Milton Fuller

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Why is evolution considered a fact?

A key component of evolution is spontaneous generation. If Pasteur refuted spontaneous generation in the 1800's, why is evolution considered a fact? ,

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    May 10 2013: Thumbs up all around. This is a GREAT debate!

    I tend to simplify things when I talk about them. Lets use babies as an example. We all, as adults, know where babies come from. But any parent will know immediately what comes next. Babies are tiny little miracles that grow up & become people, like us adults. But when our child is three or four or five & asks: "Where do babies come from?" we tend to have a number of choices in what we, as parents, tell them. Generally, parents all agree. When your kid first asks: "Where do babies come from?" that is NOT the time to tell them about the birds & the bees. Or if you tell them, you speak ONLY about birds & ONLY about bees. Generally, nobody says anything about that yucky thing that men & women do using bathroom parts. Yuck!!! Except all music & all movies seem to revolve around that most intimate event involving exactly those self-same bathroom parts. Bathroom parts are generally what you service in the bathroom. Most people flush only AFTER those parts are all, safely tucked away. When we finally got a little older and heard the truth (from an authoritative & believable source), even that was hard to fathom! "My parents would NEVER do something like THAT!!" Yuck! No way! Not MY Mom & Dad!!

    Given the foregoing, what's my point? Well, just because we know WHERE and HOW babies are made, is that the whole story? And now that Medical Science understands all about gametogenesis, fertilization, conception, implantation, embryology, obstetrics, gynecology, urology, contraception & childbirth, does THAT mean we have the whole story? Aren't we leaving SOMETHING out?

    As a parent myself, I have to say: Babies come from Heaven! They do. Diaper changes & all those other necessities come from somewhere else! But Babies themselves some from heaven. And just because we have a whole lot of really GOOD scientific information about where babies come from; are they NOT miracles? God made them. True? Yes?
  • May 8 2013: This is one of the great misconceptions about evolution. Like all scientific theories, it is subject to revision as we learn more about it. Spontaneous generation was Lamarck's theory which Darwin rejected. However, Darwin continued to search for the mechanism of evolution, which evaded him. He revised The Origin of Species 6 times, and wrote about his frustration at not being able to supply the explanation for his observations. Sadly, he died with Gregor Mendel's groundbreaking genetic work with pea plants unread on his desk. The current theory of evolution does not embrace spontaneous generation.
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      May 9 2013: Theory meaning it's not a fact.
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        May 9 2013: First of all. I feel like you are trying to start a debate here. This is a place for questions, and if you aren't going to acknowledge what the fine gentlemen are saying above me, then you might as well not ask at all. Your attitude seems like you're challenging us to prove that evolution is a "fact." I know, it's hard to be criticized by a teenager, but it had to be done.

        Moving on to the statement.

        There are two ways the word "evolution" is used that are not identical, and they equivocate between them.

        The first way is the phenomena called evolution. This is the fact that the lifeforms observed in the fossil record change over time, and, in general, exhibit increasing complexity. EVOLUTION IS A FACT. IT IS A NATURAL PHENOMENON.

        The second way is the the theory of evolution through natural selection. This is an attempt to explain the phenomena of evolution by arguing that it is the result of differential survival based on heritable, individual traits. NATURAL SELECTION IS A THEORY.

        Now, you can argue against the theory till you are blue in the face, it doesn't make the phenomena go away. You can argue that the phenomena doesn't exist, which is much harder to do. In doing this, you would miss that the phenomena is not the theory.
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          May 9 2013: Hi Michael,
          ""This is the fact that the lifeforms observed in the fossil record change over time, and, in general, exhibit increasing complexity. EVOLUTION IS A FACT.""

          Lifeforms in the fossil 'record' do not change over time, they stay exactly as they are. People make the assumption that one transforms to another via absent intermediaries. This is pure conjecture. Many qualified scientists have no time for this hypothesis, let alone accept it as fact.

          :-)
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          May 10 2013: BRAVO!
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          May 10 2013: Michael I applaud you for your interest in the topic at such a young age and I do not consider your comments as criticism because you can learn from anybody. However, am I to accept only the responses that are pro-evolution but ignore Peter's responses which might be more convincing? I simply asked a question and will consider all responses. Thank you for taking the time to respond to my question.
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        May 11 2013: Somehow can't reply to my own post. Well here goes.

        Peter's response: Lifeforms in the fossil 'record' do not change over time, they stay exactly as they are. People make the assumption that one transforms to another via absent intermediaries. This is pure conjecture. Many qualified scientists have no time for this hypothesis, let alone accept it as fact.

        First of all, I don't think Peter fully understood the post he responded to. The conjecture that one transforms to another via intermediaries is explained by natural selection, which is indeed a theory. Just the fact that they changed is called evolution. That was the original premise of my above post.
        Secondly, the Hardy Weinberg states that genetic and phenotypic frequencies will remain the same absent variables. Conversely, because phenotypic frequencies changed, there has to be some sort of explanation; natural selection attempts to explain it.
        Thirdly, the fossil record is not the only evidence. There's plenty of biochemical observations as well.
        Finally, can you please state which qualified scientists (i.e. accepted in the peer review community) have "no time for this hypothesis?"

        I encourage you to read some books and research. I understand that you have Christian faiths, in which case I have no interest in trying to get you to believe what I believe in. My hope is that eventually, faith and science will no longer conflict, but rather coexist.
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          May 12 2013: Hi Michael.
          http://www.ideacenter.org/contentmgr/showdetails.php/id/1207
          There are others.

          To be clear. Natural selection is widely accepted as a mechanism for refining creatures to suit their environment. This is change & many call it evolution. However, evolution is also credited with a simple to complex ability where creatures can change into different, improved, creatures. I believe it is this aspect of evolution which is the subject of the question.

          Abiogenesis is widely held to be separate from evolution; however if you reverse engineer evolution to it's roots, then we must have an inanimate object becoming alive by natural means. Difficult to understand how we can separate them.
          :-)
        • May 12 2013: Peter,

          We can separate them because the mechanisms for life to originate are not the same as those involved in the evolutionary process. The god you worship might be, for you, an all-or-nothing issue. But reality is not. Knowledge is not. I would not start rejecting all the clear knowledge we have about how gravitation shapes the orbits of the planets just because I have no idea about how the universe started, or because I don't know if the universe started. I would not deny the knowledge I have about mycobacterium leprae being behind leprosy just because I don't know where this bacterium comes from. I would not renounce any well-established knowledge because there's so much I don't know. The same is true about evolution. There's so much evidence that denying it because we don't know how life started would be silly.

          In natural terms, you are right, they are not separate. There has to be life first before there's evolution. But, for example, if we have enough evidence to establish that we share common ancestry with a lot of other life forms, then there's no denying it just because we can't establish other common ancestries with the same confidence, or just because we don't know how life started.

          One more: If I know that I have a stomach hernia, not knowing how my stomach developed won't change the evidence for both my stomach and the hernia. Right?

