Need some pointers regarding Evolution! Any help is appreciated!

Alaskan Atheist
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Need some pointers regarding Evolution! Any help is appreciated!

Hello! I'd appreciate some help here. I'm still learning the intricacies of evolution by natural selection. I have a friend at school, who's extremely intelligent (book smart; has the highest GPA in our school's history...) who doesn't believe in evolution and accepts intelligent design (which he freely accepts can't be explained by evidence...).

He says that Pangaea can explain why there's so many different species in different parts of the planet; also can explain why the Galapagos Islands have those isolated species that Darwin worked with.

He also says there's no evidence for evolution whatsoever and that scientists just conform with it because they don't believe in God.

Any points that can help me refute him, specifically the Pangaea and the Galapagos Islands points? I told him we have transitional fossils of species, the fossil record, the logical process of evolution - he wouldn't have a word of it.

Thanks!
Eric.

"Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to known." - Carl Sagan

"Atheism is a non-prophet organization." – George Carlin

"We are all atheists about most of the gods that societies have ever believed in. Some of us just go one god further." – Richard Dawkins


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I hope this can help you,

I hope this can help you, but evolutionary biology is highly complex topic and would require further study on your part to grasp some of its basics:

 

The best analogy for natural selection is the Blind Watchmaker (Richard Dawkins).  Dawkins describes how intelligent design is not responsible for the almost inconceivable compexity of life we experience, but natural and cumulative selection is.  Cumulative selection is a natural process where complexity emerges by external determining factors.  This is a complicated idea, so I suggest you research it.  Basically, a living thing and several others similar to itself compete for natural resources.  Some replicate faster than others, or have better survival skills, but ultimately one will prove to be the most efficient and dominate the others,  With mutatation (another concept you will have to research), others emerge who may or may no be superior to the dominate form of live I mentioned before.  Life continues to become increasingly complex because of selective pressures.

People who subscribe to intelligent design adhere to the old anecdote of a watch found in the woods.  There is no one around to say they made it, but it is there and it is completely unlike anything else around it.  The conclusion is that it must have been designed.  However, a watch is a terrible analogy to a living thing.  Watches are evidence of technology, evidence of life, but they do not reproduce.  The old argument of comparing things we have designed to living things is absurd.  You cannot compare a spider to a bridge.  This goes into the concept of irreducible complexity.

Irreducible complexity is the main argument for intelligent design.  In sum, if I were to remove a single cog from the mechanical workings of a watch, it would cease to function as a watch.  Therefore, I cannot reduce its complexity because it would no longer work.  Enter the argument for the irreducible complexity of the eye; with its billions of photosensitive cells, all wired back to the brain, how could anything like that ever arrive spontaneously?  It would be extremely unlikely.  However, this is where I stress the power of cumulatice selection.  Through the fossil record, and through more primitive forms of life today, we can see how the eye evolved.  As I mentioned with selective pressures and mutation, those that can detect light (in some very simple capacity) have an advatage over those that are totally blind.  Those that can make a fuzzy image (this would be a leap, but I am trying to make a point) would have an advantage over those that only detect light, and they become dominate.  Finally, those that can see (in comparison to how we do) have the strongest advantage present today.

DNA is the most powerful evidence for evolution.  (You should look into when intelligent design (and its star witness Michael Behe) went to court and were completely destroyed).  With the sequencing of the human and chimpanzee genomes, biologists could compare the two (chimps are our cousins and highly similar animals to us).  However, we have 46 chromosomes and the chimpanzee has 48 (if I remember correctly).  If evolution were not true, and intelligent design were to win on default, the difference between us and chimpanzees would be irreconcilable.  What evolution predicted to be the case was exactly what was demonstrated in court: two of our chromosome pairs had fused, exactly traceable to the same position in the great apes.  DNA is an incredible archiving tool, its information has survived eons.

Intelligent design is an unsupported argument from incredulity (or disbelief).  Learn about the principles of natural selection, selective pressures, cumulative selection, and DNA from the perspective of the biologist (you wouldn't need to understand from an organic chemistry perspective to convince your friend of its profoud evidence for evolution).

I hope this can help you, but I think that it is better to learn about biological evolution for your own benefit than to convince your friend of the fact of evolution.  Many people who are on the rational and scientific side hit a brick wall when trying to convince a "believer."


ex-minister
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Have GPAs changed since I

Have GPAs changed since I went to school in the stone age. The highest then was a 4.0. You couldn't go higher. What is his GPA? Is the ceiling unlimited?

