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Debate: Bernhard.visscher v hackenslash - Evolution's a Fact


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Debate: Bernhard.visscher v hackenslash - Evolution's a Fact
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Gnug215ModeratorUser avatarPosts: 2695Joined: Sat Feb 21, 2009 10:31 pm

Post Debate: Bernhard.visscher v hackenslash - Evolution's a Fact

As per request of hackenslash:

This is the exclusive debate thread for Bernhard.visscher vs hackenslash.

The topic is (in its full, non-restricted-by-space-of-the-thread-topic glory): "Evolution is a fact".

Hackenslash will be arguing for, and Bernhard.visscher against.

Hackenslash, being the affirmative, has requested to go first. There will be a 7-day limit for response.

(More specified terms of the debate were agreed upon by the two participants here.

I will setup a Debate Discussion thread (the "Peanut Gallery") here, where everyone else on the forum is free to comment on the ongoing debate. The two participants of the debate should refrain from joining that thread, until the debate is over, as is the custom here. Both are, however, more than welcome to start new threads on the forum, and otherwise use the forum as any other regular use would.
- Gnug215

YouTube channel:

The horse is a ferocious predator.
Wed Jul 29, 2015 12:49 pm
hackenslashLime TordUser avatarPosts: 2439Joined: Mon Feb 23, 2009 3:43 pm Gender: Cake

Post Re: Debate: Bernhard.visscher v hackenslash - Evolution's a

A little preamble, after which my opening will follow within 36 hours. I extend to my opponent the opportunity to post a similar preamble should he wish. This will not affect the terms of the debate in general, and will not be addressed in my opening.

First, I'd like to thank the league, particularly Gnug, WarK and the moderating staff, for giving us room to have this discussion. Other than that, I intend to leave the niceties for the end of the discussion, which will be given or not based on the conduct of my opponent. I apologise, somewhat reservedly, for this slight difference in approach from the norm, but direct those interested to the discussion that led to the instantiation of this discussion.

I also apologise in advance to the evolutionary biologists hereabouts for any errors I might make in general terms (physics and cosmology is my area of understanding, after all; this is somewhat akin to Dawkins engaging in a debate on cosmology, and we all know how that turns out!), though I ask that they save their corrections until the conclusion of the debate for my edification only, as any interjection will be inappropriate. Those who know me well will know that I won't be reading the peanut gallery until after the conclusion of the debate. I recommend that my opponent also resist the temptation, great though it can be. My last opponent failed in this regard, and it cost him dearly.

In this debate, I won't be addressing any theistic claims, other than to address specific claims erected by my opponent. I'll merely be presenting the case for evolution, how it's defined in the primary literature, and more importantly how specific terms are employed in the primary literature, and giving an example or two of each as they've been observed. Often, in such discussions, much time is wasted in querying the definitions employed by the opposition. Here, my remit is to present the evidence for evolution and the relevant theory encompassing all the facts, laws and hypotheses pertaining thereto, thus I will be employing terms precisely as they are used in the primary literature, and will countenance no equivocation. If my opponent wishes to claim that his understandings of specific terms are other than I employ them here, then I will simply point out that what he's arguing against is not evolution but a caricature thereof. There is no discussion to be had on definitions of terms, for the simple reason that I will be using the terms as employed in the literature, with the slight caveat that, in different areas of evolutionary science, certain terms may be used differently, such as the term 'gene' being employed in, say, population genetics for something like 'is a descendant of Henry VIII', a perfectly valid usage in proper context; such usage will be highlighted where it is employed although, at the time of writing this preamble, I don't foresee any such circumstance arising.

As this is a formal setting, those who are expecting to see my usual sunny disposition will, I'm sorry to say, be sorely disappointed. On the other hand, I'll also brook no silliness or obvious mendacity. At the first sign that this isn't being taken seriously, I'll have no compunction in ending the discussion.

All that said, I hope we provide some education and/or enjoyment.
Thu Jul 30, 2015 3:14 am
hackenslashLime TordUser avatarPosts: 2439Joined: Mon Feb 23, 2009 3:43 pm Gender: Cake

Post Re: Debate: Bernhard.visscher v hackenslash - Evolution's a

Greetings, to borrow a term from a friend of ours.

Given the scope of this debate, my opening is going to be a bit lengthy (though hopefully not too rambling), and is going to cover a lot of ground that most of you will be familiar with. I don't intend to simply present evidence that evolution is a fact, although plenty of appropriate evidence will be herein. Because of the circumstances that instigated this discussion, it's my intention to clearly define what evolution is, what evolutionary theory actually postulates, as opposed to the caricatures of evolution we're used to seeing from certain quarters, and show that what evolutionary theory postulates has, by and large, been observed occurring.

The best place to start is, I suspect, to delineate between evolution and the theory of evolution.

