The Instigator
F-16_Fighting_Falcon
Pro (for)
Winning
29 Points
The Contender
medic0506
Con (against)
Losing
6 Points

Universal Common descent is a scientific explanation for the genetic origins of living organisms

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after 10 votes the winner is...
F-16_Fighting_Falcon
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 4/6/2013 Category: Science
Updated: 4 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 7,232 times Debate No: 32166
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (22)
Votes (10)

 

F-16_Fighting_Falcon

Pro

Resolution

Universal Common descent is a scientific explanation for the genetic origins of living organisms.

Definitions

Universal Common descent - Universal common descent is a general descriptive theory concerning the genetic origins of living organisms (though not the ultimate origin of life). The theory specifically postulates that all of the earth's known biota are genealogically related, much in the same way that siblings or cousins are related to one another [1].

Scientific explanation - Adheres to a valid scientific method, is testable/falsifiable, and is supported by empirical evidence.

Con will argue that Universal Common Descent is a pseudoscience.

Pseudoscience - Pseudoscience is a claim, belief, or practice which is presented as scientific, but does not adhere to a valid scientific method, lacks supporting evidence or plausibility, cannot be reliably tested, or otherwise lacks scientific status [2].

Rules

1) All arguments must be made in the debate. Images are allowed but text inside images should be limited and not abusive.
2) No semantics. In case of conflict on undefined terms, the most general and relevant definition of the word should be considered.
3) Round 1 is for acceptance only. Any clarifications about rules or topic must be made in the comments section prior to acceptance.
4) No new arguments from either side in round 4. No new sources from Con in round 4.

I thank Medic for accepting this debate and I look forward to an educational debate. For clarity, I will number sources sequential from the start of the debate. This allows citing a reference without also referencing the round number.

Sources

[1] http://www.talkorigins.org...
[2] http://en.wikipedia.org...
medic0506

Con

I thank Falcon for the challenge and look forward to showing why I think Common Descent is a pseudo-scientific conclusion, as per my burden. I trust that we'll have a spirited, yet civilized, discussion about one of my favorite topics. All definitions and rules are acceptable.
Debate Round No. 1
F-16_Fighting_Falcon

Pro

C1) Multiple Nested Hierarchies

A nested hierarchy refers to the way taxonomic groups fit completely inside other groups [3]. For example, all humans are mammals, all mammals are animals and so on. A specific method of organizing nested hierarchies is the cladistic method which is based on common descent [10]. If common descent is true, members of a group would have to share unique features which were not present in distant ancestors. These features that are shared between two or more groups and their most recent ancestor are called synapomorphies as shown in Figure 1 [6][11].


Figure 1: The vertical shaded regions show synamorphies

As we represent these genealogical relationships in a tree, we get a branching tree-like diagram called a phylogeny. A simplified version of the standard phylogenetic tree is shown in Figure 2 [4].


Figure 2: Simplified standard tree

As the phylogeny shows, we can group organisms into various nested sub-groups based on morphological features. The only known processes that specifically generate unique objective nested hierarchical patterns are evolutionary processes [7].

The difference between subjective and objective hierarchies is an important distinction. Any group of things can be organized into a hierarchy. Automobiles can be grouped first by their manufacturer, then by the number of wheels, then by gas mileage etc. Yet, a different classification could be made by grouping by number of wheels first, then by manufacturer and so on. The attribute chosen first is determined by the individual. Many phylogenies that are equally well-supported can be generated which all look different despite having the same initial data. An objective nested hierarchy on the other hand produces a unique, well-supported tree much like the classification of languages which evolved from a common ancestor.

The degree to which a phylogeny shows a unique, well supported tree has been quantified with extensive statistical analysis. These tests measure the degree of hierarchical structure within a phylogeny. One such study performed by James Archie of the University of Hawaii randomizes the given data and performs cladistic analysis on the randomized data to obtain a distribution of minimum tree lengths. He then tests whether the minimum tree length generated by the real data is significantly less than that generated by the randomized data as shown in Figure 3 [9].


Figure 3: The minimum lengths are significantly higher after randomization

This establishes that evolutionary processes generate nested hierarchies that are objective and unique.

Species can be easily organized into nested hierarchies based on morphology. As shown in Figure 1, animals can be organized into ones with organs and ones without. Within animals with organs, there are vertebrates and invertebrates. Vertebrates are never found without organs. Similarly, mammals are never found with feathers. This is a very specific consequence of the mechanism described by common descent.

Furthermore, species can also be grouped based on independent molecular studies. Certain genes called ubiquitous genes exist in all living organisms because they perform very basic functions. Any given ubiquitous protein has a very large number of protein sequences which can perform the same function. No specific sequence of proteins are functionally necessary for a given organism. Heredity is the only mechanism which causes two organisms to have similar sequences for ubiquitous proteins. Cytochrome c is one such essential and ubiquitous protein found in all organisms. A study by Hubert Yockey shows that there are 2.3 * 10^93 possible sequences for cytochrome c. Humans and chimpanzees however have the exact same cytochrome c protein sequence. [6]

Phylogenies made from molecular studies [14] match with phylogenies from pre-molecular morphological analysis [13] with high statistical significance. There are 10^38 different possible trees that could have been developed yet both morphological and molecular studies yield similar trees with greater than 99% confidence [16]. If common descent were false, independent cladistic phylogenies based on common descent generated using different criteria must lead to different phylogenies.


C2) Comparative Anatomy

Since the standard phylogenic tree is the best approximation of a unique tree, all fossils are expected to conform to it within the error of scientific methods. According to the standard tree, we would expect intermediates between birds and reptiles and between birds and mammals. However, we would not expect to find intermediates between birds and mammals [20].