You are saying a lot of he saids. How does pangea explain biogeography? And how is that different than evolutions explanation? Does he believe the universe is 6000 years old or 13 billion? Does he think kangaroos were on noahs ark? Or they evolved in Australia from some common ancestor?

Religion Kills !!!

Numbers 31:17-18 - Now kill all the boys. And kill every woman who has slept with a man, but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man.

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redneF
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Alaskan Atheist wrote: He

Alaskan Atheist wrote:
He also says there's no evidence for evolution whatsoever...

Then he's ignorant, as well as intelligent.

Evolution is a fact.

Alaskan Atheist wrote:
Any points that can help me refute him

You can tell him that it's a fact and know for sure that he cannot prove you wrong, because there's no evidence to prove it wrong.

Evolution has been observed.

Alaskan Atheist wrote:
  I told him we have transitional fossils of species, the fossil record, the logical process of evolution - he wouldn't have a word of it.

You can't fix stupid.

Don't be a fool and waste too much time debating an idiot where your facts will go in one ear and out the other.

The cat is out of the bag. Evolution is a fact.

You can learn for yourself on http://www.talkorigins.org/

And you can learn for yourself on YouTube. Guys like AronRa and DonExodus2 have many videos talking in great detail about evolution, as well as debunking the creationist claims.

 

 

I keep asking myself " Are they just playin' stupid, or are they just plain stupid?..."

"To explain the unknown by the known is a logical procedure; to explain the known by the unknown is a form of theological lunacy" : David Brooks

" Only on the subject of God can smart people still imagine that they reap the fruits of human intelligence even as they plow them under." : Sam Harris


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Hi, Alaska!

Don't worry, being intelligent doesn't mean being right!

Check out: evolution.berkeley.edu and www.sciohost.org/kvd/Padian/Padiantranscript.html

I'm also still learning and you can have a look at my forum topic: "FOR YOU SCIENCE GUYS".

Hang in there, buddy......you're at the right place!

 


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You don't have to be able to

You don't have to be able to build a car engine from scratch to know what combustion is or know that your car doesn't run on pixie dust.

The over all concept of evolution is simply small changes over long periods of time, genetics and environment/luck and adaptation. But all it takes is getting to the point of reproduction.

Genetically you are dealing with DNA, adenine, guinine, thymine, cytosine. From that level think of it like shuffling a deck of cards over millions of years, adding cards to the deck and subtracting cards from the deck. One misconception that theists try to sell is that all our genes were already there. NO, in evolution gene strands in all species do change size and are NOT stagnant. So if you run into that argument it is bullshit.

Look at a domestic house cat and a tiger. They have the same paw shapes, same grooming mannerisms, same tail swings and same postures in hunting. And similar facial features and body shapes. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to compare the two and see that they had common ancestors. And genetically we can prove that they were once related.

And another myth is the crockoduck. Ray Comfort's bullshit claim that we are claiming that a duck gave birth to a crock.

This is NOT what we are saying. Birds have feathers, so while a finch is not going to give birth to an falcon, they both have claws and feathers, and again, over long periods of time we know all birds had common ancestors. And again, we can genetically through DNA show their common genetic traits.

 

 

 

 

 

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Alaskan Atheist wrote:He

Alaskan Atheist wrote:


He says that Pangaea can explain why there's so many different species in different parts of the planet; also can explain why the Galapagos Islands have those isolated species that Darwin worked with.

He also says there's no evidence for evolution whatsoever and that scientists just conform with it because they don't believe in God.



Thanks!
Eric.

Scientists just made up evolution because they do not believe in god ? That shows that he has absolutely no idea what science is. Science does not "believe" anything. Science only measures, tests, observes and compares data to form a hypothesis, which can later become theory if an overwhelming body of evidence supports it.

There is not a group of scientists standing around saying "I believe in evolution, I believe in evolution,".

Obviously, this dude is nowhere near as smart as he thinks. And he is obviously narrow/closed minded if he would not listen to your arguments. There is this thing called compartmentalization, where a person can be logical/intelligent in almost every area, except with certain things.

The fact that he would not listen to your points about transitional fossils tells me all that I need to know. Did he have counter-arguments ? Or did he just refuse to listen ?

I would need to know a little more about his explanations for Pangea and Galapagos, and how that he "thinks" or delusionally concluded that proves someone spoke creation into existence out of nothing, before I could shred his arguments. But, he has the most infantile explanation for the universe, regardless.

