What is Evolution?

Discussion in 'Creation vs. Evolution' started by Pearl, Feb 23, 2002.

  1. Pearl

    Pearl
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    PEARL

    I have been going to a Baptist Church all my life. I still want to know what is evolution? I believe in Creation but when some of the teachers at school talk about evolution I don't know what to say or how to defend Creation because I don't understand evolution? Do I need to or should I stick with quoting Gen. 1:1.

    Pearl :confused:

    [ February 23, 2002: Message edited by: Administrator ]
     
  2. Dr. Bob

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    I am moving this to the Creation Forum so that some there might explain evolution to this dear saint. :cool:
     
  3. Administrator2

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    HELEN

    Hi Pearl,

    The word "evolution" actually only means "change." And, of course there are changes we can see all around us. No children look exactly like their parents. A dog can have a litter of puppies that are all different from each other.

    This sort of change is called "variation," and it is something that is "built in" each kind of animal.

    But this is not the kind of thing that will change a bacteria into a bear! And yet, that is essentially what the larger term 'evolution' is trying to say. The idea of evolution is that all of life started on earth with some kind of one-celled organism which, through mutations (changes in its genes) and natural selection (some varieties were successful and some weren't due to a variety of circumstances) gradually changed it in enough different directions to become every kind of life we see today as well as the kinds we don't see but are in the fossil record.

    In contrast, Genesis says that God created each life form by kind. This means there was an original population of each basic kind of plant and animal and that although variation may occur, and has occurred, a departure from that basic kind will not happen.

    As an example, dogs. Wolves, dogs, coyotes, etc. are all considered to be the same kind. We know they can interbreed, and do when the opportunity arises. But they remain the 'dog kind' and never vary out of it. We can get dogs as different as chihuahuas or St. Bernards, but we recognize them still as dogs, start to finish.

    Evolution says that eventually it might be expected that there would be enough variation in the dog kind that it would finally end up resulting in something that was not a dog in perhaps several million years.

    Creation says "Impossible."

    That is the basic argument where biology is concerned.

    You will hear the term "evolution" used several different ways, however. You will hear that the universe evolved -- meaning it changed through time. People even talk about things like computers evolving, meaning they, also, have changed in the past years.

    Where nature is concerned, the term "evolution" ALWAYS means that the changes occurred through natural and material means -- or, in other words, that no supernatural force had anything to do with it, including God.

    This again, is directly in opposition to creation which says that God is present and active here and now and always has been. We know He established the laws by which nature works, so we can look for natural causes for most things. But the Bible tells us that there are a few things which do not have natural causes, but which came straight from God's creative hand: time, space and mass. And life in all its basic forms.

    And man. Evolution says we are evolved from an ape-like ancestor. The Bible says we were created directly and uniquely by God.

    A lot of the arguments on this forum are kind of technical. Don't worry about them. It's all of us fussing with one another.

    Go back to some of the very earliest posts, four pages back, and look at some of the earliest discussions. This will help you see what all the different positions are and who believes what and why.

    And please feel free to email me if there is any way I can help you see your way through all this.

    One last word. There are a number of people who feel that creation and evolution can mix. The way they do this is to say that evolution simply means that all the variations combined to make big changes in life forms.

    The technical words are "a change in allele frequency over time". "Alleles" are variations of one gene. It's why some people have brown eyes and some have blue and some are hazel, etc. But if you think about it, you know you can change eye color all you want but never change the eye itself. Variation is the first and evolution is the second. One does not lead to the other.

    At least that's what us creationists say!

    Evolutionists disagree violently! They say the small changes can pile up on one another to make very large changes.

    We've never seen it happen, even with little bacteria.

    God bless you.

    Helen

    [email protected]
     
  4. Administrator2

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    THE BARBARIAN

    A. Evolution is a change in allele frequency over time. That is, it is a
    change in the genes from one generation to the next. Individuals don't
    evolve; the change comes with each offspring, each of which is a bit
    different than all other members of it's species.

