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Dispelling the myths and misconseptions about evolution

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posted on Sep, 18 2008 @ 10:57 PM
All right. I see a lot of general misunderstandings of the Theory of Evolution.

So in this thread, we students of science are going lay out all the rubbish that's attributed to the theory. I figure we could list all the lies/half-truths/myths/misconceptions etc. I've noticed that they all seem to spring out of ignorance (lol something out of nothing- I smell the thermodynamics claims).

My idea is that every time that someone say that life could not have just sprung out of nothing or dogs did not come from rocks, who ever will be able to come here, copy and paste the answer in it's entirety, and save time doing it.

Right so, being the OP I'll go first.

1. Evolution has nothing to do with God.

Accepting evolution does not require one to reject theism. Evolution is not atheist. Most people believe there is a god, and they believe he is in control of all the seemingly-random events of our lives. This is true of most of the people who accept evolution also. Most of them believe in God as well, and they believe that God is in control of evolution; that evolution, like every other system in nature, is part of God’s design.

[Check out these notes on some Gallup polls]

The two biggest christian churches in the world, the catholic followed by the orthodox church both openly accept evolution as a reality. The latter has even issued a public apology to Darwin himself (yes, he's still dead).

At the other end of the point, evolution has nothing to do with god because evolution is science. Science is observations and explanation of those observations with natural processes. Science therefore doesn't permit supernatural explanations because they cannot be tested.

So evolution and god are not mutually exclusive.

[edit on 9/19/2008 by Good Wolf]

posted on Sep, 19 2008 @ 02:55 AM
Good stuff. Let's start with the very basics. What is a theory?

God himself, through some local second hand car dealers that have recently turned pastors near me, has told me a theory is just a guestimate.

Somebody else told me to actually open a dictionary, so lets see...

(thē'ə-rē, thîr'ē) pronunciation

n., pl. -ries.

1. A set of statements or principles devised to explain a group of facts or phenomena, especially one that has been repeatedly tested or is widely accepted and can be used to make predictions about natural phenomena.

2. The branch of a science or art consisting of its explanatory statements, accepted principles, and methods of analysis, as opposed to practice: a fine musician who had never studied theory.

3. A set of theorems that constitute a systematic view of a branch of mathematics.

4. Abstract reasoning; speculation: a decision based on experience rather than theory.

5. A belief or principle that guides action or assists comprehension or judgment: staked out the house on the theory that criminals usually return to the scene of the crime.

6. An assumption based on limited information or knowledge; a conjecture.

No 6, that's the one right there. That's the one Jesus means.

posted on Sep, 19 2008 @ 03:12 AM
Thanks, Kegs.

2. Evolution has nothing to do with the origin of life.

Two things to remember here.

A) Abiogenesis is the science of the origin of living organisms.
B) Evolution is the science of life changing over time, once it is already present.

Of course if you want to debate about the origins of life, you mite actually have a debate as abiogenesis is still in it's genesis. But make sure you actually know a thing or two about abiogenesis before you say "life didn't just spontaneously appear on earth" because it make you look like a simpleton.

posted on Sep, 19 2008 @ 03:19 AM
Just like the previous.

3. Evolution has nothing to do with Big Bang Theory.

Again, this is frequently tied to evolution for some silly reason. And again, it makes you look like a simpleton.

By the way, the big bang was not just "nothing that exploded", it's more complicated than that.

posted on Sep, 19 2008 @ 03:21 AM
Cosmology and Astronomy own "The Big Bang theory".

Evolution doesn't even get a look in.

Biologists flick their straws at them in the canteen, but it's still a no go.

They all give wedgies to the astrologers though.

[edit on 19-9-2008 by kegs]

posted on Sep, 19 2008 @ 05:51 AM
This next one is two pronged.

4a. Micro and Macro evolution are not distinct processes.

If one happens, so does the other as demonstrated by the evidence.

Microevolution and macroevolution are different things, but they involve mostly the same processes. Microevolution is defined as the change of allele frequencies (that is, genetic variation due to processes such as selection, mutation, genetic drift, or even migration) within a population. There is no argument that microevolution happens (although some creationists, such as Wallace, deny that mutations happen). Macroevolution is defined as evolutionary change at the species level or higher, that is, the formation of new species, new genera, and so forth. Speciation has also been observed.

