Difference between revisions of "Talk:Counterexamples to Evolution"

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[[User:Philip J. Rayment|Philip J. Rayment]] 22:49, 26 October 2008 (EDT)
[[User:Philip J. Rayment|Philip J. Rayment]] 22:49, 26 October 2008 (EDT)
The old saw is an atheistic falsehood, which is traced to statements by a young Benjamin Franklin (before he returned to [[faith]]) and by [[David Hume]], an early atheistic philosopher. See [http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/59100.html].  Looks like it has misled many who are unaware of its atheistic roots.--[[User:Aschlafly|Aschlafly]] 22:54, 26 October 2008 (EDT)

Revision as of 21:54, 26 October 2008

The neck of the giraffe is a great counterexample, BrianCo!--Aschlafly 13:54, 23 November 2007 (EST)

How so? I don't get it. In what way does the giraffe's neck say anything one way or the other about evolution? Humblpi 04:35, 15 February 2008 (EST)


Ummm...this is a dangerous topic to take up, but it's my area of expertise, so what the hey. Most, if not all of the examples in the article can be explained from an evolutionary standpoint.

1) Beautiful autumn foliage is an adaptive response of plants to conserve energy during relatively low-production months. They actually resorb energy during fall, so the cost-benefit analysis works in their favor. This is one reason there is no seasonal loss of foliage in the tropics, which have a near-constant energy pool.

2) Molecular evidence places whales and dolphins in the same clade as cows (Artiodactyla). The presence of vestigal limbs is very strong evidence for this theory, as well.

3) There is a plausible pathway to the development of the eye, including numerous intermediate structures that were much simpler and less effective. Indeed, the vertebrate eye is quite flawed (blind spot, image inversion), as one of the tenets of evolution would predict (the idea that natural selection can function only on existing structures).

4) I would be willing to bet that there is an explanation for the evolution of blood clotting, but I need to do some book work first. Off the top of my head, I can't think of one, so in the interest of vigorous science, I concede that point for now.

5) The swarming of jellyfish is a response to an influx of planktonic life brought on by the full moon...the predators follow the prey.

6) The timing of cicada species has to do with the availability of reliable energy sources and reliable mates. The somewhat arbitrary time periods highlight the underlying randomness of mutations.

7) I'm not sure whether point seven is referring to the ability of birds and butterflies to navigate, or their migrative lifestyle, but there is an explanation for both. Migration is an adaptive trait to allow exploitation of otherwise inhospitable regions, and the navigative abilities evolved as a response. Humans and other mammals actually possess a rudimentary ability to detect the magnetic field...a holdover from our own migratory days.

8) The neck of giraffes is a textbook example of sexual selection.

9) The gaps in the fossil record can be explained by the sheer difficulty of creating fossils. Probability argues against having fossils of everything.

10) Feathers could have evolved from scales, and there is molecular evidence for this.

11) Point eleven simply makes no sense...I have never heard anything like this concept in my years of studying biology. I think it may just be poorly written, but I can't understand the point well enough to refute it.

I have sources (often many) for all of the above, but I have to rush to rehearsal now, so I'll add those later.--Thinker 16:47, 24 October 2008 (EDT)

I think lists like this are simplistic, but here's some responses.
  1. "Beatiful autumn foliage is an adaptive response of plants to conserve energy during relatively low-production months" is story-telling. It doesn't explain how evolution could have come up with the idea. The rest of your point applies equally well to creation: God designed it to have a good cost-benefit ratio.
  2. Being in the same clade does not mean that there is an identifiable ancestor. Vestigial organs are due to a degradation, whereas microbes-to-man evolution requires innovation.
  3. The "plausible pathway" explanations are not plausible at all, taking great leaps in complexity (e.g. starting off with an extremely complex "light-sensitive spot". The vertebrate eye is not a flawed design at all. What's wrong with image inversion? That's a natural consequence of using a lens. As for the blind spot...
    Ophthalmologist Peter Gurney gives a detailed response to the question ‘Is the inverted retina really “bad design”?’ He addresses the claim that the blind spot is bad design, by pointing out that the blind spot occupies only 0.25% of the visual field, and is far (15°) from the visual axis so that the visual acuity of the region is only about 15% of the foveola, the most sensitive area of the retina right on the visual axis. So the alleged defect is only theoretical, not practical. The blind spot is not considered handicap enough to stop a one-eyed person from driving a private motor vehicle.[1]
  4. No comment.
  5. That makes sense. When you back that up with a source, I'll remove that one.
  6. The first part about energy and mates doesn't appear to explain it at all. The second part about mutations is story-telling.
  7. As for No. 1.
  8. Selection only selects from something that is already there. The question evolution has to answer is, how did it get there in the first place?
  9. That's an ad hoc rationalisation. It doesn't explain why the gaps are so systematic between different basic kinds of creatures.
  10. What molecular evidence? Molecularly, they are quite different.
  11. I agree that it makes no sense. I'll remove that one.
Philip J. Rayment 00:51, 25 October 2008 (EDT)
P.S. you had a typo in your first point. I wouldn't mention it except that I know you are fussy about such things!