    B. This definition, while quite true, is a bit misleading. It's like saying
    that chemistry is about the interactions of matter. That's also true, but
    it simplifies it to the point that it tells you almost nothing about it.

    C. New species and genera can evolve. (when a species sufficiently different
    evolves, it is placed in a different genus, or grouping of species).

    D. The above evolution is usually referred to as "microevolution" by
    creationists. They hypothesize that there is some kind of wall between
    "kinds". Science has been unable to demonstrate such a wall, and most
    scientists do not think that observed "microevolution" is in any way
    different than "macroevolution" that takes a longer time.

    E. Natural selection, although not the driving force behind all evolution,
    was the major discovery that explained why life diversified. It was
    co-discovered by Darwin and Wallace. Basicly, it works like this:

    We know every organism is somewhat different than either of its parents. We
    know that some of these differences make an organism more or less fit to
    survive long enough to leave offspring of its own. Those that make it less
    so, tend to be removed, and those that make it more so tend to be preserved
    and become increasingly common.

    "Fitness" has meaning only in the context of the environment. An organism
    that is very fit in one environment may be unable to survive in a different
    one. So very stable environments tend to have rather stable populations.
    Indeed, if an organism is well fitted to the environment,and the environment
    stays the same, natural selection will actually prevent evolution.

    Remember also, that natural selection only works to pick out those
    individuals who can survive long enough to leave viable offspring. Nothing
    else counts. It doesn't necessarily involve and increase in complexity,
    "improvement", or other things. Just picks ones that live long enough to
    leave another generation.

    Speciation is the key to diversity. Speciation results in increasing
    inability for the diverging populations to interbreed. Some species can
    readily interbreed, but usually don't. Over time, as mutation and allele
    distributions make the species increasingly dissimilar, they eventually get
    to the point where no viable crosses are possible. Over time, they become
    more an more dissimilar, until they form new genera, families, orders,
    classes, and phyla.

    I won't go over the evidence for this here. It is abundant and
    well-documented. A good textbook that is neither too technical nor
    oversimplified is "Process and Pattern in Evolution" by Charlotte Avers. I
    would not suggest reading "Origin of Species" to start, as it is very
    technical, and full of detail that would be a little tough for a
    non-biologist.

    Then check out a book by a creationist. Compare and think about it.

    I hope this has been useful. Good luck in your investigation.

    [ March 02, 2002, 01:48 AM: Message edited by: Administrator ]
     
  5. Administrator2

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    RADIOCHEMIST

    Pearl,
    Without getting into an academic definition (and there are some)
    evolution is simply the change that takes place in plants and
    animals over long periods of time. We do not see any change
    in our lifetime, ordinarily, but the theory of evolution suggests
    that plants and animals do change over time. For instance, deer
    may become swifter, develop longer legs etc. This might be due to
    natural selection that eliminates deer that are not fast enough
    to escape wolves and other predators. Most creationists will agree
    that slight changes like this can take place. Where creationists
    and evolutionists disagree is whether an accumulation of such small
    changes can change a deer into something that is not recognizable
    as a deer. Linked to evolution is the idea of vast periods of time.
    Many creationists think that the earth is only a few thousand
    years old. This view runs smack into scientific evidence
    that the earth is several billion years old and therefore allows
    plenty of time for slow evolutionary changes to take place.
     
  6. Administrator2

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    JOE MEERT

    Pearl,

    You asked a good question and one I hope to answer. Evolution, simply
    defined, is change. In the realm of biological evolution, the definition is
    'change in genetic material through time'. It is something that is
    observable every single day. Unfortunately, this simple idea has been
    transformed to mean many different things to different people. Young-earth
    creationists accept evolution, but only up to a certain point. They would
    define 'evolution' as 'variation in genetic material'. They then place a
    limit (not ever clearly defined) on how much variation can take place within
    an organism. They are loathe to completely define the limits of evolution
    because it leads to some rather uncomfortable positions. For example, they
    would claim that all variety of species we see today, are descended from two
    (or seven) animals on the ark. In some cases, the type of evolution that
    must have taken place in their flood scenario makes the 'real evolution'
    pale in terms of the number and speed of changes we observe in the fossil
    record.

