6 Common Misconceptions about Evolution by Natural Selection

Evolution by natural selection is a scientific fact. Skeptics who argue against the legitimacy of the theory of evolution often do so out of a complete misunderstanding of the way evolution by natural selection actually works and how we know what we know about it. Below I have listed some of the questions uninformed skeptics have proposed as a challenge to the validity of a worldview based on evolutionary theory. All of these misunderstandings are easily explained as I shall demonstrate with a thorough rebuttal to each in turn. Furthermore, I will deal with some of the ways in which, particularly in North America, the theory of evolution has come into conflict with biblical creationism.

1. If evolution is just a theory, why should it be taught as fact?

There is a difference between scientific theory and the popular definition of theory. Within the context of science, a theory is something for which there is evidence that can be observed and demonstrated. The notion of a spherical earth that orbits around the sun is a scientific theory based on consistent astronomical and mathematical observations and calculations. This was a theory that developed over the course of hundreds of years as more and more evidence was found to support it, finally culminating in the incontrovertible evidence of extraterrestrial photography. A scientific theory is based on evidence that can be observed and demonstrated in the natural world, and the theory of evolution is no exception to this. Since Charles Darwin first proposed the theory of evolution by natural selection based on his observations as a naturalist, further evidence has come to light. The incontrovertible evidence for evolution by natural selection has been found in DNA, the fossil record, the anatomy of modern organisms, etc. The evidence in support of evolution continues to grow and justify the teaching of natural selection as fact. If there existed scientific evidence against the theory of evolution, we would have to take that into account and then teach a different theory as fact.

A caricature of Charles Darwin as an ape, published in The Hornet, a satirical magazine (1871)
A caricature of Charles Darwin as an ape, published in The Hornet, a satirical magazine (1871) | Source

2. If we come from monkeys, why are there still monkeys?

This is one of the best examples of a basic misunderstanding of how evolution by natural selection works. I would go so far as to argue that this is also indicative of a lack of understanding of biology within a broader context of scientific illiteracy. We did not evolve from monkeys. Humans belong to the primate family. Our closest living relatives are chimpanzees. That means that humans and chimpanzees evolved from the same ancestor. This ancestor was neither a human or a chimpanzee. Since then, both humans and chimpanzees have evolved on their own evolutionary trajectories, distinct from one another. Humans, just as well as other apes, have been evolving into distinct species. With time, intermediary species go extinct, which underscores the distinction between related species. This principle applies to all species. For example, llamas and alpacas also descend from a fairly recent common ancestor. It would be just as illogical to suppose llamas evolved from alpacas as it would be to suppose that humans evolved from chimpanzees, as some uninformed commentators have suggested.

Another way of understanding the source of this misconception is the incorrect popular assumption that evolution is a steady upward trajectory, and that human domination of the planet is a sign of our having reached the top of some sort of evolutionary hierarchy. Humans are no more or less evolved than other apes, we are simply different from one another. Humanity as it exists today is not the highly evolved standard against which all other species are measured. The variety of reasons why we seem so distinct from the rest of the animal kingdom is very complex and nuanced. There is no theoretical evolutionary ideal. Natural selection is a process whereby traits that promote a species' survival are more likely to be passed on genetically.

Original fossils of Homo Erectus found in Java in 1891
Original fossils of Homo Erectus found in Java in 1891 | Source

3. Where is the missing link?

Despite popular belief, the missing link has been found. In fact, an overwhelming multiplicity of "missing links" amongst a variety of different species have been unearthed in the fossil record. The concept of the missing link is actually outdated. Even without the fossil evidence of extinct intermediary species between various related species, the relationship between these modern species is still apparent. For example, consider again the relationship between humans and chimpanzees. The theory of evolution recently following Darwin's revelation was not without significant flaws. Victorian Era evolutionary theory assumed a veritable evolutionary hierarchy with humans at the top (of course). Since then, evidence has shown that humans and chimpanzees, for example, are more closely related to one another than chimpanzees are related to orangutans. Both the notion of the missing link and of an evolutionary hierarchy are scientific anachronisms on which modern assumptions about evolution should not be predicated.

4. If evolution is real, why aren't we still evolving?

Understanding the process of evolution by natural selection requires extensive use of abstract thought billions of years throughout the history of life as we know it. Evolution is not something that happens spontaneously and visibly throughout the course of one generation. We are still evolving, but it is such a gradual process that we are not able to perceive it in action. Organisms themselves do not evolve, evolution by natural selection is a process whereby the following generation is a precise, but not exact, reproduction of the previous generation. Because of variability and genetic mutation from one generation to the next, new traits arise which either promote the survival of the organism in question, reduce its chances for survival, or are neutral in terms of survival. Some people ask, for example, how a heart could have gradually evolved into existence if we could not survive without a complete heart. The answer is that the simpler life forms from which more complex life forms evolved did not need as complex of a heard as, say, modern mammals have. Every aspect of anatomy changes gradually from one generation to the next. Again, deep and comprehensive critical thought is crucial to a full understanding of the long and complex history of evolution.

5. How is belief in evolution different from belief in religious faith?

My final two points directly address misconceptions about evolution commonly held by adherents to the creationist explanation for existence.

Understanding evolution is not a matter of belief. The theory of evolution is based on evidence, whereas creationism requires faith in religious scripture which does not provide evidence for this particular claim. Evolution is a scientific theory, the details of which are subject to change based on mounting evidence. Evolutionary theory has changed significantly since the Victorian Era. Darwin, for example, was completely wrong in his theories regarding the genetic explanation for natural selection. Since then, geneticists have further elucidated the details of evolutionary theory with scientific procedures not available to Darwin. The creation myth, conversely, does not change in light of scientific advances. Interpretation of scripture may go up for review, but religious fundamentalism is predicated on taking such accounts as the creation myth literally without any actual evidence.

