Evolution — your thoughts?

July 22, 2009 at 12:40 pm 10 comments

In Daniel Dennett’s book, Breaking the Spell — Religion as a Natural Phenomenon, he says, “According to a recent survey, only about a quarter of the United States understands that evolution is about as well established as the fact that water is H20.”  (p. 60)

I am interested in what you believe.


Entry filed under: religion. Tags: , , , , , , , , , .

Fascination with Facts The Bible Cannot Be Interpreted Literally

10 Comments Add your own

  • 1. mcoville  |  July 22, 2009 at 7:58 pm

    I think the problem with the “evolution” debate is that the definition of evolution is not clearly defined. People like Mr Dennett and Mr Dawkins is that they try to say any process of change is proof of their version of evolution.

    The argument most ID supporters and creation supports make is that change over time is not proof that one kind of animal can become another. There is no proof that a fish ever changed into a mammal.

    Thank you for this poll as it is going to be interesting to see how it turns out.

    • 2. Thaddeus Dombrowski  |  July 23, 2009 at 1:08 am

      No one believes that fish evolved directly into mammals because there are intermediate steps that have to take place first. A fish needs to become a land-dwelling animal before it can become a mammal.

      However, there is an interesting creature from the fossil record that is clearly an intermediate step between fish and purely land-dwelling creatures.

      See http://tiktaalik.uchicago.edu/ for a description of the animal known as a tiktaalik rosea. Very cool.

  • 3. mcoville  |  July 23, 2009 at 2:02 am

    Tiktaalik is pretty cool, but it has too many simullarities with the modern mudskipper to be considered a transitional fossil. It does not prove that fish become land dwelling animals, it only proves that a large mudskipper died there and became a fossil.

    Maybe you can clear this up for me, how can any fossil be proof that a fish could become a land dwelling animal that would change into a mammal?

    • 4. Thaddeus Dombrowski  |  July 23, 2009 at 5:53 am

      I am not a biologist, and I have no first hand knowledge of the tiktaalik. But, I can read. Here is what I found in about five minutes of research.

      A mudskipper grows to about six inches, max. Wikipedia shows photograph of cast of a tiktaalik skull that is about six inches in the hands of Neil Shubin, one of the discoverers of the tiktaalik. Clearly, not a mudskipper!

      A mudskipper breaths through its gills and through its skin. It does not have lungs. It can close off its gill chamber allowing it to store some water, along with a bubble of air for some reserve oxygen while on land.

      The tiktaalik had both gills and lungs. The tiktaalik also had a neck, something that mudskippers lack. These are clearly not the same fish at all.

      Also, the tiktaalik existed 375 million years ago. You do not have any evidence of mudskippers being that old.


      You asked, “how can any fossil be proof that a fish could become a land dwelling animal that would change into a mammal?”

      Again, I am no biologist. But, I am willing to use logic and reasoning to try to answer your question. (A biologist may find some fault with my answer because I only have a layperson’s knowledge of evolution.)

      No single fossil provides proof. In fact, there is no such thing as proof, if by that you mean 100% certainty. However, each fossil constitutes evidence. When you take into consideration all of the evidence for evolution, including fossils, genetics, experiments, observations, etc., you can come up with theories that have the merits of being predictive and testable.

      Tiktaalik doesn’t provide proof that fish evolved into land dwelling animals that could change into mammals. But, it does constitute evidence.

      It’s obvious that you don’t want to accept the evidence for evolution. However, can you provide an explanation in the form of a competing theory that has the same merits of being predictive and testable?

  • 5. John Heininger  |  July 23, 2009 at 4:58 pm

    Lets all be honest guys and stop living in denial. Even after 150 years of collecting, promoting and displaying fossil data in support of evolution, evolutionists don’t have the goods to close, and most people just do not buy the theory. Most people readily distinguish between testable, repeatable. verifiable and publicly observable science and evolutionary theory In the final analysis there is not a single piece of evidence that conclusively proves evolution to be a fact which specifically excludes alternative explanations, including God. In real terms evolutionary theory is based on unobserved past events ensuring there were no observers. And as such is primarily based on inferences, presuppositions, conjecture, explanations, and widespread speculations.

