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More Misconceptions about Evolution: “Scientific facts” that prove evolution is false — DE-BUNKED

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Many months ago my sister pointed out a blog post on a particular website (abovetopsecret.com) which was titled “Top Ten Scientific Facts : Evolution is False and Impossible“, written by “edsinger”, and she asked me what my thoughts were.  I decided to take a look to see what anti-evolutionary mis-information was being propagated to the masses.  In the interest of setting the record straight, I decided to de-bunk the aforementioned post as it was based on large misconceptions about evolution and how natural selection operates (not surprisingly).  With the mountain of evidence that supports the theory of evolution, specifically the Modern Evolutionary Synthesis, I was extremely skeptical of every “scientific fact” proposed (which not surprisingly were anything but “facts”).  I want to start by pointing out that when I use the expression “the organism evolved”, I am implying that the gene pool is changing for a particular population with a new sub-population created in the process.  I don’t want those reading this to assume I am implying a Lamarckian evolution.  Now that I’ve provided that clarification, let’s begin.

“Scientific Fact” No. 1 – Birds Prove Natural Selection is Naturally Wrong

The idea of natural selection sounds great when considering deer. The deer that can sense danger the quickest and run the fastest are able to escape the predator on a more consistent basis. However, other examples on the evolutionary tree have many laughable flaws. One of the best is the thought that a bird began to evolve a wing. Why this would occur is not answered by evolutionists. The wing stub did not make the bird more adaptable in his environment. The wing was much too small for the bird to fly. Why would a bird evolve a wing that was useless? This is backwards from the evolutionary natural selection concept that birds adapt and change in order to survive better in their environment.

Alright, where to begin?  First off the idea that “a bird began to evolve a wing” needs clarification.  Edsinger implies that it started as a “stub” which would “not make the bird more adaptable in his environment“.  Evolutionary biologists aren’t positive how the wing evolved but some likely possibilities are that it either started as a fin or flipper (before life adapted from the aquatic environment to that of the terrestrial), and either grew feathers on them, or after flippers or fins evolved into fully formed terrestrially-suited arms, some animals grew feathers on those arms.  For some animals, the exact opposite may have occurred, that is, animals with wings may have evolved into certain sub-populations with arms or flippers.  If we look at the Penguin, we can see a similar case where natural selection pressured a previously flying bird into a sub-population of flightless birds with vestigial wings.  If we can imagine animals with wings evolving into animals with flippers over time, it is no more difficult to imagine the opposite case, that is, a sub-population of birds (or bird-like animals) with flippers evolving into a population of birds (or bird-like animals) with wings.

There are some more general misconceptions on Edsinger’s part regarding how natural selection operates as seen in this first excerpt of his, namely his assumption that natural selection only allows favorable traits to evolve or exist in some population within a specific type of environment.  This couldn’t be further from the truth.  To illustrate this point, let’s consider the author’s assumption that wings evolved from useless “stubs” (which is less likely, but still possible).  Even in this extreme case, if we had an animal with stubs that were “useless”, we would need to know what other attributes and traits this animal has to see if they outweigh the disadvantages of their useless “stubs”.  What if the animal compensated for this shortcoming by: being covered in some type of armor (like an armadillo or porcupine), by being able to run very fast (like an ostrich does to evade its predators; another example of a flightless bird that found a way to more than compensate for its vestigial wings), or even by having incredibly sharp teeth (like a Tyrannosaurus Rex; a predatory animal at the top of the food chain despite having incredibly small and seemingly “useless” arms)?