6. How can the earth be so perfect for life if it was not designed?

Within the context of a creationist perspective, the assumption is that the world was created to support life and was then populated accordingly by an intelligent designer. According to evolution by natural selection, it actually worked the other way around. Life as we know it evolved to adapt to the environment in which it found itself. We do not yet have scientific proof for how life began, but it was most likely the result of a chemical reaction resulting in the first self-replicating molecule. Since that moment, life as we know it has replicated itself based on traits which are most conducive to survival in its environment. Therefore, the world was not designed to support life, rather life evolved to survive in the world.

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Comments 111 comments

Robert the Bruce profile image

Robert the Bruce 22 months ago

I've found that the vast majority of people who reject evolution do not even have basic understanding of what it is or how it works. I was one of those people until I began to study evolution. The evidence is there, but you have to do some research. Thanks for the hub.


Spongy0llama profile image

Spongy0llama 22 months ago from Canada Author

Yes, I was sure to emphasize that lack of understanding and scientific illiteracy are often behind rejection of evolution.


Robert the Bruce profile image

Robert the Bruce 22 months ago

What does an "at-seas fisheries observer" do?


Spongy0llama profile image

Spongy0llama 22 months ago from Canada Author

I accompany commercial fisherman to observe that fisheries regulations are adhered to and to collect biological data on commercial species. I spend a lot of time estimating weight, identifying bycatch species, and collecting biological samples, such as otoliths.


Robert the Bruce profile image

Robert the Bruce 22 months ago

Sounds like an interesting job with a good deal of variety. Cool.


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 22 months ago from South Africa

Awesome article about evolution, and comprehensible to the average open mind.

I still have my doubts about a 'common ancestor' theory. I think humans were since the beginning humans and not something that was neither a human or a chimpanzee. Just look at plants. Yes, new plants (fruit and vegetables) can be cultivated into a new type of vegetable, but a basic potato - for example - was never something between a sweet potato and an onion.

The organs of a human are the closest to that of a pig. Ref: Heart transplants and the experiments of Dr Chris Barnard of South Africa. Now what does this tell us?

I believe in evolution, although it seems to be a one step forward and two steps backwards process. We can but only look at the children of a couple comprising of a highly intelligent and well-bred member and a less intelligent member.

Excellent, interesting and useful hub! Thank you, Spong :)


Spongy0llama profile image

Spongy0llama 22 months ago from Canada Author

You can not "believe in evolution" if you do not accept how it works. If you believed humans existed since the beginning, then it sounds like you believe in creationism. Modern potatoes were once something else. They didn't suddenly change, but gradually evolved through natural selection to become what they are today. The organs of all mammals, including humans and pigs, are very similar. Just because some pig organs have the potential to be medically compatible with those of humans, this does not necessarily mean we are more closely related to pigs than we are to chimpanzees. Evidence in the DNA trail clearly demonstrates this.

I do not fully understand your comment about the children of people of unequal intelligence. Evolution does not happen in one generation, it takes thousands of generations for the necessary variations.

Overall, it does not seem as though you yourself fully understand the theory of evolution. Keep reading into the subject if you would like to understand it better.

You can not say you accept evolution if you do not accept the "common ancestor" aspect. This is a scientific fact, not something you can choose to have faith in. Either you choose to accept it, or you reject the facts.


nicomp profile image

nicomp 22 months ago from Ohio, USA

"a theory is something for which there is evidence that can be observed and demonstrated. "

evolution can be demonstrated? Your point #4 contradicts that.


nicomp profile image

nicomp 22 months ago from Ohio, USA

"Evolution does not happen in one generation, it takes thousands of generations for the necessary variations."

You can't have it both ways. You assert small changes over many generations but you say that is not 'evolution.' What is it, then? When do all these small changes become 'evolution?'


Spongy0llama profile image

Spongy0llama 22 months ago from Canada Author

The proof for evolution can be found in DNA sequencing and in the fossil records. You also don't seem to understand how evolution works. It is not a contradiction to say that you can not see evolution in action within our individual timeframes, but can see the evidence in the fossil records and other incontrovertible sources.


Spongy0llama profile image

Spongy0llama 22 months ago from Canada Author

I did not say that small changes over many generations was not evolution. Again, scientific illiteracy. Something really has to change here.


nicomp profile image

nicomp 22 months ago from Ohio, USA

"I did not say that small changes over many generations was not evolution. "

No one said you said that. You wrote this:

"Evolution does not happen in one generation, it takes thousands of generations for the necessary variations."

and that is incorrect, as I pointed out yesterday.

"Again, scientific illiteracy. "

I have two science degrees and I'm 1/2 way through my PhD. You?


nicomp profile image

nicomp 22 months ago from Ohio, USA

"The proof for evolution can be found in DNA sequencing and in the fossil records. "

Actually, no. DNA sequencing does not prove that one organism spontaneously changed into another

A basic tenet of scientific literacy: morphology does not infer homology.

In simpler terms: Just because two things look alike does not prove they have a common ancestor.


Spongy0llama profile image

Spongy0llama 22 months ago from Canada Author

It is more complicated than separate species looking alike. A common ground in DNA is demonstrable. Again, I did not say that a species spontaneously changes into another. It is a gradual process.


Spongy0llama profile image

Spongy0llama 22 months ago from Canada Author

"You assert small changes over many generations but you say that is not 'evolution.' What is it, then?"

Did you, or did you not write what I have quoted above? Yes, you did say that I asserted that small changes over many generations was not evolution.

It is obvious that your degree is not in biology. You can be both a scientist and scientifically illiterate. Just because you are a specialist in one scientific field, this does not mean that you can't be ignorant of a different scientific field.

You will not win the argument if what you say is that evolution is not a gradual process, working over the course of thousands of generations.


nicomp profile image

nicomp 22 months ago from Ohio, USA

"A common ground in DNA is demonstrable. "

Yes, it is demonstrable but it doesn't make your point. morphology does not infer homology.


nicomp profile image

nicomp 22 months ago from Ohio, USA

"It is obvious that your degree is not in biology. You can be both a scientist and scientifically illiterate. Just because you are a specialist in one scientific field, this does not mean that you can't be ignorant of a different scientific field."