          Why is this so hard for you to understand? Pay attention: I am not asking you to accept evolution, I am not asking you to accept abiogenesis, but to understand why these two are separate in scientific terms. Why is this so hard to understand for you?
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          May 13 2013: Hi Entropy.
          Most articles on evolution start with the Big Bang & end with Homo Sapiens. I guess we can allow for poetic licence, but are we giving the wrong impression to youngsters & others, learning this for the first time?
          My personal view is that all creatures were created perfect & as they breed, & diversify, they accumulate mutations which make them weaker. So we have a degeneration over the years.
          I assume your view would be the reverse. Things started off in a simple manner,& are improved by natural selection, so that creatures get more complex. I accept natural selection btw; just don't accept that it's benefits can overcome the degeneration.
          So really we need a start point for evolution, which would, I guess, be the point at which natural selection can have an effect, but this is never made clear. So I see your position as one where a pretty startling happening converted dead atoms into a form of life that could be operated on by mutation & natural selection. Then & only then, does evolution start. Am I on the right track? Do you believe this?
          Ignoring the abiogenesis bit, it would be of interest if you could point to some evidence that we are evolving into better beings, or some other evidence that evolution is actually improving things. Something concrete that would enhance the 'Fact' status. Fruit Flies are still Fruit Flies.

          :-)
        • May 13 2013: Hello Peter,

          It dos not matter if most "popular" articles on evolution start with the big bang or not. The important thing is whether you understand why abiogenesis and biological evolution can be treated separately as I explained before. It should not take too much effort on the part of youngsters and others learning about this for the first time to understand the differences no matter how a quick popular presentation looked like. Nobody would talk about the processes and evidence for biological evolution as if they were the same as those for the big bang or for abiogenesis.

          Your question about degeneration/improvement seems also misinformed. The meaning of improvement depends on the environment. Evolution then would improve organisms for such circumstances, but not necessarily for other circumstances. If a population is all right in its environment, then there will be no further improvements. Evolution does not stop though, because random fluctuations in gene versions (alleles), might change appearances and such with no improvements involved. Evolution is not about improvements, but about survival. Yes, life started simple, and more complex life forms have appeared. But complexity and improvement are not synonyms, and, again, improvement is relative to the environment.

          "Degeneration" can only happen where too many genetic defects can be passed on to offspring. If not, then there's no reason for degeneration. This has been shown mathematically numerous times. It's all about the probability of mixing deleterious mutations at reproduction.

          But your degeneration question is not what needs answering to get to the fact status. We could talk about that later on.

          I do not understand your fruit flies comment. Do you think that flies adapted to new environments are not better flies for those environments than the original populations?
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          May 14 2013: Hi Entropy.
          The Fruit Fly comment refers to the efforts to 'evolve' Fruit Flies. They have a very rapid turn-around, so this makes them ideal for mutation/selection experiments, but so far we just get damaged Fruit Flies.

          ""Despite decades of sustained selection in relatively small, sexually reproducing laboratory populations, selection did not lead to the fixation of newly arising unconditionally advantageous alleles.""
          http://www.arn.org/blogs/index.php/literature/2010/10/07/experimental_evolution_in_fruit_flies

          :-)
        • May 14 2013: Hi Peter,

          Apparently you linked to a creationist web site. I see mention of ID, and some misquoting spiced with a few misconceptions about population genetics (the author does not seem to understand the words used, and instead gives them a more colloquial meaning).

          Anyway, I said that "improvement" depends on the environment. It is as illogical to expect an advantageous mutation will be advantageous in every environment, as it would be to expect that an eagle's wing will be advantageous at the bottom of the ocean. Therefore, why would you find a problem for evolution if mutations are conditionally advantageous rather than unconditionally advantageous?

          I see no reason why fruit flies that develop faster would be called "damaged" flies by the way.

          If you are searching the creationist literature for evidence that evolution works, I am not very surprised that you have not found it. The day those guys start presenting data and evidence with honesty I will start thinking that our planet might be six thousand years old and the moon is made of cheese.

          So, any questions about our conversation? Do you understand now why we can separate abiogenesis and biological evolution? Do you understand that degeneration and improvement depend on the environment and that evolution is not just improvement, but depends on environment, and that degeneration depends on probability for deleterious alleles (bad genes) to survive by being passed on in reproduction?
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          May 15 2013: Hi Entropy.
          The fruit fly experiments are being run by evolutionists. I guess they are well aware of the best ways to make evolution happen. If they succeed then I'll need to back off, but as yet no sign.

          The way I see it is that improvements can occur in any given creature, dependant on the environment. This can be demonstrated, this is science. We call it micro-evolution. From that point you are assuming abiogenesis, and macro-evolution. Neither of these can be demonstrated, they are not science. When / if they are demonstrated then we can discuss how they came about. Until then all we have is two different opinions; not a fact & a fairy story.
          Cool name btw. That's the main reason that abiogenesis is probably a non-starter.
          :-)
        • May 15 2013: Hi Peter,

          If the scientific work is presented by a creationist they will always quote in a misleading way. That's a given. Example, it's obvious to me that there's nothing wrong with flies having advantageous mutations but not unconditionally advantageous mutations. That's normal. But the creationist site had to insist on that as if that meant failure, which it isn't. Did you understand that there's nothing wrong about flies having mutations that are conditionally advantageous? If you expect unconditionally advantageous mutations you don't understand evolution. No wonder you would not accept it.

          From microevolution (evolution within the species) we get to see that improvements do happen, and that proposed mechanisms can do quite a lot of stuff, like making a fly develop faster. But we don't suggest that such thing proves abiogenesis. I don't know what makes you think that. We don't get macroevolution from that alone either. There's much more to macroevolution and its evidence than those experiments. Way much more. Both abiogenesis and macroevolution are science. I truly don't see why they would not be. Maybe you mistake science with final judgement. For macroevolution, there's enough evidence that we know it's a fact, but final judgement about how much different processes contribute to it is far from decided. For abiogenesis there's research, yes, scientific research, but it's not final judgement. We don't know how it happened. We just know there's no reason why it would not happen.

          Now, you might not like that I talk about abiogenesis as a given, but that would be a different discussion. Just remember that we don't use microevolution to "prove" abiogenesis. Experiments on microevolution do help macroevolution, but it is not the single thing that has convinced us that macroevolution is real. There's much much more.

          That's it for now.
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      May 9 2013: I think there is a confusion here. Evolution is a fact because it's effects are observable and verifiable and repeatable. Evolution in itself is not a theory.
      That evolution takes place with sufficient trials under the conditions of environment such that only the fit trails triumph and survive whereas the unfit trials get weeded out and that the whole process is 'dumb' without any supernatural intervention is a theory of evolution proposed by Darwin. It is not a fact per se, it is a theory - highly successful one.
      The Cosmological Evolution is another fact. The standard Hot Big bang model the most favored theory of this evolution.
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        May 9 2013: Hi Pabitra.
        It is true that natural selection favours the most fit. However the controversy arises when it comes to the ability of this mechanism to produce a new, improved creature. This is what is postulated from the Darwinian model, but where is the evidence?
        In addition the question relates to abiogenesis, which is a pre-requisite for evolution. The usual cop-out about it not being part of evolution is just that.

