The Instigator
Paradigm_Lost
Con (against)
Losing
3 Points
The Contender
Darth_Grievous_42
Pro (for)
Winning
18 Points

Punctuated Equilibrium: the absence of evidence is evidence of absence

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  
Vote Here
Con Tied Pro
Who did you agree with before the debate?
Who did you agree with after the debate?
Who had better conduct?
Who had better spelling and grammar?
Who made more convincing arguments?
Who used the most reliable sources?
Reasons for your voting decision
1,000 Characters Remaining
The voting period for this debate does not end.
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 5/26/2008 Category: Science
Updated: 8 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 1,868 times Debate No: 4200
Debate Rounds (2)
Comments (3)
Votes (7)

 

Paradigm_Lost

Con

As attractive as the theory of evolution was during and after Darwin's famed book, there still existed a major problem. This problem was not only addressed by Darwin himself, even his predecessors dealt with similar issues -- a lack of transitional evidence.

"It's a startling fact that most species remain unrecognizably unchanged throughout their occurrence in the geologic sediment of various ages." - Niles Eldridge

"If my theory be true, numberless intermediate varieties must assuredly have existed... Not one change into another is on record... we cannot prove that a single species has been changed." - Charles Darwin

"The absence of fossil evidence has been a persistent problem for evolution." - Stephen Jay Gould

As a result of the startling lack of clear evidence of gradations, there came a split. Staunch creationists, whose entire ideological outlooked was shaped by this theory had vested interests in supplanting the theory, could not deny the fact that, no matter what they say, there IS an evolution of sorts. This seems rather obvious and is made quite clear when looking at dog breeds, for instance. To think that a Chihuahua is the direct descendant of a wolf is pretty remarkable, andf it is clear evidence that some of Darwin's observations hold water. What was settled upon in creationist circles is the concept of micro and macroevolution.

Meanwhile, staunch evolutionists, whose entire ideological outlooked was shaped by this theory had vested interests in protecting the theory. They could not deny the fact that they were lacking transitional forms. In defense of this obvious flaw, Dr. Richard Goldshmidt came up with the "Hopeful Monster" theory. He stated that it might be possible that a certain species could mysteriously and inexplicably birth another entirely new species, thus, not leaving any evidence of evolution (i.e. a pig birthing a litter of foxes). After subsequently being laughed at by his own colleagues, there was a growing dissatisfaction within the evolutionary community.

It was Gould and Eldridge, who in collaboration, came up with a new theory that might actually seem plausible, known as "punctuated equilibrium." The premise behind this theory is similar from the Hopeful Monster in that there is conveniently no trace of evolution, and the excuse is even more vague. What was agreed upon by the two was that evolution happened in short bursts of time with long periods of stasis, thus, making these transitions imperceptible.

However, after reviewing punctuated equilibrium (sometimes coined 'equilibria') I am personally not at all impressed by the theory. In fact, after viewing it and reviewing within several year intervals, I remain just as unimpressed now as I was years ago.

My opponent then must give compelling reasons why 'punk eek' is a viable hypothesis.

*DISCLAIMER*

We are NOT debating the theory of evolution or creationism holistically. Please do not derail my thread. Anyone taking this debate must be at least nominally familiar with the theory of punctuated equilibrium, and must positively defend it. Thank you, and good luck.
Darth_Grievous_42

Pro

Well, first off to educate the reader, here is my summarized definition of the theory, using the information from this site [http://www.pbs.org...]:

Punctuated Equilibrium is a hypothesis used to explain the apparent holes in the fossil record. Many have interpreted evolution to be slow and gradual (imagine a river branching off smoothly), however this theory states it is more step-like. An example being the Wolf/Chihuahua one provided by Paradigm_Lost. Rather than seeing hundreds of generations of Chiwawolf, each with a slight change in height and build, it could be witnessed within a handful of generations, each with dramatic and sudden changes. The Wolf births a smaller wolf with less fur, then that one has a smaller one with less fur, larger eyes and a shorter snout, then finally the Chihuahua.

Also, the definitions of Macroevolution: evolution on a grand scale (sudden change)
[http://evolution.berkeley.edu...]

And Micro evolution: evolution on a small scale (tiny, slow changes)
[http://evolution.berkeley.edu...]

What you seem to be implying is your own doubt on the viability of the theory, yes? Therefore, possibly arguing the only kind of evolution there can be is the slow steady change kind (micro). You are requesting of me to provide reasoning as to how and why PE is a reasonable evolutionary theory.

PE is viable because it is so logical. Think about it contemporarily. This Monster Theory has merit. While the pig to fox example is ridiculous, a boar to pig one is not. For instance, it is not altogether absurd to acknowledge that there are births where the infant shows signs of sudden mutations. One example, though a total fluke, is the case of Lakshmi, the girl born with four arms and legs [http://www.news.com.au...] I say fluke because she was conjoined in the womb with a twin sister, not evolutionary. There are other cases however, where people have been born with a non-fusion physical oddity http://english.pravda.ru...]. While many of these cases are simple biological accidents, I'd especially like to point out the 6 fingered girl from the link. She was not conjoined with a twin, unlike Lakshmi, and it is not attributed to a tumor. The reasoning, rather, is that her mother was an alcoholic. Why that triggered the extra finger, I do not know. But, perhaps it was the body reacting to a new environment. The body, unlike the brain, cannot interpret reason, only circumstance. It could interpret the alcohol has an environmental change, and formed the fetus accordingly to fit the situation. How that makes since biologically is not for me to interpret, it just is how it is. But the fact remains that however it is triggered, sudden mutations can occur.

