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For Lazarous: The Theory of Evolution is Sound


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This debate is for Lazarous only. Please do not accept unless you are him. If you are not Lazarous and accept this debate, this debate will be deleted and reset.
Resolved: The Theory of Evolution is a sound theory of how life developed on Earth.
1. Opening Statements
2. Rebuttal and Questions
3. Defense
4. Closing Arguments and Summary
1. No round forfeits
2. It should go without saying, but keep it respectful
3. No new arguments in the final round
4. The BoP is evenly shared.
Round 1
Thank you, Lazarous, for accepting this debate. I am looking forward to an exciting exchange!


I. Intro 

The Theory of Evolution is one of the most misunderstood theories in science, yet it is also the backbone of modern biology. Indeed, as Theodosius Dobzhansky stated "Nothing in biology makes sense, except in the light of evolution." Not only does evolution explain the biodiversity of life, but it also has hugely important impacts in other fields like medicine and ecology.

A. Definitions

  1. Theory: In science, a theory is "an explanation of some aspect of the natural world that has been substantiated through repeated experiments or testing" [1] 
  2. Evolution: At the most basic level, evolution is defined as “the frequency of alleles within a gene pool from one generation to the next.”[2] Consequently, “genetic changes over many generations ultimately result in the emergence of new and different species from a single ancestral species” [3] As a result, “all known living, terrestrial organisms are genealogically related. All existing species originated gradually by biological, reproductive processes on a geological timescale” [4] 
  3. Sound: Based in strong scientific evidence 
B. Misconceptions 

1. Evolution is not true because it cannot explain the origins of life or the universe

Evolution is a theory on the biodiversity of life. Just because we do not know yet how life got started or how the universe got here does not mean that evolution is false. This is like saying that the atomic theory of matter is false because we don't know the origins of the atom. These are two completely different fields of science that are independent of one another.

2. Evolution means atheism 

Again, this is false. The vast majority of Christians accept evolution and many great evolutionary biologists like Theodosius Dobzhansky and Francis Collins accepts evolution. Evolution is accepted by the Catholic Church and many prominent evangelicals like William Lane Craig and the BioLogos organization. I myself am a Theist and have no problem accepting evolution. 


Let's now get into the meat of my arguments. 

II. Speciation

If evolution were true, then we should observe new species forming from ancestral species. Indeed, if we cannot find examples of speciation events, then evolution is in serious trouble. Speciation is the process by which populations evolve to become distinct species. Not only have we observed many cases of speciation in real time [5], but it is so well understood that even creationist organizations like Answers in Genesis admit that it is real [6], they just refuse to admit that it fits the literal definition of evolution.

III. Anatomy  

A. Atavisms 

An atavism is "the reappearance of a lost character specific to a remote evolutionary ancestor and not observed in the parents or recent ancestors of the organism displaying the atavistic character. Atavisms have several essential features: (1) presence in adult stages of life, (2) absence in parents or recent ancestors, and (3) extreme rarity in a population" [7] A great example of this are chickens that sometimes mutate to have teeth. If evolution was true and chickens evolved from dinosaur-like reptiles, then we should see a genes that, if turned on, would produce a bird with teeth. In 2006, we observed just that. Researchers noted a chicken embryo with alligator-like teeth [8]. The obvious question is why. Why would an intelligent designer make birds with the potential to make teeth if the wrong gene was turned on? This only makes since if evolution were true. 

Another great example of this are the reappearance of hind-limbs in whales and dolphins. We have observed these atavisms in baleen whales, humpback whales, and in some specimens of sperm whales [9]. Here is a great photo of one. Once again, we must ask why. Why would an intelligent designer create oceanic mammals with a gene to make hind-limbs? This only makes sense in the light of evolution. 

IV. Fossil Evidence 

Where are all the transitional fossils? I'm glad you asked! We have found hundreds of them and they all provide compelling proof of evolution. Here are just a few strong examples. 

A. Archaeopteryx 

Archaeopteryx is probably the first transitional fossil found. It was found only a few years after Darwin published The Origins of the Species. As noted by TalkOrigins, it has both bird and dinosaur like features that are hard to explain away [10]. 