        :-)
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    May 8 2013: Good question, but I don't think you understand what the theory of evolution entails.

    The first real evolutionary scheme was the one created by Lamarck and his "transmutation" theory in 1809.This involved spontaneous generation constantly making simple forms of life that developed and became more complex. These parallel lineages supposedly would meet in the present, accounting for different species. LAMARCK's theory was disproved. Only LAMARCK's evolutionary theory was disputed.

    Modern evolutionary theory isn't really concerned with how the first ancestor came to be. Modern evolutionary theory focuses on how a common ancestor evolved into the different species we have today. Evolution is a fact.

    Also, welcome to TED! Cheers!
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      May 8 2013: If you refer to a common ancestor then you are referring to Darwin whose work was called "On The Origin of Species" in which he accounts for the origin of this species by spontaneous generation. How can people just divorce themselves from part of his work?
      • May 11 2013: Nope, Darwin did not write a book where species arise from spontaneous generation. I think you did not read the book. On the origin of species is a carefully presented work with lots of evidence showing that species change, and suggested one mechanism (natural selection) by which divergent populations give rise to new species. It's about common ancestry, not about organisms anything even close to spontaneous generation.

        I don't know where you are getting your information from, but it's clearly not from scientists, but from propagandists. Sorry, but this is evidently so.
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      May 10 2013: Go Michael! Hope you major in science in college.
  • May 10 2013: It is trivial to demonstrate evolutionary phenomena in any dynamic system, such as ideas, technology, social trends, language, etc. : there is variation in the existing system (e.g. different brands of cars, different figures of speech), and those variations which survive and "reproduce" into the next generation increase their frequency, while other variations fade into obscurity. Often such survival is correlated with how "good" the thing is, but not always -- sometimes good ideas fade, while "bad" ideas survive, just as in biological evolution. The source of new variation may often be the result of very deliberate action, but often times the source is quite random. (this of course could lead to a philosophical debate about the source of randomness--I guess one could resort to a religious argument that "randomness" is a product of the divine!) Anyway, in this sense, the underlying principle of evolution is a trivial property of all nature, not just living things.

    In biology, it is quite trivial to demonstrate, over a small number of generations, natural selection at work. One could do this yourself by breeding peas in your garden. Those who question evolutionary theory may argue that this does not prove that species could completely change, or that spontaneous mutations could give rise to survival improvement. The proofs of this come from understanding spontaneous mutation rates, understanding the accumulation of change from these rates in the context of large time scales (millions of years), and understanding the source of the mutations (e.g. errors in DNA replication, or exposure to ambient radiation). Immediate examples can come from microbiologists, such as showing that spontaneous mutations in bacterial genomes lead to ability to metabolize new substances (e.g. citrate, as from Lenski's work) or obviously to develop antiobiotic resistance.
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    May 9 2013: In order to manufacture something we must start with a vision.
    We then make detailed drawings.
    We then gather all the raw materials & sub assemblies.
    Finally we assemble the materials as per drawing.
    I am watching birds on a feeder outside my window. We do not have the technology to manufacture one; it is totally beyond our capability. However we are asked to believe that over millenia they gradually refined themselves from simpler machines; without a vision, without drawings, without suitable materials, & without any intelligent input. Here they are though, with perfect aerodynamics, matching wing patters, eyes, claws, beaks etc. They also have the ability to reproduce, and adapt to their environment. This last point is their downfall, as it gives us an excuse to believe that this is what produced them.
    Why is evolution considered a fact, especially with respect to abiogenesis ? Well, if there is no God, then we can do as we please, & to consider evolution as a fact expedites this view. You won't find the answer in the science, it has to be in the faith/religious/political arena. It's something that must be believed, as it; conveniently; cannot be proven.

    :-)
    • May 9 2013: Why does evolution have to be outside the realm of the spiritual? Is it so difficult to believe in a deity who puts its vision into existence by creating a set of natural laws that run the universe and then allowing his creations to develop through those natural laws? Evolution does not tell us that there is no God. In fact, I believe it is one of the strongest arguments for a higher intelligence. If you accept that the natural order of the universe is randomness (chaos), then the order imposed upon chaos that is the DNA molecule is of such a magnitude that it is hard to believe that it developed without a plan (or vision, if you will). If God exists, and through my statements above you now understand that I believe he does exist, what is more likely: (1) that he produced life spontaneously in the form that it is now but left us such a plethora of scientific evidence that these natural laws (evolution being one of them) exist but are actually false, or (2) he has the vision to create such complex life forms as humans and orchids and algae, etc, through a series of natural laws. The complexity, and yet such elegant simplicity, of a molecule such as DNA and its ability to produce such different life forms is overwhelming evidence in my mind of the existence of a supreme creator.
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        May 9 2013: Hi Michael
        In your scenario; what is the vision of your god? Are we the vision, or do we have some evolving to do yet? What's his end game ?
        Personally I am not persuaded that simple to complex evolution is happening. However, let's assume it is. Surely it is the most painful, & wasteful process for producing higher life imaginable. Any self-respecting engineer would be embarrassed.
        What evidence has persuaded you that a god has taken the route you outline.
        My position is orthodox. I believe that the bible is accurate, & that Jesus Christ is our creator God. There is plenty of meat that can be checked out against recorded history. If it is just taken at face value things seem to make sense. The intelligencia however seem to tie themselves in knots by 're-interpreting it to suit themselves.

        :-)
        • May 9 2013: I do not have a single vision of God. I do not believe I can understand that which I am not capable of understanding. Like all things spiritual, this is a question of faith. I am thankful for being here and I am more than hopeful that death is not the end. Looking back at the evolutionary record, I must assume there is some higher goal on the evolutionary scale that we are to achieve, or else what is the meaning of it? In the meantime, since I will not be that further evolved creature in my lifetime I am charged with maximizing that which I can be, whether that is physically, emotionally, ethically, morally, or metaphysically. I believe that comparing God to an engineer is silly, and an insult to a deity outside the constraints of time and space. What is 14 billion years to such an entity? It is meaningless. Thus evolution is not painful or wasteful, it is elegant. Any self-respecting engineer would crave to be the designer of such a system that perpetuates itself with no further need for external manipulation. This would be the ultimate achievement in any engineer's career, and it has yet to be accomplished by humans. The problem I have with religion is that each one professes to know the truth. If there is one God and he wants us to follow the truth, why allow more than one to be evident? The answer is simple - none of us can know for sure, that is what makes it a matter of faith. You come to the question with a preconceived notion of what God is. That is your faith. I do not. That is my faith. There are only 3 possible situations: 1). You are correct, 2). I am correct, 3). neither of us is correct. In the realm of possibility, I suspect the real answer is number 3, but I hope it will be quite some time before I find out. In the meantime, I like to think about a deity who could place all of this into motion and say to us "I am giving you all the tools - figure it out. I will be waiting for you when you do".
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        May 9 2013: He has given us the tools. We know how to manufacture things; we put atoms together in a meaningful manner to produce a product. God has obeyed His own laws, we can learn from his designs.
        It is true that there are many variations on the theme among mankind. It is incumbent on us as individuals to find the truth. To me, the bible stands alone as the candidate for God's message to mankind. In the Christian church I find believers & unbelievers. Among the believers there is a remarkable unity of opinion regarding core truths. I freely admit this is not obvious when listening to church leaders.