Before responding, let me establish one thing that I should have said much earlier. My refutation of these points is not intended to prove evolution or disprove any "competing" theory. My goal is only to show that evolution can explain how these things came to be, and thus that they cannot be used as examples of failures in evolutionary theory.

Another related disclaimer: my claims are made from a background of evolutionary biology, so the reader should feel free to mentally insert "according to evolutionary theory" when appropriate.

I would first like to take these point by point as concisely as possible.

1) All origins theory is story-telling. The burden of proof is then upon the story teller to show that their explanation is plausible, and the different camps go about this in different ways. Evolutionary biologists do so by establishing a possible mechanism and doing controlled field studies to see if that mechanism actually works in the way we expect it to. If it does, then it's plausible enough to serve as an explanation, and more importantly, it can be used as a predictive tool. And that's all evolution really cares about...whether or not it happened is really irrelevant to our predictive capability. The fossil record (ie history) comes into play only when something is unexpected, because it shows us that our tool may be flawed and we need to fix it, or maybe get a new one (if you pardon the analogy).

2) Being in the same clade does imply a common ancestor in the same way that being in the same human family implies a relationship. To continue the analogy, assume for a minute that we have two siblings separated at birth. They think they are related, and a DNA test shows that they are, but they have no proof of a common parent without their actual living parents. However, the chance of common ancestry is high enough that there is no reason to reject the assumption (by the way, the analogy is flawed, but it captures the essence of scientific proof: assumptions based on plausible possibilities, based on past research and questioned more intensively when contrary evidence comes to light there is no such thing as certainty in science).

3) I will try to find a good copy of the proposed pathway for the development of the eye, but I know that there is no implausible leap in complexity over the hundred or so proposed structures in the lineage. But keep in mind, as I mentioned in 1, just because evolution can explain something a certain way doesn't mean it happened that way...biologists are constantly redoing our own version of history. Rather, I intend merely to show that these points are not evidence against biology. This one will have to wait until Monday, when the library is unlocked.

4) Is outside my area of expertise, and I will not mock those who know what they're talking about by bungling up an explanation here.

5) Sources for 5:a) Hickman et. al., Integrated Principles of Zoology, 13th ed. 2006. McGraw-Hill publishing, Boston, MA b) Solomon et al., Biology, 6th ed. 2005, Thomson-Brooks/Cole, Belmont, CA c) numerous lectures and individual observation...not a source per se, but they at least serve to tell that I'm not making it up.

The fact that those are all biology texts should give a critical thinker pause, but again remember that I merely want to refute these points as evidence against evolution, not prove evolution itself.

6) I actually recieved another explanation from another CP member that does a better job explaining it, so I'm going to use that one and throw out my own esoteric and very involved explanation. Many predators reproduce in regular intervals. 13 and 17 are prime numbers, and so are not divisible by any other number. This means that the predators are not able to sync their reproductive cycle with that of their prey. It's an adaptive function, but that explanation serves equally well for both evolution and ID. It does, however, show that evolution is able to explain that point.

7) Once again, I assert that all origins theories are story-telling and that that argument doesn't hold weight when applied across the board. The fact is that the explanation I provided is plausible and there is evidence to support that it happened (just to name one: Larkin et. al. "Evidence for widely dispersed birds migrating together at night", Journal of Integrative and Comparative Biology, 48:1)

8) The neck of the giraffe was already there as part of the basic chordate body plan (the origin of that plan is still hotly debated in comparative biology, and there are three or four very good theories that can explain the evidence). All traits exist in a normal distribution; that is, among the ancestral giraffe population, some individuals had longer necks. Male giraffes compete for mates, and those with longer necks are more effective competitors (they win more fights), thus sexual selection selected those individuals with longer necks, resulting in a textbook example of sexual directional selection (Kardong et al. Vertebrates, 4th ed. McGraw Hill publishing, Boston, MA, 2006). Evolution would be in trouble if giraffes didn't have the same number of neck bones as all other chordates...it couldn't explain that.

9) Let me change my tack, then, because my previous argument does seem rather ad hoc. Instead, I will refer to my analogy from 2: lack of an ancestor in the records does not imply that one didn't exist if such existence is highly likely. Moreover, one of the ways to test evolution is the prediction of intermediate forms, and these hypotheses are confirmed with the discovery of said intermediates. I will also say that the gaps in the record are constantly being filled in: a fossil called Diplognathus was recently discovered which confirmed a somewhat odd explanation for the derivation of ear bones (that's just one example). (Kardong et al. Vertebrates, 4th ed. McGraw Hill publishing, Boston, MA, 2006)

