The Facts About Evolution


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A slide presentation which explains the facts about the theory of evolution and scientifically rebuts several of the most common criticisms and myths used by creationists and opponents of evolutionary theory.

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The Facts About Evolution

  1. 1. The Facts About the Theory of Evolution<br />Dr. Michael L. Foster<br /><br />2011<br />
  2. 2. Foster Consulting and Facilitation<br />
  3. 3. Why?<br />Why do some people experience road rage when they are confronted with an inconsiderate driver or a parking ticket?<br />Why is it that you feel threatened or experience jealousy when you are out with your mate and someone shows an interest or flirts with your mate?<br />
  4. 4. Fright, Fight, or Flight <br />Animals react to threats with a general discharge of the sympathetic nervous system, priming the animal for fighting or fleeing. <br />A stress response which is a holdover adaptation from our ancestors who evolved this as a response to danger.<br />
  5. 5. The Theory of Evolution<br />Introduced by Charles Darwin 150 years ago (1859) in Origin of Species.<br />Since then, evidence from paleontology, genetics, zoology, molecular biology and other fields has established evolution's truth beyond reasonable doubt. <br />Darwinian medicine, psychology etc…<br />The battle over creation vs. evolution has been won everywhere--except in the public imagination<br />
  6. 6.
  7. 7. The Theory of Evolution<br />Organisms change over time<br />Organisms have the ability to change <br />They are not immutable nor specially created<br />They evolved from common ancestors (descent with modification)<br />The chief mechanism of change is natural selection<br />
  8. 8. Natural Selection<br />The differential reproduction and survival of genetic variants in a population<br />Some individuals in a population are genetically different than others<br />This difference, in the right environment, can make them better adapted to survive and reproduce in a given environment <br />Biological fitness<br />
  9. 9. The Theory of Evolution<br />A central concept in science. <br />Embodies the idea of a continually changing universe as opposed to a universe at a stand-still.<br />Organisms throughout life’s history have not remained constant, but have gradually and endlessly changed.<br />
  10. 10. The Theory of Evolution<br />Creationists can still persuade politicians, judges and ordinary citizens that evolution is a flawed, poorly supported fantasy<br />Recent news stories from KS, GA, etc.<br />They lobby for nonscientific creationist ideas such as "intelligent design" to be given equal time and taught as alternatives to evolution in science classrooms. <br />Besieged teachers and others find themselves on the spot to defend evolution and refute creationism. <br />My objective today is to reveal the flaws in the most common arguments used against evolution!<br />These rebuttals will all be based on FACTS!<br />
  11. 11. The Theory of Evolution<br />The arguments that creationists use are typically based on misunderstandings of (or outright lies about) evolution. <br />THEY JUST DON’T STAND UP TO SCRUTINY!<br />
  12. 12. The Theory of Evolution<br />As biologists, parents and teachers we have an obligation to educate society about the theory of evolution<br />It is the unifying theory of all biological sciences<br />Our understanding of the process of natural selection has resulted in much of the scientific progress we enjoy today<br />Conquering diseases, healing the sick and injured, conservation of species and habitats<br />Will be integral in reversing GLOBAL WARMING<br />
  13. 13. Properties of Science <br />Objective<br />Empirical<br />Observable<br />Reproducible <br />Testable<br />Explainable<br />Falsifiable<br />Adaptable (to accommodate new discoveries) <br />
  14. 14. Science vs. Religion<br />Religion has none of the properties of science and science cannot accommodate the miracles of religion<br />Evolution does not teach that faith is wrong, only that it is non-scientific<br />Explanations based on faith should not be invoked to explain our observations and comprehension of the natural world<br />Any explanation or involvement of “god” is considered beyond the realm of science, but not necessarily false.<br />Supernatural, metaphysical<br />Religion HAS MANY VALUABLE PROPERTIES, but it is inflexible, unverifiable, un-testable, unscientific<br />
  15. 15. The Theory of Evolution<br />Understand the theory and how it operates<br />Science and faith can co-exist, but should NOT be combined (e.g. Intelligent Design Theory, or Scientific Creationism)<br />ID and SC are not scientific alternatives to Darwinian evolution<br />Scientists must counter the misconceptions about evolution with FACTS<br />
  16. 16. Rebuttals to Common Arguments Raised Against Evolution<br />I will now present 15 arguments frequently used against the theory of evolution and counter them with the FACTS!<br />
  17. 17. Rebuttals to Common Arguments Raised Against Evolution<br />1. Evolution is only a theory. It is not a fact or a scientific law. <br />The National Academy of Sciences define a scientific theory as “a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world that can incorporate facts, laws, inferences, and tested hypotheses”<br />The Theory of Evolution<br />The Theory or Relativity<br />Not questioned. Why?<br />