Evolution is a process of population resampling. Specifically, it's a process of gene flow at all levels of the biosphere. In the technical literature, this is often reduced to its most basic component, namely variation in the frequencies of alleles, where an allele is a specific iteration of a given gene, and where a gene can broadly be defined as any stretch or sequence of DNA of specific interest*. The theory of evolution is the over-arching explanatory framework encompassing all the facts, laws and hypotheses pertaining to evolution the observed process. It's a fully predictive and quantitative theory, and far and away the best supported theory in all of science. It always amazes me that it's talked about as a theory in crisis, despite being better supported than the theories that underpin the technological world. I know physicists who'd sell their grandmother's for the same sort of support for their fields.

Returning to evolution as a process of gene flow, we can look at alleles in different species that code for the same protein. Here, I'll use an example provided by my friend Calilasseia, presented to expose a particularly pernicious fallacy, the fallacy of one true sequence, elucidated HERE.

The important portion of the text for our purpose here is the section detailing the genetic sequence that codes for the production of insulin in humans and lowland gorillas respectively. I reproduce it here with Cali's kind permission:

Calilasseia wrote:[1] Human insulin gene on Chromosome 11, which is as follows:

atg gcc ctg tgg atg cgc ctc ctg ccc ctg ctg gcg ctg ctg gcc ctc tgg gga cct gac
cca gcc gca gcc ttt gtg aac caa cac ctg tgc ggc tca cac ctg gtg gaa gct ctc tac
cta gtg tgc ggg gaa cga ggc ttc ttc tac aca ccc aag acc cgc cgg gag gca gag gac
ctg cag gtg ggg cag gtg gag ctg ggc ggg ggc cct ggt gca ggc agc ctg cag ccc ttg
gcc ctg gag ggg tcc ctg cag aag cgt ggc att gtg gaa caa tgc tgt acc agc atc tgc
tcc ctc tac cag ctg gag aac tac tgc aac tag

which codes for the following protein sequence (using the standard single letter mnemonics for individual amino acids, which I have colour coded to match the colour coding in this diagram of the insulin synthesis pathway in humans):


Now, I refer everyone to this data, which is the coding sequence for insulin in the Lowland Gorilla (differences are highlighted in red):

atg gcc ctg tgg atg cgc ctc ctg ccc ctg ctg gcg ctg ctg gcc ctc tgg gga cct gac
cca gcc gcg gcc ttt gtg aac caa cac ctg tgc ggc tcc cac ctg gtg gaa gct ctc tac
cta gtg tgc ggg gaa cga ggc ttc ttc tac aca ccc aag acc cgc cgg gag gca gag gac
ctg cag gtg ggg cag gtg gag ctg ggc ggg ggc cct ggt gca ggc agc ctg cag ccc ttg
gcc ctg gag ggg tcc ctg cag aag cgt ggc atc gtg gaa cag tgc tgt acc agc atc tgc
tcc ctc tac cag ctg gag aac tac tgc aac tag

this codes for the protein sequence:


which so happens to be the same precursor protein.

This highlights how a single gene can come in different variations. Each of these individual variations is defined as an allele. Same gene, different version, same outcome. This will be important later, and we'll be returning to this.

All of the above can be independently verified simply by following the links given to the specific genomes of the organisms in question, an online database containing a plethora of sequenced genes and genomes.

An important point to note here is that ALL of the genomes recorded in that database represent a single organism's sequence and, in most cases, those sequences will vary even within a species. No two humans have exactly the same genome (even placental twins), or DNA-based paternity tests would be worthless. To map the entire human genome, for example, with complete accuracy, would involve extracting the DNA of every living human and running the same sequencing process for all of them, and even then you would only get a kind of RMS of the genome, because there simply isn't a single human genome. It's not improbable beyond the limit of probabilistic resources that some human somewhere carries the exact insulin coding allele as the lowland gorilla. This will also have some import later when dealing with macroevolution.

It's also worth noting precisely what the difference is in those highlighted examples. Each grouping of three letters is called a triplet codon (or triplet or codon). The letters themselves are place-holders for the amino acids they represent, namely adenine (a), cytosine (c), guanine (g) and thymine (t) respectively. This is the genetic code, and by this, I mean this substitution of the chemicals for their initial letters, and the language we've formulated to describe it (more accurately, it's a cipher). The code is not the chemicals themselves. As detailed in my signature, DNA is a code in precisely the same way that London is a map. Much confusion arises when the map is falsely conflated with the terrain.

These amino acids always pair in the same way. Wherever (a) appears on one side of the helix, (t) will always appear opposite. The same is true of (c) and (g). These are the Watson-Crick base pairs, and they work by specific hydrogen bonds, which in turn are responsible for the helical structure of the molecule.

You'll note that each difference in the above comparison occurs in the third letter in the codon, which also has extremely important implications, both in fidelity, and in how some specific mutations impact the genome. We'll return to those shortly.

In the very simplest scenario, we have two sexually reproducing organisms who copulate and give birth to offspring. A certain monk cloistered in the city of Brno, in what is now the Czech Republic (a beautiful old city which I had the pleasure of visiting some years ago) elucidated for us the principles of inheritance with some meticulous experiments in pea plants. His name was Gregor Mendel, and he provided the piece that Darwin was missing, namely how inheritance actually works. It's unclear whether Darwin encountered Mendel's work, but Mendel was certainly familiar with Darwin's.

