So, as promised
, here's a post detailing BibleStudent's many flaws regarding his knowledge and thinking on evolutionary theory. I will be basing this just on the Evolution, just too difficult for Christians to understand
thread in order to limit the scope. I am also stopping after the second page of posts, as it has taken close to three days to write this post. While there is much more in the thread that I could use as examples, I'm already at sixteen different ones, and that's already plenty for my purposes.
I will be rating statements that are completely off-base as -1 point, and statements that are only partially wrong will be rated at -0.5 points. This is merely for reference purposes, and should not be treated as if I am grading him.
I was originally planning on using direct links to each post, but I have since determined that the forum apparently doesn't like it when I try to do that more than a few times per post. So instead, I will footnote the reply # that I am referring to. Furthermore, in order to make this as little like a wall of text as I can, I will be coloring his quotes.What Evolutionary Theory Is
This seemed like a logical place to start, since he has to know what evolutionary theory is in order to properly argue against it.
"It's an attempt to explain how the various forms of life evolved over billions of years from a common ancestor.
This is about half-right. Evolution is the process by which different kinds of life forms developed and diversified from earlier forms during the history of the Earth. However, it's his statement that they evolved from a
common ancestor that counts against him here. While it's true that evolutionary theory predicts common ancestors, it does not actually predict a single common ancestor as he says here. -0.5
"Besides, we are discussing the ToE....the theory that the phylogentic tree is built upon where a single commonn ancestor is at the base. If common descent is not assumed, then the base of the tree does not exist and you have a bunch of free floating branches.
There are two partially wrong statements here. First, he is mistaken as to what he states the theory of evolution is. The phylogenetic tree is a diagram scientists use to show our current understanding of the evolutionary relationships between species. That means it's a work in progress, and so there is no reason to assume a single common ancestor, even if assuming that was not circular reasoning. And second, so what if there is not a single common ancestor? All that would actually mean is that scientists would have to figure out where those multiple common ancestors came from; it would not pose any real problem for the actual theory of evolution, which is only concerned with variation in life forms. -1On Evidence
"Pretty solid evidence for microevolution. Not so good evidence to support macroevolution.
The statement that there is "not so good evidence to support macroevolution" is very misleading. I did a Google search on "evidence for macro-evolution", and judging from the results, the evidence for macro-evolution is quite substantial. I took a sampling of the sites that popped up and would have included them except that the forum software balked on including them.
It is one thing to disagree with a scientific theory, but quite another to misrepresent the evidence which supports that theory in order to make it look weaker than it actually is, as BibleStudent has done. When I can do a Google search and find multiple websites which show the evidence for macro-evolution, it substantially undercuts the assertion that the evidence for macro-evolution is "not so good". -1
"Actually, you left out a very important word.....a theory is built upon scientific evidence.
The problem here is what BibleStudent considers scientific evidence to be. From his other posts, especially ones directed at me, it's clear that he thinks that unless it's been demonstrated in a laboratory, it isn't scientific evidence, and on top of that it must also demonstrate a complete beginning-to-end explanatory pathway. However, the only requirements for evidence to be scientific is that it is empirical, meaning that it is acquired through physical observation or experiment, and that it accords with scientific methodology. It does not have to be demonstrated in a lab, and it certainly does not have to have the sort of "all i's dotted, all t's crossed" completeness that he seems to expect. A single fossilized bone is scientific evidence. A bug trapped in amber is scientific evidence. A comparison of morphological structures between organisms separated by millions of years is scientific evidence. If it's based on scientific evidence, then it has a scientific basis. -0.5Micro/Macro
"Until a pathway can be identified for producing large-scale biological changes, microevolutionary changes DO NOT equal macroevolution.
This is, at the very least, misleading. What does BibleStdent mean here by "a pathway for producing large-scale biological changes"? We already have identified the pathway by which large-scale biological changes can happen; small changes in a genome can cause dramatic physiological changes, such as how the huge size difference between dog breeds is apparently caused by a single gene related to the one that regulates insulin. Furthermore, the actual means by which a genome can/will change have also been clearly identified; mutations are caused by chemicals, radiation, and transcription errors.
So, we have the means by which a genome can change, and we already know the pathway by which large-scale biological changes can happen; small differences in a genome can cause dramatic morphological differences, such as physical size. In fact, size is arguably the most dramatic morphological difference of all; it requires everything else to change along with it in order to produce a viable organism. To give a really dramatic example, let's take the chihuahua (~5 inches tall on its hind legs) and the great dane (~7 feet tall on its hind legs). That is like the difference between having two foot tall humans and thirty-one foot tall humans. And it's not just height that changes, either. A human that tall would have to be be proportionately bigger (and stronger) in almost every way in order to be able to survive at all.
