Down the evolutionary rabbit hole I go – Part 2 of Decoding Evolution

My brother Bryan (VERY smart) insisted that if you had billions of falcons over millions of years, nature was so prolific that all you would actually need was the occasional copying error.

Not only would you get falcons…. you would get better and better falcons!

Mutations would inevitably happen. Vision would improve. Wings would improve, navigation improve.

He said you wouldn’t just get falcons. You’d get other species of birds too, and eventually, other completely different creatures.

Evolution, in other word, could practically happen by accident. Certainly there was no guiding force involved.

Was this true?

Cuz when I looked at the hand at the end of my arm, I saw one superb piece of engineering. Being an engineer, I connected the dots a certain way. There must be some Engineer somewhere, with a capital “E”, who had somehow made this happen.

But if evolution could happen by accident – by random copying errors and such – my world was about to change.

Maybe, just maybe, I was about to start taking atheism real seriously.

So I started researching.

What do you do? A Google search, naturally. And Amazon.

You start buying books and reading websites.

I can’t remember ever feeling more like I was drinking from a firehose. People were FORCING THEIR OPINIONS DOWN MY THROAT. And man did they ever have opinions:

“Evolution is the most validated theory ever in the history of science because it is supported by every single discipline, from mathematics to medicine to biology to physics…”

“Evolution is a lie devised by Satan to deceive the hearts and minds of wicked people who suppress the truth in unrighteousness.”

“Anybody who doesn’t believe in evolution is a fool, or worse. Our shameful lack of belief in evolution is a testament to the abysmal quality of American public education. Hard working science teachers are hamstrung by school boards and religious zealots who wield fear and intimidation to hold the democratic process hostage.”

“No scientific theory is more fraught with problems, controversies, unanswered questions, frauds and failures than Darwin’s theory of evolution.”

OK, OK. So now I gotta get past all of these OPINIONS and get down to some actual facts.

I wondered:

“Is it possible to PROVE that evolution works? In an actual lab? Or do you just have to trust anecdotal evidence? Is evolution just people arranging fossils on a big table so as to craft a certain kind of story? Or can you demonstrate it?

And…

What about the math? What are the CHANCES that evolution can occur… since it occurs by chance?

More in Part 3.

Part 1

17 Responses

  1. thmclin says:

    Where is Part 3?

  2. Splatt8987 says:

    “What about the math? What are the CHANCES that evolution can occur… since it occurs by chance?” – I really cannot tell if you and your site are serious or if this is some sort of a farce. Questions like the one above are so absurdly uninformed that I want to believe you are joking, though I fear you are not.

  3. John Schon says:

    Full respect to you for digging deep and attempting to interpret the facts. As someone who has for a long time subscribed to ‘young earth’ creation, I am in the process of doing the same thing. I have a couple of questions for you:
    Do you think that the speed of light has always been constant? Is there any reason why it couldn’t have been significantly faster at the beginning?
    I have no doubt that microevolution (adaptation) is real, but can you point to any concrete evidence of macroevolution in the wild?

    • John,

      There are lots of examples of macroevolution from interspecific hybridization https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hybrid_%28biology%29 and this is a MAJOR source of new species. We also have empirical examples of new species from symbiogenesis and I discuss both of these at length in my book http://www.amazon.com/Evolution-2-0-Breaking-Deadlock-between/dp/1940363802/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

      I have a growing number of readers of this book who used to be YECs, who are not anymore, and whose faith is firmly intact. I suggest you read it, take your time and sit with the questions. Don’t rush it – there is no hurry – just let nature speak for herself.

      We have no empirical evidence that the speed of light is changing (we would be able to tell if it was, because of how waves travel), and as an Electrical Engineer I can tell you that major crucial equations and principles in the laws of physics would completely unravel if the speed of light was not a constant.

      The speed of light is very simple and obvious evidence of an old universe, and the theory that it is slowing down is founded in flawed math and science.

