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CREATION vs. EVOLUTION Debate Part V

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CREATION vs. EVOLUTION Debate Part V

BIOLOGICAL EVOLUTION

Because Chemical Evolution falls into or overlaps both Cosmic and Biological Evolution it is not covered as a separate section.  This debate is in a hybrid policy format in six sections with no rebuttal, but much extra time in the constructive.  We offer the best arguments for both sides that are readily available and widely accepted.

SECOND CONSTRUCTIVE ARGUMENT FOR THE EVOLUTIONISTS

As offered in the history statement of Part I of this Debate, it is true that the ‘Theory of Evolution’ was primarily introduced in 1858, by Charles Darwin and Alfred Wallace, and further explained in Darwin’s On the Origin of Species (1859).  The fact that we English nations did not enter into this debate passionately until the nineteenth century does not change Evolution.  Many scientific inventions and available instruments and techniques were not discovered until the 19th and 20th centuries; therefore it is reasonable that the topic did not significantly reach textbooks until the early 20th century.

According to J. Reynolds’ article ‘American Textbooks: The First 200 Years,’ posted by the ASCD (Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development), “Early textbook writers had no formal training and copyright laws had not been passed.  Biological text materials were almost entirely descriptive with little treatment of theories… The earliest botany texts appeared in 1814 and tended to be very technical… The earliest zoology text appeared in 1846.  One interesting feature of these books was the evolutionary change of titles, from Natural History to Zoology… Perhaps the first American biology textbook presenting a blended or unified organization was Needham’s General Biology published in 1910 which included… Organic Evolution… Thus, general biology came into existence as a hybrid type of course… botany, zoology, physiology… texts of the 1920’s and 1930’s became learner centered written by educators.  By 1960, three groups collaborated to develop the BSCS materials.  Teachers… of the schools; Educators …of colleges and universities; scientists came out of their laboratories; the three groups began to communicate and collaborate…” http://www.ascd.org/ASCD/pdf/journals/ed_lead/el_197601_reynolds.pdf

According to BSCS.org or the Biological Sciences Curriculum Study website, BSCS offers resources for ‘the K-college science educator,’ and “BSCS works collaboratively with science teachers and educators around the world to transform the learning and teaching of science.” BSCS states that ‘the National Research Council (NRC) of the National Academy of Sciences created ‘A Framework for K-12 Science Education (2012; 400 pages, National Academies Press).’  The NRC worked with the National Science Teachers Association, the AAAS, and over 40 other organizations.  The National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers developed ‘Common Core State Standards,’ and 43 states have accepted them as of 2011.

For both the BSCS and ASCD, it is one of their goals to have ‘students to be able to construct their own explanations of phenomena using their knowledge of accepted scientific theory.’  And Biological Evolution is a widely accepted theory; and to most scientists it is simply a fact.   The BSCS ‘Framework for K-12,’ states students are to learn “classifications based on DNA comparisons versus those based on visible characteristics.”  Early on students should learn scales of measurements.  And ‘by the end of grade 8’ they should know ‘all substances are made from some 100 different types of atoms.”  They add, ‘the Big Bang produced matter in the form of hydrogen and smaller amounts of helium and lithium…’ and so on, thus supporting Cosmic Evolution.  And the ‘Framework’ states, “the fourth core idea… Biological Evolution: Unity and Diversity, explores “changes in the traits of populations of organisms over time… Evolution and its underlying genetic mechanisms of inheritance and variability are key to understanding both the unity and the diversity of life on Earth.”   Thus, BSCS state “these four core ideas, which represent basic life sciences fields of investigation – structures and processes in organisms, ecology, heredity, and evolution – have a long history and solid foundation based on the research evidence established by many scientists working across multiple fields.”

Not only are these teachings and methods accepted by the National Science Education Standards, but also by the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA).  Thus, these core ideas and accepted teachings are internationally supported and implemented.

