A simple, but excellent example!

The Musings of Thomas Verenna

This came up a few times over the past couple of weeks.  First at the Calvary Baptist Church, during our discussion of evolution vs. creationism, and again in private correspondence.   This text explains the functions of evolution very well.  So I’ll just let it speak for itself:

H/T Bob Cargill on Facebook.

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15 thoughts on “”

  1. I must say that being interested in evolution so little I have no idea what micro-evolution and macro-evolution are. I guess I’ll have to look it up.

    The example of evolution is awesome though.

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  2. Great question! Micro-evolution is the one that almost no one disputes. It’s the notion that there is change within species. Racial differences, for instance. Or the idea that survival of the fittest will favor the survival of faster cheetahs over slower ones, thereby giving a tendency toward faster cheetahs as time goes by.

    Macro-evolution just takes that same idea, but says that all those subtle changes will eventually lead to new species. For instance, the way dogs evolved from wolves. Or the way birds evolved from dinosaurs. That’s the version that’s more controversial.

    If you get interested in the subject, I’d recommend Dawkins’s book The Greatest Show on Earth, and Jerry Coyne’s book Why Evolution is True.

    Thanks for the great comment!

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  3. Nate, I think most anti-evolutionists would accept the dog from wolf gradualism, but they definitely wouldn’t the bird from dinosaur gradualism.

    It’s interesting that at least some anti-evolutionists seem think that if you disprove gradualism means to disprove evolution, but that could not be further from the truth. There are enough biologists who think that evolution is not a gradual process.

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  4. Every now and then, but not too often. Though I have found that in my area, most people dismiss evolution out of hand and assume that most everyone else feels the same way. So it was a huge surprise for me when I found out how much evidence actually exists for evolution.

    How about you? Do you run into it very much?

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  5. Well actually no, I don’t. I mean all my friends are christian so any coversation about evolution goes like this:

    Friend: can you believe that guy, he thinks we all come from monkeys.

    Other Friend: Did you ask him were life begins at? or where does morality come from?

    Friend: I tried too, but he couldn’t give a rational answer for anything.

    I was taught evolution in school in New Jersey, but nothing intense. and when I became a christian. All the things I have learned about evolutiion and creationism, were really geared towards my already presuppsition of the bible.

    But seems like I’m going to have a lot to learn.

    Today I tried to listen to a John Lennox vs. dawkins debate, but because I know so very little about evolution in itself, it was a little tedious to follow.

    I think I might jump on dawkins book over the summer to learn a little more about it.

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  6. Check out one or both of the books I mentioned earlier. That will help a lot. I’ve also seen some good programs on the PBS series NOVA. I’ll try to pull up some of the specific titles, because many of them can be seen on the PBS website.

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  7. If you read Dawkins, I think it’s also fair to read a book that argues against the gene-centered view on evolution. Dawkins tends to downplay that a lot more happens inside a cell than merely duplicating genes. There is a lot of interaction between levels in organisms.

    I think Lennox is good on apologetics about physics (an area where Dawkins is weak), but Dawkins is of course much better on evolution (though I do not agree with his pretty extreme teleology in natural selection). Especially since Lennox came out in favour of Intelligent Design. On evolution, I quite like Karl Giberson’s views, though they are quite liberal.

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  8. i have heard of lennox, and actually I tried to watch a lennox vs. dawkins debate, but because I know so very little on the topic, half of it went over my head.

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  9. I read Dawkins and Lennox and I thought Lennox ‘s book was much better. Go figure 🙂

    The most powerful argument Lennox made (IMO) was drawing the parallel between the “language” of DNA (how the codes are interpreted by the machinery of the cell) and the abstraction of language. The idea that that “just happened” (even under the pressure of resource constraint) is more that I can accept (it’s just too unlikely).

    I thought Dawkins example of Mt. Improbable was extremely weak, since the sum of the small probabilities is no different (mathematically) than the single whirlwind event. That’s 6th grade math for goodness sake.

    When you say micro-evolution I presume you are making a distinction between evolution and adaptation. A virus that adapts to antibiotics does not evolve – it adapts. It is is still a virus. I suspect much of what is meant by micro-evolution is primarily adaptation (and reversible) (once again echos of Lennox). Another interesting point that Lennox brought out was the existence of “error-correcting” codes in the cellular machinery. My understanding then is that the minor deviations in the process of replication tend to be “cleaned” up by the machinery of the cell. So the deviation has to be small enough to be “micro” but beneficial enough to outlast the correction tendencies of the organism itself. It is hard not to be flippant about the likelihood of that process repeating itself on a scale that results in a macro change.

