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Is “macroevolution” even a meaningful term? It’s time to ask.

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As philosopher Vince Torley’s post here that went viral (“A world-famous chemist tells the truth: there’s no scientist alive today who understands macroevolution”) looks to reach 150k hits some time soon: We’re all pleased with the well-justified public interest in Vince’s work.

But there is a context, and it may be gleaned from some of the other posts that whistled through here after it  in the last week, posts about stuff published in the journals:

Peer reviewed article misquotes creationist … doubtless, but the context is that key assumptions of modern Darwinism (neo-Darwinism) are being overturned. Their account of evolution is inadequate to today’s science.

(Remember, this is the stuff that the Darwin in the schools lobby attempts to enforce through legislatures and courts.)

Giant viruses that act like cells threw a wrench into tidy, dogmatic scenarios

The last universal common ancestor was a “sophisticated cellular organism,” not a neo-Darwinian proto-cell

New study finds little evidence for key Darwinian doctrine

Animals didn’t arise from oxygenation, they created it, researchers say

Are the journals already dropping Darwin? (It would seem so. It has never been easier to criticize him, and lots of people are doing it now.)

Is “vestigial” a term that should be retired?

Epigenetics: Inheritance of acquired traits gradually gaining acceptance (Just what your local Darwinist said no, no, no to)

Now back to “World famous chemist,” reposted a week ago, after it suddenly spiked:

Re “macroevolution,” one of chemist Tour’s detractors notes, “there’s no such thing. It’s a Creationist red herring. There is no microevolution, and there is no macroevolution. There is only evolution.”

Well now, that’s how it should be, of course. The fact that it isn’t seen that way is not of Darwin’s opponents’ making but of his supporters’.

The evolution that Darwin’s theory accounts for (natural selection acting on random mutation) is, in the real world, small changes that don’t add up to much over the long term.

That is why the term “macroevolution” had to be invented. It was a leap of faith to assume that Darwinian “microevolution” would become “macroevolution” instead of just being washed out by other types of change (what usually really happens).

But gradually scientists are becoming less afraid to talk about this: Macroevolution apparently happens, but not by Darwinian means.

G’bye, Darwin. We packed the crumpets for ya.

Will it soon be: So long, Darwin-in-the-schools pressure groups? Gee, how they’ll be missed in the legislatures and courts.

No, wait, we’ll all be too busy figuring out what really happens in the history of life. It’s a fascinating story and now – for once – we might get to read it without all the interruptions.

– O’Leary for News

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PS: my markup of Sewell's clip -- it's all there folks, everything we are so confidently told is a misrepresentation. And it includes brief definitions, evo is a fact, stasis as apparent from the fossils, unobserved transitionals, a plea that soft parts we don't see in fossils may have been changing etc etc. kairosfocus
Smoking gun clip, Houston Chronicle, Nov 5, 1980: here, HT Sewell. kairosfocus
Picture this: I hold the hand of my mother, she holds the hand of her mother, who holds the hand of her mother etcetera, etcetera. Let's stop when we are 550 million years back in time. Each daughter is of the same species as her mother. The animal that lived 550 million years ago certainly was not human. Where do we find micro-evolution and where do we find macro-evolution? Seqenenre
Macroevolution is a meaningful term. It's meaningful role may exist less in what macro-evolution is (even Nick Matzke had no answer to that question) and more in what micro-evolution is not. Numerous evolutionary biologists and paleontologists have denied that "micro-evolution" is sufficient to explain all that the theory of evolution purports to explain. As long as this remains the case, "macroevolution" remains as a useful term to remind us the alternative theory. Mung
johnnyb- Good point. Joe
Micro equals macro was unjustified as a option because it made light of the great complexity of difference between very segregated types of biological agents we see. Turing a fish into a tiger was not rightfully to be sees as a option because butterfly wings seem to indicate selection in the jungle. Mutationism was flaw in all this also. they had mutations doing everything and everything else. Just very unlikely mutations, errors, will progress the clory of nature. Its unbelievable to start off and so they must get heavy with logicval thinking and practical evidence. It really was a rejection of genesis and some sincere opinion that biology shows change in important ways. Yes they are called people but its still within fantastic boundaries of biology. yet indeed mechanisms can be deduced to exist. Deduce rightly and not dumbly. Robert Byers
Joe - Actually, if evo-devo is correct, it would turn out to be a huge boon for Intelligent Design. For evo-devo to work, *most* of the interesting parts of organisms have to be developed ahead-of-time. That is, the amount of the organism that is just assumed to be there is greater, indicating that the life must have begun information-rich, not information-poor. Basically, evo-devo says that instead of new information evolving, it was already there, and only needs to be turned on/off or rearranged. This means that almost no, or very little, functional information is gained through evolution, and it must have been present at the origin. johnnyb
The two terms were coined by evolutionists who eventually just declared that macro is just more micro, ie over thousands of generations. However that hasn't panned out as there aren't any examples of microevolution that can be extrapolated to macroevolution- different genes involved. The only hope is evo-devo but that has been a total bust. Joe
That should read, "There is some evidence for and some evidence against macro evolution." StephenB
I think the prefixes tell the story: Evolution = undefined change [a] "macro" evolution means change on a large scale (from body plan to body plan) [b] "micro" evolution means change on a small scale (in the body plan) Neither of the above terms imply guidedness or unguidedness. They are descriptions of the amount or degree of evolution, not the mechanism that drives it. I think, therefore, that it is a mistake to characterize Darwinian evolution as macro-evolution, which could, in principle, be guided. Darwinism = unguided macro-evolution. There is some evidence for and some evidence against guided macro evolution. It is not a slam-dunk fact. There is no evidence at all for unguided macro-evolution. If we don't use terms in the right way, Darwinists can take advantage of the confusion and allude to the limited evidence for "evolution" or even "macro evolution" as if they had made a case for Darwinian evolution. They do it all the time. StephenB
Onlookers, cf here on in the renewed thread. I give my synthesis based on various inputs, especially Wiki and Creation Wiki:
Microevolution: a term used to describe genetic variation, the empirically observed phenomenon in which existing potential variations within the gene pool of a population of organisms and/or those formed through mutations shift the proportions of varieties among members of that population over a relatively short series of generations, or even within a single generation. Macroevolution: the theory/inference that: 1 –> biological population changes take (and have taken) place (typically via cumulative mutations and culling by differential reproductive success — aka natural selection — held to be leading to Darwin’s “descent with modification”) across deep time; 2 –> on a large enough scale to produce entirely new structural features and organs, resulting in entirely new species, genera, families, orders, classes, and phyla within the biological world, 3 –> by incrementally and cumulatively generating the requisite (new) complex genetic information manifested in a branching tree of life pattern inferred from the fossil record, and held to be reflected in homologies at gross anatomy and gene/molecular levels.
Of course the problem is the claim that macro evo accounts for variation across the tree of life on blind watchmaker mechanisms, i.e. for body plans up to our own. KF kairosfocus
The central question of the Chicago conference was whether the mechanisms underlying microevolution can be extrapolated to explain the phenomena of macroevolution. At the risk of doing violence to the positions of some of the people at the meeting, the answer can be given as a clear No.
~ Roger Lewin bevets

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