    • 6. Thaddeus Dombrowski  |  July 26, 2009 at 1:21 pm

      Whether or not people buy the theory doesn’t make it right or wrong. The correctness of an idea is not determined by the majority. It is determined by evidence and reason. There is an amazing amount of evidence. It is available to anyone willing to read it and consider.

      As to your statement, “And as such is primarily based on inferences, presuppositions, conjecture, explanations, and widespread speculations,” this is true of any science.

      • 7. Thaddeus Dombrowski  |  July 26, 2009 at 1:46 pm

        I keep saying that there is a ton of evidence for evolution, and the skeptics say there isn’t. Here are three short videos regarding evolution. Please consider these:

        Then, try to explain these without evolution. This is just a small sampling of the evidence for evolution.

  • 8. mcoville  |  July 23, 2009 at 8:01 pm

    Ok, good observations, but there are so much to discuss. Lets ignore the mudskipper biology because I am not a biologist either. But lets look at your comments on fossils.

    Using logic and reason, with a little common sense sprinkled in for good measure, fossils are evidence of something that died and was fossilized. How is a fossil part of evidence that the thing that is fossilized is part of a lineage to something completely different, lets say Tiktaalik (a fish) became a land dwelling creature?

    “It’s obvious that you don’t want to accept the evidence for evolution.” I would accept any evidence that is observable. “However, can you provide an explanation in the form of a competing theory that has the same merits of being predictive and testable?” I can’t, but some smart science guys have. Would you be willing to accept a competing theory if it contradicts evolution or would you dismiss it like so many Darwinists do?

    • 9. Thaddeus Dombrowski  |  July 24, 2009 at 2:48 am

      Let’s start with your assertion that some smart science guys have developed a competing theory to evolution that is predictive and testable, and your question as to whether I would accept it.

      I would accept such a theory if it is verifiable, or testable, and if it explained the existing evidence better than evolution does. Now, beware that I am referring to the evidence that is already explained well by evolution in hundreds of thousands of research papers.

      Lets also be clear about what evolution explains and what your competing theory ought to explain as well. Evolution explains where we get the various species that comprise life here on earth.

      This brings me to your first question regarding how fossils comprise evidence that life forms change from one thing into another.

      We know that there are life forms that once existed on earth that have died out. Dinosaurs are one good example. We also know from studying the areas where these fossilized extinct species exist within the earth that other life forms that now exist did not exist at the time. And that’s not the only evidence, either. We know, for instance, that modern humans are a recent development. This is supported by the fossil record, as well as genetic studies, archeological studies of human communities, history, etc. (And these various fields of study largely corroborate one another!)

      So, the question begging to be answered is how human beings came about if they weren’t here when life began on earth. Where did they come from if they didn’t share the earth, for example, with dinosaurs?

      So your theory should strive to answer that question. And I will be clear about this — your theory needs to accept a lot of evidence that I believe you are unwilling to accept.

      Your theory needs to start with the recognition that man and dinosaurs did not co-exist and that the earth is older than six thousand years. Not only are there mountains of evidence for evolution, there are literal mountains of evidence that dinosaurs and man did not co-exist and that the earth has been around for many, many years. If you aren’t going to accept that as a starting point, you will need to provide very substantial evidence for your views.

      Your evidence should be so strong as to blow the case for my starting point out of the water. You should provide theories that explain all of the evidence that my theories already explain, only better.

    • 10. Brian  |  August 7, 2009 at 11:47 am

      As a logical person I am willing to admit that I could be wrong: Anyone who doesn’t enter a conversation willing to consider evidence to the contrary clearly cannot purport to be logical. However, keep in mind that that statement cuts both ways. If I am mistaken, help me to understand, I will do the same in kind. Please – share the competing theory/theories and let’s consider them together. It really doesn’t matter who is right at the outset.

      One quick note: This is invariably a hot button topic and it is the inclination of human beings to not like to be wrong. It’s easy to stop listening and keep talking if someone seems to unwilling to concede a point or makes too many problematic or seemingly inflamatory statements, so try to be fair to the other side and treat them as you want to be treated. If you think that you perceive something offputting, try to get past it and look at the substance.

      Keep in mind that supporters of both views enter the debate thinking that their opponents believe something that is not based on logic or reason. The mere addition of what I am sure was just a flowery phrase like “with a little common sense sprinkled in for good measure” could add to that perception by promoting the idea that you think that common sense is neither reasonable or logical. I sincerely doubt that this is the case.


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