    The example of a change in text from red to blue simply demonstrates the input of an external agent. I understand it is only supposed to demonstrate a principle, but I think we may see different principles being demonstrated there 😉

    Ultimately we see what we want to see. It is exceptionally hard to have an unbiased opinion about anything we care strongly about. This is human nature (as I’m sure you are aware).

    So it really starts with asking yourself what you are looking for, and if you are prepared to find it. Once again a very hard question for anything that “matters”.

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  10. When I go shopping for shoes or pants, or whatever, I may try on a certain brand and style. I’ll wear it around a bit. It usually turns out that as i wear them, my idea about that style or brand evolves – it either grows or diminishes as i become better acquainted with them.

    If they feel good, and I still think they look good, then I will continue to wear them and purchase more like them. If over time I decide that they are uncomfortable, cheaply made, or just ugly, then I move on to another brand and maybe a different style or type. During normal wear, an evaluation simultaneously occurs on which I can make a rational determination as to whether the article of clothing is good or not good, whether it works or does not work for what I need it for.

    If I decide that running shoes don’t work, does that necessitate that i must need walking shoes? of course not. Sandals, boots, cross trainers, or a number of other types may be what is best. having ruled one option out, does not validate any other.

    I think the same can be true with evolution and religion. Test each of them, but having ruled one out does not necessitate that the other must be right. Both could be lacking. Just because some religions are shown to be false, does not necessarily imply that they all are. And if parts of evolution seem far fetched then that does not necessitate that parts of evolution are incorrect.

    Also, having shown errors or contradictions in a religion does not lend itself as validation for evolution. Likewise, issues with parts of evolution do not serve as proof for religion.

    and finally, because we start off thinking either religion or evolution sounds good and accurate, does not mean that we will always think so after having walked around in them for a while. Our ideas and perceptions evolve, or adapt. The more we look at something the better we see it. Either what we thought were flaws will come into better view and we begin to see them as good, or what we perceived as perfect can eventually reveal itself to be anything but.

    but having ruled out a single specific option, does not mean that a different specific option is the right one.

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  11. dsholland:
    Thanks for your comment! It’s nice to have people chime in who have read both sides of it extensively. Personally, I’m still very new to the subject of evolution, so I can’t comment too intelligently on it yet. I will say that I thought adaptation was pretty much the same thing as micro-evolution. Over an incredibly long period of time, these extremely small changes can cause a modern day specimen to look quite different from its ancient ancestor. But again, I’m still learning about all this, and I really appreciate your input.

    William:
    Fantastic comment! That’s exactly how I feel about this subject. Evolution may have been caused by intelligent design, but that has no bearing on the truth of Christianity, in my opinion. Thanks for laying that out so eloquently.

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  12. Macro and micro are related ways of evolution. Change can come from DNA and mutations. Those changes can accumulate to make different species. There isn’t really any major conflict. Environmental stress can favor certain attributes and genes over other. These things are demonstrable and provable.

    Creationism is mythology, lies, and exaggerated stories that have little to no basis in science. To justify their fairy tales, they attack science and evolution. However, none of the creationist mythology can be proven in science. Either you believe in the tooth fairy or you don’t. God did NOT write the bible or koran, MEN did. Neither book or others, can be proven to come directly from the mouth or hand of a god. Therefore, their belief is based on blind faith, not science.

    The bible and koran are stories that have no basis in science, and which can’t prove GOD. The bible and koran, are arguably INSTRUCTIONS and COMMANDS that were CREATED by MEN to CONTROL THE BEHAVIOR of other men and populations. They are simply an idealized form of primitive laws, which use stories and threats as justifications for their existence. A god, heaven, and hell are used as implied threats and rewards to force people to obey man made rules and control behavior.

    The only legitimate argument that creationist have a chance to prove with science, is if God does or doesn’t exist as a higher power that created the universe. Even if God was proven to exist, IT would very likely NOT be a Christian, Muslim, or of any other religion. IT wouldn’t be an angry old White man, as visualized by many creationists. In fact, the God of our universe, could possibly be an advanced computer from an ancient race of another universe. It could be that God is the very universe itself, and somewhat like what is believed by Panthiest.

    Science can’t prove or disapprove the existence of a higher power yet, because science is not advanced enough to do so at this time. However, the question of there being a god, is VERY different than the question of the mythology and man made stories in the bible or koran. Science CAN very much disprove the stories in the man created bible, koran, and other such works of fiction.

    Arguably, Christians should even avoid the topic of evolution and simply insist on the blind unquestioning faith of it’s poor deluded followers. Science REJECTS the bible. God is a different question. Posing the question of a god to scientists, should be for Panthiests and Panentheists that have no need for a bible or such fictional books.

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