What does evolution mean?
Darwinistic evolution claims that natural selection (which is simply a fancy term for the process whereby animals or plants which do less well than others tend to decline) acting on naturally occuring changes led to all living things coming over millions of years from an original common ancestor, which was presumably a single celled organism. Darwin said nothing about where this supposed common ancestor came from. This is the basis of evolution as taught at school and set out in Darwin's book. Basically, evolution is a way of explaining life without a Designer/Creator.
People who believe in evolution habitually accuse dissenters
like me of not understanding evolution. It's easy to
say this, because the words 'evolution' and 'evolve' can mean many different things.
There is a joke about politician's honesty
Question 'How can you tell when a politician is lying?
Answer-'You can see their lips moving!'
The idea of course being that whenever a politician speaks, you
can assume they are lying, because they're all like that. This is
cynical but given recent experience, understandable. In the same way,
an evolutionist will tell anyone who questions evolution 'You don't understand evolution.'. How does
he know they don't understand?
Simple, if he understood, he would agree! Of course, they have to believe this, or they'd have to consider the possibility they might be wrong.
Richard Dawkins says that anyone who
disbelieves evolution is "stupid, ignorant or wicked."That is presumably his way of helping advance the 'public understanding of science' of which he is allegedly professor at Oxford. 'Believe what we tell you, or we'll call you rude names." Funny idea of 'public understanding of science'.
I attempt to explore the meaning of the word 'evolution' here.
what is evolution-why the
Darwin's greatest trick
what is natural selection?
why do people still argue about it?
Before we can debate
evolution, we have to agree what the word means. This is difficult
because the word is used to mean different things. Take a look at the
extract from one of my recent questiondarwin blog entries
>>>>>>Two items on the broadcast media over the
last week illustrate this point. One was an advert for Mercedes cars,
which had a voice over conversation between 2 men, presumably
designers, as a car sped down the sort of beautiful, deserted mountain
road that cars in adverts always speed down, the car turning into a
shoal of fish and back at one point.
One man says to the other 'we evolve', the
other replies, 'I'll see your idea and raise it'
and the concluding phrase (in praise of the processes which have given
rise to this marvellous car). 'That's how real design
works'. So which is it, evolution or design? Or can
'evolution' mean design, which is what seems to be implied here? OK,
it's 'only' a car advert-but these are the words used and I think it's
fair to suggest they reflect common usage and understanding.
The other example was a trailer on BBC radio 4 for a programme 'Am I
normal?' which is on tonight (31st July 2007). The programme is about
the human body. The man says, on exercise, 'our bodies are
designed to work all day', but he then says 'we
evolved over millions of years'. Again, which is it, the
action of natural selection on new structures which have arisen by
chance mutations in animals which accidentally self assembled from
sparks, dirty water and volcano belches, or something put together by
an Intelligence? Both propositions cannot be true, yet here are 2
examples from TV and radio in the last week where the words design and
evolve are used almost interchangeably.<<<<<<
I came across another example just last weeek (September 2007) where an electic guitar amplifier, the Vox AC30 Custom Classic, was descibed as being 'designed' and also having 'evolved'. Again, this is no problem is we define evolution as simply change over time-but in this case, like the car advert, the change has been caused BY DESIGN. If we are talking about evolution in the Darwinistic sense, there can be no question of design.
So there is some confusion. Is it due to ignorance, sloppy use of language or a
deliberate attempt to befuddle people to make it easier to slip a lie past them?
To some people, 'evolution' simply means 'change over time'. to
others, it means
change within a species, for example dog or apple breeding, where you
get many varieties, but they are still one species. Poodles and great Danes are very different, but they
are still dogs. Hundreds of different dog varieties have been bred, but
nobody has ever bred a cat from a dog. We know
that there are several hundred different breeds of dog, bred deliberately by dog breeders who decided which ones to breed
from so they would get the features they wanted (long hair, short legs
etc) Is this evolution? Not at all, because they are all still dogs. A
poodle can still breed with a great Dane, a Jack Russell with an
Alsatian, but no mating between any 2 dogs will ever get a
cat, rat or giraffe. Similarly, there are over 6 thousand different apple
varieties, but none of them is a plum or cherry, or even a pear.
