Does evolution explain biodiversity?

One mistake I think people make when discussing and debating whether evolutionary theory adequately explains the degree of biodiversity we see in the animal kingdom is they don’t recognize everyone is using the same facts.  What I mean is we all see the fossil record, the geological record, the cosmos, et. al.  Where we differ is in the interpretation of those facts and the conclusions derived from the interpretations.

The natural outworking of believing we exist in a godless universe is a belief that biodiversity must arise through some natural evolutionary process.  Thus I believe the Naturalist’s explanation is contrived.  Because this is the only option on the table for the Atheist/Naturalist no matter the data, the conclusions must fit the paradigm no matter how strained which is why I believe the evolutionary explanation extrapolates too greatly.

Here is where I’d like to open the comments to those committed to the evolutionary paradigm to offer up the best evidence evolutionary theories provide.  I’m earnestly making this offer so I’ll be highly disappointed if I receive responses like, “evolution is true you idiot” or, “science has proven it true you bible thumper”.  I’m not asking for research papers, but I would like a reasonable effort to make your case.  I don’t care if you provide links, but I will ask that you summarize in your own words what information is provided on the link, I don’t expect to have to do your homework for you.

Comments

  1. Jeffrey Kraus says:

    First we observe that life does not spontaneously appear at a high rate, that life comes from life. That offspring resemble but are not identical to their parents. Just as you can create a family tree for humans then all of life can be placed in a family tree. Having life from non-life happen only once is more consistent with observation than having it happen many times.

    This predicts that with a common ancestor the cellular mechanisms of all life will be shared, which is what is observed.

  2. The natural outworking of believing we exist in a godless universe is a belief that biodiversity must arise through some natural evolutionary process. Thus I believe the Naturalist’s explanation is contrived.

    Science does not work on any belief or nonbelief of a deity. It bases its conclusions on the available evidence. The conclusion changes when sufficient evidence is presented that merits a new conclusion.

    Are you asking for readers to provide you evidence for biodiversity? There are plenty of resources out there if you’re genuinely interested.

    I’m curious to know, John – based on fossil and geological records, just how old do you think the earth is? What biological records do you agree with and what exactly do you disagree with?

    • I dont need a book to tell me there are many different kinds of plants and animals.

      Ive posted before how old I think the earth is.

      And I find it strange that when given the opoortunity to present what ever evidence you find compelling for the truth of the evolutionary paradigm, you dont take it.

  3. I’m trying to have a discussion with you, John – it’s a shame you have such a bad attitude here.

    You ask for people to summarize what they think, and when asked, you blow off a question because you say you’ve answered it before somewhere instead of simply answering it. That’s a good way to end the conversation.

    My questions were trying to establish just what issues you have with biology and geology.

    I guess all you’re interested in doing is attacking anything presented to you as evidence for evolution. I suppose you and Glenn should get together and laugh at science over a drink.

  4. I am quite disappointed in you atheists.

  5. Hi John,

    Where to begin? There’s no single piece of evidence, it’s more like a large collection of clues that point in one direction.

    As Christian evolutionist Francis S. Collins says, a lot of evidence now comes from DNA; he says you could put the DNA code of every animal into a computer, and the computer (without knowing what the data represents) could sort them out and re-create our family tree. This raises the question: did a designer simply reuse DNA in this way to save time, or was it the result of evolution, which I’ve written about here:

    http://500questions.wordpress.com/2012/08/06/34-did-god-recycle-our-dna-to-save-time/

    To summarize, God could’ve also saved time by recycling OTHER ideas across different species of animals (e.g. using the same wing design in pterodactyls, birds, and bats), but instead he reinvents the design with each new species. He also never takes large splices of DNA from one unrelated species and inserts it into another. There are also mistakes in our genes, such as our inability to create vitamin C like all other mammals. This same mistake is found in the same location in (you guessed it) all apes and most monkeys. The same is true with other changes in our genes. So either we primates all shared a common ancestor, or God is seriously messing with us.

    We also see evidence in the homology (or similarity) of all living things. God didn’t HAVE to make all mammals and reptiles out of the same basic set of bones, he could’ve designed them any way he wanted, in fact, it’s probably more work to think of 1000 different ways to retool forelimbs then to just design them however he wanted. But evolution MUST work this way, it can only use what is already there. But if you’re God, you don’t have to choose between wings OR arms, you can give some animals both! Or you can give a blowhole or gills to a manatee if you plan to place him in the water.

    I write more about homology here:
    http://500questions.wordpress.com/2013/08/11/48-does-homology-infer-design-or-common-descent/

    And there are other imperfections you’d expect from evolution but not God, such as the laryngeal nerve of the giraffe:

    There is also evidence from biogeography. I believe there is strong evidence for the evolution of marsupials on the isolated continent of Australia. It’s far more reasonable to believe these marsupials evolved there from a marsupial ancestor than to imagine they ALL hiked together from the ark to Australia (ahead of every single mammal).

