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Evolution and Creation. Where did we come from? How did we get here? What is life all about?

Do you believe in evolution?

Postby Amusing » Wed Feb 10, 2016 2:36 pm

Few people would change their minds about Christianity even if evolution was true, and those who believed in evolution saw little conflict with the idea of evolution and their faith.

This post does not debunk Christianity directly, but tries to inform of evolution to a community that often does reject the theory of evolution to support the ideas given in the Bible. To clarify: "Most christians are not creationists, but most creationists in the US and Europe are christian".

To those who wonder what my justification for the validity of the theory of evolution is then i would still point to:

explanation of evolution as a scientific theory and fact by wikipedia. Which can be edited, but is likely not but i would still like to throw in something extra here.

Also i discussed with some people and they either:

-Argued for fine tuning

-Did not believe in "macro evolution" but "micro evolution, (both terms you are hard pressed to hear from evolutionary biologists)

Which leads me to state that:

Evolution does not explain the origin of life, but is compatible with the idea that there is an old earth so if there is any young-earth creationists i would argue for an old earth as well. I would argue that:

-The idea of a young earth is wrong

-The idea of fine tuning proving a creator is wrong

-To say micro evolution, but not macro evolution is true is a failed attempt at reconciling scientific knowledge with held beliefs

As for the justification for an old earth i would just generally point out that:

-Geologists can measure layers in the earth and also use radiometric dating to figure out how old the earth is

-You can know of clonal trees that are up to at least 10,000 years old as shown here

-We can see stars that are many many many more light years away then 6000-10000 years.

As for micro but not macro evolution and fine tuning i would again ask for proof of this and debunk the proof instead of putting up the groundwork for it myself and then debunking it.
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Re: Do you believe in evolution?

Postby jimwalton » Wed Feb 10, 2016 2:41 pm

It depends what you means. Evolution can encompass:

1. The notion of an old earth.
2. The claim that life has progressed from relatively simple to relatively complex forms.
3. Descent with modification.
4. Common ancestry
5. Darwinism: the naturalistic mechanism driving the process of descent with modification.
6. Nationalistic origins: there is no God.

I can subscribe to all of them except #6. But I also have a problem with evolution without the guidance of God. There are way too many holes in it.

There is no logical justification or scientific evidence for a long chain of beneficial mutations. Mutations are almost always a deteriorating picture.

There is no evidence that informational data can come from anything other than other informational data or an intelligent source.

There is no evidence that means-to-an-end teleology can come from mechanistic chance.

Irreducibly complexity is a strong argument.

Reason cannot arise from naturalism and unguided evolution, and mental processes cannot arise only from mechanistic chance.

For those reasons, I consider evolution the working model of how we got here, but not by itself. By itself the odds are so overwhelming that it's reasonably impossible, like winning the lottery a million times in a row. Somebody could win it once, and may a few have won more than that, but to win over and over and over is not a logical pursuit.
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Re: Do you believe in evolution?

Postby Sarcasm » Wed Feb 10, 2016 2:44 pm

Current biology student in University here. To address these holes you've put forth:

Evolution does not consist of a "long chain of beneficial mutations" A beneficial mutation will give individuals with said mutation a higher probability for reproduction, while those individuals with deleterious mutations will lower an individual's ability to reproduce. Beneficial mutations "accumulate" via whichever mutations best enable the survivability of the current generation. Meaning a mutation that was beneficial in generation 1 will not necessarily remain beneficial 20+ generations later.

Life in its most basic state is simply a set of self replicating chemical reactions; while we don't know what the first of these reactions were, we certainly do know that life forms can increase in complexity.

Evolution is not a "means-to-an-end" anything. Humans are not the "end product" of evolution; Life has existed long before humans were present, and will in all likelihood continue to exist after we as a species go extinct.

No, it isn't. See Kitzmiller vs Dover trial.

"Science does not currently know how something works" does not equal "god did it"

> By itself the odds are so overwhelming that it's reasonably impossible, like winning the lottery a million times in a row

Again, this isn't how evolution even works. Mutations can only be considered "beneficial" in context of an organism's current environment. It's not like rolling a dice 1000 times and getting 1000 6's, more like rolling 1000 dice, keep the 6s, grab another 1000 dice, keep the 6's, and repeat.
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Re: Do you believe in evolution?

Postby jimwalton » Wed Feb 10, 2016 2:45 pm

Thanks for the reply. My point is that random mutations consistently destroy information (there is not one single, crystal-clear example of a known mutation that unambiguously created information). Beneficial mutations occur at a rate less than 1 in a million, so low as to thwart any actual measurement. But then a certain percentage of those could be considered by selection to be worthless, and so also rejected as unselectable. It is largely unreasonable that mutations will result in a net gain of information. A loss of information is all but guaranteed. Everything about the true distribution of mutations argues against their possible role in forward evolution.

I agree that life forms can increase in complexity.

You say evolution is not a "means-to-an-end" anything, and yet biology has many purposeful, means-to-end-and mechanisms. And while I agree that the process is not over and humans may not be the "end product," I still see a weakness in the theory that cannot account for teleology in "self-replicating" chemical reactions.

> "Science does not currently know how something works" does not equal "god did it"

I agree. That's faulty logic. Far more has to be present in the argument and evidence to conclude that God is a reasonable Cause. There is no room to assemble all of those arguments here and discuss them, but having examined them, I have come to that conclusion. I skipped a lot of steps in my sentence.

For deleterious mutations and loss of information in the "hands" of blind chemical reactions (no intelligence present) to have created what amounted to a long series of benefits is a stretch of credulity. Remember (I'm sure you know) that both the mutation process and that of natural selection are both blind processes (devoid of intelligent oversight), and that they don't even "communicate" with each other. And yet the claim of naturalistic evolution is that somehow we have ended up with organisms far more complex than the space shuttle, carrying far more information than the Library of Congress, all by "typographical errors" (mutations in the genome) and a "blind judge" (natural selection) who never sees the individual letters (the genetic code) but only the performance of the organism. I'm not convinced it's a tenable axiom.
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Re: Do you believe in evolution?

Postby Sarcasm » Wed Feb 10, 2016 2:50 pm

> there is not one single, crystal-clear example of a known mutation that unambiguously created information

Gene duplication, insertion mutations and uneven chromosomal crossover all technically adds "more" genetic information.

I'm not too sure what you mean by destruction of information in regards to mutations; I'm assuming you mean that mutations change the product of the mutated genes, in which case you'd be correct, but it doesn't destroy the DNA sequence.

> biology has many purposeful, means-to-end-and mechanisms

Such as? Not trying to sound argumentative but I can't think of any examples off the top of my head of organisms changing with a clear end goal, especially when you account for how from an engineering perspective the vast majority of extremely complex biological structures are highly flawed.

Correct me if I'm wrong, your final argument was that natural processes giving rise to complexity isn't a tenable axiom? But we see examples of highly complex non-living matter arising by natural processes all the time; new stars with distinct cores and mantles performing self perpetuating nuclear fusion, the carbon structure of diamonds, hell even the morphology of snowflakes, which science believes there's never been two identical snowflakes in the history of Earth.
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Re: Do you believe in evolution?

Postby jimwalton » Wed Feb 10, 2016 2:50 pm

> Gene duplication, insertion mutations and uneven chromosomal crossover all technically adds "more" genetic information.

It adds "more" genetic information, but that information comes from other information. We know of nothing that creates information except previous information.

> natural processes giving rise to complexity

I was speaking biologically.
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Re: Do you believe in evolution?

Postby Sarcasm » Mon Feb 29, 2016 7:16 am

> We know of nothing that creates information except previous information.

You're exactly correct, we don't know how the first self-replicating chemical systems which acted as the precursor to life first formed. This means all we can do is hypothesize until someone constructs a viable model of a self replicating chemical system that would've been likely to have occurred in the prehistoric seas.

In the field of biology complexity arises from simplicity all the time; growth, fertilization, all result in more complex forms of life arising from the simplistic. If you're arguing we don't have a confirmed mechanism by which the first life formed, you'd be right, but that doesn't pertain to evolution, it falls under the category of abiogenesis.

Evolution only explains the diversity of life. You can argue that information doesn't occur without pre-existing information, but that has no bearing on whether complex life can evolve from simple life when we have recorded evidence of new genetic material arising all the time.


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