For the purpose of this site, evolution is taken
as meaning the way that living things on
earth began without any help from a designer, and
gradually got more and more advanced, complicated and diverse through
better and different
sorts of plant and animal emerging by random DNA mutations, with the
ones dying out in a struggle so the better ones survived. If you read
Origin of Species carefully as I have done, you will see that this is
what Charles Darwin meant by evolution, although of course he didn't understand how characteristics were transmitted from parent to offspring and he left out
the vitally important bit about how life got started (see abiogenesis)
and of course they didn't know then about DNA or mutations or a lot else that has
been discovered since 1857. The less they knew, the more room there was for speculation-we have no such excuse today.
Darwin's greatest trick
was to show
people that small changes within species could happen (as with breeding
selecting for fan tails, dogs for long legs
or roses for smell or pretty colours) and then persuade people that
much bigger changes happened in the distant past. He effectively said
that because you could (in theory) breed all the different varieties of pigeon from the
rock dove, then all
kinds of things (like
snakes, giraffes, sea lions and birds) could all come from a single
celled animal given enough time. Darwin's central argument
was that small changes that we can see today can be extrapolated to imply
much bigger changes in the past. However, this does not fit
with what we can see today, or in the past through the fossil record. It was not even good science then, since Darwin observed changes within species (e.g. dogs, prgeons, cattle) over just a few years with deliberate human breeding, whereas Darwin had to put his big changes in the distant past (where they could not be observed) since, if they happened at all, these supposed changes were too slow to measure. So Darwin's conclusions were not justified by his evidence even in 1859.
His great leap of faith was not supported by direct
evidence at the time, or since.
Charles Darwin bred pigeons himself and wrote about them in his book
'Origin of Species' He believed
that all different varieties of fancy pigeon came from
the 'original' rock doves. Since they can all breed together, this is
uncontroversial. He quotes several other banal
examples from the world of animal breeding to show
that intelligent breeders could increase or reduce certain desirable,
or undesirable, characteristics by breeding from some stock and killing
or at least not breeding from others. There is no doubt, and this was
hardly an original finding by Mr Darwin, that animal species show
variation within themselves. If a mother dog gives birth to a litter of
won't all be the same-although they will all be very similar. If the
breeder wants a dog which is better at catching rabbits, he breeds from
his best rabbit catcher. Elementary stuff, farmers and breeders had known and made use of this for centuries. Darwin believed
that the results of artificial selection justified the assumption that
nature, left to
herself, through natural selection would cause all living things to
come from one first 'simple' living thing. Really, this was his one and only big idea-and it's pure supposition.
Below is an extract taken from this web site on bantam
chicken breeding which shows the sort of thing he was on about.
>>>>>As a way of pointing out breeds in domestic
animals are quite often designed to represent facets of human desire I
decided to create a breed of my own........................Chickens
have an amazing array of genetic possibilities; they possess many types
of physical variations with which to work with..............The goal or
function: to make the perfect "pet chicken": the designer pet of the
90's, the way that miniature horses were in the 70's and potbelly pigs
were in the 80's.
Each parent or breeding stock was selected for some particular
feature that would be incorporated into the final bird. Unfortunately
some of the most amazing features were recessive traits that were
quickly lost when bred with a bird with conflicting genes. The White
Crested Black Polish was chosen for its magnificent white hairdo, and
the Silver Seabright for its delicate stature and finely flecked
feathers. The offspring of these two birds however was a largish
ungainly black chick with a funny Mohawk. A Black Silkie Bantam was
selected for its beautiful fuzzy "fur" and the Light Brahma for its
nice variations in feather patterns. Even after it was fully grown
their offspring maintained all black, patchy fur-feather
This is the sort of everyday example Darwin used to set out the
case for his big idea that change in animals could be extrapolated back in
time all the way to a supposed common ancestor. Google on bantam +
breeding or varieties to find out more-bantams show huge genetic
potential as far as body shape, feathers and colour is concerned, many
varieties such as the Silkies, Black Polish, Light Brahma and Silver
Seabright mentioned above have been deliberately bred by artificial
selection, but THEY ALL REMAIN BANTAMS. What's even worse for Darwin, if
you put all your different chickens in a yard and let them breed as nature
intended, they will 'revert to the mean' and you will end up with fewer
varieties. The same is true for goldfish, apples and dogs etc. Animal
breeding does NOT show evolution in any sense that supports the common
ancestor story. Darwin's assertion that natural selection would give much more dramatic results than intelligent human breeding (intelligent selection) in fact, is directly opposed to the observed evidence.