The main bird traits are: 

  • long external nostrils.
  • quadrate and quadratojugal (two jaw bones) not sutured together.
  • palatine bones that have three extensions.
  • all teeth lacking serrations.
  • large lateral furrows in top rear body of the vertebrae
The dinosaur traits being:

  • no bill
  • teeth on premaxilla and maxilla bones
  • nasal opening far forward, separated from the eye by a large preorbital fenestra (hole)
  • neck attached to skull from the rear
  • center of cervical vertebrae that have simple concave articular facets
  • long bony tail; no pygostyle
  • ribs slender, without joints or uncinate processes, and not articulated with the sternum
  • sacrum that occupies six vertebrae
  • small thoracic girdle
  • metacarpals free (except third metacarpal), wrist hand joint flexible
  • claws on three unfused digits
  • pelvic girdle and femur joint shaped like those of archosaurs in many details
  • bones of pelvis unfused
and over 100 other differences from birds
B. Whale evolution

As I noted in my section on atavism, whales and dolphins have been found to have hind-legs. This gives us an interesting prediction: If evolution were true, then we should see fossil evidence of such a transition taking place. Not only have we found it, the whale record is so complete that we almost have a perfect understanding on how they evolved. We not only have a record of their limbs, but also their inner ear [11, 12] .

V. Genetic Evidence

In my opinion, genetics are by far the strongest proof of evolution. Since evolution predicts we all share a common ancestor and that lineages diverge, we ought to see evidence of this in our genome. By comparing the genome with various species, we can tell which species are closely related and what species are further related. Indeed, it would be highly problematic if we share 99.99% of genetics with the banana and only 1% with other great apes. Let's do some comparisons and see which is right. 

1. Whale - Hippos 

We know that whales sometimes are born with atavistic hind-limbs that come from their past ancestry and we also clearly see this evidence in the fossil record as well. What about the genome? By comparing the genome, they found that hippos were the closest related organisms to whales [13]. This means that they shared a common ancestor sometime in the past. But can we find it? Fossil evidence shows just that. Scientists found an ancient four-legged whale with hooves [14]. It's certainly an incredible find. 

So we have 3 multiple independent lines of evidence that shows how whales evolved. We have atavistic hind-limbs, fossil record showing that whales once had legs, genetic evidence that shows a close match between hippos and humans. This only makes sense in light of evolution and makes no sense if an intelligent designer created them distinctly. 

2. Humans - Apes 

Evolution predicts that humans shares a common ancestor with the other great apes. There's just one problem. Humans have 23 pairs of chromosomes and the other great apes have 24. Is this the end for evolution? There are only two possibilities: either one pair of the human chromosomes fused together or one of the great apes split.  Let's think logically for a moment. It's far more likely that the human chromosome fused as it would require independent splits between the other great apes, which is highly unlikely. While we were mapping out human genomes, we found that it was human chromosome 2 that fused! Just like evolution would predict [15]

Genetic evidence also shows that the Denisovans, an extinct species of humans, also had this fused chromosome [16]. This means that the fusion most likely happened after the emergence of the Homo genus. 

B. Endogenous Retroviruses 

Endogenous retrovirus are viruses that incorporate themselves into our DNA. Humans share about 98-99% genetic similarity with the bonobo and chimps [17]. This strongly suggests that we are closely related and share a recent common ancestor. ERVs are about 8% of the entire human genome [18]. It is highly unlikely that an ERV would insert itself in the same location in different species unless they share a common ancestor. Therefore, evolution would predict that humans and chimps probably share ERVs that are in the same exact location. As it turns out, humans and chimps have thousands of ERVs in the exact same location [19]. We only have two options. Either the same ERV inserted itself in the same location thousands of times, or it is because we share a common ancestor that had these ERVs. The latter is far more likely. 

VI. Conclusion 

Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution. There are overwhelming independent lines of evidence that confirms this.

I look forward to your reply. 

