The Instigator
Cooperman88
Pro (for)
Losing
21 Points
The Contender
Rob
Con (against)
Winning
130 Points

evolution is wrong

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/12/2007 Category: Religion
Updated: 9 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 4,456 times Debate No: 292
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (17)
Votes (50)

 

Cooperman88

Pro

There are too many problems with many of the claims evolutionists use to justify their beliefs. Take for example the fossil record. There is an enormous gap between the simpler organisms and the more complex organisms. There is also a problem with their theory of how birds evolved. The example most defenders of evolution use is that of the archaeopteryx. while it looks like it is half reptile half bird, scientists who study such things say that it was closer to a flightless bird much like our own ostrich.
Rob

Con

First, it should be noted that gaps in the fossil record are not a problem for evolution because evolutionary theory does not predict a gapless fossil record. In fact, many scientists find it surprising that there aren't _more_ gaps, considering how rarely fossilization occurs.

Gaps in the record do make it difficult for us to reconstruct precise evolutionary lineages in many cases, but that doesn't make the occurrence of evolution itself any less likely. Suppose someone jumped, and it was too dark for you to see how high they jumped; would that constitute evidence against the theory of gravity?

With that established, I would ask which gap you are referring to? Which "simpler organisms" and "more complex organisms" are you describing?

If anything, the problem we have is not a lack of intermediaries, but rather a dearth of fossil remains of those simpler creatures: creatures lacking hard body parts almost never fossilize, so the further back we go, the sparser the record is. However, it is important not to forget that this is consistent with evolutionary theory: larger, harder, more structured body parts would be expected to come after smaller, simpler, softer ones in the fossil record, and this is what we find. It would be a devastating blow to evolutionary theory if we found that the reverse were true, and more complex or structured organisms chronologically predated all simple life.

Regarding how birds evolved, I'm not sure what point you're trying to make. You concede that the Archaeopteryx demonstrates morphological features of both reptiles and birds, but then make the irrelevant point that Archaeopteryx may have been flightless. Why does that matter? Whether Archaeopteryx was flight-capable or not doesn't change its morphological features, just their functionality.

If anything, the idea that Archaeopteryx was flightless supports the evolutionary link between non-avian dinosaurs and birds, because it provides further evidence that Archaeopteryx wasn't a typical bird, but may have retained its ancestors' flightlessness. If this is so, Archaeopteryx was not only morphologically transitional, but also transitional in its flight capabilities: it may have only been capable of gliding.

I also seriously doubt that any self-respecting scientist has ever claimed that Archaeopteryx is "much like our own ostrich". The two could hardly be more different.
Debate Round No. 1
Cooperman88

Pro

You say in your fourth paragraph that "creatures lacking body parts almost never fossilize, so the further back we go, the sparser the record is. However, it is important not to forget that this is consistent with evolutionary theory: larger, harder, more structured body parts would be expected to come after smaller, simpler, softer ones in the fossil record, and this is what we find." This doesn't fit with your gap theory. If more complex creatures are more likely to create fossils, then why is there a gap. This gap would suggest that there were harder more complex creatures that left fossils, and then there were simpler, softer creatures that didn't leave fossils behind AFTER those complex creatures. Then all of a sudden there were complex creatures again that left fossils. How is that possible?

Now for your example of a person jumping. Just because I couldn't see how high the person jumped doesn't mean i would jump to the conclusion that there was no gravity. But this is a bad example. In order for it to fit, the person who jumped would have to tell me how high they jumped. Did they jump? yes. How high? I don't know. I couldn't see it. Just as with gaps in the fossil record, is there a difference? Yes. Did they evolve? We don't know. We couldn't see it. In your first paragraph, you say that the gaps in the fossil record don't pose a threat to evolutionary theory. I disagree. Just because scientists don't assume that there will be a complete fossil record, doesn't mean there shouldn't be. In order for a person to claim something to be true, there has to be evidence to back that claim up. If scientists say that organisms evolved, there had better be evidence to back that up. When there is a gap in the fossil record, there is no evidence to back that up. We may see two different organisms, one before the time when we don't have a fossil record of and one after that same time, but this doesn't mean that the one evolved into the other. This is the "I jumped seven feet high" claim. And the only thing that needs to happen is the proof. Once it's proven, great. We'll end the debate, and I forfeit. But the gap stops that from happening.