It is fair to say that Organizations, Curriculums and Programs do not operate in a vacuum, the people, culture and environments that surrounds them directly affects and controls them.  According to a 2014 Pew Research Center survey about ‘Scientists and beliefs about human evolution,’  “98% of scientists connected to the American Association for the Advancement of Science say they believe humans evolved over time…”   The Survey also has shown that society has also accepted this fact with only “25% of U.S. saying evolution was guided by a supreme being.”  And the political and legal after Edwards v. Aguillard (La.; 1987) proved that evolution and ‘creation science’ should not be talk side by side.

http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/02/12/darwin-day/

Geologic Time Eras.png

WHAT IS TAUGHT

The basic College Text, such as Modern Biology: Teacher’s Edition (Holt, Rinehart; 1989), even decades ago where devoting chapters to Evolution and teaching about “Evidence from Fossils, Evidence from Living Organisms, Darwin’s Theory of Evolution, and Patterns of Evolution.”  The text states, “according to this theory, today’s species descended from more ancient forms of life by structural and physiological modifications… Carbon-14 decays… the half-life is about 5,700 years… scientists can date fossils that are up to 50,000 years old…  By the end of the Paleozoic Era, 225 million years ago, plants and animals had colonized the land surface of the earth…”  The text explains the progression of living organisms from the Precambrian Era about 600 million years ago where only bacteria and eukaryotes (organisms with a nucleus within membrane and which can reproduce) to the Cambrian about 500 million years ago (first fish, plants, invertebrates), and so on to Devonian (345 million years ago; first insects), to the Paleozoic-Carboniferous (first reptiles: 280 million years ago), to the Triassic (first dinosaurs; 195 million years ago), to the Jurassic (age of the dinosaurs; 135 million years ago), to the Mesozoic – Cretaceous (dinosaurs died out; 65 million years ago), to seven epochs of the Cenozoic Era, with Paleocene (first carnivores and primates; 53 million years ago) to the Quaternary – where “modern humans appear” 100,000 years ago.

Haeckels-Embryos-Cropped.jpg

The texts goes on to give ‘evidence of common ancestry’ such as the ‘Hawaiian honeycreepers … all 23 species apparently arose from a single finch species that migrated to Hawaii.”  It speaks of ‘Homologous structures and ‘common anatomical traits.’  How ‘forelimbs’ on bats, humans, alligators, etc. are ‘embryo-logically similar’ and thus homologous structures.  It speaks of how ‘biochemistry reveals similarities between organisms of different species.’

And like many texts, it shows embryological similar drawings such as by Ernst Haeckel. (see image above)

So according to http://www.Textbookhistory.com, “An analysis of 9 popular textbooks published during the 1930s show that, in general, space devoted to the topic of evolution greatly increased… George W. Hunter devoted just 15 pages of his 1931 Problems in Biology to evolutionary topics. This was roughly the same amount of evolutionary content Hunter included in his famous 1914 textbook, A Civic Biology. In contrast, Ella Thea Smith closed her 1938 Exploring Biology with 150 pages devoted to evolutionary themes – the fossil record, theories of organic evolution, and heredity and environment and their relationship to development and behavior. …In contrast to economic and civic biologies, unity of life biologies promoted a less “progressive” and more holistic view of life. The key textbook of this class was Alfred Kinsey’s An Introduction to Biology (1926), revised and reissued in 1933 as New Introduction to Biology.  …In a series of chapters that covered more than 50 pages starting just after the midpoint of the text, New Biology, which contained very few references to evolution in 1924, spun a reasonably coherent story of “Animals and Plants of the Past and Future,” “Heredity and Variation,” and human antiquity and evolution. Exploring Biology and Modern Biology, would compete head to head in every state in the Union into the early 1960s, and together account for 75% of textbooks purchased.”

http://www.textbookhistory.com/the-evolution-of-textbooks-1930s-edition/

COMMON ANCESTRY: SPECIES SHARE SIMILARITIES

Darwin’s theory of evolution is most often associated with natural selection, yet common ancestry is recognized as an important part of it as well.  Common ancestry traces all organisms back to a few ‘original progenitors.’  In his Origin of Species, Darwin spoke of this saying, “For animals belonging to two most distinct lines of descent, may readily become adapted to similar conditions, and thus assume a close external resemblance; but such resemblances will not reveal – will rather tend to conceal their blood-relationship to their proper lines of descent. The fact that human beings and monkeys have tailbones is evidence for common ancestry precisely because tailbones are useless in humans. Contrast this with the torpedo shape that sharks and dolphins share; this similarity is useful in both groups. One might expect natural selection to cause the torpedo shape to evolve in large aquatic predators whether or not they have a common ancestor. This is why the adaptive similarity is almost valueless to the systematist who is trying to reconstruct patterns of common ancestry.”

