The Instigator
Pro (for)
0 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
6 Points

Evolution is backed by scientific evidence

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Post Voting Period
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after 2 votes the winner is...
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 8/3/2017 Category: Science
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 635 times Debate No: 103395
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (4)
Votes (2)




I will argue for evolution; Con argues for Creationism.
There are several facts that back up the theory of evolution.
1. Fossils
There is a clear and documented progression of fossils throughout the fossil record, including hundreds of fossils of transitional species like Ambulocetus natans(pakicetid to whale) and Homo habilis(Gorilla-like ape to human).
2. Microevolutionary experiments
There have been experiments in which new species are created in a lab - in fact, several have been done with flies. New species can develop in small, isolated populations of flies after several years.
If (as is very likely) life on earth has been aroud for billions of years, it is probable that evolution happened on a larger scale.
3. Imperfection
The human body has several "vestigial" organs - organs with no clear purpose. The wisdom teeth, tailbone, and some ligaments are examples.
Also, there are several examples of "bad design" such as the fact that images are reflected on the retina upside-down and that the brain is more emotion-driven than reason-driven.


First, let me note that I don't dispute the title of this debate. There is evidence for evolution. But evidence is only the raw material of truth, and may often, as in this matter, be interpreted different ways.

So let's start with a definition of "evolution" - The hypothesis that all extant life spontaneously descended from "one, or several, original forms" (Darwin's words). This is the ONLY sort of evolution I am interested in debating. I will relentlessly point out the equivocation of using the word evolution to refer to the sort of changes that are observed in human time frames. I am only debating the claims of the creative powers of mutation, not the ability of species to adapt.

Let's define "spontaneous" while we're at it: In a science context, spontaneous means 'without outside intervention'. "All by itself", in other words. I do not use spontaneous to mean "quickly".

And let me clarify my usage of the word "physics" - I am using 'physics' to encompass all the laws of physical nature: Chemical reactions, electricity, magnetism, etc., as well as mechanics.

So. As a practicing design engineer, my problem with evolution is at the lowest level. "What is it made of?" "What powers it", and so on. And the claim is that mutations that can be passed on occur (and the term mutation is horrendously vague and sloppy from a technical point of view), and if a mutation enables the specimen to reproduce more, there will be more offspring and the mutation rapidly spread. And if a mutation hurts the specimen, said mutation will tend to be weeded out. And if the mutation neither helps nor hinders reproduction, it will be passed on anyway. So this seems like it will obviously work in the case of a single mutation, no need to debate that. The 'problem' is that any significant change, like a whole new species, will require many, many sequential, related, mutations. And the 2nd related mutation is equally likely to harm and undo the positive effects of the first mutation. And the more sequential, related mutations you have, the more likely that it all evens out to 'neither positive nor negative'. Unless, that is, the original form was optimized, in which case the likelihood of net harm increases with each successive mutation. And the theory is in fact based on observations of already-highly-optimized life forms. This is why we call mutations 'genetic illness' when they occur in humans - mutations on optimized code will tend to be harmful.

I think many people think of Darwin's mechanisms (which are still the basis of modern evolution theory) as a sort of trial and error. But it's not, because there can be no 'error'. There is no bias in physics for life. Quite the opposite - nature tends to move to equilibrium. Nature likes death. You spin a top, the chain reaction of force causes it to spin, and while spinning, maintaining its vertical axis is the lowest energy state. But the top slows, wobbles, and eventually falls over. And then? Then it just lays there. What Darwin proposed is really just a chain reaction. Reproduction is a chain reaction, like an avalanche, or an explosion. But notice how chain reactions tend to be short lived - they run down and they just stop. Now, life is a chain reaction powered by the sun, so it can go on a long time, but everyone should be clear that nature will tend to run the reaction down, not up. Only careful balance of forces can produce a stable chain reaction, especially one like life that is built on exponentially increasing reproductions. A bomb is also an exponentially reproducing chain reaction, as is an avalanche, and you notice how quickly they run out of fuel.