Archaeopterex is a well-known intermediate species between birds and reptiles.


Figure 4: Archaeopterex

The wrist and finger bones are unfused like in theropod dinosaurs and a long bony tail is present as in reptiles. Like birds, it has wings but those are structurally dissimilar to modern birds.

Parahomology is structural similarity with functional differences. When a species branches out, it may acquire new functions. To perform these functions, it works by modifying the existing structures. The same bones in the same relative position of the human hand perform different functions in bat wings, mole forelimbs, and whale and penguin flippers [17]. Independent fossil records confirm that these structures were derived from others with a general chronologic progression of intermediate forms. Theropod dinosaur structures for instance were modified into modern bird structures. Common descent could easily be falsified if the fossil record showed bird wings transforming chronologically into reptilian arms.

Fossils records show the origin of whales from terrestrial mammals based on morphological and vestigial evidence. The fossil sequence from terrestrial mammals show more and more whale-like forms appearing until the development of the modern whale.



Figure 5: Whale evolution [18]


For instance, the anvil of the middle ear in the Pakicetus is morphologically intermediate between modern whales and modern artiodactlys (like cows and hippo). Vestigial structures provide strong and direct evidence of common descent. Vestigial organs are rudimentary body parts smaller and simpler than corresponding structures in ancestral species [21]. Modern whales have rod-like pelvic bones, femora, and tibeae, alll embedded in their musculature while earlier species like Basilosaurus have intermediate sized vestigial pelvis and rear limb bones [19][22]. The chronology also matches as it co-incides with extinction of marine predators which allowed pre-historic whales to move into the sea [22].

To conclude, the morphological and molecular nested heirarchies match closely enough such that it would be nearly impossible for them to be random chance. Furthermore, we can clearly see evidence of common descent from transitional links like the Archeopterex and the fossil evidence of the transition of whales from land mammals to aquatic mammals.

Sources

[3] http://evolutionwiki.org...
[4] http://tinyurl.com...
[5] http://tinyurl.com...
[6] http://tinyurl.com...
[7] http://pandasthumb.org...
[8] http://www.math.osu.edu...
[9] http://www.botany.wisc.edu...
[10] http://www.ucmp.berkeley.edu...
[11] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[12] http://tinyurl.com...
[13] http://archive.org...
[14] http://www2.isye.gatech.edu...
[15] http://tinyurl.com...
[16] http://tinyurl.com...
[17] http://tinyurl.com...
[18] http://www-personal.umich.edu...
[19] http://www.sciencedaily.com...
[20] http://tinyurl.com...
[21] http://tinyurl.com...
[22] http://www.talkorigins.org...
[23] http://www.talkorigins.org...
medic0506

Con

Thanks to Pro for his opening argument. I'd like to take this opportunity to remind the readers that it isn't my job, in this debate, to refute every single piece of evidence that Pro presents. My burden here is to show how the conclusion of Universal Common Descent (UCD) is a pseudo-science, as per the definition provided.

Pseudoscience - Pseudoscience is a claim, belief, or practice which is presented as scientific, but does not adhere to a valid scientific method, lacks supporting evidence or plausibility, cannot be reliably tested, or otherwise lacks scientific status.
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Pro's opening argument is a perfect example of the pseudo-scientific nature of the arguments presented for UCD. At face value, it seems that he has presented scientific evidence, along with statistical analysis. That all seems scientific, but as this round progresses I will show how it is the "conclusion of UCD" that is pseudo-scientific even though the evidence itself, may or may not be considered scientific.

Both C1 and C2, in Pro's opening, as well as most evidence presented by adherents to the UCD theory, stem from the same general argument, the argument from homology. That is to say that similarities in body structures between different organisms, provide evidence for ancestry, or common descent [1]. This assumption is problematic for numerous reasons, here are just a few:

1. Though it is presented as such, similarities do not show that similar organisms "descended" from each other. For that to be a scientific deduction there must be a process, shown to exist, that shows that it is possible for one type of organism to evolve into another type, through gradual changes over time [2].

Evolutionists argue that such a process exists. The most prevalent hypothesis is that random mutations, genetic drift, etc., combined with natural selection, provides just such a mechanism [3]. Evolutionary biologist Lynn Margulis, feels that such a mechanism doesn't work. She believes what she calls Symbiogenesis [4], is the driving factor. Other scientists, such as Geneticist Jeffrey Tomkins [5], don't believe that an evolutionary mechanism exists. He is an Intelligent Design advocate and works as a research scientist with the Institute for Creation Research, and has published numerous peer-reviewed papers.

One might ask, "How are all these different views relevant to this debate?" The answer is simple. It shows that scientists aren't even in agreement that UCD happened, much less being in agreement on a process that makes it possible.

Furthering the need for evolutionists to show an actual process that works to produce the claims they make, is the fact that UCD is contrary to what we observe everyday, in the natural world. What we observe is that organisms reproduce the same kinds of organisms, both morphologically and genetically. With a plethora of observational evidence to refute UCD, how can Pro claim that his is the scientific conclusion, as per the definition provided?? Like other advocates of UCD, he is forced to make assumptions, and use circular reasoning, in his arguments, neither of which are scientific methods.

In Pro's C1 he states, "A specific method of organizing nested hierarchies is the cladistic method which is based on common descent". Nested hierarchies and phylogenetic trees, when used as evidence for UCD, is nothing more than circular reasoning. The conclusion is assumed by the evidence, and the evidence doesn't exist without UCD being assumed. With no specific process that shows a mechanism, and being contradicted by observable evidence which requires no interpretation, Pro's C1 is unsupported and pseudo-scientific, in spite of the seemingly scientific nature of his evidence.

