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1485
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Topic

Evolution is False

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Finished

All stages have been completed. The voting points distribution and the result are presented below.

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2

With 2 votes and 2 points ahead, the winner is ...

Sum1hugme
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Science
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1635
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By observing the current rate of evolution in modern organisms, and extrapolating backwards into the past, it can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt that evolution is not efficient enough to have evolved microbes into humans within a few billion years. Mutation and Natural Selection alone are not sufficient mechanisms to explain the diversity of life we see today, and there must be some other factor equally important and fundamental. The Intelligent Design movement identifies this unknown factor as an intelligent being which manually directed evolution. Perhaps it is instead some inanimate, unidentified property of the universe. In any case, this debate is not about what this factor is, only that it must exist for microbes to have evolved into humans, because mutation and natural selection are insufficient explanations.

Round 1
Pro
After 31,500 generations, the only significant beneficial feature that E. coli evolved was the ability to eat citrate in the presence of oxygen (a1).  This was caused by a random duplication of their cit gene (a2).  They remained E. coli, without evolving into a new species (b1), even though the experiment exceeded 73,500 generations (c1).  Experimenters acknowledge that E. coli can't evolve as much as they expected (b2).

After approximately 10¹² multiplications, P. falciparum (which causes malaria) can evolve resistance to the medications atovaquone or pyrimethamine (d2). After 10²⁰ multiplications, it can barely accomplish the necessary mutations for resistance to chloroquine (d1).

This same number 10²⁰ happens to be a generous estimate for how many mammals have ever lived on Earth (e1), with the first being something similar to a mouse.  Evolution is supposed to have evolved this mouse-like creature into all the various mammals we see today, including:

  • Whales
  • Bats
  • Armadillos
  • Elephants
  • Cats
  • Dogs
  • Platypuses
  • Moose
  • Orangutans
  • President Trump
Within 10²⁰ descendants, a couple of prehistoric mice evolved into all of these animals.  Yet after 10²⁰ descendants, P. falciparum is still P. falciparum.

Neo-Darwinism is not efficient enough to accomplish this mouse-to-human evolution.  There is something fundamental missing from its explanation.

  1. "Cit+ variant had emerged by 31,500 generations"
  2. "These early Cit+ genomes also show increases in cit copy number. The earliest one had a tandem duplication"
  1. "this is not speciation"
  2. "E. coli's capacity to evolve is more limited than currently assumed."
  1. "more than 73,000 generations."
  1. "Resistance to chloroquine in P. falciparum has arisen spontaneously less than ten times in the past fifty years. This suggests that the per-parasite probability of developing resistance de novo is on the order of 1 in 10²⁰ parasite multiplications."
  2. "The single point mutations in the gene encoding cytochrome b (cytB), which confer atovaquone resistance, or in the gene encoding dihydrofolate reductase (dhfr), which confer pyrimethamine resistance, have a per-parasite probability of arising de novo of approximately 1 in 10¹² parasite multiplications."
  1. "So it is probably something like 10^20 total mammals ever existed."

Con
  Thank you for this debate. This is from my phone, so forgive my brevity.

  My opponent fundamentally claims personal incredulity as his biggest reason for not accepting evolution. and in an attempt to disprove evolution he gives two instances of evolution occurring. Evolution isn't a ladder and a species can stay the same for a billion years. Also, saying that all living things came from a "couple of prehistoric mice" is a horribly misleading mischaracterization and oversimplification. With that being said, we have observed evolution occurring.

  First, we have observered single-celled algae becoming multicellular organisms. This behavior was in response to a predator being introduced to its environment and in only 750 generations they became multicellular[1]. 

  Second, we are observing some lizard species evolving placental birth[2]. They still lay eggs but they are in the process of developing placental births. So they both lay eggs and have live births instead of just laying eggs.

  Thirdly, australopithecus afarensis [3] is the origin of our current genus homo, and was the "missing link" that scientist's were challenged to find. A. Afarensis was a bipedal ape that had features that were all perfectly transitional between the previous ape ancestors and modern humans.

  In conclusion, evolution is true because we observe it happening. I've presented only three pieces from the vast body of evidence supporting the theory, and my opponent has presented two, thus rendering his own argument that "evolution is false" as patently wrong.

