Category: Probability

“Evidence for Evolution is MIA”

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The post begins by claiming that the evidence the author has found supporting natural selection has been limited, aside from a few exceptions, to minor changes within existing species. The post also claims that genetic mutations are almost always harmful. Because nobody has ever seen “descent with modification produce a new species,” the author claims that “descent with modification from a common ancestor is not a fact.”

The final conclusion of this post is, technically, correct. Nobody knows for certain that all life stems from one common ancestor. I have found that all posts on this website are not refining a particular tool with which evolution cannot be dismantled, rather, it is attempting to throw any argument at evolution and hoping that it sticks. It is not a fact that humans descended from a common ape ancestor, but all the evidence we have acquired up until now has lead scientists to speculate that this is the most likely reality for the evolution of humanity. If evidence were to arise that starkly contradicted this belief, I think it would come with a high amount of scrutiny but I would hope that truth would ultimately win out. No alternate cause with a significant amount of supporting evidence has yet manifested. All this particular post is doing is promoting skepticism and encouraging a lack of belief.

On some of the facts within the post, beginning with the claim that “genetic mutations are almost always harmful,” the errors even within this post must be evaluated. Some mutations are harmful–but there is certainly the potential for beneficial outcomes or, more commonly, no effect whatsoever. Take the example of Sickle Cell Anemia in African populations. This disease, while it has tremendous downsides, essentially rends these individuals completely immune to the negative effects of malaria. While this originally was a mutation–nobody genetically engineered a person to be resistant to malaria–individuals with the mutation continued to reproduce. In other parts of the world, like the Nordic countries, the statistic of people with sickle cell is almost negligible. While we may not fully understand the mechanism at play, there must be a way to understand this trend. Natural selection could be wrong–but it is currently the best and most supported theory we have access to.

Additionally, it is clear that nobody has ever witnessed a clear speciation event. Likely, though, this is because of how long these events take to occur and our incredibly short lifetimes and, in the bigger picture, humanities incredibly brief stint on Earth so far. It is unlikely that an event will be possible to bear witness to during any persons lifetime and it is nearly impossible to glean anything meaningful about specific species that existed on earth thousands of years ago. No one person has ever seen a new species be produced, but perhaps humanity has and is just unable to communicate within itself effectively.

“Doubts About Darwin Persist”

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This post has perplexed me repeatedly–I have read it several times and I still do not necessarily understand its purpose. The post seems to exist to defend the credibility of one Phil Johnson, attempting to do so by stating how David Raup, a supposedly well-known evolutionary paleontologist, rose to Johnson’s defense and seemed to believe what he was saying.

Phillip Johnson was a professor of law at Berkeley and published several books, most notably critiquing Darwin and his claims on evolution–opting for a belief in intelligent design. This article claims him to be the father of the modern intelligent design movement.

David Raup was a paleontologists at the University of Chicago whose area of expertise was in mass extinction events that have occurred throughout time. A detailed biography by the National Academy of Sciences can be found here, as Dr. Raup passed away in 2015. He is remembered as one of the most influential paleontologists of the second half of the 20th century, credited with discoveries related to patterns in the geologic history of biodiversity and mathematical modeling of evolution.

Based on these short biography sections, the purpose of the post becomes clearer. The author of this post is attempting to support ID and further discredit a Darwinian school of thought. Citing Dr. Raup in this section is an attempt to establish credibility for Phil Johnson, as Dr. Raup is most certainly an expert in this field. The post specifically said that “Raup and his graduate students had found no factual errors” after reviewing the paper in its entirety. The overall purpose of this post seems to be to encourage readers to allow for some potential belief in ID and some skepticism at the taught theories that have been spread over time. The post ends by saying that paleontologists are afraid of accepting ID because it would essentially remove mystery from their field–that scientists would lose the “illusion of total mastery of nature.”

I think that there is certainly room for ID in the current evolutionary theory, and the post does acknowledge that. But, again we are confronted with the authors seeming insinuation that people are brainwashed and afraid to believe something that is not “normal.” The reality is, evolution and ID can co-exist. Pope Francis has been quoted in the past for explaining how Catholics can reconcile evolution and creation, you can find an article about this here. The reality is, evolution is merely an explanation of how organisms have changed and how species have arisen over time. Eventually we will continue to climb the vine and arrive at a primordial cause for all life on this planet. That is extremely unlikely to ever be reached by humanity as we are such ephemeral beings. Some conjecture is certainly more reasonable than others, but it is nearly impossible to objectively evaluate the separate theories.