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Is Evolution a Theory of Similarity or Transformation?

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Let me ask you a question – is evolution a theory of similarity, or one of transformation? This is a big question because it affects the nature and adequacy of evidence presented to support it. What’s really surprising is the answer that evolutionists give to this question.

One would think that a theory which tells us that we have all evolved from a common ancestor, and that the design we see in living organisms is apparent and not real, would have to be a theory that purports to explain how those features came to be. However, this is not how evolutionists today view their theory.

In the Nelson/Velasco debate this came out quite clearly. Nelson (from the ID camp) claimed that evolution was primarily a theory of transformation, and should be judged on that basis. In a move that surprised me, Velasco came back and said that evolution was not primarily a theory of transformation, but one of similarity! Evolution, according to Velasco, does not have to show, in any way, shape, or form, how X could have come from Y. It only has to show that X is similar to Y in some deep way.

This floored me when I first saw it, but then I started looking at other things, and realized that this is, indeed, the standard way that evolutionists look at their theory. For instance, if you look at the famous 29 evidences for Macroevolution, it has this claim:

Therefore, the evidence for common descent discussed here is independent of specific gradualistic explanatory mechanisms. None of the dozens of predictions directly address how macroevolution has occurred, how fins were able to develop into limbs, how the leopard got its spots, or how the vertebrate eye evolved. None of the evidence recounted here assumes that natural selection is valid. None of the evidence assumes that natural selection is sufficient for generating adaptations or the differences between species and other taxa. Because of this evidentiary independence, the validity of the macroevolutionary conclusion does not depend on whether natural selection, or the inheritance of acquired characaters, or a force vitale, or something else is the true mechanism of adaptive evolutionary change. The scientific case for common descent stands, regardless. (emphasis added)

This seemed truly bizarre. How can you possibly say that X came from Y unless you have a theory of transformation? This actually puts evolution apart from nearly every other materialist branch of science, because in those you must look at material similarity with known mechanisms. However, for evolution, the rules change. Apparently we can know the source of X and Y without knowing any mechanism at all to convert one to the other!

This also recently came up in the Meyer/Giberson debate. At about the 2 hour mark, Giberson, almost immediately after criticizing ID for lacking a good theoretical model of information flow, after being asked if he knew of any mutations which conferred benefit to the organism without simultaneously harming it, said this:

that’s a question with a high degree of specificity to it, and there’s a lot of question about how this process works, and a lot of biologists feel there are missing pieces. Not about whether evolution is true, but about how this process works. (roughly transcribed by me)

This matches his presentation as well, which was entirely based on similarity. But, he concludes the evening by saying that the real problem is that if you assert design that you are attributing a lot of evil in the world to God.

So, let me get this straight. Evolution, by some of its strongest proponents, has nothing to do with a theory of transformation, but only about similarity. And, if pushed, the other reason is that they don’t want to attribute some of the designs to God. But their theory is really, really science-y I promise, and the other guys don’t shouldn’t be taken seriously because we already have it figured out except we don’t.


I do appreciate the issues that people like Giberson have with design. I appreciate the very interesting problems that the design argument bring, especially with biological similarity and “evil design” (interestingly, the Creation Biology Society did a conference on that specific question a few years ago – though I doubt Giberson paid much attention). I also appreciate the pattern that the theory of common descent has regarding the nature of life. However, given the fact that everyone in macroevolutionary theory has no idea how it happens, nor has anyone ever seen it occur, I have trouble seeing how any reasonable suggestion should be thrown out. If there is any suggestion that should be thrown out it would be neo-Darwinism, which lacks causal efficacy to produce the effect. Since we are keeping that on the table despite the repeatable evidence against it, I don’t see why anyone would even think to remove another.