The same thing applies to plants. There are over two thousand named varieties of apple, (I grow 50 of
them, see (www.fruitwise.net) but they
are ALL STILL APPLES. They are not evolving into pears or plums or
anything else and have
no known non-apple ancestors. Calling dog or apple breeding
evolution, when the same word is
used to describe the process whereby hydrogen atoms turned into you and
I, is an abuse of language calculated to mislead people.
This was Charles Darwin's 'Big Idea', although despite popular
mythology, it wasn't really his idea, or very
Having showed us several examples to support the uncontroversial fact
that INTELLIGENT selection could achieve limited changes in animals and
plants, Darwin then asserted that since humans could achieve these
results by selective breeding over a few hundred years, much less n some cases, NATURE could
achieve far more over millions of years. But this is pure speculation and does not fit the observed facts, as I have shown above. There are many, many more varieties of chicken, dog and apple bred by men than there are in nature, and when the breeder's hand is taken away, diversity decreases.
Darwin argued that more offspring
are produced than can survive to adulthood, competition for resources
such as food, shelter and mates ensues, the less fit (for example blind
or disabled offspring) die off before they can breed. the fittest then
survive, breed, and their genes become more widespread. Nature selects
who lives, who dies. Natural selection. OK, but so what?
The really important thing to remember about natural selection is that
is it not a creative process, it merely weeds out the less fit. Let's
say that a she-wolf has a litter of 4 cubs. One of them is blind, for the sake of argument, because one of the many genes necessary for vision has been corrupted by a random mutation gene. It can't hunt or see predators coming, so dies before it can breed, perhaps killed and eaten by other wolves. Natural selection has prevented a bad gene being passed on. So far, so Darwin-no problem. But what does this tell us about how wolves allegedly evolved from animals that were not wolves? Or even about sight?
Another wolf cub is born with only 3 legs. It manages to survive, but
can't run fast enough to catch prey and has to scavenge to stay alive. It lives a
normal life expectancy, but is unable to find a mate, no she-wolf being
interested in this poor specimen who will not catch enough to support
her offspring, so he dies without producing offspring and his genetic
tendency (assuming it's inheritable, it might be due to a birth accident or vitamin deficiency rather than corrupted DNA)to have only 3 legs is not passed on, thus helping the wolf
population stay strong, or more to the point avoiding weakening it. No problem, natural selection at work, doing what it does. No Biblical literqalist has a problem with this. But, again, how
does this explain the origin of that rather complicated structure of bone,
muscle, sinew, skin and nerve we call a leg?
Let's say a polar bear is born with dark fur (quite plausible since polar bears
and grizzlies are closely related and can interbreed. There is no difficulty with the idea that they might have a common bear ancestor). The dark bear in a white environment can't creep
up on seals so easily due to poor camouflage, so gets less to eat. It starves to death without
breeding, or maybe it migrates south to be with bears more like it.
Thus yet again natural selection acts as the CONSERVATIVE mechanism
which it is. It doesn't make anything new, because IT CAN'T. It shuffles and rearranges within the apparently fixed limits of the species. Bears breed bears, as they always have done.
Examples could be multiplied, but you get the picture. Natural
selection should really be called natural REJECTION, since it only
eliminates, it does not create. I labour this point since it is probably the biggest con in Darwinism and many people are taken in by it. The raw material for natural selection to work on is
produced by genetics (digital information carried on DNA). And new genetics, unless intelligently designed, can only be produced by mutations.
Darwin's biggest mistake was to attribute to natural selection far more
ability to cause change than it actually has. The analogy with intelligent selective
breeding by humans is misleading, flying in the teeth of the evidence. The human breeders were using memory and
intelligence to work towards a definite goal-this seems to have escaped
Darwin. In fact, left to themselves, all those skilfully bred poodles,
dachshunds and lap dogs will revert to mongrels or die out in a few
generations. In the wild, natural
selection allows some variation within limits, but
essentially conserves the original kind of plant or animal.