Pro's argument about statistical significance of phylogenies suffers from the same fate. In spite of a seemingly scientific argument, if animals can't evolve into different kinds of animals, the likelihood of the phylogenies being an accurate reflection of reality is exactly 0. Unfortunately for UCD, that's where the case stands at this time. It can only be assumed by believers, and is at best, pseudo-science.

Pro makes the same mistake in C2, he uses the conclusion of UCD to present the fossil record and vestigial organs, as evidence. Without first assuming the truth of UCD, there is no such thing as a vestigial organ. Without showing that whales can even evolve from another animal, such as Elomeryx, he is simply asserting the conclusion of UCD as evidence for his conclusion about whale evolution.

Any argument using the fossil record as evidence is void until Pro can show that animals can evolve from different kinds of animals. Until that is shown, evolutionists are just lining up fossils that show some similarities, and asserting that they are related, as if it were established fact. That process however, does not establish an evolutionary relationship between any two sets of bones. Pro's C2 is another example of pseudo-science.

2. Similarities between organisms can be evidence for more than one conclusion. Similarities can be evidence of a common designer. Unless one theory can be disproved, and the other proved, homology does not "uniquely" lead one to the conclusion of UCD. The assumption of UCD doesn't even scientifically support itself, much less disprove any other hypothesis.

As Kent Hovind likes to say, the lugnuts from a Pontiac will fit a Chevy but that doesn't mean Pontiacs and Chevys both evolved from a Honda 140 mya, it means they both had a common design team (GM).

3. Arguments from homology focus on certain, sometimes minor similarities between organisms, while ignoring massive differences that exist.

In C1 Pro states, " Humans and chimpanzees however have the exact same cytochrome c protein sequence." Again he is focusing on one single similarity, while ignoring major discontinuities. No one denies that there are similarities between primates and humans, however that is not warrant to assume an evolutionary relationship. Is it surprising or noteworthy to learn that the protein sequence is similar between organisms that are similar?? Of course not. As we become more knowledgeable about genetics, we are discovering more and more differences between organisms that we once thought to be very genetically similar. In his comparison of the human and chimp genomes, Jeffrey Tomkins concludes the following:

"Chimpanzees and humans share many localized protein-coding regions of high similarity. However, overall there is extreme DNA sequence discontinuity between the two genomes. The current study along with several other recent reports confirm this. This defies standard evolutionary time-scales and dogmatic presuppositions about a common ancestor."[6]

In summary, all the evidence presented by Pro is wasted by the fact that there is no observable, testable, reason to believe that one animal can evolve into another kind of animal. Until that ability can be shown, all arguments that have been provided are merely examples of circular reasoning. One must assume the conclusion before even having any evidence to support that conclusion. That is not a valid scientific process, or a sensible way to determine how nature actually works. UCD is at best, a pseudo-scientific conclusion.

1.http://www.biology-online.org...;
2.http://www.biology-online.org...
3.http://evolution.berkeley.edu...;
4.http://discovermagazine.com...
5.http://designed-dna.org...
6.http://www.answersingenesis.org...



Debate Round No. 2
F-16_Fighting_Falcon

Pro

C1) The Scientific Method involves testing hypotheses

Con claims that my evidence and calculations “seem” scientific but the conclusion is actually a pseudoscience regardless of the evidence. He fails to consider that science does in fact “seem” like science. How do we evaluate common descent as a science or pseudoscience in this debate?

The three major criteria for differentiation presented are:
- Adherence to the Scientific method (as shown below)
- Basis on empirical evidence (such as analysis from fossil record and genetics)
- Testability/falsifiability (as I will illustrate)

I've provided a simplified flowchart of common descent right from Darwin to modern research to show how it matches the scientific method based on just one test. This is not the only test but one simplified example.


Figure 6: Application of the scientific method to common descent

Hypotheses could of course be true by co-incidence which is why a scientific method needs to account for these. I've shown in round 1 how the probability of our hypothesis being true randomly is infinitesimally small. Con claims that an intelligent designer did it. If that is the case, the designer planted false evidence to make it look like there was common descent. Despite ubiquitous proteins being functionally redundant, he matched the morphological and molecular evidence to a degree of certainty that science would logically reach a conclusion of common descent. He then planted fossils of the required type of ancestor at the required geologic time scales to make scientists believe that their hypothesis was corroborated.


C2) Evidence from Multiple Nested Hierarchies is not circular

Con claims that my C1 in round 1 is based on homology which isn't the case. My C1 shows that if we group organisms based on morphology (form and structure) assuming common descent, there is a single unique tree or a statistically small number of them. If I stopped there and said that because we could produce a unique tree, common descent is true, Con's claim of circularity might have some merit. However, I continue with molecular evidence and show that unique trees can be created based on molecular similarities independent of morphological evidence. Since both trees are unique and independently generated, the chance that they overlap is infinitesimally small. As [15] shows, there are 10^38 different possible trees. Out of 10^38 possibilities, if the two independent methods did not yield the same tree within error, common descent would be falsified.