What’s important to note here is that animals can evolve with both disadvantageous and beneficial traits as long as the benefits outweigh the disadvantages enough such that the organism lives long enough to reproduce (and such that the rates of reproduction are high enough to avoid extinction).  What’s kind of funny is that Edsinger’s line of reasoning suggests that everything is “designed” for a reason (which is true from a creationist or intelligent design point of view).  Since when have evolutionary biologists suggested that evolution has to fall within this line of reasoning?  If anything, proponents of evolution (myself included) suggest that physical traits (i.e. phenotypes) are random in the sense that they are a result of mutation and changes in gene frequency due to a changing environment.  This is why proponents of evolution have a way of explaining why “useless” phenotypes exist (whether its a human appendix, etc.).  Natural selection which operates on benefits outweighing disadvantages is a perfect explanation.  Proponents of intelligent design or creationism (i.e. not theistic evolution) have no way of explaining these “imperfections” or “design flaws” which further negates the arguments against evolution and natural selection.  In the case of a bird (or “pre-bird”) with a useless stub, as long as it had other traits that compensated for the stub, it would have an evolutionary “breathing space” for genetic mutations and other changes in gene frequency such that a wing could eventually co-evolve with the organism over time.  There is a theory that birds (some if not all) evolved from dinosaurs and the example I gave above of the T-Rex illustrates how animals can have the necessary evolutionary “breathing space” (e.g. being at the top of the food chain) for wings to eventually evolve (even from successive changes to previously useless features).  Let’s move on to number two.

“Scientific Fact” No. 2 – Species Without a Link Proves Evolution is Wrong

The evolutionist will claim that the presence of many individual species proves evolution. This shallow statement is devoid of reason, logic and scientific proof. Evolutionists line up pictures of similar looking species and claim they evolved one to another. Humans are a great example. There are hundreds of species of extinct monkeys and apes. Petrified skulls and bones exist from these creatures. Evolutionists line up the most promising choices to present a gradual progression from monkey to modern man. They simply fill in the big gaps with make-believe creatures to fit the picture. This procedure can be done with humans only because there are many extinct monkey and ape species. They never do this with giraffes and elephants. These pictures are placed in all evolutionists’ text books to teach kids this nonsense. The picture is simply a grouping of individual species that does not prove evolution.

Ugh.  I want to start by saying that Paleontologists have quite a difficult job to do.  One thing that Edsinger may not realize is that we are only able to find an incredibly small fraction of fossilized animals because it takes very special conditions in order to preserve the animal, let alone for so many millions of years.  Paleontologists have to find an area that has not been recycled into liquid hot magma via plate tectonic motion, volcanic activity, etc.  This means that any fossilized remains near converging plate tectonic boundaries are going to contain little if any remains, as much of those remains have been pushed back under the crust of the Earth and recycled into magma.  Any animals that weren’t buried by some material (e.g. preserved in a tar pit, covered in volcanic ash, etc.) will disintegrate due to weathering, decompose due to fungi (or otherwise), or be eaten by other animal scavengers.  Any animals that died near bodies of water are even less likely to have their remains found (due to our limited access of the bottom of the ocean) and less likely to be preserved (due to increased rates of dissolution, decomposition, etc.).  The idea I’m trying to illustrate here is that Paleontologists are only able to find a fraction of the fossil record due to the narrow range of conditions that allow fossil creation to take place.  This is why there are gaps that exist and are filled in with educated guesses.  Gaps aside, the conclusive evidence that we do have demonstrates how organisms have changed over time by looking at what did exist long ago and what we know exists in the animal kingdom today.  “Species without a link” is nothing more than a by-product of fossilization limitations.  What we do know is that the fossils that we do find are somewhat statistically representative of the population that existed long ago.  When we look at the fossil record however, and fail to find the majority of animals that exist today, we can safely infer that there are animals that exist today that didn’t exist long ago and vice versa.  This further implies that evolution has indeed occurred.