        :-)
        • May 9 2013: I agree, God has set these laws in motion and all things obey them because they are the natural laws, there is no ability to do otherwise. All science does is try to discover and enumerate these laws. What I can not do is accept the Bible as God's literal words. As a guide towards how to live your life and be good to each other in order to preserve a harmony that will allow us to flourish as best as possible as one of his creations, I can live with that. However, it is a book full of contradictions and just faulty interpretation of his natural laws. This is to be expected for a collection of stories that started as part of an oral record passed down for millennia and having multiple translations and mistranslations, and as such I do not accept it as full truth. Besides, unless you take the literal translation of a day equaling 24 hours, there is nothing in Genesis that contradicts evolution. I believe the Bible is allegory, not fact. The beauty of it all is that whether the Bible is truth or it is not, the universe continues to chug along following the rules that we are literally just beginning to define. The argument over evolution will never be fully resolved because those that accept faith in the Bible as paramount will never be convinced otherwise, and I do not wish to convince them otherwise. Faith is a deeply personal thing that is achieved in different ways by different people. Eventually we will all learn the truth.
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        May 11 2013: ""Besides, unless you take the literal translation of a day equaling 24 hours, there is nothing in Genesis that contradicts evolution.""

        The only possible reason for not taking 24 hours is to try & shoehorn evolution into the bible, so you get a circular argument. What's the point in reading a book if your going to reinterpret it to suit your particular preconceived notions.

        Ev BB etc says the earth started as a fiery ball, G says it started as a ball of water.
        Ev sun & stars preceded the earth. G puts the earth first, then Sun, moon, & stars.
        Ev We came from a common ancestor. G god made each creature individually in types (species).
        Ev. Animals come before birds. G birds come before animals.
        Ev. Death was always part of the plan. G. Death came later, as a result of disobedience.
        Etc etc. Genesis & Evolution are polar opposites; you should really know that if you want to debate this subject.

        :-)
        • May 23 2013: The problem occurs when you choose to believe stories written by men after centuries of an oral tradition over physical evidence and observed phenomena. With different telescopes we can see stars forming in the cosmos as balls of fire. Water can not be formed until these bodies spawn planets that cool and coalesce. These are the observable natural laws that the universe runs by. We are supposed to believe a story written by primitives that do not understand these natural laws over the reality we have observed and quantified? Again, we have already agreed that God created these natural laws and that the universe follows them. It makes far more sense that the stories are allegory than that God chose to break the laws he so carefully constructed. The people who choose religion (not God) over evolution do it by ignoring the evidence. They choose to believe stories written, rewritten, edited, and mistranslated over millennia over the physical evidence that exists - evidence that if their version is true, God would have had to place in the physical world that completely contradicts what he wants them to believe. Therefore, God must be the greatest trickster and practical joker ever. Or, he could be the most brilliant intelligence and start a process that begins with an explosion and is still active, creating new species that adapt to the changes they encounter and have produced something as elegant as humans, orchids, algae, paramecium, etc. Your God is not as impressive IMHO.
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      May 10 2013: What will your answer be when we do have the technology to manufacture a bird? The polio virus was a success and Mycoplasma mycoides is 90% there. The next step is a eukaryotic cell, which in the right conditions will grow into the complete organism.
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        May 10 2013: We are made in God's image. We may well be smart enough to eventually make a bird. How exactly does that further the argument that a bird made itself over billions of years ? My point is that machines (birds etc) require intelligent input. If we put enough intelligence into the job, then a bird may result. Millions of years just gives dust.

        :-)
    • May 11 2013: False. I started reading on the origin of species laughing at those stupid evil evolutionists who just believed it because they wanted to enjoy their sins, expecting to find all the things I was misguided to think that evolution was about. What I discovered is that evolution was a scientific proposal based on observation of the natural world. Darwin presented several lines of evidence and did an admirable job at presenting possible objections and answering with loads of data and examples. Evolution is far from being based on faith. Unfortunately, in the process I discovered how misinformed I had been, and how easily it came to apologists to spread and worsen the misinformation. I would be arguing against an evil atheist, even back then, but then a friend of mine would say something very wrong, very misinformed, and I would turn around and say "no, that's false." Then I had to face criticism for not just buying into creationist lies and misinformation, for reading about evolution directly rather than the lies and misinformation provided by creationists. For understanding what this thing actually was about.

      The point is this: evolution is not based on faith. It is not based on wanting to enjoy sins. There's plenty of evidence, and once understood you will find that there's nothing scientifically wrong with it. The evidence is overwhelming, and what I wanted back then did not matter. What mattered and still matters to me is what the evidence says. And it tells that evolution is a fact.

      Abiogenesis is another story. Scientists have not figured out exactly how life originated. For a while I held to that to keep my faith. However, I would have never dreamed to hold that as proof that evolution is false. That would have been, and it still is, both ridiculous and dishonest. If the evidence is clear about evolution, knowing or not knowing how life started won't make a difference. Why is this so hard to understand for you guys? Why exactly?
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        May 11 2013: Hi Entropy.
        It's just the sheer complexity. If Ford want to develop a new engine, it takes millions of dollars & man hours; and they already know what they want. Biology is infinitely more complex, there is no possibility in my mind of this sort of engineering happening without intelligent input.
        http://www.wehi.edu.au/education/wehitv/molecular_visualisations_of_dna/
        We are looking at mind numbingly complex systems. We understand a fraction of what is going on. They are producing effects which we interpret as evolution, & jumping to the conclusion that this process is what initiated the whole thing. Are we really saying that with all our technology we cannot emulate a process that happened all by itself, long ago & far away?
        Darwin saw that birds grew different types of beaks, driven by natural selection. He was right, the system works, but the machinery to make it work is amazingly complex. Computers work with the data we input, but that data would never manufacture a computer.
        Each of us checks the evidence & comes to our own conclusion. Neither side is cut & dried. Some things just have to be taken on faith; if that faith is strong, you may consider it a fact, but the next guy should be permitted to disagree.

