Posted by: rudyruddell | April 15, 2012

Response to Ray Comfort’s Claim that Belief is Required for Evolution, Due to Lack of Evidence.

Today, I listened to Imaginary Friends Show Podcast 91, in which Jake Farr-Wharton interviewed Ray Comfort. Jake brought up the subject of evolution and Ray asked how Jake could believe in evolution since there was no evidence for evolution. Jake handled the question in a very calm, collected manner and I am sure he handled it better than I would. Jake knows far more about evolution than I do as he is working on his masters in linguistic anthropology and he has demonstrated his considerable knowledge on the topic in his podcasts. However, I was still disappointed in his response. Ray Comfort is a master and well rehearsed in his traditional creationist tactics of picking on the weaknesses of science, putting scientists on the defensive so that he does not need to provide any evidence of his own vacuous position. Nevertheless, I was bothered by it today as I went about my Saturday chores. What would be the best answer to the question of evidence for evolution given that I have no fossils, books, or other evidence at my fingertips? If I were to try to answer the question, I would hope that I would answer it something like below. Even though I had some time to think about it, I did no research, other than my current knowledge. I welcome feedback.

There are geological layers in which fossils have been deposited over time. There are thousands of these fossils located in museums and laboratories. These are evidence of evolution. The species in each layer are different and almost none are the same as they are today. 95% of the species we have discovered are now extinct. We can trace the development of species over time because we can view the changes of species over time. We can tell  species that are closely related because of similar body structures. In fact the body structure of most animals is the same, with the only change being in the size and shape of body parts.

Thus we can develop an evolutionary tree that shows how species have changed over time. The changes happened very slowly; so slowly that no successive generation looked very different than the parent. However, when species separated by 100 generations, significant differences can be detected.

We know the order in which the species evolved because we can estimate the age of each geological layer using dating methods. Carbon dating is limited to only a few thousand years ago, but several other elements such as Argon have been used to date back further. All of the independent methods all converge on the same ages. Also counting tree rings and linking the trees of different eras provide age estimates that corroborates the decay methods.

The same conclusions can be seen using DNA analysis. The percent similarity of DNAs are consistent with what we have learned about relative species. Chimpanzee DNA is 98% the same as homo sapiens. The more distant relatives have DNA that are less similar to humans’. This is more evidence of evolution.

No one piece of evidence is conclusive, but when all of the data from paleontology, biology, and genetics all converge on the same conclusions with no counterexamples, evolution is the only conclusion that can be concluded. No primate fossils have been found in the dinosaur layers. Plus, evolution has been used to explain and predict many aspects of biology. Scientist have used principles of evolution to develop vaccines, antibiotics, and other life saving, proven inventions.

This is what we call evidence. The writings of sheepherders from the Bronze age is not evidence; it is ancient literature that is accepted on faith, based on wishful thinking, Ray.

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Responses

  1. “In fact the body structure of all animals is the same, with the only change being in the size and shape of body parts.”

    This part is not entirely true. On the whole, yes… But if you say ALL then you’re going to get arguments about the octopus or the beetle or worm or whatever. You might substitute the word “most” in place of “all.”

    Otherwise, a good starting off point.

  2. Hey Rudy,

    Having spent the weekend trying out my linguistic fumblings with a range of Ray Comfort contemporaries, I’ve come to a couple of conclusions.

    From now on, when people ask for evidence of evolution, I’ll use two specific examples:

    1 the evolution of resistance in rabbits to myxomatosis, as it is one of the best evidenced and most easily explained arguments for natural selection.

    2 the sickle cell and cystic fibrosis traits in humans as a selective response to malaria and diareah.

    I’ll start using these soon and begin video taping my encounters and see how it goes.

    Cheers Rudy, sorry to disappoint!

    • The problem with these examples is that they are examples of microevolution, right? Ray will just say he agrees that microevolution exists, but that you cannot prove macroevolution because you were not there. Just like the way they say Noah put 2 of each “kind” on the ark and those kinds evolved. For example, the horse kind evolved into the zebra.

      You did better than I would have. It is easy for me to sit back and critique, but when you are in the firing line, it is not easy.


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