In any event, what Mendel demonstrated was that the popular view, that traits from parents were blended in offspring, a view that Darwin held to, was wrong.This could all have turned out quite differently not least because, when Mendel went to university in Vienna, his primary studies were in physics.

In any event, Mendel returned to the abbey at Brno after university, and this was where he conducted his famous pea experiments. He obtained some 30 or so varieties of pea that showed discontinuous characteristics, which is to say that the offspring of any given pairing exhibited traits that were not in the parent varieties. After much careful experimentation, including blending of 'child' varieties, he determined that some traits could skip generations, only to appear later in future generations[1]. By this mechanism, Mendel determined what are properly termed 'laws of evolution'. Specifically, the laws of segregation and independent assortment. The law of segregation tells us that offspring receive two alleles, one (only) from each of its parents, which has some interesting consequences when the same allele is inherited from both parents, a topic I will be exploring later in this post, while the law of independent assortment tells us that alleles for different characteristics remain separate.

One of my favourite questions for those who deny the reality of evolution is this:

Do you look more like your father or your mother?

I hope that some of the above highlights why I think this is a particularly revealing question, as it goes to the very heart of inheritance, which is one of the major mechanisms for evolution. As such, this question is the first piece of evidence I present that evolution is indeed a fact. I'll extend the question for the purpose of this discussion and ask directly:

Bernhard, do you look more like your father or your mother? Do people tell you that you have your mother's eyes, or your father's nose? The simple fact is that, in one way or another, you will exhibit features of both, while your siblings, if you have any, will exhibit different features of each, or even the same features, but with tiny variations that allow people to distinguish between you. I assume, if you have siblings, that you don't all look exactly alike. That's evolution, right in front of you.

In a nutshell, every time that two organisms reproduce, their alleles are mixed, and the result is a unique blend of genetic material, even when the same organisms produce multiple offspring. This mixing in and of itself constitutes a variation in the frequency of alleles in a population, and is properly termed evolution. This is observed and incontrovertible.

Moving on, we should touch on the mechanisms of evolution. The first is mutation, which is a permanent change. Mutations can be broadly classified in two ways, germline (or hereditary) mutations, and somatic mutations. Germline mutations occur in all (or almost all) of the body's cells and are inherited (or occur during meiosis), while somatic mutations are acquired during one's life and occurs only in some cells. These are not passed on, unless they occur in germline cells (eggs and sperm). These are termed de novo (new) mutations[2]. Somatic mutations are generally the result of transcription errors during cell division, or occur via radiation or chemical mutagens, although it's generally less than straightforward to determine precisely when a de novo mutation occurred. De novo genes represent the 'new information' that some insist doesn't arise [3]. Any de novo mutation that occurs in more than roughly 1% of a population of organisms is termed a 'polymorphism'. These are generally harmless (although they can be a factor in propensity to certain disorders) and they account for such things as hair and eye colour, etc. These broad classes are further subdivided, but that's beyond the scope of this discussion for the time being.

In the gene sequences compared above, as already mentioned, the differences between the genes coding for the production of insulin in humans and lowland gorillas respectively appear in the third letter in each of those codons. This is important, because the third of any triplet is neutral, which means that, if a mutation occurs there, it will have no impact on how the gene expresses. We can readily see this in the fact that, despite those differences, the insulin precursor protein produced is identical in both species.

Mutations can happen in slightly different ways as well. For example, we could have the sequence
ccc acc tag
This sequence can not only suffer a direct mutation in any of those individual bases, but it can also suffer from an insertion or a deletion, which in turn will 'frameshift' the codons. A deletion might leave it looking like
ccc cct ag..
or an insertion might leave it like
cca cac cta
etc, which of course, change the protein, as the first two bases in the codon are affected. Frame-shifts are often involved in genetic disorders. Cystic fibrosis, for instance, is the result of a frame-shift.

The second mechanism is selection. Many are of the opinion that natural selection is the key driving force in evolution, although opinions are divided on this, and in fact some are of the opinion that separating mechanisms is folly in itself, a point I will return to shortly. You'll also note that I initially said simply 'selection'. This will also come up again soon.

To treat selection properly, and specifically to treat the 'random/non-random' dichotomy, it's important to first look at the levels at which selection operates.

Natural selection has to be looked at in two ways to be fully appreciated. The first is from the perspective of the population, at which level the effects of selection are seen. At this level, NS is most definitely not random, where 'random' means specifically 'statistically independent', because it can be probabilistically quantified. At this level, we see that, on average, advantageous alleles are selected for, in the form of being passed on to future generations with a statistical weighting. We also see that, on average, deleterious alleles are selected against, in the form of not being passed on to future generations, again with a statistical weighting.

