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Hello all. Amongst all the topics I typically discuss the one that I openly admit to be fairly ignorant in is the case of Darwinism and overall biological evolution. I've tried to steer clear of this subject due to the volatile nature of it. Due to the American education system, the Young Earth Creation museum, and the Discovery Institute I'm finding it harder and harder to find a genuinely unbiased discussion on the subject without being requested to rest my laurels into one of two categories: Naturalistic Evolutionist, or Creationist.
Both bring with them far too much emotional baggage to be useful in any sort of on-stage debate, but I've watched a few threads discussing the subject back and forth and figured I should get at least some basic knowledge on it.
So to the theists on the board, do you have anything that argues against naturalistic Darwinism, and to the atheists do you have anything that argues for naturalistic Darwinism? I'm looking to get both sides of the argument, and if there is an on stage debate where the two people give reference and citation that would be perfect, I'd much prefer that.
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What about a theist who argues for theistic evolution?
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I'm a theistic evolutionist myself, I believe that creatures obviously adapted to changing environments and gradually evolved over time. We have fossil records that show the North American horse used to be the size of a house cat. But what I'm looking for is the crux of this battle that's going on south of the Canadian border.
The discovery institute is claiming that its refuting Neo-Darwinism, and whenever I watch responses to it generally the opposing side just mocks them. The debate is so emotionally charged that it's really difficult to separate the wheat from the chaff so to speak. So I'm trying to find something that actually spells out, objectively, the debate and how it stands.
When I was studying Dr. Craig's work I would bounce back and forth. Theist would make a claim, atheist would refute, theist would rebut refutation, back and forth like that. But it seems like with this evolution debate it starts out with theist making a claim, and then atheist just raging the f*** out for a couple minutes calling the theist a "creationist" and "idiot", etc, etc.
I asked this question on an atheist board once and the angry backlash was astounding. I was branded a "Creationist", mocked, attacked, told I was a flat earth theorist, etc, etc. There's got to be some paper somewhere where a scientist is sitting down and honestly explaining what the whole debate is and where it stands.
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I know that you will not like this suggestion, but Dawkin's book "The Greatest show on earth", does go into detail about some objective evidence for Evolution, but it does have some anti-theistic undertones. I know that you will probably be turned off by reading some of it, so in turn you may simply reject it because of that fact. (IE that he is a biased contributor)
My basic reason for accepting natural evolution over theistic evolution is that I see no reason to assume that God needed to intervene in the process. In fact, I see so many problems with the design of living beings that, if God had have been involved, it would be hard to account for.
This is not really a problem depending on how define theistic evolution, since God could have only intervened in key points in the process while leaving the rest of the process alone.
Again, this goes back to our usual problem though, with no good reason to think that God was involved in the process, why think that he was involved in the process ? All I can really see is that it is unlikely, but that does not really mean much since unlikely things happen all the time.
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Actually papers with atheistic undertones is exactly what I'm looking for. If I can find an atheist who says that they've proven atheism via Darwinism that's preferential. Then I'd go and find a pro-theistic arguer who would rebut the atheist and so it would go back and forth. I'll have to look up Dawkins because I know while he is a terribly debator and philosopher, he's quite respected in his field of biology.
I'm just looking for something that includes more intellectual substance, and is less emotionally charged.
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I think you need to break down the term evolution.
I look at it how it should be looked at.
Abiogenesis: very unlikely.
There is no empirical evidence for human speciation.
So on that count regarding the human race, the Evolution process is not a set precursor to man as they are now.
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I don't think you'll find anyone serious who says that evolution proves atheism. (You will, of course, find plenty of serious people who say that evolution disposed of the last good reason to believe in God.)
Dawkins is respected in the field of biology but that doesn't mean, I should point out, that the things he's known for (scientifically) aren't controversial. The major debates about the pace of evolution, levels of selection, and relative importance of selection versus other mechanisms are way less heated than they used to be, but haven't really been resolved either. If you
are looking for something like an informative atheist polemic, and don't mind something that's very much a partisan of Dawkins' position within those intra-naturalist debates, I would actually recommend Daniel Dennett's Darwin's Dangerous Idea over anything Dawkins himself has written. (If you want to balance it out with the other side of those intra-naturalist debates, Gould's Structure of Evolutionary Theory is full of fascinating stuff.)
If you just want to learn canonical evolutionary theory in the most efficient way go to a textbook. If you want an index of (among other things) naturalist responses to supernaturalist challenges, talk.origins, duh.
