googlef87758e9b6df9bec.html A Sure Word: Proof for Evolution? Part 2

Friday, December 8, 2017

Proof for Evolution? Part 2

In my introduction to this series, I pointed out the casual use of the word “prove” in the article, Three Pieces of Evidence That Prove Evolution is a Fact. People who claim to respect science are usually quick to point out that science never proves anything so, if anything, this evidence only proves evolution is dogma to some people. Generally, theories are falsified rather than proven. Think about this:

If I ate an entire pizza, I'd be full.
I'm full.
Therefore, I must have eaten an entire pizza.

Of course, I could be full if I'd eaten an entire pizza but being full by itself doesn't prove my theory. I could be full for some other reason, like eating a pound of bacon. Likewise, the three evidences presented in the article could be explained by evolution but they still don't prove evolution because some other explanation – the correct explanation – might exist for the same evidence. In the case of these three, I would say they can all be explained by supernatural creation but even if I had no other explanation whatsoever, I would still say they don't prove evolution because there could still be some unknown explanation waiting to be discovered.

So let's look at these three “proofs.”

Common Traits. Common Ancestor.

Think about your family. You and your closest relatives look more alike than you and your cousins. Likewise, you look more like your cousins than you do more distant relatives, and more like distant relatives that people on the other side of the globe. The closer you are related, by-and-large, the more similarities you share.... This patterning, like in your family, extends throughout all life on Earth.

It's true that evolution could explain similar features in closely related species. Of course, created things can also have common traits. Consider this illustration. The tricycle and the cart obviously have features in common but the cart certainly hasn't evolved from the tricycle. Their only relationship is that they were designed to perform similar functions. Some of their similarities, the blue frame, the black tires with heavy tread, the black seats and steering, etc, are merely the preferences of the designers. Likewise, similar features among different creatures could be evidence they were designed by a Creator and reflect his purpose and preferences.

What evolution fails to explain well are similar features in creatures that aren't considered closely related by their theory. Humans and chimps both have an appendix. If they are both descended from a common ancestor that also had an appendix, it would make sense we both have one. However, possums also have an appendix. Possums are marsupial mammals which supposedly split from placental mammals 65 million years ago so they cannot have a recent ancestor. If evolution were true, we should be able to trace the appendix along the so called, “tree of life,” and see that all species with an appendix also have a common ancestor. Instead, it appears randomly across the tree of life while being absent in species that supposedly link them.

There are also fingerprints. Humans and chimps have fingerprints but so do koalas. According to LiveScience, “[K]oalas, doll-sized marsupials that climb trees with babies on their backs, have fingerprints that are almost identical to human ones. Not even careful analysis under a microscope can easily distinguish the loopy, whirling ridges on koalas' fingers from our own.... The remarkable thing about koala prints is that they seem to have evolved independently. On the evolutionary tree of life, primates and modern koalas' marsupial ancestors branched apart 70 million years ago.” So common features are not “proof” of common ancestry, even according to evolution!

We See Species Changing Over Time

One of the most important discoveries that lead to Darwin’s Theory of Evolution was extinct animals found as fossils. Early paleontologists, like Charles Lyell and George Cuvier, noticed a very simple fact: Species that lived in the past are very often drastically, wildly different from anything alive today. Trilobites, dinosaurs, giant sloths, baculites, etc., they all suggest that life on Earth has changed quite a bit.

I like to use dogs as examples of change in populations because most people are familiar with dogs and know they come in all shapes, sizes, and colors. The problem with evolution is that dogs never come in new shapes, sizes, and colors. Take color, for example. Dogs can be white, brown, black, blonde, and red. However, they aren't green or blue. Why not? It's because the “change” we observe in species are merely rearrangements of traits already present in the population.

Natural selection can only ever select from traits that already exist – hence, we call it, “selection.” For evolution to be possible, creatures have to acquire new traits. For a dinosaur to become a bird, you would have to add feathers. For a fish to become a frog, you would have to add legs. To turn a bacterium into a basset hound would require a millions of years long parade of new traits being added generation after generation. We don't see any new traits. We see changes among animal populations. We don't see evolution!

I noticed something very interesting about the illustration of human evolution used in the article. If you look carefully, you'll notice the only direct ancestor shown for Homo sapiens is Homo erectus. All other species are linked by some unnamed, imagined common ancestor. Isn't that interesting? Finding a human ancestor is the life dream of any paleontologist but after more than a century of looking, no “clear progression” from ape to human has been found.

The Remnants of Past Generations

Turn over a manufactured product today, and you are likely to see a small sticker or tag that says what country it was made in. Like those tags, species bear the marks of where they came from. These signs of origin might come in the form of repurposed traits, traits that hurt a species chances of surviving or reproducing.