        :-)
    • May 12 2013: Peter,

      You are free to be as skeptical about evolution as you wish. I am not going to try and convince you. You are just as free to then turn around, change your skeptical standards into nothing, and accept as true a book made of other books, containing all kinds of contradictions, and a god that changes in morality and temper, no matter how much you have to twist reality to believe such stuff, no matter how nonsensical. Thats fine by me. If that kind of double standard suits you it's your problem.

      What I won't accept is for you to come and tell me that evolution is about faith, or that I accept it because I want to delight in sin, or that it's all political. I will not accept your mixing of evolution with abiogenesis just because for you it's an all or nothing issue. When something is shown to be true beyond reasonable doubt, then it is true. Evolution qualifies. That you are ignorant of the facts does not matter. That you are skeptical to unreasonable points about science, while accepting your fantasy without a flinch does not matter. It's your problem. But I can tell that you don't know the facts from the way you argue. Example, you claimed that Darwin thought of evolution because of finches beaks. Obviously you did not read his book. So, unless you are willing to read it and understand it, you should not argue against it. If complexity convinces you that magic makes better sense as an answer, fine by me. But I went through too much to have you saying that I accept evolution on faith, sin, and politics. Don't make statements of fact about what you don't know.
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        May 12 2013: Hi Entropy.

        What's the problem then. The man wants to know WHY evolution is considered a FACT. Just tell him why you think it is & put us all at ease.

        :-)
    • May 12 2013: The man was asking the wrong question. He wanted to know why if Pasteur showed spontaneous generation to be wrong, evolution was considered a fact, putting spontaneous generation as a "key component" of evolution, which it is not. I started by showing that the man had a misinformed question, with false premises. If the man has further questions we can talk about it, but apparently you guys think that clarifying mistaken assumptions is wrong. The man so far has not asked anything further. My clarification is there at the top. So far all I have is silence.

      So, if the man could ask a proper question, then we could start talking about that. I would be more than happy to continue and explain. That does not mean any of you has to trust my word for it. That does not mean that you guys have to accept evolution even if you trusted me. All I would aim to do is answer to the best that comments in a discussion forum would allow.
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    May 9 2013: Hi Milton,

    Part of why this is not an easy subject, is because it is hard to agree on the ground rules.

    Let's agree on terms first. Evolution is change. For a star evolution means consuming its reservoir of hydrogen fusing it into helium, and then switching to a different reaction when the fuel runs out. For a living thing evolution means changes that will give rise to a slightly different kind of offspring by means of changed dna. Example: we must get a flu shot every year because the flu virus is not exactly the same virus that existed last year, it evolved

    Darwin proposed a theory to try to explain this change (this evolution). His theory is called Natural Selection. Sometimes this theory is called theory of evolution but that adds to the confusion.

    So evolution is an observable fact, and Natural Selection is a theory attempting to explain how evolution arises.

    Now, scientific theories are not all-or-nothing: you can use a theory within a limited scope knowing that beyond certain point it fails to describe the observed phenomena. One can fly a rocket to the moon by using Newton's theory of gravitation, even if it has been proven to be incomplete and superseded (encompassed) by Einstein's General Relativity.

    How do you test a scientific theory? you take it's predictions and you try to find repeatable examples that do not behave as predicted. That proves that the theory is incomplete but that does not render the entire theory invalid. There are many areas where experiments agree with the theory of natural selection, and the more such examples we find, the more "solid" it is considered.

    I am not sure i agree that a key component of evolution is spontaneous generation "a la Pasteur". I would say that the kind of spontaneous generation that the theory of natural selection calls for, is the spontaneous arrangement of chemical compounds into compounds that could copy themselves, way before dna is even in the picture

    I hope i did not confuse things more

    cheers
    • May 9 2013: I agree. The biggest mistake when someone uses spontaneous generation in regards to evolution is to believe that a bacteria, or a paramecium, or a housefly can spontaneously come into being from nothingness or from random chemicals in a soup. This has been rejected by the theory of evolution. However, we have seen in the laboratory that when you have the correct types of organic molecules in an aqueous solution and you pass an electrical charge through it (much like lightening striking a primordial soup) you can create a lipid or glycolipid membrane very similar to a cell membrane. In this situation you could say that spontaneous generation of this new molecular composition has occurred. The biggest problem is when people bring their preconceived notions of the universe with them to this discussion. Those that believe that the Bible is the ultimate authority will never be able to acknowledge that what has occurred could lead to any life forms, let alone higher ones. Those who are avowed atheists will never be able to acquiesce to the idea that this could have been set in motion be a deity. It is neither here nor there. The universe runs by a set of rules - it has too. It can not have arbitrary rules that come and go and change. Therefore, when we make theories like Natural Selection we are looking for those rules so that we may understand the universe. Whether you believe a deity set them into motion or not, they must still exist.
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    May 9 2013: The theory of spontaneous generation in relation to Pasteur refers to the spontaneous generation of complete complex living organisms. This has been disproved and has no link to evolution. Evolution just requires chemical reactions which can be reproduced artificially. So far the most complex thing I know of being produced is a virus. This virus invaded host cells and took over the cellular functions just like a natural one does. Left to its own devices it would have evolved into a form different to the one that was manufactured. If you choose to do some research you will find the line between chemistry and micro-biology to be a very blurry one.
  • Jun 8 2013: First of all I wonder who mentioned spontaneous generation as the key component of evolution, my last class of biology was 30 year ago, but I am pretty sure no teacher of mine told me such a thing. It would be nice if you could give us the exact reference.

    The development of resistance to antibiotics of many species of bacteria is a clear proof of evolution, and it is well documented, so based on that I think is safe to say evolution is a fact. I am not a biologist and nothing related, but there is an experiment you can do to witness evolution, maybe a biologist in the audience can refine it and set the proper amounts of time since I'm just guessing.

    Do the following: Spay an anthill with poison, repeat once a week with the same poison (same chemistry, same brand), in a few months you will start observing the poison is less and less effective until all the ants are completely immune to that poison. That is evolution right in front of your own eyes, no millions of years to proof, not just theory, facts!.
  • Jun 6 2013: If only this type of critical thinking would be applied to the church.
  • May 19 2013: Facts:

    1. More recent geological layers with fossils contain more organisms similar to living ones than older layers.
    2. Adjacent layers contain more similar organisms that non-adjacent layers.
    3. Most ancient layers with fossils contain only microscopic fossils.
    4. Organisms colonizing new habitats diverge rapidly from their original populations often enough that they speciate.
    5. Genetic evidence shows organismal relationships in undeniable ways. For example, pseudogenes shared by closely related organisms tend to have the very same disabling mutations.
    6. geographical distribution shows a pattern of dispersion that betrays origin from a single population. Example, organisms in the same genus tend to live closer than organisms in the same family, which tend to live live closer than organisms in the same order.
    7. Lands that separated before the appearance of some type of organisms don't have those kinds of organisms, often having very different faunas. Example dominance of marsupials in Australia, because Australia separated from other continents before the appearance of our kind of mammals.
    8. Amino-acid differences in proteins across organisms confirm suspicions of common ancestry to the point that the patterns of mutation show what would be expected from changes from common DNA sequences (this is not mere accounting of similarities).
    9. Etc, etc, etc, etc.