Science is a process, not a topic. Science is a way of doing things, not a field if study. This misconception represents the single most significant impediment to understanding why evolution of the particles-to-people type is specious.

And no, I'm not scientifically illiterate. Unfortunately, you are. I don't have to be a biologist to recognize your poor application of scientific principles.


Spongy0llama profile image

Spongy0llama 22 months ago from Canada Author

Say whatever you want, but in scientific circles, you are in the overwhelming minority as regards your views on evolution.

No, science itself is not a topic, but there certainly are fields of scientific specialization. A neurologist specializing in brain regions could just as well know nothing about volcanic eruptions, just as a volcanic geologist could just as well know nothing about brain regions.

Also, I would rather you did not cherry-pick quotations from my comments to aid in your rebuttal. I know what I wrote, everyone can see what I wrote, so you don't need to directly quote me in your response.


Spongy0llama profile image

Spongy0llama 22 months ago from Canada Author

Well, I say it does.


nicomp profile image

nicomp 22 months ago from Ohio, USA

"Say whatever you want, but in scientific circles, you are in the overwhelming minority as regards your views on evolution."

Science is not performed by consensus. Scientists don't prove a theory by voting on it.

Charles Darwin was in the overwhelming minority also.

I will continue to select your quotes when I reply: we scientists are precise, as you no doubt understand.


Spongy0llama profile image

Spongy0llama 22 months ago from Canada Author

Scientists can come to a consensus based on consistent evidence. Darwin was in the minority in his time because people were not open-minded enough to consider the evidence he had discovered for the theory of evolution by natural selection. Things were different in the 19th century. Religion had much more influence over people's understanding of the natural world than it does now.

Rather than cherry-picking specific comments of mine, what I expect from you is to provide hard evidence which contradicts the theory of evolution as it is understood today. You have not yet done so, and this is what the argument is really about.


Robert the Bruce profile image

Robert the Bruce 22 months ago

Excellent points, Spongyllama.

Nicomp's statement: "Science is not performed by consensus." This statement is absolutely ridiculous (and unnecessary) because anyone familiar with even basic science knows that consensus of itself is not a good basis for asserting something as fact. However, the fact that over 99% of qualified scientists accept Evolution shows that many thousands of scientists have tested and studied this subject and have come to a consensus. This fact cannot be arrogantly dismissed as Nicomp seems willing to do.

Also, I echo Spongyllama's concern. Nicomp, are you prepared to provide facts of your own or just try to tear down what is written here? What theory do you propose in place of evolution?


Spongy0llama profile image

Spongy0llama 22 months ago from Canada Author

I am open to criticism, but the arguments against my claims have to be, well, valid. For example, you can't compare the scientific minority of one century to the scientific minority of another. People who use this kind of rhetoric overlook historical context.

I also do not give serious consideration to those who falsely interpret my wording. I in no way suggested that scientists "vote" on the best theory.

Thank you for your support Robert. I will continue to respond so long as a case is made against me, but that does not necessarily mean that the case against my views is all that stable or persuasive. I like how you say "accept evolution", rather than "believe evolution". Indeed, a scientific fact is not something one can believe in, it is a reality you can either accept, or not accept.

Nicomp, you will not persuade me to your opinion if you continue simply to toy with my statements and manipulate my words. Rather than diminish my work statement after statement, propose, as Robert said, an alternative. If I am wrong, tell me then exactly what is correct.


nicomp profile image

nicomp 22 months ago from Ohio, USA

"For example, you can't compare the scientific minority of one century to the scientific minority of another. People who use this kind of rhetoric overlook historical context."

Unfortunately you don't get to choose the context. If science is done by consensus, as you assert, then Darwin was wrong because he was in the minority. I don't agree that science is performed by consensus but this is an excellent object lesson for you to ponder. You can't decree macro-evolution to be "true" by a majority vote of the scientific community unless you also accept that Darwin was in the minority and therefore "false."

It's obvious that you can't have it both ways and equally obvious that you will continue to obfuscate and avoid my point. No worries.


nicomp profile image

nicomp 22 months ago from Ohio, USA

"Nicomp's statement: "Science is not performed by consensus." This statement is absolutely ridiculous (and unnecessary) because anyone familiar with even basic science knows that consensus of itself is not a good basis for asserting something as fact. However, the fact that over 99% of qualified scientists accept Evolution shows that many thousands of scientists have tested and studied this subject and have come to a consensus. This fact cannot be arrogantly dismissed as Nicomp seems willing to do."

Not much I can say, given that you contradicted yourself in a single paragraph. To summarize your statement: 'science is not done by consensus unless you have a really really big consensus.'


Spongy0llama profile image

Spongy0llama 22 months ago from Canada Author

I actually don't know what to say anymore. I did not say that science is performed by consensus. I can't have a rational argument with you. You can choose whether you've won or not, I'm done dealing with this nonsense.


nicomp profile image

nicomp 22 months ago from Ohio, USA

Dude! I quoted you. Do you read what you type?

We do agree on one thing: you cannot have a rational argument with me. You'll never have a rational argument with anyone unless you actually read what you type.

Here it is. Your own unabridged words:

"This statement is absolutely ridiculous (and unnecessary) because anyone familiar with even basic science knows that consensus of itself is not a good basis for asserting something as fact. However, the fact that over 99% of qualified scientists accept Evolution shows that many thousands of scientists have tested and studied this subject and have come to a consensus. "


Robert the Bruce profile image

Robert the Bruce 22 months ago

Not a contradiction at all, Nicomp. Nice try though. Let me simplify it for you since you had trouble with comprehension:

1. Science is not DECICED BY consensus, but...

2. A consensus of over 97% cannot be ignored or deemed irrelevant. In other words, while consensus is not CAUSAL in nature you must consider the REASONS why such a large majority support the theory.

Again, Nicomp, you FAILED to propose an alternative to evolution. Are you just a big talker or do you actually have some substance?


Spongy0llama profile image

Spongy0llama 22 months ago from Canada Author

Dude! I did not type that. You quoted that from Robert, not me. Furthermore, you do not understand what scientific consensus means. It does not mean that something is accepted because the majority decides it/votes it, it means that scientists agree on that which the evidence indicates.


nicomp profile image

nicomp 22 months ago from Ohio, USA

Ok dude, you didn't bring it up. My bad.