VII. Sources 
3. Fairbanks, Daniel J. Evolving: The Human Effect and Why it Matters.
12. Nummela, S., Thewissen, J., Bajpai, S. et al. Eocene evolution of whale hearing. Nature 430, 776–778 (2004) doi:10.1038/nature02720
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--> @dustryder
--> @crossed
Being in the dark has nothing to do with copying errors. DNA copying errors occur randomly when cells divide erroneously. Since the cells of living organisms are constantly dividing, it follows that DNA copying errors also occur.
--> @dustryder
That does not answer my question.
Why would being in the dark cause the owls to have DNA copying error that results in a mutation that produce night vision.
"Mutations are generally caused by DNA copying errors"
why does darkness cause DNA copying errors.
Why would a mistake the body's artificial intelligence make produce something good.Why would the body making a mistake produce all of life. From what we have seen mutations that happen this way are always bad.Evolution goes against what we know about mutations and how the DNA repair machine works.What we know about the body mutations are always bad.Why do you think god made DNA repair foods.If i eat my DNA repair food will i return to ape state
--> @Lazarous
Agreed, thank you for your answer. It will be a great debate indeed!
To Truth!
--> @crossed
Mutations are generally caused by DNA copying errors
--> @logicae
Thank you for your question Logicae. I do have an answer to that question, and, room permuting, hope to work it into the debate. Since it is not the primary focus of the debate I will likely post a response here if it doesn't make the cut.
The main problem i have with evolution is there is no cause. If a owl that roams at night mutates and gets night vision.What caused the owl to mutate and get night vision.Darkness can not cause mutations
--> @Lazarous
Boy do I need to learn how to proof read.
"We have atavistic hind-limbs, fossil record showing that whales once had legs, genetic evidence that shows a close match between hippos and humans"
This obviously should read "hippos to whales" not "hippos and humans."
--> @armoredcat
There is a great quote by the thinker Ravi Zacharias on the definition of nothing: "That which rocks dream about"
When we talk about these topics it is easy to forget what we all know so well. I don't understand what you are asking beyond the obviousness of its nature. SirAnonymous gave a good explanation and I think quite simply everything starts at the assumption of truth, even your question about it. I love truth because it is the basis for everything we do, regardless of what we do with it. However it seems quite harmful to ignore or cover it up, making it a source of good (but that is a whole other conversation).
Good question,
To Truth!
--> @logicae, @SirAnonymous
Maybe. I'm just curious what kind of truth he's going for here. Any help logicae?
You say it's not great but it actually sounds maybe sorta appealing to me. I might try it sometime.
--> @armoredcat
"So when logicae says "to truth!" he means "to understand that we have some general form of existence"?"
I highly doubt it. He probably means exactly what it sounds like he means.
"I've actually never tried pineapple on pizza lol. Is it really that bad?"
It's been a while since I've had it. No, it isn't that bad, but it isn't good. Juicy fruit doesn't go on pizza. They don't go together. However, that is entirely subjective. Other people disagree. I make a big deal about it because I find it funny, and I don't take things as seriously as I probably should.
--> @SirAnonymous
So when logicae says "to truth!" he means "to understand that we have some general form of existence"?
I've actually never tried pineapple on pizza lol. Is it really that bad?
--> @armoredcat
We can be certain of one truth: that we exist. Even if we aren't people and are just video game characters, for instance, we still have some form of existence. A person has to exist in order to deny their own existence, so we can know that we do exist. So yes, we do know that there is at least one truth that does exist.
Also, we can know for a fact that pineapple doesn't belong on pizza. That's two truths.
--> @logicae
"To Truth!
Can truth be known to exist?
Quite a topic indeed! Here are some thoughts on it:
*notice I do not touch the formulation of the topic itself with the wording "sound"*
(1) -What type of evolution do you guys agree to debate on? One that is working purely by its own power (to mean without outside intelligence) or one that is fine tuned, to say is taken care of by an outside source.
(2) -For Pro: Jumping into the topic (assuming randomness as the basis for evolution), how can a lesser complex organism become more complex (to say higher levels of intelligence) by random mutation, you add the method, etc. Perhaps an example: No sane person would conclude that a tornado crossing a scrap yard could ever produce a fully functional 747. Indeed the tornado represents a random process and the impossibility comes down to the lack of intelligence needed to produce the more complex plane, so then why is evolution not a double standard? Another thing is the idea of natural selection. What gives this theory weight, beyond its wide spread appeal, in the face of mounting evidence about the troubles of full changes in species arising mainly due to deterioration caused by the mutations necessary to change them. In other words, we know that each animal/living thing has special properties that are vital for its survival and that a loss in any of these properties to be harmful or even fatal. (not beneficial as commonly explained in natural selection to say the least) (Everyone is welcome to add)
(3) -For Con: With fossil records recovered and small variations in species (micro evolution) well observed and corroborated (example being the many skin colors of people or in the famous Darwin experiment, the variation in finch's beak size/shape, ...etc), why can't the next step (the full evolution of species) be taken? Also do you provide another idea for how variation in animals arose or came to be? (this obviously is not required for the debate, but food for thought). (Everyone is welcome to add)
Once more an important and relevant topic of our time,
good luck and thank you to both debaters!
To Truth!
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