However, even though I've shown that small-scale genetic changes can cause large-scale biological changes, BibleStudent would (probably) say that this doesn't show that cumulative small changes can cause new species to form. This is where the misleading nature of his statement comes into play. A species which has recently diverged into two separate species (meaning that the two can no longer regularly produce viable offspring together) is not likely to have any really dramatic morphological differences between them. For example, let's compare two of the different great cat species, the tiger and the lion...which really aren't that different at all. There are much more dramatic differences between various dog breeds than there are between tigers and lions, or even the other great cats. However, you could mate pretty much any dog breed together and get a dog which could itself reproduce with other dogs, but you can't do that with the offspring of the various great cats. Even on the rare occasions that they produce viable offspring, their offspring are almost invariably infertile.
In short, you don't need
large-scale biological changes in order to have macro-evolution, in the sense of producing new, more diverse species. Macro-evolution, as scientists refer to it, is nothing more than evolution among separated gene pools - meaning, at or above the level of a species, such as Panthera leo
and Panthera tigris
. -1Scientific Methodology
"How can it be known that the ToE explains macroevolution when the scientific method cannot be employed to determine if the same mechanism responsible for micro can produce macro? In effect, you are making an a posteriori error and using circular reasoning by asserting that because microevolution takes place then so does macroevolution. It is quite possible that evolution is completely incapable of producing large morphological changes because you have never tested it.
Here, BibleStudent states that the scientific method cannot be employed to test macro-evolution. While I will certainly acknowledge that macro-evolution is difficult to test using the scientific method because it operates over geological time scales, that is not the same thing as saying that it cannot be tested using the scientific method. It is not even the same thing as saying that it cannot be tested using the scientific method right now
. It simply means that you have to take those factors into account. For example, statisticians have to employ certain procedures in order to make sure they have a statistical sampling of data. Paleontologists have to employ certain procedures in order to preserve as much information as possible about what they dig up. So biologists who wish to investigate macro-evolution must utilize their own particular procedures to account for the quirks of studying something that happens over geological time. -0.5
"Assumptions are useful in forming and testing various hypotheses but assuming that micro+micro=macro because it cannot be tested is unscientific.
The problem here is that the "micro+micro=macro" statement he refers to is not actually an assumption made for evolutionary theory. It is shorthand for how a sufficient number of micro-evolutionary changes within different populations of a species will ultimately cause those populations to diverge into two more more closely-related species. For example, the various great cats are good examples of this; they live in different geological habitats and do not interbreed naturally, and so the micro-evolutionary changes within each population built up until they were effectively unable
to interbreed (attempts to interbreed them either do not work or result in sterile offspring). That
is a macro-evolutionary change. Similar examples of macro-evolution have been shown in other species as well, such as horses and donkeys, which are both equine species; attempts to interbreed them either do not work or result in sterile mules. -0.5Rhetorical/Logical Errors
"Unless you ASSUME that common descent is true, you are affirming the consequent
His argument for why it's an "affirming the consequent" fallacy is that if evolution is true, micro-evolution occurred; micro-evolution occurred, therefore evolution is true. However, the logic behind evolutionary theory doesn't work like that to begin with. Evolution is simply the process by which life forms vary over time. Micro-evolution is variation below the species level, and macro-evolution is variation above the species level. So, the logic goes that since you have variation below the species level, then it is reasonable to conclude that there's variation above it too. All it takes is having groups of the same species separated by geography or habitats, and they will eventually vary to the point where they can no longer viably interbreed and become different species, even if they are still physically similar, like tigers and lions. -1
"Here again, you are affirming the consequent: If evolution is true, then macroevolution is the accumulation of microevolution. Microevolution has occurred. Therefore, evolution is true.
This is the same flawed reasoning he used in reply #26. As I said before, the logic behind evolutionary theory does not work in the way he describes here, and so my earlier counter will suffice. Furthermore, science is not a logical proposition as he clearly implies both here and in #26. Science is an examination of the natural world using predictions of what we will find, and modifying our conclusions (and subsequent predictions) based on that. So, if evolution predicts that we should find both micro-evolutionary changes and macro-evolutionary changes, and we find micro-evolutionary changes, it strengthens the prediction that we should find macro-evolutionary changes, but it does not mean that scientists assume that we will. This is like how finally locating the Higgs boson strengthened the rest of the Higgs field theory, but even though scientists expected to find the Higgs boson for at least a decade or two before actually doing so, they still kept looking instead of just assuming they would find it and moving on to something else. But just as we have to continue testing the predictions made by Higgs field theory, we also must continue testing the predictions made by evolutionary theory. And not just testing them, but testing them in different ways to see if we can't find a flaw in it somewhere, because that's the most effective way to find out if we got something wrong somewhere.
"Evolutionists ASSUME that similarities in biological structures are the result of common ancestry and ASSUME that evolution is the cause…. which results in the belief that similarities are evidence of evolution. This is a clear case of begging the question.
Except that neither of these are assumed to begin with, therefore his statement that it results in a belief that begs the question is not justified. In fact, these two assumptions he lists are so blatantly fallacious that evolutionary theory never would have gotten off the ground if it needed to make them. Evolution predicts common ancestry, so if it has to assume common ancestry to make that prediction, it would be obvious circular reasoning; evolution also predicts that variations will be conserved in descending generations, so to assume that evolution was the cause would also be circular reasoning. Something that was that blatantly fallacious would not still be around, as mainstream science no less, well over a hundred years after someone came up with it. It probably wouldn't have been around for ten years. -1
"Why would you ask that whatever "instead of" I might provide have a scientific basis when macroevolution itself lacks a scientific basis?