Con's primary attack is that similar morphologies yield similar genetic information. Biologists account for this by specifically choosing ubiquitous genes which exist in all living organisms like the cytochrome c found in the mitochondria of cells. It transports electrons for the purpose of oxidative phosphorylation [25], the metabolic process through which cells generate energy and has no relation to morphology. Cytochrome c is functionally redundant i.e. many different sequences of proteins all form the cytochrome c electron transport protein. It has been shown that when the cytochrome c gene of yeast is deleted and replaced with Cytochrome c of other animals such as human, tuna, pigeon and horse, it is functional despite human and yeast cytochrome c differing in about 40% of the protein. A study by Herbert Yockey shows 2.3 * 10^93 functional cytochrome c sequences. Without common descent, there is no reason to assume that any two organisms will have similar cytochrome c sequences as it is completely unrelated to morphology and human cytochrome c functions in yeast. There is a 1 out of 10^93 chance of finding the exact same cytochrome c protein sequence in human and chimpanzees [6].

Con cites a study from answersingenesis saying that there is DNA sequencing discontinuity between chimps and humans. It makes no attempt to find ubiquitous genes. Humans and chimps are morphologically different. If they had the exact same DNA overall, they would look exactly the same. Con's source also doesn't extend the analysis to phylogenic trees or attempt to falsify common descent by showing phylogenies that don't match. My source considered ubiquitous genes that bear no relation to morphology to corroborate common descent. Add this to my analysis on matching trees and we have compelling observable, testable, and empirical evidence of common descent.


C3) Processes of evolution

Speciation is a lineage splitting event that produces two or more separate species [28]. Speciation has been widely observed in bacteria [30][31]. Furthermore, micro-evolution is generally accepted as fact among critics of evolution. Evolution of new species of animals is a result of small, gradual changes. There is no limiting factor to micro-evolution and no specific point at which species can no longer diverge. If Con claims that one exists, it rests on him to substantiate the claim. Accepting micro-evolution and speciation while claiming that there is no mechanism for evolution is contradictory without presenting a limiting factor. Micro-evolution and macro-evolution describe identical processes on different time scales [32].

Con dismisses the fossil record and calls it void but he can't just make the fossils go away. The geologic time period in which the fossils resided can be independently measured through radiometric dating [29]. Extend my analysis on Archeopteryx and whale evolution, para-homology, vestigial organs, and transitional links.

Furthermore, evolution isn't sudden. A land mammal didn't suddenly gave birth to a whale.


Figure 7: Whale evolution tree [33]

Figure 7 shows the evolution of whale-like species from common ancestors (represented by the nodes of the tree). The first whales such as Pakicetus were terrestrial yet their skulls strongly resembled living whales as shown above and in Figure 5 (round 1). Ambulocetus on the other hand had more aquatic adaptations than its predecessors with shorter legs and paddle-like hands and feet which is supported by stratigraphic evidence. The geographic and geologic locations of the fossils suggests either common descent or a highly deceptive designer who wanted to make it look as though common descent occurred by carefully planting a sequence of fossils in different strata to show earlier strata of terrestrial whales and later strata of primitive aquatic whales. Common descent could be falsified if the whales and archeopteryx contradicted it.


C4) Scientific agreement

a) Scientists in agreement about common descent: 99.9% of scientists support evolution. To pre-empt Pro's response of difference between micro-evolution and macro-evolution, I'd like to point out that that micro-evolution doesn't explain the origin of species and doesn't contradict creationism so the statistics are for evolution as a whole. Further, the majority of scientific organizations issued press releases supporting evolution. Pro's examples of Lynn Margulis and Jeffrey Tomkins are among those 700 out of 480,000 scientists that don't believe in common descent.

b) Symbiogenesis: Pro's source actually works for my side. Lynn Margulis who he cites says

“All scientists agree that evolution has occurred—that all life comes from a common ancestry, that there has been extinction, and that new taxa, new biological groups, have arisen. The question is, is natural selection enough to explain evolution? Is it the driver of evolution?”

She says that all scientists agree that all life comes from a common ancestry and merely proposes a different mechanism of common descent than the generally accepted one. Symbiogenesis has been dismissed by scientific community according to Con's source.


Sources

[24] http://tinyurl.com...
[25] http://tinyurl.com...
[26] http://tinyurl.com...
[27] http://tinyurl.com...
[28] http://tinyurl.com...
[29] http://tinyurl.com...
[30] http://tinyurl.com...
[31] http://tinyurl.com...
[32] http://tinyurl.com...
[33] http://tinyurl.com...
medic0506

Con

Thanks to Pro for his timely response.

C1-
Here Pro presents an excellent flow chart showing how common descent follows the scientific method. Looks good, seems scientific so far, but let's dig in a bit.

Test- Check to see if morphological and molecular evidence match.

Match what??

Analyze and Conclude- Matches what with a high degree of significance?? Each other?? Ok, so morphological and molecular evidence of what was compared match, so what can we conclude from that?? We can conclude that the two objects that were compared are morphologically and molecularly similar.

Hypothesis is True- Wait, what?? The original question was, How did the different species originate?? Has that original question been answered and I missed it?? No, of course not.

What happened was that Pro slipped in a hidden assumption that is not supported by science, into the "Construct Hypothesis" section. That is that morphological and molecular similarity, which is all that was shown in the experiment, automatically means that the test subjects share ancestry, thus are related.

As I said last round, common descent is "assumed", under the guise of
having followed a legitimate scientific method, using what is alledged to be supporting scientific evidence. That's pseudo-science.

As for my religious beliefs, they are irrelevant to this debate section, though I'd be happy to discuss that at another time.

C2
- Pro states that his argument is not circular reasoning, yet he contradicts himself when he says, "My C1 shows that if we group organisms based on morphology (form and structure) assuming common descent...". He admits what I've been saying, that common descent is "assumed", in the arguments presented. In fact, you can't even construct a phylogenetic tree, or perform cladistic analysis, without grouping organisms with the assumption that common descent is true.