One of Evolutions main principals is survival of the fittest. If you can't fit the situation here and now you will die. Humans have done so well because they can make their environments work for them. Animals on the other hand, with lesser developed brains, must work within their own bodies. If an animal were to live in a cold, tundra like climate, its body, naturally, would be made to fit the situation. It would have heat-preserving fur, nostrils to balance internal temperature, etc. But Earth, being the ever-shifting planet, causes that animal's climate to change suddenly into a hot, dessert one. Mother Earth is too impatient to allow that animal to slowly shift into a heat adapted one. She has her own agenda. Thus, it falls on the animal to preserve itself. Its internal biology, recognizing that the current form is overheating, thus constructs the next generation to be more heat tolerant. For the species own preservation, it must change itself. That is the main basis for how PE works. The main goal of life is self-preservation at any cost. Genes want to live forever, no matter what shell they have to like in. If that shell dies they die with it. Mutation is fairly simple. Alter a few hundred DNA strands and you can have an entirely new animal. Students in Montana are experimenting with chicken fetus's, and have found that they can give them teeth and claws [http://www.sciam.com...]. I'm sure you've also heard of the experiment where scientists mixed jellyfish genes with that of a monkey. The result was a monkey that glowed in the dark and had an unusually weak bone structure [http://archives.cnn.com...] The effects, while provoked, where instantaneous. There were no 2nd, 3rd, or 4th generations until you got the result, it happened immediately. The explanation is that the genes were always there, they only needed to be activated to produce the end result. While our scientists may require technology to cause these changes, the body has 24/7 access. It can do whatever it wants with itself, with proper motivation. Climate and environment change is certainly that.

So, we can see sudden body structure change is not preposterous. There is certainly enough evidence (earthquakes, Katrina, Global Warming) to show that sudden climate and environment change can occur. Therefore, simply with this information the theory has some merit.

But its main purpose for being made is also reason enough. Remember, hypothesis is not fact it is only educated speculation. A problem arose, in this case being "Why are there so many and such large gaps in the fossil record?" This is a simple enough theoretical answer. I certainly don't see it being explained through microevolution. Unless the explanation is simply that the remains of a hundred generations of thousands of specimens from each species leading one animal to change into a differing one were lost entirely to time. If that doesn't sound ridiculous I don't see how something that has already been proven to happen is. Microevolution has been proven to exist. There are always small changes from one generation to the next. Its been proven that humans heights have changed in accordance to where they live [http://en.wikipedia.org...]. Subtle. yet there. Its also been proven that large physical jumps can occur (see reasons/evidence above). However, PE is the best to explain the fossil record gaps. It's highly improbable that if so many specimens of Albertosaurus and T-Rex can be found, but not one of the 'many specimens in between' could not be. Unless at least 1 of every species mapping out (example) Albertosaurus evolution into Tyrannosaur can be found, PE holds more water than the alternative. What better explanation is there? So really, the absence of evidence is how the theory survives in the first place. The only counter I've been able to see is more preposterous of an explanation.

So in summary my reasons are
1) Macro Evolution has been proven to occur, ergo, PE is possible.
2) Until every species is found showing micro changes in each, giving proof that slow steady change is the only way to evolve, PE is the better hypothesis.

Now, I would like to see your reasoning and rebuttals as to why PE is not viable. So far what you've given is a history on the controversy of the theory, and a statement that you don't believe it. What I need to know is why.
Debate Round No. 1
Paradigm_Lost

Con

Paradigm_Lost forfeited this round.
Darth_Grievous_42

Pro

Unfortunate that my opponent has closed his account before writing a rebuttal. I'll ask then that you judge based on the information we've both given up until now. I believe I've sufficiently addressed his concerns without needing to add anymore to my argument. Please vote based on the better argument made, not on your personal feelings towards the premise. If you feel the need to justify your anonymous vote, please do so in the comments section. Darth_Grievous_42 out.
Debate Round No. 2
3 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Posted by Logical-Master 8 years ago
Logical-Master
No, apparently, people with vendettas were trolling his account. He expressed his annoyance of this on another comment section. I believe this may have been the cause of his swift departure.
Posted by SnoopyDaniels 8 years ago
SnoopyDaniels
Finally someone else asks the question. Why has science thrown out the scientific method in the specific case of evolution? You are supposed to make predictions based on a hypothesis then test it. Evolution failed one of the best tests conceivable, and that which even Darwin pointed to as evidence, the fossil record. However, instead of throwing out the theory of evolution, evolutionists devised a completely new theory to explain the lack of evidence. Does anyone other than myself find this mildly disturbing?
Posted by leethal 8 years ago
leethal
Wow, could it be that you beat him so bad in your first round that he left the site?
7 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 7 records.
Vote Placed by Killer542 8 years ago
Killer542
Paradigm_LostDarth_Grievous_42Tied
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:03 
Vote Placed by bexy_kelly 8 years ago
bexy_kelly
Paradigm_LostDarth_Grievous_42Tied
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:03 
Vote Placed by Oolon_Colluphid 8 years ago
Oolon_Colluphid
Paradigm_LostDarth_Grievous_42Tied
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:03 
Vote Placed by Spiral 8 years ago
Spiral
Paradigm_LostDarth_Grievous_42Tied
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:03 
Vote Placed by SnoopyDaniels 8 years ago
SnoopyDaniels
Paradigm_LostDarth_Grievous_42Tied
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 
Vote Placed by FalseReality 8 years ago
FalseReality
Paradigm_LostDarth_Grievous_42Tied
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:03 
Vote Placed by DrAlexander 8 years ago
DrAlexander
Paradigm_LostDarth_Grievous_42Tied
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:03