    There is a huge body of evidence showing that evolution and common ancestry are real. Evolution is therefore a fact. We might not know all the mechanisms responsible: how much random processes, how much positive selection, how much negative selection, how much drift, how much biased mutations, how much wrong repair, how much interacting organisms, how much horizontal gene transfer, etc. But evolution is still a fact.
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    May 16 2013: Many have taken exception to the reference to spontaneous generation of life. May I suggest we leave that to one side & concentrate on the main question; " Why is evolution considered a Fact?". Many times we hear "There is tons of evidence", or "ten million years ago, this happened", of "This fossil evolved into that fossil". There is never a follow through though, what is the rationale, why do you think that is the case?
    If you think evolution is a fact, WHY do you think that? Surely, if it's going on all the time, there must be some obvious sign that me & my granny can understand. Come on Guys & Gals, let's have a definitive list; each of you put down your most compelling reason for believing molecules to man evolution is actually a reality. Simple enough question? Let's go for it then......

    :-)
    • May 16 2013: Peter,

      If you will keep coming back to starting with abiogenesis (molecules to man), then we will have a very hard time trying to explain. What good is any explanations if you will forget them after one minute?

      Also, I do not think that evolution is a fact. I do not believe that evolution is a fact. I know that evolution is a fact. It has nothing to do with what I think or believe, nothing to do with what I want or not want, but with what the evidence says. Evolution is a fact, and I have no say in the matter. I can give you several reasons why I know so. But whether you accept this reality or not is up to you. So, can we start by assuming that you finally understood that evolution is not the same as abiogenesis?
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        May 18 2013: Hi Entropy.

        ""I can give you several reasons why I know so. ""

        Ok, that's what we're after. Go ahead....

        :-)
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      May 17 2013: If all the animals were created at the same time, why are there only human fossils in the upper layers of rocks?
      Why are the same fossils found in rock of the same age in different places but are not found in younger or older rocks? (Before you question radiometric dating keep in mind that if radiometric dating doesn't work then the computer you are looking at is impossible to make as they both rely on the same science)
      Look up the peppered moth, an example of evolution that was observed in real time.
      If God created all the animals at the same time why did he let most of them become extinct?
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        May 18 2013: Hi Peter.

        So is the Peppered Moth one of the main reasons you consider evolution a Fact?

        :-)
        • May 18 2013: Nope, the moths were but one example, and he mentioned other stuff. Why would you ignore other evidence if not to artificially make it look less compelling?
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          May 20 2013: The peppered moth is interesting because it is an example of evolution due to man's activities. Did you look it up?
          BTW I don't consider evolution a fact as I am a scientist. I consider evolution a theory for which there is an overwhelming amount of supporting data and no contradictory data.
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        May 20 2013: Hi Peter,
        Yes I am familiar with the Peppered Moth experiment.
        We start out with white moths & black moths in equalish proportions.
        The trees blacken & the white moths stand out & are eaten.
        We then have a higher number of black moths.
        The trees return to normal & so does the white/black ratio.
        There seems to be some question as to just how this experiment was carried out, but let's assume it was bona fide. What we have is an excellent example of natural selection. The moths have black genes & white genes, the black ones predominate for a while due to the environment, this is not questioned by anyone. Evolution theory requires the appearance of new, different traits which are capable of changing one type of creature into a new type of creature. MacroEcolution if you like.

        :-)
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          May 20 2013: The significance was that the preponderance of black moths in polluted areas and white moths in unpolluted areas split the species into two groups that were then exposed to different environments. This means that any future event in one population wouldn't affect the other. Given enough time the two populations may diverge into seperate species. BTW it wasn't an experiment it was an observation of changes in the colour balance of moths during the industrial revolution City vs Country.
  • May 10 2013: This is starting quite misguided and misinformed.

    1. False, spontaneous generation has nothing to do with evolution.
    2. Yes, Pasteur proved that spontaneous generation is false. Do you have any idea about what kind of spontaneous generation that referred to? (flies spontaneously generating from putrid meat is an example, another is bacteria growing on urine). Nothing about evolution involves flies spontaneously growing out of putrid meat.
    3. I suspect that you are mistaking evolution and the origin of life, the latter is called abiogenesis, not spontaneous generation. While we don't expect bacteria to grow in urine without prior bacteria been present, there's nothing in chemical-physical laws that preclude the possibility of simple life forms starting from some complex chemicals, and once life starting for it to evolve until we have bacteria. Pasteur's experiments are, of course, far from mimicking what our planet might be like, or the conditions that might be necessary for the origin of life. Still, we have mostly clues about the origin of life in our planet, but nothing final yet. But that's not evolution. That's origin of life.

    Evolution, which is not abiogenesis, is a fact because the facts show that it has happened and continues to happen. We know, for example, with quite high confidence, that the other apes and humans share common ancestry. There's tons of evidence about it. We have tons of quite strong evidence of the evolution of other groups of animals and plants. Tons of data that all confirm other sources of evidence, and so on. So, sorry, but yes, evolution is a fact whether we like it or not. (No space for much explaining, but your question contained obvious wrong assumptions. So I concentrated on those.)
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    May 10 2013: I have corrected my comments and have removed the sentence w/"Hit and Run." Especially since you are still here. Please let me know if additional corrections are needed. I've been places on the internet where really strange people would make brief, outlandish, inflammatory, and/or rude statements; usually under an alias -- and then disappear. Only to reappear under an alias and stoke the outrage by joining in and calling everyone (else) names. We've all seen it. That kind of behavior is juvenile. And so was my comment as to "Hit & Run." Please accept my apology. TED is a special place. I enjoy it here. No "Hit & Run!" No!

    I watched a video about the Order of Melchizedek Ministries (or something similar with a nearly identical name) and I wasn't really sure what to think. But I respect this thread that YOU are responsible for creating. And for that you have my gratitude. I like this thread. I hope that I am still welcome here.

    On any other subject and especially as to Evolution itself -- I am curious as to your thoughts and insight. And thank you. JV
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    May 10 2013: I think I'm in the wrong place to continue to comment. Check the profile of the individual who started this thread. The Order of Melchizedek Ministries is outside the mainstream of faith experience in the U.S.A. But that says nothing about the validity of faith or the power of belief. It's different. It is not the same as the faith of my childhood, but everyone is welcome here. But we shall see. And this is TED -- so there is nothing here that is unequal to the challenging question presented here.