OldArmy94 at #20
It belongs in the fairy tale section of Barnes and Noble.
Good idea. By extension, here is the proposed challenge: What would be the properly named section in Barnes and Noble where darwinian evolution books should correctly be placed? You know, properly naming a thing is a huge step in acquiring knowledge and wisdom. Fairy tales has quite a significant correspondence to what darwinian evolution is. But fairy tales are for children and we don't want to expose them to lies and aberations. So here are my suggestions for the PROPER NAME of the Barnes and Noble SECTION to host darwinian evolution books: * Modern Religious Misticism and Superstitions * Mass Halucinations and Gullible Audiences * How to Start a New Religion with Just what you Have Around your Household * Funny Tales from the History of Science * Obscurantism in Modern Science * Science Forever Compromised * Modern gods, Modern prophets and the End of Civilization * Indoctrination from Kindergarden to College: the Key to a Lamebrain Population * What Difference it Makes if There is No Proof? * How to Improve your Skills in Writing Fairy Tales for a Career in Science * No Divine Foot in the Door * Darwinism - the Religious Foundation of Atheism. No Proof Required, just Belief. * The Creative Intelligence of the Matter (or Dirt) * Darwinian Magic and Miracles as Foundations of Biological Science * Natural Mutations and Random Selection or Whatever * The Modern Myth of Creation and the Abiogenesis Mystery * The darwinian Catechism Sorry johnnyb for this deviation from the topic. I could not resist. Maybe there are other suggestions to this B&N Section Naming challenge. Here is the last one: * Is Evolution a Theory of Similarity or Transformation? No One Knows Because it is Neither. It is Just a Ridiculous Hypothesis InVivoVeritas
AMEN to the insight of this thread. They don't have evidence for macro change and so no hypothesis even! BANG. they admit they merely look at likeness and have no other reason to see likeness other then common descent. Yet they always did have another option. Common design with tweeking. In fact darwin, in a sentence, waved this away!! They don't have biological scientific evidence for common descent. they have likeness and connect the likes. Thats it folks. A logical flaw and a flaw of science investigation. Creationism should stress this point. Robert Byers
To add to OldArmy94's comment, I would have to address that much of the Darwinian literature is question begging, and another hefty proportion is rubbish. Here are three articles I've pointed out previously: • "Earth life 'may have come from Mars'" (http://m.bbc.com/news/science-environment-23872765) • "Dinosaur asteroid 'sent life to Mars'" (http://m.bbc.com/news/science-environment-25201572) • "Did Alien Life Evolve Just After the Big Bang?" (http://m.space.com/24496-universe-alien-life-habitability-big-bang.html) The first two articles seem to contradict themselves, and the third article was filled with could have, may have, would have, may have been, etc. Just a lot more question begging. matrix_virus
Darwinian evolution is a historical paradigm masquerading as scientific theory. It, by the very nature of what is proposes, cannot be considered science. It is merely an accumulation of stories and attempted explanations. It belongs in the fairy tale section of Barnes and Noble. OldArmy94
Gravity is, indeed, one of those brute facts. But there are many theories of gravity, and none of them have been shown to be facts. "Category confusion"? If only that were the whole of the problem! The word "gravity" serves as a label that hides from the unlearned our ignorance of what is actually happening. In applying the label, some among us think we have explained the phenomena. And this superstition they like to proclaim as "science!". (In all fairness, I've seen few actual scientists do this.) Hmmm ... One begins to suspect that "gravity" is not the only word they're doing this with ... ScuzzaMan
tjguy @17: I like Berlinski's approach: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uhdQsS1eYDY Starting in particular at 0:48 (though he does extend a bit of an olive branch in the first 48 seconds). Eric Anderson
AB @ 6
Joe said: “Is evolution a theory?” So is gravity. Would you like to jump off a building to prove it wrong. And, actually, evolution isn’t a theory. Natural selection is a theory to explain how evolution works. Before you start criticizing natural selection for only being a theory, you should do a little reading on what a theory is from the scientific perspective. In science, a theory is as close to a fact as anything can get.
And that sir is EXACTLY why Joe asked what he did! If you are claiming that evolution is as close to a fact as anything can get, then we take issue with calling it a theory. It needs to be demoted to the level of hypothesis! And the comparison to gravity is just ridulous! Gravity can be observed in the here and now. It can be tested over and over again. It is measurable and predictable. No one disputes gravity. By the way, I think gravity is better defined as a law than a theory, although both may be accurate. Evolution is NOT a law! It is very different from gravity. It lacks predictivity and can hardly be falsified. No one ever observed chemicals coming to life nor can we do experiments over and over to show it is possible. The same goes for the transition from single cell to multicellular organism, from a prokaryote to a eukaryote, and for an asexual creature to a sexually reproducing organism, etc. Although you don't know how these changes took place you are absolutely sure that God was not involved. But all you can muster up are a few untestable just so stories. Are these "stories"/"explanations" what makes evolution so credible and earns for it the title of "theory"? Not in my book. Evolution does not deserve to be called a theory. And even if it is called a theory, that does not automatically make it as near a fact as possible. tjguy