Another misconception that many have is that all evolution is equally gradual, that is, that all evolutionary changes proceed at the same or similar rates.  The Modern Evolutionary Synthesis suggests that there could have been several abrupt changes to the gene pool as a result of major climate changes, or other environmental factors, which would cause short and quick bursts of change to the gene pool.  This would make sense as the environment doesn’t always gradually change over time.  There are many extinction events or large environmental changes that can occur due to asteroids hitting the Earth (and the resulting dust clouds or tidal waves that ensue), volcanic eruptions (and the resulting pyroclastic flow, dust, and lava that follow), changes in solar output (resulting in ice ages or global warming), bacterial or viral epidemics, etc.  There are a number of things that can cause large abrupt environmental changes and thus large changes in gene frequency.  In cases like this, it makes sense that transitional fossils wouldn’t always exist with a consistent level of graduation over time.  The fossilization limitations I mentioned earlier would create circumstances where the level of transition would seem even more abrupt simply because we aren’t able to collect enough fossils to accurately represent the entirety of evolutionary changes.

“Scientific Fact” No. 3 – Single Cell Complexity Proves Evolution is Wrong

Scientists a century ago believed the smallest single living cell was a simple life form. The theory developed that perhaps lightning struck a pond of water causing several molecules to combine in a random way which by chance resulted in a living cell. The cell then divided and evolved into higher life forms. This view is now proven to be immature to the degree of being ridiculous. The most modern laboratory is unable to create a living cell. In fact, scientists have been unable to create a single left-hand protein molecule as found in all animals.

Are we really supposed to believe that scientists should be able to recreate the initial conditions that led to the emergence of life (i.e. abiotic synthesis or abiogenesis).  I’d be incredibly amazed if we were able to.  Our failure to know what the conditions were (even if we knew what conditions best support life AFTER life has been established), let alone the fact that our experiments are not able to run on the time scales that we believe were needed to create life (on the order of millions or billions of years), only points out our experimental and epistemological limitations.  Theoretically, the Earth underwent changes over the course of several billion years whereby Brownian motion and energy from the sun, electricity (e.g. lightning, etc.) led to the synthesis of simple compounds, more complex compounds (amino acids), and eventually DNA.  We can think of this as a several billion year experiment where random motion and enough time statistically led to stable compounds including DNA, proteins, etc.  If it was random motion, favorable chemical bonds, and enough time that led to life, how can we possibly expect to recreate this in a laboratory?  Our failure to do so is far from surprising and Edsinger seems to think that science is perfectly capable of doing such a laborious and near-impossible (if not impossible) task.  If Edsinger really has this much faith in the capabilities of science, then he should be a proponent of evolution, rather than arguing against it.  Clearly these arguments from Edsinger are a result of a lack of education in evolutionary biology, and a lack of reasoning in general.

“Scientific Fact” No. 4 – Human Egg and Sperm Proves Evolution is Wrong

The evolutionist ignores the problem surrounding the human female egg and the male sperm in the evolutionary theory. The female egg contains the X-chromosome and the male sperm contains either an X-chromosome for the reproduction of a male or a Y-chromosome for the reproduction of a female. The female eggs all develop within the ovaries while she is a baby (fetus) within her mother’s womb. Evolutionists claim environmental factors cause small changes in the offspring in the evolutionary chain. However, the environmental experience of the female cannot change the chromosomes within her eggs and cannot have any effect upon her offspring. Her body cannot go into the eggs contained within her ovaries at her birth to make an intelligent change. Females cannot be a part of the evolutionary theory for these reasons.