[1] https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.sciencealert.com/scientists-have-witnessed-in-real-time-a-single-celled-algae-evolve-into-a-multicellular-organism/amp
[2] https://www.google.com/amp/s/api.nationalgeographic.com/distribution/public/amp/news/2010/9/100901-science-animals-evolution-australia-lizard-skink-live-birth-eggs
[3] 
https://scholar.google.com/scholar?hl=en&as_sdt=0%2C11&q=australopithecus+afarensis&oq=australopithecus#d=gs_qabs&u=%23p%3DgZ2a24bEreMJ
Round 2
Pro
The point of the E. coli and P. falciparum examples were to demonstrate that Natural Selection and Mutation, as we observe them today, are too inefficient to accomplish the evolution of microbes to mankind. I am not arguing that evolution is false. I am arguing that the mechanisms claimed to be behind evolution are not capable of doing what evolution actually did. These mechanisms are primarily Random Mutation and Natural Selection, but my opponent is free to reference any others.

My opponent says species can stay the same.  But there are 6,495 known mammal species (a1). These all had to evolve from a couple prehistoric mice (I can use whatever term my opponent prefers).  Is it by pure chance that P. falciparum evolved into zero new species within the same timeframe that all the thousands of mammals evolved from mice?  Am I just very unlucky that I chose a bad example, or am I cherry-picking a species known to not be evolving?

If the modern evolution rate of P. falciparum evolution is not representative of evolution in general, I ask my opponent to claim this explicitly or provide a counter-example of a faster-evolving organism who has been observed both before and after evolving.  Otherwise, they should concede that the evolutionary mechanisms observed today are too inefficient to do what is claimed to have happened in the past.

With all due respect to the claim that single-celled algae evolved into a multi-cellular organism, that's like saying people evolve into a new organism everytime they group into crowds.  Because that's all the algae cells did.  Every cell remained the same, the amorphous blob did not gain any organs as a result of this clumping, and the cells could survive alone afterwards once separated just as before.

To be clear, I fully agree that microbes are our ancestors.  But I challenge the claim that the sort of evolution we see today could have accomplish that by itself.

The example of a single lizard species either laying eggs or having live births, depending on their environment, has nothing to do with evolution.  The egg-layers and live-birthers have the same DNA.  If this is evolution then I evolve everytime my body reacts to its environment, like getting a tan from staying in the sun.

My opponent's point about an archeological missing link suggests that he has mistaken my position.  I am not challenging the claim that we are descended from apes.  I am instead claiming that the mechanisms we are aware of today, like mutation and selection, cannot have accomplished that.  They are too inefficient.  I refer once again to E. coli, which after 73,500 generations, remained E. coli, even though that's equivalent to over a million human years (b1).  Humans and chimps are supposed to have descended from the same ancestor 7 million years ago, but at the rate E. coli is evolving, one beneficial mutation every 73,500 generations, that would imply humans and chimps are only separated by 7 mutations.  Does my opponent concede this?

Something had to be responsible for helping random mutations and natural selection evolve everything from a common ancestral microbe long ago, but whatever that something is, it's missing in the case of my E. coli bacteria and malaria parasites, and my opponent has not identified it.

  1. "We found 6,495 species of currently recognized mammals"
(B) Myself
  1. 73,500 generations is equivalent to 1,102,500 human years, if humans have a generation every 15 years, because 73,500 x 15 = 1,102,500.


Con
  Thank you for your response.

WHAT ARE WE EVEN ARGUING ABOUT?

  My opponent cannot seem to clearly state his resolve in this debate. The Resolve is "Evolution is False." When this is refuted, my opponent then claims:
" I am not arguing that evolution is false. I am arguing that the mechanisms claimed to be behind evolution are not capable of doing what evolution actually did."
  This is either a concession of the resolution, a shifting of the goalposts, or both. My opponent also refutes himself by claiming that evolution didn't do what it did do, but I'm sure he simply misspoke. But now the resolution has shifted from, "evolution is false," to "evolution didn't do what it did." This second "resolve" doesn't even make any sense, and doesn't clearly lay out the burden of proof my opponent is trying to achieve, or what he is trying to convince us of. Furthermore, he hints that he is actually here to argue that "Intelligent design directed evolution" when he says:
"The Intelligent Design movement identifies this unknown factor as an intelligent being which manually directed evolution. "
  But he makes no case for Intelligent Design anywhere in his arguments. In addition, the resolution could just as easily be "Any or all the mechanisms of Neo-Darwinism are not sufficient to evolve microbes into humans" based on the comments section.

  So I ask my opponent to please either stick to the resolution, or say plainly what you mean. This constant shifting makes it impossible to know what I'm arguing against anymore. According to the Topic and the Description, you are here to argue that "Evolution is False and Intelligent Design Directed Evolution." So please clarify.