As for which gap I'm talking about, there are many. But if you want to specifically talk about one gap, then let's talk about Romer's Gap. This is the gap between organisms of the water becoming organisms of the land. It is a gap of what scientist's say is 20 to 30 million years. I of course disagree with an old earth theory, but that doesn't particularly matter in this debate.

I do say that the archaeopteryx was flightless. You are right about that. But what you fail to address, is that I also said it was a flightless BIRD. Not a flightless reptile/bird. Scientists say that it was not a reptile at all. It was a flightless bird. Like our ostrich. Now granted, there are many differences between our ostrich and the archaeopteryx, but they are both flightless. That is what "much like our own ostrich" is referring to. It's ability to fly. You say "Why does that matter? Whether Archaeopteryx was flight-capable or not doesn't change its morphological features, just their functionality." In order for the archaeopteryx to be the "missing link" between reptiles and birds, it has to have the functionality of both. It can't just have the features of both. A reptile wouldn't evolve feathers just for fun. Feathers by themselves, would hinder a reptile. They wouldn't make it better. Evolution is based off of the strong surviving, and mutations that help the species out. If a reptile had feathers but couldn't fly, what good does it do that reptile? The functionality of the archaeopteryx's feathers is just as important if not more important than the morphological significance. So it can't be the missing link between birds and reptiles. Like I already said, it was just a flightless bird. Not even a little reptile. So there's another gap we can talk about. The gap between flightless organisms, and flying organisms.
Rob

Con

Neither evolutionary biology nor geology predict that fossilization will occur at a consistent rate throughout the whole history of life. Fossilization is an exceedingly rare occurrence; to expect it to occur with absolute regularity is like expecting a meteor to strike a specific place on the Earth every 1,358 years. Nature is simply not that consistent. We expect the overwhelming majority of species to not be fossilized: if this weren't the case, there'd be so many fossils that you literally couldn't turn over any rock without seeing one. Because the circumstances that lead to fossilization require such precise, unusual environmental conditions, and must coincide so perfectly with an organism's death (else it'll decompose too quickly), there are a variety of ecological factors that can make one period of time have less fossils than another.

None of this, however, has anything to do with the theory of evolution per se: it has more to do with geology than biology. Evolution makes a grand total of zero predictions about how many fossils we will find; all it predicts is that when we do find fossils, they will tend to show sequential variation over time (e.g., we won't find fossil rabbits in the Pre-Cambrian).

"Just because I couldn't see how high the person jumped doesn't mean i would jump to the conclusion that there was no gravity." - Exactly. And just as you wouldn't assume that gravity stops working as soon as you don't observe an instance of it, you also shouldn't assume that evolution stops working as soon as you don't observe an instance of it. The biological process of evolution is at work constantly, on a very small and gradual scale, all around us: whenever a person inherits a parent's traits, whenever a person differs in minor ways from their parents, and whenever a certain group of people has traits that let them outcompete another group, that is evolution. Heredity, variation, and selection: that's all that's really needed. So, since we always observe this in the world around us, on every scale from bacteria to plants to fruit flies to dogs to humans, we have no reason to assume that evolution suddenly, for no reason whatsoever, simply "stops" as soon as we look away.

"I don't know. I couldn't see it." - You miss the point of the analogy. The point wasn't that you trust that the person jumped even though you couldn't see it; the point was that you trust that _gravity persisted_ even though you couldn't see an instance of its effects. In the same way, there is no reason to doubt that evolution occurs (i.e., that species inherit traits, that those traits vary, and that some traits are more beneficial for organisms than others) just because we can't see every single example of its effects in every period in history. Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, no?

"Did they evolve? We don't know. We couldn't see it." - Nor do we know that gravity was operational at that time. Yet, lacking a reason to think that it wasn't, it is safe to assume that gravity and evolution persisted during this time. Are you familiar with the scientific principle of uniformitarianism? When you wake up in the morning, you assume gravity persists until you receive evidence to the contrary; you don't skeptically wait until you have proof of it every single morning.

"Just because scientists don't assume that there will be a complete fossil record, doesn't mean there shouldn't be." - Um, in this case, that's exactly what it means. Explain to me why, exactly, there should be a complete fossil record? Why would the natural world care about fossilization enough to provide us with such a flawless record?

"In order for a person to claim something to be true, there has to be evidence to back that claim up. If scientists say that organisms evolved, there had better be evidence to back that up." - Correct. And there is. http://www.talkorigins.org...

