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Fundies Really, Really Do Not Understand Evolution


debrand

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Several years ago, someone wrote a letter to the editor in the Charleston Post and Courier, attempting to explain why evolution was false. He used Turkey Buzzards as his example. Most would agree that they are not attractive, I would go so far as to say ugly. This letter writer discussed their lack of attractiveness, the lack of feathers on their head and the fact they ate carion as proof that evolution could not have occurred. He claimed that the bird would have evolved away from eating carrion and therefore would have grown feathers on his head. Without realizing what he did, he actually demonstrated how evolution can work. The lowly turkey buzzard evolved into an animal that can consume carrion and the lack of feathers keeps the bird clean.

I wish I had kept this letter. It was rather amusing the great lengths this man went to to disprove evolution, while all the time doing the opposite.

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When I was in evil public high school, our biology teacher said 'now we're going to learn evolution. I'm not telling you that you have to believe it, you just have to know what to write to answer the questions for the exam'.

Silly little Catholic me had no idea why anyone would have problem with evolution. It wasn't til I got to university that I realised that some people still believe in the literal truth of Genesis. Huh.

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The general problem is where fundies got their information from. They are not interested in getting any information about evolution which sooner or later would lead them to not believing in creationism anymore.

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What I think is also interesting is that multiple people have written books attempting to reconcile Genesis and evolution. (The Science of God by Richard Schroeder comes to mind). Why are fundies opposed to learning creator driven evolution? There are ways to acknowledge their faith while still learning modern-ish science, but instead they are just sticking their heads in the sand.

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What I think is also interesting is that multiple people have written books attempting to reconcile Genesis and evolution. (The Science of God by Richard Schroeder comes to mind). Why are fundies opposed to learning creator driven evolution? There are ways to acknowledge their faith while still learning modern-ish science, but instead they are just sticking their heads in the sand.

The director of the National Institutes of Health and former director of the Human Genome Project, Francis Collins, is himself an evangelical who rejects creationism in its entirety, except in that he believes in ultimately a creator that initiated the big bang and employed evolution for the origins of species. I met him on a few occasions when I was working in basic research at NIH last summer and I was surprised to learn he was a religious man after reading up on him because he never presented even the faintest impression of a bias. Since then, I've really admired his ability to separate hard scientific evidence from personal faith.

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Some of the creationists at least try to make some kind of an argument. The ones that drive me mental are the ones who barely finished high school and think that there one-liner is some brilliant insight that no one ever hear before.

"Why are there still monkeys?"

"If the earth was billions of years old all the rocks would be reduced to dust."

Shit like that.

Do they really think that any scientist will hear such a statement and suddenly have an epiphany of the first degree and realize that they didn't know that the Grand Canyon was formed during the flood?

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While it is true that many (but not all) creationists/fundies do really do not understand evolution enough to have a technical discussion on the topic, this is also true of some (but not all) evolutionists who do not really understand evolution but accept it as true because they have been told that it is so.

The problem is that there are topics on both sides that are not fully understood (or explained) and require faith to close the gaps and made that point of view stand. The difference is that creationists admit that faith is a key part of their belief. Many evolutionists choose to ignore these gaps on faith that science will eventually work these out. Lee Strobel's Case for a Creator does a good job in pointing these out.

Not all creationists are uneducated. For example, the scientists from the Institute for Creation Research ( icr.org/research/team ) are all highly educated and almost all of them have PhDs in a science based field. On their website they have some highly technical papers on evolution/creation topics and also provide some more lay descriptions of the support for creation: icr.org/resources-for-scientists/

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While it is true that many (but not all) creationists/fundies do really do not understand evolution enough to have a technical discussion on the topic, this is also true of some (but not all) evolutionists who do not really understand evolution but accept it as true because they have been told that it is so.

The problem is that there are topics on both sides that are not fully understood (or explained) and require faith to close the gaps and made that point of view stand. The difference is that creationists admit that faith is a key part of their belief. Many evolutionists choose to ignore these gaps on faith that science will eventually work these out. Lee Strobel's Case for a Creator does a good job in pointing these out.

