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Resolved: The Theory of Evolution is a sound theory of how life developed on Earth.

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Debate details
Publication date
Last update
Category
Science
Time for argument
Two weeks
Voting system
Open voting
Voting period
Two months
Point system
Four points
Rating mode
Rated
Characters per argument
15,000
Contender / Con
Description
Rounds:
1. Opening Statements
2. Rebuttal and Questions
3. Defense
4. Closing Arguments and Summary
Rules:
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.
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 on strong scientific evidence
Sources
1. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/just-a-theory-7-misused-science-words/
2. http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/evolution-definition.html
3. Fairbanks, Daniel J. Evolving: The Human Effect and Why it Matters.
4. http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/comdesc/
Round 1
Published:
Thank you, Lazarous, for accepting this debate. I’m looking forward to another exciting debate with you.
 
I am going to divide my arguments into two parts. In the first part, I will give an overview of evolution and what I believe to be the strongest lines of evidence for it. In the second part of my arguments, I will look at creationism and show how Young Earth Creationism is an utter failure.
 
PART 1: Evolution 
 
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." The Theory of Evolution explains not only the biodiversity of life but is vitally important in fields such as medicine and ecology.  
 
I. Misconceptions
 
I want to start off this debate by debunking common misconceptions about evolution.
 
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. It does not make any assertions to how life formed or how the universe came into being. This argument is an argument from ignorance. 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.
 
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 are committed Christians. Theodosius Dobzhansky was an orthodox Christian, Francis Collins is proudly an evangelical, and many prominent evangelicals like William Lane Craig and Biologos accepts evolution.
 
II. Evolution by Natural Selection is an Observable Fact
 
A. “Micro” Evolution

We have observed evolution by natural selection both in the lab and in nature. When we expose bacteria to antibiotics, chance mutations enable them to form resistance to the antibiotic causing them to become stronger. The end result is bacteria with the favorable traits necessary to resist antibiotics resulting in deadlier diseases.
 
This is well-known as “micro-evolution” or “the change in allele frequencies in the gene pool.” This is so well-observed and documented that no creationist will deny this.
 
B. Speciation
 
Speciation is the emergence of new species from an ancestral species. This is probably the most important prediction of evolution. If evolution were true, then we should observe the formation of new species. As it turns out, speciation has been observed so many times [1] that even creationists accept it [2], although they try to rationalize it by denying that speciation perfectly fits the definition of evolution or by simply moving the goalpost.  
 
You can think of speciation like language: As time goes on, new words are added, people spread out, words change meaning, and thus new languages are formed. This is how Latin turned into Spanish, French, Italian, Romanian, and the rest of the romance languages from a single ancestral language. You can think of the minor changes in pronunciation and meaning to be “microevolution” and the emergence of new languages as “macroevolution.”
 
III. Genetics
 
A. Genetic Comparison
 
1. Human Evolution
 
In my opinion, genetics offers the most profound case for evolution. The closer related a specie is the more genetic material they have in common. Using genetic markers, we can trace with stupendous accuracy on how humans and other species migrated. When I got my DNA sequenced from ancestry.com, I was shocked to see just how accurate it was. Not only were they able to tell the region of Europe where I descend from, they were also able to pinpoint exactly where my family settled in the United States and they were even able to tell when they came!   
 
We can do this to trace human ancestry back to where humanity first evolved. Using mitochondria DNA, DNA that is passed on from mother to offspring, we can trace our maternal lineage back to Africa roughly 200,000 years ago [3].   
 
Using the same principles that determine paternity, we discovered that humans and chimpanzees are about 95-99% similar, which suggests that the two species are closely related [4]. What’s more, is that we can determine when humans and chimpanzees diverged. This is dated to about 7-8 million years ago [4]. Of course, as more genetic information becomes available and more studies are done, the more refined this date will become.
 
2. HIV-SIV
 
Using the same principles listed above, we can use evolution and genetics to learn when and how new diseases evolved and use that information to learn how to treat them. HIV is a perfect example. In the 1980’s, people were dying left and right of this new disease. Where did it come from and how did it evolve? Let’s find out!  
 
There are actually two main types of HIV: HIV 1 (most common) and HIV 2 (less common). Using genetics, we found that HIV evolved from SIV, a virus that infects non-human primates. Most likely, humans were butchering meat from an infected animal and that is how they initially came in contact. But there is a problem. Humans are naturally immune to SIV, so something had to happen. In his book Evolving: The Human Effect and Why it Matters, Dr. Fairbanks shows exactly how this happened [6]:
 
“The virus had to mutate into a form that could overcome natural immunity to SIV in humans. Mammals have a gene that encodes a protein called tetherin. This protein has evolved to confer resistance to retroviruses by tethering them to the inside of the cell they infect and preventing the virus from replicating. For SIV cpz to successfully infect a human, it had to overcome the suppressive effect of human tetherin.
 
The SIV cpz evolved by acquiring two anti-tetherin genenes called nef and vpu, one from each of the original monkey viruses that fused to form the chimpanzee virus. The nef gene mutated to overcome chimpanzee tetherin, but the vpu gene remained essentially insert. When the virus jumped to humans, human tetherin was so different that the nef gene could not overcome human tetherin. Instead, the vpu gene mutated to overcome human tetherin, allowing HIV-1 group M to infect humans.
 