Your definition of scientific consensus is, well, odd. I think the reason we have this discussion is because scientists don't agree. If scientists agreed there would be no controversy.


Daniel 22 months ago

Evolution is a theory because it insists on keeping hold of some of the dogmatic neo Darwinian views that it had when it was first introduced.

For example complete reductionism. Thanks to people like Richard Dawkins this view is still widely believed by the majority of the population as one of the main teachings of evolution. However some far more qualified scientists such as Stephen jay Gould admit that evolution must have made huge leaps for it to be viable.

Another misconception Darwinian evolutionists have is that people who believe in God completely reject evolution, whereas in reality there is no conflict between real evolution and belief in God. Species evolve according to their species and nothing more.

The fossil record is by no means almost complete and guess what it shows? Exactly what a believer in God would expect...


Spongy0llama profile image

Spongy0llama 22 months ago from Canada Author

No, the fossil record is not complete, it is impossible to have a complete fossil account of all beings that ever lived. However, the fossil record offers ample examples of evolution by natural selection in action.

Everything else you say doesn't exactly make sense, I'm sorry to say. There is nothing dogmatic about the theory of evolution. Our understanding of evolution is subject to change based on the discovery of previously unavailable evidence. I don't think you fully understand evolution. It is not an entity in and of itself that can make "huge leaps", however, there is the potential for any given species at any given point and time to evolve variations more quickly and/or erratically than is usual throughout the process of natural selection.


nicomp profile image

nicomp 22 months ago from Ohio, USA

"However, the fossil record offers ample examples of evolution by natural selection in action."

No, it doesn't.

"however, there is the potential for any given species at any given point and time to evolve variations more quickly and/or erratically than is usual throughout the process of natural selection."

No, there isn't.


Robert the Bruce profile image

Robert the Bruce 22 months ago

Spongy, it's obvious this guy is just trolling. Simple denials without backing arguments is one of the ways trolls try to stir up trouble. You've given him ample opportunity to present his own theory and he's failed to come up with the goods. At this point he's just polluting your hub.


Spongy0llama profile image

Spongy0llama 22 months ago from Canada Author

"No, it doesn't."

Yes, it does.

"No, there isn't."

Yes, there is.


Spongy0llama profile image

Spongy0llama 22 months ago from Canada Author

I know Robert, don't worry. I have reasons beyond the argument itself for entertaining any comments I do receive.


nicomp profile image

nicomp 22 months ago from Ohio, USA

"Spongy, it's obvious this guy is just trolling. Simple denials without backing arguments is one of the ways trolls try to stir up trouble."

Hardly. My simple denials are in response to the simple assertions that I cited. It works both ways, yeah?


Spongy0llama profile image

Spongy0llama 22 months ago from Canada Author

"My simple denials are in response to the simple assertions that I cited. It works both ways, yeah?"

No, it doesn't.


nicomp profile image

nicomp 22 months ago from Ohio, USA

"No, it doesn't."

Yes, it does.


Robert the Bruce profile image

Robert the Bruce 22 months ago

Wow. Now there's no doubt nicomp is a troll. He wants to *try* and deny evolution with flimsy attacks but can't come up with an alternative. Another scientifically illiterate writer with nothing to give but an opinion. Sad.


nicomp profile image

nicomp 22 months ago from Ohio, USA

"Wow. Now there's no doubt nicomp is a troll."

Hardly.

"He wants to *try* and deny evolution with flimsy attacks but can't come up with an alternative."

An alternative is not obligatory to disprove your assertions. That's not how science works, although that doesn't seem relevant to you. No worries.

"Another scientifically illiterate writer with nothing to give but an opinion."

Look me up when you score a couple science degrees. Google is not a source.


Robert the Bruce profile image

Robert the Bruce 22 months ago

Lol. You have no idea what sources we use. Google is a search engine not a source of facts. My mistake; I assumed that you would know such a common fact. Also, it's obvious that proposing an alternative to evolution is not required, and when one is unable to come up with facts to substantiate another theory, I totally understand why one wouldn't give it here.

The funny thing is that YOU THINK you are disproving evolution by making weak attacks on concepts that you obviously don't understand. Those without much of scientific base of knowledge might be tempted to believe you, but those of us who have done research just smile at your antics. :-)


nicomp profile image

nicomp 22 months ago from Ohio, USA

"Lol. You have no idea what sources we use."

I have some idea. You are far from unique.

"Also, it's obvious that proposing an alternative to evolution is not required, and when one is unable to come up with facts to substantiate another theory, I totally understand why one wouldn't give it here."

Again you contradict yourself but that''s part of your charm I guess.

"The funny thing is that YOU THINK you are disproving evolution by making weak attacks on concepts that you obviously don't understand."

Let's see... according to you, I have no idea what sources you use but you know what I am thinking? Hmm...

"Those without much of scientific base of knowledge might be tempted to believe you, but those of us who have done research just smile at your antics. :-)"

You're in both camps I fear. It's OK. Stick with me and you'll catch on.


Robert the Bruce profile image

Robert the Bruce 22 months ago

"I have some idea. You are far from unique."

And not surprisingly, neither are you. I've encountered many science-deniers who could only spout off nonsense.

"Again you contradict yourself..."

Actually, no. I'm sorry your comprehension skills aren't up to par.

"...but you know what I am thinking? Hmm..."

When your assertions are attempting to disprove evolution, it's not that difficult to deduce the intent of said statements.


nicomp profile image

nicomp 22 months ago from Ohio, USA

"And not surprisingly, neither are you. I've encountered many science-deniers who could only spout off nonsense."

When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

"Actually, no. I'm sorry your comprehension skills aren't up to par."

Attack the messenger, ignore the message.

"When your assertions are attempting to disprove evolution, it's not that difficult to deduce the intent of said statements."

Not only attempting....


Robert the Bruce profile image

Robert the Bruce 22 months ago

You proved my points, thanks.