    None of us are completely identical to any other. We are not all the same. And from the perspective of faith, this truth can only reflect the wisdom of our Creator. This is God's challenge to the limits of our understanding. And broadening the boundaries of belief can be a very difficult task. In many respects, it is the most difficult experience faced by the faithful. How do you believe? And WHAT do you believe when faced with so many compelling and attractive alternatives. I've found a very difficult answer in my journey, but my personal journey is not yet over. The question is not "to believe or not to believe." The question is: "What do I believe!" I accept the facts as science measures and confirms them. The inconsistencies challenge my faith. But my faith will never be complete if I personally, am unwilling to face that challenge. And that is part of what, I believe, TED is all about.
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      May 10 2013: Hello Juan could you please explain what you mean by "hit and run"
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    May 9 2013: I've always thought of myself as an Apologist; that is, one who engages in religious apologetics. Look Apologetics up in Wikipedia, if unclear. And there is nothing in the theory of Evolution that demands any sort of apology.

    I believe in Evolution, but I also believe in God. I have three basic reasons for my belief in God. The first is anthropological. The second is psychological. The third is sociological. There is also a 4th, but that we save for later. In fact, today we'll save all three of my basic reasons for belief, (plus one) for another time. But NOTHING in the theory of Evolution says anything about God. And there are no valid conclusions about God (existence/nonexistence or anything else) that can be adequately addressed based upon any scientific understanding of Evolution, or of the processes and events that undergird this theory as scientific fact.

    Spontaneous Generation can refer to two different things. The kind of spontaneous generation that Pasteur disproved involved the assertions of the sort: 1) that snakes and crocodiles were formed in the mud of the Nile (Shakespeare); 2) a Barnacle Goose can arise spontaneously from a Goose Barnacle (Gerald of Wales); 3) eels can and do emerge from earthworms (Aristotle). Pasteur's 1859 experiment is credited with disproving these rather strange theories.

    The second form of spontaneous generation has to do with Abiogenesis and the Miller-Urey experiment. The current theory is that with a reaction flask the size of (and containing) the Pacific Ocean, plus other minerals; real lightning and sunlight as an energy source; and about a Billion years to run the experiment; primitive DNA based microbial life will emerge spontaneously. This is not the same as Goose Barnacles emerging as Barnacle Geese. But both barnacles and Geese had to come from somewhere. JV
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    May 9 2013: Its a theory, but please tell me how the birth of a baby is not evolution? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BFrVmDgh4v4
    • May 9 2013: The birth of anything is evolution in action. Genetics = evolution. Mutations occur with every conception. Most are barely noticeable. However, when a beneficial mutation occurs in the setting of the correct environmental conditions, that mutation can lead to an advantageous trait that is beneficial to that species survival and propagation. Every single generation has that capacity for advancing species survival. We can negatively effect this, however, with practices that do not promote the advantageous: inbreeding (just look at the health problems suffered by pure-bred dogs), cloning, genetic manipulation, etc. Evolution occurs at variable rates, depending on the environmental stressors at the time. During periods of extreme environmental upheaval, these beneficial mutations will have a more immediate effect and cause more rapid change. Of course rapid is a relative term, we are talking about hundreds to thousands of years at the quickest.
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        May 17 2013: I can't tell where you stand on this, but please explain how I grew/developed from a sperm and an egg?
        • May 23 2013: Do you really want to know how sexual reproduction occurs? By that I truly mean do you want to know the whole of embryogenesis? Textbooks have been written on it but I will give you a very truncated version if you want. However, i think you have a different meaning behind your question that I am not understanding fully, so I ask you to define your question a bit more for me.
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        May 23 2013: You said the birth of anything is evolution. I believe you are talking about evolution in a big picture kind of idea where evolution would take generations for it to happen. And we would only be able to actually tell via hind sight if evolution even happened at all. I am ascertaining that birth, evolution creation is the same thing. Obviously you can not have birth without creation first. New life doesn't just spontaneously come into being. So it has to be created, in this case it the parents who choose to be the creator. From there a sperm and an egg, dont grow or develop into a human. They evolve into a human being. Least try a different perspective. Evolution says that we where once descendents of ape/monkey (what not) but within your lifetime (in theory) you were a descendant of a sperm and an egg. And yet we struggle to see that as evolution. Evolution is the free will of creation.
        • May 23 2013: Now I understand. You are confusing evolution with development. When I said that every birth is evolution it was in the broad sense that every conception carries with it mutations. Some of those mutations may be advantageous and lead to a stronger perpetuation of the species, and possibly change it a little. Over time a series of these changes leads to evolution of a new species. Thus every birth is and can be evolution in action. Sperm and egg do not evolve, they develop. The mixing of their DNA leads to mutations which may lead to advantageous changes which may then lead to a new species. Humans are not descendants of apes or monkeys. Apes, monkeys, and humans are all descendants of adapids and /or omomyids, early protoprimates. I am not a descendant of a sperm and egg, I am a descendant of early homonids who were descendants of protoprimates. Evolution has no will, it occurs in response to environmental stresses.
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        May 24 2013: So what you are a saying is that you were never once in your fathers nutsack? And your mom's fallopian tube? And I believe it might be you and the rest of the science world that is confusing evolution with development. I am sorry. You simply can't start as a sperm and egg who then divide and divide and develop into a human or for that matter any mammal.(step back and think about this) It is a mutation which suggest evolution. It's easier to show you came from a sperm then it is to show we evolved from adapids and /or omomyids, early protoprimates.

        Evolution is the free will of creation but it is not as free will as you would like to suggest.
        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f5hXHntfGwk
        • May 25 2013: I was never in my father's "nut sack" nor my mom's fallopian tubes. After conception I was in my mother's uterus. I did not exist until conception. Before that, sperm and egg are monoploid and therefore not human. Once conception has occurred it is now diploid and a human life form. Development now occurs. Individuals do not evolve, evolution occurs over a period of time, but the changes in individuals can lead to evolutionary changes. Once you are here and are set genetically there is no evolution occuring, it has occured already. When you say "It's easier to show you came from a sperm then it is to show we evolved from adapids and /or omomyids" you are talking in non-sequiters. Because evolution occurs over long periods the evidence exists in fossil records, in chromosomal analysis, in phenotypic analysis. It is quite easy to show that primates evolved from earlier forms, the PHYSICAL EVIDENCE is quite clear - unless you refuse to acknowledge it because a book told you too. And that is fine, if you choose fiction over fact it makes no difference in every day life. But I am done. This is like Plato's allegory of the cave. If you spend your life believing the shadows are reality you can not process the real world when someone shows it to you, and I am tired of these round-and-round conversations that get nowhere.
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        May 28 2013: Sorry Michael but you were once in your fathers nutsack or at least 50% (remember its dna and rna that create life not thought) of you was at one point in time. Did your parents ever tell you about the birds and the bees?

        It is not a non-sequiter, because you could not have any mammal on earth without sperm, you just said that you came into being from a monoploid which is not human. So how? how? did this non human being or entity become a human? .... Guess what its not development... it had to evolve for that to happen....had to.