As I just showed in C1, the fact that morphology and molecular make-up are similar does not support a conclusion of shared ancestry. The evidence doesn't lead you to the conclusion of common descent, you must assume common descent in your interpretation of the evidence. That very same assumption is at the heart of Pro's arguments on the fossil record, and vestigial organs, from last round and this one. That's circular reasoning, and that's pseudo-science.

So what if a tree based on morphology lines up with a tree based on molecular comparison?? Animals that have commonalities will undoubtedly show molecular similarities, if it is the case that the molecular make-up is in control of morphology, that just seems like a common sense finding. In spite of the inordinate number of possible trees that Pro argues, realistically, if organisms are morphologically similar would you expect to find them molecularly different?? Of course not, and there is the segue into my next point.

What would the molecular make-up of organisms that aren't related look like?? In truth, with the assumption that all biological life forms are related, evolutionists do not know how two unrelated organisms would compare. No such creature exists, under their paradigm, so they wouldn't know unrelated organisms if they tripped over them. There is no life form on earth that would not fall somewhere on the evolutionary tree of life. With that in mind, evolutionists give us a few examples of things that could falsify UCD, such as trees not nesting within error. Most of those examples though, require us to disprove their assumptions.

The goal of the experimental phase, of the scientific method, is to TRY to falsify the hypothesis. However if you start with the assumption that all life forms are related, then how could I ever show you a life form that isn't related to all others, and show you why?? That's impossible, and it is why evolutionists demand that falsification be in the certain manner that they provide for. In spite of massive differences that have been shown, falsification has been rejected due to the assertion and assumption that all life forms are related through the common ancestor. That makes falsification extremely difficult because there is absolutely no way to show what an unrelated organism would look like. That's pseudo-science.

As for cytochrome c, it is found in almost all life forms and the sequences are similar, in similar organisms. Again, this is no surprise. Pro says, "Without common descent, there is no reason to assume that any two organisms will have similar cytochrome c sequences as it is completely unrelated to morphology and human cytochrome c functions in yeast. There is a 1 out of 10^93 chance of finding the exact same cytochrome c protein sequence in human and chimpanzees". I would ask...How do you know that they would be different in unrelated individuals since your theory allows for no unrelated individuals. You have no model from which to draw a comparison, thus we're left to simply trust your word that "there is no reason to assume they would be similar". In truth, such an assertion as well as the probability numbers given, are mere speculation. That's pseudo-science.

The study I posted from Tomkins was merely to highlight the fact that many discontinuities are being ignored, in favor of focusing on that particular similarity.

C3- We all agree that adaptation and variation (micro-evolution) is a fact. Pro states that the same forces that cause micro, extend to macro over longer time periods. Aside from the pseudo-science that I've already rebutted, can an example be shown?? Of course not. In spite of what we CAN observe, we're suppose to just believe that it happened.

Having the ability to both adapt to the current environment, as well as change to different kinds of organisms over long time periods is redundant. If organisms can become successful and survive, why would they need to change into different kinds, as a way of responding to the same kinds of selection pressures that they have already dealt with through adaptation??

Bottom line is that there is no known process by which a cow's dna becomes something other than cow dna. Two cows breeding will never produce anything other than more cow dna. If Pro can't provide an example of his claimed process in action then he's merely asserting it as fact, and putting the burden of proof on me to disprove his claim. I just provided a limiting factor, which Pro cannot overcome with anything more than the pseudo-scientific claims we've already discussed.

All cases of speciation result in the same kind of organism. In spite of thousands of generations of lab experiments, microbial life is still microbial life and nothing more, even though scientists define that microbial life as different species. A microbe is still a microbe, and there is no scientific reason to think that it will ever be anything more than a microbe, no matter how long you wait and observe.

I have already addressed Pro's arguments on the fossil record in both of the last two rounds.

C4- This entire section is nothing more than argumentum ad populum. As Galilelo showed us, it only takes one person to be right, no matter how many are against him. If Pro's numbers are accurate, then we have 700 times more than what we actually need. :)

I look forward to the final round.


Debate Round No. 3
F-16_Fighting_Falcon

Pro

C1) Multiple Nested Hierarchies are generated independently

Con mistakes initial assumptions which were later proven for circular reasoning. As I mentioned, if I stopped at a single nested hierarchy, it would be reasonable to Con to argue this point. I don't claim that the mere fact that we can organize into hierarchies to be evidence of common descent. I pointed out why evolutionary processes can generate a unique hierarchy. If the morphological and molecular hierarchies differed - and there is a really big chance of differing - common descent would be disproved. When a different, independent method gives us the same result as our initial assumption with startlingly high statistical significance, the conclusion is that our initial assumption is true. If Con's claim that common descent is false and that the hierarchies were just made up, we should end up with different trees for the different experiments. The chance of ending up with the same tree is 1 in 10^38.

Con has continued to attack the independence of the molecular method from the morphological method but has yet to refute my analysis on ubiquitous proteins. Cytochrome c transports electrons and helps cells generate energy. All living organisms do this the same way. It is a fundamental metabolic process. The cytochrome c of humans for example functions in yeast which are as about as far apart as you can get. Yeasts are eukaryotic micro-organisms classified into the kingdom fungi [34]. Con continues to say that molecular similarity is based on morphological similarity yet never refuted my argument about ubiquitous proteins.

If common descent isn't true, organisms that are morphologically similar would be molecularly different because of the functional redundancy of cytochrome c. There are 10^93 different sequences of cytochrome c that can perform the same function. Common descent does propose that all species are related. As I've explained in round 1 with the phylogenetic tree, the degree of relation varies. If common descent were false, ubiquitous proteins would be randomly sequenced among life as opposed to being more similar in closely related species. Con looks at it as a dichotomy and says that biologists wouldn't know about unrelated species and that the model for common descent doesn't allow for one. However, nested hierarchies have several branches of separation and it is not an either/or scenario. Humans are more related to chimpanzees than they are to yeast.