10) The molecular evidence of which I speak refers to the nuclear material found within the cells creating scales and feathers, and within the proteins which make up the scales and feathers themselves. For starters, they are molecularly identical, both being composed primarily of keratin. Furthermore, all versions of a different protein have very slight variations, both in terms of the protein themselves and in the DNA which codes for them. The sheer size of both molecules mean that the chance of a similar variation occuring by chance is negligible, so similarities in variation imply common ancestry (similar to the "twins separated at birth" analogy). The variations in keratin are very similar between birds and reptiles, implying a common descent (Glenn et. al. "Evolutionary relationships among copies of beta keratin genes from several avian and reptilian orders" Journal of Integrative and Comparative Biology, 48:4)

And I think that is more than enough talk on that for now...I need a break. All I will do is close with saying once again that I do not claim these are proofs of evolution or "disproofs" of other theories. I merely claim that the specific points in the article can be explained plausibly by evolutionary theory and thus can't be used as counterexamples. --Thinker 12:34, 25 October 2008 (EDT)

Your comments above range from concepts like "there must be an evolutionary explanation" to "the burden of proof is on someone else."
The point here is simple: one counterexample disproves the theory of evolution. Accept that logical truth, or go no further and admit that you will adhere to evolution no matter what logic dictates.
It only takes one counterexample. Number one in the list -- beautiful autumn foliage -- is enough. The foliage existed before man does, and beauty does not help the trees in the slightest. The theory of evolution is confounded by the beauty, and the best it can say is it happened by chance. But such beauty does not happen by chance.--Aschlafly 15:39, 25 October 2008 (EDT)
In principle it only takes one counterexample. In practice, it's not that simple. Suppose that we have a hypothesis that water always boils at 100 degrees Celsius. We run 100 tests to see if that's true. One test shows water boiling at 97 degrees. Does that one counterexample disprove the hypothesis, or do we accept that perhaps that particular test has another explanation (e.g. somebody botched the test, or it was the only one of the hundred tests not performed at sea level)? And that was for a very specific hypothesis. Evolution is not a specific hypothesis, but, at best, a whole series of hypotheses. Finding a counterexample to one hypothesis does not mean that the whole idea of evolution needs to be discarded. At worst, evolution is a conceptual framework, not actually a series of hypotheses at all. Again, a single counterexample is not justification for rejecting that conceptual framework. Of course there are plenty of counterexamples to evolution, so we don't have to put all our eggs in one basket and say that one is enough. Philip J. Rayment 02:17, 26 October 2008 (EDT)
It does take only one counterexample...and my point is that none of the proposed points actually follow through as counterexamples.
The idea of beauty being a derived characteristic has no place in evolution, because beauty is not a biological characteristic; beauty is a human aesthetic...it just so happens that the pigments in plants reflect certain photons which trigger specific neurons in our brains. Such beauty can happen by chance, and nature abounds with examples (the collection of specific coral species into a visually appealing reef, for example, is almost totally random). So no, evolution is not confounded by beauty.
And also, the idea that the cooperation of two or more entities implies co-evolution is simply not true. First of all, the example of the flagellum as irreducible complexity (and any similar examples) rely on the idea of gross change, and ignore the gradual improvement of existing structures. Additionally, irreducible complexity assumes a goal, which is itself a logical fallacy. What I mean by that is that IC assumes that without missing parts, something will not work in that role. But that assumes that there is a goal in mind! If we remove that assumption (which doesn't agree with evolutionary theory), then evolution can give rise to structures like the eye and flagellum by modifying existing structures that work fine in other roles. And that is why, from the evolutionary perspective, points 11 and 13 are not legitimate counterexamples. Furthermore, the eye, flagellum, and many symbiotic relationships are far from ideal if you do an ecological cost-benefit analysis. But evolution favored and led to them because they work well enough.
A specific point of number 13 can be addressed in more detail: the symbiosis of complex plants and nitrogen-fixing bacteria allowed the rapid dispersal of these plants, because it conferred on them a massive evolutionary advantage. Primitive plants, such as mosses, do not have these bacteria, but they are still able to survive. They are simply not as effective at it, which is why they are not the dominant plant form.
As for the evolution of consciousness, I'm glad that was brought up, because it's a very interesting topic on its own. The current evolutionary standpoint is that consciousness is an evolutionary adaptation allowing an organism to better predict its environment. This is in response to pressures related to the massive and very rapid dispersal of humans across a number of different environments. This is an elegant solution because it explains why humans are the only animal to definitively display consciousness: only humans displayed such a rapid dispersal across varied environments. From the perspective of the gene, this was an evolutionary mistake (and the evolutionary model predicts it can make mistakes), because now their "survival machines" have the capacity to rebel against their own genes (after Dawkins, 1976).
Again, I completely accept that one counterexample is sufficient for a falsification, we just have not yet presented a point that cannot be explained by evolutionary theory. And on that line of falsification, anyone practicing physics is practicing a debunked field, because there are many things that physics can't explain, such as mass. Hmm...that statement makes me a little uncomfortable...perhaps there's a problem with my logic. --Thinker 17:47, 25 October 2008 (EDT)
You write that "beauty can happen by chance." That's plainly false. You won't be able to identify anything strikingly beautiful, such as autumn foliage, that is known to happen by chance. Indeed, chance is the antithesis of beauty.
When presented with a counterexample, it's unsatisfactory for you to shrug your shoulders and say the equivalent of "it must have just happened by chance." If you're going to do that, then Jesus Himself could appear to you this evening and you could respond the same way and try to brush it off. Rather, you should admit beautiful autumn foliage cannot be explained by evolution, and admit that remarkable beauty is not the product of pure chance.--Aschlafly 18:26, 25 October 2008 (EDT)

Responding to Thinker...

