This is a continuation of Proof of God from Design ? , which I will assume has been read.
Many religious people think that if evolution is ‘proven’ false, then a God must exist. Actually, all it would mean is that evolution is false and that we should seek other explanations. Maybe, there are unknown factors that also are important. For example, when Darwin first proposed the origin of the species, his theory was not as certain as it is today with advances in genetics, experiments, new fossils, improved dating techniques...
Nevertheless, for many people having a natural explanation for the origin of the species probably does make it easier for some to be an atheist/agnostic. I think this was true in my case.
Years ago there were Rabbi's and many Orthodox Jews claiming that there was a mass conspiracy by scientists to foist a hoax called evolution on the public. Sometimes they would augment their claim with ad-hominem attacks such as the scientists were rapist or criminals. How ironic that those same Rabbi's who use the Kuzari argument to argue there could not have been a mass conspiracy for the Exodus-Sinai Story would have you believe there was and still is a virtual world wide conspiracy to delude the public with a scientific hoax ! Mind you, many of these scientist come from countries unfriendly with each other. Their work is peer reviewed and moreover could be publicly checked by interested parties. The Rabbi's thought that evolution was in conflict with the Torah, and I do agree with them on that score. That was almost certainly the motivation for Rabbis, some Orthodox Jews and most other religious people for attacking evolution. It was the real reason then and is still the real reason today.
Yet, in my first years at University I found my professors who taught evolution were kindly, friendly and sharing. They were dedicated teachers and researchers, nothing like the claims of those Rabbis. They were good people; how dare those Rabbis besmirch my innocent and humble professors.
This post will provide some arguments against evolution (still put forth by religious people) and provide brief responses mainly (but not only) based on the book Evolution for Dummies by Krukonis and Barr 2008. This book is a fairly accessible book about Evolution and I would recommend it as a good introduction to Evolution and for fleshing out support for most of the scientific details supporting this post.
1) Evolution is only a theory, meaning it is just speculative guess.
Evolution is about genetic change over time in a population, a species etc:. Scientists can see these changes, measure them, and sometimes figure out when they occurred. Scientists today know natural selection and genetic drift are two key driving forces for the changes.
Evolution is a fact. The scientific theory of Evolution has an enormous amount of evidence to support it and is almost certainly true.
2) Evolution violates the Second Laws of Thermodynamics
Earth is not a closed system and receives ordered energy in the form of essentially parallel rays of light. The energy is used by the Earth residents to increase complexity. Energy is then exhausted by the Earth’s inhabitants to Universe in an un-ordered form. Thus there is no violation of the Second Law.
3) Scientist have proved Evolution wrong.
Scientist have not disproved ‘evolution’, but have added new insights and mechanisms to Darwin’s original book which in some instances were wrong. To mention just two new mechanisms: Genetic Drift; Random factors and events.
4) Evolution is Random. A 'complex' work by Shakespeare (or say a bacteria) could not occur by random chance.
Evolution is not completely random. Mutations (errors in DNA replication and transmission) may be random, but natural selection sorts thru the mutations in a non random fashion. Scientist now know that given the time available, the process of natural selection acting on random mutation is more than sufficient to generate our own species.
5a) Evolution can't result in big changes in physical characteristics.
Small changes can result in big changes. Scientist know from laboratory evidence that tiny changes in DNA sequence can have major implications for body plan.
5b) Mutations can affect existing structures or traits but can not be responsible for new ones.
The truth is mutations can so be responsible. For example - sometimes gene duplication results in multiple copies of the gene, and these copies may evolve along different trajectories. Changes in one copy that could have been harmful are no longer harmful because there is a spare copy, and in fact could now be advantageous. This process allows an increase in the number of genes and diversification of function.
5c) Maybe evolution can lead to changes within a lineage, but it can not lead to lineage splitting or new species.
Gradual change can lead to reproductive isolation, a key characteristic of species differentiating. Chapter
8 in the book discusses various mechanisms of species differentiating
The arguments of 5a, 5b,5c are sometimes stated as micro evolution might occur but not macro evolution. The responses above still hold and the existence of ‘missing links’, vestigial body parts support macro evolution. There is much more support to be found here:
6) There are no missing links.