As to the question of 'is evolution a scientific theory?'
“Darwin’s theory is easily the dumbest idea ever taken seriously by science." Granville Sewell - Professor Of Mathematics - University Of Texas - El Paso "For many years I thought that it is a mathematical scandal that we do not have a proof that Darwinian evolution works." Gregory Chaitin - Proving Darwin 2012 - Highly Respected Mathematician Active Information in Metabiology – Winston Ewert, William A. Dembski, Robert J. Marks II – 2013 Except page 9: Chaitin states [3], “For many years I have thought that it is a mathematical scandal that we do not have proof that Darwinian evolution works.” In fact, mathematics has consistently demonstrated that undirected Darwinian evolution does not work. http://bio-complexity.org/ojs/index.php/main/article/view/BIO-C.2013.4/BIO-C.2013.4 “John Von Neumann, one of the great mathematicians of the twentieth century, just laughed at Darwinian theory, he hooted at it!,,,There is a consistent group of people, among mathematicians, among physicists, among some very good speculative biologists, who simply don't accept it (Darwin's theory). (They) don't even regard it as a scientific theory in any reasonable sense.” Dr. David Berlinski: Head Scratching Mathematicians - video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hEDYr_fgcP8 "In discussions with biologists I met large difficulties when they apply the concept of 'natural selection' in a rather wide field, without being able to estimate the probability of the occurrence in a empirically given time of just those events, which have been important for the biological evolution. Treating the empirical time scale of the evolution theoretically as infinity they have then an easy game, apparently to avoid the concept of purposesiveness. While they pretend to stay in this way completely 'scientific' and 'rational,' they become actually very irrational, particularly because they use the word 'chance', not any longer combined with estimations of a mathematically defined probability, in its application to very rare single events more or less synonymous with the old word 'miracle.'" Wolfgang Pauli (pp. 27-28) “It is our contention that if ‘random’ is given a serious and crucial interpretation from a probabilistic point of view, the randomness postulate is highly implausible and that an adequate scientific theory of evolution must await the discovery and elucidation of new natural laws—physical, physico-chemical, and biological.” Murray Eden, “Inadequacies of Neo-Darwinian Evolution as a Scientific Theory,” Mathematical Challenges to the Neo-Darwinian Interpretation of Evolution, editors Paul S. Moorhead and Martin M. Kaplan, June 1967, p. 109. "On the other hand, I disagree that Darwin's theory is as `solid as any explanation in science.; Disagree? I regard the claim as preposterous. Quantum electrodynamics is accurate to thirteen or so decimal places; so, too, general relativity. A leaf trembling in the wrong way would suffice to shatter either theory. What can Darwinian theory offer in comparison?" (Berlinski, D., "A Scientific Scandal?: David Berlinski & Critics," Commentary, July 8, 2003) "nobody to date has yet found a demarcation criterion according to which Darwin(ism) can be described as scientific" - Imre Lakatos (November 9, 1922 – February 2, 1974) a philosopher of mathematics and science, quote was as stated in 1973 LSE Scientific Method Lecture Is evolution pseudoscience? Excerpt:,,, Thus, of the ten characteristics of pseudoscience listed in the Skeptic’s Dictionary, evolution meets nine. Few other pseudosciences - astrology, astral projection, alien abduction, crystal power, or whatever — would meet so many. http://creation.com/is-evolution-pseudoscience Darwinian Evolution is a Pseudo-Science - Part II https://docs.google.com/document/d/1oaPcK-KCppBztIJmXUBXTvZTZ5lHV4Qg_pnzmvVL2Qw/edit
Verse and Music:
John 1:1-4 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by Him, and without Him was not anything made that was made. In Him was life, and that life was the Light of men. Carry Me - Josh Wilson http://myktis.com/songs/carry-me/
Evolution, according to Velasco, does not have to show, in any way, shape, or form, how X could have come from Y. It only has to show that X is similar to Y in some deep way.
X and Y are very similar and obviously share an evolutionary relationship with each other and with the letter K. Wasn't there a Sesame Street episode about this? Mung
Joe, actually, IIRC, Annalen der Physik c 1900 was NOT peer reviewed, but peer edited. Origin was published as a trade press book too, IIRC. KF kairosfocus
JB: Facts, in science as elsewhere, are observed or are otherwise directly evident. Water, at standard pressure boils at 100 degrees C is a fact. An explanatory construct on a remote, unobserved past is not. The notion that a theory -- an explanation -- is a fact is a category confusion. One that crops up all too often, one suspects because in the end "only fools dispute facts." KF kairosfocus