C2) Scientific agreement and Tomkins study

Tomkins study should be discarded for the following reasons: I've shown why it is irrelevant to the debate. My argument was that ubiquitous proteins should be considered. Tomkins doesn't do this. Con didn't refute this point and concedes most of it while asserting that “discontinuities are being ignored.” I've shown exactly why biologists consider ubiquitous proteins. Con was unable to show how Tomkins met this criteria.

Tomkins' study doesn't match with studies with the rest of the scientific community. Other studies show human-chimp DNA over 96% alike [35][36][37].

Con claims that scientific agreement is an argument from popularity. Yet, Con was the one who brought it up in the first place. He claimed that scientists disagreed on evolution. I proved that they don't. I showed that his Lynn Margulis evidence actually supports my side. I've also shown why Tomkins study is irrelevant to my argument as it doesn't take into account ubiquitous proteins. It also contradicts the rest of the scientific community. Whether scientists agree was Con's contention to begin with and Con now says that it is a fallacy.


C3) Observed speciation combined with fossil record points to common descent

Con continues to argue that we cannot observe macro-evolution on a large scale. Yet, it takes tens of millions to years to see vast, large-scale changes. We have fossils to show us that these changes have taken place. Con completely drops the fossils and claims that unless a mechanism is shown, the fossils are void. The mechanism has been shown on a small-scale so we know a mechanism exists that causes speciation and micro-evolution. Con says that adaptation is redundant with evolution. Yet, the only difference is time-scale. The underlying causes are the same.

Con's claim of a limiting factor is contradictory and ill-defined. Cows are of the species Bos Primegenius [38]. He says that cows cannot change into anything other than cows which implies that he disagrees with speciation. Yet, he then claims that all cases of speciation result in the same kind of organism implicitly accepting it. Con's definition of kind is also contradictory because on the one hand, he classifies entire kingdoms of microbial life into the same “kind” while also classifying a single species cow into one kind. While he may not agree with the taxonomic classification, it rested on him to define “kind” appropriately which he didn't.

With the absence of a coherent limiting mechanism, the logical conclusion is that micro-evolution can be extended to a common ancestor. The fossil record corroborates this conclusion. Con has not responded to my points about the Archeopteryx and whale evolution which gives evidence of the micro-evolutionary process continuing on a large time scale. He has also not refuted that older strata of whale fossils show terrestrial whales and later strata more and more aquatic ones. He has not contested radiometric dating as an independent tool for stratigraphic analysis.

Con says that his religious beliefs are irrelevant to the debate and I agree. However, I've shown that his claim of a designer would suggest a highly deceptive designer based on the overwhelming evidence in favor of common descent.


CONCLUSION: Common Descent is a scientific explanation for the origin of species

To determine science from pseudoscience, we should look at a few key characteristics:

Adherence to a scientific method: I've provided a simplified flowchart for this. Con's response makes the same mistake of failing to consider that biologists have looked specifically at ubiquitous proteins which are common to all living organisms.

Basis on empirical evidence: The fossil record, molecular evidence from proteins, transitional links between species and the geologic location of those links all point toward common descent.

Demonstrability: Evolutionary processes have been observed. Con doesn't deny micro-evolution and speciation. The fossil record shows that this same processes have occurred on a larger time scale.

Testability/Falsifiability: Con claims that common descent ought to be assumed. I agree that it was initially assumed as a hypothesis. Science involves gathering evidence to test or falsify hypotheses. This is what science is at its core. My flowchart shows as much. Making assumptions and proposing hypotheses aren't pseudoscience. Since the phylogenic trees generated from the molecular and nested hierarchies are statistically the same, common descent is corroborated.

Weighing Mechanism: To show that Universal Common Descent is pseudoscience according to our definition, Con must show that it does not adhere to a valid scientific method which he hasn't. He must show that it lacks supporting evidence or plausibility for which he has ignored the fossil record which shows that observed micro-evolution continues on a large scale. He must show that it cannot be reliably tested or falsified where he fails because independent evidence from morphological, molecular, and fossil evidence all point toward common descent. He must show that it lacks scientific status for which he quickly dropped his attempt to do so by claiming that agreement among scientists is an appeal to popularity.

Universal common descent both meets and exceeds the criteria to be considered science.


Sources

[34] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[35] http://tinyurl.com...
[36] http://tinyurl.com...
[37] http://tinyurl.com...
[38] http://en.wikipedia.org...
medic0506

Con

C1- Pro continues to argue that hierarchies are shown to be "unique". That is false. He hasn't ruled out other causes scientifically. He has simply argued that cytochrome c sequencing would be random if common descent were false, with the probability at 1 in 10^38. Has Pro compared non-related individuals to verify that the sequencing would be random?? No, he has presented no evidence that any comparison was done, so how does he know that it would show random sequencing, if the subjects were unrelated?? In truth he doesn't, he simply asserts it as fact. For all he knows the study could have been run on unrelated individuals, but due to his presupposition, he can't recognize that. That assertion, as well as any probability estimation is pure conjecture, and isn't even close to being a scientific finding. It certainly doesn't show the findings to be "unique" to the conclusion of UCD.

Pro says, "If common descent isn't true, organisms that are morphologically similar would be molecularly different because of the functional redundancy of cytochrome c." Again I ask, how could Pro possibly know that to be the case?? That statement doesn't even make good sense, much less being scientifically supported. No evidence is presented to support that statement. It is simply assumption, argued as a scientific fact.