Not all creationists are uneducated. For example, the scientists from the Institute for Creation Research ( icr.org/research/team ) are all highly educated and almost all of them have PhDs in a science based field. On their website they have some highly technical papers on evolution/creation topics and also provide some more lay descriptions of the support for creation: icr.org/resources-for-scientists/

So, you're going to challenge electricity because you don't understand how it works? The difference between science and religion is that if you applied yourself you could learn the details of how it works, from a catalytic converter, to why your bread rises to the role of myelin in nerve transmission to how pines trees share a common ancestor with us. "faith" in science is only a stopgap if you can't be bothered to learn the field for yourself. Religion has faith as integral to it. No matter how long I spent reading about religion, it's never going to not require faith in untestable things.

Strobel's book is neatly disposed of here http://www.patheos.com/blogs/daylightat ... a-creator/

You're only impressed by those "highly technical" papers because they use long words and short abbreviations that you don't understand. But you don't need to trust me. Go, read a couple of textbooks, do a full literature survey on each field, then go back to the papers. Terrible, aren't they?

Having a phd doesn't make what you're saying not rubbish. Remember the cold fusion guys? phds. Hell, I even know a person with a phd who'd into homeopathy! And, to make it worse, the ICR guys were creationists who went and got phds expressly to seem more authoritative. Only religious people are obsessed with authority. The science world judges you mainly on your data. Yes, lacking a phd makes it harder to be heard, but having a phd, or masters, or a Nobel prize is no guarantee what you're saying isn't crud (exhibit A: Brian Josephson; exhibit B: Kuc Montagnier). A phd is the base level of being able to play the science game. It is like the entry ticket to the nightclub. Getting in doesn't mean you're going to score, or even make friends.

Biology isn't the robust and complex field it is because we take the word of anyone who has a phd, it's robust and complex because we don't accept anything unless we can replicate it ourselves. It's a concept called "critical thinking" (i.e., being skeptical of everything anyone says - disbelief as the first reaction), and when you combine it with the scientific method, it's incredibly powerful. There's a reason why the null hypothesis is the null hypothesis!

BTW your use of the term "evolutionist" is a dead giveaway. If you want to fly under the radar a little better, try "evolutionary theorist" or "biologist".

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The problem is that there are topics on both sides that are not fully understood (or explained) and require faith to close the gaps and made that point of view stand. The difference is that creationists admit that faith is a key part of their belief. Many evolutionists choose to ignore these gaps on faith that science will eventually work these out. Lee Strobel's Case for a Creator does a good job in pointing these out.

Is there evidence to support that life on Earth evolved? Yes, there is. Lot's of it. Do we know every step along the way? No we don't.

Is there evidence to support that life on Earth began 6,000 years ago and that species are static? No, there isn't.

One theory requires "faith" to accept that gaps will be filled in. The other requires faith to support the entire supposition.

Do you see the difference?

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While it is true that many (but not all) creationists/fundies do really do not understand evolution enough to have a technical discussion on the topic, this is also true of some (but not all) evolutionists who do not really understand evolution but accept it as true because they have been told that it is so.

The problem is that there are topics on both sides that are not fully understood (or explained) and require faith to close the gaps and made that point of view stand.

This isn't true at all. There is nothing that requires faith to "close the gaps."

Any science is a way to model the living world. It is testable. We can say "if A is true, then when X happens Y is the result." Then we can test X and look for Y. If Y doesn't happen we try a different way to test things (to make sure we're not biasing our results). If Y still doesn't happen we go back and say "OK, what part of A is wrong? How do we make A fit reality better? Now, if A-1 is true, then when W happens Z is the result (because we already know that when X happens, Y is the result).

Science is iterative.

In the case of "big" theories like the Big Bang or Evolution or Gravity or Cell we have different bits of evidence accumulated over hundreds (in some cases thousands) of years. These bits of evidence reinforce and bolster the theory. What's more, the theories in question allow us to make predictions and then test (or observe) whether or not those predictions are right.

No faith needed, we can test, experiment and get actual results.

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While it is true that many (but not all) creationists/fundies do really do not understand evolution enough to have a technical discussion on the topic, this is also true of some (but not all) evolutionists who do not really understand evolution but accept it as true because they have been told that it is so.

It sounds like you're attempting to label the "appeal to authority" fallacy, but aren't really sure how it works.