    I wrote more about this one here:
    http://500questions.wordpress.com/2013/05/23/46-how-did-marsupials-migrate-from-noahs-ark-to-australia-and-the-americas/

    Finally, there is the fossil evidence from places like the Burgess Shale. Here you can find over 100,000 invertebrate fossils of all shapes and sizes, but not a single fish or vertebrate animal! And this kind of thing is found all over the world; animals from one point in time not mixing with modern animals. If God created them all at once, that’s fine, but that’s not what these deposits suggest.

    I was once a vocal anti-evolutionist and a big supporter of Intelligent Design, but even I couldn’t deny all the evidence. And frankly, I don’t care either way, if God created us, great! I’ll support that argument. But if we evolved, great! I can support that too.

    But I can’t lie to myself, I don’t wish to fight a losing battle because of my personal bias, I just want to know what the most reasonable explanation is. It took time to really read about and discover this evidence, and to me it was convincing. You’re welcome to deny it all and believe in creation if you like, but this is just what I found compelling.

    Hugs and kisses,
    500Q :-)

    • Thanks for the wonderful response. I’ll go over the comment more thoroughly later tonight amd also the links to your posts. I appreciate the time you took to answer…

  6. Nothing to add to 500 questions. Perfect. A great resource for those interested is Jerry Coyne’s ‘Why Evolution is True’.

  7. How about marine mammal speciation from land mammals and their close genomic links to Hippos.

    Evolution is also well illustrated by domestication of animals like sheep who have now become a separate species from their ancestors.

    It’s not evolution by natural selection, but humans are applying the selection pressure. The evolutionary process is exactly the same.

  8. Aquatic mammals evolving from land mammals is not evidence of speciation to you?

  9. Evolution between kinds (depending on how you define “kinds”) takes millions of years, what else are you realistically hoping to see that wouldn’t require speculation? I know you want absolute and undeniable proof of evolution, and I would like absolute and undeniable proof of creation, but neither of us is going to get it.

    Think of it like walking in on a crime scene. You might find that the murderer has the victim’s blood all over his clothes, and the victim has his skin under his/her fingernails, and there’s a strong motive, and little possibility it was anyone else… but you’re STILL going to have to engage in a little bit of extrapolation and speculation to connect the dots. Yes, it’s possible that someone else murdered the victim, it’s just not very likely given the evidence.

    But we can still catch a glimpse of evolution within our lifetimes; we see it in how all seven billion humans have a slightly unique appearance, and in how dogs have evolved many different characteristics with just a little artificial selection. Leave any one of those dogs on an isolated island for 20 million years, and we can extrapolate that genetic drift would eventually lead to different kinds of animal descendants, but their DNA would still show they had a canine ancestor. This almost happened Neanderthal man, whose genes and appearance were already beginning to drift away from other humans after a lengthy separation.

    But you will always have to extrapolate, but not much. With all the current evidence for evolution, most scientists, and now most Catholics and Mainline Protestants, now accept evolution is the best explanation for the origin of human life on earth (http://www.pewforum.org/2009/02/04/religious-differences-on-the-question-of-evolution/).

    500Q

    • 500

      I’m not disputing that variation. But we don’t have anything which demonstrates morphing into an entirely different kind of animal. It’s like you’re saying that because we see little differences in the way people, dogs, cats, et. al. look, therefore we can conclude that birds came from reptiles. Even though the radical changes necessary, bone structures, respiration systems, hollow feathers, etc. are so astronomically unlikely to all form bit by minute bit to become a complete whole different organism.

      The same is true of aquatic organisms somehow changing in such ways (even more complex than reptile -> bird) that one somehow figured it could come onto land? I mean, really?? It’s like changing a submarine into a school bus.

      Merely sharing body structures doesn’t seem to me to be enough to conclude common ancestry. The fossil record shows animals showing up immediately, fully formed, being around for a million or whatnot years, then going extinct. Similarities in bone structures doesn’t even show the whole picture. Most of our (animal kingdom ‘our’) major and significant bodily differences are in our soft tissues, which aren’t preserved. I know there are animals out there whose skeletal structures are similar but are in no way ‘related’.

      I realize you’re not evolution’s representative, or even an expert in the field, but even from those people, it seems to me there’s more speculation and ‘probablys’ and ‘maybes’ than there are incontrovertablys.

      In my opinion, special intentional creation fits the actual evidence at least as well as a common descent explanation. And I think I would say it makes more explanatory sense… unless one is philosophically pre-committed to naturalism and a godless universe.

  10. Not sure what you’re expecting John.

    I’ve got a person covered in blood, holding a gun, confessing he killed someone with multiple eye witnesses. I’m the judge, what do I do? I didn’t actually see it. Do I extrapolate?

    Not a single piece of the information found in the ground, or through technology advances doesn’t fit with this theory. At some point you have to say the weight of evidence allows this conclusion to be drawn. It’s the essence of science. A theory is good whilst the evidence agrees with it.

    • But stuart I dont think its that good. What you have is a witness who said theyre pretty sure the killer had on a green shirt and your suspect merely owns a green shirt.

      It seems to me like the evidence for evolution is ‘this one kinda looks like this one over here from a long time after, therefore….” that is a bit of a stretch.