Darwiin also used examples of various animals which have apparently
changed after being separated from the main breeding population,
perhaps by drifting on the sea or being trapped in an isolated pocket
on the wrong side of a geological uplift or other barrier. The isolated
population changes to some extent. His best known example was the finch populations on islands in the Galapagos. They had different shaped beaks which suited the food available on each island. Very interesting. He speculated that they were all descended from an original mainland finch species. The creationist has no dificulty believing this, particularly as they are all still clearly finches of the same species and can breed with each other, and what's more the beaks' shape vary cyclically. They are not evolved from or evolving into something that is not a finch. They don't vary nearly as much as much as the bantams mentioned above (I used to keep bantams and I've seen them).
Darwin cites an example in Voyage of the
Beagle of a viper which has a rudimentary rattle instead of the full
rattle of the rattlesnake. He suggested this showed how rattlesnakes could
gradually change. Why yes, Mr Darwin, but they are still rattlesnakes.
I read a rather good library book on rattlesnakes showing how they
varied throughout the Americas, although by nowhere near as much as
dogs. The book contained the memorable phrase, on rattlesnake origins, 'Rattlesnakes didn't just appear, they
evolved!' This was accompanied by a picture of a fossil
rattlesnake which was identical to a modern rattlesnake. Like Mr
Darwin, the writer mentioned that there didn't seem to be any
difference between this millions of years old rattler and modern ones,
but that 'nevertheless evolution had occurred', it was just that the
intermediate fossils to prove it hadn't been found yet. Charles Darwin
said exactly the same in the section in 'Origin' on the extreme imperfection of the fossil
record in 1857. Unfortunately for his theory, the millions of fossils
found since then still tell the same story of sudden appearance
followed by stasis and extinctions, no signs of the steady upwards
progress which evolution requires. This is paleontology's biggest trade
secret, as evolutionists are occasionally forced to admit (see fossils)
why the argument?
Evolutionists say 'there is no debate', but clearly there
is, or I wouldn't be here and I wouldn't be able to post links to
IDC web sites or refer to books which display a wealth of science facts which argue against evolution. There are a great many evolutionist web sites and blogs
dedicated to attacking the arguments put forward by Darwin dissenters (more often, to attacking the creationists themselves)
so there is a debate. Regrettably, it is often conducted in an angry
and offensive manner. Why is this?
The debate is a clash of world views, cosmic views if you like.
Evolution and atheism are inextricably linked-look at Richard Dawkins,
Steve Jones, Lewis Wolpert, Eugenie Scott and others, it's not exactly
cryptic. They are all atheists and Dawkins in particular is a militant atheist who admits he wants to convert others to his beliefs. Dawkins wrote in 'Blind Watchmaker' that "Darwin had made it
possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist." On the other side,
organisations like Answers in Genesis, the
Creation Science Movement and the Biblical Creation society (see links) make no secret of their commitment to
Christianity, just as Dawkins does not hide his hatred and contempt for
Each side thinks the other is fundamentally wrong, not merely
misinformed, but worse than that. Each side is a threat to the other. I
have nailed my colours to the mast, I am a committed Christian and I
believe that Darwinistic evolution is not morally or spiritually neutral but is an attack against theistic belief, especially Christianity.
Evolution, or something very like it,
must be true (from the atheist's point of view) or else there would be a Creator God.
This has the most profound implications possible. If God
us in the beginning, then perhaps the rest of the Bible is true as
well-including bits we would prefer not to be true, like God's laws
about sexual behaviour. pride, culpable unbelief, lying, theft, murder, blasphemy, and the coming resurrection and subsequent Day of Judgement when
God will punish people for their wrongful thoughts, words and actions. If evolution is true, then the
Bible becomes very much less scary-you can take it. modify iot to your taste, or leave it. If evolution is not true, then we are back to the words of Saint Paul in Romans chapter 1-he assert that 'we are without excuse' for rejecting God, since the evidence of creation is overwhelming and points to a Creator. That is my view. The choice is yours, but I suggest the issues at stake are so huge that it is wise to carefully examine the arguments against evolution here and on the links. You might want to ask yourself why these arguments, some of which are pretty basic and not hard to understand, are never heard in the mainstream education system or media.
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