First Edsinger points out that it is the male that determines the sex of any future offspring.  Edsinger mentions that the female develops all of her eggs prior to reproduction and implies that this somehow prevents an intelligent change from being made by her such that her future offspring can better adapt to the environment.  What Edsinger has suggested here is that Lamarckism is false, which is perfectly in line with the Modern Evolutionary synthesis.  Evolutionists stay away from Lamarckism because there is little or no evidence to support it.  Edsinger assumed that evolutionists are proponents of Lamarckism but this is most certainly not the case.  Edsinger then goes on to say that females can’t ” be a part of the evolutionary theory for these reasons”.  This is not true at all.  The male and the female each provide one half of the resulting offspring’s DNA which means that she is the source of half of the genes that are perpetuated in the gene pool.  Upon mixing with the father’s DNA in a number of possible combinations, the resultant offspring can vary quite a bit.  Also, there are random genetic changes that can occur during or after the production of her eggs such that they do not perfectly correlate with the female’s original genes.  In other words, DNA is never copied perfectly and undergoes random mutations from time to time (including the DNA within her eggs) providing several mechanisms for changes to the gene pool.  While the imperfections and mutations are not a result of some intelligent attempt to match the changing environment, they indirectly do so (albeit un-intelligently) when natural selection takes place on the future offspring.  That is, the imperfections made while copying DNA for the production of her eggs and the random mutations that may occur to that DNA any moment after the eggs are produced, result in future offspring that are more or less suited for the changing environment.  So yes, females definitely play a role and are thus a part of the evolutionary theory.

“Scientific Fact” No. 5 – DNA Error Checking Proves Evolution is Wrong

The scientific fact that DNA replication includes a built-in error checking method and a DNA repair process proves the evolutionary theory is wrong. The fact is that any attempt by the DNA to change is stopped and reversed.

As I mentioned in my last paragraph, DNA does not copy itself perfectly.  There are certainly mechanisms that allow DNA to check for errors during copying, as this is needed in order to preserve any beneficial traits resulting from particular genes.  It makes sense that natural selection would support the evolution of DNA that performed this function.  While DNA does have this error checking capability, it is not perfect.  Even if it is imperfect by a tiny percentage of the genome, it provides enough “wiggle room” for evolution to occur.  Edsinger assumed that DNA error-checking was 100% full-proof, which is most definitely not the case.  No credible biologist believes this nor has provided evidence to support this assumption of Edsinger.  We do however have evidence that DNA copying results in at least SOME errors (which is all you need in order to demonstrate that evolution is possible).

“Scientific Fact” No. 6 – Chaos From Organization Proves Evolution is Wrong

The second law of thermodynamics proves that organization cannot flow from chaos. Complex live organisms cannot rearrange themselves into an organism of a higher form as claimed by evolutionists. This is scientifically backwards according to the second law of thermodynamics that has never been proven wrong. Scientists cannot have it both ways. The second law of thermodynamics is proven to be correct. Evolution lacks any scientific proof. Evolution is simply an empty theory.

This is perhaps one of my favorite myths to de-bunk.  I’ve heard Creationists try and use this argument time and time again (with no success).  Edsinger clearly does not even know what the Second Law of Thermodynamics is, for if he did, he would know that it states that entropy (chaos) statistically increases over time in a closed or isolated system.  Unforunately for Edsinger, the Earth is not a closed system.  We obtain all energy that both drives evolution and allows life to exist from the Sun!  It turns out that the amount of entropy that the Sun produces during nuclear fusion more than compensates for the decrease in entropy needed for life to exist and evolution to occur, so the Second Law of Thermodynamics is preserved.  I want to add that in general, evolutionists do not claim that organisms are evolving to “higher forms”.  What is claimed is that evolution is occurring in response to a changing environment.  Even if all intelligent life became extinct such that bacteria once again monopolized the gene pool, evolution would be the mechanism.  So to say that evolution requires higher order is inherently flawed.  It is true that a larger organism or one with more complex systems results in a decrease in entropy, but not all organisms evolve this way.  Some organisms may evolve into smaller organisms and some evolve into those with less complicated systems, as long as it is more beneficial for the new environment under consideration.

“Scientific Fact” No. 7 – Chromosome Count Proves Evolution is Wrong

There is no scientific evidence that a species can change the number of chromosomes within the DNA. The chromosome count within each species is fixed. This is the reason a male from one species cannot mate successfully with a female of another species. Man could not evolve from a monkey. Each species is locked into its chromosome count that cannot change. If an animal developed an extra chromosome or lost a chromosome because of some deformity, it could not successfully mate. The defect could not be passed along to the next generation. Evolving a new species is scientifically impossible. Evolutionists prove that getting a college education does not impart wisdom.