 According to www.evolution.berkeley.edu, “biological evolution is descent with modification… over a large number of years, evolution produces tremendous diversity in forms of life…  The central idea of biological evolution is that all life on Earth shares a common ancestor… evolution means that we’re all distant cousins; humans and oak trees, hummingbirds and whales…  The process of evolution produces a pattern of relationships between species… we can reconstruct evolutionary relationships and represent them on a ‘family tree’ called a phylogeny… (which shows) a hypothesis about the relationships among organisms.  It illustrates the idea that all of life is related and can be divided into three major clades… or domains: Archaea, Bacteria and Eukaryoka.  …The tree is supported by many lines of evidence, but it is probably not flawless… evidence discovered in the last 50 years suggests that birds are dinosaurs…’

“…Evolution produces a pattern of relationships among lineages that is tree-line, not ladder-line… phylogenetic trees represent patterns of ancestry… to build a phylogenetic tree… biologists collect data about the characters or heritable traits of each organism that can be compared… homologous characters are characters in different organisms that are similar because they were inherited from a common ancestor… such as four limbs of tetrapods: birds, bats, mice and crocodiles… analogous evolution shows separate evolutionary origins, but are superficially similar because they have both experienced natural selection… Life began 3.8 billion years ago, and insects diversified 290 million years ago, but the human and chimpanzee lineages diverged only five million years ago. How have scientists figured out the dates of long past evolutionary events? Here are some of the methods and evidence that scientists use to put dates on events: Radiometric dating, Stratigraphy and Molecular clocks…  Evolution processes are (achieved through) mutation, migration, genetic drift and natural selection… mutation is a change in DNA… and are random.  …Gene flow or migration is any movement of individuals… form one population to another… genetic shuffling occurs through sex… natural selection… (relates to) survival… some beetles are green, some black and some brown… moths (also change to survive)… Fitness is a handy concept because it lumps everything that matters to natural selection (survival, mate-finding, reproduction) into one idea…”

 According to www.nature.com (2016; Trait Evolution on a Phylogenetic Tree), “these tree diagrams don’t just organize knowledge of biodiversity – they also show us that living species are the summation of their evolutionary history…  Trait evolution is not predictable.  However, once a lineage becomes fixed for a derived trait, descendants of that lineage will all have the derived trait unless there is a subsequent evolutionary change… thus, yellow flowers will have yellow flowers…”    

 The site also explains, “‘Tetrapods evolved from fish’ might be intended to imply that the last common ancestor of a fish clade and a tetrapod clade was itself a fish.  However, this is not strictly true, because while the last common ancestor of both clades may have had more obvious physical similarities to living fish than to living tetrapods, it was not identical to any living organism (fishlike or otherwise). Both lineages—the one leading to living fish (e.g., goldfish) and the one leading to living tetrapods—have been evolving independently for hundreds of millions of years, and during that time, evolution has not stood still on either the fish or tetrapod branch. Over this period, all aspects of fish physiology and the fish genome have changed, though perhaps in ways that are not obvious to the human eye.  Thus, it is not accurate to say that the common ancestor of both fish and tetrapods was a fish. The best you could do would be to say that the common ancestor had a body form and ecology that were more similar to that of living fish than to that of living tetrapods.”

Often similarities are not seen, because as noted by www.tulane.edu (2016; Introduction to Echinoderms), “Our closest cousin among the invertebrates is a most unlikely taxon, the echinoderms… spiny skin… all echinoderms are marine.  They have a calcareous endoskeleton… and open circulatory system… (but) have no brain, or central nervous system, consistent with their return to a sedentary life… there are five living classes, but over 20 extinct classes of echinoderms.”

As taught by www.ucmp.berkeley.edu/chordata (2016), “all chordates share four basic features… indicating their common ancestry…  All chordates have a notochord at some stage in their lives (ie. vertebrae or backbones)… the notochord runs beneath the dorsal nerve cord… Pharyngeal slits are a third chordate feature; these are openings between the pharynx or throat and the outside… used to filter food… and water… Lastly, all chordates have a post-anal tail… this feature is lost in the adult stages of many chordates, such as frogs and people.”

However, common traits and similarities are much more easily seen between close species.  In the embryonic stages between species, humans, dogs, pigs, fish, monkeys, mice and eels their embryos share similar development.  Moreover, in 2014, ethologists at Lorand University in Hungary reported that ‘brain scans show striking similarities between dogs and humans.’  And similar ‘voice-attuned’ regions in the brain have been seen in monkeys.  They note, “It’s not only dogs and humans.  We probably share this function with many other mammals.”  Explaining humans and dogs last shared a common ancestor 100 million years ago…”   Genetic commonalities will be covered later.