C2- Pro asks the reader to disregard Tomkins' study, in favor of the fact that his focuses on one ubiquitous protein. Tomkins' study however, is a "Comprehensive Analysis" of chromosomes. Pro is comparing apples and oranges. The reason I posted it was to show that although Pro is tunneling on cytochrome c, there are alot of discontinuities that he is ignoring.

Pro is misunderstanding my reason for bringing up Lynn Margulis. I wasn't trying to show that she disagrees with evolution. The point was to show that even evolutionists disagree amongst themselves as to whether mutations and natural selection are adequate as the driving force behind evolution.

C3- I did not drop any arguments regarding the fossil record, as Pro states. I have shown how that argument isn't supported by evidence, it is simply asserted as fact that similar fossils indicate common ancestry. That is an assumption, not science.

Pro continues to assert that the same process that causes different species of the same animal, also causes that animal to eventually evolve into a different kind of animal. He has presented no evidence to support his claim, and in fact tried to shift the burden for disproof, to me. That is an unfounded assertion, and has never been observed. Pro states that it can't be observed because it takes long periods of time. That is a tacit admission that UCD proposes something that is not seen, thus he must make assumptions, and assert as fact things that he can't actually support scientifically, as this debate has shown.

From there he goes back to an argument against what he says I believe, regarding "kinds". Once again, attacking my personal religious beliefs is just a red herring, and does not help him at all in trying to uphold the resolution. Frankly it's irrelevant.


In summary, all the evidence presented by Pro suffers from the same problems. It is rife with unscientifically supported assertion as fact, and assumptions. I have shown how nested hierarchies, phylogenetic trees, fossil arguments, and vestigial organs, all stem from the same assumption. That is that similarity equals relatedness, thus common descent. I have shown that Pro can't possibly have done any comparative studies to show what should be found in unrelated individuals. In fact, if the scientists were indeed comparing unrelated individuals, they couldn't even possibly recognize that fact due to the assumption that they are comparing related organisms.

As I've shown over the course of this debate, all of Pro's arguments including his conclusion of UCD, fulfill all of the requirements in the definition of pseudo-science that was agreed upon.

His arguments are not subject to any kind of non-biased scientific method that doesn't contain assumptions of facts that are not supported by evidence. Without being supported by scientific evidence, there is no way to reliably test the theory since everything is assumed to be related. It cannot compare unrelated organisms to show how the results should look, we are left to just assume that Pro is correct when he says that "unrelated organisms that are morphologically similar should be molecularly different". We can't falsify the theory because we can't produce an organism that Pro would believe is unrelated, and show why it's unrelated. Instead we're left with only one way to falsify the theory.

My burden, in this debate, does not include refuting, point-by-point, the accuracy of each of Pro's assertions. It was to show how Pro's case, and the conclusion of UCD is pseudo-science. I have fulfilled that burden.

Pro, on the other hand, has not shown any evidence to support his assertion that similarity equals shared ancestry. That assumption is at the root of all his arguments and evidence. Without factual support for that assumption, his entire case falls apart. He has no actual scientific evidence for UCD. He has not fulfilled his burden in this debate, which was to show that UCD is a "scientific" explanation for the genetic origins of living organisms.

I thank the readers, as well as Falcon for the challenge, and for a fun and interesting debate.


Debate Round No. 4
22 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by GarretKadeDupre 3 years ago
GarretKadeDupre
Yea, good point. But no, it wasn't a typo. Although I retract my statement and given the opportunity I'd vote for CON now, I meant that Universal Common Descent is the best way to explain primitive fossils being older and more complex ones being younger.
Posted by medic0506 3 years ago
medic0506
Anyway, to me this is enough to relegate claims about the fossil record to nothing more than speculation...

"Any argument using the fossil record as evidence is void until Pro can show that animals can evolve from different kinds of animals. Until that is shown, evolutionists are just lining up fossils that show some similarities, and asserting that they are related, as if it were established fact. That process however, does not establish an evolutionary relationship between any two sets of bones. Pro's C2 is another example of pseudo-science."

Given that we can't see organisms evolving into, or from other types of organisms, and that no human in history has seen that on a macro scale, if you believe that two sets of bones from two different creatures, found in the ground, are related by ancestry then you are doing so on assumption.

Seems to me that is a self-evident fact and if people don't see it then nothing I say is going to stop them from believing what they want to believe.
Posted by medic0506 3 years ago
medic0506
@GKD

Is this a typo??...

"In other words, he didn't argue against the fact that the older the fossil, the more primitive it is. That is what lost him this debate."

Should I have argued that the older the fossil, the less primitive it is?? If this isn't a typo then I'm confused.
Posted by GarretKadeDupre 3 years ago
GarretKadeDupre
I wish I could have voted on this debate. Oh well. Here's my analysis:

Pro won by a hair. Con successfully rebutted the tie between molecular and morphological similarities by pointing out that there it's impossible to falsify Pro's assumption that the chance of similar-looking animals having similar cytochrome c proteins.

Unfortunately, Con failed to explain away the link between fossil similarities, and the AGE of fossils. In other words, he didn't argue against the fact that the older the fossil, the more primitive it is. That is what lost him this debate.
Posted by GarretKadeDupre 3 years ago
GarretKadeDupre
" According to the standard tree, we would expect intermediates between birds and reptiles and between birds and mammals. However, we would not expect to find intermediates between birds and mammals"

So, we expect intermediates between birds and mammals... However, we don't expect intermediates between birds and mammals?

