Misconceptions about the Theory of Evolution

The theory of evolution must be the most troubling theory for theism, it’s also the most misunderstood theory among theists. Here are a couple of common misconceptions I often come across while talking to theists.

Misconception 1: Evolution is a theory about the origin of life.

Correction: Evolutionary theory does encompass some ideas and evidence regarding life’s origins (e.g., whether or not it happened near a deep-sea vent, which organic molecules came first, etc.), but this is not the central focus of evolutionary theory. Most of evolutionary biology deals with how life changed after its origin. Regardless of how life started, afterwards it branched and diversified, and most studies of evolution are focused on those processes.

Misconception 2: Macro-Evolution is not proven scientifically.

Correction: First of all what is Macro-evolution? Let’s start by explaining what it’s not. It’s not an ape giving birth to a human. Evolution deniers are quick to turn macroevolution into something it’s not.

“In evolutionary biology today, macroevolution is used to refer to any evolutionary change at or above the level of species. It means at least the splitting of a species into two (speciation, or cladogenesis, from the Greek meaning “the origin of a branch”) or the change of a species over time into another (anagenetic speciation, not nowadays generally accepted). Any changes that occur at higher levels, such as the evolution of new families, phyla or genera, are also therefore macroevolution, but the term is not restricted to those higher levels. It often also means long-term trends or biases in evolution of higher taxonomic levels.”Source: TalkOrigins.com

So what does this mean? Let me explain it to the best of my abilities. Let’s say we have organism A and that we will split the group of organism A into two groups so that we will get two separate groups of organism A. Group 1 keeps on living under the same circumstances and group 2 will be placed in a new environment. Now the waiting starts. After a long, long time you will notice differences on a macro scale between groups 1 and 2. Furthermore, the organisms of group 1 can’t breed anymore with the organisms of group 2. A new species have formed and a new branch has formed.

But wait, if we insert a bird into the equation, it still a bird right? Yes it is still a bird but a new kind of this bird. You can’t have a bird turn into a dog. That’s not how evolution works. Like I have said before: a new branch has formed. The forming of new branches has been going on from the very beginning. A bird and a dog are very far apart in branching, but if you go back far enough, you will come up with the same organism.

For more evidence regarding macro-evolution, please check: http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/com…

Misconception 3: Evolution is not science because it’s not testable and observable.

Correction: This misconception encompasses two incorrect ideas: (1) that all science depends on controlled laboratory experiments, and (2) that evolution cannot be studied with such experiments. First, many scientific investigations do not involve experiments or direct observation. Astronomers cannot hold stars in their hands and geologists cannot go back in time, but both scientists can learn a great deal about the universe through observation and comparison. In the same way, evolutionary biologists can test their ideas about the history of life on Earth by making observations in the real world. Second, though we can’t run an experiment that will tell us how the dinosaur lineage radiated, we can study many aspects of evolution with controlled experiments in a laboratory setting. In organisms with short generation times (e.g., bacteria or fruit flies), we can actually observe evolution in action over the course of an experiment. And in some cases, biologists have observed evolution occurring in the wild.

Misconception 4: It’s just a theory.

Correction: This misconception stems from a mix-up between casual and scientific use of the word theory. In everyday language, theory is often used to mean a hunch with little evidential support. Scientific theories, on the other hand, are broad explanations for a wide range of phenomena. In order to be accepted by the scientific community, a theory must be strongly supported by many different lines of evidence. Evolution is a well-supported and broadly accepted scientific theory; it is not just a hunch.


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