From: email@example.com (Chris Colby)
Subject: evolution data (extremely nasty post)
Date: 9 Mar 91 23:20:26 GMT
This post is rather long, but it contains a lot of info (as
opposed to opinion) so I don't think it is a complete waste of
This post also gets extremely nasty at the end. Wear asbestos
if you read it 8-)
In article <1991Mar8.firstname.lastname@example.org> email@example.com writes:
>In article <firstname.lastname@example.org>, email@example.com (Chris Colby) writes...
>> Evolution is an established fact.
Nothing would give me greater pleasure than to answer this.
Actually there is one thing, but it can't be done via computer 8-)
Evolution is now considered a fact due to a preponderance of
data in favor of it and a complete lack of data refuting it. It is
not possible to construct a capsule proof of evolution (either the
fact that organisms all share a common ancestor or that the proposed
mechanisms explain their descent.)
I will here briefly outline some of the more compelling
data supporting evolution. This is in no way meant to be an
exhaustive list. Evolutionary biology is an active research
field. Sevaral journals are devoted entirely to evolution
(_Evolution_, _Molecular Biology and Evolution_ and the
_Journal of Molecular Evolution_ to name but three.) In addition,
the major general science journals routinely carry articles
about evolution. On the board talk.origins I have summarized about
15 papers during the past year I culled from _Nature_ and _Science_).
So, it would be literally impossible to present anything but a
small portion of the relevent data concerning evolution. But, here
*All organisms share a common genetic material*
All known living organisms (and viruses, which some biolo-
gists do not classify as living) have a nucleic acid based genetic
material. The vast majority of organisms have DNA as their genetic
material. A few viruses have RNA. If organisms where individually
created there is no reason why each should use the same type of
macromolecule to serve as genetic material. Many different
polymers could, theoretically, be used to store information.
*All organisms share a common genetic code*
In addition to using the same material, the same _code_ is
shared all organisms. DNA (and RNA) can be thought of as a string
of bases that is read in groups of three (called a codon). Each
codon codes for a single amino acid. Why should all organisms
share the same code if they were individually created? It should
be noted that some organelles within a cell (and a few organisms)
have been shown to contain divergent genetic codes. However, evidence
is building that the code these organisms use is "corrected" back
to the universal genetic code after the DNA has been transcribed into
RNA (this has been termed "RNA editing").
It is also worth pointing out that four bases are all that
are used in the genetic code, even though other bases could potentially
serve (this has been confirmed by experimentation). Likewise, the
number of amino acids (the building blocks of proteins) used by
organisms is only subset of all naturally occuring amino acids.
*Partitioning of genetic variation among species*
DNA sequences from closely related species are much more
similar than DNA sequences from more distantly related species. In
fact DNA sequence data matches closely with phylogenies drawn up by
morphologists. If organisms were not linked via descent, why should
their DNA sequences so strongly suggest this? (trivia= homologous
segments of DNA from humans and chimps have been sequenced. the
similarity is ~99%.)
The development of an individual (ontogeny) sheds light
on it's ancestry (phylogeny). This relationship was first pro-
posed by Ernst Haeckel. Unfortunately, he vastly overstated the
connection; he claimed ontogeny recapitulated phylogeny. This
has been shown to be false. But closely related organisms do
exhibit closely parallel ontogenies. Why would this be true if
they were not linked via a common ancestor? Wouldn't it make
more sense for a whale to form more like a fish than a cow or
a monkey? (trivia= data indicates humans evolved as "unfinished"
chimps. young chimps look a lot more like humans than adult chimps.
by arresting development early, the skull reamins soft so the
brain can continue growing. note: humans did not evolve from
chimps, we share a common ancestor with them. perhaps unfinished
proto-chimps would be better terminology in the above trivia.)
(trivia#2= humans develop gill slits in their development and
kinda-sorta develop a tail)
The traits and structures of morphologically diverse
organisms can be shown to be modifications of basic "building
blocks". For example, among mammals the different bones of
what in humans is the arm, can be seen from bats to whales. The
structures are the same (form from the same embryonic tissue,
share distinquishing charactoristics, etc.) in type but different
in dimension. This is interpreted by evolutionary biologists as
evidence that extant (living) organisms share a common ancestor
and each lineage has modified the structures of the ancestor.
Evolution requires that there be no truly novel solutions to
"problems" organisms face. A species can only modify the assets
it has to overcome an obstacle. This leads to, in many cases,
suboptimal design of many biological traits because the trait has
evolved as a modification of an existing structure. It was not
designed from scratch. (one example=the panda's thumb - it's not
a thumb at all. it's an outgrowth of a wrist bone.) The creationist
mumblings of organisms being perfect machines sure bites the dust in
a big way when you learn even a little biology. Incidentally, this
applies to behaviours as well as physical structures.
Also note that most organisms have vestigal traits; traits
that serve no use now, but were used back in the species history.
Again, if a creator designed each creature from scratch, these
are hard to explain away.
Many people think the fossil record is real great evidence
for evolution. I don't think so. It's nice, but the theory of
evolution could do just fine without it. Creationists seem to think
this is all there is to evolutionary theory.
*Evolution and speciation demonstrated to occur*
Most people are surprized to find out that evolution and
speciation have both been documented to occur. Evolution has been
documented in hundreds of cases. The example of the English moths
is often cited. The species turned from predominantly speckled to
predominantly dark over the span of a few decades. Speciation has
been documented in the genus _Tragopogon_ (a plant species). Two
closely related species (through a chromososomal "mishap") produced
a new species (it could not cross with either of it's parent strains,
only itself. Incipient speciation may be occuring in the apple
maggot fly _Rhagoletis_ _pomenella_. I post cases a documented
evolution in talk.origins all the time.
