Apologia for Evolution

A departure from politics today. I’ve encountered a barrage of anti-evolution comments and websites recently, so I felt like I had to respond. The easiest way seems to be to debunk some of the worst and most common arguments against evolution. Just a note, I’m feeling snarky today, so edit out the snark if you’re actually arguing with a creationist.

Scientists don’t agree about evolution.
If you mean that the Institute for Creation Research paid a grand total of 80 “scientists” to put their names on a list of “creation scientists,” then yes, scientists don’t agree about evolution. If you mean scientists aren’t sure exactly how life began, then yes. If, on the other hand, you mean that any serious researcher has endorsed creationism or intelligent design, then no.

Evolution conflicts with the second law of thermodynamics, since disorder cannot come from disorder.
Somebody needs a remedial lesson in elemental physics. The second law (ΔS≥0, where ΔS is the change in entropy) means that total entropy cannot decrease in a closed system. Too bad for creationism that neither the earth nor an organism is a closed system. We decrease our entropy whenever we eat or excrete.

Evolution is just a theory.
Look in the dictionary, dumbass. Note: Do not think out loud when talking to creationists. Might I suggest, good sir, that you look at the dictionary

Main Entry: the·o·ry
Pronunciation: ‘thE-&-rE, ‘thir-E
Function: noun
Inflected Form(s): plural -ries
Etymology: Late Latin theoria, from Greek theOria, from theOrein
1 : the analysis of a set of facts in their relation to one another
2 : abstract thought : SPECULATION
3 : the general or abstract principles of a body of fact, a science, or an art
4 a : a belief, policy, or procedure proposed or followed as the basis of action b : an ideal or hypothetical set of facts, principles, or circumstances — often used in the phrase in theory
5 : a plausible or scientifically acceptable general principle or body of principles offered to explain phenomena
6 a : a hypothesis assumed for the sake of argument or investigation b : an unproved assumption : CONJECTURE c : a body of theorems presenting a concise systematic view of a subject

Look again at definition five again. And then, remember the theory of gravity, cell theory and atomic theory. Calling an idea a “theory” is the highest compliment you can give something in science

Nobody’s ever seen it.
Lie. We have seen many species evolve, including bacteria, viruses, finches, and probably others that I can’t think of at the moment.

Well, yes, but that’s microevolution, not monkeys turning into humans
Alright, let’s go with the finch example. We start with a normal, everyday house finch. A change in climate means that smaller seeds get rarer, while bigger seeds get more common. Responding to the pressure, the finch species evolves to have a larger beak (we have seen exactly this scenario). Well, the climate changes again, and even big seeds get rare. Gradually, the finch evolves to take advantage of other food sources, like grubs. The beak becomes long and pointed. Well, the grubs become rare as well, and the finch’s beak evolves to become hooked so it can catch frogs. Well, now that the finch has a hunter’s beak, it can take advantage of larger prey, which offers it more versatility. So, the finch becomes an eagle.

Wait, what you’re describing sounds like Intelligent Design! You do believe in creationism!
Sigh. Now is when I regret the English language’s lack of a robust passive tense and tendency to anthropomorphize. Each time I say “the finch’s beak becomes [whatever],” I’m really saying that “the finch’s offspring that have more [whatever] beaks because of random mutations are more likely to survive, perpetuating the mutation.” I’m tired. Sue me.

The earth is young, and carbon dating is inaccurate.
Carbon dating is inaccurate in the sense that you might miss the date by a few hundred years, not a big deal when the earth is a few billion years old. Besides, no one uses carbon to date the earth. They use uranium, thorium, or radium instead. In any case, redshift and other methods of dating the universe give us an origin several billions of years ago anyway.

Intelligent design solves problems that evolution can’t.
Well, not really. I’ll focus on the two main arguments, the eye and the flagellum. Creationists/intelligent designers love the eye because they say it’s “perfect” and couldn’t work without all its parts. Well, first, God is either a sadist or incompetent if he created the eye. The optic nerve comes straight out of the back of the eyeball rather than the side, leaving us with a big ol’ blind spot in the middle of our field of vision, and a tendency for the retina to peel off. And don’t tell me that it’s God’s punishment or something. Just don’t.

The eye, moreover does work when parts are removed, and there are animals with those parts. The eye started as a patch of photosensitive pigment that allowed certain animals to sense when the sun was out. Then a cup formed to protect the pigments. Then a clear covering formed. The covering thickened and became a lens. Muscles evolved to change the lense’s shape and aperture, and we have the vertebrate eye. The flagellum is much harder for me to explain since I haven’t studied it, but this article has a summary, if you can wade through it. Suffice it to say that protein gradually changed from a pump to a mode of locomotion

I have a right to teach my children my faith, so they should teach the controversy about evolution.
What controversy was that, again? Oh yeah, the one manufactured by Christian fundamentalists to get religion in science classes. Yes, you have a right to teach your children what you want. You can tell them that the pyramids were built by aliens (though I wish you wouldn’t). But you don’t have a right to teach my (future) children pseudoscience.

Evolution contradicts the Bible.
The Bible was written by old men who ate the wrong mushrooms. Sorry, thinking out loud again. Actually, it really doesn’t. First of all, there is no explanation in the Bible as to how Logos created the universe and living creatures, it could have been by evolution. As well, the six days can’t be 24 hour days, since the sun wasn’t created until the fourth. Finally, there’s the quote that “a thousand years in [God’s] sight are like a day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the night.”

Scientists are atheists and demon worshipers, and you can’t convince me. I’m not listening lalalala.
Atheist demon worshipers? That’s like a gay robot, or compassionate conservative. Have you been in the sacramental wine again?

And, I left my favorite for last (I’ve heard this one personally):
Well, if evolution is the survival of the fittest, why has no animal evolved telekinesis, or the ability to teleport? That would certainly make them fit.
Maybe because it’s against the laws of physics? But seriously, what are you on?

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4 Comments »

  1. David Chapman said

    Saying that evolution is only a theory is like saying that those crappy bricks in Fort Knox are only gold.

  2. Antiquated Tory said

    Just a small note about ‘Scientists don’t agree about evolution’: If you mean that scientists have hella arguments about different evolutionary theories or how to construct a particular clade, this is dead true. If you mean that scientists don’t agree about the validity of the basic, underlying theory of evolution through natural selection, then you are too ignorant for this conversation.

  3. Carlton said

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  4. […] with spears will protect us from those giant morphing moths? Matilda will tell us. Jeffrey presents Apologia for Evolution posted at The Soggy Liberal. While some of it might be material we heard before, it never hurts to […]

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