What?
Posted by Enji 4 years ago
Enji
Although Mr. Scruffles vote on arguments is equally unjustified.
Posted by Enji 4 years ago
Enji
Pennington gave Con arguments because "Pro continues to use the word "assumption" or "assumes" for his argument. It is obvious that these words are a must and he can"t conclude common descent without them." (paraphrased from RFD)

In truth, Pro used the word "assumption" or "assumes" only 8 times (for comparison, medic used those words 33 times). Of the times which Pro did use those words, he never used them as evidence for evolution. Six of those times, Pro used them to explain how the initial assumptions which Con criticises are verified via empirical testing showing the conclusion to be true ("When a different, independent method gives us the same result as our initial assumption with startlingly high statistical significance, the conclusion is that our initial assumption is true."). The other times the words are used in reference to a statement made by Con ("Con claims that common descent ought to be assumed."). As such, I don't believe Pennington's RFD sufficiently justifies his vote.
Posted by Silence_Boy 4 years ago
Silence_Boy
Evolution is a theory, which means no one thus far has ever been able to disprove it and every piece of evidence ever collected agrees with it. I believe universal common decent is a theory aswell.
Posted by alpha3031 4 years ago
alpha3031
wait is it a theroy. or hypothieses
Posted by medic0506 4 years ago
medic0506
My bad, I assumed you voted since you were talking about bias.
10 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Vote Placed by Enji 4 years ago
Enji
F-16_Fighting_Falconmedic0506Tied
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Reasons for voting decision: Con criticizes the Twin Nested Hierarchy for following the "argument from homology": that similarity implies common descent. Con argues that similarity on account of a common designer could result in the similar morphological and molecular phylogenies. Pro correctly addresses this, arguing that DNA sequences coding for ubiquitous proteins independent from morphology are considered in the creation of the molecular tree; similarities between the independent trees despite the numerous other alternatives are best explained by evolution (or a deceptive God who created evidence giving the appearance of common decent). Con's further criticisms of why morphological and molecular trees should match under common design show a misunderstanding of the significance of considering ubiquitous sequences, asserting that there is no reason why organisms which are morphologically similar should not also be molecularly similar; pro's sources verify his claims, showing con's criticisms to be unfounded.
Vote Placed by Wnope 4 years ago
Wnope
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Reasons for voting decision: Con's own source went against him (Lynn Margulis). Con dismissed the twin nested hierarchy as circular reasoning after Pro already corrected him on the subject. Con failed to present Evolution in an intellectually honest form by expecting change taking millions of years to become apparent in decades. Con showed extreme inability to comprehend statistical testing, since he simply dismissed the complete falsification of the null hypothesis with statistical significance. Con also displays extreme ignorance in arguing that we should expect morphological variations and morphologically-independent gene variations should match under any schema other than universal common descent.
Vote Placed by Misterscruffles 4 years ago
Misterscruffles
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Reasons for voting decision: "Universal Common descent is a scientific explanation for the genetic origins of living organisms" Pro met his BOP easily, and then went on to further demolish con's arguments.
Vote Placed by bladerunner060 4 years ago
bladerunner060
F-16_Fighting_Falconmedic0506Tied
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Reasons for voting decision: Con's view of the scientific method is skewed. He offers little by way of actual rebuttal, rather trying to find a semantically fault, then scrabbling with his nonspecific, mutable definition of "kind". Pro showed why cons soure was invalid within the debate, winning reliability.
Vote Placed by Rational_Thinker9119 4 years ago
Rational_Thinker9119
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Reasons for voting decision: I think Medic0506 did a god job at pointing how similarities do not necessarily point to common descent, and that F-16_Fighting_Falcon didn't really have a compelling rebuttal to this. However, I feel that 16_Fighting_Falcon did a good job showing common descent with regards to the fossil record, and that Medic's rebuttals were not too compelling. I cannot call a winner, so I call it a tie as far as convincing arguments go. However, F-16 had a lot of good sources, so I think I'll give sources to F-16. Great debate!
Vote Placed by Pennington 4 years ago
Pennington
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Reasons for voting decision: This was a very interesting debate. I felt Pro did well explaining common descent but he continues to use the word 'assumption' or 'assumes' for his argument. It is obvious that these words are a must. He never convinces me that he can make those conclusions without them. Con does a adequate job showing this and fulfills his burden. I tie all other points. If Pro were correct then he would not need to assume anything but it would already be a fact without assumption.
Vote Placed by tmar19652 4 years ago
tmar19652
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Reasons for voting decision: Sources is an obvious win for pro. I will revise my vote later and add in an arguments vote.
Vote Placed by RoyLatham 4 years ago
RoyLatham
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Reasons for voting decision: Pro gives the science and documents it as being the nearly-universal opinion of scientists. Con makes a "God the Trickster" argument that while the evidence agrees with a common decent explanation, it is also possible that God (implied) created everything in a way that implied common descent while actually having been accomplished by methods defying scientific explanation. God the Trickster cannot be overcome logically -- the universe could, logically, have created yesterday with all our memories, etc. However, a scientific explanation remains scientific even if there is a non-scientific alternative. A clear win for Pro. Nice use of relevant graphics by Pro.
Vote Placed by SavedByChrist94 4 years ago
SavedByChrist94
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Reasons for voting decision: Evolution is a Scientific Impossibility
Vote Placed by badbob 4 years ago
badbob
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Reasons for voting decision: First I would like to say I was impressed with both sides. It was a good debate. Both sides did well. I give the edge to medico for a few reasons.he showed to my satisfaction some homologous and that evidence can be mis I tear pretend such as conclusions that evolutions make are assumptions. He showed similarities do not prove common ancestor. Well done to both sides.