Ok, now I'll address W3's point and then see if there's enough space to get to intelligent design.
First fossils - Let's all be clear what the "fossil record" actually is: It is the sum total of all the dead lifeforms dug out of the ground so far. The 'record' part of is created by sentient agents. As such there are no transitional species in 'the record'. There are only species that look like both A and B, so someone speculates, SPECULATES, that like-A-like-B is transitional. But I know very little about the fossil record really, so I'll conclude this part with this observation: Even if the collective remains of the dead do show a progression of life, that does not mean said progression is a result of Darwinian evolution, not in the slightest. My own amateur guess is that there have been several creations on earth, not a continuous progression. This readily explains discontinuities like 'the Cambrian explosion'.

Microevolutionary experiments - This is the equivocation I referred to. The original theory is that the small scale changes we observe in contemporary life can be extrapolated to explain all of the variety in life. So calling the phenomena upon which the hypothesis is based 'evolution', is nothing more than assuming the conclusion. So, I am not debating variation in reproduction - there is no need to bring it up again in this debate.

As to observed speciation, this is also equivocation. When Darwin titled his book "On the Origin of Species" he (by his own words) only meant something on the order of "all the different sorts of animals". He intended no precise definition of species, since he was proposing to explain how they ALL came to be. So again, claiming the sort of speciation done in the lab is the same as evolutionary speciation is to merely assume the conclusion. The sort of speciation seen in the lab could be called 'reproductive failure'. It is a matter of a population losing an ability, so it is no help in defending the notion that mutation could have created whales and squid and eyes and lungs and gills spontaneously.

So, #3, "Imperfection". Basically, and again from my perspective as an engineer, I think this line of argument is entirely an argument from ignorance. Every real world design of any complexity will have odd features that seem to make no sense at first. One of the things a rookie engineer quickly learns is not to 'fix' those odd features, because they are here for a reason - a previous engineer needed to avoid a heat issue, or a defect in a vendor's chip, or something like that. So let's take the appendix, an organ that was said to be vestigial when I was younger. But it's recently been found that the appendix incubates good bacteria, upon which our guts rely in extraordinary ways, and can repopulate the gut after severe illness. So calling the appendix useless was clearly an argument from ignorance.

And images being 'upside' down being bad design? That's just a tad bizarre actually - that's the nature of lenses, that's the way it has to be. A processor, like the brain, works equally well with top-to-bottom or bottom-to-top images, it just needs to know which it is.

So, the fact that evolution proponents can only find a few dubious and just-plain-wrong critiques of life's genius in fact points to design. Life appears to have intent - the various elements of life all appear to "do something". They are not merely shaped by the forces of nature, like river rock, but assembled in vastly complex patterns that accomplish innumerable and related functions, and working together for the function of the specimen, and for the ecosystem as a whole. These forms and functions could not have happened spontaneously, or at least no one has made any progress in demonstrating how even the smallest fraction of them might have occurred. For me, the final coffin in the nail of evolution is the discovery of DNA. DNA is code, like a recipe, and recipes are reductions of existing know-how. Code is written, it's just not the sort of thing that would arise spontaneously. I'm out of space - next time to Francis Crick and LSD.
Debate Round No. 1