REBUTTALS

1.
"...am I cherry-picking a species known to not be evolving?"
  Yes, you are cherry-picking data and drawing a bullseye around it. But you yourself admitted that the strain DID evolve in your opening sentence of your first argument:
"After 31,500 generations, the only significant beneficial feature that E. coli evolved was the ability to eat citrate in the presence of oxygen"
  However, you clarify that you're comparing the "timeframe":
Is it by pure chance that P. falciparum evolved into zero new species within the same timeframe that all the thousands of mammals evolved from mice?
  Well first of all, literally every aspect of the environment that P. falciparum was being bred in is different than the conditions of the early Earth. Also, evolution isn't a ladder as I stated previously. Secondly, a far less misleading term than "prehistoric mice" would be "common ancestor(s)." Finally, generational change in large multicellular organisms are going to carry different impacts with different environmental pressures. So these "timeframes" aren't even comparable.

2.
" ...I ask my opponent to claim this explicitly or provide a counter-example of a faster-evolving organism who has been observed both before and after evolving."
  Initially, evolution is a process in constant motion, not a before-after on human time scales. And there is no end product. However, my first example of the algae serves the purposes of an example here. The algae, in response to a predator, formed multicellularity, and in a super short time for evolution.

"With all due respect to the claim that single-celled algae evolved into a multi-cellular organism, that's like saying people evolve into a new organism everytime they group into crowds."
  This is false. This was not a colony of single-celled algae, these were new organisms, designating specialized cellular function. They had evolved multicellular organisms that were acting as independent organisms, not simply a clump of algae. To quote the actual paper," Considerable variation exists in the evolved multicellular life cycles, with both cell number and propagule size varying among isolates.[1]" My opponent has committed a fallacy of false equivalence.

3.
"The example of a single lizard species either laying eggs or having live births, depending on their environment, has nothing to do with evolution."
  Except that it does. The lizards (skinks) are in a state of transitioning from egg births to placental births. There are lizards that strictly lay eggs, and lizards that strictly have live births, but on this rare occasion, we have a lizard that is transitioning between the two. This is as good an example of evolution as one can ask for. To quote the article, "Now we can see that the uterus secretes calcium that becomes incorporated into the embryo—it's basically the early stages of the evolution of a placenta in reptiles..." This is an evolved response to the thinning shells of the young skinks that would normally be getting their calcium from the egg shells. So no, it's not like a sun tan, this is another fallacy of false equivalence.

4.
"Humans and chimps are supposed to have descended from the same ancestor 7 million years ago, but at the rate E. coli is evolving, one beneficial mutation every 73,500 generations, that would imply humans and chimps are only separated by 7 mutations."
  My opponent does not clearly establish why E. Coli mutation rates should necessarily reflect Human and Ape mutation rates. 

"Something had to be responsible for helping random mutations and natural selection evolve everything..."
  This has not been established at all and is just a baseless assertion.

__________

CONCLUSION

  In conclusion, Evolution is True. In regards to the resolution that Evolution is False, I have provided three examples of evolution occurring. In response to the claim that microbes could not evolve into man quickly, I gave an example of how quickly multicellularity can evolve in response to predation as a selective pressure. My examples were chosen specifically to weave a brief timeline and make clearer the picture, of human evolution from single-celled organisms, by showing pivotal points in our timeline, represented by examples: the transition from single-celled to multicellularity, the evolution of placental births, and the transition from walking on all fours to standing upright. On every front, my opponent's case fails.

Round 3
Pro
I did not know this website supported quotes!

the resolution could just as easily be "Any or all the mechanisms of Neo-Darwinism are not sufficient to evolve microbes into humans" based on the comments section.
That is indeed the resolution.  Apologies.  The comment section began with:

Undefeatable
define "evolution".
Puachu
We are debating whether "mutation and natural selection alone evolved microbes into humans."
I did not expect any confusion because shortly afterwards I had this brief exchange with my soon-to-be opponent:

Puachu
I will concede this debate if you are able to demonstrate that any or all the mechanisms of Neo-Darwinism are sufficient to evolve microbes into humans, as long as "evolving microbes into humans" isn't assumed to be in the definition of Neo-Darwinism.
Sum1hugme
I'm not worried about you conceding this debate. I may address human evolution specifically or I may not to demonstrate that evolution is true.
Let's continue!

he is actually here to argue that "Intelligent design directed evolution"
I have already explained that Intelligent Design is one of a couple possibilities I'm aware of.  Perhaps similar to how the arrangement and motion of the atoms that compose our brains is not sufficient to explain consciousness, mutation and selection are not sufficient to explain microbes-to-man evolution.

you are cherry-picking data
If malaria and E. coli are cherry-picking, that implies you're aware of examples of organisms that have been observed to accumulate beneficial mutations more rapidly.  Please cite these examples, or retract the accusation of cherry-picking.

literally every aspect of the environment that P. falciparum was being bred in is different than the conditions of the early Earth.
This must be hyperbole because I could go on forever listing shared aspects of both environments, such as the presence of water necessary for life (malaria lives in blood).  You might have a point if you identified a specific, relevant difference between the two environments, but that would still fail to address why it seems you're acknowledging evolution has come to a grinding halt today, relative to its speed in the past.  Which would be a concession on your part of the entire debate, unless you can demonstrate why the slow rate of evolution of malaria and E. coli is not representive of the rate of evolution of other organisms.