Creationists have created another category for which they use the word "macroevolution." They have no technical definition of it, but in practice they use it to mean evolution to an extent great enough that it has not been observed yet. (Some creationists talk about macroevolution being the emergence of new features, but it is not clear what they mean by this. Taking it literally, gradually changing a feature from fish fin to tetrapod limb to bird wing would not be macroevolution, but a mole on your skin which neither of your parents have would be.) I will call this category supermacroevolution to avoid confusing it with real macroevolution.


4b. Speciation has been observed.

This statement requires one to accept evidence as evidence, not simply ignore it or label it as something else. And of course the more you refute, the more reality you deny. Among the denied reality, one has to deny an un-disputed fossil record. Within, we find loads of speciation events for just about every species found.

New species have arisen in historical times. For example:

* A new species of mosquito, isolated in London's Underground, has speciated from Culex pipiens (Byrne and Nichols 1999; Nuttall 1998).

* Helacyton gartleri is the HeLa cell culture, which evolved from a human cervical carcinoma in 1951. The culture grows indefinitely and has become widespread (Van Valen and Maiorana 1991).

A similar event appears to have happened with dogs relatively recently. Sticker's sarcoma, or canine transmissible venereal tumor, is caused by an organism genetically independent from its hosts but derived from a wolf or dog tumor (Zimmer 2006; Murgia et al. 2006).

* Several new species of plants have arisen via polyploidy (when the chromosome count multiplies by two or more) (de Wet 1971). One example is Primula kewensis (Newton and Pellew 1929).

And don't think that is the end of it.
[edit on 9/22/2008 by Spiderj]

[edit on 9/22/2008 by Spiderj]

posted on Sep, 19 2008 @ 06:18 AM
There is quite a bit of talk about evolution versus creationalism on the ATS threads lately. I tend to believe that evolutions has been occurring as long as the universe has been in existence, but I will NOT categorically deny the existence of God based on what science tells me. There is something inherent in my being that tells me that there is a metaphysical realm which is governed by what I perceive to be God or the creator. The reason I maintain this believe is that unexplainable miracles do occur which cannot be rationalized by any natural process. It is logical and easy to observe the world around you and see evidence of change (call it evolution, call it what you will), but I more or less attribute this as a result to the passing time. We know that H20 exists elsewhere in the universe and it is naive to thing we the only living beings on a cosmic scale, and that planet earth is very old indeed. That being said, it does not sway my beliefs at all. Cool thread.. Thanks for sharing.

posted on Sep, 19 2008 @ 09:43 PM
reply to post by mapsurfer_

Thanx. I wish more people shared you opinions because a literal interpretation of genesis is not only daft but dangerous. A literal interpretation requires one to deny a lot of reality and it warps perception of reality which is why creationists tend to be very ignorant.

Like i said in the first one, most scientists are evolutionists and vice versa.

I'll be adding more as I over the week.

posted on Sep, 20 2008 @ 03:41 AM
reply to post by Good Wolf

sorry good wolf

i have to bring you up on the new species part

the mozzy in the london underground is only evidence of a newly discovered species

new to science does not automatically mean just come into exsistence.


sorry as for the bacteria part this could also only be newly observed.

[edit on 20-9-2008 by drevill]

posted on Sep, 20 2008 @ 04:21 AM
We have discovered bacteria in a dumpster that eats nylon. Where the hell did that survive before the 1930's?! What was is eating?

Not to mention that most observed speciations of bacteria have happened in the lab. Speciation is a biological fact.

Edit: Fixed link.

It won't let me edit that post so i'll stick the links here:

[edit on 9/20/2008 by Good Wolf]


posted on Sep, 20 2008 @ 04:37 AM
Sorry to derail the topic slightly but on the point of bacteria

Wasn't SARS birdflu never legitamitely previously seen before as well when the outbreaks occured?

posted on Sep, 20 2008 @ 04:37 AM

Originally posted by drevill
reply to post by Good Wolf

sorry good wolf

i have to bring you up on the new species part

the mozzy in the london underground is only evidence of a newly discovered species

new to science does not automatically mean just come into exsistence.


sorry as for the bacteria part this could also only be newly observed.

[edit on 20-9-2008 by drevill]

One problem with this claim of yours is that we have access to genetic sciences these days and are no longer limited to Linnaeus' methods of classification through observance.

By looking at an organism's genome and comparing it to related organisms, we can not only see how related they are genetically, but we can use that information, using marker genes as a guide, to tell how long ago the two organisms diverged from their common ancestor.