    For its part, biological evolution does not mean you must reject God or
    Christianity. Many devout fundamentalist Christians (including Baptists)
    accept that evolution is the tool for how God created. Other Christians
    cannot accept this answer because, in their opinion, God is not capable of
    creating in this manner.
     
  7. Administrator2

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    MR. BEN

    Pearl:

    I have been going to a Baptist Church all my life. I still want to know what is evolution? I believe in Creation but when some of the teachers at school talk about evolution I don't know what to say or how to defend Creation because I don't understand evolution? Do I need to or should I stick with quoting Gen. 1:1.

    Ben:

    It is important to understand what evolution is before you argue against it. Your arguments will be more intelligent, and are more likely to make sense to those you are arguing against.

    Put simply, evolution to most people is the theory that all life on earth came from a single common ancestor. That every living thing can trace it's ancestry back to primitive cells living many hundreds of millions of years ago.

    Evolution works through the processes of mutation, where small changes naturally occur in the genes of animals and plants which make them different from their parents, and selection, in which the plants and animals which survive better have more children or offspring.

    We know that mutations happen over time in creatures. In fact you have about 2-5 muttions yourself probably, and your children will carry these mutations with them as well as add their own new mutations. Most mutations don't do anything.. they're harmless, of those that 'do' change something, many are fatal, many more are slightly harmful, but some of them just change something.. for instance the size of your foot, or the color of your eyes, or how your blood clotting works.

    We also know that in the natural world, more animals and plants are born than can possibly survive, and the difference between the ones that survive and have children and the ones that die are often small differences in how they are shaped, behave, and live such as caused by mutations.

    When mutations make an individual less likely to survive, that individual doesn't have many children, and the mutations aren't passed on. But when some of these naturally occuring mutations change these differences for the better, those individuals have more children, and the mutations (changes) tend to be passed on to new generations.

    Charles Darwin did not invent the idea of evolution, but he was one of the first persons to describe exactly how it worked. His idea of "mutations plus natural selection" that I've described above is simple and explains how species of plants and animals change over time. Darwin didn't even know about DNA when he thought of his theory, but later when genes were discovered, and then DNA, we learned exactly how evolution works in animals.

    Obviously the idea that all animals were related, and that human beings evolved from more primitive primates, was not very popular at the time, even with scientists. There were many people who simply refused to even think about the idea. It made people feel less special, and made them feel like they were just like the animals. Most Christians at the time even stated that it went against the Bible and God's teachings. Even today this is why most people still don't even want to think about the idea.

    It is important to remember that evolution doesn't say that existing animals turn into each other. That a crocodile will turn into a horse. Evolution simply says that in the past, there was an animal that was the "common anscestor" of both horses and crocodiles, and that this species split into two species long ago.. one of them leading to mammals (horses, dogs, etc.) and one of them leading to reptiles (crocodiles, lizards, snakes). Evolution never crosses the branches, it always starts at the root and branches out. In fact, the common anscestor of mammals (horses), and crocodiles (reptiles) had some of the characteristics of both horses and lizards. It reproduced with eggs, it had four legs, a skull, vertebrae, and other common aspects that all mammals and all reptiles have.

    In the future it's possible that regular horses might be the anscestor of a wide variety of species that are very different from the species that are descended from donkeys or zebras. These species are very similar today, but as time passes, the descendents of each of these species will probably change and become quite different just like the ancient reptiles that gradually became mammals and crocodiles. They will, however, still be "equines" (horses), and like mammals and crocodiles, still have the basic characteristics of their common anscestor as horses and crocodiles do (i.e. primitive reptiles).