Also, evolution isn't a ladder as I stated previously.
There's nothing wrong with describing helpful mutations as a step-up on a ladder and harmful mutations as a step-down, if it helps illustrate the problem of evolution today not climbing as fast as in the past, with zero explanation from yourself as to why this is the case. 

a far less misleading term than "prehistoric mice" would be "common ancestor(s)."
I know I offered to use whatever term you preferred, but this is ridiculous.  I thought you would suggest something like shrew, since Google calls them shrew-like.  If they were alive today they'd be colloquially known as mice.  Calling them common ancestors is uselessly vague, since I was talking specifically about the last mammalian common ancestor.

Finally, generational change in large multicellular organisms are going to carry different impacts with different environmental pressures. So these "timeframes" aren't even comparable.
Different things happen differently in different times and places?  This is a terrible argument against comparing per-generation evolution rates.  It would imply that no comparison anywhere, at anytime, between anything, is ever valid.  Your own algae article had no problem making a comparison between normal time and generational time:

Fifty weeks is a relative blink of an eye on the evolutionary scale. For the algae it was a little longer - 750 generations.
I would have been impressed had you raised the point that because the lifespan of single-celled life is shorter, they don't have time to accumulate as many mutations per generation, and that's why their evolution is so many thousands of times slower than larger organisms.  But you didn't raise this argument, which makes me wonder if you had already calculated the math didn't add up to support it.

evolution is a process in constant motion, not a before-after on human time scales
Why are my evidences of slow evolution invalid because of human time scales, but your link to a 14-second time-lapse of 50 weeks is okay? 

This was not a colony of single-celled algae, these were new organisms, designating specialized cellular function.
That's incorrect.  The cells didn't specialize.  They were all the same.  If a colony of single-celled creatures doesn't possess organs, it's not an organism.  It's a colony. 

Their natural life-cycle in the wild is already to form a cluster upon cell-division, because gelly holds them together.  This is noted in the article, so no evolution here.  They usually split up sometime afterwards, but in the experiment they tended not to, because that would be tantamout to becoming bite-sized snacks for the paramecia introduced as predators.

Variations in physical proximity do not mark evolutionary events.

To quote the actual paper, "Considerable variation exists in the evolved multicellular life cycles"
To further quote the actual paper:

Sorting observations of a complex trait such as a life cycle into categories unavoidably requires some subjectivity ... C is similar to B but forms much larger multicellular structures
The only reason for distinguishing the life-cycles of strain B from that of strain C was blob-size.  I'm not attacking the author's classification of life-cycles.  I'm saying it's invalid for my opponent to use these definitions of life-cycles as justification for calling these new organisms. If this is evolution of a new organism, then the storming of Capitol Hill was the evolution of humans into a new species, complete with new life-cycles, as they crowded together into an ever-larger mass, with some smaller clusters breaking away occasionally.

both cell number and propagule size varying among isolates
Varying cell numbers in the clusters don't mark the evolution of new organisms.  Neither does one cluster having larger cells than another; propagules are literally just newly produced and expelled cells.

The lizards (skinks) are in a state of transitioning from egg births to placental births.
This has literally nothing to do with evolution, since their DNA hasn't changed.  Unless you want to claim that no DNA was modified in the process of microbe to man evolution.  Do you think our DNA is identical to that out of our microbial ancestors?

There are lizards that strictly lay eggs, and lizards that strictly have live births
That's incorrect.  There are no lizards that strictly do one or the other.  All of them can do either.  It just depends on what sort of environment you put them in.  If they swapped environments, the egg-layers would have live-births, and vice-versa.  Just like anyone's skin will darken when put into a more sunny environment.

My opponent does not clearly establish why E. Coli mutation rates should necessarily reflect Human and Ape mutation rates.
This is a concession that it's not realistic to think a mere 7 beneficial mutations are the difference between humans and chimps.  We have found an agreement.  Where we disagree is whether E. coli and malaria mutation rates are relevant.  My opponent has shown no reason to think they aren't.  The default position is that they are, and that the comparison is fair, because how else are we going to measure the progress of evolution without rapidly-reproducing organisms like bacteria?  If it's not appropriate to extrapolate from these observations, my opponent must explain why.
Con
  Thank you for your response. 