Robert the Bruce profile image

Robert the Bruce 22 months ago

I can see that you only want to argue and I've wasted enough of my time bantering with you. Thank you for helping me to better identify trolls in the future! :)


nicomp profile image

nicomp 22 months ago from Ohio, USA

"I can see that you only want to argue and I've wasted enough of my time bantering with you. Thank you for helping me to better identify trolls in the future! :)"

If you can't handle the message, label the messenger. It's liberal politics 101. No worries. Have a nice day. :)


nicomp profile image

nicomp 22 months ago from Ohio, USA

"We are still evolving, but it is such a gradual process that we are not able to perceive it in action."

That's called "faith." The belief in things unseen.


Spongy0llama profile image

Spongy0llama 22 months ago from Canada Author

"That's called "faith." The belief in things unseen."

No, you are wrong. Accepting evolution is not based on faith because we have evidence which supports the theory of evolution by natural selection. We are not able to see evolution happen in ourselves from one generation to the next, but we can observe it in microorganisms and even small mammals, like lab rats, through selective breeding. Selective breeding, such as what happens with dogs and livestock, is an accelerated and human-manipulated version of natural selection.

In any case, there is ample evidence in the fossil record and in DNA for evolution by natural selection. If you deny this, I can assure you preemptively that you are wrong.


nicomp profile image

nicomp 22 months ago from Ohio, USA

Here's what you said:

"We are still evolving, but it is such a gradual process that we are not able to perceive it in action."

That is the textbook definition of faith.

Now, you say "...but we can observe it in microorganisms and even small mammals, like lab rats, through selective breeding."

You contradict yourself. Either you can see it or you can't.


nicomp profile image

nicomp 22 months ago from Ohio, USA

"Selective breeding, such as what happens with dogs and livestock, is an accelerated and human-manipulated version of natural selection."

This is a common misconception held by many evolutionists. Selective breeding simply selects for traits already programmed into the DNA. No new information is created. Nothing new happens. Selective breeding does not create new species, just refined versions of existing species that contain less information that their ancestors.

Anyway, selective breeding creates problems and rarely increases survivability. Witness thoroughbred racehorses: they have no survival advantage over other horses and they are notoriously fragile.


Spongy0llama profile image

Spongy0llama 22 months ago from Canada Author

I don't understand why you are unable to comprehend the difference between human evolution, which we are unable to directly observe, and the evolution of certain microorganisms, the evolution of which we may observe.

Furthermore, not being able to directly observe evolution does not make it a matter of faith. There is compelling evidence which supports the theory of evolution which is not based on direct observation of evolution in action.

Your arguments up until now are based on ignorance and a lack of understanding of both the topic, and of the way I discuss it.


Spongy0llama profile image

Spongy0llama 22 months ago from Canada Author

Selective breeding results in domesticated animals which are suited to human needs, and not the the survival of the species in the wild. That is why I note the distinction between natural selection and selective breeding. In natural selection, traits are passed on genetically which promote survival, and this is the lifeblood of evolution. Selective breeding occurs when traits are consciously chosen by people to be passed on to the following generations, rather than by natural necessity.

I sense you are unable to grasp the ways in which the proof of selective breeding supports the theory of evolution. Due to your profound lack of understanding of the topic, it is barely worth my time to respond to you. This is not something to be proud of.

Also, selective breeding does create new species. Wolves and dogs are classified as different species. You need to get more educated on the topic before you propose these absurd arguments. You claim to have science degrees, but that does not mean you know anything about evolution specifically.


nicomp profile image

nicomp 21 months ago from Ohio, USA

"Your arguments up until now are based on ignorance and a lack of understanding of both the topic, and of the way I discuss it."

Evidently you don't explain yourself all that well. A good teacher doesn't blame the pupil.

Another question for you: why isn't the selective breeding that 'man' does considered (by you) to be natural selection? Aren't 'men' natural? If what 'men' do is not natural, is such activity therefore supernatural?


nicomp profile image

nicomp 21 months ago from Ohio, USA

"Wolves and dogs are classified as different species."

Then why do we have wolfdogs? How do you explain that interbreeding?


Spongy0llama profile image

Spongy0llama 21 months ago from Canada Author

Interbreeding happens amongst a variety of distinct, but related, species, such as between horses and donkeys. Wolves and dogs are related species are are genetically compatible enough to interbreed.


Spongy0llama profile image

Spongy0llama 21 months ago from Canada Author

I don't claim to be a teacher. I have provided reading material on a topic that requires a previous understanding you clearly lack.

You are playing with words here and it's getting you nowhere. The "natural" in "natural selection" does not refer to "natural" in the general sense, as you assert. It is called natural selection because it occurs in the natural world as a process of survival and adaptation. Selective breeding takes principles involved in natural selection out of it's natural context. Of course, on a higher philosophical plane, everything that is is natural, but that's not what this discussion is about. Of course, humans are "natural" in the sense that they exist in the natural world, and therefore everything they do, including selective breeding, is natural. This however is not the same sense of natural as we find in natural selection.


nicomp profile image

nicomp 21 months ago from Ohio, USA

"Selective breeding takes principles involved in natural selection out of it's natural context."

So it's unnatural?


Spongy0llama profile image

Spongy0llama 21 months ago from Canada Author

I'm not playing your games anymore. Either tell me why you're obsessed with wasting my time or don't. In any case, I'm not following you any further down this spiral.


Spongy0llama profile image

Spongy0llama 21 months ago from Canada Author

I know for sure now you're just wasting my time. Also, it was extremely disrespectful of you to flag all of Robert's comments as spam. Shame on you and don't return to this thread until you can behave maturely.


nicomp profile image

nicomp 21 months ago from Ohio, USA

Who is Robert? I can't flag comments as spam; this isn't my hub.