There are not that many fossils and they are hard to find for obvious reasons and because speciation often occurs in small isolated pockets - see Chapter 8 of the book. So we will not always find a specific missing link between two species. Nevertheless, transitional fossils have been found including: “Fish with legs Whale with legs A series of feathered dinosaurs leading up to flight” (Page 339)
7) Some biological structures ‘clearly’ show evidence of an intelligent designer.
What objective criteria do they provide that allows any observer to determine when a certain biological structure requires an intelligent designer and when it does not ?
Moreover, evolution can provide natural explanations how the structures may have arose.
Positing an intelligent designer raises more questions than it answers. For example - Where does it exist ? How can we test for it’s actual existence ? Does it still exist ? Why may it have designed these structures ? Why are there vestigial parts if the structure was intelligently designed ? Why is there so much evidence for evolution ?
8) Evolution can’t create complex structures. Irreducible Complexity - for example the eye would be useless unless all the parts worked together and were there from the get go.
Scientist have a very good idea how the eye evolved from intermediary structure. Also page 341 “Just because a system is made up of a series of parts doesn’t mean that those parts evolved to perform functions they now perform.”
Also consider a bird’s flight feathers. Feathers are found on earlier non flying dinosaurs and had some other function. The feathers became co-opted for flight. Also see 13)
9) Evolution is a Fringe Topic
Evolution is central to modern biology, medicine, conservation and agriculture.
10) There is a science conspiracy to foist evolution for anti religious reasons.
Page 343 “Evolution is a fact that scientists can measure and test. As we further our understanding of the underlying processes responsible for evolution, we refine our theories about the details. If these theories ever seem at odds with particular aspects of religious belief, be assured that the was merely a consequence of following the data and never an intentional goal.”
Also see my introductory paragraphs.
11) This argument claims there was extremely rapid evolution during the ‘Cambrian Explosion’ and evolution can not account for it. There maybe other such periods.
Evolution does not predict or require a slow rate of change or a constant rate of change. Also, changes can occur rapidly if the environment drastically changes for one reason or another. A massive extinction of a dominant type of animal say the dinosaurs would allow say a pre-existent small mammal(s) to rapidly emerge and evolve to exploit their new environment.
For the Cambrian Explosion see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cambrian_explosion
Whenever confronted by religious people using ‘science’ to prove religious beliefs or to discredit evolution , check the scientific literature and not just the few cherry picked articles the religious person presents.
12) Evolution is not falsifiable
Evolution predicted humans and other great apes descend from a common ancestor. This can be disproved based on genetics - i.e if we shared more DNA with other mammals than with say chimps. It has been found that humans do share more DNA with chimps than with any other mammal.
Another example could be fossil of an animal dated from an era (strata) much earlier than where evolution predicts the fossil should be found. Examples can be multiplied.
No evolution falsifiable information exists to date.
13) Evolution can't create new information.
Sure it can. PCB (polychlorinated biphenyls) did not exist until humans made them. Yet some bacteria evolved very complicated ways to break them down. Remarkably, the way they evolved to do this was by kludging together biochemical pathways that serve other functions. Also see 8)
Related posts Genesis and Evolution
- Alter Cocker Jewish Atheist
- A fairly accurate, but incomplete INDEX of Posts & good overview of this blog READ SOME REASONS TO REJECT ORTHODOX JUDAISM my April 2014 post or click link above. Highlighted words lead to other posts almost all in my blog. Born into an Orthodox Jewish family (1950's) and went to Orthodox Yeshiva from kindergarten thru High School plus some Beis Medrash.Became an agnostic in my 20's and an atheist later on. My blog will discuss the arguments for god and Orthodox Judaism and will provide counter arguments. I no longer take comments. My blog uses academic sources, the Torah, Talmud and commentators to justify my assertions. The posts get updated. INDEX OF POSTS SEE MAY 2017 or click link above.