PROGRESSIONS of SPRECIES over TIME

Early paleontologists like Charles Lyell and George Cuvier noticed that species that lived in the past are very often drastically, wildly different from anything alive today.  The lost of trilobites, dinosaurs, giant sloths, baculites, etc. show that life on Earth has changed dramatically.  And the further back we look, the more different the species appear when compared to today.  These progressions and trends can be seen on the individual level as lineages can be seen changing over time.  Though studying fossils we can put together these progressions.   Fossils are mainly dated and organized by radiometric dating or through exploring marker layers in land formations.

FOSSIL RECORDS

A 2002 article, 15 Answers to Creationist Nonsense, in Scientific American states, “The historical nature of macroevolutionary study involves inference from fossils and DNA rather than direct observation. Yet in the historical sciences (which include astronomy, geology, archaeology, as well as evolutionary biology), hypotheses can still be tested by checking whether they accord with physical evidence and whether they lead to verifiable predictions about future discoveries. For instance, evolution implies that between the earliest-known ancestors of humans (roughly five million years old) and the appearance of anatomically modern humans (about 100,000 years ago), one should find a succession of hominid creatures with features progressively less apelike and more modern, which is indeed what the fossil record shows. But one should not–and does not–find modern human fossils embedded in strata from the Jurassic period (144 million years ago).”

It continues, “One of the most famous fossils of all time is Archaeopteryx, which combines feathers and skeletal structures peculiar to birds with features of dinosaurs.  A flock’s worth of other feathered fossil species… has also been found.  A sequence of fossils spans the evolution of modern horses from the tiny Eohippus.  Whales had four-legged ancestors that walked on land, and creatures known as Ambulocetus and Rodhocetus helped to make that transition.  Fossil seashells trace the evolution of various mollusks through millions of years.  Perhaps 20 or more hominids (not all of them our ancestors) fill the gap between Lucy the australopithecine and modern humans.  Creationists, though, dismiss these fossil studies. They argue that Archaeopteryx is not a missing link between reptiles and birds–it is just an extinct bird with reptilian features. They want evolutionists to produce a weird, chimeric monster that cannot be classified as belonging to any known group. Even if a creationist does accept a fossil as transitional between two species, they may then insist on seeing other fossils intermediate between it and the first two. These frustrating requests can proceed ad infinitum and place an unreasonable burden on the always incomplete fossil record.”

In the article, “The Mammals That Conquered the Seas,” by Kate Wong; Scientific American; and by Hannah Sasewich in 2014, they explain “Whales evolved from mesonychids, a species of carnivores that had hoofed feet and …resembled a wolf… In 1992, paleontologists …found a skeleton in the rocks of Northern Pakistan… the walking and swimming whale… ‘Pakicetus.’  Darwin showed whales, dolphins and porpoises evolved from land mammals…. The Pakicetus would rest its jaw against the ground much like crocodiles… its nasal cavity migrated from the tip of its face to the top of its head.”

 Yes, there is no direct fossil evidence for the evolution of DNA because of its micro-size; yet, scientists can verify origins through laboratory evidence.  The theory is that RNA, the compliment molecule to DNA, evolved naturally from prebiotic Earth.  And though it is unverified, most scientists are confident that ribosomes and such molecules replicated through chance or random catalytic actions.    

 DNA and GENETIC COMMONALITIES

 Human beings have approximately 97% of genes in common with chimpanzees, and about 90% of genes in common with domestic cats, 80% with cows and 75% with mice.  This may not prove that we evolved from cats or even chimps, but it is evidence that we share a common ancestor in the distance past.  Also, all cells on Earth, from our white blood cells to cells in bacteria or trees, have DNA and a UNIVERSAL GENETIC CODE.  Additionally, this is significant evidence of our common ancestor in the distance past.

 The article Scientific American; 15 Answers to Creationist Nonsense (2002), also states, “The origin of life remains very much a mystery, but biochemists have learned about how primitive nucleic acids, amino acids and other building blocks of life could have formed and organized themselves into self-replicating, self-sustaining units, laying the foundation for cellular biochemistry.  Astrochemical analyses hint that quantities of these compounds might have originated in space and fallen to earth in comets, a scenario that may solve the problem of how those constituents arose under the conditions that prevailed when our planet was young. Creationists sometimes try to invalidate all of evolution by pointing to science’s current inability to explain the origin of life.  But even if life on earth turned out to have a nonevolutionary origin (for instance, if aliens introduced the first cells billions of years ago), evolution since then would be robustly confirmed by countless microevolutionary and macroevolutionary studies.