Thankfully, the resolution, clearly stated:

  Any or All the Mechanisms of Neo-Darwinism are not Sufficient to Evolve Microbes into Humans

  First I would like to ask my opponent directly: What evidence would meet your personal standard that would convince you of my side of the resolution?

_____

BURDEN OF PROOF

  It is important to note that this resolution hoists a huge burden on my opponent to demonstrate that the well established mechanisms that he already accepts are not enough to drive the evolution we are observing. He must upend the best working model, that being the totality of Neo-Darwinian mechanisms, and replace it/them with something more viable, and more parsimonious [1], than the current explanation.

  His replacement model must be more viable because any scientific theory is an attempt to explain reality in a way that makes accurate predictions about future data. It must be more parsimonious so that it doesn't include extraneous elements that limit the scope of its explanatory power. If Humans evolved from single celled organisms, we would expect to find evidence that humans and other organisms share some commonality on the level of unicellularity. This is however the case, as humans, and those creatures we delineated from, are all eukaryotes; that is, all of our individual cells have a nucleus. This indicates that our ancestral populations were eukaryotic. E. Coli is a bacteria however, not a Eukaryote. This means that Humans did not evolve from a bacteria like E. Coli; because, we evolved from eukaryotes.

_____

COUNTER-REBUTTALS

1.
"I have already explained that Intelligent Design is one of a couple possibilities I'm aware of."
  The "explanation" of Intelligent Design fails for several reasons. For one, it is replacing one unknown for another, which is already fallacious. Secondly, ID begs the question of the existence of the supernatural and how that would affect experimental results. Thirdly, my opponent has not proposed a method of falsifying this explanation, which without a method of falsification, condemns it to the category of pseudoscience. And fourthly, ID is far less parsimonious than the mechanisms that have been explained by Evolutionary Theory already; that is to say it makes far more assumptions than Evolutionary Theory.

2.
"If malaria and E. coli are cherry-picking, that implies you're aware of examples of organisms that have been observed to accumulate beneficial mutations more rapidly.  Please cite these examples, or retract the accusation of cherry-picking."
  We have observed rapid mutation rates in E. Coli and Salmonella Pathogens. This paper [2] states, "Here it is reported that the incidence of mutators among isolates of pathogenic Escherichia coli and Salmonella enterica is high (over 1 percent). These findings counter the theory, founded on studies with laboratory-attenuated strains, that suggests mutators are rare among bacterial populations."

3.
"...but that would still fail to address why it seems you're acknowledging evolution has come to a grinding halt today, relative to its speed in the past...unless you can demonstrate why the slow rate of evolution of malaria and E. coli is not representive of the rate of evolution of other organisms."
  Firstly, it is my opponent's burden of proof to demonstrate how the mutation rates of malaria and E. Coli in those particular experiments are somehow reflective of the history of human evolution. In this way, my opponent is attempting to shift his burden of proof. Furthermore, Evolution is a gradual process, and it isn't a ladder, a species doesn't have to change at all if it is already well adapted. In this way, the mutation rates of one population may not necessarily reflect the mutation rates of another population. 

4.
"There's nothing wrong with describing helpful mutations as a step-up on a ladder and harmful mutations as a step-down..."
  Except that there is. This paper [3] states, "When organisms adapt genetically to one environment, they may lose fitness in other environments." Adaptations often are neither a step up or a step down on my opponent's conceptual ladder, because the concept fails when applied to the real world. In reality, evolution is a fluid process of traits being mutated,  adapted, repurposed, or lost in population alleles. 

  Suppose we have a brown rabbit population. We take them from their home on the plains and put them in the tundra, where there are a whole new set of selective pressures. Then over time, they turn from brown to white, (because the lighter ones didn't get eaten and got to have kids, who have lighter kids, etc.) and now we have a population of white rabbits. My opponent would jump to call this a step up the ladder. But if we put those white rabbits back out onto the plains, suddenly, they are no longer adapted for their environment because they stick out like a sore thumb. Here the inherent flaw in my opponent's conceptualization is laid bare, because an adaptation is not inherently good or bad, it's how it's used. White camouflage is not inherently good or bad. It is good in the snow, but bad in the plains, or the desert.

5.
"I thought you would suggest something like shrew, since Google calls them shrew-like.  If they were alive today they'd be colloquially known as mice.  Calling them common ancestors is uselessly vague, since I was talking specifically about the last mammalian common ancestor."
  The common ancestor of all living mammals would not be "a couple of prehistoric mice." They would be a population of mammalian ancestors. This "prehistoric mice" ancestor is a uselessly vague, misleading characterization of the gradations of change that a population undergoes. Perhaps my opponent could name exactly what mammal they are referring to so that we can discuss how it evolved. Although, this does not affirm his stance on the resolution.