I'll be honest, anyone that ascribes to superstitious creationism AND has some semblance of intelligence is someone that I have absolutely no respect for at all. NONE.

I can excuse the uninformed and unlearned masses out there. They don't know any better, but people like this dude would not be considered smart by me, at all.

“It is proof of a base and low mind for one to wish to think with the masses or majority, merely because the majority is the majority. Truth does not change because it is, or is not, believed by a majority of the people.”
― Giordano Bruno


Atheistextremist
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I recommend reading

 

The Ancestor's Tale or this one. I'm in the middle of Iris Fry's The Emergence of Life on Earth and it's informative, too. Both these books are dry as dog biscuits but are based firmly on the data and their are quick to admit their flaws and highlight what is not known. 

In the meantime why not ask your friend how creation works and see what he comes back with. We'd all be interested to hear...

 

 

"Experiments are the only means of knowledge at our disposal. The rest is poetry, imagination." Max Planck


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Check out

Alaska.

The www.talkorigins.org site is fantastic if you want nice, concise answers. You will also find the testimony of Prof. Padian in Kizmiller vs. Dover there.

It is really worth the trouble to read the testimony because it shows how sloppy the ID guys' science really is.


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Evidence for evolution

Several easy-to-understand pieces of evidence for evolution might be:

 

1. The nested hierarchy .   It has been known since at least 1735 (  Linnaean taxonomy&nbspEye-wink that when attempting to group together different living things by their characteristics, one finds a series of "groups within groups" . For example, animals that get all their nutrition from milk as young (mammals) is a group inside the larger group of vertebrates (possessing a backbone). No one has ever found an animal that is a mammal but not a vertebrate (by the definitions above). DNA evidence also supports the same hierarchy. Although this "groups within groups" pattern was at least known since 1735, not until Darwin came along was there a good explanation as to why this pattern is the way it is.

2. The preponderance of gross anatomical differences possible by small changes. If one compares two similar species (say two mammals or two insects or two birds) and looks at the gross anatomy (large, obvious features), the differences are almost entirely those that could have arisen by gradual changes. For example, the blowhole of a whale is internally connected in the same way as the nostrils of almost any other mammal (humans included), the only difference is that the anatomy is "distorted" from one case to another but the set of parts is remarkably similar. An extreme

example is the  recurrent laryngeal nerve of the giraffe, which is around 20 feet long even though its start and end points are only a few inches apart. However, the fact that it passes under some major arteries around the heart is the same in all classes of vertebrates. In fish, this isn't much of a detour as the heart is almost en route from the brain to the gills. But in many mammals, and most extremely in the giraffe, this nerve takes a huge detour for no reason at all, but in light of evolution it makes perfect sense: To change from passing under the heart to over it would require a discontinuous, abrupt change which cannot occur as a long sequence of tiny changes.

 

3. The same thing is also true at the microscopic level. The body of a large animal or plant is made of cells that are in basic function very similar to the single-celled organisms called protists. The major parts of the cell are the same. The differences that do exist, such as cell shape, preferred fuel for metabolism, the strength of adhesion and cell-cell signalling proteins, seem to all be explicable in terms of a large number of very small changes. We do not see cells that appear to have some large and complex innovations that cannot be explained in terms of gradual changes.  Evolution explains this well. Other explanations must included a very large number of ad hoc hypotheses to reach the same explanatory power.

 

4. Fossils provide direct evidence that organisms very much like what we would expect the intermediates to look like, in fact did exist at some time in the past, exactly as evolution would predict. Again, the beauty is that no ad hoc hypotheses are needed to explain these facts given evolutionary theory.

 

5. Evolution has been observed directly in laboratory settings.  See the paper " Phagotrophy by a flagellate selects for colonial prey: A possible origin of multicellularity " for one example . The researchers found that introduction of a predator caused otherwise single-celled algae to evolve into multi-cellular algae as a defense mechanism that did not exist in the original organisms. An earlier example would be  William Dallinger 's experiment in which he took bacteria unable to withstand high temperatures, and cultured them in an environment in which he very, very slowly raised the temperature, allowing for gradual evolution toward bacteria thriving at higher and higher temperatures. Creationists often argue that this is "only microevolution". However, there is no known mechanism in the biological world that would prevent smaller changes from accumulating over time. From the experimental observation, it is thus reasonable to  expect larger changes over lerger times, which lines up well with the other lines of evidence.


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Alaskan Atheist wrote:He

Alaskan Atheist wrote:

He says that Pangaea can explain why there's so many different species in different parts of the planet; also can explain why the Galapagos Islands have those isolated species that Darwin worked with.