"But the gap stops that from happening." - Why? You have yet to explain why the gaps are a problem for evolutionary theory. Gaps don't provide evidence that evolution isn't occurring; all they do is _fail_ to provide us with evidence of _how_ evolution is occurring. In the jumping analogy, not seeing someone jump doesn't provide evidence against gravity; all it does is _fail_ to provide us with evidence of _how_ gravity is influencing the jump.

"I also said it was a flightless BIRD." - And I did not dispute that. It was a bird. Of course, since all birds are, in a sense, dinosaurs, it was also a dinosaur: modern biologists consider birds to be members of the Maniraptora grouping of dinosaurs. In the last 11 years, 17 species of feathered dinosaurs have been discovered. If you get your biology information from scientists rather than from Jurassic Park, for example, you'll be aware that Velociraptor was quite small and had developed wings: see http://en.wikipedia.org...

Indeed, biologists consider Archaeopteryx to be more similar to small theropod dinosaurs than to modern birds: like deinonychosaurs, and unlike modern birds, it has sharp teeth, three fingers with claws, hyperextensible second toes, a long bony tail, and many other dinosaurian skeletal features. Its classification as a bird is arbitrary, since biologists could just as easily have narrowed the clade's scope and said that they were non-avian dinosaurs ancestral to birds, rather than some of the earliest birds. Its relationship to other species is the same either way.

"In order for the archaeopteryx to be the "missing link" between reptiles and birds, it has to have the functionality of both." - No, it doesn't. When has anyone ever said that? For something to be a "missing link", it has to have features of both groups; it doesn't have to be perfectly functional in every respect for both, which would obviously be impossible. Creationists have often argued that bird wings could not have evolved, because, after all, "what use is half a wing?" Well, the Archaeopteryx answers that question: "half a wing" is extremely useful, for gliding purposes.

"It can't just have the features of both." - Um... wrong. That's the _definition_ of a transitional species. Features are what species inherit, and thus are all that matters to identify evolutionary links; functionalities are, in a sense, just a side-effect of those features.

"A reptile wouldn't evolve feathers just for fun." - Correct. Fortunately, there is an obvious benefit to having feathers even without wings (which is why even flightless birds like ostriches still have feathers): insulation. Various dinosaurs, such as Velociraptors, evolved primitive feathers for the same reason that various mammal-like reptiles, such as Cynodonts, evolved primitive fur: to keep warm.

"Feathers by themselves, would hinder a reptile. They wouldn't make it better." - How would they hinder it? Do feathers hinder ostriches? Does hair hinder humans? Do whiskers hinder cats? You assume too much.

"The functionality of the archaeopteryx's feathers is just as important if not more important than the morphological significance." - Not for determining that Archaeopteryx is transitional between non-avian dinosaurs and birds. Rather, its importance is only for determining what selective pressures caused the earliest birds to evolve from flightless species like Archaeopteryx.

Since we have found dinosaur fossils with feathers but without wings, this shows that feathers predate wings and must have had a separate functionality from flight (thermoregulation being the most obvious candidate, though perhaps not the only one--other possible uses include for display, sexual selection, covering nests while brooding, or added speed and thrust in running up inclined slopes). Likewise, since Archaeopteryx has feathers and wings, but could not fly, this shows that both feathers and wings could evolve gradually even before true flight was possible for primitive birds: both assisted in gliding.
Debate Round No. 2
Cooperman88

Pro

I understand that niether evolutionary biology nor geology predict that fosilization will occur at a consistent rate throughout the whole history of life. But the fact that the gaps are there show how it is inconsistent. You are making a claim blindly. You say that just because we can't see how the evolution happened doesn't mean it didn't happen. But it doesn't mean it did either. You and I are using the same logic. You say that you assume it happens because it happened everywhere else, but I say I assume it didn't happen because it never happened anywhere else.

You completely forgot what I said on your analogy. I said that it's not a matter of whether gravity persisted, it's a matter of how high you jumped. You can't say you jumped 7 feet high without proof. You can't say that evolution happened without proof. And yes, I understand everything you said about proof. You are saying something happened during the time we have no evidence of. You are making a completely blind assumption about what happened. You can't do this. To say that species evolved without the evidence of them evolving is absurd.

You also forgot to argue Romer's Gap with me. I said that there is a gap between organisms living in water, to organisms living on land. That one is pretty important to evolution. Yet you conveniently forget that. You as the opposition of this debate have to prove that evolution is right. That is all. If you can't do that, you lose. And you haven't done that. Especially when you forget Romer's Gap.