See, it's okay for the layperson not to know everything about everything. It's okay to refer back to an authority who is actually educated in that field. I don't need to do the research myself if dozens of highly-educated, peer reviewed scientists who have devoted their life to studying evolution can give me the answer to a question regarding a nitpicky detail like "when did humans split off from the other great apes?"

However, referring to a religious text for that answer is about as useful as asking a plumber or a hairdresser. The plumber is my expert when I need help with a leaky toilet, not when I need help with paleontology or geology.

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It sounds like you're attempting to label the "appeal to authority" fallacy, but aren't really sure how it works.

See, it's okay for the layperson not to know everything about everything. It's okay to refer back to an authority who is actually educated in that field. I don't need to do the research myself if dozens of highly-educated, peer reviewed scientists who have devoted their life to studying evolution can give me the answer to a question regarding a nitpicky detail like "when did humans split off from the other great apes?"

However, referring to a religious text for that answer is about as useful as asking a plumber or a hairdresser. The plumber is my expert when I need help with a leaky toilet, not when I need help with paleontology or geology.

You can also take comfort in the fact that half of those experts hate the guts of the other half and would like nothing more than to catch a mistake they made, a significant portion of the experts compete with each other for money, and every word published by any of them is gone over with a fine tooth comb looking for flaws. Look at the neo-darwinst vs punctuated equilibria debate. It's cutthroat, but both sides are biologists. There is vigorous debate, but the basic fact of evolution was settled decades ago.

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Any science is a way to model the living world. It is testable. We can say "if A is true, then when X happens Y is the result." Then we can test X and look for Y. If Y doesn't happen we try a different way to test things (to make sure we're not biasing our results). If Y still doesn't happen we go back and say "OK, what part of A is wrong? How do we make A fit reality better? Now, if A-1 is true, then when W happens Z is the result (because we already know that when X happens, Y is the result).

Science is iterative.

In the case of "big" theories like the Big Bang or Evolution or Gravity or Cell we have different bits of evidence accumulated over hundreds (in some cases thousands) of years. These bits of evidence reinforce and bolster the theory. What's more, the theories in question allow us to make predictions and then test (or observe) whether or not those predictions are right.

No faith needed, we can test, experiment and get actual results.

Great description of the scientific method! The problem is that even with all our technology and knowledge, we have been unable to test and replicate "if A is true, then when X happens" then life is the result. Now, I will concede that scientists have tried to separate the problem of "first life" (abiogenesis) from how we got from first life to humans (evolution) by making them separate fields of research. In reality, in order to believe that no creator was necessary, you have to have proved / believe in both natural abiogenesis and evolution (or other equivalent theories of origin).

Since we have not been able to produce and test "if A is true, then when X happens" then life is the result, then we are still at the hypothesis stage with no scientific proof that natural abiogenesis could happen. What is faith if it is not belief without proof?

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Great description of the scientific method! The problem is that even with all our technology and knowledge, we have been unable to test and replicate "if A is true, then when X happens" then life is the result. Now, I will concede that scientists have tried to separate the problem of "first life" (abiogenesis) from how we got from first life to humans (evolution) by making them separate fields of research. In reality, in order to believe that no creator was necessary, you have to have proved / believe in both natural abiogenesis and evolution (or other equivalent theories of origin).

Since we have not been able to produce and test "if A is true, then when X happens" then life is the result, then we are still at the hypothesis stage with no scientific proof that natural abiogenesis could happen. What is faith if it is not belief without proof?

I could go into the false assumptions creationists have about abiogenesis theory but it is much better done here

http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/abioprob/abioprob.html

In fact, based on our current understanding, it is quite easy to believe in natural abiogenesis. It is certainly a lot easier for me to believe in abiogenesis and evolution based on the evidence than it is for me to believe in a creator/biblical creationism.

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Great description of the scientific method! The problem is that even with all our technology and knowledge, we have been unable to test and replicate "if A is true, then when X happens" then life is the result.

Actually, we have been able to demonstrate self replicating chemicals in conditions much like what we think the early earth was like. It's been a while since I dug into that particular bit of the research, though.

Now, I will concede that scientists have tried to separate the problem of "first life" (abiogenesis) from how we got from first life to humans (evolution) by making them separate fields of research. In reality, in order to believe that no creator was necessary, you have to have proved / believe in both natural abiogenesis and evolution (or other equivalent theories of origin).