On the point that "mutation" is vague: perhaps I should clarify.
I am referring to any natural, inheritable genetic changes which occur, especially when replicating DNA/RNA.
Following from this minor point, you state that after a beneficial mutation, it is likely that the next mutation will harm the organism. It is true that there are beneficial and harmful mutations. However, I dispute the claim that beneficial mutations will be reversed. It is much
Next, you point out that nature is not predisposed to life. Sure. Evolution is a chain reaction, powered by the sun. However, it should be noted that stars generally last hundreds of billions of years, and a planet in the right conditions, sustained by a star, can sustain (and depending on who you ask, perhaps create) life.
Now onto your rebuttal.
1. Fossils
You claim that Homo habilis and related fossils are speculated to be transitional, but may or may not actually be transitional. I don't dispute this claim; however, that there is a progression requires an explanation.
In order to explain the existence of Homo habilis, you state that God may have created life several times throughout history. This doesn't seem to explain why such a God would create the appearance of a progression. You would expect these various lifeforms to be much different from us, especially considering that God is supposedly a perfect being and wouldn't make any mistakes in creation.
2. Microevolutionary experiments
Like other apologists, Con points out the difference between the small-scale change seen today and the large-scale change supposedly reflected in the fossil record. Inductive reasoning can be used here, but I understand that v3nesl has a different idea, so I will let him explain that.
You also state that Darwin was not trying to explain genetically isolated groups. True; he was trying to explain the variety of lifeforms. Again I would like to invoke inductive reasoning here.
One of the best examples of microevolution is bacteria becoming antibiotic-resistant(including one strand which is entirely immune to antibiotics) and viruses evading the antibodies in vaccines (the reason for annual flu shots) - a clear example of a beneficial mutation which is not reversed by a future mutation, but in fact compounded by that mutation.
3. Imperfection
Vestigial organs are organs for which there is no explanation but inheritance. A human could easily be created without a tailbone (if some muscles were reorganized) or wisdom teeth (if diets were changed).
The appendix and second kidney may not be entirely purposeless, but humans can live without them.\
Further examples of bad design exist - here's one scientist reviewing all of the ways humans could be built to live longer.
Now back to your main arguments - you stated that DNA disproves evolution, but how so? Scholars do not generally support the belief that information can only come from a mind - after all, deterministic processes can also create information.
DNA is just as much of information as molecular structure is. However, it is universally agreed that molecules can be created without divine intervention.
DNA, in fact, shows the effects of evolution (duplicated genes, some genes which increase reproduction) so it cannot be said to disprove it.
Thank you for debating civilly.


Thanks W3. We're moving right along here!

So, when I say the term mutation is vague, that was not directed at you or your use of the term. I'm pointing out that as a technical term it's virtually meaningless. Here's the thing to note: The useful definition of mutation comes from intelligent design: A mutation is a change to the DNA code that wasn't supposed to happen. So "supposed to" implies intent, and voila, the DNA is intelligent design. It's supposed to do certain things, sometimes something mutant happens.

Francis Crick, discoverer of the DNA structure, wrote: "Biologists must constantly keep in mind that what they see was not designed" And why must they keep this in mind? Because the evidence keeps telling them it's designed. And why do want to keep telling themselves what they see is not what it appears to be? That's the $64K question, isn't it? Crick told a friend that he got the double helix structure of DNA when under the influence of LSD. I can't help but wonder - did the LSD help him overcome his anti-creator prejudice and thus enable him to see the exquisite genius that forms the foundation of all known life? DNA *is* code, that's really not debateable. It is a highly compressed version of the resultant lifeform. Each cell within our body contains the information needed to produce a copy of ourselves. That is an absolutely mind bending level of data compression. And it is literally a 3D code - much of the switching features of DNA only become apparent (and functional) when the DNA is 'rolled up' in its natural form. Sections of code far apart from each other linearly become adjacent and interactive in the 3D shape.

So one thing you can see: Darwinian evolution would have required great sophistication before evolution could even function. All life relies on DNA, and the very earliest life forms (like 3+ billion year old) would appear to be DNA based. This is like finding a Pentium processor in the caveman's lair. The difference between the earliest life and today's life is a firmware difference, not the sort of complete overhauls one would expect to see from blind chance. The basic technology of life appears to have been in place from day one, based on any available evidence.

So let me make a few points about antibiotic resistance. First, you have to be careful not to use language implying bacteria somehow figure out how to defeat antibiotics. If any such intent exists in the system, that would again be clear indication of design. Only designed systems can be doing things for a reason. So, to put it in purely technical terms, antibiotic resistance is a matter of hitting moving targets. Antibiotics disrupt bacteria or virus lifecycles in some way, and it often doesn't take much change for that disruption to no longer do the trick. If I told you to shoot all the redheads, the population would become more blond or brunette. That's not evolution, it's just selection working on genetic variation.

But again, antibiotic resistance isn't really relevant. I'm not disputing genetic variation, nor debating mutations. The hypothesis is that these mutations can accumulate on a vast scale and produce novelty. So there's no need to keep giving examples of variation - nobody - not just me - nobody is disputing that. The thing that must be demonstrated is the large scale novelty.

