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Macroevolution, take 2 - more problems with creationist (and other) claims

Discussion in 'Creation & Evolution' started by SLP, Oct 21, 2019.

  1. SLP

    SLP Senior Member

    +438
    Atheist
    Over here, I provided a common creationist definition of macroevolution:

    Macroevolution is a purely theoretical biological process thought to produce relatively large (macro) evolutionary change within biological organisms. The term is used in contrast to minor (microevolution) changes, and is most commonly defined as "evolution above the species level".​

    and contrasted that to what an actual evolutionary biologist indicated in a textbook on the subject:

    "One of the most important tenets of the theory forged during the Evolutionary Synthesis of the 1930s and 1940s was that "macroevolutionary" differences among organisms - those that distinguish higher taxa - arise from the accumulation of the same kinds of genetic differences that are found within species."

    That is, macroevolution is a pattern, not an event.

    But this does not seem to matter to creationists - it is easier for them to "doubt" a one-shot event wherein a lizard lays an egg and a chicken hatches.

    But why do creationists have this 'macroevolution = one-shot act of speciation' belief? Why does it persist when they are shown that their notion is incorrect - even when their overlords (professional creationists) obliquely indicate otherwise? I am sure there are many explanations rooted in psychology or character flaws or whatever, but the truth of the matter is at their fingertips, were they actually to care about being truthful and accurate in their supposed arguments.

    Another example of what one can find in a matter of minutes, if they actually cared about how others see them when they engage in discourse:


    What is macroevolution?
    What is macroevolution?

    Macroevolution generally refers to evolution above the species level. So instead of focusing on an individual beetle species, a macroevolutionary lens might require that we zoom out on the tree of life, to assess the diversity of the entire beetle clade and its position on the tree.

    Macroevolution refers to evolution of groups larger than an individual species.

    Macroevolution encompasses the grandest trends and transformations in evolution, such as the origin of mammals and the radiation of flowering plants. Macroevolutionary patterns are generally what we see when we look at the large-scale history of life.
    Contrast that with the CreationWiki definition:

    Macroevolution is a purely theoretical biological process thought to produce relatively large (macro) evolutionary change within biological organisms.​


    Or the AiG discussion on the subject from that writer of documented falsehoods re: Titaalik, David Menton:

    Evolutionists like to refer to the sort of variation we see among individuals of a species as microevolution, implying that this is somehow related to the chance formation of fundamentally new animals by a process known as macroevolution. There is, in fact, no known relationship between so-called microevolution and macroevolution.​

    He goes on to quote (but not provide a date) an essay on a conference in which it was declared that microevolution does not add up to macro - the quote was from 1980, and it was from the pioneers of Evo-Devo (more on that later).

    Oddly enough, some creationist organizations do actually correctly define macroevolution (sort of) - the ICR for example:

    Macroevolution refers to major evolutionary changes over time, the origin of new types of organisms from previously existing, but different, ancestral types. Examples of this would be fish descending from an invertebrate animal, or whales descending from a land mammal.​

    But then the author cannot help himself - next sentence:

    "The evolutionary concept demands these bizarre changes."​

    And then of course, he goes off the rails, i.e., goes full creationist:

    "...What causes macroevolutionary change?

    Genetic mutations produce new genetic material, but do these lead to macroevolution? No truly useful mutations have ever been observed. The one most cited is the disease sickle-cell anemia, which provides an enhanced resistance to malaria. How could the occasionally deadly disease of SSA ever produce big-scale change?

    Evolutionists assume that the small, horizontal microevolutionary changes (which are observed) lead to large, vertical macroevolutionary changes (which are never observed). This philosophical leap of faith lies at the eve of evolution thinking."​


    He almost had it, but then his programming kicked in... And to think, I was almost ready to give the ICR a virtual pat on the back for being honest...

    Now, back to the Evo-Devo crowd.
    I am a firm 'believer' in the utility of Evo-Devo, for it is really the effects mutations (of all sorts) have on development that determine whether or not they will be passed on, whether the organism will die, whether they will actually affect phenotype, etc., for this is when the effects (if any) of mutations will become apparent, or more correctly, I suppose, enacted.
    At least some in the Evo_Devo realm have decided to create a stir regarding the effects of mutation on evolution (micro and macro), declaring triumphantly that it is Evo-Devo that rules the roost, macroevolution cannot be explained by microevolution. I was saddened to see Rudy Raff among them, at least in the early stages of the field in the early 1990s. However, it seems to me that this position is overstated, as it seems to me to be the co-option of microevolutionary processes into Evo-Devo, and just not calling it macroevolution, or something.
    Gerd Muller has become a major promoter of Evo-Devo over the Modern Synthesis, but I find his reasoning suspect - from a 2007 paper ("Evo-devo: extending the evolutionary synthesis") in which he espouses the superiority of Evo-Devo over the standard model, he writes:

    Theoretical implications Evo–devo represents a causal mechanistic approach towards the understanding of phenotypic change in evolution. In this it differs significantly from the prevailing focus in the standard theory of evolution, which is based on the correlation of phenotypic character variation with statistical gene frequencies in populations. The explanation of adaptive change as a population-dynamic event was the central goal of the Modern Synthesis. By contrast, evo–devo seeks to explain phenotypic change through the alterations in developmental mechanisms (the physical interactions among genes, cells and tissues), whether they are adaptive or not. This addresses many of the constituent features of phenotypic change, such as the generation of new structural elements (novelty), the establishment of standardized building units (modularity, homology), the arrangement of such units in lineage-specific combinations (body plans), and the repeated generation of similar forms in independent taxa (homoplasy). In addition, evo–devo aims at explaining how development itself evolves and how the control of developmental processes is brought about by the interplay between genetic, epigenetic and environmental factors. With these goals, evo–devo moves the focus of attention to the qualitative phenomena of phenotypic organization and their mechanistic causes.​