"All origins theory is story-telling": In making that claim, you've just asserted, without foundation, that the biblical account, which claims to be the eyewitness account of creation by the Creator, is just a made-up story.

"The burden of proof is then upon the story teller to show that their explanation is plausible": True. Which is where evolution hopelessly fails. It comes up with superficially-plausible-sounding stories, which are often simply not at all plausible when looked at closely.

"...that's all evolution really cares about...whether or not it happened is really irrelevant to our predictive capability.": Huh? Evolution is a claim about what actually happened. Atheists use evolution to argue that the Bible is wrong (because they can see the contradiction). Whether or not it happened is very relevant.

"Being in the same clade does imply a common ancestor...": But the claim was that it doesn't identify a common ancestor, which would be some sort of test that the implication is true. Further, being in the same clade only implies a common ancestor if evolution is true. If life was created by God, it implies no such thing. So the argument is circular, because it assumes evolution in order to support evolution.

"Rather, I intend merely to show that these points are not evidence against biology.": Perhaps this was a mis-type on your part, but I've seen it before, so in case you meant it that way, these are arguments against evolution, not biology. The two are not synonymous.

Regarding No. 5, could you provide quotes from those sources, please?

"It's an adaptive function, but that explanation serves equally well for both evolution and ID. It does, however, show that evolution is able to explain that point.": No, it doesn't serve well. Evidence of things working well is evidence of good design. Evolution's job is not to explain why things are the way they are, but how they came to be the way they are. You are providing evidence of why cicadas have reproduction cycles based on prime numbers, not of how evolution would produce that. The same applies to your response to No. 7.

"All traits exist in a normal distribution; that is, among the ancestral giraffe population, some individuals had longer necks.": It's not a simple matter of the length of the neck bones. The neck of a giraffe comes complete with valves to stop massive fluctuations in blood pressure when it lowers its head to drink and raise it up again. Where did those valves come from to get selected? Furthermore there is no fossil evidence of giraffes with short necks.

"Moreover, one of the ways to test evolution is the prediction of intermediate forms, and these hypotheses are confirmed with the discovery of said intermediates.": Except that these intermediate forms are almost entirely lacking.

"scales and feathers ... are molecularly identical, both being composed primarily of keratin.": Two different types of keratin. And from this article:
‘At the morphological level feathers are traditionally considered homologous with reptilian scales. However, in development, morphogenesis, gene structure, protein shape and sequence, and filament formation and structure, feathers are different.’ A.H. Brush, ‘On the origin of feathers’, Journal of Evolutionary Biology 9:131–142, 1996.

"The sheer size of both molecules mean that the chance of a similar variation occuring by chance is negligible, so similarities in variation imply common ancestry": Or a common designer.

"The idea of beauty being a derived characteristic has no place in evolution, because beauty is not a biological characteristic; beauty is a human aesthetic.": Yes, that's the point. Evolution can't explain beauty, because it's not a biological characteristic. However, I think that autumn leaves are a poor example, as the reason for their colour can be explained as simply being a natural consequence of them dying. A better example is the beauty of a peacock's tail[2].

"...the example of the flagellum as irreducible complexity (and any similar examples) rely on the idea of gross change...": No, they don't. They rely on there being no feasible intermediates that can produce the structure.

"...and ignore the gradual improvement of existing structures.": No, they don't ignore such gradual development; they argue against it.

"IC assumes that without missing parts, something will not work in that role.": No, it argues that without the missing part, it will not work in any role.

"If we remove that assumption (which doesn't agree with evolutionary theory), then evolution can give rise to structures like the eye and flagellum by modifying existing structures that work fine in other roles.": Hand-waving story telling.

"Furthermore, the eye, flagellum, and many symbiotic relationships are far from ideal if you do an ecological cost-benefit analysis.": Oh? The eye can detect a single photon. How do you get any better than that?