So kind of you to concede that. Really. I don't know what my scientific life would be like without some random person on the internet conceding that abiogenesis is different from evolution.

The two things are very different scientifically. Abiogenesis is much more chemistry (and physics and physical chemistry) than biology. Evolution is biology.

Since we have not been able to produce and test "if A is true, then when X happens" then life is the result, then we are still at the hypothesis stage with no scientific proof that natural abiogenesis could happen. What is faith if it is not belief without proof?

We have evidence of natural abiogenesis. Lots of it. We can create hypotheses based on that evidence and test them. Have we created life? Depends on your definition of life. And I don't say that to be snarky. How *do* you define life? I had to do it once for an exam, and I had to defend my answer. I'm well aware that people can disagree about what makes something alive (is a virus alive is always the fun question).

But, really, there's no faith involved. There is evidence and that evidence leads to testable hypotheses. Those tests either tell us that our hypotheses are correct or we go back and rework the hypothesis to fit the new data.

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In reality, in order to believe that no creator was necessary, you have to have proved / believe in both natural abiogenesis and evolution (or other equivalent theories of origin).

And in order to believe in a creator, you have to believe there is something out there that doesn't follow any known natural laws.

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Great description of the scientific method! The problem is that even with all our technology and knowledge, we have been unable to test and replicate "if A is true, then when X happens" then life is the result. Now, I will concede that scientists have tried to separate the problem of "first life" (abiogenesis) from how we got from first life to humans (evolution) by making them separate fields of research. In reality, in order to believe that no creator was necessary, you have to have proved / believe in both natural abiogenesis and evolution (or other equivalent theories of origin).

Since we have not been able to produce and test "if A is true, then when X happens" then life is the result, then we are still at the hypothesis stage with no scientific proof that natural abiogenesis could happen. What is faith if it is not belief without proof?

That's not true. We have lots of hypotheses and lots of proven data points around the topic. It's a really active field of research. We know it's easy to make cell membranes and easy to make amino acids. Google RNA world, it's pretty cool. I was reading recently about the effort to figure out non enzymatic nucleic acid replication. Don't forget it took a billion years for the first cells to appear, almost another two for it to become multicellular. In contrast, it only took 1 billion years to go from the very first eukaryotes to fish. If life can figure out brains and muscles and nerves and chitin and pheremones in that long, why wouldn't it be long enough to make a replicase?

Claiming that abiogenesis is required for evolution is like saying you can't make a cake because you don't have wheat berries ... even with a bag of flour right there in the kitchen. Yes, to get to the varied biosphere we have today from the point of abiogenesis requires evolution (which is why you dispute it), but evolution does not require abiogenesis.

and this

In reality, in order to believe that no creator was necessary, you have to have proved / believe in both natural abiogenesis and evolution (or other equivalent theories of origin).
combined with your previous citing of the ICR shows you as a YEC. What do you say to people like the pope, who says his god pressed the start button and let it go from there? Why is your god such a bad designer?

Can we do the eye next? I love flatworms, although they're nowhere near as cute as tardigrades.

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Based on theory of evolution exist, shouldn't we see new versions of human appear. Or, even the transition of one specie to human by now.

I was told that exact same thing growing up as a creationists but it ends up we actually do see animals changing.

http://www.cracked.com/article_19213_7- ... -eyes.html

Before their introduction to the island, the wall lizards were carnivores, so their digestive systems weren't built for leaf-eating. But on an island short on insects and long on plants, a strictly carnivorous stomach would be a one-way ticket to Deadville. So the lizards developed things called cecal valves, which were muscles that slowed down the process of food digestion and gave them more time to break down plant cellulose. But growing new gut muscles wasn't all the lizards had up their sleeves. They also grew bigger heads for stronger bites, and dropped territorial defenses.

The peppered moth's mottled-grayish color was just about the same color as the lichen and tree trunks that the moths rested on. Which was important, because moths are bird food and birds can't chomp on things they can't see. BUT, as the trees trunks got sooty and the lichen died from pollution, the light-colored moths stuck out like sore thumbs. They also got eaten.