If scientists had accepted something that was non-scientific as science, and it was eventually caught out (as it would be) then it would naturally stand to reason that they would want to make certain that whatever alternative was proposed for it was, in fact, scientific, so as to keep from having the same thing happen in the future. This is simple logic, and should have been understood by BibleStudent without him having to ask why in the first place. -0.5
"Let me just repeat that --> even if your conclusions are correct, you are ASSUMING that a biological pathway exists (or existed) that is/was capable of the producing the grand scale of evolution that you believe took place….and assumptions do not equal science.
To reiterate my point from a bit ago, it is neither necessary nor wise to make this assumption, as it would be circular reasoning, since evolutionary theory predicts that such a biological pathway should exist. Explanations which use circular reasoning don't last long when scientists start investigating them. -1
"To this day, NOT A SINGLE PERSON has been able to demonstrate how the scientific method was employed to verify that a biological process exists (or existed) that is capable of producing soup-to-humans evolution. The pro-evolutionist claims that micro+micro=macro happens because….well….because they say it happened….not because they have the necessary science to back it up.
The mistake BibleStudent is making here is in his apparent assumption that scientists have to produce a complete picture of his "soup-to-humans" evolutionary pathway in order to back up the statement that "micro+micro=macro". Science does not work like a logical proof, where you need each step in sequence in order to reach the conclusion, and woe be to anyone who tries to skip a step. Furthermore, he presumably knows this, since as he indicated later on in Reply #166, science is not in the business of proving things. So in effect, he is demanding a scientific proof of a "soup-to-humans" evolutionary pathway here, even though he should know better than that.
So, whether he realizes it or not, his demand for a "soup-to-humans" evolutionary pathway, or any other 'complete' evolutionary pathway for that matter, is a red herring. It is quite simply irrelevant to the discussion; the accuracy of "micro+micro=macro" can be evaluated using different criteria, such as comparisons between existing species (for example, tigers and lions). The fact that tigers and lions are separate species means comparing them can be used to demonstrate macro-evolution, variation at or above the level of a species. -0.5
"Does a circular reference necessarily preclude my answer from being adequate?
It depends on how meaningful the answer is. In this case, since the object of asking BibleStudent if he could explain what the theory of evolution is was to get an idea of how well he understood the subject, the fact that his explanation included a circular reference indicated that he might not be able to explain it without referring back to it. For example, if someone were asked what baseball was, and their answer was that it was the sport of baseball, others might reasonably doubt that they actually knew very much about baseball. -0.5Misunderstanding Others' Arguments
"The sentence I bolded is intriguing. How does asking for scientific evidence for a scientific fact stem from badly flawed reasoning? Either it exists or it doesn't.
For reference, he is responding to a statement I made in reply #47, namely, "To create the pretense that because scientists have not yet produced the specific evidence you are demanding, that macroevolution somehow does not have a scientific basis, is badly-flawed reasoning." It should be clear from the context that he badly misunderstood the point I was trying to make, but I will nonetheless elaborate.
What he is doing here is not simply asking for scientific evidence. He is asking for very specific
scientific evidence, and keeps asserting that only the kind of evidence he asks for - a complete evolutionary pathway - can show that evolutionary theory has a scientific basis. In other words, the badly flawed reasoning is that until someone can come up with the specific evidence he is demanding, evolutionary theory should not be considered scientific. This despite the fact that there is plenty of evidence out there which is less specific than what he is demanding which still qualifies as scientific evidence. This is actually a form of special pleading; unlike the typical form which demands special consideration for a particular claim without justifying why it should be, he is instead demanding that it be treated far more stringently without justifying why it should be. -0.5
"So, basically what you are saying is that unless my “instead of” is scientific in nature, you will dismiss it outright….regardless of its veracity?
Except I said nothing of the sort. I said that if he didn't want his particular alternative to evolutionary theory to be criticized as non-scientific, then it should have a scientific basis. I also pointed out that his...reluctance to confirm that his alternative did have a scientific basis indicated that he knew it did not and that he thought if he could sufficiently discredit the scientific basis of evolutionary theory, then his alternative would not need a scientific basis either. However, if evolution were somehow shown to be non-scientific, then whatever replaced it would have
to have an actual scientific basis, because that's how science works; hypotheses never reach the level of a theory unless the consensus of scientists in that field is that it fits the evidence gathered through science. Therefore, while his alternative would not be dismissed outright, it would need to conform to scientific evidence, thus showing that it had a scientific basis, in order to be accepted as evolution's replacement. The fact that he stonewalled me when I asked him what his alternative was and if it had a scientific basis is a very bad sign for it ever being accepted as a scientific replacement for evolutionary theory. -1