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Evolution Will Be Falsified Within 100 Years?

Tiktaalik roseae

Tiktaalik

Again I have been told  by a Christian fundagelical out here that evolution will undoubtedly be falsified within the next century. I really didn’t follow her ‘logic’ so I asked her to explain.

She told me evolution is a theory not a proven fact. I told her that evolution is called a theory. Common usage of theory does in fact mean something not necessarily proven but a scientific theory is an explanation of facts and observations. Then, since I was really irritated by this all to common error, asked her if she would be willing to walk off the roof since the theory of gravity is only a theory to prove it isn’t a fact. She did ‘apologize’ for being wrong but said she would continue to call it a theory and an unproven one since it contradicts the bible.

Archaeopteryx lithographica

Archaeopteryx

She said there are no transitional fossils and the fossil record is incomplete showing many gaps. She also claimed the Cambrian explosion was creation [makes no sense but let her believe what she wants] and additionally there is no full geological column anywhere on Earth. I really didn’t know where to start since she made so many scientific and logical errors, let alone she seemed to vacillate between Young Earth Creationism and Old Earth Creationism whenever the mood struck her. I asked her what she knew about the Cambrian explosion. A readers digest version of her answer is that all life appeared during the Cambrian explosion. Good thing I was sitting in a chair with arms and a high back otherwise I would have hit the floor laughing. First thing I told her is that the Cambrian explosion is really an unfortunate name that gives cannon fodder to illogical creationists so they can take advantage of it. It was not an explosion but an acceleration of evolutionary processes that took place over 75 million years. Not only that but it started about 530 million years ago. Once that was out of the way I mentioned that life was around for 3.8 billion years and we do have fossils only they are much rarer than those of the complex multicellular life that took place after the Cambrian explosion. She asked me about Precambrian life and I told her I would be happy to discuss it with her but after we spoke about evolution since that biogenesis is not evolution. Again she stressed the absence of a full geologic column anywhere. I said yes, why exactly is that a problem? From her answer, which was quite comical, I found out that she was mistaken as to what it is. Instead of an actual physical column of rock [she actually thought this] the geological column is an idealized model of geologic strata that is based off well known geological principles. We turned to her fossil objections. I told her all fossils are technically transitional fossils. Not only that but there are two in specific that are clear transitions between species such as Tiktaalik and Archaeopteryx. I also asked her if she was an exact Carbon copy of her parents. Not too surprisingly she didn’t understand the question so I explained a really little about genetics. Finally she understood and said no she is not an exact genetic copy. I asked her if that meant she was a transition between her parents and her children. Seemed like a lightbulb went off when she heard that and I doubt she will try to use the transitional fossil argument again. She asked me about the gaps. I asked her why that is a problem? I also asked her if she was walking through the woods and just keeled over and died would she necessarily leave a fossil? She said sure, her body would be found by the police. After I stopped laughing I asked her what would happen if a wild animal ate her dead body? She said it would leave bones. Apparently she didn’t want to understand that not all dead bodies leave fossils. I asked her would the soft fleshy parts of her fossilize? She admitted she didn’t know what would fossilize. I told her in general soft parts don’t turn into fossils. I explained that everytime a fossil is found that fills a ‘gap’, the creationists turn around and claim there are now two more gaps, one on either side of the new fossil.

Another of her reasons was that the only evidence for evolution is the fossil record. That was a puzzler since the evidence for evolution comes from quite a few places and the fossil record really isn’t even necessary. For some reason I could only think of genetics so I put on my best smile and started talking trusting that the answers would come as I spoke. I wasn’t disappointed. I started off explaining the fossil record really wasn’t necessary and there are numerous proofs based on genetics. Then one of the other evidences hit me broadside when I mentioned the marvelous book by Neil Shubin Your Inner Fish: A Journey Into The 3.5-Billion-Year History Of The Human Body. Homology is what I was looking for. Although strictly it does not prove a genetic relation, it does explain quite a bit through evolution for example it explains our epiglottis and embryology. Ah, things are falling in place quite nicely, embryology is another of the evidences. The embryos of all mammals start exactly the same. From the inner cell mass of the blastocyst forming a disk with a notochord up to the ‘gill’ arches. The inner cell mass forming a disk is a direct inheritance from reptile eggs. The yolk to feed an embryo in an egg was necessarily larger than the embryo so a flat disk was necessary to give enough space for the yolk [which oddly enough still forms in human embryos]. The gill arches are a clear inheritance from our fish past. By then I remembered an old acquaintance of mine from MSU by the name of Richard Lenski and his famous evolution experiment using E. Coli that has been going on since 1988. Not only has evolution been clearly seen in the Lenski experiment but it has been observed in the wild. These were the objections she raised and I had addressed them all. I was a little disappointed she didn’t bring up the dinosaur ‘man tracks’ in Texas since I had wrote about them yesterday but I think my explanations answered her questions. I doubt they will make her change her mind but you never know. Chances are she is going to go to Church Sunday and pray for my soul.

I wrestled with myself on bringing up the next point since it was basically telling her she was stupid but since she said evolution will be falsified, I brought it up. I said science really can only reach tentative conclusions since it is constantly being tested and retested and hypotheses and even theories are replaced with ones that better explain the data. Am I saying evolution can’t be falsified? Nah, religion can’t be falsified that is why it isn’t science. In theory evolution can be falsified but is it gonna ever happen? In our lifetime I can safely say no. In the next century it is highly unlikely. In the next 1000 years? Maybe but whatever replaces it is going to need to explain all the evidence including homology, embryology, paleontology, geology and historical [not to mention any I neglected to mention] and make the same predictions that evolution makes. If evolution was going to be falsified, it had a much better chance of happening before 150 years of evidence mounted that agrees with it. In the meantime, there is no scientific theory that challenges evolution. Yes there are debates as to the mechanism of evolution but no scientific debate as to the validity. In other words if the theory of evolution is ever replaced, it is going to be something Christianity is going to hate even more but it is never going to be replaced by goddidit.

[tweetmeme source=”noreligionblog” only_single=false https://noreligionblog.wordpress.com/2010/03/25/evolution-will-be-falsified-within-100-years/%5D

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2 Responses

  1. The Imminent Demise of Evolution: The Longest Running Falsehood in Creationism – http://chem.tufts.edu/AnswersInScience/demise.html

  2. You have so much patience with creationists. Respect.

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