I have been intrigued by the Theory of Evolution by Charles Darwin ever since my high school and college days. I never really studied it in intense detail until a few years back when I became a Christian. The Christian Faith and the Theory of Evolution seem to be in conflict with each other before one gives the issue some serious thought. It can become a challenging task to read through all of the internet sites devoted to this conflict, in which many of the debates on both sides are not logically sound. Ninety nine percent of these internet and apologetic sites are not scientific in nature and do not really offer any great insight into the discussion, in fact it is of my opinion that these sites often confuse the issues even further, offering some very bizarre theories with no scientific process. Last year a friend, who does not believe in God, challenged me to read a book by Richard Dawkins entitled The Greatest Show on Earth. The Evidence for Evolution. This was a very insightful book about Evolution which gives an update on scientific evidence supporting the theory. The author is a well-known and respected evolutionary biologist who also is an outspoken atheist and a prominent critic of religion.

The Theory of Evolution has strong scientific support. Mr. Dawkins did an outstanding job with writing this book in such a way that was fun to read, except for the parts in which he made fun of religious people, which was unnecessary by my opinion. His scientific support for the Theory of Evolution was flawless, and it led me to the conclusion that evolution is the real deal.

Now I want to point out the not so obvious details about the Theory of Evolution. I would like to define a few words that will help you understand where exactly the concrete evidence in evolution occurs. The words that I would like to define are microevolution and macroevolution. Mr. Dawkins would like you to believe that there is solid evidence when it comes to macroevolution, however the only concrete evidence that he writes about involves microevolution and a very creative imagination.

Microevolution is evolution resulting from a succession of relatively small genetic variations that often cause the formation of new subspecies. Dawkins did a wonderful job explaining this type of evidence which was an open and shut case by my standards. As an example, I will examine the evolution of wild guppies studied by John Endler, as described in Dawkin’s book as summarized by Dr. Fazale Rana (2009):

Endler noticed that local populations of male guppies in the mountain streams of Trinidad, Tobago, and Venezuela could be either brightly colored with large spots or drab. Endler reasoned that in streams with no threat from predators, females preferred brightly colored males. But in streams where predators were present, drab males were more likely to survive. In other words, Endler guessed that the effects of sexual and natural selection were competing with each other. Natural selection, he thought, won out when predatory fish shared the mountain streams with guppies but mate preference carried the day in the absence of predators.

To test his hypothesis, Endler built ponds in a greenhouse and filled them with guppies. Some ponds were lined with large, course pebbles and the others with fine, sandy gravel. Within a few months the male guppies in both types of ponds were covered with large spots presumably because females preferred mating with males that stood out. Endler then added predatory fish to some of the ponds. Those without predators continued to harbor guppies with large colorful spots. But those with predators quickly became populated with guppies that blended into the background. Guppy populations exposed to predators were characterized by males with fewer spots. Interestingly, the spots sizes also changed. Males in ponds with large pebbles had larger spots and those with fine gravel had smaller spots.

Endler then repeated the experiment in the wild transferring guppies from streams with predators into mountain streams that previously had no guppies and no predators. Male guppies that were drab in the presence of predators rapidly transformed into brightly colored fish with large spots in the absence of any predatory threat. Dawkins also gives good examples of speciation and microbial evolution. This work is a marvelous illustration of evolution in action and evolution acting in a hurry. But does it mean that the evolutionary paradigm is a fact?

Macroevolution involves large-scale evolution occurring over geologic time that results in the formation of new taxonomic groups. This is the area where I do not think there is much concrete evidence. This is the area of evolution that involves how human beings evolved from a common ancient ancestry of the chimp. This is also the area of evolution that describes how all life forms evolved from a simple organism, otherwise known as common descent. The scale of the biological changes that take place in microevolution and speciation are radically different from the changes that take place for macroevolution. Processes happening at one level can’t automatically be extrapolated to other levels without proper validation. In fact, Dawkins cites the common example of the large number of diverse dog breeds and the ability of humans to use artificial selection to shape the gene pool. Ironically, the efforts of dog breeders demonstrate that there are biological boundaries beyond which dogs can’t be pushed.

Strong supporters of the Theory of Evolution would argue that in the above example, that there has not been enough time for artificial selection or even natural selection to provide such evidence that the dog has in fact changed on a grand scale, but in time these small changes would lead to a grand change. Would this statement be pure speculation or actual scientific fact?

Generally, evolutionary biologists point to two main lines of evidence to support human evolution’s status as fact. The first is the shared anatomical features possessed by organisms. Biologists use these common characteristics to group organisms into hierarchies. Evolutionists take this pattern to indicate that life descended with modification from a common ancestor. In other words, they take this to indicate that life evolved. The second form of evidence is the fossil record, which shows that different life-forms existed on Earth at different times in its history and reveals a progression from simple to complex organisms.But does this evidence necessarily compel evolution?

Science is defined by a process called the scientific method. Typically, this includes an observation about a natural phenomenon, a hypothesis formulated to explain the phenomenon, and a test through the design of a controlled experiment. If the test results are not as originally expected, the hypothesis may be revised and retested.

The key to this scientific testing process is falsifiability. A positive test result means a hypothesis is plausible, but a negative test result proves it false. Hence, the proper test of a hypothesis is to make a prediction and devise a test such that at least one outcome proves the theory false. Scientists often want to verify pet theories; but Popper says, “Every genuine test of a theory is an attempt to falsify it, or to refute it… . It is easy to obtain confirmations, or verifications, for nearly every theory—if we look for confirmations. Confirmations should count only if they are the result of risky predictions… . The criterion of the scientific status of a theory is its falsifiability, or refutability, or testability.”

The fundamental problem with macroevolution as a scientific theory is that it is neither predictive nor falsifiable. How in the world would science demonstrate that evolution promotes change on a grand scale over millions of years. To me macroevolution would be an implausible theory to test.

References

1) Karl R. Popper. Conjectures and Refutationss. (1963).

2) Richard Dawkins. The Greatest Show on Earth. The Evidence for Evolution. (2009).

3) http://www.reasons.org/

Original Post: http://cmnahrwold.wordpress.com/2011...n-of-the-gaps/