The second way to look at NS is from the perspective of the individual organism, at which level selection actually operates. From this perspective, NS is random. The particular selection pressure that an individual organism will succumb to or indeed evade, is statistically independent, thus random. The organism with an allele that allows it to evade a particular selection pressure has statistical significance, but the means of checking out without issue are many and diverse, and which particular pressure said individual will fall prey to (pardon the pun) can only be treated in the broadest of terms (and indeed even an organism carrying an advantageous allele that confers a specific advantage can still fall prey to the selection pressure that the allele confers the advantage against, while an organism not carrying the allele evades it).

It's also worth a brief digression on what is meant by advantageous and deleterious here, I think, because this is often misunderstood. Whether or not a given allele or trait confers an advantage or disadvantage is primarily a function of environment. There are very few mutations that are deleterious in and of themselves, but are deleterious in the context of the environment in which they appear (I should note for completeness that the genome constitutes part of the environment for a gene, and in the case of those few alleles that are inherently deleterious, this is the environment we would be looking at), so, for example, a mutation that conferred a disadvantage in swimming will not be strongly deleterious for, say, a camel, but it might be a problem for a tuna. Yes, that's a little glib, but it illustrates the point well enough. To make the point more explicit, though, let's return to the law of segregation and its implications for some mutations.

There is one particular allele that is prevalent in humans, particularly Africans. I'm talking, of course, about the sickle gene. This is a nasty little beastie, which is the result of a single difference in amino acid in the hemoglobin gene, but thankfully it only expresses under certain conditions. If you inherit the sickle allele from only one of your parents, it remains recessive, and no anaemia will result. However, if you inherit a copy from each of your parents, anaemia is the result (this is a loose treatment of it, of course, and it isn't necessarily the case that anaemia results from having two copies, but it certainly appears with a significant statistical weighting). Under a naïve treatment of natural selection, that should be sufficient that the allele is weeded out of the population, except for two things. The first is that anaemia only kills before reproductive age in a small percentage of the population. The second, and this is the bit that's important here, is that a single copy of the allele confers a distinct advantage in terms of resisting malaria. These two are the reason that natural selection hasn't eliminated it, and it also illustrates just what the connection is between alleles, selection and environment[4].

The third mechanism is genetic drift, which occurs via the random†† mixing of alleles during reproduction. Broadly speaking, in any population of size x, there are 2x copies of every gene (remember that you get one copy from each of your parents). Of those, there will be a percentage that are of a specific type, or allele. In succeeding generations, that percentage will vary randomly about a mean. The effects of drift are most strongly felt where populations are small, as these random variations will tend to cancel out in larger populations. Where drift results in an allele going extinct, that allele will stay extinct unless it arises again via mutation. Where drift results in a given allele appearing in the entire population, it is said to have fixed. I'll be coming back to this again shortly. I should note that, even without selection, evolution will occur in a population as long as there is mutation and drift (indeed, genetic drift on its own IS evolution, as I detailed above, because it constitutes a variation in allele frequency) [5].

As I mentioned above, there are advocates of both the position that natural selection is the primary driver of evolution, and that genetic drift is the primary driver of evolution (this is known as the neutralist-selectionist debate, largely driven by the work of Motoo Kimura, whose neutral theory of molecular evolution asserted that molecular evolution is driven by drift, while phenotypic evolution (large scale morphological change) is driven by natural selection). My own position, garnered over much discussion with an extremely knowledgeable palaeobotanist friend of ours, is that separating them is a mistake, as both are facets of a single mechanism, namely population resampling.

Much of what we've been dealing with so far has been what we would call 'microevolution' which, as I understand it, my opponent doesn't dispute. What he does dispute is 'macroevolution' (although I'm not entirely sure he understands what we mean by it in the literature), and I'm going to give the remainder of my opening over to that.

In the very simplest of terms, microevolution is variation in frequencies of alleles that occurs below species level, or within a population. Much of genetic drift, for example, would constitute microevolution (although there are some exceptions). Macroevolution, on the other hand, is variation in the frequencies of alleles at or above species level. This gives us one crystal clear example of a macroevolutionary process, namely fixation via genetic drift and selection. This is where all variants of an allele have been eliminated from a population except one. The variant alleles are now extinct, as detailed above, and the single remaining allele is fixed. Because this occurs at species level, it is properly termed a macroevolutionary process.

One nice observed example of this is detailed in a paper by Lee et al studying population data in Drosophila melanogaster and looking for instances of genetic hitchhiking, which is where an allele is strongly selected for and goes to fixation, and other nearby alleles 'hitch a ride', and basically survive by association[6].

We also have extinction as a properly macroevolutionary process, because it is a variation in the frequencies of alleles at species level, in which, bluntly, all the alleles in a species go from some to none. So another neat little question about observations of macroevolutionary processes is 'when was the last time you saw a live [insert extinct animal of choice] (I usually go with the thylacine or the dodo, not least because their extinctions were both observed).

To extend this example a little, we can also talk about a hypothetical (I did search for an example of this in the literature, but couldn't find one in the time I allocated to research for this post), namely a speciation and an extinction in one, namely an extinction event in the middle of a ring species.