    Scientists think that evolution is true because of some very important evidence:

    1. The fossil record: The most important evidence is that we see in the ground fossils of life in a very specific order from simple animals and plants to more complex. We only see certain animals in certain layers in the ground from bottom to top, and it is the same everywhere in the world. The order of the fossils in the ground matches perfectly the order of evolution, and also the similarity of animals to each other. The fossil record is the record of how life on the planet changed over a very long time, and it shows very clearly how the animals and plants in the past evolved and branched into the animals and plants we see today.

    2. Transitional fossils: The fossil record is full of fossils of animals that have characteristics of two or more species found later in the fossil record. We have early reptiles which show the primitive characteristics of later reptiles, early dinosaur birds which show the characteristics of birds as well as dinosaurs, and many others. These fossils are snapshots of evolution in action.

    3. Nested hierchy of animals: If evolution were false, we would expect there to be no real relationships between animals. Different kinds of animals should not show any patterns of being more similar or less similar to any other. Instead, we find that animals are related in what is called a 'nested hierarchy', or a tree. All animals are closely related to many other animals because they share basic body forms and characteristics, they are less closely related to a set of other animals that share more broad characteristics and forms, etc. This tree like nature of all animals is good indication that they are part of one family, and that they have evolved over time.

    4. Genetic similarities: Recently scientists have found that not only do animals 'look' similar to each other, but that their DNA is also similar the more closely related by evolution they are. This means that we have 98% of the same genes that chimpanzes do. And that all animals have genes that are similar to each other in proportion to how long ago they shared a common ancestor.

    5. Evidence of Human Evolution: There are a large set of human fossils that have been found over the world. These fossils show a progression in time from primitive primates which walked, to primates with better hands and larger brians, to tool using human like primates that still were not human, to primitive and modern humans. These fossils are found in layers in the last 2 million years, and are found in order of closeness to human beings, with more primitive fossils found lower and more human like found higher. This is clear evidence that these fossils are part of our own evolutionary history, and may be 'cousin' species, or even species that are our direct ancestors.

    If you would like to know more about evolution, the arguments for it, as well as the arguments against it, I would recommend you visit the www.talkorigins.org web site. There are also many creationists web sites on the internet such as www.answersingenesis.com, and the www.icr.com you can find the arguments for and against evolution there.

    However, you should know that as far as biology and paleontology are concerned, the question of whether evolution happened has been settled long ago. Science accepts that the evidences for evolution are sufficient and overwhelming. There is no debate in science on evolution and hasn't been for some time. The debate is with certain types of Christians and with other religious faiths (Islam in particular) who accept a literal interpretation of their scriptures or faith as stating that evolution can not have happened.
     
  8. Administrator2

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    RUFUSATTICUS:

    Hi Pearl,

    My first suggestion is that you simply ask your biology teacher to explain
    the process to you. You might also try reading ahead in your biology book.

    Evolutionary biology concerns the apparent diversity of life. The first
    thing you need to understand is that evolution is both a fact and a theory.
    The fact of evolution is that populations of organisms change over
    time. This is readily apparent in the fossil record and in observations of
    living organisms. The theory of evolution explains the observed fact
    of evolution. Evolutionary theory involves mutation, natural selection,
    genetic drift, and migration among other things. Talk.Origins

    ( http://www.talkorigins.com)
    is a great site with documents concerning
    evolution. I highly suggest that you read their wonderful introduction to
    evolutionary biology:

    http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/faq-intro-to-biology.html.

    Feel free to email me at [email protected], if you have any questions.

    -RvFvS (PhD student in Evolutionary Biology)
     
  9. Administrator2

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    HELEN
    I rather object to the consistent refrain that objections to evolution
    are based upon biblical faith. First of all, there are an awful lot of
    people objecting to evolution who have no interest in the Bible at all,
    such as Muslims and a number of agnostics, ably represented by Michael
    Denton.

    Secondly, for those of us who are Christians involved in the sciences,
    objections to evolution do not depend on the Bible at all, but on the
    simple evidence in the material, natural world.

    It is a straw man extraordinaire to make the claim that
    anti-evolutionists are that way because of faith in or worship of the
    Bible.

    It is a similar straw man to claim that accepting the Bible for what it
    claims to be – God’s holy and inspired word – is worshiping it rather
    than God. That ranks in line right with the accusation that the woman
    who receives a letter from her beloved who is off at war, and who then
    goes to bed with the letter under her pillow perhaps, or only after
    reading it over again each night, is loving the letter instead of her
    beloved. In each case the written word is a message from someone dearly
    loved, and is considered that way, but not as an object of affection in
    and of itself.
     
  10. Administrator2

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    THE BARBARIAN

    I noticed this in the above thread:

    Helen
    [i/]I rather object to the consistent refrain that objections to evolution
    are based upon biblical faith. First of all, there are an awful lot of
    people objecting to evolution who have no interest in the Bible at all, such
    as Muslims and a number of agnostics, ably represented by Michael Denton.
    [/i]

    I note that the only people who object to evolution are those with religious
    reasons to do so. It certainly isn't based on Biblical faith per se, or
    there would be more than a minority of Christians objecting to it.
    Obviously, Muslims might also have religious objections, with those who take
    a different view of their holy scripture having the same basis as those who
    take a particular view of the Bible.

    Denton, based on his current writings, is certainly an evolutionist. In
    "Nature's Destiny", he defends the notion of common descent. Orthodox IDers
    like Dembski aren't too happy with that.

    I am not aware of any agnostic who also denies evolution. There are a good
    number of people of all faiths (or none at all) who object to parts of
    existing evolutionary theory, but I am not familiar with any who don't think
    evolution is a fact.

    Michael Denton might have rejected evolution a few years ago, but science
    doesn't stand still. As new discoveries come in, our knowledge changes.
    And Denton changed with it.
     
  11. Administrator2

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    JHAPPEL

    I note that the only people who object to evolution are those
    with religious reasons to do so.


    I also noted that the vast majority of people who reject ID are
    atheists because of the philosophical implications on them.

    It certainly isn't based on Biblical faith per se, or
    there would be more than a minority of Christians objecting to it.


    When you say a "minority" of Chrsitians do so I would like to see
    where you get such ridiculous information. In a Gallop poll a few years ago
    only about 10% of the population in the US said they believe in completely
    naturalistic evolution unguided by God. I would hardly call that a minority
    of Christians.

    Obviously, Muslims might also have religious objections, with
    those who take a different view of their holy scripture having the same
    basis as those who
    take a particular view of the Bible.


    In think regardless of what someone's holy book says the evidence
    for design in nature is overwhelming just by looking at the DNA molecule.
    Those that reject design do so in spite of the evidence not becuase.

    Denton, based on his current writings, is certainly an
    evolutionist. In
    "Nature's Destiny", he defends the notion of common descent. Orthodox IDers
    like Dembski aren't too happy with that.


    Denton has always been committed to common descent. He rejects
    Neo-Darwinism. This is the same Denton who wrote Evolution a Theory in
    Crisis
    . His opinions in that wonderful book have not changed and the
    arguments are still valid .

    I am not aware of any agnostic who also denies evolution. There
    are a good number of people of all faiths (or none at all) who object to
    parts of
    existing evolutionary theory, but I am not familiar with any who don't think
    evolution is a fact.


    I assume you mean you are not aware of agnostic's who reject common
    descent. I certainly would not find that surprising. What other
    alternatives do the naturalists have outside of some form of common descent?
    I don't think too many people will support quantum tunneling creating an
    elephant out of nothing or anything along that line so common descent is
    pretty much the only possible naturalistic theory people can think of. So
    if you aren't a theist your pretty much stuck with common descent.

    Michael Denton might have rejected evolution a few years ago, but
    science doesn't stand still. As new discoveries come in, our knowledge
    changes.
    And Denton changed with it.


    JHAPPEL: Please give me one quote where Denton says he believes in any form
    of supernatural creation.
     

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