CatherineGiordano profile image

CatherineGiordano 18 months ago from Orlando Florida

An excellent explanation of evolution and response to the misunderstandings about this process that exist. One thing I would add is that we can see evolution at work when we consider the rise of penicillin-resistant bacteria. Voted up++ and H+


Joseph O Polanco profile image

Joseph O Polanco 18 months ago

@Catherine

Why? Did they evolve into something that wasn't bacteria?


nicomp profile image

nicomp 18 months ago from Ohio, USA

CatherineGiordano , penicillin-resistant bacteria is an example of a loss of functionality. No new structures were generated and no new information was created.


Joseph O Polanco profile image

Joseph O Polanco 18 months ago

Sorry, Nicomp, Catherine does not know any of these things. What you state is common knowledge among the well informed, but even if she read about it, not one bit of it will get past her defenses. What does the proverb say? "None are so blind as those who refuse to see."


CatherineGiordano profile image

CatherineGiordano 18 months ago from Orlando Florida

You're too funny, Joe.


Spongy0llama profile image

Spongy0llama 18 months ago from Canada Author

This is why I didn't mention the observable evolution of bacteria within a human lifetime. A lot of creationists distinguish between micro-evolution, which they accept, and macro-evolution, which they don't accept.

What is it that we "refuse to see", exactly? If you have any evidence which contradicts evolutionary theory, then I am more than willing to consider it.


Joseph O Polanco profile image

Joseph O Polanco 18 months ago

@Spongy

The fossil record:

“Instead of finding the gradual unfolding of life,” say evolutionary paleontologists like David M. Raup, “what geologists of Darwin’s time, and geologists of the present day actually find is a highly uneven or jerky record; that is, species appear in the sequence very suddenly, show little or no change during their existence in the record, then abruptly go out of the record.”

"The fossil record - in defiance of Darwin's whole idea of gradual change - often makes great leaps from one form to the next. Far from the display of intermediates to be expected from slow advance through natural selection many species appear without warning, persist in fixed form and disappear, leaving no descendants. Geology assuredly does not reveal any finely graduated organic chain, and this is the most obvious and gravest objection which can be urged against the theory of evolution.” (Almost Like a Whale, p. 252)

“Herein lies a powerful tautology, a circular argument. The assumption of evolution is the basis upon which index fossils are used to date the rocks; and these same fossils are supposed to provide the main evidence for evolution. The fossil record, itself based on the assumption of evolution, is interpreted to teach evolution. By this sort of reckoning, the main evidence for evolution is the assumption of evolution.”

―Michael Pitman, (instructor of biology at Cambridge), Adam and Evolution


Venkatachari M profile image

Venkatachari M 18 months ago from Hyderabad, India

Very interesting article on evolution. It is a fact that evolution is a process involving millions of years and thousands of generations. It is mostly believed that man is a tail-less monkey or ape. Neanderthal man is an example of it.

Thanks for sharing this intelligent topic. Voted up.


Spongy0llama profile image

Spongy0llama 18 months ago from Canada Author

"and these same fossils are supposed to provide the main evidence for evolution" ~ The fossil record is not the main evidence for evolution. The evidence for evolution would be just as compelling with no fossil evidence at all. Our access to fossils is very limited. As such, we do not see gradual change in the fossil record because we only get snapshots of evolution in action. The most compelling evidence for evolution is in comparative anatomy and gene sequencing. Just because you don't understand how these scientific principles work and why they are so compelling does not mean they are automatically discredited.

"The book [Adam and Evolution] received a detailed review in the NewScientist magazine where it was described as a well written book that attempted to bring the design argument up to date, yet as a science book had failed as Pitman had ignored the evidence for evolution in the fossil record and would count anything unexplained by science as evidence for creationism." ~ Pitman's words are not evidence contrary to evolution because it dismisses evolutionary theory altogether based on the assumption of creationism, for which there is no evidence. Furthermore, he was a high school biology teacher in the city of Cambridge, not a Cambridge University professor, as your wording might suggest. I challenge you to produce a single university professor who agrees with Pitman on evolution. You have not provided scientific evidence which contradicts evolution, rather just a further example of denial from someone with a creationist agenda.

As far as Steve Jone's "Almost Like a Whale" is considered, you have cherry-picked a quotation from a book on evolution which fully supports evolutionary theory as I have outlined it. Jone's went on to explain, as I did, that the fossil record does indeed make great leaps from one species to the next, but that does not mean that these species' actually did leap from one species to the next. The reason the fossil record is like this is because we have uncovered only a small fraction of all potential fossils. Few animal remains fossilize, and even fewer are found. Like I said though, evolutionary theory does not depend on fossil evidence. Although it is full of gaps, fossil evidence consistently supports evolution as we know it.

I know what you're going to say. You're going to say that I have close-mindedly rejected your evidence. I have done no such thing. I carefully read the material you have provided and I ran a background check on your sources, coming to the conclusion that you have not yet provided objective scientific evidence which contradicts any aspect of modern evolutionary theory.


Joseph O Polanco profile image

Joseph O Polanco 18 months ago

So far as supposed hereditary clues that purportedly reveal common descent, forming dogmatic opinions on the basis of somewhere around 0.0025% of all the available genetic data is a blatantly fallacious A Dicto Simpliciter. It's lack of reasoning such as this which drove loads of scientists not that long ago to arrogantly broadcast other canards as truth. ( http://bit.ly/1dybLGl )

Remember Alchemy , Neptunism , the geocentric universe , Spontaneous Generation , Lamarckism , Emication , the existence of the planet Vulcan , Lysenkoism , Gradualism , Trepanation , Miasma principle of illness , Telegony , junk DNA, the widening earth , the existence of Phlogiston , martian canals , Luminiferous Aether , the Steady State Theory , Cold Fusion , Hollow Earth Theory , Phrenology etc., etc.?

Just one more case of the blind leading the blind in the lazy hopscotch up the non-existent incline of Mt . Preposterous . . .


nicomp profile image

nicomp 18 months ago from Ohio, USA

@Joseph O Polanco Remember the 4 humors? That was sciencey.


nicomp profile image

nicomp 18 months ago from Ohio, USA

"The most compelling evidence for evolution is in comparative anatomy and gene sequencing."

