It is evolution, baby! And it happened!by Don Lacey on Aug. 01, 2012, under Creationism, Critical Thinking, Education, Environment, Evolution, Freethought, History, Logic, Materialism, Reason, Science, Willful Ignorance
He’d also wanted to say, “Special thanks to Aron Ra for providing me with the mallard example.”
“Come on pretty baby won’t you take a chance, Be my natural selection, dance dance dance
Exorcise your demons with that monkey friend, Because we’re gonna inherit the wind”
-New York Dolls, Dance Like a Monkey
In a recent conversation with a Creationist, the individual asserted that evolution was not true because it never was observed. He told me, “No one has ever observed the transmutation of one species into another.” I replied that he was wrong, and elaborated as follows:
In lake Malawi, there are parts of the lake that did not exist until flooding in the 1800′s and there are now fish species of Chiclid—a freshwater fish—that are indigenous specifically to those parts of the lake. We have also observed the emergence of a new species of flowering plant called the Mimulus that has developed the ability to live in copper mine tailings that were not present until 1859. Furthermore, what do you think happens when bacteria, become resistant to new drugs? We now know dogs are descended from wolves and that corn is descended from a grass called Teosinte. Both developed as a result of selective breeding by humans. You can dismiss these as minor changes but they are actually quite drastic and there is no reason why they cannot accumulate into bigger changes. It happens so slowly you do not notice it occurring.
There are also the ring species where species have diversified over space rather than time. For example, in California’s central valley there is a continuous population of Ensatina salamanders in a sort of geographic horseshoe. Subpopulations that live next each other in the horseshoe can interbreed while those on the opposite ends cannot. This same thing has been observed with Larus Gulls around the Arctic Circle, Greenish Warblers in the Himalayas, deer mice populations in North America and various others.
Furthermore, instead of appearing as discreet kinds living things appear in the exact type of nested hierarchy that one would expect if they were created through a branching process, like evolution. For example, the mallard is one of many species of duck. Ducks are part of a larger group of similar birds that also includes geese and swans. These water birds are a specific subset of birds and in general. Birds are a specific subset of the group vertebrata which also includes fish, reptiles, amphibians, and mammals. All these vertebrates are a subset of the group chordata, which includes not only the vertebrates but other animals with notochords, dorsal nerve cords, pharyngeal slits, and a post-anal tail in all or some parts of their life cycle, such as sea squirts, and lancelets. These chordates are still a subset of a larger group the dueterostomes which are part of a larger group Animalia that includes all animals. This in turn is part of a larger group Eukarya, which includes all lifeforms with a cellular nucleus.
Nowhere is the hierarchy broken. We do not see mammals with feathers, birds with chlorophyll, or bats with dragonfly wings. We never see mixes of features from distantly separated parts of the hierarchy, such as griffins, centaurs or Pegasus or crocoducks. We do however see life forms that manage to straddle to close connected groups of the hierarchy. For example, platypuses have mammalian fur, endothermic metabolism, primitive milk glands, and yet they retain a reptilian reproductive system. Other living creatures that do this, are lungfish.
There are also countless fossilized life forms that straddle adjacent groups in the taxonomically hierarchy. We have a near a substantial record of the transitions between land mammals and whales, fish and amphibians, different types of reptiles, reptiles and birds, reptiles and mammals, and different groups of mammals, and the transition between humans and non-human primates. Furthermore, the geographic, distribution of living things on earth, as well as the distribution of genes is exactly what we would expect to find if life diversified in an evolutionary branching process. There are in fact so many examples that elaborating on them would greatly lengthen this blog. Feel free to ask for more details in the comments if you like.
Everything I describe here is exactly what we would expect to see if evolution is true. There is no reason why a creator would organize his creations in such a way, unless he badly wanted it to look like he used evolution. When we look at things that are intelligently designed they do not obey strict branching patterns. For example, one could start a rock band, that adds Scottish bagpipes, Indian Sitars, and Tuvan throat singing to its sound or design a car, with a Chevy body and a Ford engine.
The evidence for evolution is overwhelming. However, for some Creationists no amount of evidence would be sufficient to change their minds.