"And just as you wouldn't assume that gravity stops working as soon as you don't observe an instance of it, you also shouldn't assume that evolution stops working as soon as you don't observe an instance of it." I don't assume evolution has ever worked. EVER. So yes, especially if I see an instance where there is a problem with it I will assume it doesn't work.

It is fitting to talk here about what evolution is. Throughout this entire debate we have been talking about macroevolution, or the evolution of one species into a different species. Not microevolution, or the changing of a species within that same species. You give the examples of bacteria, plants, fruit flies, humans, and dogs. None of these examples that you are talking about specifically, are examples of them changing species. Yes, dogs may breed to make a different breed entirely, but not a new species entirely. Fruit flies may adapt to their environment, and moths may change color based on their environment, but they did not change species entirely. That is what we have been talking about throughout the debate. So please, stick to macroevolution.

And no, I didn't misunderstand the purpose of the analogy, I said it was flawed. Then I fixed it. You're saying that you jumped high. Now prove it. You can't. I couldn't see it, so I can't know you did in all actuality jump high. Yes, I am familiar with the principle of uniformitarianism. But the basis of your statement relies on your belief that evolution is true. You are saying, evolution is true because evolution is true. That doesn't make sense. You can't say that. It's illogical. You must prove that evolution is true, therfore throwing off your presupposition that evolution is true. You have to start by saying it isn't true. Then because of certain reasons which you have yet to provide, come to the realization that it is true. You haven't done that.

You say that I have yet to prove that the gaps pose a problem with evolutionary theory. Oh, I didn't know that without evidence showing how an organism from the water became an organism on the land is automatically true. I forgot that just because I am debating evolution, I automatically have to accept that it is true. Oh wait. No I don't. It's your burden to prove how it is true. When there is a gap such as Romer's Gap, you can't automatically assume it happened. You have to PROVE it did. You have to PROVE that simple organisms evolved into complex organisms. You also forgot to argue how there were fossils, then there weren't, and then there were. You said that it is possible that there are just no fossils of them because the conditions weren't right. You mean to tell me the conditions weren't right for 20 to 30 MILLION YEARS? That seems a little absurd to me. Surely there would be some evidence of fossils from thirty million years. To think otherwise is stupidity. Now let's go back to the actual problem posed by the gap. You say that complex creatures with hard features are going to fossilize, while less complex softer creatures aren't. I agree. That makes sense. But with a gap, there are harder complex creatures that fossilized. Then there are no fossils, meaning softer less complex creatures died and didn't fossilize, then there are harder complex creatures that fossilized. So the gap means that they "devolved" by getting less complex. That is a huge problem with the gap in the fossil record.

Now on to the archaeopteryx. I must say that it is sad when you start using wikipedia as your source for information. I may as well get information from jurassic park. Both would obviously be legitimate. But since the archaeopteryx isn't in jurassic park, at least not that I know of I haven't seen the movies, then I'll disregard that last statement. Now you say that the feathers would be a good thing because it provides insulation. Now you do say that is only one of many possibilities. But then we must talk about complexity. Evolution is based off of traits being passed on from one generation to another. How were feathers passed on? It must have been a mutation. But when, in the history of all histories, has a mutation created DNA? EVER. No where in any recorded history has a mutation increased the complexity of an organism. And that's what would have to happen in order for feathers to all of a sudden exist. And that's not possible. Which means that feathers would have to have been passed down. Which means that they couldn't have evolved. Which means that the archaeopteryx, was not a dinosaur. And by dinosaur, I mean what we think of when we were young. A T-rex, or stegosaurus. Those types of dinosaurs. It was as I have already said, a bird. A flightless bird. And yes, I already said that the archaeopteryx and an ostrich have nothing but being flightless in common. But that's all I was referring to when I said "much like our own ostrich." That only had to do with flight. ONLY with flight. ONLY WITH FLIGHT. There, I don't think you can miss that. If I forgot part of what you said, I'm sorry, since I can't exactly read what was posted below the actual debate.
Rob

Con

"You say that just because we can't see how the evolution happened doesn't mean it didn't happen. But it doesn't mean it did either." - You're right. It doesn't mean anything regarding evolution's validity, and I never said otherwise. Which is why I find it curious that you're fixating on "gaps": if you want to disprove evolutionary theory, then if anything you'll need to focus on where there _aren't_ gaps.