Philip J. Rayment 02:17, 26 October 2008 (EDT)

Mr. Rayment again brings up excellent points, and I'm actually going to let many of them stand unanswered (largely because to do so would start a cycle of the same arguments over and over again). I think this talk page could be very useful to someone questioning evolution as it is now, and there's not much more I can add without getting needlessly technical.
But before I leave it, I want to address three specific points:
1) Evolution should not be used by anyone to try and "disprove" creation. Something should be proved or disproved only on terms of its own merit, independent of other theories.
2)I did mean to say "evolution" rather than "biology". However, as evolution is one of the core tenets of modern biology, underminging evolution would be just as damaging to science as undermining Genesis would be to Biblical inerrancy (I am referring here to another debate in which Mr. Rayment and I have been involved). Perhaps this sheds light on why many biologists, myself included, are so staunch in our defense of the theory.
3) In regard to your final point. a) The chordate eye cannot detect a single photon, and in fact needs many photons to be activated. But that is just nitpicking. b) The cephalopod eye is far better in terms of capability and "logical design". In fact, the cephalopod eye is often considered to be one of the best in nature. Furthermore, many other organisms, such as mantis shrimp (which have many times the visual acuity of vertebrates) have eyes which are arguably superior to ours.
And unfortunately, I think that is as much as I will be able to add before I must return to work. However, I think I have at least clarified some of the points of evolutionary biology, and hopefully this talk page will be helpful to anyone trying to get more information on the debate.--Thinker 11:36, 26 October 2008 (EDT)
But what if some evidence proved that the bible is in fact, not infallible? Would you disregard that, Mr. Schlafly, as you suggest we do with the theory of evolution? I dont mean to judge, just please don't say that someone is closed-minded because they may not change their views because one part of the theory may appear to be faulty.
Arguing about this seems to be pointless anyways, since it is possible that one counterexample could prove the theory impossible, and it is possible that this counterexample could be overlooking something that neither side can see. --Ekeegan 21:27, 26 October 2008 (EDT)

Thinker, evolution is used to disprove creation, whether it should be or not. And in a sense it should be, as (depending on how you define them), there are really only two options: a natural explanation and a supernatural explanation. If one is correct, the other is wrong.
I reject that evolution is a core tenet of biology. Biology existed before Darwin published his idea, and the two are different concepts anyway. Biology is the study of living things (e.g. how they work), evolution is the study (if you like, I would say story) of how living things came to be.
This source says that the eye can detect a single photon, and this source says that the cephalopod eye can't see as well as the human eye. In any case, you are comparing eyes for different environments and that therefore have different purposes.
Philip J. Rayment 21:50, 26 October 2008 (EDT)


Excellent new point!--Aschlafly 16:27, 25 October 2008 (EDT)

Bat counterexample

Superb again!--Aschlafly 20:31, 25 October 2008 (EDT)

You appear to be unaware of the greater than 150 species of bats that do not echolocate: the megachiroptera, which represent two subfamilies and 41 genera. Even one counterexample would disprove the theory that bats cannot fly without sonar. --Brossa 21:15, 25 October 2008 (EDT)

Reversion explained

"Thinker", please take your own name to heart: there is no such thing as "relative truth," and hence the reversion of your edit.--Aschlafly 15:10, 26 October 2008 (EDT)

My point was merely that the same logical reasoning can and should be applied to all origins theories. To do otherwise would be inconsistent and scientifically unsound.
And the claim that there is no relative truth is just that, a claim: an initial assumption that serves as a jumping-off point for further debate. It itself must be justified, has not been justified to an extent that satisfies me, and is a debate that belongs elsewhere, so I will again leave it. --Thinker 15:29, 26 October 2008 (EDT)

Some Comments

Just a brief comment - Aschlafly, you seem to suggest that autumn foliage is designed to be beautiful. That is totally subjective and personally I dont find autumn foliage particularly striking. One mans beauty is another's ugly. Secondly, in regards to consciousness, many species of chimps use tools and show morality also parrots have self awareness also and can recognise themselves in mirrors. I dont think wearing clothes has anything to do with self awareness either PatWills 15:12, 26 October 2008 (EDT)

No, PatWills, autumn foliage is beautiful. Maybe you deny that 2+2=4 too. You do have free will. But you're not going to persuade anyone here by insisting that autumn foliage is not beautiful. It is, and it disproves evolution.
As to animals, they don't dress themselves. They really don't.--Aschlafly 15:18, 26 October 2008 (EDT)
Yes fine, you think foliage is beautiful. I dont, so its subjective. Its that simple. PatWills 15:22, 26 October 2008 (EDT)
OK, maybe you don't think 2+2=4 either. You're not persuading anyone. In fact, your position simply reinforces that the beauty of autumn foliage is a counterexample to evolution, because you can't reconcile that beauty with the theory of evolution.--Aschlafly 15:31, 26 October 2008 (EDT)
Maths is not a subjective experience. Maths is objective. There is a difference. I am sure there are many people out there who dislike autumn foliage and their position is just as valid as yours. Personally I think bright green summer foliage is far more aesthetically pleasing. Back to the animals again, I am aware that animals do not wear clothes but that does not answer my point about other animals that use tools and are self aware. PatWills 15:39, 26 October 2008 (EDT)
PatWills, give it up. You're just restating your absurd denial of beauty in nature, in order to salvage your belief in the theory of evolution. I'm with the other 99.99% of the population that honestly admits that autumn foliage is beautiful. And that single counterexample to the theory of evolution disproves it.
Your denial of beauty does illustrate, however, how depressed people can become after they fall for the theory of evolution. Life without admitting beauty is very depressing indeed. Do yourself a favor and look again with an open mind.--Aschlafly 15:48, 26 October 2008 (EDT)
Is just told you I thought green summer foliage was beautiful, I dont like autumn foliage because it reminds me of winter. I have a friend who works at a university studying fungi and he thinks fungi is beautiful. Do you find molds and fungi beautiful? As to an open mind, well, you're the one denying that other people may have different ideas of what constitutes beauty. PatWills 15:55, 26 October 2008 (EDT)