johnnyb: This attempt by evolutionists to divorce the alleged "fact" of evolution from the "how" of evolution enjoys a long (and ignominious) history. Gould pushed this approach with quite a bit of flair. It is always a convenient refuge for evolutionists when pesky skeptics point out that no-one knows how this or that thing could have come about -- circle the wagons and say, "Well, it may be true that we don't know how this came about, but that doesn't diminish the fact of evolution. We're still working on the 'how'." This is, to be sure, both utterly silly and logically contradictory. Evolution must be, at the end of the day, a theory of "how". As Philip Johnson pointed out, if evolution claims that "species A turned into species B but we don't know how," then it is essentially just another miracle story. The "how" is the part that matters, the part that has the bite. If the "how" fails, evolution fails. Eric Anderson
From Alan H. Linton, emeritus professor of bacteriology, University of Bristol. A review of Niles Eldredge's book THE TRIUMPH OF EVOLUTION AND THE FAILURE OF CREATIONISM
Despite the conciliatory comments in the final chapter, the book's title is essentially emotive and provocative. Since most theories, if proven to be false, are rejected by scientists, Eldredge claims that, after 150 years, science has failed to disprove the theory of evolution and, therefore, "evolution has triumphed". In other words, the theory of evolution rests on the failure of science to show that it is false. Nevertheless, he believes the theory can be scientifically tested. But where is the experimental evidence? None exists in the literature claiming that one species has been shown to evolve into another. Bacteria, the simplest form of independent life, are ideal for this kind of study, with generation times of 20 to 30 minutes, and populations achieved after 18 hours. But throughout 150 years of the science of bacteriology, there is no evidence that one species of bacteria has changed into another, in spite of the fact that populations have been exposed to potent chemical and physical mutagens and that, uniquely, bacteria possess extrachromosomal, transmissible plasmids. Since there is no evidence for species changes between the simplest forms of unicellular life, it is not surprising that there is no evidence for evolution from prokaryotic to eukaryotic cells, let alone throughout the whole array of higher multicellular organisms.
No transformations, hence the similarity shuffle along with the anti-religious snicker. And ID supporters are called IDiots. Pathetic. jerry
Acartia_bogart- Einstein published his theory in a peer-reviewed journal. Neither unguided evolution nor natural selection has that privilege. And natural selection doesn't do anything, so what could this alleged theory be? You know I doubt many physicists would say that gravity is a theory like NS. Joe
"In science, a theory is as close to a fact as anything can get" Not really. There are three main classifications of these types of ideas in science - law, theory, and hypothesis. None of these, however, indicate how well-supported the idea is. A hypothesis is a prediction of an outcome of an experiment. A law is a statement of a mathematical relationship between quantities. A theory is a way of organizing thought which helps make sense of and understand laws and hypotheses, as well as help generate new ones. Any of these may be well supported or poorly supported or unsupported. johnnyb
Natural selection is a theory to explain how evolution works.
It is a hypothesis and one never observed to have worked. jerry
That’s just a weird question. If you have been getting weird answers, perhaps it is because the question is weird.
Nothing weird. It is just the standard answer for anyone who believes in naturalistic evolution when asked how does it happen. That is because no known mechanism has been able to explain the transformation that supposedly takes place. jerry
Joe said: "Is evolution a theory?" So is gravity. Would you like to jump off a building to prove it wrong. And, actually, evolution isn't a theory. Natural selection is a theory to explain how evolution works. Before you start criticizing natural selection for only being a theory, you should do a little reading on what a theory is from the scientific perspective. In science, a theory is as close to a fact as anything can get. Acartia_bogart
Is evolution a theory? Joe
"Darwinists really need to confront not the similarities but the differences" Doug Axe - What are the implications of the book Science & Human Origins for the Darwinian paradigm - video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pnFs5D-vvnI More from Ann Gauger on why humans didn’t happen the way Darwin said - July 2012 Excerpt: Each of these new features probably required multiple mutations. Getting a feature that requires six neutral mutations is the limit of what bacteria can produce. For primates (e.g., monkeys, apes and humans) the limit is much more severe. Because of much smaller effective population sizes (an estimated ten thousand for humans instead of a billion for bacteria) and longer generation times (fifteen to twenty years per generation for humans vs. a thousand generations per year for bacteria), it would take a very long time for even a single beneficial mutation to appear and become fixed in a human population. You don’t have to take my word for it. In 2007, Durrett and Schmidt estimated in the journal Genetics that for a single mutation to occur in a nucleotide-binding site and be fixed in a primate