It wasn't long before people noticed peppered moths started turning the color of filth-covered trees:These moths blended in with the trees nicely, and black became the new black of the moth world. Within 50 years of getting noticed, 98 percent of all the peppered moths in England were black. And we should note that it wasn't just English moths who went black -- American and continental European moths changed colors during the Industrial Revolution as well.

But the story doesn't end there. Over the 20th century, England cleaned up its act and the tree trunks went back to tree trunk color ... as did the moths. That's right, evolution doesn't just plow relentlessly forward. It goes whatever damned direction it needs to.

If this can happen in such a short time just think of what could happen in millions of years.

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Didn't the pepper moths turn out to be just a teensy bit faked?

But that's all right, we still have seen evolution in a human time frame, and for things other than bacteria. Check out the London Underground Mosquito.

As far as seeing new types of humans appear, the answer is yes and no.

It is no because the assumption is wrong. Evolution explains how and why things change, but it doesn't mean that they MUST change. If you are perfectly adapted to your environment and there aren't any new selective pressures on you, why should evolution occur?

However, the truth is that we know evolution has occurred to humans. Some humans have a mutation that allows them to digest lactose after the normal age of weaning. Why? Because there was a selective pressure among some groups and people who could digest milk and cheese had a whole new food source and thus were more likely to survive and have lots of children and grandchildren. Look at sickle cell anemia! It is very common among people whose ancestors lived where malaria is common. Why? Because one copy of the gene confers some immunity against malaria, and so being a carrier is an enormous selective advantage. Sure, your kids have a greater chance of having the disease, but on the whole they are much more likely to survive and give you grandchildren than the children of non-carriers are!

You see this sort of thing everywhere, when you look. There hasn't been recent speciation, but then, groups would have to be isolated for a pretty long time for that to happen.

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Cracked isn't the best source of info but I'm multitasking, was lazy and grabbed the first thing. :embarrassed: Anyway there is plenty of proof of evolution if you look.

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Well, the pepper moths are still in all the biology textbooks, so I don't know. Then again, I'm not a big believer in public school textbooks. I've had too many state things that were outright wrong, either because the authors didn't know better or because of the influence of lobbyists. Or, you know, Texas.

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Evolution just makes a lot more sense then what I was raised. Creation science was not that helpful when I got to college. :lol: My understanding of evolution was "It is bad. Everything that exists today existed when God made the earth 6000 years ago. No new species or species that have changed. Anyone who questions this is going to hell."

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I'm going off a three-year-old memory here, but I think that the idea that the peppered moth thing is made up is itself made up -- or at least exaggerated. If I recall correctly -- and it's very possible that I don't! -- the complaint was that the picture shown in textbooks was a fake, which was then taken as proof that the whole thing never happened.

But I do wish they'd stop using it as THE example of evolution. No wonder creationists don't believe, if that's all they think we've got!

Based on theory of evolution exist, shouldn't we see new versions of human appear. Or, even the transition of one specie to human by now.

I'm not sure I'm understanding you correctly here, but if I am then no, we wouldn't expect to see either of those things happen. New versions of species don't "appear" (even with punctuated equilibrium), and speciation of a slow-to-reproduce species like ours is not something we'd expect to see in the timeframe of human existence. It is especially unlikely given the degree to which we interbreed with others from all around the globe, and given that significantly less selective pressure exists on us than a lot of other species. That doesn't mean we're not evolving (largely via sexual selection and genetic drift), just that what you're imagining should have happened "by now" is not at all supported by evolutionary theory.

As to the second point, please correct me if I'm wrong, but you seem to me to be implying that we should have seen another species evolve into being humans. This is just wrong, not due to time scale or environmental factors or anything like that, but because that is plain not how evolution works. It isn't a line with a strict progression from amoeba to human, with chimpanzees and bonobos just waiting their turn. I do apologize if that isn't what you meant, but it is a common fallacy and one I get tired of arguing (because so many people say it with an expectant "got you there, EVILutionist!" smirk on their faces).

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I guess I don't understand why it is somehow OK to believe in "microevolution", by which I think most fundies mean the development of antibiotic resistant bacteria and new forms of the flu virus, but not in "macroevolution". Evolution is evolution. Living things change in response to pressures from their environment. Viruses and bacteria replicate much faster than we do and with more mutations, but the concept is exactly the same. Can a fundie or fundie expert tell me why you can believe in one but not the other??

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