No it isn't. I'm not compelled at all. Feel free to feel compelled if you like, but feelings aren't science.


nicomp profile image

nicomp 18 months ago from Ohio, USA

" The reason the fossil record is like this is because we have uncovered only a small fraction of all potential fossils."

That's metaphysics. Oops.


Joseph O Polanco profile image

Joseph O Polanco 18 months ago

@Nicomp

lol :D


Spongy0llama profile image

Spongy0llama 18 months ago from Canada Author

It isn't enough to just say "no it isn't" if you are trying to argue against my claims. If you can't explain why gene sequencing and comparative anatomy are not compelling evidence for evolution, then you demonstrate your lack of understanding of the topics.

I won't take your plain rejection of my claims as defeat unless you can substantiate your denial with an actual argument against the evidence for evolution rather than just stating the fact that you reject it.


Spongy0llama profile image

Spongy0llama 18 months ago from Canada Author

Why do you labor under the delusion that scientists adhere to evolutionary theory dogmatically? Scientists regularly dispute the details of evolutionary processes and their implications. Darwin made certain assumptions about genetics which further investigation has since proven incorrect. He was, however, with his observations in comparative anatomy correct in his initial theory of common ancestry.

You can list as many archaic and false "sciences" as you want. Their existence does not disprove the overwhelming evidence for evolution. Scientists (and especially pseudoscientists and people pretending to be scientists) have been wrong about a lot of things. That is why science is NOT dogmatic. Science is a constant search for the truth through objective evidence, which means rejecting previous held notions which new evidence contradicts, or sheds a new light on. It just so happens that the mounting evidence continuously and consistently supports evolution as we currently understand it.

Rather than, without any real argumentative justification, lumping up evolution with the history of false science and pseudoscience, why don't you try presenting objective evidence which contradicts evolutionary theory.

If you are so bent on proving evolution wrong, do so. So far, you have done nothing but simply deny that it is scientific fact and have used secondary arguments such as devaluing the scientific method with the historical fallacies of alchemy, among other things. No, the simplest way for you to make your point is to produce whatever evidence you have which so compellingly convinces you that evolution is not a scientific fact.


nicomp profile image

nicomp 18 months ago from Ohio, USA

"It isn't enough to just say "no it isn't" if you are trying to argue against my claims. If you can't explain why gene sequencing and comparative anatomy are not compelling evidence for evolution, then you demonstrate your lack of understanding of the topics."

Sir, please understand that your use of the word "Compelling" is subjective. It's not science, it's not even objective. Feel free to use the word, but don't expect me to refute your opinion with anything else but my opinion.


nicomp profile image

nicomp 18 months ago from Ohio, USA

" Darwin ... He was, however, with his observations in comparative anatomy correct in his initial theory of common ancestry."

No, he wasn't. Particles to people has not been proven. If it was proven it'd be a law, not a theory.


Spongy0llama profile image

Spongy0llama 18 months ago from Canada Author

Accepting the theory of evolution is not my opinion, just as accepting heliocentric theory and the theory of plate tectonics is not my opinion. These are all scientific facts for which there is incontrovertible and consistent evidence. Rejecting these facts is not a matter of opinion, it's a matter of ignorance.


Spongy0llama profile image

Spongy0llama 18 months ago from Canada Author

Your misunderstanding of scientific jargon does not disprove science. "Theory" means something different in scientific terms than it does in popular usage. A scientific theory, such as evolutionary theory, is something for which evidence in favor of it as a fact has consistently diminished the likelihood of contradictory evidence to the point where it is an incontrovertible fact. Now, if you have even a single shred of evidence which contradicts evolutionary theory, I again invite you to produce it.

If you dodge this challenge again with word games and naked denial, then I can't take your objection seriously as based on objective evidence.


nicomp profile image

nicomp 18 months ago from Ohio, USA

"A scientific theory, such as evolutionary theory, is something for which evidence in favor of it as a fact has consistently diminished the likelihood of contradictory evidence to the point where it is an incontrovertible fact."

No, it's not. It's not incontrovertible fact. If that were true then we would be saying "The law of evolution" just as we say "The law of gravity."


nicomp profile image

nicomp 18 months ago from Ohio, USA

" Now, if you have even a single shred of evidence which contradicts evolutionary theory, I again invite you to produce it."

Here you go. I wrote this 2 days ago you can scroll up to see the original...

CatherineGiordano , penicillin-resistant bacteria is an example of a loss of functionality. No new structures were generated and no new information was created.


Spongy0llama profile image

Spongy0llama 18 months ago from Canada Author

You are still just playing with semantics. We know that the earth's surface is made of tectonic plates, but rather than "the law of plate tectonics", it is called the "theory of plate tectonics". Who are you to make suppositions about what scientific terms indicate as regards scientific fact? You will not find a single reputable biologist who will tell you that evolution is not scientific fact.


Spongy0llama profile image

Spongy0llama 18 months ago from Canada Author

How does this contradict the mountains of evidence which consistently support evolution? Obviously the evolutionary changes that resulted in penicillin-resistant bacteria are much less dramatic than, for example, the changes which led land mammals to evolve into cetaceans.


nicomp profile image

nicomp 18 months ago from Ohio, USA

"How does this contradict the mountains of evidence which consistently support evolution? "

Two reasons:

1. Because it has you back-tracking.

2.. Because it is commonly used by apologists to 'prove' evolution.

Why don't you address why the statement is correct or incorrect?


nicomp profile image

nicomp 18 months ago from Ohio, USA

"You will not find a single reputable biologist who will tell you that evolution is not scientific fact."

Please.

Name us one biologist who refutes evolution and explain why they are not reputable. I challenge you. Use peer-reviewed publications: Wikipedia is not a source.


Spongy0llama profile image

Spongy0llama 18 months ago from Canada Author

Microevolution of bacteria is far from the only form of evidence which supports evolution, for one thing. For another, I'm not sure what you want from me on this front. Bacteria evolving resistance to penicillin is an example of evolution. I'm not sure what else to say about it.