Thus we can take the subway mosquito, and the common mosquito, and compare their genetic makeups to see how many mutations have built up to differentiate the two. The more differences, the longer the time period. Given that this bug only exists in London's Underground, the earliest point of divergence would have to come after the underground was built - which is clearly within historical record.

It's also not hard to see how such a change would come about, through simple genetic drift in a population isolate. Mosquitos breed really, really fast, after all, and after one male and one female drop their eggs in a puddle, there's no reason for the several hundred offspring to go anywhere else, ever, for however many generations...

posted on Sep, 20 2008 @ 04:54 AM
reply to post by SR

Well, it was never seen in humans which is an important distinction.

An interesting thing about a lot of diseases is that they can be traced through human remains. They affect bone structure, causing minor lesions, or deforming / paralyzing muscle that then affects the bone, etc. Through these methods we can trace when a disease first started affecting people. A notable case is syphilis - We can actually follow this disease's introduction, spread, and evolution in Europe. You start out with there being no syphilis, then suddenly, BAM, syphilis in Europe. It's easy to tell because early syphilis was nasty - you think it's bad now? Back then it covered the entire body in lesions, rotted bone and teeth, and was literally a flesh-eating disease of supreme terror to the populace. All easily traceable through both remains and historical record. of course a disease that kills fast doesn't invect very many people, and so that bone-rotting, flesh-melting strain of syphilis started losing out to milder strains, until we have the midern syphilis, that a little penicillin will clear right up.

Another interesting one is measles. Measles is not endemic to humans - or rather, it wasn't. This particular virus is most similar to viruses that cause very similar diseases... not in primates, but in cattle. We caught some sort of cow disease back when we started taming the things, and from that point, proto-measles became a disease that could jump from human to cow and back... But at some point (possibly after killing off a lot of humans and cows) proto-measles became regular measles - a disease which only affects humans. We can find similar stories to diseases like the aptly-named chicken pox, and even lyme disease.

And then there's historical records of diseases "magically appearing" - Bubonic plague struck china without warning, then spread west to the middle east, then Europe. It was a brand-new disease to humanity. One spread by fleas. The first cases were no doubt directly attributable to those fleas... but as the bacterium behind the plague evolved, it became suited to its human host, and became a communicable disease, one that caused untold amounts of death. Another instance is Smallpox, which like measles, likely originated from bovine livestock - but suddenly erupted into the Roman world without precedent or warning.

These aren't exactly examples of speciation (especially with viruses, since they don't really have "species") but are interesting examples of evolution.

posted on Sep, 20 2008 @ 05:17 AM

ok thanks for the clarification.

how does that show evolution? how does genetic shift show a new type of animal it still a mozzy we can breed new dogs but they are dogs all the same.

should we class genetic defects in humans as a new animal? surely genetic material will be in inherited as we are made from the same basic materials. one decays and another is built, cross breeding doesn't make a new animal.

sorry im thicker than a whale omelet so if what im saying is stupid i apologise.


posted on Sep, 20 2008 @ 05:57 AM
This goes along with 4b.

5a. Transitional Fossils exist.

The term "Transitional" is fairly subjective (but not as much as creationist 'kind' is). However in palaeontology, it means a fossil that is morphologically between a species and an older species that it evolved from.

Morphology is, of course, the outward appearance of an organism.

This doesn't mean that there aren't gaps, there certainly are. This is because the circumstances required to fossilise things aren't common. But if a species is around long enough or are common enough, for sure at least one of it's numbers will get fossilised.

The people who say that none have been found are either ignorant of the fossils or simply claiming that they are not transitional and it's actually part of the younger, older or new species.

Here is a page from TalkOrigins on transitional fossils.


Read it, it's exhaustive.

Here is another more scientific page from ActionBioscience that has good info on the Archaeopteryx- half reptile, half bird- and on the Jaw to Ear transition.


5b. Vestigiality occurs.

Vestigiality, wikipedia tells us, describes homologous characters of organisms which have lost all or most of their original function in a species through evolution. These may take various forms such as anatomical structures, behaviours and biochemical pathways. Some of these disappear early in embryonic development, but others are retained in adulthood. All such characters can, in turn, be traced to the genes which code for such characters. Some genes no longer code for anything, and can thus be called vestigial themselves, or junk DNA.

It's also important to know that some vestiges aren't necessarily functionless, in some cases they are used for new purposes.