6.
"Different things happen differently in different times and places?  This is a terrible argument against comparing per-generation evolution rates."
  My argument is that the comparison of E. Coli timeframes of mutation and the timeframe of mammalian evolution haven't been demonstrated to be comparable. And the sheer number of uncontrolled/uncontrollable variables indicates that they are actually not comparable.

"... because the lifespan of single-celled life is shorter, they don't have time to accumulate as many mutations per generation..."
  This is of course not what I would argue because higher mutation rates and faster evolution are easier in populations with shorter lifespans. 

7.
"That's incorrect.  The cells didn't specialize.  They were all the same.  If a colony of single-celled creatures doesn't possess organs, it's not an organism.  It's a colony. "
  I had misspoken earlier. I meant to say it is not an aggregate of single celled algae.  To quote the actual paper [4]," The strains have maintained their evolved characteristics of simple multicellularity in the absence of predators for four years as unfrozen, in-use laboratory strains. Therefore, we are confident that the phenotypic traits that we report below are stably heritable... an external membrane is visible around both evolved multicellular colonies, indicating that they formed clonally via repeated cell division within the cluster, rather than via aggregation." They did not simply aggregate together to survive, and their multicellularity is heritable. It states further, "Our results show that the transition to a simple multicellular life cycle can happen rapidly in response to an ecologically relevant selective pressure."

8.
"This has literally nothing to do with evolution, since their DNA hasn't changed."
  This is blatantly false. This paper [5] states, " In contrast, gene expression changes across the reproductive cycle of long egg‐retaining oviparous S. equalis are dramatically different from those of “true” oviparous skinks (such as Lampropholis guichenoti), supporting our assertion that oviparous S. equalis exhibit an intermediate phenotype between “true” oviparity and viviparity." There is genomic confirmation that the the three-toed yellow-bellied skink are intermediary between live birth and egg-laying.

"There are no lizards that strictly do one or the other."
  The paper [5] cited above names one as an example of exactly what my opponent baselessly claims doesn't exist, "Lampropholis guichenoti." This is the "Common Garden Skink"  and it only lays eggs; small, white eggs [6].

"This is a concession that it's not realistic to think a mere 7 beneficial mutations are the difference between humans and chimps"
  My opponent has not demonstrate that there are only seven mutational differences, and that is not my claim.

"because how else are we going to measure the progress of evolution without rapidly-reproducing organisms like bacteria?"
  We could start by examining a creature that actually morphologically resembles the one we are trying to determine the mutation rate of. Bacteria aren't even Eukaryotic, and my opponent is shifting the burden of proof with an appeal to ignorance [7].


Round 4
Pro
What evidence would meet your personal standard that would convince you of my side of the resolution?
One thing that would convince me is an organism with an observed beneficial mutation rate several orders of magnitude higher than those which I showed with E. coli and malaria.

I reject the assertion that I must provide an alternate theory to Neo-Darwinism.  This debate is about whether there's a missing factor.  It's not about what that factor is.

If Humans evolved from single celled organisms
I am unsure why you feel this is important.  To be clear I have never denied we evolved from microbes.

The "explanation" of Intelligent Design fails for several reasons. For one, it is replacing one unknown for another
Again, this debate is about whether the gap Intelligent Design intends to fill actually exists.  I don't have to prove that Intelligent Design is true.  Only that Neo-Darwinism can't completely explain evolution of all life from a common ancestral microbe.

We have observed rapid mutation rates in E. Coli and Salmonella Pathogens.
Beneficial mutations?  High rates of neutral or harmful mutations do not support your case.

a species doesn't have to change at all if it is already well adapted
You could have explained away one example of slow evolution with this.  That's exactly why I provided two.  Whatever the likelihood it was that, by unfortunate chance, I chose an abnormally slowly evolving microbe to misrepresent this as the typical rate of neo-darwinism, the chance that I accidentally selected two organisms that are both not representative of evolution in general, is even smaller than half the original chance.

Pretend there was only a 10% chance my first example was a random outlier.  Then the chance that my second example is also a random outlier would be only 10% × 10% = 1%.

Clearly, there is no reason to believe both my examples are outliers.  My opponent still hasn't provided a counter-example of an organism which evolves more rapidly via the known mechanisms of evolution.