Abstract judgements like "beauty" have no place in proving or disproving a scientific theory. They are unmeasurable & unprovable by scientific methods. Besides which, even if we accept that autumn leaves are pretty, how can that possibly disprove the evolution of plants & animals? It says absolutely nothing about the biological origin of that foliage; it only relates to our own perception of it. It has a lot to do with human views of nature, which have changed considerable throughout history, and vary from culture to culture. Meanwhile, we have no evidence that animals find that autumn foliage to be beautiful, or even have an appreciation of beauty at all. The perception of beauty is generally believed to be unique to humans, and whether you believe it to be a human construct or a gift from God, it cannot prove or disprove anything about the nature of the thing that we perceive to be beautiful or how it came to be. Sideways 19:34, 26 October 2008 (EDT)

Sideways, while you're at it, why stop at beauty? Go on to say that truth, mathematics, morality and everything else is all relative and devoid of anything absolute. In some cultures the counting is "1, 2, 3, infinity". So maybe 2+2 does not equal 4 in those cultures, right?
Autumn foliage is beautiful, and the theory of evolution depends on denying it. And those who fall for the theory are destined to a life without real beauty. It's a depressing fate. Open your mind and reject its absurdity while you still can.--Aschlafly 19:45, 26 October 2008 (EDT)
Yes things are beautiful, but it is SUBJECTIVE! A person who is colour-blind might not find foliage so beautiful. Have you never heard the phrase "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder"? PatWills 20:40, 26 October 2008 (EDT)
Well, since you've barely addressed any of my points, and have instead put words in my mouth on completely different subjects, let me reiterate:
1. Truth and beauty are not equivalent. Facts are generally held to be mind-independent, i.e. they would continue to be the case whether or not anyone believed them, or indeed whether or not there were any minds to believe them in the first place. Can we say the same about beauty? If nobody believes something to be beautiful, then it is not beautiful. What makes it beautiful is a perception. You don't have to look far to find plenty of examples of things that people disagree about whether they are beautiful or ugly.
2. Beauty is neither measurable nor testable by scientific methods. Therefore it cannot be accepted as evidence in proving or disproving a scientific theory.
3. You say that the theory of evolution depends on denying that autumn foliage is beautiful, when in fact this theme plays no role in the theory of evolution whatsoever. So this whole issue of whether or not we accept autumn leaves to be attractive is irrelevant. It has no bearing on the truth of what causes the trees to change this time of year.
Sideways 20:51, 26 October 2008 (EDT)
Sideways, your comment is not responsive. I'm not going to waste any more time discussing this with until you do, except to reiterate the following. Evolutionists must deny the existence of beauty, and you can see examples on this page. Suit yourself, but I'm going to spend my time with the 99.99% of the population that admits that beauty exists, and enjoys it. Depression awaits those who deny the existence of beauty, and you have free will to choose your own path.--Aschlafly 21:30, 26 October 2008 (EDT)

Consciousness (2)

The conciousness point is erroneous. Just because no other animals show these traits (though Philip J. says that others do) it doesn't mean evolution must be flawed. According to evolutionism, the very first thing to evolve would have had traits that nothing else had, right? For example, the first type of fish that walked on land was, at the time, the only animal that could walk on land. We might expect that other speciese are "self conscious", but it doesn't need to be so. HelpJazz 17:09, 26 October 2008 (EDT)

Be careful not to confuse consciousness with self awareness. They are not the same, and I was talking bout the latter. Philip J. Rayment 21:54, 26 October 2008 (EDT)
Ah I see, I'll be more careful. However, I still think the point is flawed though. HelpJazz 22:07, 26 October 2008 (EDT)
Evolution, if it is anything at all, is an incremental process. Something intermediate between man and real animals should reflect that incrementalism with respect to self-awareness and other features.--Aschlafly 19:47, 26 October 2008 (EDT)
I would think the intelligence of some chimps and also parrots is somewhere inbetween. PatWills 20:40, 26 October 2008 (EDT)

There are six points in this claim, and all are incorrect:

  • Self-awareness: since when is self-awareness defined by clothing? Besides, there is some evidence of that in certain cases, but as HelpJazz said, it's irrelevant anyway.
  • Morality: 1) it is subjective, 2) there are certain animal behaviors that can be interpreted as "moral" and 3) there are plenty of humans that lack morality.
  • Tools: there are many examples of animals using tools, and incidentally it is most often, but not exclusively, in primates, but of course all this depends entirely on your definition of 'tool'.
  • Self-sacrifice: animals do exhibit self-sacrifice- in fact, such behavior is abundant. It is not the most common behavior, but it's very easy to find nonetheless (for one of the best examples, think colonial insects).
  • "Lower life forms": this claim contains one of the oldest and most common misunderstandings about evolution: it is not linear. Evolution does not say that man evolved from apes evolved from rats evolved from reptiles evolved from amphibians evolved from fish (...). The animals we see today are not our ancestors. You can say the same for any rodent, bird, fish, etc.
  • "Man is simply not an animal": an animal is biologically defined as a heterotrophic multicellular eukaryote that lacks cell walls. As I have previously asked elsewhere on this site, which of those four criteria do you believe not to apply to humans- that we don't make our own food, are made of more than one cell, have compartmentalized cells, or don't have cells walls? Kallium 18:09, 26 October 2008 (EDT)
Regarding the point on symbiosis. The point relies on both grass and the fungus coming into existence as they are today being the correct view. As such the point relies on evolution not occurring. Since the point assumes that evolution did not occur, it cannot be used in an argument against evolution.
Regarding the point on the Flagellum, and the transition between uni- and multi-cellular creatures, The theory of Symbiogenesis attempts to cover this. While still in it's infancy as a scientific theory, It has already been able to explain accurately both the chloroplast's and the mitochondria's involvement in multi-cellular creatures. Symbiogenesis regarding cilia and flagellum is currently being researched.
Regarding animals and self-sacrifice. Other animals do exhibit altruism. A good example of this is the U. stansburiana, or the Side-blotched lizard.
Regarding intermediate fossils... This argument has been used a lot by people trying to disprove evolution however it is (for lack of a better term) a cop out argument. Scientists have discovered intermediate fossils, The Tiktaalik is often cited as one, Ambulocetus is another. People who do not accept evolution however will not accept these fossils as intermediate fossils. Hence why I call it a cop out argument. There is no fossil evidence that hard core dis-believers of evolution will accept as intermediate so it's rather pointless to continue to ask for them as an argument.
Other than that Kallium is quite accurate in his statements.--ScottA 21:10, 26 October 2008 (EDT)
Self-awareness and clothing have little if anything to do with each other, I agree there.
Whether morality is subjective or not depends on whether or not you believe that it comes from God.
I'm not sure that it's true that tool use is "most often" found in primates, but otherwise I agree with this point.
I agree that animals do exhibit self-sacrifice. Stories of a hen dying whilst protecting her chicks are legion, for example. Admittedly, though, I don't know if any animals exhibit self-sacrifice for anything other than their own offspring.
Sorry, but evolution does say that "man evolved from apes evolved from rats evolved from reptiles evolved from amphibians evolved from fish". Well, perhaps not "rats" specifically, but it does the rest. True, it doesn't claim that we evolved from the creatures around today, but it does propose a line from the simplest creature to man (as well as lines to other creatures, altogether forming a tree). And any common ancestor to modern humans and apes would be referred to as an ape.
Yes, man is defined as an animal, in the taxonomic classification system(<-- read that), but you can also define man as not an animal by using different criteria (such as the existence of an eternal soul). However, whether or not man is an animal is beside the point for this article.
The symbiosis argument does not rely on both "coming into existence as they are today", but on the requirement that both species became dependent on each other at the same time. In theory, that could be after both came into existence.
Scientists have discovered what they claim to be intermediate fossils, but (a) they are often not indisputably so, and (b) they are often not actually intermediate! That is, New Scientist in March this year had an article on supposed fossil transitional forms, and I'm reasonably sure that Tiktaalik was one of its examples, but it said that it was on a side branch. If it's on a side branch, it's not intermediate! For Ambulocetus, see here.
Just because creationists have rejected all proposals so far doesn't mean that it's pointless asking for them or that there's any that they wouldn't, in theory, accept.
Philip J. Rayment 22:35, 26 October 2008 (EDT)

Removed "Statistical Approach"

It was a joke. These things don't have a 'chance' of being true (they are NOT probabilistic) and the numbers were utterly random. The fact that so many holes exist is clear enough proof that evolution is absurd. Having an argument about odds only confuses the truth. Instead made it into a Logical Conclusion, by adapting some text from the top. RodWeathers 18:36, 26 October 2008 (EDT)

"The foliage existed before man does"

But only by a few days, right? Incidentally, according to Ussher, the creation occurred pretty much at the peak of foliage season (in my latitude of the northern hemisphere, anyway...). Human 19:49, 26 October 2008 (EDT)


The argument about the impossibility of evolution creating beauty is a valid one, contrary to Sideways' comment. If beauty objectively exists for no apparent evolutionary reason, then it's fair to ask why it exists, and it's fair to conclude that this argument is one that favours creation. To put it another way, evolution would not predict the existence of beauty, but creation would, so if beauty exists, the creationary prediction has been fulfilled and the evolutionary prediction is falsified.