Where you have a single species, this species can be a string of subspecies (loosely) each of which are interfertile with their immediate neighbours (and often several neighbours beyond), but the ends of which cannot interbreed with each other, this is a ring species. An obvious example is the Ensatina salamanders of California's Central Valley[7]. If an event, such as, say, a meteorites strike, wipes out a portion of the middle of the ring species, such that the closest neighbours can no longer interbreed, you have a speciation event, because the nearest neighbours are now separate species, even when the same members of the same subspecies were the same species before the event. This is an extinction that caused a speciation, and therefore a macroevolutionary event.

I should also note here that there are various instances of alleles that are shared between multiple species. Indeed, when we say that chimps and humans share a massively high percentage of their DNA, we're actually saying that there are many, many instances in which humans and chimps carry exactly the same alleles (and indeed multiple shared allelic variations of individual genes across populations). The study of these genes is properly termed an area of macroevolutionary study. This is, of course, what I was alluding to earlier when talking about some human somewhere carrying the exact insulin coding gene as that shown above for the lowland gorilla.

And finally, to round this opening off, I'm going to return to one of my favourite examples of speciation, namely a replicated speciation event via hybridisation in Heliconius butterflies[8]. In this paper, the author's noted that one species, Heliconius heurippa had wing markings intermediate between two other species, Heliconius melpomene and Heliconius cydno. Since I feel this is the final slam-dunk, and because I've typed over 3,500 words in this post, I'm simply going to cite the reference and hand you to my good friend, the fearsome Blue Butterfly, and his wonderful and enthusiastic presentation of the paper:

There is no more thunderous prescient of doom than the flutter of tiny wings – hackenslash.

TL:DR version: Evolution is a fact.


* Gene is a term that has varying definitions across different disciplines in evolutionary biology, generally context-sensitive. For example, in population mechanics, a gene can be something even as loose as 'is a descendant of Henry VIII' or 'can survive a bolide impact'. More broadly, a gene is any unit of heredity. For clarity, unless otherwise specified, I will be referring to a stretch of DNA of specific interest.

† All uses of the word 'species' will, unless otherwise specified, refer to the biological species concept (BSC), which is defined as a population of organisms throughout which gene flow naturally occurs at a given time.

†† Random here means 'statistically independent', which is to say that any result is as probable as any other.


[1] Versuche über Pflanzenhybriden – Mendel 1866 (translated into English by Druery and Bateson 1901- Journal of the Royal Horticultural Society).

[2] http://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/handbook/mutatio ... nemutation

[3] For a detailed treatment of 'information' and the various canards surrounding it, see: hackenslash on information

[4] http://www.cdc.gov/malaria/about/biolog ... _cell.html

[5] http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/ar ... 2211008827

[6] Differential Strengths of Positive Selection Revealed by Hitchhiking Effects at Small Physical Scales in Drosophila melanogaster – Lee et al 2014

[7] Incipient species formation in salamanders of the Ensatina complex – Wake 1997

[8] Speciation By Hybridisation In Heliconius Butterflies – Mavarez et al 2006 (full paper downloadable; link in Cali's linked post).
Thu Jul 30, 2015 5:55 pm
hackenslashLime TordUser avatarPosts: 2439Joined: Mon Feb 23, 2009 3:43 pm Gender: Cake

Post Re: Debate: Bernhard.visscher v hackenslash - Evolution's a

Bernhard.visscher wrote:Why? Because macro evolution is never observed.

So this is your A game, is it? I detailed several observed instances of macroevolution in my post.

That does not mean not implied. Not observed in fossil record... Definitely implied.

Wrong. Pretty much every fossil in the record constitutes an observed instance of macroevolution, or did you miss the bit where extinction is a macroevolutionary event? In fact, extinction is one of the driers of macroevolution, especially mass extinctions such as the late Permian and the K/T extinction events, because these events leave ecological niches, to be discovered and capitalised on by other organisms in the biosphere.

Small changes are observed, micro evolution = allele frequency= genetic variation.

So therefore what is defined as micro evolution is observed. But what is also observed, forced genetic variation, via selective breeding results in many species, (dogs) but never a change in dog.

So what we have observed: genetic variation

Not observed : macro evolution.

Except, of course, that macroevolution IS observed, as detailed in the examples I gave of fixation and speciation nd he accompanying references dealing with those observations in the primary literature,to which your only response is blind dismissal

"The basic evolutionary mechanisms — mutation, migration, genetic drift, and natural selection — can produce major evolutionary change if given enough time."

That is the theory... Given enough time mutations, genetic drift,and natural selection...

Where are you getting this nonsense about time from? The only part that it plays in all of this is that a fair bit of it is required to explain the degree of biodiversity we observe. In evolutionary terms, it isn't time that matters, it's generational turnaround. Major morphological change can be observed in extremely short time spans on the evolutionary scale, such as the evolution of cecal valves in the lizards of Pod Mrcaru in only a few decades[1].

Will engineer a new animal above the species level.

What, you mean like that observed and replicated specation event in Heliconius butterflies?

I agree there is natural selection.
I agree there is genetic drift
I agree there are mutations.