Spongy0llama profile image

Spongy0llama 18 months ago from Canada Author

"Name us one biologist who refutes evolution"

How would that help my argument? I actually don't know of any biologists who refute evolution; which very much supports my claim. Since you are the one trying to deny evolution, the onus is on your to produce at least one biologist who agrees with you.

The simple fact of the matter is that you know there does not exist a single contemporary peer-reviewed publication, in the field of biology, which denies the fact of evolution. This is a major blow to your stance and it doesn't make argumentative sense for you to spin it around on me and claim that my argument depends on producing a biologists who deny evolution, and then proving why they are not reputable.

Your tactics won't work on me. You won't be able to manipulate me into supporting your argument.


nicomp profile image

nicomp 18 months ago from Ohio, USA

me: "Name us one biologist who refutes evolution"

you: "How would that help my argument? I actually don't know of any biologists who refute evolution; which very much supports my claim. "

In that case you are academically lazy. You claimed all reputable biologists support (macro) evolution. As it turns out, you cannot support your claim.

I think you have reached the limit of your knowledge on this subject. It's been fun working with you. However, your inclination to make blanket statements coupled with your unwillingness to perform rudimentary research has become tedious.


Spongy0llama profile image

Spongy0llama 18 months ago from Canada Author

Explain to me how producing examples of biologists who refute evolution would support my claim that there are no biologists who refute evolution? The fact that there are no biologists who refute evolution very much supports my claim. What do you not understand here?


Joseph O Polanco profile image

Joseph O Polanco 18 months ago

It means that you're making an unfalsifiable statement.


nicomp profile image

nicomp 18 months ago from Ohio, USA

"The fact that there are no biologists who refute evolution very much supports my claim. What do you not understand here?"

As I said before, you are academically lazy. Plenty of biologists refute evolution but you don't have the focus to look at both sides of the issue. Instead, you make unfalsifiable statements and then backpedal when challenged.


Spongy0llama profile image

Spongy0llama 18 months ago from Canada Author

I'm not backpedaling. I would provide an example of a biologist who refutes evolution if it were even possible. It is not "academically lazy" not to do something which is impossible.

There are no reputable biologists who refute evolution, period. The onus on you, if you wish to disprove my claim, to provide an example of a reputable biologist who denies evolution. Again, how is it academically lazy for me to fail to provide something that doesn't exist? Present evidence to the contrary, and I will open-mindedly consider it.


nicomp profile image

nicomp 18 months ago from Ohio, USA

As I said earlier, this has become tedious. If I named a reputable biologist who denies macro-evolution, you would simply deny that person is reputable.


Spongy0llama profile image

Spongy0llama 18 months ago from Canada Author

Unlike you, who consistently makes unsubstantiated denials, I would certainly provide my evidence and reasoning for denying his/her reputability.

Within the context of your refusal to produce an example, "this has become tedious" translates into "I accept defeat."


nicomp profile image

nicomp 18 months ago from Ohio, USA

"Within the context of your refusal to produce an example, "this has become tedious" translates into "I accept defeat.""

OK.


Spongy0llama profile image

Spongy0llama 18 months ago from Canada Author

Thank you for supporting my hub with your consistent engagement :)


nicomp profile image

nicomp 18 months ago from Ohio, USA

To be clear, I do not support this hub in any way save as a platform to correct you. Your logic is flawed, your research is lazy, and you demonstrate no willingness to examine any point of view with which you disagree. Your "I accept defeat" comment is particularly childish: I deal with a lot of children so I know what I'm talking about.

On the bright side, this is America. You have the blessed freedom to be silly on the Internet. So you have that going for you.


Spongy0llama profile image

Spongy0llama 18 months ago from Canada Author

The sad thing is, you think you're right. Anyway, I have to leave for a 12-day deployment off the grid, so I won't be able to respond again for two weeks or so.

P.S. If you don't think I examined the points of view with which I disagree, check over my hubs and comments again, since you've clearly missed something. Also, correct me? If you can find an example of a single biologist who denies evolution as I have explained it, then we will have something to talk about. And you say my research is lazy...


nicomp profile image

nicomp 18 months ago from Ohio, USA

Have a nice deployment. Stay safe.


nicomp profile image

nicomp 17 months ago from Ohio, USA

It's amusing that evolutionists still roll out the "if evolution is true, why are there still monekees..." no one ever says that.


tranthanhlam profile image

tranthanhlam 17 months ago from Ho Chi Minh city, Vietnam

that' svery interesting viewpoint. have bookmarked this.


Spongy0llama profile image

Spongy0llama 17 months ago from Canada Author

Actually, they do. I have heard it many times.


Greensleeves Hubs profile image

Greensleeves Hubs 5 months ago from Essex, UK

A nice, easy to follow and understand, explanation of why these misconceptions about evolution are exactly that - misconceptions. In the process you also give good insights into how scientific methodology works to gradually refine theory in the light of new evidence. Of course Jake, you will only ever convince those with an open mind, as is clear from the exchanges in the comments section, but it is good that you have laid down rebuttals to six of the most common misconceptions used in arguments which attempt to dismiss evolution. Thanks.

I note that you have not been active on HubPages for some time Jake. I trust that all is well and that you are writing elsewhere. Hope to see you here again sometime. Best wishes, Alun


nicomp profile image

nicomp 5 months ago from Ohio, USA

"Of course Jake, you will only ever convince those with an open mind, as is clear from the exchanges in the comments section, "

I love the inference that if I disagree then I must have a closed mind.


Greensleeves Hubs profile image

Greensleeves Hubs 5 months ago from Essex, UK

Somehow I could have predicted that you would comment very soon nicomp. It was just a matter of how many minutes it would take. 93 is the answer. :)


nicomp profile image

nicomp 5 months ago from Ohio, USA

I wouldn't miss it!


Spongy0llama profile image

Spongy0llama 5 months ago from Canada Author

Thank you Alun. I plan on writing again soon. I have some very different topics in mind. Thank you as well Nicomp. We don't agree, but I appreciate the engagement.


nicomp profile image

nicomp 5 months ago from Ohio, USA

You rock. How was the deployment?

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