So does beauty exist? Certainly we humans consider various things to be beautiful or not. Just as certainly, we differ as to what we consider beautiful, which suggests that the whole idea is subjective, not objective. So no, it is most definitely not like 2+2=4. The saying that "beauty is in the eye of the beholder" is quite true.

However, it can be framed in a more objective manner, as I almost do in the first paragraph. That is, are there things that are generally considered beautiful for which no apparent evolutionary reason exists?

Autumn leaves are not an example of that. Why are autumn leaves the colours they are? Because in dying, they have lost the chlorophyll that makes them green. There is no need to invoke design to explain their colour. (This does not mean that God didn't deliberately design dead tree leaves to be nice colours, but it does mean that we can't invoke God as the only likely cause.)

However, an example is the one I mentioned higher on this page: the peacock's tail. Darwin considered the peacock's tail to be an example of sexual selection, that is, the peahen prefers the more colourful peacock tails, so evolution favours more colourful tails. For a long time this hypothesis has been accepted, but more recently tests have been done to show that peahens don't favour more colourful tails, so this idea has been put to bed. (See link higher up this page.)

Now it's always possible that some evolutionist will come up with some other evolutionary explanation of the peacock's tail in the future, but at the moment, this evidence favours the creationary view, so is a valid argument. But autumn foilage is not, for reasons I've just explained.

Philip J. Rayment 21:33, 26 October 2008 (EDT)

Philip, if you think that beauty is completely subjective and relative, then do you feel the same way about the term "good" as commonly used? E.g., God created such-and-such, and saw that it was "good".--Aschlafly 21:43, 26 October 2008 (EDT)
Exactly. As God created 'goodness,' so too he created 'beauty' on Earth. Psalm 27:4 states "One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple." Likewise, Psalm 50:2: "From Zion, perfect in beauty, God shines forth." RodWeathers 21:58, 26 October 2008 (EDT)
Right. Anyone who claims that beauty is completely subjective and relative is likely to say the same about goodness. God saw that his creation was good, but under this view that is in the eyes of the beholder. It wasn't really good, it just looked that way to God. For there, of course, it's a small step to saying that morality is in the eyes of the beholder. God said something was wrong, but it wasn't really wrong, it just seemed that way to God.
When 100 out of 100 people say something is beautiful (like autumn foliage), it really is beautiful. And those who deny it for the sake of evolution can look forward to the depression that life without beauty inevitably entails.--Aschlafly 22:27, 26 October 2008 (EDT)
So what are we to make of the old saw that Beauty is in the eye of the beholder? CescF 22:39, 26 October 2008 (EDT)
It's meaningless when the beholder is God. What He sees as beauty IS beauty, as he created it. RodWeathers 22:42, 26 October 2008 (EDT)
We are talking about what appears beautiful to humans. But to take your point, how do you determine (apart from explicit references in Scripture) what God considers beautiful? Philip J. Rayment 22:52, 26 October 2008 (EDT)
My mother, long passed now, used to hate Autumn - when she saw the leaves turning brown she always used to feel depressed, as to her it signaled the end of summer and the oncoming long dark winter months. I guess not everyone sees the world the same way. CescF 22:48, 26 October 2008 (EDT)

I'm not saying that beauty is completely subjective, nor relative. I believe that it exists, and that God created it (i.e. that's probably why the peacock's tail is like it is). But it doesn't follow from that that everything that we consider beautiful is that way because God intended it to be so. Do you find a landscape beautiful? Most do, but most landscapes are the result not of God's design, but of God's judgment on the world in the form of Noah's Flood. So in such cases, beauty is actually (a) subjective (i.e. it wasn't intended that way) or (b) despite the judgment (i.e. God made the world so beautiful that even in a corrupted form we still find much of it beautiful). I'm quite happy to accept (b), but if (b) is correct, what we have to acknowledge is that it isn't the way God designed it. So are autumn leave beautiful because God designed autumn leaves to be beautiful, or simply because they are part of an overall beautiful creation?

But all that's rather beside the point. The point of the beauty argument is that evolution (i.e. natural processes) can't explain it. But natural processes can explain why autumn leaves are the colour they are. Therefore it's not an evolution-refuting argument.

As for God pronouncing the creation "good", first, I don't believe that the Bible necessarily uses the word "as commonly used" (in the present day). Rather I see "good" as referring to a range of things, such as impeccable and excellent design, faultlessness, fit for purpose, and such. And yes, beauty would be one aspect of that.

Philip J. Rayment 22:49, 26 October 2008 (EDT)

The old saw is an atheistic falsehood, which is traced to statements by a young Benjamin Franklin (before he returned to faith) and by David Hume, an early atheistic philosopher. See [3]. Looks like it has misled many who are unaware of its atheistic roots.--Aschlafly 22:54, 26 October 2008 (EDT)