Then you agree that there's evolution.

I don't agree that via these methods plus much time = what evolution claims.

Thankfully, those examples documented by real scientists in the primary literature aren't predicated on, or interested in, your agreement.

According to Darwin transistional fossils are needed, none are found.

Wrong because, as has already been pointed out to you, ALL fossils are transitional, as indeed are all organisms, including those who went extinct without offspring. And that's even before we get in to the fact that an awful lot's happened in evolutionary science since Darwin.

Even given what Darwin was talking about, there were examples of fossils showing transition between major groups documented during Darwin's time. Indeed, []Archaeopteryx[/i] was named in the literature only two years after the publication of On the Origin of Species in 1861.

The obvious method to combat this is to call everything transistional, but that is semantics.

Two things wrong with this. The first is that what it means for something to be transitional is not what you think. Tiktaalik roseae was a proper transitional because it showed transition in features between Sarcopteryids and tetrapods. It doesn't matter that we can't say with certainty that any individual Tiktaalik specimen was actually the ancestor of any extant species, because we can say with certainty that a member of its species or a closely-related sister species was. Evolution is a population phenomenon.

Secondly, and more damningly, semantics deals with what we mean when we say a thing. As such it's the very heart of communication.

The vast majority of philosophy is concerned with semantics. Read any discourse on philosophy, and you'll find that a huge amount of the time is spent defining and justifying terms.

As such semantics is among the most important disciplines in philosophy. Dismissing an argument on the basis that 'it's just semantics' is, therefore, and to employ a favourite footballing analogy, the equivalent of diving in the penalty area. It's a cheat. A lazy cop-out indicating that you have neither the wherewithal to deal with your opponents argument nor the intellectual honesty to simply admit it. In other words, it's a spectacular breach of the 9th commandment.

Well done.

Like you do by claiming since I look like a hybrid of my parents therefore evolution.

Not actually what I said, as you can tell by my not employing the word 'therefore'. That blending of the genetic material of your parents doesn't prove evolution, it IS evolution.

No not evolution, genetic variation.

Genetic variation IS evolution. It is, in fact, the definition of evolution as employed in the primary literature.

I am just as human as my parents, great grandparents, great great, etc.

Which is exactly what evolutionary theory predicts. Well done.

Now the question because of evolutionary semantics becomes do you have evidence for a direct ancestor transistional fossil?

You're seriously going to bring this to a formal debate thread after having been comprehensively schooled on the forum as to why what you're asking for is nonsensical?

The answer is no... You can argue that.. But every claimed transistional has been so systematically debunked,

Ah, finally a claim requiring the support of evidence. I look forward to your presentation of the debunking of the following in your next post:

Tiktaalik Roseae

that evolutionists go into smaller and smaller evidence like DNA (you) and other evidences that the regular person has no access to..

Well, aside form the fact that I presented in my last post a specific instance of observed evolution, observed as it occurred and then replicated in the lab, no less, this is bunk.

In fact, if you have the diligence and patience to conduct the proper experiments, you can even observe speciation for yourself. All you need is a suitably quick-generating species and the space to isolate them. Such experiments have been carried out by schoolchildren.

But we all get to see Lucy at the smithsonian, which has been so thoroughly debunked it's ridiculous it's still there.

Ah, you can dd the debunking of Lucy in your prsentation.

Horse remains a horse even with massive selective breeding

Which is exactly what evolutionary theory predicts. Horse isn't a species designation.

A fruit fly remains a fruit fly even with massive selective breeding

Which is exactly what evolutionary theory predicts. Fruit fly isn't a species designation.

You are under the impression because I look like my father but not completely, that therefore evolution...

No, I understand evolutionary theory well enough point out that looking lour father but not completely IS evolution. I'm not erecting a deductive argument here, I'm stating plainly that the mixing of genes from your father and your mother in you IS evolution.

No therefore genetic variation, or as you wish to define it micro evolution. I have no issue with such definitions for micro-evolution but in the interest of understanding I will be referring to micro evolution as genetic variation. This is done so there is no equivocating between micro and macro evolution.

I don't need to equivocate, because I actually know what the terms mean. Genetic variation is evolution. When it occurs within a species, it's microevolution. When it occurs at or above species level, it's macroevolution, and both are observed.

As you noted I already accept genetic variation.

The you accept that evolution is a fact.

To note because extinction: therefore evolution.

No, and stop doing that. I made no deductive argument, I stated that extinction IS evolution, specifically macroevolution.

I don't agree but For the sake of argument let's accept that premise. Do then accept the premise if not extinct therefore not evolution? To use your dodo analogy , extinction in the last few hundred years, I can assume you can see the problem.. But I have no doubts you will have a reconciliation for this. The point will remain though you will argue extinction and non extinction is evidence for evolution.

This makes absolutely no sense whatsoever

Now if you wish to link articles, that's fine, but remember I didn't ask for articles.

You asked for evidence, and the evidence is detailed in the articles and scientific papers form the primary literature that I provided.