The author appears to be talking about vestigial organs. The champion of all vestigial organs ever touted by evolutionists is the appendix. I've discussed above how the appendix being present in some mammals but absent in the species that are supposed to link them is evidence against common ancestry. What I didn't mention above is, if the appendix is vestigial, it's even more difficult for evolution to explain how it would evolve independently in different species. Put another way, why should I believe the appendix served some function so well that “nature” created it in several different species of mammal but now it's nothing more than a useless leftover?

Some people say human facial hair is vestigial, left over from a time we had a heavy coat of fur. However, have you every noticed how men have hair on their lips, chin, jaw, and brown while chimps (supposedly our closest cousins) have virtually no hair around their mouths nor on their brow? Did we evolve this since human/chimps split from their alleged ancestor? If so, how is it vestigial?

Even defining an organ as vestigial is problematic because there is no, simple, rigorous definition of the word, “vestigial.” Just as above, some people claim it is a useless leftover. In a article dealing with vestigial organs, LiveScience said this about the appendix: Any secondary function that the appendix might perform certainly is not missed in those who had it removed before it might have ruptured.This definition fails because I could live a long, normal life even if I cut the little finger off my left hand. That certainly doesn't prove my finger is vestigial. Furthermore, sometimes a structure might have a purpose that hasn't been identified. We have found, for example, that the appendix does help our immune system. But even if an organ can be found to truly have no function, it can still be explained by the creation model. God could have created an animal with a functioning structure but over time, through mutation and degradation, the structure has become functionless.

In conclusion, these three evidences are not only fail as proof of evolution, I believe they are weak at explaining anything. The same things are explained as well, or maybe better, by creation.


Steven J. said...

The tricycle and the cart obviously have features in common but the cart certainly hasn't evolved from the tricycle.

First, carts and tricycles can't reproduce, don't result from reproduction, and don't have relatives. And their features are not "inherited" from precursors as a package deal, but features of different designs can be borrowed and combined. You could note that every common feature of the cart and the tricycle was indeed "descended" by copying (with modification) from earlier designs in earlier mechanical devices, but obviously you can't hope to explain shared traits by shared biological ancestors when they don't have biological ancestors.

But living organisms (or at least eukaryotes -- bacteria can to some extent pass on traits individually and to non-descendants) do breed and pass on features of hearts and eyes and livers in one package. Darwin, in talking to farmers in England, sometimes found them incredulous that their different breeds of dairy and beef cattle shared a common bovine ancestor, but presumably you have no problem with it. Obviously, some similarities among living groups are properly explained by common descent, not common design: a chihuahua and a Great Dane don't owe their similarities to common features installed separately by a Creator.

Second, the similarities between a Guernsey cow and an Angus cow are not explained by one of them being descended from the other, but from a common ancestor. This is important: the answer to the question, "how do you evolve a whale from a cow" is that you don't: they are differently modified descendants of an artiodactyl common ancestor different from both.

What evolution fails to explain well are similar features in creatures that aren't considered closely related.

If natural selection can explain how to go from a light-sensitive nerve ending to a box-camera eye in vertebrates, why should it not explain the same thing in, say, molluscs? The human and octopus eyes are notoriously similar in general appearance, though there are important differences in the construction of the retina. If there are only a few ways to modify ancestral structures to serve some function, we should expect evolution to hit on similar solutions over and over -- e.g. modifying the intestines to produce an extra pouch at the end of the intestines, or modifying fingertips to improve gripping surface.

By the way, the last common ancestor of marsupials and placental mammals is thought to have lived ca. 160 million years ago, a little before the time of Juramaia, the oldest known fossil mammal that more closely resembles placental mammals than marsupials. I don't know why your sources put the split at the end of the Cretaceous rather than near the middle of the Jurassic.

Steven J. said...

The problem with evolution is that dogs never come in new shapes, sizes, and colors

Please post a link to the wolf with a head shaped like a bulldog's. For that matter, while there are black wolves, they are thought to be the result of interbreeding between black dogs and grey wolves -- the solid black color of Newfoundlands or Dobermans is thought to be a mutation that arose among domestic canines. The same point arises more forcefully with domestic hamsters: every one of them is the descendant of a single pregnant female captured early in the 20th century; their array of coat colors is the result of mutations that appeared among captive, domesticated populations.

New traits arise all the time from mutations. True, no mutation in any mammal seems to have produced green or blue or bright red fur; I don't know why this is but the mammalian color palate seems pretty constrained, to the range of natural human or canine hair colors. We don't see, in relatively slow-breeding domestic mammals, the sorts of changes to metabolism that arise through mutation all the time in experiments with bacteria, yielding changes from penicillin resistance to the ability to digest nylon or citrate.

