Evolution 101

Most creationists have been repeatedly lied to about how evolution works by the likes of Eric Hovind, Ken Ham and Ray Comfort. I hope to tell you enough of the truth that you are willing to read a textbook or two about how it works such as Richard Dawkins’ The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution or Dr. Daniel J. Fairbanks’ more advanced Evolving: The Human Effect and Why It Matters

What Evolution Is Not

Evolution is the study of how populations of plants and animals change over long periods of time. It has nothing to do with the big bang, the creation of stars, abiogenesis (the origin of life) or plate tectonics. Creationists are taught to conflate all science that contradicts the bible as evolutionism. Some creationists insist the earth is flat and the sun revolves around the sun and there is a celestial ocean. Creationists lump any science that denies that is also lumped into evolutionism.

Werewolf Morph

If you have ever watched a movie when a man morphs into a wolf, you might have imagined this is an example of evolution. It is not. Why?

Variation

Evolution would not work if all animals in a population were identical. There are two main sources of variability:

  1. Sexual reproduction. Each offspring has a random combination of half the father’s genes and half the mother’s.
  2. Mutations. These are tiny one-molecule errors in copying DNA (Deoxyribonucleic Acid). Two-headed calf-type mutations are much rarer. Most mutations are neither beneficial nor harmful. Fetuses with harmful mutations nearly always die in the womb early in gestation without being noticed.

Puppy Evolution

Consider a litter of puppies. They will not all be identical. They will have different patterns of spots. Some will be bigger. Some will be more active. Some will be friendlier. There will probably be a runt of the litter. Some will sleep more. Some will like to fight with their mates. What caused these differences?

Even creationists agree that litters of puppies are not identical and it happens because the puppies are not genetically identical. This is half of the theory of evolution. Bloody obvious, eh?

Let’s imagine distemper infects the puppies. It is a horrible thing to behold. However, typically, some of the puppies will survive. Why? Some have better immune systems. Some are better at staying hydrated. Some are just generally stronger. These traits are controlled by their genes. Evolutionists refer to this horrible winnowing as natural selection the other half of the theory of evolution.

So lets imagine the puppies grow up and have puppies of their own. When distemper strikes the new batch of puppies, a greater proportion of them will survive because they are offspring of dogs that survived distemper, and probably passed on the genes for that resistance. The effect confers better and better resistance with every successive generation. We have seen the same thing happen with humans with extremely virulent diseases. Evolutionists refer to this gradual improvement over generations as evolution. If you are a creationist, what in any of this do you deny?

Cumulative Changes

Creationists sometimes concede that rabbits could evolve buck teeth, but never that a clam-like creature could evolve into an octopus. They don’t understand that the creation of new species usually requires billions of generations. Imagine the difference between two clam species. Imagine you create a morph of a billion intermediates between them. The intermediates would look absolutely identical. Morphs on TV are done with perhaps only ten intermediates. Nothing detectable changes at each generation, but after a billion generations you have a whole new species that looks quite different.

Imagine evolution were slowed down by a factor of 100 million, so a that a billion years of evolution occurred in ten years. If one clam species morphed into another, it would be still way way too slow to see anything happening. No matter how big a change you need, if you have enough tiny changes, if you are patient, you will reach your goal. Consider the mere 80 million sediment layers of the Grand Canyon add up to quite an impressive gorge. An inch is pretty small, but a billion inches is 15,783 miles. Even a whale is composed of microscopic cells. A second is insignificant, but you if add up 31,540,000 of them you get a year.

If a clam evolved into a octopus, it would take billions of years. It would take billions of the tiniest imaginable steps. It is too slow to watch in real time, but you can follow it in the fossil record.

Clades

All plants and animals can be organised into a family tree. Morphology and genetic similarity are used to group species into categories and subcategories. This is a refinement of the original Linnaean system. Each nested category is called a clade. Creatures do not evolve outside their clades. No matter how long you wait, a wolf will not evolve into something that looks like a rabbit. Rabbits live on a distant clade in the tree of life. Creationists like to falsely claim the theory of evolution predicts this. However, a wolf can evolve into something you would never recognise at first glance as belonging to the wolf family — like a whale.

Misconceptions

~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)