That's too funny.

So he thinks the continents just happened to break apart so that the Galapagos island got a species of finch just a tiny bit different than the species of finch an island over?  Or that all Kangaroos on the planet just happened to be in the right place to break off when australia disconnected from the super continent?  I hope he doesn't think that the islands broke off and the animals EVOLVED once they got there.

Here's a video for kids on Darwins Finches, I selected the easy one for him.  GPA SchmeePeeA... he's still not smart enough to research an idea fully before making claims.  

 

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Alaskan Atheist wrote:Any

Alaskan Atheist wrote:
Any points that can help me refute him, specifically the Pangaea and the Galapagos Islands points?

I believe he's implying that land animals could have traveled to places like Australia and the Galapagos Islands from a single location because all of the continents and other major land masses were connected.

Pangaea is hypothesized to have existed about 250 million years ago; it is certainly nowhere near recent enough to fit the timeline of Young Earth Creationists. Of course, your classmate doesn't have to be Young Earth, so that could be an irrelevant point. On the other hand, that is certainly long enough for two populations of the same species to diverge dramatically in characteristics.

So, at a cursory glance, it would appear plausible that all the animals gradually migrated to their current habitats from a single location, but the devil is in the details. For one thing, this would explain how all the land is accessible, but not why all the animals of one species would migrate to the same location e.g. why all the kangaroos would migrate to the area of land that is now Australia and nowhere else? The Galapagos Islands are a treasure trove of evidence for evolution, given its many interesting organisms that are found nowhere else in the world. For that to be viable under Creationism, God would have to purposely command every member of one species to travel to an arbitrary small area, then wait there indefinitely for the land to split. See, Creationists can never answer these more thoughtful and detailed inquiries that aren't covered by ad hocing explanations. What was God doing with animals that live in the water? Where were the penguins? How did dodo birds survive the journey? In fact, how did countless species survive the journey, as they must cover enormous distances of land that they are not well adapted to at all? Were humans present at this time? If not, were domesticated cows and chickens present? If not, where did they come from? If yes, how did they survive? Did God temporarily suspend predation? Perhaps he only clicked "move" and not "attack move?"

In fact, in no case do we observe the same species to be present on two bodies of land separated by water, except those that can make the journey across large bodies of water (birds) or after humans transported them (intentionally or accidentally). However, we do observe an increasing amount of variation in similar species, exactly as evolution would predict. Two populations of birds on one island in the Galapagos are more similar to each other than a population on another island; these are then more similar to each other than a similar species on the South America mainland. In some cases, we can even compare this to similar species in Africa! We observe this because two populations on one island were interbreeding much more recently than either population with the mainland. Creationism doesn't explain that or anything else.

Our revels now are ended. These our actors, | As I foretold you, were all spirits, and | Are melted into air, into thin air; | And, like the baseless fabric of this vision, | The cloud-capped towers, the gorgeous palaces, | The solemn temples, the great globe itself, - Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve, | And, like this insubstantial pageant faded, | Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff | As dreams are made on, and our little life | Is rounded with a sleep. - Shakespeare


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 I need a like button for

 I need a like button for that post.  Well said Butterbattle.

 

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Another book worth reading

Another book worth reading is The Greatest Show on Earth, The Evidence for Evolution by Richard Dawkins.

He is definitely ignorant.

A great many scientists are not atheists (not sure why, but you get that).

Scientists do not conspire (at least on large levels, ther will always be a few dodgy people). Science is about discovering the truth, whatever it is.

Creationists do conspire and purposefully mislead. This has been proven over and over again.

Many devoted religious people accept that evolution is fact. The previous Pope even stated that it was true (and officially he is God's spokesperson, so all good Catholics are supposed to agree with him).

All of the arguments for intelligent design are made up to support the belief. That is backwards rationalisation.

It is God and religion that has no real proof.

Zen-atheist wielding Occam's katana.

Jesus said, "Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division." - Luke 12:51


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I'm always a little

I'm always a little perplexed by creationists.  Growing up I believed in the Bible, an old Earth, and evolution.  All neatly wrapped up in my head and firmly compartmentalized.  I didn't have a problem with any scientific theories.

Evolution did not make me stop believing in religion, so I don't know why so many religious people are afraid of it.

What killed religion for me was the logical inconsistencies within it.  Nothing at all about any science.

"I am an atheist, thank God." -Oriana Fallaci