A mutation in a second gene, called gag, was also required for the chimpanzee virus to jump to humans. Interestingly, a case in which HIV infected a chimpanzee is known, and the gag gene of this virus mutated back to the original form in the chimpanzee to successfully re-infect its ancestral host.”

B. ERVs
 
Endogenous retrovirus are viruses that incorporate themselves into our DNA. As I already pointed out, humans, bonobos, and chimps are 95-99% similar. This strongly suggests that we are closely related and share a recent common ancestor.
 
When we compare genetics, we can look at ERVs and use that to help us the dots. As it turns out, humans and chimps have thousands of ERVs in common [7]. So, either the ERV independently inserted itself into the same location thousands of times or we share a common ancestor who had it. The latter is far more likely.
 
IV. Fossil Record
 
A. Geological column
 
The geological column perfectly fits within the evolutionary framework. We never find a fossilized rabbit in the Precambrian layer and we never find a dinosaur fossil on top of a human fossil.
 
B. Transitional fossils
 
Where are all the transitional fossils? I’m glad you asked!
 
1. 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 [8].
 
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
 
And the reptilian features are:
  • 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
V. Summary
 
Evolution has been vindicated time and time again. If my opponent wishes to overturn over 150 years of biology, then he is in for a tough ride. The mere fact that evolution has been observed numerous times is enough evidence to vote for pro and the genetic and fossil records are just the icing on the cake.
 
PART 2: Failures of Creationism
 
I identify three main predictions that the Bible makes in the first 5 chapters of Genesis. In the first chapter of Genesis, the Bible predicts the order in which the universe was created, the second key prediction is the age of the universe and the third key prediction is how long humans once lived. If any of these three are shown to be false, then the entire Genesis creation myth collapses. 
 
V. Order of Creation
 
In the Genesis Creation myth, God created the universe in 6 days. The days of creation are:
 
Day 1: Light and darkness
Day 2: Sky and sea
Day 3: Vegetation and land
Day 4: Stars, sun, and moon
Day 5: Sea animals and birds
Day 6: Humans and land animals
 
The order that the Book of Genesis proposes is inconsistent with what we know in science. How can day and night exist before the Sun? How can the vegetation survive without the Sun? Without the Sun, the Earth would have been at or just above absolute zero. 
 
Modern astronomy has witnessed the lifecycle of stars and solar systems. The way solar systems form is nothing like how it is described in the Bible. Stars form when clouds of gas collapse under its gravity. This is called a proto-star. When the star heats up enough it begins nuclear fusion. That’s when it is fully a star. Not only have we observed this process [9], but we have found young stars with planetary disks around them [10]. Even more impressive is that we discovered moon forming disks around new exoplanets [11]. Solar system formation is nothing like what’s described in the Bible.
 
VI. Age of the Universe
 
Creationist argue that the entire universe is less than 6,000 years old. A wealth of independent lines of evidence proves that the universe is billions of years old. Here I will give just two lines of evidence.
 
1. Distant starlight
 
Light travels at a speed of 299,792 kilometers per second. If an object is 1 light year away, it follows that the light from that object must have taken 1 year to reach the observer. The furthest distance we have seen is roughly 13 billion light-years away [12]. Logically it follows that the light took 13 billion years to reach us, thus the universe has to be at least 13 billion years old.
 
2. Radiometric dating
 
Radiometric dating is the most accurate way to tell the age of an object. We can test the accuracy of radiometric dating by cross-dating it with various isotopes as well as testing it on the age of known objects. This is incredibly useful in archeology. For example, researchers found an old Quran that dated back to the time of Muhammad [13].  When we apply these techniques to rocks and asteroids, we discovered that the Earth is approximately 4.6 billion years old [14], a far cry from 6,000 years old.
 
VII. Lifespan of Humans
 
As of today, the oldest person alive is 116 years old [14]. However, this is a baby compared to the antediluvian humans. In the Bible, the oldest person to die was Methuselah at 969. There is not a shred of evidence to suggest that humans lived that long and all evidence points to the contrary.
 
From what we know, life expectancy from the paleolithic era up to early modern England was less than 40-years-old [15].        
 
VIII. Summary
 
The major predictions made in the Book of Genesis are a complete failure. The Theory of Evolution has been vindicated time and time again whereas Creationism can't even get off the ground. If you can't trust what was written in the very first chapter of the Bible, then you can't trust what's written in the rest. I think I made my point. 

I look forward to your reply. 
 
Sources
6. Fairbanks Evolving: The Human Effect and Why it Matters
9. Carrasco-González, C., et al. “Observing the Onset of Outflow Collimation in a Massive Protostar.” Science, vol. 348, no. 6230, 2015, pp. 114–117., doi:10.1126/science.aaa7216.

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Added:
Id argue that due to the fact we have no evidence of repeated testing of the original (whatever) that evolution is still a hypothesis at best and untestable based on the original dna at worst.
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why did you restart
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