lineage would require a waiting time of six million years. The same authors later estimated it would take 216 million years for the binding site to acquire two mutations, if the first mutation was neutral in its effect. Facing Facts But six million years is the entire time allotted for the transition from our last common ancestor with chimps to us according to the standard evolutionary timescale. Two hundred and sixteen million years takes us back to the Triassic, when the very first mammals appeared. One or two mutations simply aren’t sufficient to produce the necessary changes— sixteen anatomical features—in the time available. At most, a new binding site might affect the regulation of one or two genes. https://uncommondesc.wpengine.com/intelligent-design/more-from-ann-gauger-on-why-humans-didnt-happen-the-way-darwin-said/ A chimp-pig hybrid origin for humans? - July 3, 2013 Excerpt: Dr. Eugene McCarthy,, has amassed an impressive body of evidence suggesting that human origins can be best explained by hybridization between pigs and chimpanzees. Extraordinary theories require extraordinary evidence and McCarthy does not disappoint. Rather than relying on genetic sequence comparisons, he instead offers extensive anatomical comparisons, each of which may be individually assailable, but startling when taken together.,,, The list of anatomical specializations we may have gained from porcine philandering is too long to detail here. Suffice it to say, similarities in the face, skin and organ microstructure alone is hard to explain away. A short list of differential features, for example, would include, multipyramidal kidney structure, presence of dermal melanocytes, melanoma, absence of a primate baculum (penis bone), surface lipid and carbohydrate composition of cell membranes, vocal cord structure, laryngeal sacs, diverticuli of the fetal stomach, intestinal "valves of Kerkring," heart chamber symmetry, skin and cranial vasculature and method of cooling, and tooth structure. Other features occasionally seen in humans, like bicornuate uteruses and supernumerary nipples, would also be difficult to incorporate into a purely primate tree. http://phys.org/news/2013-07-chimp-pig-hybrid-humans.html Moreover, Physorg published a subsequent article showing that the pig-chimp hybrid theory for human origins is much harder to shoot down than Darwinists had first supposed it would be: Human hybrids: a closer look at the theory and evidence - July 25, 2013 Excerpt: There was considerable fallout, both positive and negative, from our first story covering the radical pig-chimp hybrid theory put forth by Dr. Eugene McCarthy,,,By and large, those coming out against the theory had surprisingly little science to offer in their sometimes personal attacks against McCarthy. ,,,Under the alternative hypothesis (humans are not pig-chimp hybrids), the assumption is that humans and chimpanzees are equally distant from pigs. You would therefore expect chimp traits not seen in humans to be present in pigs at about the same rate as are human traits not found in chimps. However, when he searched the literature for traits that distinguish humans and chimps, and compiled a lengthy list of such traits, he found that it was always humans who were similar to pigs with respect to these traits. This finding is inconsistent with the possibility that humans are not pig-chimp hybrids, that is, it rejects that hypothesis.,,, http://phys.org/news/2013-07-human-hybrids-closer-theory-evidence.html The Red Ape - Cornelius Hunter - August 2009 Excerpt: "There remains, however, a paradoxical problem lurking within the wealth of DNA data: our morphology and physiology have very little, if anything, uniquely in common with chimpanzees to corroborate a unique common ancestor. Most of the characters we do share with chimpanzees also occur in other primates, and in sexual biology and reproduction we could hardly be more different. It would be an understatement to think of this as an evolutionary puzzle." http://darwins-god.blogspot.com/2009/08/red-ape.html ,,"Humans and chimpanzees also differ significantly in many other anatomical respects, to the extent that nearly every bone in the body of a chimpanzee is readily distinguishable in shape or size from its human counterpart (38). Associated with these anatomical differences there are, of course, major differences in posture (see cover picture), mode of locomotion, methods of procuring food, and means of communication. Because of these major differences in anatomy and way of life, biologists place the two species not just in separate genera but in separate families (39). So it appears that molecular and organismal methods of evaluating the chimpanzee human difference yield quite different conclusions (40).” David Berlinski - The Devil's Delusion - Page 162&163 The Myth of 98% Genetic Similarity between Humans and Chimps - Jeffrey Tomkins PhD. - video https://vimeo.com/95287522 bornagain77
“Any transition of form is pure fantasy. There is no demonstration of it.” Doug Axe – co-author of Science & Human Origins – video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XxMmLakH2LQ bornagain77
Let me ask you a question – is evolution a theory of similarity, or one of transformation?
I wonder what you have been smoking! That's just a weird question. If you have been getting weird answers, perhaps it is because the question is weird. Neil Rickert
Darwinian theory has always specialized in question-begging. OldArmy94

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