Wikipedia has a short list of examples.


posted on Sep, 20 2008 @ 06:03 AM
Hey guys, lets get some S & F's out there, aye.

reply to post by drevill

It is a new species if it can no long breed with it's parent species or its sister species. That's why the tiger and lion are separate species, they can produce a liger and a tion but the offspring are not fertile despite the tiger and the lion having a common ancestor.


Here is another common one even from non creationists.

6. Not all mutations are bad.

Here's the strait dope, people. Most mutations are completely neutral. In humans for example, almost all mutations are neutral because 90% of our DNA doesn't function (called Junk DNA). The National Center for Biotechnology Information tells us that the very first stage of the human embryo (zygote) there are already 128. You are a mutant! And that is just the zygote, our cells will mutate 30 more times before we die. Some of these mutations will be passed on to our kids, and they'll become nothing more than family traits. They are partly responsible for genetic diversity within a species.

So once we ignore the neutral mutations, what do we have? what amount of non-neutral mutations are beneficial?

This is where the trouble emerges. Lab results are inconsistent for the rate of beneficial vs deleterious mutations, but the consensus is that deleterious are more common but nowhere near "most" or "all".


[edit on 9/20/2008 by Good Wolf]

posted on Sep, 21 2008 @ 01:55 AM
Where is Pal Shaffer when you need him?
Alright here is another really common one:

7a. Humans did not evolve from chimps, monkeys,
Gibbons, orangutans, gorillas or any other still-living
ape species.

We share a common ancestor with all the modern primates, we did not come from them.

I don't care what you think the word 'ape' means, humans are apes. Ape is an old word that became redundant with modern taxonomy and genetics. In scientific terms ape is replaced with Hominoidea, which is a superfamily. In the superfamily, we find:

Superfamily Hominoidea:
..........Family Hominidae: great apes
..............+ Genus Homo: humans
......................# Human, Homo sapiens


7b. ERVs demonstrate evolution.

In the same hominidae family, we find chimpanzees. These are considered to be our closest related species still alive. If you google 'chimpanzees and humans', you'll see how much study is going on about our relation proximity. That aside there is a consensus that we are around 96% the same. One of the things that prove this is the retrovirus of the Retroviridae family. The long and the short of it is that the special part of this virus is that it takes it's +mRNA and, once attached to a cell, transcribes that +mRNA into DNA which is then edited into the organism's DNA.

The important part of this is that if the retrovirus infects a Germ cell then there is a good chance that the retrovirus DNA will enter the gene pool of the species. It's important to know that the DNA will be neutral so will not act as a circumstantial pressure for Natural Selection to act on. Given sufficient time, after the species evolves into daughter species, all of those species might also have inherited the retrovirus DNA (though it will by now be non functional due to mutation). These are called endogenous retroviruses, or ERVs.

Wiki lists the lengths of a few virus genomes which average out to very approximately 4500 base pairs. So the odds of the chimp and the human having the same 4500 stretch of DNA by chance is incredibly low, having five- infinitesimally small -wouldn't happen in a billion years, imagine 10 stretches, what about ERVs in the order of 90,000?! This would produce a probability so infinitesimally small that you or I cannot wrap our brains around the concept of the kind of scale.

But with evolution, these probabilities become 1.

Here is a more elaborate explanation from CDK007.

I particularly like the bit on reverse shipwrecks.

[edit on 9/21/2008 by Good Wolf]

[edit on 9/21/2008 by Good Wolf]

posted on Sep, 21 2008 @ 02:50 AM
hello there

but we share 50% of our DNA with bananas,
60% with a fruit fly so according to your theory we went from a banana to a fly to a chimp to a human?????

so not only did we evolve from a banana we also went from plant to animal.


posted on Sep, 21 2008 @ 03:27 AM
reply to post by drevill

Not really. It tells us that we are related to them - of course we are, they are on the same life tree- but it doesn't say that we evolved from them. Indeed, we didn't even evolve from chimps, I explained that. The more specific genetic markers that you share with someone the closer you are related to them - like your cousin, but you aren't a descendant of your cousin (at least without an incestuous family tree).

None of our ancestor species' are still around so any species that are still around are distant relations, the closer they are, the more markers we share in common.

[edit on 9/21/2008 by Good Wolf]

posted on Sep, 21 2008 @ 12:45 PM

ok point cleared up!

i can see the holes though, surely you can too? we just come to different conclusions. That aside are you not annoyed the way we are taught its a dead cert though?


[edit on 21-9-2008 by drevill]

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