The Theory of Evolution

Dec 2018
2,269
1,563
Wisconsin
#1
I wanted to get a thread on this because there are three counter arguments I hear all the time when discussing evolution.

1. "Evolution is just a theory."

This is probably the argument that irritates me the most, one because I hear it often and two because it's completely flawed. When I drop a pen, it falls to the floor not because of the theory of gravity. When I get a flu shot, I do so because the germ theory of disease says it decreases my chances of getting sick. In science, something doesn't qualify as a "theory" until it has been tested, retested, scrutinized, and dissected by experts in the field. The way the scientific method works, individuals create a hypothesis, then create a model that tests said hypothesis, and allow others to run the model to see if the results are demonstrable. If others get the same results, it can eventually graduate to a theory. Evolution is as much of a "theory" as gravity, Einstein's theory of relativity, plate tectonics, germs, etc.

2. "Well if we evolved from monkeys, why do we still have monkeys?"

We didn't evolve from monkeys. That's a common misconception of what evolutionary scientists have found. Humans and chimpanzees evolved from a common ancestor, that ancestor evolved from a common ancestor with gorillas, and that common ancestor evolved from a common ancestor with Orangutans. So we are first cousins with chimps, second cousins with gorillas, etc. To look at it another way, at one time in history, there was a large segment of the world whose native language was Latin. At some point though those people broke off into two groups and the language evolved to meet the needs of their environment. Now, we have some people whose native language is Spanish, some whose native language is Italian, and none whose native language is Latin. We evolved to meet the needs of our environment, while other groups evolved to meet the need of theirs.

3. "Evolution can't be true because you can't get something out of nothing."

This is particularly frustrating because it's comparing two things that have nothing to do with one another. When discussing the origins of the human race, there are three critical steps; how did the universe come into existence, how did life come into existence, and how did humans come into existence. Evolution is the explanation for that third question, but it does not and never has attempted to answer either of the first two questions. How did the universe come into existence? That question is addressed in the big bang theory. How did life come into existence? That question is addressed through abiogenisis (probably won't ever graduate to a theory due to testing limitations).

I'm more that happy to discuss evolution, but I'm hoping to avoid common misconceptions if at all possible.
 
Likes: Neil
Jun 2013
10,677
5,526
USA TN
#2
i believe God created us in his own image. i don't believe my ancient first or second cousins were a bunch of apes. maybe yours were....
 
Dec 2018
2,269
1,563
Wisconsin
#7
yup, and i gave my opinion...
I genuinely appreciate that you wanted to engage in this conversation.

Unfortunately this gets into the conversation of personal truths vs absolute truths. A personal truth is something that is true to an individual. For me, a personal truth would be that there’s no better comfort food than a bowl Chinese congee.

Then there are absolute truths which are true for everyone, regardless of personal opinion. For example, it is absolutely true there are 8 fluid ounces in a cup.

Evolution is an abolute truth. People can have their personal opinion on it but it doesn’t change the fact that the foundation of human evolution is as true as the sky is blue.
 
Nov 2012
2,821
1,722
Rhondda
#9
i believe God created us in his own image. i don't believe my ancient first or second cousins were a bunch of apes. maybe yours were....
It's really weird to get these messages from the long-dead! How is it done? Or do you have time-travel to the mid-C19?
 
Dec 2018
29
15
USA
#10
Evolution is an abolute truth. People can have their personal opinion on it but it doesn’t change the fact that the foundation of human evolution is as true as the sky is blue.
I’m uncomfortable with declarations of absolute truth in science. I buy into the ideal that we should try to hold all things provisionally, and if a better model that makes more accurate, testable predictions comes along, we should adopt it. Holding things provisionally has reaped huge returns over the kinds of dogmatic allegiance given, for example, to Aristotle and later in modern scientific times, to Newton.

Of course, on a practical level, there are things where the evidence is so overwhelming that it would be earth shattering to find out we were wrong. (Since I’m not a fan of declaring absolute certainty or assuming we have access to an omniscient judge who can confirm when our beliefs are in lock step with reality, I’m actually a fan of this as a definition of ‘knowing’ as opposed to ‘believing’: knowledge is a subset of belief, where our confidence level is so high it would be earth shattering to find out we were wrong.) How stupendous would the evidence have to be to convince us that the earth is indeed flat? To pick one example. And I think the ‘fact’ of evolution falls into that category. The mountain of evidence that evolution happened is incredible - it’s a shame so few people who are interested in the conversation engage meaningfully and thoroughly with the evidence.

But it wouldn’t surprise me at all to find out we didn’t have the whole picture on the mechanisms for evolution. The list of mechanisms has grown slowly but surely since evolution was first codified.

Funny about your sky is blue: that’s subjective, rather than absolute. If you could see in the ultraviolet, those shorter wave lengths scatter more than blue and the sky to some insects and birds may well be ultraviolet. And the experience of blue is a subjective experience your brain evolved to differentiate different wave lengths of photons - they’s nothing ‘blue’ about the color blue, just like there’s nothing sweet about sugar: these are all experiences evolved in the development of brains to aid in survival, for example as a signal to ‘eat more of this, it’s ripe’ or to make it easy to visually separate grass and trees from sky (well, there’s lots of ways maximizing color ‘separation’ is an advantage for land animals and shallow water animals active during the day).

But, you know, rock on. I’m just being pedantic.


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