If you wish to "slam dunk" with the utterflies... Ok ... Looking forward to it... Show me why you claim it is macro evolution.. Or don't bother bringing an unasked article. /quote]

Except you did ask for it, because you asked for evidence of macroevolution. As for why it's defined as macroevolution, we began with one species comprising two subspecies of Heliconius butterfly. The experimenters noted that here was a third population, with wing markings intermediate between the two. The third population was not reproductively compatible with the other two, so the observers inferred that this was a new species that had arisen via hybridisation of the two species. They took specimen of each, hybridised them, and produced something that looked very like the third, incompatible species. This new population was not reproductively compatible with either of the parent species, meaning that this was a true speciation event, an event that showed that one species had become two, with no genetic flow possible between the daughter and parent species. That's macroevolution, and it is observed.

I already told you quoting any evolutionary scientist is an argument from authority.

And I already told you why this dismissal is nonsense, and a spectacular commission of the genetic fallacy.

I want to know why YOU think it is macro evolution... Not the article.

I ready told you this. Read my first post again. I gave a definition of macroevolution, and then an instance that fit the definition. In what lo9gically consistent universe does this not equal ting you why I thin it fits e bill? Did you even read my opening?

I realise that this s hard work, and takes diligence, but you could at least attempt to reciprocate the effort I expended in my opening. After a full day and an opening of just shy of 4,000 words, your resposne amounts to 'nu-uh!'

It's pathetic, and unbecoming in a formal debate.

When you quote an article that is like me going here is Genesis 1 therefore creation proved. No you don't agree with bible, I don't agree with your horde or evolutionary ignorants.

Just down to mud-slinging now. I gave you a detailed and rigorous explanation of how the terms are used int he primary scientific literature, and went on to give exampls of what is observed fitting every specific defintiion given.,You wanted evidence, I gave it to you.

If you wish to digress at this point and claim something along the lines I am not being serious... That fine. It's expected Aron Ra did same thing. Then use that as an excuse to run.. Fine. Not my problem.

Whether or not your 'response here can be classified as serious, I leave to the reader.

When I ask for evidence for macro evolution it is implied in the question why is it evidence.

Which is exactly what I gave you, by telling you what the terms mean and then showing an instance of exactly that.

Not drop butterfly, drop article, poof therefore evidence.

I'm going to leave the rest until such time as you deliver a serious response. If that's your A game, you're on the wrong field.

I expect your next response to include support for your claims, and I expect it to be a whole lot better than this one, which addressed exactly nothing. If i isn't, I'll declare the debate, because I've already expended more effort in one post in this debate than you have in your tenure on the forum.

[1] Herrel A, Huyghe K, Vanhooydonck B, Backeljau T, Breugelmans K, Grbac I, Van Damme R, Irschick DJ. (2008) Rapid large-scale evolutionary divergence in morphology and performance associated with exploitation of a different dietary resource. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A.
Tue Aug 04, 2015 3:05 pm
hackenslashLime TordUser avatarPosts: 2439Joined: Mon Feb 23, 2009 3:43 pm Gender: Cake

Post Re: Debate: Bernhard.visscher v hackenslash - Evolution's a

This will be my last response. I'm calling it, because it's clear from this post that my opponent is hopelessly out of his depth and doesn't understand his responsibilities here. Bernhard, now that you've knocked over the pieces and crapped on the board, feel free to fly back to your flock declaring victory. Never was the pigeon-chess analogy more appropriate than now, and this simply isn't worth the considerable time and effort.

Bernhard.visscher wrote:I asked three questions. Simply why do you agree that the butterfly is a macro evolutionary event? Skipped.

If by 'skipped' you mean 'comprehensively answered by the following text, then yes, I skipped it:

Except you did ask for it, because you asked for evidence of macroevolution. As for why it's defined as macroevolution, we began with one species comprising two subspecies of Heliconius butterfly. The experimenters noted that here was a third population, with wing markings intermediate between the two. The third population was not reproductively compatible with the other two, so the observers inferred that this was a new species that had arisen via hybridisation of the two species. They took specimen of each, hybridised them, and produced something that looked very like the third, incompatible species. This new population was not reproductively compatible with either of the parent species, meaning that this was a true speciation event, an event that showed that one species had become two, with no genetic flow possible between the daughter and parent species. That's macroevolution, and it is observed.

So yes, I skipped it by comprehensively answering it, in detail, with reference to the primary scientific literature.

Second question: if species is not extinct then not evolution? You asserted question was non sensical.

It was nonsensical. Extinction is a part of evolution, not all of it.

Third question : evidence for a direct ancestor transistional? You asserted again non sensical.

I didn't simply assert that it was nonsensical, I explained it, and it isn't as if this hasn't been explained to you before.

I hope you will address those questions in the next comment.

They are addressed. The first question was answered in detail, and the second and third questions were incoherent.

Now I will be defending your assertions of Lucy, achaeoptyx, tiktaalik

A) they are not direct ancestor... It is super cool that the new evolution charts have placed them all as daughter groups. So if you tak you brought direct ancestor transistional .. Your own material asserts they are daughter groups. Very important point.. And I thank the evolutions who had the courage to place them in that particular spot.

Not the new charts, this is the way it's always been. Beyond that, this snippet conveys little more than how badly you understand evolutionary theory. If evolutionary theory predicted anything like you assert, I'd think it was nonsense as well.


Why is Lucy not a transistional:
A) they have found 40 of 207 bones ( roughly) many bones being broken. This is considered a most "complete" fossil. Nevermiding the fact the 40 bones that have been found are in pieces. So to assert it has been " pieced together" is false because of evolutionary presuppositions gaps have been placed to give longer legs, or bones have actually been jammed tiger to give shorter arms. Remember it's not like they have one good arm and make the other symetrical... That's not there.. Hence a great place to insert evolution of the gaps.

Several things wrong here. First, they didn't find 40 out f 207 bones, they found 40% of the complete skeleton. That's what comes of getting your scientific information from cretinist screeds.

B) the pelvis was mechanically worked on to claim Lucy walked upright, bipedalism. There is a nice little video on it courtesy of national geographic that shows Dr. Love joy ( I think that was his name) sawing on bones to make it work. That would be called tampering with evidence but in this scenario I'll just let it pass and say the bones mechanically evolved via a drill/sawblade not via genetic drift, et al.

Wrong again. What they actually found in that 40% was enough of the spine to show curvature in the lumbar, a clear indication of habitual bipedalism.

C) with these 40 bones or so 20%... The complete Lucy stands.. I do not know of another way to frame it but Lucy is simply 80% wishful thinking.

Except that it isn't.

Why archaeopteryx is not a transistional.


Interestingly new information by evolutionists is doing a fine job of debunking this transistional. That link is not creationist stuff. Interestingly after a century achaeopteryx keeps getting downgraded... The trend will continue. The place for archaeopteryx is not known at the moment according to evolutionary literature. Unless of course you can provide me with an article that shows with certainty exactly which transistional form this is... Since evolutionists who are in this sort of thing for life have no clue where it goes and since they did a fine job of debunking themselves. I suppose this is in order: kindly get your shit together when you ask about transistionals ( as in transistional between reptile and bird? ) that are in question by evolutionists themselves. I decide to withhold further comment on archaeopteryx.

So if you wish to put archaeopteryx back on the table.. Please tell me what it is transistional between. Then I will proceed to explain why it can never be a transistional... But it would be nice to see where you decide to place archaeopteryx when the evolutionary community, the experts on the matter have no clue.

The best bit about the above is that you seem not to have read the article yourself (protip: I actually know Carl Zimmer). That article doesn't put a dent in the status of Archaeopteryx as a transitional, it merely says that there is now more evidence sitting alongside it showing a smooth transition between theropods and aves.

Why tiktaalik is not a transistional

A) like every other claimed transistional it's is of "poor quality" according to evolutionists.

Where does this 'poor quality'claim come from? Are you seriously labouring under the delusion that we only have a single example of this?

B) rock containing tetrapods footprints dated millions of years before tiktaalik shows tetrapods had already existed before tiktaalik debunking it as the transistional between fish and tetrapods, unless of course you wish to claim without being there that tetrapod evolved more then once in which case your own guys admit your fossil is "poor" in other words because of "poor" fossil insert evolution of the gaps. Piecing together a few bones you can make it look like anything... It's called voodoo bones.

Wrong again, and more exposition of your palsied understanding of what evolutionary theory actually says and how it marries with the evidence. Firstly, Tiktaalik wasn't a single organism, it was a population and, as a reasonably successful species (or group of species, more accurately), was around for a long time. This objection is little more than the scala natura fallacy writ large. Also, it once again overlooks what a transitional actually is.

although the quality of that specimen was poor. And the orientation of the radials did not seem to match the way modern fingers and toes radiate from a joint, parallel to each other." (Some science article... Feel free to ask for the article I will be overjoyed to give it. Because if you do ask for article then you understand the importance of that particular sentence admitted by evolutionists themselves.

Total nonsense. Aside from anything else, possible motivations for my wishing to see your source include everything from knowing from experience that you habitually lie in support of your fantasy, to knowing from experience that your sources are less than robust, to knowing that your understanding of pretty much any area of science is so palsied as to make a misreading or coming away with completely the wrong impression a strong probability, not least because I have extensive experience of scientifically literate people reading primary sources and coming away with the wrong idea on all manner of topics, let alone somebody whose understanding is, to all intents and purposes, non-existent.

Evolutionists admitting that " it does not seem to match" right it doesn't thank you. That's a good enough reason to debunk the whole transistional thing.

Says the one who thinks evolution or god is a true dichotomy.

So as in the case for achaeopteryx please get your shit together when trying to claim these are transistional forms when your own community are debunking the very transistionals you are trying to claim is evidence.

And this tells me all I really need to know.

I'm calling this, as there's little point continuing. One day, with a lot of learning and a whole lot of effort, you might learn just how badly you did here, but I doubt it.
Fri Aug 07, 2015 6:09 pm
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