For a fish to become a frog, you would have to add legs.

And there are a series of fossils, from Eusthenopteron to Ichthyostega, showing intermediate steps between lobe-fins in fish and legs in tetrapods. I suppose you could push the demand back, and ask for the first appearance of pectoral and pelvic fins, whose modification produced fore- and hind-limbs. Likewise, there are dinosaur fossils showing what seem to be rudimentary feathers as well as other dinosaurs with modern-looking pennaceous feathers.

If you look carefully, you'll notice the only direct ancestor shown for Homo sapiens is Homo erectus.

And even that would be questioned by paleontologists who distinguish H. erectus in Eurasia from H. ergaster in Africa. My point regarding the male-line ancestry of Sally Hemings' children still applies: being unable to decide whether their father was Thomas Jefferson or one of his brother's sons does not negate the evidence that some Jefferson family male was the father.

Note that if evolutionists simply wanted to fabricate a family tree, they could simply string together a series of increasingly human-looking hominids and call it a lineage. Respect for the branching nature of evolution -- noting that we expect a complex "bush" of relationships, fragmentarily represented in the fossil record -- explains the hesitation to identify definitely particular populations as direct ancestors.

Steven J. said...

The author appears to be talking about vestigial organs. The champion of all vestigial organs ever touted by evolutionists is the appendix.

I would have thought it was the plantaris tendon in humans, unless you adopt a broad definition of "organ" in which case the authors' example of the GULO pseudogene would qualify. This latter is especially good: if apes and old world monkeys and humans were all created with functional GULO genes (so that we could all originally make our own vitamin C), why did the same mutation disable the gene in all these different "kinds?" We know that there are other possible mutations that can destroy the function of the gene, since guinea pigs convergently reduced the GULO gene to a pseudogene, but via a mutation much different from the one that did it in catarrhine primates.

Vestigial organs are an extreme example of a more general phenomenon known as "parahomology," or, as Darwin called it, similar structures for dissimilar functions. Even if the GULO pseudogene has a function, it doesn't help us make vitamin C. Even if the plantaris tendon has a function in the 85% or so of humans who have one, it doesn't enable them to clench their feet into fists as it does for other apes and monkeys. Why should common design result in the use of similar designs to do radically different tasks, when we also see (e.g. in the disparate wing structures of pterosaurs, birds, and bats) dissimilar solutions to similar problems?

RKBentley said...

Steven J,

I'm sorry I've not responded to many visitor's comments lately. I'm going to try to get to several over the next few days starting with your comments to this post.

Yes, I'm aware that carts and tricycles don't reproduce. It's precisely because they don't reproduce that I know they have no biological/evolutionary relationship. That's why I use them as an example of how things can be similar without being biologically related. That's the whole point of the analogy.

As to when marsupial and placental mammals allegedly split, I relied on when I said, “65 million years.” Of course, the LiveScience link I provided put it at 70 million years. Your sources say it's 160 million years. The fact of the matter is that they're all wrong. Marsupial and placental mammals do not share a common ancestor and the world is only thousands of years old – not millions. The disagreement among sources is just another example of how imprecise your theory can be yet it's still touted as “settled science.”

By definition, wolves do not have heads shaped like a bulldog. If it looked like a bulldog, it would be called a bulldog and not a wolf. At the very least, it would be called a mutt. The variation is found among the entire “kind” of canine, not among individual breeds. Likewise, humans can be very tall or very short or very dark or very like yet are all considered the same species. A tall, dark skinned male can have children with a short, light skinned female. Their children would have various combinations of features from both parents. They might be light, dark, or some shade in between but they wouldn't be blue! Features in a population can be combined in new ways but there are never new features.

I could arrange dog skulls in such a way to show how a small chihuahua might have evolved to become a Great Dane. The problem with my progression is that all the various breeds lived simultaneously. There have been some unidentified structures found on dino fossils that some claim are rudimentary feathers. The problem with your theory is that fully-formed, “modern” feathers BELONGING TO BIRDS are found in the same layers as the dinosaurs. Maybe you could find feathers of various complexity and arrange them in a simple to complex progression. That's no more compelling than my small to large dog evolution.

You said, “Note that if evolutionists simply wanted to fabricate a family tree, they could simply string together a series of increasingly human-looking hominids and call it a lineage.” They DO that already. Perhaps they don't really think it's the actual history of human evolution but they are constantly presenting arrangements of skulls from ape like to human like to impress lay people that some “clear progression” exists. I'm sure you've seen photos like that. It's rather shameful.

I'm running out of room due to Bloggers' character limits so I'm skipping your final point on this post. I'm going to try to circle back to some previous comments.

God bless!!