Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Evolution and the origin of life

The whole concept of "evolution" is as plastic as you want it to be. Or as rigid.

Darwinists will say, "You have to be stupid not to believe in evolution." This is naturally intimidating to the general population, who understand evolution to mean, "How we got from nothing to humanity, including abiogenesis."

But then, if you ask a darwinist specifically about abiogenesis, they will say, "Of course not! Evolution is about how life develops having appeared, not how it appeared in the first place." This is just a semantic game - it is a means of using the ignorance of the hearer to win an argument without having to engage in any messy science.

So if somebody says to you, "Only fools don't believe in evolution," ask them right back whether evolution includes abiogenesis. If they say "Yes", then their first statement is wrong, because plenty of evolutionists don't believe that it explains abiogenesis. If they say "No", then tell them that you would be happier to accept what they said about evolution if they could explain abiogenesis.

It also turns out that the evidence for traditional macroevolution by random mutation and natural selection is also not the most convincing. Most phyla spring into the fossil record fully formed, with no apparent antecedents. Some species remain apparently unchanged for tens or hundreds of millions of years. Most phyla spring back out of the fossil record again shortly after they appear.

The only area of evolution where we have good evidence for evolution is microevolution - as was pointed out on Pharyngula a while ago, the first farmer who bred crops or cattle for particular traits believed in microevolution. So you're right - you'd have to be a fool not to believe in evolution. But the implication of that statement - that evolution explains everything, or even for that matter anything significant - is far from the case.

This is where the plastic bit comes in. Because I'm sure that there will be a crowd of darwinists who will now tell me that of course this isn't what they meant, and it is just that they are being misrepresented or misunderstood.