  18. 18. Scientific Fact<br />NAS defines a “fact” as an observation that has been repeatedly confirmed and for all practical purposes is accepted as true.<br />The fossil record shows change over time…evidence of evolution<br />Indirect evidence is valid!<br />No one has ever seen subatomic particles, but their existence can be indirectly observed and verified.<br />
  19. 19. Rebuttals to Common Arguments Raised Against Evolution<br />2. Natural selection is based on circular reasoning: the fittest are those who survive, and those who survive are deemed fittest. <br />Fitness is defined as differential rates of survival and reproduction…not merely survival per se…<br />Those with genetic advantages survive AND leave more offspring possessing the advantageous trait.<br />Example: Beak size or shape in birds make some more successful at getting food than others (survival) and they leave more offspring (fitness). <br />Fitness can be defined without reference to survival<br />
  20. 20. Rebuttals to Common Arguments Raised Against Evolution<br />3. Evolution is unscientific, because it is not testable or falsifiable. It makes claims about events that were not observed and can never be re-created. <br />The first part is simply NOT TRUE.<br />As for the second part, also not true, but the same can be said about “creation”.<br />
  21. 21. Rebuttals to Common Arguments Raised Against Evolution<br />It is possible to disprove or falsify evolution in many ways, thus making it scientific<br />It has been possible since Darwin’s time<br />It has not been disproved!<br />The fossil record shows a succession of fossil human ancestors. Not contradictions.<br />Spontaneous generation of complex structures?<br />Reappearance of extinct species?<br />
  22. 22. Rebuttals to Common Arguments Raised Against Evolution<br />4. Increasingly, scientists doubt the truth of evolution. <br />This is simply not true.<br />Any scientific journal can verify this.<br />Evolution is the unifying theme of biology<br />“Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution.”<br />
  23. 23. Rebuttals to Common Arguments Raised Against Evolution<br />5. The disagreements among even evolutionary biologists show how little solid science supports evolution. <br />YES - there is debate among scientists…but debate is found in ALL fields of science<br />How speciation happens..<br />Rates of evolutionary change..<br />Evolutionary relationships between birds and dinosaurs, or humans and chimps<br />
  24. 24. Rebuttals to Common Arguments Raised Against Evolution<br />6. If humans descended from monkeys, why are there still monkeys? <br />Reflects ignorance about evolution <br />Evolution does not teach that humans descended from monkeys. It states that both have a common ancestor.<br />Analogy: If children descend from adults, why are there still adults?<br />Parent species of those which splinter off and become isolated from the main branch may survive or become extinct.<br />The parent species of chimps and humans became extinct!<br />
  25. 25. Rebuttals to Common Arguments Raised Against Evolution<br />7*. Evolution cannot explain how life first appeared on earth. <br />This remains a mystery, but biochemists understand HOW it could happen.<br />Several theories about the origins of life on earth are supported by factual scientific data.<br />Life evolved in the water over 3 billion years ago<br />Life became more complex over time<br />Moved from water to land….<br />Exit FULL SCREEN to Play movie clip<br />
  26. 26. Rebuttals to Common Arguments Raised Against Evolution<br />8. Mathematically, it is inconceivable that anything as complex as a protein, a living cell or a human, could spring up by chance. <br />Chance plays a part, but evolution does not depend on chance<br />Natural selection harnesses nonrandom change by preserving adaptive features and eliminating nonadaptive ones<br />Natural selection can push evolution in one direction and produce sophisticated structures<br />Example: The eye<br />
  27. 27. Rebuttals to Common Arguments Raised Against Evolution<br />Probability vs. Possibility<br />Could a million monkeys each pecking out one phrase a second come up with the phrase “To be or not to be” by chance?<br />YES…in 80,000 years based on probability of the 13 letters appearing in the correct sequence by chance <br />26 (the number of letters in the alphabet) to the 13th power (13 letters in the phrase) <br />2,481,152,873,203,736,576 (18 zeroes=quintillion)<br />86,400 seconds in a day. 31,536,000 in a year<br />1 million monkeys working simultaneously = <br />78,800 years<br />
  28. 28. Rebuttals to Common Arguments Raised Against Evolution<br />Could a self replicating molecule (RNA) evolve and lead to simple unicellular organisms? <br />YES, it is probable..especially if you factor in BILLIONS of years and BILLIONS of attempts in the earth’s primitive environment, until finally a self-replicating molecule appears!<br />Divine intervention or intelligent design in not required.<br />
  29. 29. Rebuttals to Common Arguments Raised Against Evolution<br />9. The Second Law of Thermodynamics says that systems must become more disordered over time. Living cells therefore could not have evolved from inanimate chemicals, and multicellular life could not have evolved from protozoa. <br />Mineral crystals and snow flakes would be impossible because they too are complex structures that form spontaneously from disordered parts!<br />2nd Law Refers to a CLOSED system. Earth is not a closed system (It receives energy from the sun!)<br />