  4. colewd says:

    I just reserved a copy (kindle) of your book on Amazon. I spent 25 years in the electronics industry so your analogies between DNA driving protein coding and Shannon information are very clear. I am in the process of writing a paper( sponsored by a cancer research scientist) on an alternative to natural selection as an assigned cause to evolution. Your perspective has been very helpful to me.

  5. daan says:

    Perry, You sent me an email, starting about your brother leaving the church. I tried to reply, but was iformed to do so at the blog. It is long, but here goes:

    Hello Perry

    When Copernicus realised from his observations – science – that the sun had to be the centre of the solar system,
    not the earth at the center of the universe, I wonder how much he agonised over spreading that ‘revelation’. For that time,
    and the absolute dictatorship of the ruling dogma that held differently, it in one sense was a bigger shock to beliefs than
    evolution. At that time everyone had to hold to the dogma – it was the fulcrum of society and anything different was heresy.

    Darwin and evolution, I think, came at a time when dogma was still a potent force, but not as absolute as much earlier. AND,
    evoltion was a much more cerebral concept, once people said, Descended from monkeys? That is ridiculous” It took time for
    science to provide more credible evidence that natural selection – not, no longer ‘survival of the fittest’ – is the force behind
    evolution; change over time, bot very long and often quite short.

    You may have read about the moths in one of the Bristih industrial cities (Manchester?) that changed colour, from white/light
    gray to dark/black as pollution coloured the environment dark and the gray-white moths were gobbled up by birds so that the
    survival selection favoured darker coloured moths until most moths were dark. Then, when they cleaned up the polustion and
    the coal industry, the reverse happened; surfaces lost the dark pollution and the white moths were less visible, while the dark
    moths more often became bird food. Nothing here was absolute one way or the other – it was probability at work. In decades,
    not millennia. You are aware of the antibiotic resistant bacteria that are a growing problem? Natural selection at work – because so
    many people only take part of their prescription before stopping – which leave some partially resistance bacteria to divide and
    donate their resistance to the new pair. Soon the majority were partially resistant ans since people were still stopping their regimen
    before the full course of medication, the process continued – leading to ever more resistance bacteria. Natural selection.

    I am only trying to offer evidence that natural selection is a process hat resustlat in change – whenever there is some factor that
    causes one part of a population to consistently have more off-spring that those without that factor. To what degree that explains
    the whole process of the evolution oif life is still murky in my mind. As is the whole aspect of Creation, which I have long
    believed did not last only 6000 years.

    Did you know that cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli and Brussels sprouts share a recent common ancestor – known as the ‘wild cabbage’,
    a rather nondescript looking plant? If selective cultivation by farmers – which in essence can be described as ‘planned evolution’ –
    can result in such divergent looking plants in a relatively short time, what about ‘programmed evolution’ obe millions of years?

    I normally stay away from this subject; too many people are uncomfortable. About your brother leaving the church – yes, I can imagine.
    Have experienced it myself. Partly as coming from a conservative protestant family I fell in love with and married a staunch Catholic.
    We had a very good marriage until cancer took her 7 years ago, but that opend my eyes to the role of dogma in effectively forming our
    world view, but not of real relevance for our faith!! I have reconciled myself that dogma is NOT the key prerequisite for faith that seems
    to be the majority view. Faith is the core essence of belief; dogma is more a church-essential to justify its separate existence – in some way,
    without hereby questioning the beliefs of preachers or priests, their means of self-preservation and economic survival, in whatever form,
    within society.

    So speak to your brother about faith – as different from dogma. Do so with open mind. And, ponder it for yourself; perhaps the skeletons
    will find rest.

    Regards
    daan
    And yes, there are many Little Johnnies, and others not so young.

    • Use your last name from now on.

      You might be thinking that I think evolution is a hoax. Take a look at the book, a lot of people will find it surprising. Free chapters available on the home page.

  6. Neil says:

    Sorry to have to break it to you but evolution is bunkum. There is no scientific evidence for abiogenesis and if that where not enough, and it isn’t, the fossil record doesn’t bare out evolution – I’m talking about the Cambrian Explosion – it doesn’t exist in the fossil record.

    Thirdly, new discoveries in DNA show that it is a digital code. Moreover, a 3d code with error correcting built in. There is no way that it is a product of evolution. Scientific papers also show that experiments with proteins show that there is simply not enough time for evolution to have taken place.

    I think it’s a shame when people try to fit modern science into the bible in an attempt to appease man and ignore the truth given in God’s word. Personally I don’t understand it. You either believe the bible or you don’t. You either believe in God or you don’t. Is the bible God’s word? If so you had better start taking it seriously. And that means Genesis chapter and verse. It may not be as aesthetically pleasing as that of evolution, but it is the truth nevertheless.

    At the end of the day a person can believe what they want. I just think its a great shame that people take the word of man over the word of God. It is black or white…simple as that.

    regards,

    Neil

    • Use Amazon “look inside” my book “Evolution 2.0” and see pages 127, 141 and 82, just to name 3. Demonstrated evolution of new adaptations and species in real time. http://www.amazon.com/Evolution-2-0-Breaking-Deadlock-between/dp/1940363802/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

    • TheOccasionalAtheist says:

      Abiogenesis is not part of evolution. 1st Fail.
      The fossil record is not needed to prove evolution. 2nd Fail.
      Asserting that DNA in not a product of evolution does not make it true. Proteins aren’t the main driver for evolution. 3rd and 4th Fails.

      So much fail! The shame is that people think the bible is inerrant and the word of some “god”.

      Just a hint, learn proper English before you talk about something. It will greatly improve the chances that you will be taken seriously if you use the right words.

      There is no god, the bible is a poorly written book of fables and fairytales with enough errors in it to make us think either “god” is an illiterate idiot or it was written by man.

  7. Wilhelm Mistiaen says:

    Dear,

    I have some comment to make about the phrase “Random Mutation + Natural Selection + Time = Evolution”

    First of all: mutation is on the level of genotype and selection works on the level of phenotype.
    The reason is simple: for one phenotype, there are many possible genotypes (i.e. possible mutations).

    This is best illustrated by genetic diseases such as hemophilia A and B as well as cystic fibrosis and many others: there are dozens, even hundreds possible mutations for every disease.
    These are the results from mutations in the DNA coding for clotting factors, chlorine pump or other proteins resulting in reduction of function.
    The only variation is the degree of reduction (from minor, resulting in milder disease to major, resulting in severe disease).
    To my knowledge, there has never been a new function identified in such mutated proteins, only in loss of function.

    This line of thinking could be applied to proteins which are not or less essential: loss of function does not result in disease or at least not in decrease of survival or capacity to reproduce.
    Hence I challenge that in these cases there is a steering mechanism such as natural selection, at the level of genotype; there is only selection at the level of phenotype.
    Therefore the second law of thermodynamics has its full effect on genes which have lost their function.
    We can therefore expect no new function or whatsover from a mutated gene and its product, the protein.

    Therefore, the phrase “Random Mutation + Natural Selection + Time = Evolution” is invalid.

    Some have proposed alternative theories such as evolution without selection, but this seems entirely nonsensical to me.

    Sincerely,

    Wilhelm P. Mistiaen

    • I would just add that there’s a whole universe of possibilities and experimental results when you add transposition, horizontal gene transfer and other forms of cell-directed mutations. McClintock’s experiments could be regarded as having some level of “evolution without selection.” All evolutionary steps do after all take place before the natural selection step.

  8. J Kelly says:

    I wonder what happens to all those scientists who dismissed God and die.
    It is a rude awakening indeed when they go to where god puts them and they find out that they were wrong all the time and they cannot change their status.
    If God gave any of them the opportunity to return to this place above the ground, not one would come here and spout foolishness again dismissing God! Everyone would be a Christian! Someone needs to begin to pray!

    • Wilhelm Mistiaen says:

      This is a nice thought, but what about the rich man from the story of Luke 16? Even if someone rose from the dead (Lazarus in this case), this would not convince the 5 brothers. Will it be different nowadays?

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