A note on "Imperfection" - the fact that you can lose a kidney, or a lung, and still keep going, that's the exact opposite of imperfection! That's redundancy. That's "fault tolerance" in engineering lingo, and it's a sign of robust design. Here's the problem: You're sweating to find some example of what would be bad design, and the fact that you have to work so hard on it, I think you will admit, is because any potential flaw is the exception to the rule. But if life had evolved by purely random, noise driven means, it would be about 50% junk. It's one of the first things I saw when first presented with the idea. Like the old joke about outrunning a lion - you don't need to be faster than a lion, just be faster than the slowest person in your party. Likewise, in evolution, you only have to reproduce a smidgen better than all the other pieces of junk around you. Optimization is a sign of design, not random forces. If you're using a rock for a hammer, you select one that kind of has a sort of flat face and some part you can hold on to. You're not going to select a rock with a wooden handle and a metal head, and lookey here! a claw on the back in case you bend the nail. No, designs only come about when there's a designer. A life is the claw hammer, not river rock.

Ok, "information". This could be several debates just on this. But note that at it's most general, information is by definition the product of intelligence. That's what it is. "Do you have any information on the new boss?". Information tells you *about* something, and its material form is rarely important. You can memorize a phone number, write it on a piece of paper, or save it on your phone, and the information, that virtual thing we call "a phone number", is the same in each case. I think the proper term for this sense of information is 'semantic information'. So pure information is semantic information, but we often refer to a representation of information as just 'information'. "Do you have that phone number?" and I hand you the paper on which I wrote the number, we'd likely call that paper the information. So there's a sense of information as the machinery of information transfer, or the 'semantic memory'. This is the sense of information that the evolutionist must mean, since he can't agree that DNA represents any actual semantic information. So the evolutionist must say DNA "looks like" information, but actually isn't. So life looks like design and is built on a foundation that looks like information. Me, I'm a simple man - why shouldn't life just be what it looks like? Why this convoluted explanation when the obvious one will do much better?

So yes, DNA does show modification, but I'd say it's designed to do so. That's genetics - variation is built into the recipe, and it apparently is part of the fault tolerance of the system. There are variations, on purpose, and may the best man win. It's a way of producing strength, but strength of the overall system, at the cost of the individual losers of the lottery. We don't like it when it's our time to die, but we can see how this recycling process produces a robust system overall. What is very different about what I'm describing and Darwinian evolution is that the variation is statistically bounded. Each species can vary somewhat, but maintains it's overall from. This is well illustrated by Lenski's long term e coli experiments - there was a cool anomaly once, with nylon digestion, but overall it's clear that the e coli will remain e coli for just as long as you want to run the experiment. There's variation, but no Darwinian evolution. No linear progression towards any novel features or species.

Ok, I'm hungry, I yield my remaining 1000 characters...
Debate Round No. 2


The reason that biologists must keep in mind that things are without design is because it is a last resort in science. God is an unnecessary addition to most theories - in almost every case, there is a simpler one that is secular.
Regarding your claim that DNA is a precondition for evolution: there are several hypotheses explaining how DNA may potentially have come about. Scientists recently found a way that RNA could be created using what is currently believed to be the conditions of the early earth, and hypothesize that small RNA knots were the first lifeforms. It's just a hypothesis, though.
I see ne reason not to inductively reason from evolving viruses and bacteria that major changes could happen.
On imperfection - being able to remove certain parts is indeed not imperfection. I was comparing them to certain vestigial organs.
Speaking of which, further examples of vestigial organs:



Ok, so I guess this is kind of a summary now, the final round.

You say, and I think you are right, that design is a last resort in [contemporary] science, and this is why biologists must have a bias against design. This is the contemporary thinking, but let's be clear: This is ideology, not science. It's bad thinking in any field to pre-decide what explanations you will allow. So we find that intelligent design is not rejected because it fails to explain the evidence, but because of an ideological stance.

I can't agree that "small RNA knots were the first lifeforms" is a hypothesis. A hypothesis is a proposed explanation of evidence, but in this case there isn't even any evidence to explain. It's pure speculation. There's nothing wrong with speculation, as long as we're clear that pure speculation is what's commonly known as "wild guess".