        Oh and your Plato allegory the visual world that you see with your eyes is the shadow. Check out Quantum physics
  • May 8 2013: Not generation...change
    In Britain, the herring gull is a different species from the lesser black-backed gull. The look different and they never interbreed, even though they may inhabit the same areas. We consider them different species.
    However, as you go westward around the top half of the globe to North America the herring gulls begin to look more like black-backed gulls, and less like herring gulls, even though they can still interbreed with herring gulls from Britain.
    Now go still further via Alaska and then into Siberia. The further west you go, the more each successive population becomes less like a herring gull and more like the black-backed.
    At every step along the way, each population is able to interbreed with those you studied just before you moved further west so you are never dealing with separate species.
    But, when you get all the way around the world and back to Britain, you find that the herring gull has transformed into a black-backed gull which can no longer breed with a herring gull.
    This is an example of genetic changes brought on by changes in the environment and separation by geographical boundaries.
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    May 8 2013: the same reason all of science is considered "fact" - because it is measurable.
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      May 8 2013: All science is not considered fact. Science is based on fact but you still have observation, hypothesis, theories.... If Darwin's book is called, "On The Origin of Species", and this origin of a common ancestor comes to be by a process that has been refuted by science why do you and others still consider it to be a fact? If your measurements are wrong at the beginning its a good chance that they are wrong in the middle and at the end.
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        May 9 2013: that same logic applies to everything. what makes you think any of humanity's initial assumptions are accurate?

        also, extrapolating everything to the point of gross generalisation renders every discussion pointless.
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    May 8 2013: Hi Milton.

    Welcome to TED. I have been asking this question most of my life. You will receive three answers.
    1) Abiogenesis is not part of the Theory of Evolution.
    2) We have almost achieved this in the lab.
    3) You don't understand the Theory; go & read this list of books.
    If you receive empirical evidence, then there is clearly favouritism & I will be upset, but delightfully surprised.

    :-)
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      May 8 2013: Peter you nailed it right on the head.
      • May 11 2013: No he didn't. Can you explain to me what exactly is wrong with clarifying that evolution is not the same as abiogenesis? Can you explain what is wrong with clarifying that abiogenesis is not the same as spontaneous generation? Wouldn't you clarify that Christ is not the same as Mohammed if I had such a misconception?

        Second, if I made a question about Christianity that assumed wrong ideas and stated them as facts, would you answer and offer "empirical evidence" to answer such a nonsensical question? Wouldn't you rather clarify so that I am not left in the dark about what I misunderstood?
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      May 10 2013: Question: Why do people get all wound up about Evolution? And Why do people believe that if you embrace Evolution as a valuable scientific theory (as FACT) that makes you an Atheist? The theory/fact of natural selection says nothing about God. And just having a lot of strong, valid, scientific information about how things happen in the universe, neither validates or disproves anything anyone wants to say about God or the meaning of creation. Scientists have one set of answers. Theologians have another set of answers. Although both sets may intersect -- nothing about Science proves or disproves the existence of God. Nothing about Theology proves or disproves anything about the conclusions of Science. We have one set of data called "science." We have another set of data called "theology." Nothing in the one set proves or disproves anything in the other set. Even if both sets intersect, nothing in the theology set invalidates science. And no facts created or offered by science, invalidates theology. It's apples and oranges.
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        May 10 2013: Good question Juan.
        Folks tend to argue vehemently for either side, but how many understand why?
        I think Christianity is the main culprit; I am a Christian, so here is my take.......
        The bible, taken at face value, states that the universe was created in six days. One day being defined as 'evening' and 'morning', ie one rotation of the planet. Evolution demands more time than this. The main problem here is that if we cannot trust the bible in this, then why should we trust it in anything else. Many try to merge the bible & the evolution time frame, but major gymnastics have to be performed.
        The main reason for conflict is a little more subtle however. The bible teaches that we can live forever, that death is not what we naturally think it is. According to the bible, there was no death envisaged at the beginning. Death is the consequence of the first humans disobedience to God. Jesus Christ (God) died at Calvary to absorb this consequence & give humans once more the opportunity to live forever. This is the message of the whole bible.
        Now, let's suppose evolution is true. Death is a 'normal' phenomenum; it has always existed & is indeed essential for life to progress. There are a couple of consequences. 1) Jesus wasted his time.& 2) We have no hope of eternal life.
        Now we have a choice; we can 'tow the line' , & live forever; or eat, drink & be merry, for tomorrow we die. Most chose the latter, but those of us who chose the former are anxious to inform folks that there is hope. I have studied the evolution thing for many years; it intrigues me; but I have never found any compelling reason to believe it. Everything about it boils down to someone's opinion. Jesus Christ has changed my life; it's a no-brainer.

        :-)
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        May 10 2013: Hi Juan.
        I see you retain the Christian willingness to be honest about your struggle, thanks for that.

        I had no God in my early life, but searched for meaning. Harder in these days of no computers. I was a big fan of Eric Von Daniken, then of Charlie Darwin, but nothing really clicked into the truth drawer.
        When I was 35 my wife came near to death & became a Christian through the folks next door. This p.....d me off somewhat, so I decided to use my superior knowledge of such things to rubbish her faith.
        This was the first time I had considered the bible, & soon found it was not so easy to rubbish. Her minister gave me a couple of Creationist books. I found the evidence pretty good. Simple things like fossils need to be buried rapidly to form at all, so how could it take millions of years of gradual accumulation. Fossils that penetrated a dozen layers that supposedly took millions of years to form. Stuff like that.
        Jesus says He stands at the door & knocks. So I decided to test Him on that. I started serious prayer & bible study, & going to all the meetings I could. Over a period of a few months I knew enough & asked Him into my life. The remaining questions were answered thick & fast. In the last 30 years He has guided my life, & love it. Evolution is somewhere to hide for those who reject God. The only evidence is man's opinion; you have to "believe in " it, just the same as the bible. At least the bible can be authenticated against the history books, archeology, etc.
        If you are in a secular college studying under a Darwin regime, then you are bound to be moved in that direction. I am a mechanical engineer, I started with no strong bias in favour of God, but came to my conclusions initially on the evidence. Since then my decision has been vindicated many times by events in my life. The engineering in biology fascinates me. I am 300trillion cells, each more complex than the Space Shuttle, flying in close formation. Evolution? Uh uh.

        :-)
    • May 11 2013: What exactly is wrong about clarifying that evolution is not the same as abiogenesis?

      Empirical evidence for what? The question was why evolution is considered to be a fact if here's no spontaneous generation. It's like asking, why is Christ said to have sacrificed for my sins if Adam was born 6000 years ago? My question about Christ and Adam does not make sense, does it? OK then, what kind of empirical evidence can be given to answer a nonsensical question? What you do is explain that the question is misinformed, wrong, et cetera.

      So, please, no avoidance: what exactly is wrong with clarifying that evolution is not the same as abiogenesis, and that abiogenesis is not the same as spontaneous generation? I repeat so that you understand what I am asking: what exactly is wrong with clarifying that evolution is not the same as abiogenesis, and that abiogenesis is not the same as spontaneous generation?

      Please explain?