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Evolution/Biologists against evolution

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QUESTION: Hi Dana,

In the below video, the speaker quotes that several biologists were  against evolution. (please see from 4:31 time)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sonEvHTc59c

Are the references given by the speaker accurate?

ANSWER: Dear Mohd,

Wow.  I don't really want to insult the speaker, but he has NO clue about evolutionary theory or mechanisms.

I'll go point by point on his contentions:

1. He has never read a book that says "fact of evolution".  It is always "theory of evolution".

This gentleman apparently does not understand the meaning of "theory" in science.  A scientific theory is not a vague notion, nor an educated guess (a hypothesis).  A theory is a general principle that is used to make predictions.

Second, evolution is *not* a theory.  It is a process that we can see going on every day in the species around us.  The only thing that is theoretical about evolution is exactly how it happens.  Darwin's idea was not the species evolved.  Lots of people before him had that idea.  His idea was that evolution proceeds primarily be means of a process called natural selection.  

We now know that natural selection is occurring all around us all the time.  It is not the ONLY mechanism by which evolution (descent with modification) can happen, but it is a very important one that results in species being well-suited to the environment in which they live and have offspring.

2.  Darwin's finches are all the same species.

This is ridiculous.  He does not understand the definition of a species, which is a "group of similar organisms that can breed in nature to produce fertile, viable offspring."

Darwin's finches are distinct species that have evolved from a single, common ancestral species.  You can read more about this here:

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/evolution/library/01/6/l_016_02.html

3.  Darwin himself did not "believe" in natural selection

I do not have access to the particular letter of which he speaks.  But yes, Darwin--like any good scientist--did not "believe" in his theory.  A theory is not like religion, which requires belief.  A theory is something a scientist uses to make predictions that allow construction of rigorous experiments that *test* that theory via hypotheses related to the theory.

So when Darwin was saying he was not sure, he was being a good, objective scientist, and not falling so in love with his own idea that he was unwilling to consider that he might be wrong.

Since Darwin's time, however, the theory of evolution by means of natural selection has been put to the test countless times, and it is clear that this mechanism is in operation around us all the time.  It is a process by which evolution proceeds.

4.  Scientists support the "theory of evolution" (sic) not because they believe it, but because it is against the Bible.

This is so ridiculous it's hard to even address.  Science and religion really cannot co-exist if this is how some speaker who obviously has power over a lot of people will twist the truth.

Science is about finding the truth by *trying to prove things wrong*.  You cannot prove a scientific hypothesis.  You can only experiment to test it, and then either reject it or fail to reject it.  This speaker simply does not understand the scientific method.  If you are not familiar with the scientific method, please read this illustrated explanation:

http://www.bio.miami.edu/dana/dox/scientific_method.html

5.  There are four hominids.  

Yeesh.  Where do I even START here.  This guy is so misinformed that the video is painful to watch.  It's like watching some of those fundamentalist Christian preachers who are as ignorant as this guy.

First there was "Lucy" and then there was "Australopithecus" and then came Homo sapiens "which died about 500,000 years ago"?!?!  "There is no link at all between these species"?!

Ouch.

Has he looked in a mirror?  HE is a Homo sapiens.  We all are Homo sapiens.  And we did not evolve from Lucy or Australopithecus or monkeys.  However, all primates share a *common ancestor* whose population migrated, branched and evolved into the modern primate species (and the extinct ones) we know today.  The gibberish he spouts here is so completely wrong that I don't think there's a correct sentence in this section.  It's hard to know how to even *start* critiquing him because everything he says is so completely incorrect.

You might find this interesting:

http://www.bio.miami.edu/dana/107/107F11_4.html

6.  "If homosexuality is genetic, how could Allah blame us?"

Exactly.  There is ample evidence that homosexuality (at least in males) has a strong genetic component.  So no one should be reviled for his/her biological nature.  Homosexuality is inborn, not learned or chosen.  The data are not yet complete, but that's how science works:  we find evidence, and then ask more questions, challenging those questions with experiments until we find out the truth.  A good scientist does not assume anything to be true at the outset.  S/he has to have scientific evidence.  

All the evidence is not yet in.  But so far, data weigh heavily on the side of homosexuality being a biological condition (not a disorder, mind you).

*****

Overall, his answer to that question showed nothing more clearly than his ignorance of (or choice to ignore) scientific data that has been gathered rigorously and meticulously.  Who are these "hundreds of scientists" who "disagree with Darwin"?  Does he have a list?  I didn't see one.  He is asking us to take his word as fact without providing any evidence.

That is religion, not science.  


Finally, I would strongly recommend that you tour this excellent site, "Common misconceptions about evolution", provided by the University of California at Berkeley Museum of Paleontology:

http://evolution.berkeley.edu/evosite/misconceps/index.shtml

I hope this helps.

Sincerely,

Dana

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Hi Dana,

Thanks for your reply. But is it not true that there are biologist who have PhDs still deny evolution. Please see below links.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dcjglx4Lt1k

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a2RZzyFTTXo



Regards,

Answer
Dear Mohd,

Yes, there are a few outliers who have come to doubt that evolution has happened or is happening. And sometimes they have impressive credentials. That doesn't automatically mean they are correct.

The fact that we do not have all the answers does not mean that the answers are not out there, waiting for us to find and understand them.

Wells and Kenyon fail to mention Eldredge and Gould's idea of punctuated equilibrium, which could conceivably go a long way towards explaining the Cambrian Explosion.  

And no, we don't yet know how life on earth originated.  But some researchers are getting pretty amazing results:

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/evolution/origins-life.html

(Be sure to click on "Launch Video")

It's biochemical breakthroughs like this that will help us understand seemingly inexplicable things such as how the genetic code arose.

Dana

Evolution

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Dana Krempels

Expertise

I can answer questions about evolutionary mechanisms and theory, including genetic drift, mutation, natural selection, etc. I also can clear up misconceptions about evolution as it's sometimes talked about by those not well-versed in the subject (e.g., some politicians and many religious fundamentalists).

Experience

I have a Ph.D. in Biology, and presently teach Evolution and Biodiversity, Genetics, Botany, and Zoology at the University of Miami.

Organizations
House Rabbit Society Beta Beta Beta Biological Honor Society

Publications
Exotic DVM Magazine (veterinary journal)

Education/Credentials
B.S. in Biology B.A. in English Ph.D. in Biology

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