"You can't say that evolution happened without proof." - I already gave you proof. You don't seem to understand what evolution is. If evolution didn't occur, people wouldn't need new flu shots every year. Bacteria wouldn't develop a resistance to antibiotics over time. Plants and animals could not be bred to cultivate certain traits. People would not have different skin tones based on whether their ancestors lived in high-sunlight or low-sunlight parts of the world. And so on. All of that is evolution.

"You are making a completely blind assumption about what happened." - No more blind than the assumption that gravity continues to exist even when it's too dark to see it operating on someone.

"You can't do this." - Then you can't say that gravity exists.

"I said that there is a gap between organisms living in water, to organisms living on land." - Yes, and I pointed out that evolution doesn't predict whether or not there are gaps in the fossil record. Therefore you can't use that as evidence against evolution. If you want to use it to dispute _how_ land animals evolved, go ahead; but there are plenty of transitional fossils, e.g., Tiktaalik, that make it pretty clear that amphibians developed from lobe-finned fish. See http://en.wikipedia.org...

"That one is pretty important to evolution." - It's not important to evolution, it's important to understanding the specific way organisms evolved. Evolution occurs regardless of how life evolved, just like gravitation occurs regardless of the particular orbits of planets.

Also, note that the topic of this debate is "evolution is wrong", not "evolution is right". I don't have to prove evolution to win, I merely have to dismantle your arguments that it is wrong, and I win by default. You brought up the topic; I await any substantive criticisms of evolution to address.

"I don't assume evolution has ever worked. EVER." - Then you're ignorant of what evolution is. If all of evolutionary theory was false, you would essentially be identical to your parents; indeed, all related organisms would be identical. Biological evolution is "change in the gene pool of a population from generation to generation by such processes as mutation, natural selection, and genetic drift." Unless you can prove that populations of organisms never change, you've already lost this debate.

"You give the examples of bacteria, plants, fruit flies, humans, and dogs. None of these examples that you are talking about specifically, are examples of them changing species." - That's not true. Speciation has been observed in many species of fruit flies and plants (the obvious reason being that such species have much shorter lifespans than larger animals, and thus can diverge much more quickly; it would take many thousands of years to produce the same level of chromosomal change in humans or dogs). See http://www.talkorigins.org...

So macroevolution has been observed a number of times, despite being extremely rare and usually taking millions of years to clearly occur.

Besides which, it should be noted that there is no actual difference between microevolution and macroevolution, except one of scale. Many members of different species (for example, horses and donkeys) can interbreed to produce infertile offspring; some can even produce fertile offspring on rare occasions. This shows that what separates different species is a matter of degree, not always a hard-and-fast line. If one concedes that microevolution occurs, then all that is needed for macroevolution is (1) a lot of microevolution, and (2) reproductive isolation.

"That is what we have been talking about throughout the debate." - And here I thought we were talking about evolution. It sounds to me like you are conceding this debate, since all the things you concede occur (new dog breeds and moth colorations and the like) constitute evolution, just as much as speciation does. Now it sounds like you want to start a new debate, about whether "macroevolution" or "speciation" really occurs. Which is fine by me, but it's not necessary for me to address that here, since you've already conceded that evolution occurs, if only on a "micro-" scale.

"You are saying, evolution is true because evolution is true." - No, I'm not. I welcome you to cite a quote where I said that. In reality, what I said was that evolution isn't false just because we don't have 100% of the fossil record. You claimed the reverse, but now seem to have changed your argument yet again.

"You have to PROVE that simple organisms evolved into complex organisms." - Again, science is not based on proof. It is based on inferring from the evidence to the most plausible explanation. The fossil record shows that the earliest species were simple, and that they became progressively more complex over time. It shows that similar species always appear around the same time in the fossil record. It shows, for example, that reptile-like birds with rudimentary wings appear in the fossil record during the time between feathered non-avian dinosaurs and birds. Molecular evidence shows that we share DNA with other species, with more shared between more similar species. None of this "proves" evolution, because nothing in science can ever be proven, no matter how much evidence is accumulated; even the theory of gravity may turn out to be false someday. But what it does show is that evolutionary theory is the most _likely_ explanation for the diversity we see in the biological world. It explains the sequence in which we see organisms in the fossil record, as well as the morphological and genetic similarities we see between different species even today. Creationism explains neither of these, and is thus useless to science as of yet.