Imagine I claimed that pigs could fly, then my opponent brought me a wingless pig, and I said, "That's an abnormal pig", so they brought another wingless pig, and I brushed that one off too with, "That's just a second abnormal pig."  You would laugh at me.  But that's the same tactic they're is employing regarding evolution rates.

Here the inherent flaw in my opponent's conceptualization is laid bare, because an adaptation is not inherently good or bad, it's how it's used.
The rabbit analogy is interesting but doesn't prove that evolution isn't a ladder; otherwise, no mutation could be described as beneficial or harmful.  They'd all be neutral.  Nobody actually believes all mutations are neutral, so there must be a problem with my opponent's argument.  The problem is the pros and cons of a mutation are defined relative to the current environment.  So explicitly defining the ladder as fitness for a particular environment erases any confusion caused by my opponent's fallacy.

Fitness in a specific environment is an objective measurement.  So the ladder concept is also objective.

I honestly see no point in quibbling over whether the first mammal looked more like a shrew or a mouse or a louse or a house, so I will drop this point unless my opponent deems it valuable to explain how it's relevant.  The point was to establish how far back in the past they existed, and how fast they reproduced.  Other factors were not essential to the argument.

 My argument is that the comparison of E. Coli timeframes of mutation and the timeframe of mammalian evolution haven't been demonstrated to be comparable. And the sheer number of uncontrolled/uncontrollable variables indicates that they are actually not comparable.
Mammals apparently evolve too slow to measure anything favorable to your stance, which is why I chose microbes.  I have no idea what (sheer?) number of variables indicate they aren't comparable.  The E. coli experiment was in a lab setting and the malaria case is based on measurements of wild samples over many decades.  If neither indicate anything about the evolution rate of mammals, then first, why?  What are some of these variables?  And two, what could we measure to determine the current, modern evolution rate of mammals?

  I had misspoken earlier. I meant to say it is not an aggregate of single celled algae.  To quote the actual paper ...
Nothing in the new quotes or your narrations of them contradict the point I made, which is that the aggregates are not new organisms, but aggregates of individual organisms.  They didn't evolve into multi-cellular creatures.  They evolved multi-cellular behavior; clustering.  Every cell is identical, therefore there are no organs in this aggregate.  Organs require cell differentiation, of which there was none.  Organisms require organs, of which there were none.

This has literally nothing to do with evolution, since their DNA hasn't changed. 
— me


This is blatantly false. This paper [5] states, " In contrast, gene expression changes ...
— my opponent
Gene expression changes are not DNA changes.  That is epigenetics:

Epigenetics is the study of heritable changes in gene expression (active versus inactive genes) that do not involve changes to the underlying DNA sequence — a change in phenotype without a change in genotype (1)
The skink's ability to change from egg-laying to live birth was a result of changes in the expression of unmodified genes.  Epigenetics, not evolution. 

The paper [5] cited above names one as an example of exactly what my opponent baselessly claims doesn't exist
When I said there is no lizard that only does one or the other, I was referring to the lizards claimed to evolve from egg-laying to live birth based on environment.  Of course I don't deny there are some species of lizards which only lay eggs.  What I do deny is that the live-birthers would not be able to switch to egg-laying if transported into the environment of the egg-layers.

 My opponent has not demonstrate that there are only seven mutational differences, and that is not my claim.
I followed the beneficial mutation rates of E. coli and malaria to the logical conclusion that if humans evolved from apes via mutation, assuming a corresponding rate accounting for discrepancies in reproduction rate, it would have only been 7 mutations.  Clearly my opponent and I are in agreement that this conclusion is wrong, but my opponent has failed to disprove the soundness of the argument.  His position is essentially, "Your measurements of microbes don't apply to mammals," without any proof or even concrete explanation why, or even any measurements of his own of the mutation rate of mammals.

  We could start by examining a creature that actually morphologically resembles the one we are trying to determine the mutation rate of. Bacteria aren't even Eukaryotic, and my opponent is shifting the burden of proof with an appeal to ignorance [7].
This is ironic considering I'm the only one who's provided evidence for my position.  Quantifiable, measurable evidence.  

All of my opponent's evidence has been proven to be based on misunderstandings of the science, and confusion stemming from technical jargon.

(1) First result for searching epigenetics on Google
Con
  Thank you Puachu for your response.

THE BURDEN 

“To be clear I have never denied we evolved from microbes.”

  My opponent’s claim that “any or all of the mechanisms of Neo-Darwinism are not sufficient to evolve microbes into humans” necessarily means that any mechanism of the theory is insufficient to produce humans. This means that my opponent must provide a better explanation than the mechanisms of Neo-Darwinism to explain how humans came to be here. My opponent has refused to offer any alternative explanation to account for this alleged “missing piece” of Evolutionary Theory. He has further dropped every alternative explanation he has proposed. Consider this indicative that he has no alternative explanation, because the issue he claims, about some unaccounted for mechanism, is completely unfounded. 