It has been shown that species with a particular number of chromosomes within its DNA can mate with another species with a different number of chromosomes.  A few months ago, I read about a sheep that mated with a goat and produced fertile offspring (with the average number of chromosomes between the two parents).  As rare as this is to encounter in our lifetimes, when we are talking about time scales on the order of millions and billions of years, it seems quite likely that this has happened quite a few times in the past.  The case of the goat and the sheep is merely one example to refute this claim of Edsinger.  Random mutations over time can change chromosome count even if they are incredibly rare.  Humans have only known about chromosomes for so many decades, and evolution has been occurring for millions or years.  It’s easy to see why we fail to see so many facets of evolution during our investigations (especially processes that may occur once every several thousand years or less).

“Scientific Fact” No. 8 – Origin of Matter and Stars Proves Evolution is Wrong

Evolutionists just throw up their hands at the question of the origin of matter because they know something cannot evolve from nothing. They stick their heads in the sand and ignore the problem. The fact that matter exists in outrageously large quantities simply proves evolution is wrong. The “Big Bang” theory doesn’t solve the problem either. Matter and energy have to come from somewhere.

Clearly Edsinger never considered that matter and energy may have ALWAYS existed, rather than were created.  The Big Bang Theory merely illustrates what the scientific evidence suggests as the earliest time with which we can talk about.  In other words, it would be pure speculation to assume what may have happened PRIOR to the Big Bang, but this does not mean that all scientists believe that nothing happened prior to the Big Bang.  Some speculate (myself included) that the universe undergoes a cyclical Big Bang followed by a Big Crunch; a cycle which has been going on for an infinite amount of time.  For those that want to suggest that the cosmological constant implies that the universe is expanding and could not ever lead to a Big Crunch, they haven’t considered that the expansion of space may be analogous to how Pangea spread out on the spherical surface of the Earth, whereby all the continents started to separate, and may eventually (on the other side of the Earth) come back together.  Alternatively, we could speculate that the cosmological constant is changing and will one day reverse itself.  Either way, the fact that we don’t know what happened prior to the Big Bang, is irrelevant to the theory of evolution.  Creationists think they’ve solved the problem by saying that a “God” created the universe, and this “God” always existed beforehand.  We can easily eliminate the “God” from the equation and just say that the universe has always existed.  On top of this, for Edsinger to say that we need to uphold the Law of Conservation of Mass and Energy, this means that his alternative explanation (whatever that may be) couldn’t have some “God” create the mass or energy either.  So what is Edsinger’s alternative explanation?

“Scientific Fact” No. 9 – Lack of Life on Mars Proves Evolution is Wrong

Two NASA two land rovers named Spirit and Opportunity explored Mars during 2004. The topography shows obvious signs of past liquid rivers flowing in numerous places. The rovers have proven that water was once abundant on the surface of Mars, but they have not been able to find any signs of life or any signs of past life on the planet. Mars has a proven history of flowing water on the surface and an atmosphere suitable to support life forms. The planet has had all of the conditions necessary to provide the “spark” of life according to the evolutionary theory, yet there is no life on Mars. The river beds and river banks show no signs of vegetation or trees. The ground has no fossils and no organisms. The place is absolutely sterile.

As I mentioned in response to “scientific fact” No. 3, the conditions needed to support life are different from those that are needed for abiogenesis.  We do not know what conditions are necessary for abiogenesis to occur.  Just because Mars has a source of water or other compounds similar to Earth doesn’t mean that Mars has all the ideal conditions necessary for life to emerge.  It has a different elemental composition that that of Earth, and is located at a different distance from the Sun than the Earth is.  There are many differences between Earth and Mars, so trying to argue that a planet which has SOME features similar to that of the Earth, yet doesn’t have ONE particular feature (e.g. life), somehow disproves evolution, is ridiculous.

