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A Lack of Understanding
 
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A Lack of Understanding


Most people don't really understand evolution. It's understandable; how many people understand the Science behind computers? How many people can explain the process by which the words I'm typing here end up being read by other people in different parts of the country, or the world? There's a reason why physicists, computer technicians, engineers and other highly-trained individuals ARE highly-trained: before you can work in those fields, you have to understand the Science behind your profession. It's not a Conspiracy to keep people stupid, or to keep facts hidden from the general public, it's just the nature of the way things work in a highly complex society such as ours that there are no shortcuts to understanding. If the creationists who post here would take the time and energy required to read about what "evolution" actually means, and how it actually works, they would see that their problems with evolution come from lack of knowledge, and not from any "flaws" in evolutionary theory itself.

The best place that I know of on the internet to get information about this subject is talk.origins.org. They have a FAQ page that addresses many of the common misconceptions about evolution. You can find it at http://www.talkorigins.org/origins/faqs-qa.html.

A few examples:

Q: I thought evolution was just a theory. Why do you call it a fact?
A: Biological evolution is a change in the genetic characteristics of a population over time. That this happens is a fact. Biological evolution also refers to the common descent of living organisms from shared ancestors. The evidence for historical evolution -- genetic, fossil, anatomical, etc. -- is so overwhelming that it is also considered a fact. The theory of evolution describes the mechanisms that cause evolution. So evolution is both a fact and a theory. See the Evolution is a Fact and a Theory FAQ, the Introduction to Evolutionary Biology FAQ and the Five Major Misconceptions about Evolution FAQ: Evolution is Only a theory.

Q: If evolution is true, then why are there so many gaps in the fossil record? Shouldn't there be more transitional fossils?
A: Due to the rarity of preservation and the likelihood that speciation occurs in small populations during geologically short periods of time, transitions between species are uncommon in the fossil record. Transitions at higher taxonomic levels, however, are abundant. See the Transitional Vertebrate Fossils FAQ, the Fossil Hominids FAQ, 29 Evidences for Macroevolution: Intermediate and Transitional Forms, the Punctuated Equilibria FAQ, and the February 1998 Post of the Month Missing links still missing!?.

(For more about transitional fossils, specifically the recent discovery of Tiktaalik roseae, see http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2006/04/tiktaalik_makes_another_...

Q: No one has ever directly observed evolution happening, so how do you know it's true?
A: Evolution has been observed, both directly and indirectly. It is true. See the Five Major Misconceptions about Evolution FAQ: Evolution Has Never Been Observed and 29 Evidences for Macroevolution.

Q: According to evolution, the diversity of life is a result of chance occurrence. Doesn't that make evolution wildly improbable?
A: Evolution is not simply a result of random chance. It is also a result of non-random selection. See the Evolution and Chance FAQ and the Five Major Misconceptions about Evolution FAQ: Evolution Proceeds by Random Chance.

Q: How do you know the earth is really old? Lots of evidence says it's young.
A: According to numerous, independent dating methods, the earth is known to be approximately 4.5 billion years old. Most young-earth arguments rely on inappropriate extrapolations from a few carefully selected and often erroneous data points. See the Age of the Earth FAQ and the Talk.Origins Archive's Young Earth FAQs.

Q: But radiometric dating methods rely on the assumptions of non-contamination and constant rates of decay. What if these assumptions are wrong?
A: Radiometric isochron dating techniques reveal whether contamination has occurred, while numerous theoretical calculations, experiments, and astronomical observations support the notion that decay rates are constant. See the Isochron Dating FAQ and the Age of the Earth FAQ.

Q: Isn't the fossil record a result of the global flood described in the Book of Genesis?
A: No. A global flood cannot explain the sorting of fossils observed in the geological record. This was recognized even prior to the proposal of evolutionary theory. See the Problems with a Global Flood FAQ, the April 2002 Post of the Month A Flood Geologist Recants and the Talk.Origins Archive's Flood Geology FAQs.

Q: What about those human footprints that appear next to dinosaur footprints?
A: The "man-tracks" of the Paluxy Riverbed in Glen Rose, Texas were not man tracks at all. Some were eroded dinosaur tracks, and others were human carvings. See the The Texas Dinosaur/"Man Track" Controversy FAQ.

Q: Doesn't irreducible complexity (as described in Behe's Darwin's Black Box) shown that some biomechanical systems could not evolve gradually, but must have all their parts created at once?
A: Behe's "irreducible complexity" considers only an unrealistically simplistic model of evolution. Evolutionary mechanisms that Behe doesn't consider, such as functional change and coevolution, make irreducible complexity not only possible, but expected. See Irreducible Complexity and Michael Behe FAQs and Irreducible Complexity Demystified [off site].

Q: Doesn't William Dembski's "specified complexity" mean that an intelligent designer had to be responsible for the observed complexity and diversity of living things?
A: The sophistication of Dembski's arguments is superficial. One of the most thorough examinations of Dembski's ideas is available on the Archive. See: Not a Free Lunch But a Box of Chocolates, A Presentation Without Arguments [off site], Mr. Dembski's Compass [off site] and The AntiEvolutionists: William A. Dembski [off site].

Also, check out the "Must-Read Files" (http://www.talkorigins.org/origins/faqs-mustread.html) for more links to explanations of evolution and refutations of creationist and intelligent design theories.

Knowledge is Power.
 

 
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