  30. 30. Rebuttals to Common Arguments Raised Against Evolution<br />Closed system allows for decreased entropy (disorder) overall.<br />Parts of the system can be less disordered than others, but the overall tendency is toward disorder!<br />One part (Earth) can grow more complex (less entropy) because another part, the sun, has greater entropy (nuclear fusion)!<br />
  31. 31. Rebuttals to Common Arguments Raised Against Evolution<br />10*. Mutations are essential to evolution theory, but mutations can only eliminate traits. They cannot produce new features.<br />On the contrary…what about antibiotic resistance in bacteria? It allows them to survive!<br />Mutations in HOX genes can produce complex structures<br />Gene splicing can lead to novel forms<br />Gene duplications can lead to complex forms<br />Example: Globin family of genes<br />
  32. 32. Rebuttals to Common Arguments Raised Against Evolution<br />11*. Natural selection might explain microevolution, but it cannot explain the origin of new species and higher orders of life, macroevolution. <br />Microevolution vs. Macroevolution <br />Microevolution looks at changes within species over time. May eventually lead to the origin of new species.<br />Macroevolution studies how taxonomic groups above species level change.<br />Evidence from the fossil record, and DNA comparisons<br />Earliest ancestors of humans (5mya) vs. modern humans (100,000 ya)<br />
  33. 33. Rebuttals to Common Arguments Raised Against Evolution<br />Natural selection is the best studied mechanism of evolutionay change, but there are others.<br />Allopatry – isolation leads to speciation<br />Symbiosis (Lynn Margulis)<br />
  34. 34. Rebuttals to Common Arguments Raised Against Evolution <br />12. Nobody has ever seen a new species evolve. <br />Species can hybridize to create new species<br />We can create new species in the lab via biotechnology<br />Speciation is rare, and may take centuries<br />How do you define “species”?<br />Biological Species Concept – reproductive isolation<br />What about physical and behavioral traits?<br />Cro-magnon vs. Neanderthal<br />
  35. 35. Interspecies HybridizationPolar Bear and Grizzly Bear<br />
  36. 36. Rebuttals to Common Arguments Raised Against Evolution <br />13. Evolutionists cannot point to any transitional fossils--creatures that are half reptile and half bird, for instance. <br />The fossil record is incomplete <br />Fossilization is an improbable eventuality (rare)! <br />But still, there are many documented examples<br />Archaeopteryx – combines features of birds (feathers) with dinosaurs (reptiles)<br />HORSES, WHALES, MOLLUSKS<br />HOMINIDS (ANCESTRAL HUMANS)<br />Genetic evidence, “molecular clock” are documenting more evidence that goes beyond just fossils<br />
  37. 37. Fossil Evidence of Human Evolution<br />
  38. 38. Rebuttals to Common Arguments Raised Against Evolution<br />14*. Living things have fantastically intricate features--at the anatomical, cellular and molecular levels--that could not function if they were any less complex or sophisticated. The only prudent conclusion is that they are the products of intelligent design, not evolution.<br />One of the oldest arguments (1802 – The pocket watch…intelligent designer argument)<br />Countered by Darwin in 1859 with explanation of the evolution of a complex eye…eyes have evolved independently in a number of organisms due to the benefits…even “half an eye” could be an important stepping stone….<br />
  39. 39. Rebuttals to Common Arguments Raised Against Evolution <br />The only alternatives offered by creationists to all of the scientific evidence is “design by an unidentified intelligence”<br />
  40. 40. Rebuttals to Common Arguments Raised Against Evolution<br />15*. Recent discoveries prove that even at the microscopic level, life has a quality of complexity that could not have come about through evolution. <br />The “irreducible complexity” argument of Michael Behe and other “scientists” who “switched sides”<br />Life must have been created by some superhuman intelligence<br />Complexity CAN arise naturally<br />Science is always progressing and what we don’t know today and be discovered tomorrow!<br />
  41. 41. Conclusions…<br />Intelligent-design theorists invoke shadowy entities that conveniently have whatever unconstrained abilities are needed to solve the mystery at hand.<br />Things not known are not questioned, but accepted on “faith”.<br />Rather than expanding scientific inquiry, such answers shut it down. <br />
  42. 42. Conclusions… <br />Time and again, science has shown that methodological naturalism can push back ignorance, finding increasingly detailed and informative answers to mysteries that once seemed impenetrable: <br />the nature of light<br />the causes of disease <br />how the brain works<br />
  43. 43. The Truth About “Creationism” and “Intelligent Design”<br />Evolution is advancing by piecing together answers to the riddle of how the living world took shape. <br />Creationism, though comforting and pleasant, adds nothing of scientific value to the effort.<br />That does not mean that it has no value, but it is not scientific.<br />
  44. 44. The Facts About the Theory of Evolution?<br />EVOLUTION IS A FACT SUPPORTED BY VAST AMOUNTS OF SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE!<br />Even if evolution cannot explain how life began, it can explain how natural selection operates on life (evolution).<br />Consider the information I have presented here today and decide for yourself. <br />Don’t be fooled by people who may have a hidden agenda.<br />
  45. 45. Charles Darwin<br />“There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being evolved”<br />
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