“Scientific Fact” No. 10 – Radio Silence from Space Proves Evolution is Wrong

Mars is not the only place that shows no signs of life. The entire universe lacks any sign of life. There are no radio signals that can be related to intelligent life forms. None of the billions of galaxies has been found to emit any intelligent radio signals. Scientists have been pointing every type of radio telescope possible into space for several decades in hopes of finding an intelligent signal. No signs of life beyond Earth have been found. We are alone.

This is an example of what many people call the Fermi Paradox.  Let’s examine our particular situation of life on Earth.  If it took billions of years for life to form from a combination of Brownian (random) motion, specific favorable chemical bonds, and energy, it’s easy to see why life isn’t present on every planet in the solar system, let alone every planet in the galaxy.  Abiogenesis could only have occurred in a narrow range of conditions, and it was largely a result of statistical probability.  Likewise, statistically, with all the millions and billions of planets, countless solar systems and galaxies in the universe, it is also statistically probable that life DOES exist in many other parts of the universe (although we would expect the concentration of intelligent life to be small overall).  The fact that the observable universe seems to be somewhat homogenous further suggests this.  Radio silence from space doesn’t prove a darn thing other than that we have yet to be contacted by any radio signals that have been sent (if any have been sent).  If we expected to receive intelligent radio signals from outer space, we would not only have to assume that intelligent life has evolved elsewhere (that knows how to transmit Shannon information via radio signals or some other form of EM radiation), but that their planet was within range for their signal to reach us unaffected.  There are solar systems that are millions of light years away, and thus would prevent any signals from reaching us for millions of years (and that’s IF the signals managed to make it to us without being reflected or absorbed by other objects in the signal’s several million light-year path of travel).  This line of reasoning on Edsinger’s part is based on so many false assumptions, its ridiculous.  As for Edsinger’s “We are alone” comment, what a dark and depressing conclusion based on these assumptions.  I wrote a separate post about this addressing the Fermi Paradox in more detail.

There are many misconceptions about evolution, and these were merely a few I wanted to address.  What’s worse is that this person attempted to propagate these claims as “scientific facts” which all turned out to be completely false (not facts at all).  Needless to say, I was not surprised at all.

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4 Responses

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  1. I have engaged in online debates with creationists for several years. It seems that hardly a day goes past, without one of them declaring that evolution has been debunked or refuted. I’m pretty sure that they really believe that they have refuted the Theory of Evolution (ToE). And, as a result, they are puzzled that scientists continue to support the theory. They sometimes conclude that Darwinism must be a dogmatic religion, and that there is a conspiracy of scientists to support “the Darwin lobby.”

    In a way, they are correct about refuting ToE. But what they continue to successfully refute is a ridiculous strawman. They seem to have no interest in understanding ToE.

    Evidently, you have encountered their strawman version of theory.

    Neil Rickert

    August 18, 2012 at 9:25 pm

    • Yeah, I was reminded of this anti-evolution blog post after writing my last post. I thought it would be fun to address, but sometimes these people make it too easy! Am I right? As you said this was definitely a strawman argument on Edsinger’s part. I liked “fact” #4 because it suggested that Lamarckism is false which is in agreement with the Modern Evolutionary Synthesis, rather than against it. Sometimes it’s just laughable until you realize that there are people that actually buy into this nonsense and do so blindly when it serves their agenda. Ugh.

      Lage

      August 19, 2012 at 7:55 am

  2. I would like to know, How a geologist can pinpoint the age of a fossil, I know they say by carbon dating, but to weigh anything right the scales must be calibrated, I think it is logical that a carbon dating machine would have to be calibrated too. So how was the first machine that measured age calibrated? They would have had to have a material known to be of a known age to calibrate it, but without the pre calibrated date machine in the first place how could a man tell how old a fossil? Which came first the calibrator or the fossil? Does anyone understand what I’m getting to?

    mbiajc

    August 18, 2013 at 11:37 am


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