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Well like I said above I'm trying to lead up to where the clash is. What I believe I know, or where I think the debate has gone, is that Naturalistic Evolution through random mutation and natural selection has had some difficulty in marrying itself with modern discoveries in genetics leading to what some people refer to as Neo-Darwinism. The main contentions are punctuated equilibrium, the Cambrian Explosion, and the rate at which biological evolution has taken place. From what I've grasped thus far watching a few debates, the main contention is that while random mutation and natural selection is a viable method of natural evolution the amount of time it would take due to the DNA strands resistance to mutation is far greater than what has been allotted to it considering the age of the earth.
Am I correct there? I'm trying to figure out if my overall grasp of the debate is accurate or not, then I can go onto the atheistic side and see if they have any particular rebuttals for these contentions.
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Read the Gould and Dennett books to get both mainstream poles of the neo-Darwinian thing. Go through talk.origins for lit on whether this poses a challenge to naturalism, which isn't really a debate within the scientific community.
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Ah that's the perfect website, thank you for the info. And I'll have to see if I can get the Dennet book, though I've got a long wait list to go through lol.
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In Dawkin's book I know he addresses the Cambrian explosion, and punctuated equalibriam. Needless to say that these ideas do not really pose a problem to modern evolutionary theory.
Talkorigins is the secular answer to answersInGensis.
2 more points:
1) If you refer to evolution as "Darwinism" it will instantly turn off a lot of people, just like if I referred to God as a "magical sky daddy", or refered to you as a creationist.
2) Secondly, I see the main conflict coming from people who take Genesis literally. They see the idea of evolution to be in conflict with special creation, so they resist it. Personally, until about 5 years ago I knew almost nothing about evolution and thought that it was just a theory (hypothesis). After all of the learning I have done on the topic, its amazing how well it is supported, and how little the average person knows about it.
I look at it how it should be looked at. Adaption: true Speciation: maybe Abiogenesis: very unlikely. This illustrates a key problem in peoples understanding of what evolution is. Abiogenesis is NOT evolution, evolution requires a self replicator before it can begin. The simplest form of the concept is that once you have a self replicating 'thing' (for want of a better word) where there can be variations in the copies (mutations), you get diversity. From there, the diversity is selected upon by various pressures, and only the ones that meet the selection criteria are able to replicate themselves, repeat. I saw a ted talk where a computer company was designing processors, and they used this method, but they used it to generate processor designs. The would start with a base design and have the computer modify it slightly a few thousand times, and then run simulations on each design, then they would take the top 10% and repeat the process a few thousand times. By the end they had a processor better then they could have possibly designed, and they had no idea how it actually worked. It's a remarkable concept.
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Now the mechanism of evolution I certainly understand. Mutation and natural selection. However I'm looking for more specificity into what the mutation is. To be more specific the big thing I see theists sticking to is that DNA actually resists mutation, and considering the complexity of the DNA strand the possibility of it developing a beneficial random mutation as opposed to say cancer is exceedingly unlikely. Basically theists are saying that the DNA strand randomly developing new information which leads to a beneficial mutation is nigh impossible.
Now like I said in my above post, I don't hold to this belief because I don't understand the mechanism by which DNA alters and develops beneficial mutations. I'm trying to really trace down the debate about the sticking points such as irreducible complexity and the unlikelihood of random mutation.
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many ways in which mutation occurs, and two rough classes: induced mutations (normally by radiation or chemical effects on DNA) or spontaneous mutations (biological processes gone wrong). Actually wikipedia is a good place to start, if you want a rough idea.
It's true that beneficial mutations occur much more rarely than damaging mutations, how this is a problem I completely fail to see.
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I'd personally recommend watching AronRa's video series on YouTube, or possible PotHoler54's. They both have whole series dedicated to explaining evolution carefully, and pointing out the lies and flaws in Creationism. They're both very atheistic sources, but they'll also give you an insight into why Creationists get so much hatred from their opponents. You always talk about the vitriol from the atheist side. Between the anti-gay (and to a lesser extent anti-abortion) movement and the creationists I think that covers most of the motivation behind it.
Also, to answer the question, I just go with logic:
1) Mutations occur when animals reproduce.
2) Mutations are kept and passed on to further generations.
3) Mutations which are advantageous to reproduction will be passed on more easily.
Therefore: Mutations happen, are passed on and retained by future generations, and the advantageous mutations will lead to more reproductions.
In other words: Evolution happens.
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I have heard some chat up lines in the past buddy but this one
"Looking for good research material into biological evolution"
takes the biscuit. Also AronRa's foundational falsehoods of creationism will give you a good start although do take into account is is setup to deal with some of the most rabid of YEC'S.