My understanding of evolution and an idiot "youth leader"
Hi there guys, I do a fair amount of debating with a Christian friend of mine. Usually the debate will come to (macro)evolution. Now, I have a fairly limited knowledge of this subject but can go over the basics. It seems after just a few months of being a creationist, all of the usual shash has been firmly implanted into him by his "youth leader".
So I begin to tell him about my understanding of evolution: explaining that evolution and abiogenesis are totally different; the subtle difference of macroevolution and evolution (what he accepts and calls "adaptation", viral mutations and stuff); explaining that his idea of evolution is what Dawkins calls the "combination lock", where there is no reward in doing something which is closer to the ideal, and is wrong.
(Possibility of bad biology coming up - I'm not a biologist, I'm hoping to be a chemist. Correct me if I'm wrong.)
He mentioned that if evolution were correct, all animals would have evolved into a perfect species at the same rate, and we'd all be exactly the same. I countered by mentioning the differing habitats of the various animals, and so the need for change would have been different in each case. He is assuming a closed system. Even then, I continued, there is tremendous chance involved in the gene selection process. What he is saying is that all children born of the same parents should look the same.
I mentioned bad genes, and how each time natural selection ensures that these genes are kept from us. A negative recessive gene "r", if combined with another "r" (rr), will show up in a victim's phenotype and do one of the following:
1. Discourage prospective mates from mating with them (survival of the fittest),
2. Impair their life so as they can't mate,
3. Kill them before they can mate, So that the bad gene isn't passed on. It makes sense.
So why are these conditions still around? Well, again, this isn't a closed system - prospective partners aren't just thinking about this "r" gene. They'll be looking at their partner's physical appearance, ability to provide, etc.. In my eyes, negative dominant conditions make even more sense in natural selection terms. Say the fatal condition "D" is a dominant allele. The Punnet square dictates that the possibilities for "Rr" mating with "Rr" are: RR, Rr, Rr, rr. The first three in that list will die. The other will survive (if they don't have another fatal gene, of course =P). They won't just survive, though. They won't have a trace of the gene in their genotypes, meaning they can't pass it on. The bad gene is abolished! For the first time in a while, my debating rival was speechless. Waay!
I still don't understand how he can reject this yet accept what he calls "adaptation". I think this is because he knows fine that things adapt. We see it in viral mutations. It is why we can't vaccine the cold virus and why H5N1 seems such a threat. How can he then reject macroevolution? I mean, you can adapt and adapt and adapt, and eventually you're going to look nothing like how you started!
And his view on abiogenesis is a very confused one, indeed! He kept insisting that life couldn't have come "ex-nihlo" (not what I'm saying at all), so to highlight how ridiculous this was I insisted that God couldn't have been made from nothing. Of course, that debate just degenerated... =P =D (End of bad biology)
An appendix to this "debate" featured a point I like to make very clear :- I'm not an evolutionary biologist, but they do exist. You can go up to one and ask him whatever you want and you'll get answers. If there is something s/he cannot answer, after enough research, an answer (or at least a sound hypothesis where uncertain) will be found. That cannot be provided with God. Of course, he argued that this was not the case. This lead me to modify what I said by adding "in this reality" twice, simply because you really can't ask questions about this life to God. No no! Only when you're dead when it's irrelevant. Absurd! =P =D
So away from the science now, his youth leader is a total idiot. He came to our school - it is required in Scotland that we have one "religious" (read Christian) assembly per year. Lucky, but too much in my eyes. Unless, of course, the lecturers are as bad as this guy. He basically came in and insulted every non-Christian to the point where even my usually placid friends demanded why school time was wasted on this guy. I suggested taking it right to the top and ridding the country of the law altogether. It was an insult to my arse, mostly, as it was the one sitting through it... Anyway, he's American (Bible Belt, if I recall correctly), looks younger than he is, "hip" in a boringly Christian way, and spends a lot of his time in Borders/Starbucks. Oh and he's a prat, if you hadn't already realised.