Okay. Can those micro changes include a loss of function or information?
I'll give this one a go...
The answer to your question is absolutely.
Let me try to explain how this process works on a nuts and bolts level BS and maybe it will become a little clearer. If I make a mistake anywhere, please someone else fill in for me because all of this is from memory and its been a while.
DNA consists of 4 different nucleotides strung together in a long chain. We label them A, T, C and G for short, but they all have scientific names. A bonds with T, and C bonds with G. This is all there are. No more, no less. Every living thing on earth... Just 4. Every single amino acid, (and subsequently proteins) made by a cell is coded for by these little old nucleotides. Really not as 'extremely complex' as you think.
What DNA does is give a sort of blueprint for the manufacture of amino acids and proteins. All sorts of different proteins with all sorts of shapes, sizes and proportions. But strangely enough, only about 5% of DNA actually codes for making proteins. The other 95%, which was previously called 'junk DNA' actually has a very significant purpose, in that it tells the cell when to stop, start, and continue making these proteins.
So what you may have is a string like this... A-C-C-G-A-T-A-C and on the other side of the double helix you have T-G-G-C-T-A-T-C to match. Now, suppose this combination (and remember, we are talking about a shit load more than just these 8 base pairs in a single strand of DNA coding for literally every protein your cells make) coded for the cells to make an amino acid / protein that was hard to the touch but also shaped and configured in such a way (combined with the surrounding cells which are also doing the same thing) as to give a finch a straight beak.
There are several ways in which a random mutation can jump in and make a problem or improvement here. First of all, you can lose a base pair (in your words, maybe a loss of information). So let's say you lose the first C-G combination. Now you've got A-C-G-A-T-A-C combined with T-G-C-T-A-T-C. This new set up might code for a slightly softer protein. Or say, a slightly harder one. Or a shorter one. Or maybe one that (when combined with the thousands and thousands of others nearby) hooked at the end instead of straight. Depending on whether this was a positive or a negative thing for the finch, this slight change may give the finch an edge that others of it's kind don't have, thus making it more likely to breed and pass on this new mutation of curved, hard, or soft beaks (whichever works best in the environment the finch is in). The exact same process starts again in the next finch. And the next, and the next, and the next.
Another way to have an impact is to ADD a base pair in the middle. So instead of just having 8, you have 9 pairs (an increase in information), and that makes something a little different too. You can also get wholesale additions and deletions of larger groups of base pairs on occasion, but these are usually (but not always!) detrimental to the individual. On super rare occasions, however, it is possible that large additions or deletions can have an overwhelmingly positive effect and significant changes can occur to the individual.
A good analogy is to think of it like words... Take the following sentence. 'I love going to my job every day'.
Now, let's add a single letter (much like a random mutation might add or delete a base pair) and see if it changes anything. 'I love going too
my job every day'. Slightly different, but not overwhelmingly positive or negative to add it in. It changes the meaning slightly but doesn't destroy the totality of the sentence. In essence, a neutral mutation. Now let's take out a letter. 'I love gong
to my job every day' This is a little more traumatic. You changed going to gong and it doesn't make a whole lot of sense now. You can still read it but it might take you a minute to see what the problem is. Lets call that a negative mutation. Now lets add a whole section of letters and see what happens. 'I love going to my job every FRIday'. The entire meaning of the sentence is changed now in a way that works better and seems to fit better with the world we live in (most people don't like going to work, but Friday is the best day). Let's call that a positive change.
If you could relate this to something that did not have an intelligent source at the helm directing the process then your analogy might begin to make some sense. Biological systems, according to evolution theory, are absent an instruction manual and a much different animal than the whatevers I think you are referring to.
In my above description, the source at the helm directing the changes is nothing more than random mutations that occur in the copying process, coupled with heredity, death, and reproduction. You are correct that biological systems do not require an instruction manual. It piles on information from nothing more than random base pair changes that just so happen to be good, bad or neutral for the organism. The ones that are bad cause a disadvantage in survival (and breeding) for the individual born with them (so they won't be passed on), and the ones that just so happen to be good give an advantage in survival (and breeding) and are passed on.
Do you really not see how you can get changes to an organism with this process without an intelligent source at the helm? Where in the process do you see the need for an intelligent source? The process simply doesn't need it.
I know you don't mean it this way but, to me, this trivializes the enormously complex and seemingly improbable process that would be involved in evolution. I realize that most here don't believe this when I say it but I have made a genuine and persistent effort to find a good reason to accept what you are saying.
The missing piece for you is probably the time scale. Most of the time, evolution takes a LONG time to see large changes. But we can observe changes in species any time we want. All we have to do is look at dog breeding to see the changes take place. You can breed significant changes in dog traits over relatively short periods of time. Easily within one persons 80 year life span. Now consider changes over millions of years. Just think of it... more than 10,000 TIMES as long as the average person lives? And you don't think you can go from say... zebra to horse over a few million year timescale? Please man, be serious. If we can go from wolf to chihuahua and Great Dane in just a few hundred years, you REALLY don't think species changes can happen in a million years?
You have to tell us where the process breaks down for you.
Years and years of study and research and testing and milions upon millions of dollars involving thousands of individuals with enormous knowledge and skills, by and large, we are virtually clueless as to how this magnificent phenomenon occurred.
No. That's not true. The picture has some holes but we are certainly not clueless. We don't know how it started, that is true, but once it got going, we kow quite a lot. The first organism might have started with just a few simple proteins for all we know. It was billions of years ago and occurred on a scale so small as to leave no trace of it's origins. All you need is a cell that can copy itself with just a few simple proteins, and slowly, slowly, slowly adding a base pair here, taking one out there, adding large chunks over here, and 3 billion (BILLION) years later, we have the diversity of life we have.
We don't know how it started, but we sure as hell know that evolution is the best theory as to how it's moving forward.
From what I've learned, it just didn't happen.
Which part? Be specific. Which part doesn't happen? Do we not pass down genes from parent to offspring? Do we not have random mutations? Do some individuals not die before reproducing? Is it impossible for lots of small changes to add up to large changes? You can't just sit behind your computer shaking your head saying... 'I just don't see how it can happen; there's no fucking way'. YES fucking way. It happens.