I guess I would summarize my position as this:
1) Intelligent design explains all the evidence nicely. Design is a well known phenomenon and what we know of it makes it a likely candidate for the origin(s) of life. It's hardly necessary to defend the basic concept since life so obviously 'works' as something that was designed on purpose. The similarities between the species are explained by design re-use; it points to a single designer.
2) Evolution fails because the proposed mechanisms are grossly inadequate. In the crime dramas, they say a suspect must have Means, Motive, and Opportunity. In a crude analogy, evolution has the motive (survival) and the opportunity (long ages), but not the means. It's like a suspect in a strangling case who hated the victim and has no alibi for the time of crime. But this suspect lost both arms in Afghanistan, so he doesn't have the means to have strangled the victim.

So, thanks for a civil debate, W3. It's been real!
Debate Round No. 3
4 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Posted by whiteflame 3 years ago
>Reported vote: jc1996// Mod action: Removed<

5 points to Con (Arguments, Sources), 2 points to Pro (Conduct, S&G). Reasons for voting decision: In my opinion, I agree with Con because of Biblical standpoint that evolution isn't backed by scientific evidence, but by theological context. In fact, the first five chapters of Genesis proves that humans came from God himself, being created from molded dust that gave life by breathing from the Lord. Besides, God made the Universe and science brought conflict to theological standpoint. In basis thereof, evolution vs. creation has been the debate since the Age of Enlightenment and the Reformation. With that, Con wins the debate.

[*Reason for removal*] (1) The voter doesn"t explain sources, conduct or S&G. (2) Arguments are insufficiently explained. Personal agreement with a given side, and information taken from outside of the debate, are not sufficient reasons to award argument points. The voter must specifically assess arguments made by both debaters and assess the debate on that basis.
Posted by backwardseden 3 years ago
Yeah its something that ---cannot--- be refuted. And it leaves all those against evolution to say "duh". But Frontline just did an update on their 2013 show. If you have the time and are willing, watch it. Its scary, and fascinating also. Now I did post a debate on that very thing and I turned it into a religious debate. I simply stated the "Antibiotic resistant microbes is 100% confirmation and certification and proven fact that evolution is taking place right here in the here and the now. Antibiotic resistant microbes are evolving every single second of every single day to become more resistant to antibiotics." And ended it right there (tee hee and I am so bad in doing that) in the absolute proof of evolution and stated nothing else about evolution and moved it on over about religion.

Ooooo I don't know if you know this... The bubonic plague. Back in its heyday it should have killed everybody. It obviously didn't. Why not? If that person has a negative delta 32 (I think its called that) you survive, if not, you die. Simple. Flash forward to the future. If you have two sets of the gene, one from each parent, you will never get AIDS. Evolution in the fold? Or is the gene a super gene? Either way what its saying is god is giving the gene to one person but not this person, to one person but not that etc etc etc. god is a racist. But we already knew that. But now it is estimated that about 3 million have the pure gene. Fascinating huh?
Posted by platoandaristotle 3 years ago
backwardseden: I was aware of that. I will make sure to mention that either later in this debate or next time I debate this topic
Posted by backwardseden 3 years ago
Greetings! In your help for evolution here's something that you can take to the battlefront that is irrefutable... Antibiotic resistant microbes is 100% confirmation and certification and proven fact that evolution is taking place right here in the here and the now. Antibiotic resistant microbes are evolving every single second of every single day to become more resistant to antibiotics.
That was just revamped and broadcast on PBS's Frontline less than 10 days ago. Its a scary thing. But clearly religion is losing. christianity since 2007 has lost roughly 5.1% of its following. 5.1% is a HUGE number whereas atheism has doubled.
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by Iredia 2 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Con made the more convincing case.
Vote Placed by Outplayz 3 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: At this point i have more questions in regards to this subject. Like con, i have no problem with Micro-evolution, but i am getting skeptical of the latter (in regards to evidence-this debate). Con made good arguments to make me think, so i give him the points. Good read.

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