an atheist viewpoint

thoughts from a non-theist

Is there evidence against Evolution?

I could be really snide here, and just write ‘no’, then leave the subject, but I’m going to write some more.

Today, over at the PCM comments, a certain theist claimed the following

“The faith of evolution, the faith of atheism! While suppressing and denying evidence against evolutionism, supporters force-fit observations through their preconceptions. Essentially, “Evolutiondidit!””

I read this and then got to wondering, just what is this evidence against Evolution? It was time to hit Google!

To start with I think we can safely completely ignore David J. Stewart’s staggeringly ignorant ‘Proof that Evolution is a Hoax’, a witless arse waft using the supposed (and incorrect) assertion that there are no man made records dating from before 4000BCE as some kind of evidence that evolution hasn’t happened. Look, David, even if your point were true, which it very much isn’t, the lack of man made records would say nothing at all about the age of the Earth or evolution.

Moving on I looked at Straight Talk dot net, which parrots the same old nonsense whilst trying to claim that science refutes evolution. You know they’re in trouble from the off, when their second point is

• According to the theory of evolution, at some time in the distant past there was no life in the universe — just elements and chemical compounds. Somehow, these chemicals combined and came to life.

No, you dunces, the theory of evolution says NOTHING about the origins of life, that’s abiogenesis. Conflating evolution and abiogenesis is a favourite tactic of Creationists, All About Creation do it, the misnomered Best Bible Science does it, as do Changing Lives Online. Superficially attractive as an argument, it falls down completely when one points out that abiogenesis and evolution are completely separate, they are not the same thing….AT ALL.

Even if they were, it wouldn’t matter, as our understanding of the origins of life grows every year.

Almost all the sites I looked at claimed lied that there were no transitional fossils, despite the massive number of known examples. To claim there are none is a blatant lie. You can find more info on these supposedly non-existent fossils here, here, and here (which includes the so called ‘missing link’). Seriously, just type ‘list of transitional fossils’ into any search engine and you’ll have a list as long as you like.

Some sites claim that DNA disproves evolution, that the more we uncover, the more evolution seems like a fairy story. Sadly for Creationist the exact opposite is true, the more we’ve learned about DNA, the more we’ve seen that it proves common ancestry.

All About Creation makes the following claim about the nature of the human mind

Scientists have found that the brain and mind are separate entities. Wilder Penfield said, “Through performing surgery on more than a thousand epileptic patients, he encountered concrete evidence that the brain and the mind are actually distinct from each other, although they clearly interact.”

…however, if you Google the quote as represented here, you find only references to it on other apologetic’s sites. Broadening the search terms brought up this paper, which doesn’t appear to say what the quote claims at all.

The argument from design or complexity is also a firm favourite of believers, and they’re ever so fond of quoting Darwin, as Changing Lives Online does here –

Darwin said: “To suppose that the eye with all its inimitable contrivances for adjusting the focus to different distances, for admitting different amounts of light and for the correction of spherical and chromatic aberration, could have been formed by natural selection, seems, I freely confess, absurd in the highest degree.” 

Again, this seems superficially attractive, here we have Darwin, the father of the Theory of Evolution, saying that evolution is ‘absurd’, it looks like an open goal. But what’s this? The passage continues?

“Yet reason tells me, that if numerous gradations from a perfect and complex eye to one very imperfect and simple, each grade being useful to its possessor, can be shown to exist; if further, the eye does vary ever so slightly, and the variations be inherited, which is certainly the case; and if any variation or modification in the organ be ever useful to an animal under changing conditions of life, then the difficulty of believing that a perfect and complex eye could be formed by natural selection, though insuperable by our imagination, can hardly be considered real. How a nerve comes to be sensitive to light, hardly concerns us more than how life itself first originated; but I may remark that several facts make me suspect that any sensitive nerve may be rendered sensitive to light, and likewise to those coarser vibrations of the air which produce sound.”

Oops! Sadly Creationists are extremely fond of quote mining, even though the internet has made it easier than ever before to look up what was actually said.

Some of the less intelligent sites argue that the Second Law of Thermodynamics prevents evolution, conveniently forgetting that the law only stands in a closed system, which the Earth very clearly isn’t (the Sun, anyone?), while others claim that the Earth (mostly uninhabitable to man due to being covered in water) and the Universe (mostly uninhabitable to man due to being a hard vacuum and swarming with radiation, amongst many other problems) are ‘fine tuned’ for us to live in them. All clearly untrue. It’s weird, Creationists claim over and over again that Evolution is ‘the sick man of science’ or that ‘there’s more and more evidence against it every day’ when neither statement is true. I guess they’re just repeating what they’ve heard other faith heads say, and never bother to look into the facts.

I could go on and on, citing example after example of ‘evidence’ against evolution presented by Creationists, before showing that it’s completely in error, but I won’t. It’s enough to say that there isn’t a single piece of evidence that Creationists have ever presented that causes any problems for the Theory of Evolution.

One final point though, even IF it were shown that evolution weren’t a fact, Creationism wouldn’t automatically be the answer to the origins of life, this isn’t a zero sum equation. Creationism provides no scientific evidence to back itself up, it is a busted flush, far from the ‘theory’ that some Creationists call it.

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