Sunday, November 25, 2007

Evolution for Creationists Part One

In this series, I will do my best to explain evolution in a way that everyone can understand. The first three posts will present the evidence for evolution, while the last post will answer commonly asked questions about evolution (Such as, "Can Evolution Increase the Information in the Genome?")

The First thing that anyone should understand about Evolution is Natural Selection. Berkeley University has set up a page that explains the process very neatly. I also attempted to explain it in a video I created. "How Stuff Works" Author Marshall Brain put it this way,

"As mutations occur, natural selection decides which mutations will live on and which ones will die out. If the mutation is harmful, the mutated organism has a much decreased chance of surviving and reproducing. If the mutation is beneficial, the mutated organism survives to reproduce, and the mutation gets passed on to its offspring. In this way, natural selection guides the evolutionary process to incorporate only the good mutations into the species, and expunge the bad mutations."

The Peppered Moth Story is great for understanding Natural Selection as Well. The Article I linked to defends the story against recent accusations that the story is a fraud or fabrication.

Evidence #1 Fossil Succession
(The Order of the Fossil Record)

Imagine that you were to go on a dig for fossils. Imagine the first thing you uncover is a small, horselike-creature with five toes. Suppose you began digging a little higher in the same rock, and you found a similar creature, except it had four toes. You then go higher still, and find a skeleton that looks very much like a horse, except it has three toes. What would think about this? To understand what I am saying, please look at the infamous horse series. Now, finding fossils which are, say part reptile and part bird, like Archaeopteryx, is a prediction of evolution. But this isn't in itself the best evidence for evolution, the evidence is the fact that we see progression. With every one of the sequences below, the higher up we go in the strata, the more that life looks like it does today.

The Origin of Whales and the Power of Independent Evidence

Early Vertebrate Evolution


Sea Sloth Evolution

Ceratopsian Evolution

Mammal-Reptile Fossil
Another Mammal-Reptile Fossil
Evolution of Mammals

Human Fossils
Over 400 "Missing Links"
The Top Ten Missing Links

Evolution of Birds
Avian Ancestors
National Geographic On Birds And Dinosaurs

Summary of Many Famous Examples
Online Booklet About Fossils

Why is the fossil record littered with sequences that just so happen to be in an order that makes them look like they evolved? I cannot make sense of it without evolution. In fact, I think anyone who saw these sequences would suggest evolution, had it not already been proposed so long ago.

Evidence #2 Embryology

Now, the first thing I want to make perfectly clear is that I am NOT referring to Haeckel’s work nor to his long discarded theory. Ontogeny does not recapitalate Phylogeny, but there are some interesting similarities in development which I believe are best explained by evolution.

Mammal Kidneys

Mammal Embryos develop three sets of kidneys. The first, pronephros, is the same set found in primitive fish like Lampreys. After 3.5 weeks, the mammal embryo replaces it. The second set, the mesonephros, is the same set found in higher fish and amphibians. In human males it gives rise to urogenital structures, while in females the remnants are vestigial. The third set (Metanephros) is the set which develops and becomes the adults set of kidneys, and it is the same set found in mammals and birds.

Other Evidence

Snakes as well as Dolphins are known to develop legs as embryos, only to reabsorb them later.

Whales Develop hair as embryos, only to discard it later (except for the nosehair).

Why do they do this? Why go through these stages? Why not develop their adult forms more quickly? These facts are best interpreted as developmental remains of their past.


Prazzie said...

Thank you for this. I have linked to it on the group.

You said you wanted feedback. Luckily for you, I've encountered your target market tonight. This is what one had to say on the whale topic:

"hu hu hu

well, if you want to hear counter arguements for the 'origin of whales' etc. go to the website... or

this is easy debating, we should do it more often.."

Nothing new there, I suppose. But one can only hope that some people really do want to know more about evolution. I've posted the links, the resources are there, I've done my bit!

Thank you for the work you're doing. It is appreciated and probably by the people you'd prefer to be appreciated by!

AIGBusted said...

The Evolution of Whales?

I suggest you link them to these three pages:

That'll be too much for them to argue with. Stay tuned, each day a new "Evolution for Creationists" post will be made (it will have 4 parts).


Neurotic said...

Hello Ryan,

I never said Science contradicts Theism. My take on it was written sometime ago:

entitled Rules of Syntax and Branch of Parallelism

Thanks for an interesting site!
I put you in my faves.


Anonymous said...

There is a very funny and insightful review of AIGs big 'Creation Mega Conference' from 2005 in The Fortean Times, #202. It's called 'Dem Ole Dry Bones.'

Harold Saxon said...

I have just read the first part of your site, well done!

How about adding something about the progression of the human embryo's cardiovascular system?

After all, for three weeks the embryo has not circulatory system or heart.

Parts of the circulatory system develop separately before linking up to each other.

And the heart starts as a simple tube, folds over on itself and eventually forms four chambers, after going through a two and then a three chambered stage.

I am sure that would rattle the creationists' cages too.

AIGBusted said...

Hi Harold!

That is interesting... Would you mind putting a link to it up?


Anonymous said...

Archaeopteryx does not show evolution. Archaeopteryx is a bird! Where are the transitional forms? We look in vain for them. There are no part reptile and part bird. There are either birds or there are reptiles.

Concerned Christian said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Deodatus said...

Really can't believe that you used that "gill slits" picture. Those pictures were faked by Earnest Haeckel, the man that drew them.
You really should stick to accountancy because you clearly know very little about science!!!

AIGBusted said...

Do you read the part where I said, "I am NOT referring to Haeckel’s work" ?

I linked to an article that the discussed those erronous drawings and gave an honest look at the situation.

Much of the embryological evidence I referred to was not at all known by Haeckel.

And by the way, all the hooplah over those drawings came from a man named Jonathan Wells. He is a member of a cult and has been known to be dishonest in his writing.

AIGBusted said...

By the way, Deodatus, you would do well to read the following: