Saturday, May 31, 2008

Micro vs. Macro

So, I need to address another of the comments left by an anonymous Darwinbot recently. This one is one of those that tips you off right away to the fact that the person offering the comment is in way over his head; he's parroting what others have said with no real understanding of the issues. Here's his quote...
Evolution is evident today in how bacteria evolve to resist antibiotics.
That bacteria are capable of developing resistance to antibiotics is completely non-controversial, as is the fact, for example, that Americans are on average six inches taller than they were 100 years ago.

These are indeed examples of "evolution," if by that term we mean simply a change over time in the characteristics of a species. And while such changes are evident in their physiological or morphological manifestations, it is also well-documented that they can correspond to changes in the genotype. Of course, environmental factors play a role--and perhaps, at least in the case of human height, a larger role than genetics in the observed changes. Nonetheless, changes in the genetic make-up of a population or entire species have been documented. The generally accepted term for this phenomenon is "microevolution." Again, this sort of change within a species is completely non-controversial.

What IS controversial is whether the same mechanism appealed to in order to explain change within a species (that mechanism being natural selection acting upon gene mutations) can be extrapolated to explain how not only new species but also new families, orders, classes, and phyla came to be. The term given to this larger, hypothetical idea is macroevolution. And the evidence overwhelmingly refutes the idea that macroevolution occurs or has occurred in life's history.

It should be quite obvious that change within a species, for which there is evidence, is an entirely different kettle of fish than all-life-descended-from-a-single-common-ancestor. That's why scientists (and others) actually interested in discovering truth about the origin of life's diversity differentiate between microevolution and macroevolution. If you hear (or read) someone arguing for Darwinian evolution who fails to make this obvious distinction, you can be sure that he or she is being disingenuous (deliberately ignoring the problem), or fallacious (guilty of a critical error in thinking), or both.

Specifically, the informal fallacy generally involved here (as in the argument put forth in the comment left on my blog) is the fallacy known as "equivocation." This is where one changes the meaning of (equivocates on) one of the terms between the argument's premises and conclusion. Here's what the Darwinist argument looks like...
Premise 1: The development by bacteria of resistance to antibiotics is an example of evolution.

Premise 2: Such development has been documented.

Conclusion: Therefore, the evolution of all life from a single common ancestor has been proven.
I hope this is obviously fallacious to you. And the most significant problem with it is that the meaning of the term "evolution" in premise 1, where it refers to microevolution, is significantly different than the meaning of the same term in the conclusion, where it stands for macroevolution.

The bottom line is that evidence for microevolution cannot be used in support of the theory of macroevolution. Don't let your neighborhood Darwinist get away with such a poor argument.

In the next post, I'll discuss some of the evidence regarding the limitations of microevolution. In the meantime, here's an example from Hank the Cowdog of equivocation (for my oh-so-sophisticated reader and friend, av8torBob*)...
Drover: Hank, how long's a centipede?

Hank: One foot.

Drover: Isn't that a miracle? All those legs and only one foot!


* I just checked Bob's blog, and his most recent post is on the same subject! Check it out here.

5 comments:

Ben Hanes said...

I'm still confused as to the difference between the two. There isn't any clear line. I think we have to accept that species change or not accept it at all.

"What IS controversial is [macroevolution] ... the evidence overwhelmingly refutes the idea that macroevolution occurs."

It wouldn't be controversial if the evidence is 'overwhelmingly' refuted. How is it refuted?

I am not greatly knowledgeable on the subject but below are some links I found with documented examples of speciation, which you appear to be claiming is impossible:

Observed Instances of Speciation

More Evidence

Speciation / Macroevolution Evidence

Genetic evidence for complex speciation

Just type in "evidence speciation" at Google to find more.

Ben Hanes said...

Wow, below is another link to TalkOrigins.org. Pretty interesting website.

29+ Evidences for Macroevolution

Ben Hanes said...

Here is a Critique of the 29+ Evidences for Macroevolution located at trueorigin.org (Interesting spin on the site name)

A Critique of Douglas Theobald’s,
29 Evidences for Macroevolution

Rick Gerhardt said...

Ben:

You're right--there isn't a clear line separating micro- and macroevolution. And that is what is exploited by Darwinists to make grandiose claims unsupported by the evidence.

You said, "It wouldn't be controversial if the evidence overwhelmingly refutes it." This gets at the entire problem in biology today. The evidence is not central to the debate, as it obviously should be.

Were the evidence allowed to settle the issue, we would long ago have abandoned the theory of macroevolution. But instead, ideology obscures the issue. If it were admitted that the evidence refutes Darwinism, then we'd be right back to considering theism (and especially Christianity) as credible accounts of the universe. We can't have that, so we make up stories and fanciful scenarios and allow them to obscure the evidence and carry the day for naturalistic evolution.

I never said that speciation was impossible. Macroevolution really refers to the origination of new families, orders, classes, and phyla, and most biologists arguing against it do not take a stand against the reality of speciation. But 'species' is really a rather artificial and nebulous concept, with some two dozen different definitions for what constitutes a species.

I'm glad you're interested enough to search these links. As you read the contrary positions, pay attention to the integrity of the arguments--the logic--involved in each. You will (I expect) quickly discern some rather fallacious arguments on the part of the Darwinists.

Ben Hanes said...

Thanks for your response Rick. It appears that I have much to learn on this subject. For example, I don't really know how biology/life is classified, such as defining what a species is. I will research this.

I let Mike know that I'm going on a 'fast' of sorts with regard to philosophy, apologetics, evolution, debates, etc. It has been consuming too much of my time. I'll return sometime. Again thanks for your comments!

Regards,

Ben