You seem to misunderstand what Romer's Gap is. Remember, a gap isn't evidence of how organisms have evolved: it's an absence of evidence. There are, in fact, fossils from that time period, just not as many as from the periods before and after it. And I already explained that climate issues, not "devolution" (which, incidentally, is a type of evolution, such as that acting on vestigial structures to conserve resources), are the likely cause of that geologically brief period of fewer fossils. Pederpes finneyae, one of the many tetrapod-transitional species like Tiktaalik, was found smack dab in the middle of Romer's Gap a few years ago.

"I must say that it is sad when you start using wikipedia as your source for information." - I wasn't using Wikipedia as a source, I was providing it for you to learn about topics you were apparently ignorant about. It's a good introduction, and the article I cited is a "featured" one, meaning it's met significant review and its claims are cited. Check the "References" section at the bottom of that article if you want sources.

"But when, in the history of all histories, has a mutation created DNA? EVER." - Mutations don't "create DNA" (if by that you mean create new DNA molecules); they alter DNA, resulting in new and different traits. If you are asking for an example of this, then see: Negoro, S., K. Kato, K. Fujiyama and H. Okada. 1994. "The nylon oligomer biodegradation system of Flavobacterium and Pseudomonas. Biodegradation" 5: 185-194.

"No where in any recorded history has a mutation increased the complexity of an organism." - That isn't true; gene duplication and gene insertion are commonplace, in fact. And if you want a more dramatic example, read up on polymelia.
Debate Round No. 3
17 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by aremisasling 9 years ago
aremisasling
I would have made sure to bring up human evolution. As we are very anthropocentric, we have followed our own evolutionary history very intently and can trace our own lineage by minute shifts in bone structure throughout the body. We can take these minor incremental changes and step, piece by piece, back through time over 4.5 million years. We can even demonstrate that we had homonid cousins that had similar, but less successful traits.

I would also have contended that the wonderful flood theory fails to take into account that hundreds of beds of sediment have been found showing plants in nearly every strata. How does one explain through flood, the careful deposition of hundreds of well-preserved plants and in many cases, animals, in proper orientation and in a demonstrably evolutionary pattern with the less complex at bottom and the more complex at the top? It was so apparent that Da Vinci at one point observed such a mechanism long before the science of paleontology had developed. If he was able to recognize it without the benefit of modern tools or the foundation on which the modern science was built, I suspect it is not as unbelievable or as flawed as its opponents suggest.

Aremis
Posted by Rob 9 years ago
Rob
Round 3, paragraph 2: "If evolution didn't occur, people wouldn't need new flu shots every year." :)

Also, thanks for the kind words! If anyone takes issue with anything I said above, feel free to bring it up or challenge me; I also welcome critiques so I can improve.
Posted by scottorwell 9 years ago
scottorwell
Rob obviously won but he missed one of the most simple arguments in favor of evolution. Quite simply the majority of our vaccination creation is based on the theory of evolution, especially the perpetually modified vaccine for the flu.
Posted by artC 9 years ago
artC
Wonderful debate. Very good job Rob.
Posted by schoolglutton 9 years ago
schoolglutton
Glad to see there are other atheists in Bloomington, Rob.
Posted by Rob 9 years ago
Rob
Also, I would be amiss to not note that Cooperman88's below comment is entirely erroneous. He used the wrong definition of "science" for this context: here, the second meaning applies, that being "systematic knowledge of the physical or material world gained through observation and experimentation". Random House is a poor source for scientific definitions, however; if you really want an accurate definition, see the AHD's: "The observation, identification, description, experimental investigation, and theoretical explanation of phenomena." All of this constitutes science.

Cooperman's most fundamental error, however, is his statement that "new theories are made into scientific fact". This is purely an invention of his own mind, with no basis in any scientific practice or work. Theories never become facts, because scientific theories (not to be confused with the colloquial meaning of "theory," which means practically the opposite of its scientific definition: a "speculation" or "guess") are explanatory models, whereas facts are observed data. Theories unify facts; theories, not facts, are the most important entities to science. Hypotheses become theories when they receive confirmation (or "proof", if you prefer), but theories can never graduate to a "higher" level, no matter how much evidence they accumulate. And I assume I don't even have to explain the absurdity of suggesting that scientific theories are not science!!
Posted by robzilla180 9 years ago
robzilla180
Tho I disagree with the theory of evolution, I must say that Rob has won the debate...And since we are supposed to vote on who won the debate, I must vote Rob...
Posted by Rob 9 years ago
Rob
Where to draw the line between reptile and non-reptile is ultimately arbitrary, and reflects only human convention and language usage; it has nothing to do with the actual characteristics of any species, and is more a relic of popular usage of the term "reptile", which predates any knowledge of birds' evolutionary relationships.

