductive age" [f]. This means that over time, humans and our ancestors were able to reproduce well before they had died or became too ill to do so. From an evolutionary perspective, albinism isn"t harmful at all because humans are still able to pass on their genes. In the modern world, creations such as clothing and hats mean that albino people can live normal lives without having to fear for their vulnerability to sun radiation, making albinism a neutral trait which neither benefits nor significantly harms humans, yet is still passed down.
My opponent writes that "Mutations are rarely beneficial for the organism with a mutation." This is simply not true, as the vast majority of mutations are neutral (neither beneficial nor harmful) and they happen all the time [g]. People have different colored eyes because of mutations that occurred a long time ago, yet this neither benefits us nor hurts us. Mutations are thought to be harmful simply because of the word itself and the images that we associate with it, like Frankenstein's monster.
Pro cites a list of 11 various human mutations, 9 of which he states are "objectively bad." For a mutation to be objectively bad with regards to evolution, means that regardless of the environment or the situation, the mutation will always lower the odds of survival or reproductive health. This cannot be said for the mutations that Pro refers to. For example, baldness, pimples and color blindness are more neutral than they are harmful. These mutations are in no way significantly disadvantageous. If anything they are annoyances or minor setbacks.
We may not know exactly how the Gastric Brooding frog evolved its peculiar system of birth, but this in no way discredits the theory of evolution. My opponent writes "mutations affect small things" but then contradictingly writes "If just one thing were off in either of these systems, they wouldn't work." If mutations affect small things (as they often do, such as eye color), and one mutation was "off" then ideally the system could still develop very similarly to how it would if the mutation was "on." And for a mutation to become common, the entire species does not have to evolve the mutation at the same time. The whole idea behind natural selection is that there is a "selection" from nature to "choose" from. Mutations which benefit the species will eventually be passed down and become common within the species.
3. My opponent states "I don't agree with the justification of why the Cambrian Explosion isn't something to be concerned about. Most major animal phyla came about from the Cambrian Explosion. This still means that life evolved rapidly during this time period. However, the explosion was short. After the Cambrian period, evolution slowed down a bit." The Cambrian Explosion was not a rapid event: "the changes seems to have happened in a range of about 30 million years, and some stages took 5 to 10 million years." While the changes appeared relatively rapidly, we"re still talking about millions of years [h]. Also, prior to the Cambrian Explosion, most life on earth was aquatic. Thus, adapting to land life would have been a huge change, which would support why the changes that occurred happened so rapidly relative to geologic time. The fact that the theory of evolution cannot yet fully explain the Cambrian Explosion, does not take away its validity with regards to what it can explain.
Pro writes "If life could evolve so quickly back then, why couldn't it today?" It took 20 million years to transition from a land animal to a whale. Evolution takes time. But we have observed evolution for smaller traits, such as Darwin"s finches, which adapted to their environments by developing different shaped beaks depending on what kinds of food they ate [i].
I look forward to reading your conclusion!
So, in summary...
- No form of life is simple. All life is complex, and it doesn't stand to reason that complex life could come about by random chance if even humans cannot imitate, or sometimes even understand it.
- Life is so complex that mutations cannot explain how some marvelous systems and organs could come about, and some things just shouldn't have been able to evolve.
- The fossil record is missing some clear parts to it that makes it incredibly insufficient evidence.
Thanks for re-doing this debate with me! I had a great time doing this.
There will always be questions of which we have yet to answer regarding the evolutionary process, but this does not mean that evolution is a fallacy; rather, it means we must look deeper and continue searching for answers.
I thank Conspiracyrisk for debating me! I, too, had a lot of fun.
Until next time!
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Hayd 8 months ago
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