*Mechanisms experimentally confirmed*
The two mechanisms thought responsible for most evolution are
natural selection and genetic drift. Both have been demonstrated in
laboratories (selection has been (unintentionally) demonstrated by
animal and plant breeders for hundres of years). This post is getting
long; if you want some references on this, email me (that goes for refs
backing up anything I said in this (or any other) post).
>There is still (as far as I can tell) NO _direct_ evidence.
Better learn something about the field before you
criticize it then, jerk! Do you really think biologists would have
been working on the theory for >150 years now and never tested
some of it's basic claims?
>Give me a choice between "literally interpreted biblical creationism"
>and the theory of evolution, and I will choose the latter.
Since you are completely ignorant of the theory, what differ-
ence would it make? In either case you would just be accepting the
theory on someone elses word. This is sci.skeptic not sci.uninformed-
>I'll bet though, that the real pins in the butt of hardline evolutionists
>are the ones that claim that God is the dude behind evolution. :-)
I'll bet not. I don't see how ad hoc, untestable face
saving weaseling such as that would be a pin in anyones butt.
Maybe Santa Claus is behind evolution. "Rudolph, go kill all
the short necked giraffes you can find".-S. Claus.
>| Internet: firstname.lastname@example.org |
From: email@example.com (L.A. Moran)
Subject: Creation "Science"
Date: 10 Mar 91 23:08:31 GMT
Recently I posted an explanation of the difference between evolution as a
FACT and the THEORY of evolution. This is what I said,
"We have been over this ground many times before in several different
newsgroups. Evolution is a FACT. The evidence that modern organisms are
descendants of organisms that lived in the past is overwhelming.
Scientists have recognized this FACT for over 200 years. It is as
solidly proven as most other FACTS of science.
The MECHANISM of evolution is not understood. Darwin, and others,
proposed that evolution could be accounted for by natural selection.
His THEORY of the MECHANISM is widely accepted but there are competing
THEORETICAL explanations of the MECHANISM of evolution.
Creationists reject both the FACT of evolution and all THEORIES of the
MECHANISM of evolution. Scientists accept the FACT of evolution and try
to understand the mechanism.
Chris Colby and Chris Stassen have made the same points although there are
subtile differences between us. The crucial point here is that it is perverse
to claim that the FACT of evolution is still in question as some posters
to sci.skeptic have said.
Stephan J. Gould has put this as well as anyone else,
"In the American vernacular, "theory" often means "imperfect fact"
- part of a hierarchy of confidence running downhill from fact to
theory to hypothesis to guess. Thus the power of the creationist
argument: evolution is "only" a theory and intense debate now rages
about many aspects of the theory. If evolution is worse than a fact,
and scientists can't even make up their minds about the theory, then
what confidence can we have in it? Indeed, President Reagan echoed
this argument before an evangelical group in Dallas when he said
(in what I devoutly hope was campaign rhetoric): 'Well, it is a
theory. It is a scientific theory only, and it has in recent years
been challenged in the world of science - that is, not believed in
the scientific community to be as infallible as it once was.'
Well evolution is a theory. It is also a fact. And facts and theories
are different things, not rungs in a hierarchy of increasing certainty.
Facts are the world's data. Theories are structures of ideas that
explain and interpret facts. Facts don't go away when scientists
debate rival theories to explain them. Einstein's theory of gravitation
replaced Newton's in this century, but apples didn't suspend themselves
in midair, pending the outcome. And humans evolved from ape-like
ancestors whether they did so by Darwin's proposed mechanism or by
some other yet to be discovered.
Moreover, 'fact' doesn't mean 'absolute certainty'; there ain't no
such animal in an exciting and complex world. The final proofs of
logic and mathematics flow deductively from stated premises and
achieve certainty only because they are NOT about the empirical
world. Evolutionists make no claim for perpetual truth, though
creationists often do (and then attack us falsely for a style of
argument that they themselves favor). In science 'fact' can only
mean 'confirmed to such a degree that it would be perverse to
withhold provisional consent'. I suppose that apples might start
to rise tomorrow, but the possibility does not merit equal time in
Evolutionists have been very clear about this distinction of fact
and theory from the very beginning, if only because we have always
acknowledged how far we are from completely understanding the
mechanisms (theory) by which evolution (fact) occurred. Darwin
continually emphasized the difference between his two great and
separate accomplishments: establishing the fact of evolution, and
proposing a theory - natural selection - to explain the mechanism
Stephen J. Gould "Evolution as Fact and Theory"; Discover, May 1981
Whether or not you agree with Gould he is stating the prevailing view
of the scientific community. In other words, the experts on evolution consider
it to be a FACT. This concept is also explained in introductory biology
books; for example, in one of the best such textbooks we find,
"Today, nearly all biologists acknowledge that evolution is a fact.
The term "theory" is no longer appropriate except in referring to
the various models that attempt to explain "how" life evolves."
Neil A. Campbell in BIOLOGY 2nd ed., Benjamin/Cummings p. 434
There are readers of sci.skeptic who reject evolution for religious reasons.
These readers oppose both the FACT of evolution and THEORIES of mechanisms.
What I find so bizarre is that there are some readers who are not creationists
but still claim that evolution is "only" a theory. Just how much evidence
does this group need?
Dept. of Biochemistry