      Even if we compare shared genetics that isnt really too strong either, I mean we share 97% of our dna with mice for heaven’s sake yet no one says mice are our cousins.

  11. wiley16350 says:

    The problem with evolution is that the process to get from amino acids to a wolf is in contradiction to the process to get from the wolf to a chihuahua. It takes a lot of genetic gain of information and processes to get to the wolf starting from amino acids. All we see in the evolution from the wolf to the chihuahua is a variability in size, shape, color, etc and the loss/degradation of the genome. Simply put, the wolf is genetically superior to both it’s ancestor and it’s descendants. If you can’t see the contradiction in that, then you’re hopelessly lost in evolution. The wolf is genetically superior to domestic dogs. It has more variability in it’s genes, has less mutational load and isn’t affected by the kind of disorders some breeds of domesticated dogs have from the mutations. So all the speculative ideas (homology) that may fit well with evolution does’t really matter, especially since they fit fine with creation. Don’t come at me with bacteria evolution of resistance to antibiotics. It will only show your ignorance in what actually happens at the genetic level and your willingness to be brainwashed by the evolution community. Bacteria gain resistance to antibiotics through the loss of genetic information (no longer producing a protein that the antibiotic binds to, which kills the bacteria).
    It also seems like 500 questions contradicts herself/ himself in the 2nd and 3rd paragraphs. In the 2nd paragraph it talks about how God could have saved time by using the same ideas across different species and then in the 3rd paragraph uses homology to say that God didn’t have to use the same ideas across different species. So basically God does both, uses the same ideas at times and using different ideas at other times. Natural design basically mirrors human design. Humans use new ideas mixed with old ideas to create and they also use new parts mixed with old parts to create. I don’t see why it is illogical that God and human designs mirror each other. It seems illogical to argue for homology as proof of evolution all the while admitting that there are many parts (like wings) that have been built in a variety of ways. If evolution can do it in different ways, then homology means nothing.
    Here is a link to explain the vitamin c argument. http://aufiles.creation.com/images/pdfs/tj/j21_3/j21_3_118-127.pdf. Ultimately, both the human and other primates have easy access and ability to eat lots of fruit. This could mean it is just a complete coincidence that they have both survived with the loss of that information.
    As far as the marsupial argument, it is just an opinion. I find evolution from amino acids to man an incredible story without much evidence. I know animals can migrate from one place to another, once they find a habitat that suits them, they will have no problem remaining there. So I find that story much more plausible.
    With the fossilization argument, organisms would be buried with other organisms that live within its same ecosystem. The flood wouldn’t be a mixing pot of organisms and once it settles everything would get buried. Many different ecological events where happening at the same time in many different locations and the flood waters didn’t happen all at once all around the world. The fact is that fossilization is most likely to occur during catastrophic situations. Evolution doesn’t even require fossilization as a truth. Creation actually does, because you would expect it in catastrophic conditions.

  12. wiley16350 says:

    Here is link that challenges Dawkins idea about the Giraffe’s Recurrent laryngeal nerve. http://creation.com/recurrent-laryngeal-nerve

  13. John,

    I’m interested in your last paragraph to 500Q. Your description of special intention design you say fits ‘at least as well’ as CD. This wording leads me to believe that there isn’t certainty in your position.

    You then go on to accuse evolutionists as having confirmation bias (an irony IMO), but I’ll ignore the slur.;o)

    This uncertainty is good. It means you can have a scientific hypothesis around special intention creation. Once you flesh out the hypothesis it should be testable, falsifiable, etc, and, if it fits better with the available evidence, will supersede evolution by natural selection as the prevalent explanation for the biodiversity of life.

    So what the best piece of data from the observation of nature to show special intention creation fit better than EBNS?

    I’m presuming you’re rational enough that if no such data exists (and creation.com tries very hard but can’t get published) then you could foresee yourself changing your opinion? Are you evidence led?

    Your submarine to school bus incredulity IMO betrays a lack of comprehension of the timescales and number of generations to get from rudimentary fish to the first mammals and those mammals returning to the sea. I don’t blame you. Humans are not evolved to think on those timescales. ;o)

    If you are really interested, Jerry Coyne’s book is the most clear I’ve read. Genuinely, what’s the best book that reflects your position?

    You’re right, neither 500Q or I are experts in the field of biology. It should be telling that those that are, are all bought into the paradigm of evolution by natural selection. And debate is raging on the fine details, so there is still conflict.

    Pleasure to debate as always.

  14. An appeal to what?

    • That there is another explanation that fits the evidence. Not only that. But if God exists, intervention is more plausible than the evolutionary explanation.

  15. Pretty big ‘if’. Well of course if an all powerful deity existed he could do whatever he wanted. He’s done it in such a way that all the available evidence points to evolution, but, hey, that’s his prerogative. ‘God did it’ fits the evidence for everything.

    It does of course mean that to maintain a rational worldview, you must ‘prove’ god and that can’t be done by looking at the natural world. Then you’re back to confirmation bias.

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