Chance plays a part in evolution (for example, in the random mutations that can give rise to new traits), but evolution does not depend on chance to create organisms, proteins or other entities.  Quite the opposite: natural selection, the principal known mechanism of evolution, harnesses nonrandom change by preserving “desirable” (adaptive) features and eliminating “undesirable” (nonadaptive) ones. As long as the forces of selection stay constant, natural selection can push evolution in one direction and produce sophisticated structures in surprisingly short times.”

THE PROBABILITY OF LIFE

An article on Evolutionfaq.com correct some misconceptions about the probability of life versus creationism; it states, “Creationists often claim that the chances of a modern enzyme forming by random means are astronomically small, and therefore the chances of a complete bacterium (which is composed of hundreds or thousands of such enzymes & proteins) is so near to impossible that it would never happen in the 13 billion years or so since the universe took shape.  The main problem with this argument is that it assumes abiogenesis (the initial formation of life from simpler molecules) was a totally random process.  It also assumes that in order for abiogenesis to be successful, a complete microbe would have had to form spontaneously. In fact, the same non-random forces which propel biological evolution also propelled abiogenesis – specifically Natural Selection.’

‘The calculation which supports the creationist argument begins with the probability of a 300-molecule-long protein forming by total random chance. This would be approximately 1 chance in 10390.  This number is astoundingly huge.  By comparison, the number of all the atoms in the observable universe is 1080.  So, if a simple protein has that unlikely chance of forming, what hope does a complete bacterium have?  If this were the theory of abiogenesis, and if it relied entirely on random chance, then yes, it would be impossible for life to form in this way. However, this is not the case.  Abiogenesis was a long process with many small incremental steps, all governed by the non-random forces of Natural Selection and chemistry. The very first stages of abiogenesis were no more than simple self-replicating molecules, which might hardly have been called alive at all…  For example, the simplest theorized self-replicating peptide is only 32 amino acids long. The probability of it forming randomly, in sequential trials, is approximately 1 in 1040, which is much more likely than the 1 in 10390 claim creationists often cite.

http://evolutionfaq.com/articles/probability-life

 An example of both random mutation and natural selection is where bacteria become resistance to antibiotics.  Through evolution bacteria develops resistance. 

 NEW SPECIES?

 According to the www.Harvard.edu/gazette article ‘Evolution in real time (2014),’ “Lenski watched E. coli bacteria multiply through 59,000 generations… since 1988… he found that one of the 12 bacterial lines he has maintained has developed into what he believes is a new species…  today’s populations grow roughly 80% faster than the original lines, a development that Lenski called ‘a beautiful example of adaptation by natural selection.’  …After 30,000 generations, researchers noticed …one population had evolved the ability to use a different carbon-based molecule in the solution, called citrate, as a power source.”

 CONCLUSIONS

 In 1860, Oxford biologist and Royal College Surgeon Thomas H. Huxley (‘Darwin’s Bulldog;’ coined term ‘agnostic’ in 1869; taught H. G. Wells) responded to Bishop Samuel Wilberforce (son of William Wilberforce – who championed the Slavery Abolition Act 1833 in Parliament).  According to witnesses, he stated before the British Association for the Advancement of Science (BAAS), he would “rather have an ape for an ancestor than a bishop who distorted the truth.” 

 In the article, 15 Answers to Creationist Nonsense (Scientific American; 2002), Rennie states, “…The massing evidence from paleontology, genetics, zoology, molecular biology and other fields gradually established evolution’s truth beyond reasonable doubt… Embarrassingly, in the 21st century, in the most scientifically advanced nation the world has ever known, creationists can still persuade politicians, judges and ordinary citizens that evolution is a flawed, poorly supported fantasy…. Evolution is only a THEORY… According to the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), a scientific theory is ‘a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world that can incorporate facts, laws, inferences, and tested hypotheses.’ No amount of validation changes a theory into a law, which is a descriptive generalization about nature. So when scientists talk about the theory of evolution-or the atomic theory or the theory of relativity, for that matter – they are not expressing reservations about its truth…  The fossil record and abundant other evidence testify that organisms have evolved through time.  ‘Survival of the fittest’ is a conversational way to describe natural selection, but a more technical description speaks of differential rates of survival and reproduction…” 

 About 98% of all scientists have accepted the general points of the theory of evolution and the majority of Americans have agreed; it is time that we let students everywhere learn this and other scientific theories without any hindrance.  Thank you.

 (TheTruthSource reminds you this is not our position; only best arguments of this debate).

 

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