    I find the notion expressed here - that the Modern Synthesis does not deal with those things - to be bizarre and contrary to my experience. Homology and homoplasy are not addressed by the Modern Synthesis? That will be news to Doug Futuyma (quoted above), who devotes an entire chapter in his textbook to such topics. This is one of the reasons that I find these 'Third Way' or 'Extended Synthesis' advocates annoying - they tend to overstate their positions and when one digs into the details (or just reads their essays and position papers), one sees that they are by and large just re-stating plain old evolution in different terms. Clearly, the Modern Synthesis theorists did not have the knowledge/data to address things like modularity, but the modules are, in essence, conserved genes/regulatory sequence.
    And we see Muller more or less "admit" this in a 2017 call for an 'Extended Evolutionary Synthesis (EES)':

    "It [EES] continues to see variation, differential reproduction, heredity, natural selection, drift, etc., as necessary components of evolution, but it differs in how these factors are conceptualized. "​

    Oh, OK.


    Anyway, the point is - macroevolution is not a singular event, as is often indicated or implied by creationists, it is the resulting PATTERNS of evolution produced by multiple acts of speciation over time, and because a group of researchers are super happy about their work and want to re-name things is not a good reason to acquiesce to the incorrect assumptions and assertions of anti-science zealots.

    added in edit: Better?
     
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2019
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  2. yeshuaslavejeff

    yeshuaslavejeff simple truth, martyr, disciple of Yahshua

    +9,511
    Anabaptist
    Never worry nor be anxious about what men say, unless it is true and turns out to be vital/ necessary.

    i.e. don't sweat the small stuff. And it is all small stuff.
     
  3. public hermit

    public hermit Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I am curious about the ad hominem additions to the OP, e.g. "Crazy Davey." It would seem such personal attacks not only take away from the details of the argument being made, but it has a tendency to cause the opposition the become entrenched in their position not only because it is the position they hold but also out of resentment.

    I realize that those who hold to creationism are just as vitriolic. But, if the position of the evolutionist is the most objective position, given the available evidence, then why not just present the argument and let the creationist look foolish and less-Christian as they lob their character assaults? Why not take both the scientific and the moral high ground?
     
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  4. SLP

    SLP Senior Member

    +438
    Atheist
    Yes, well David Menton is crazy dishonest. I made a thread on here back in 2009 or something like that outlining his zeal for dishonesty to prop up his cause - he claimed that Tiktaalik could not have 'walked' on land because it had no clavicle, and clavicles are necessary to do so. He is an anatomist. He should have known that elephants have no clavicles.
    He also claimed that Tiktaalik's pelvic fins were not suited for land activity - before the pelvic fins had even been found (or at least described in a publication).

    Right - I don't want to sound like the 2nd Coming - DJ Trump....
     
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2019
  5. Ophiolite

    Ophiolite Recalcitrant Procrastinating Ape

    +5,008
    United Kingdom
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    Despite that, since it is irrelevant, I still agree with public hermit's point.

    You are likely correct that Menton is dishonest. You have certainly presented evidence to support the assertion. However, if the objective is to sway the opinion of fence sitters, or even "convert" creationist believers, then such ad hominems do not help; they hinder. It can be very satisfying, but is ultimately counter productive.
     
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  6. SkyWriting

    SkyWriting The Librarian Supporter

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    They don't. I have read a handful of Creationist books from ICR.

    Books - Institute for Creation Research
     
  7. pitabread

    pitabread Well-Known Member

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    The perception I get from most creationists is they view macroevolution as a fundamentally distinct process from 'microevolution'. As opposed to see the whole thing as the same process operating recursively.

    I suspect the latter is primarily a conceptual issue. Although it's exasperated by creationists' general refusal to open themselves up to learning about evolution (from non-creationist sources).
     
  8. SLP

    SLP Senior Member

    +438
    Atheist
    Wow, really? A whole handful?

    But cool how you admit, unwittingly, of course, that you did not actually read the OP:

    Oddly enough, some creationist organizations do actually correctly define macroevolution (sort of) - the ICR for example:

    Macroevolution refers to major evolutionary changes over time, the origin of new types of organisms from previously existing, but different, ancestral types. Examples of this would be fish descending from an invertebrate animal, or whales descending from a land mammal.​

    But then the author cannot help himself - next sentence:

    "The evolutionary concept demands these bizarre changes."​

    And then of course, he goes off the rails, i.e., goes full creationist:

    "...What causes macroevolutionary change?

    Genetic mutations produce new genetic material, but do these lead to macroevolution? No truly useful mutations have ever been observed. The one most cited is the disease sickle-cell anemia, which provides an enhanced resistance to malaria. How could the occasionally deadly disease of SSA ever produce big-scale change?

    Evolutionists assume that the small, horizontal microevolutionary changes (which are observed) lead to large, vertical macroevolutionary changes (which are never observed). This philosophical leap of faith lies at the eve of evolution thinking."​

    It is clear that even your ICR hero thinks that macroevolution is distinct from microevolution.

    But it is so cool that you read some creationist books. I have, too. I find them entertaining - I am sure for very different reasons than you do.
     
  9. SkyWriting

    SkyWriting The Librarian Supporter

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    Motivations are quite hard to prophesy.

    No Creationist organizations suggest one generation changes.
    The complaint is not valid.
     
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2019
  10. SLP

    SLP Senior Member

    +438
    Atheist
    And your reading skills are wanting.
     
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