"Like our ostrich." - Please stop embarrassing yourself by comparing the Archaeopteryx to the ostrich. You might as well compare flying squirrels to whales. The Archaeopteryx was probably a small treetop glider, with large wings (albeit wings not quite as functional as later birds' wings); the ostrich is a huge runner with only small, vestigial wings. Other than the fact that neither can fly, the two have next to nothing in common.

If anything, it would be evidence _against_ evolution if Archaeopteryx and all other birds were completely flight-capable, while all preceding species were completely flight-incapable. This is because evolution demands that features evolve gradually, in an incremental, step-by-step process, from winglessness to small wings to larger wings and finally to fully flight-capable, modern wings. The fact that Archaeopteryx exhibits transitionality between non-avian dinosaur and bird not only in its morphology, but also in its functionality (since it seems to have had limited flight-like capabilities, but not perfect flight), provides further evidence for the relationship. Whether or not we classify it in "Aves" is an irrelevant footnote, a semantic triviality having only to do with how we choose to use our words.

"The gap between flightless organisms, and flying organisms." - Gap filled, thanks to our current discussion: Archaeopteryx had large, fully-feathered wings that allowed it either to fly for short periods, or merely to glide. It is therefore a transition between more effective fliers, and species that could not fly or glide at all. That was easy! :)
Posted by Rob 9 years ago
Rob
Your error is that you are trying to use the fact that you can't see a specific instance of X, as evidence against X: X being evolution in the case of gaps, and gravity in the case of the unseen jumping. You aren't arguing against the fact that the unseen jump occurred, just as you aren't arguing against the fact that life existed during the fossil record gap: rather, you're making the much more dubious claim that a general process simply ceased as soon as you couldn't see it.

This is not how science works. Science does not assume that all the world's processes simply "turn off" when we can't see them: it assumes at least a degree of consistency, until contrary evidence arises. You haven't yet provided any contrary evidence, so your entire argument falls flat. To argue against evolution or gravity, one would need to provide evidence that they _don't_ occur, not merely argue that we haven't directly observed them occurring in a particular unseen time and place.

"Scientists say that it was not a reptile at all." - That depends on how you define "reptile". You're getting into thorny taxonomic issues here, and not ones that actually have anything to do with how scientists view species' evolutionary lineages: generally speaking, scientists strive to make taxonomic groupings monophyletic--that is, they prefer to avoid excluding any descendants of a species in the grouping. However, this has never been the case for a few groupings, the most prominent being Sauropsida (formerly Reptilia). The sauropsid/reptile classification is considered paraphyletic as currently used, because it encompasses crocodiles, tuataras, lizards, snakes, amphisbaenids, turtles, tortoises, and various extinct species (including dinosaurs), but not birds, even though scientists have for over a century considered them to be descendants of reptiles, if not "reptiles" themselves.
Posted by Rob 9 years ago
Rob
You seem to be confusing the process of evolution with the particular reconstruction of how species evolved; this is as mistaken a view as confusing the force of gravity with the Big Bang theory or the theory of stellar evolution.

"We may see two different organisms, one before the time when we don't have a fossil record of and one after that same time, but this doesn't mean that the one evolved into the other." - I agree. But it does beg the question: where did the latter one come from, and where did the former one go? If the two organisms are very similar, but not identical, the most obvious answer is that the two are related somehow, and therefore, since the former precedes the latter, that the former is, if not the latter's ancestor, at least an uncle, aunt, or cousin. :) This is the most parsimonious explanation, and the most in keeping with all our observations of how the biological world works.

"And the only thing that needs to happen is the proof. Once it's proven, great." - You don't seem to understand what "proof" is. Technically speaking, by its formal logical definition, proof has no place in science, since science is a probabilistic endeavor, never a certain one. Science deals with empirical claims, so nothing can ever be "proven" in the sense of a mathematical proof; when we speak colloquially of "proof" in science, what we really mean is strong verification, a high likelihood based on the available evidence that something is the case. Thus, for example, we can say that the Earth is not flat, or that evolution occurs, even though neither proposition is absolutely certain, just exceedingly likely. By the scientific definition, evolution was proven long ago.
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