  If my opponent accepts that we evolved from microbes, but that Evolutionary Theory is inadequate to accomplish this, then my opponent must present an alternative model. If he accepts that we evolved from microbes, then he is accepting Neo-Darwinism as an explanation for that fact; defeating his own stance on the resolution. 

  Furthermore, my opponent has failed to establish why his examples are representative of Human evolution. 

COUNTER-COUNTER REBUTTALS

1. Beneficial mutations
“Beneficial mutations?  High rates of neutral or harmful mutations do not support your case.”

  My opponent has made no attempt to define what he means by “beneficial” mutations. Most mutations are neutral, and as I have demonstrated, the idea of beneficiality is arbitrary to the environment the organism is in. Because beneficial mutations are a numbers game, the fact that there is a high mutation rate observed necessarily entails that there would be a higher rate of “beneficial” mutations. A high mutational rate is all that has to be demonstrated.

2. Rapid Evolution in Microbes
“ Whatever the likelihood it was that, by unfortunate chance, I chose an abnormally slowly evolving microbe to misrepresent this as the typical rate of neo-darwinism...My opponent still hasn't provided a counter-example of an organism which evolves more rapidly via the known mechanisms of evolution.” 

  My counter example was this paper, which expressly stated, “These findings counter the theory, founded on studies with laboratory-attenuated strains, that suggests mutators are rare among bacterial populations." My opponent has ignored this refutation and provided more baseless assertions. This study provided two examples that refute my opponent’s claim of low mutation rates. 

3. Evolution isn’t a Ladder
“The rabbit analogy is interesting but doesn't prove that evolution isn't a ladder; otherwise, no mutation could be described as beneficial or harmful.  They'd all be neutral...So explicitly defining the ladder as fitness for a particular environment erases any confusion caused by my opponent's fallacy.”
  The point I made is that the ladder analogy is not useful because beneficial mutations are relative to the environment in which they occur. So a beneficial mutation in one environment is a step down the ladder in another environment. So, using a ladder analogy is not useful. My opponent’s definition enshrines this arbitrariness because he must consider the mutation in a specified environment in order to rationalize his failed analogy, ad hoc

4. Shifting the Burden of Proof
“Your measurements of microbes don't apply to mammals," without any proof or even concrete explanation why, or even any measurements of his own of the mutation rate of mammals.”
“Mammals apparently evolve too slow to measure anything favorable to your stance, which is why I chose microbes.  I have no idea what (sheer?) number of variables indicate they aren't comparable.  The E. coli experiment was in a lab setting and the malaria case is based on measurements of wild samples over many decades.  If neither indicate anything about the evolution rate of mammals, then first, why?  What are some of these variables?  And two, what could we measure to determine the current, modern evolution rate of mammals?”
  Again, my opponent is attempting to shift the burden of proving why his examples are representative of human evolution by asking me why they aren’t. I don’t have to demonstrate they aren’t if my opponent’s positive claim that they are representative isn’t substantiated.

  My opponent claims that his examples are indicative of pre-human microbial evolution, but this cannot be since it doesn't account for the same variables that pre-human microbes would have been evolving in. The experiment is not even an attempt to demonstrate that. The major uncounted variable is the absence of a predator, or any other species to compete with. It is well known that competition is a huge driver of evolution. Also, there is no attempt to recreate early-earth conditions. Nothing about it has been shown to be comparable to rates of human evolution.

  As for mammal evolution, not every mammal is going to mutate or evolve at the same rate. This blanket generalization is a clear example of my opponent’s failure to understand the subject matter.

5. Single-Celled to Multi-Celled
“They didn't evolve into multi-cellular creatures.  They evolved multi-cellular behavior; clustering.”

  My opponent’s hand-waving dismissal ignores the fact that this multicellularity is heritable. All of the new organisms' offspring are multicellular, not unicellular. And these new organisms “...formed clonally via repeated cell division within the cluster, rather than via aggregation.”  They have clearly speciated into a new organism whose offspring develop as a multicellular animal, cloning its cells internally, rather than as an aggregate of individual cells.

“Organisms require organs, of which there were none”
  This is patently false. 

Organism - An individual animal, plant, or single-celled life form.

  My opponent glosses over the fact that these individual cells, and these new multicellular organisms, are both organisms. He doesn’t understand what an organism is.

6. Epigenetic Inheritance is Evolution
“Gene expression changes are not DNA changes.  That is epigenetics...The skink's ability to change from egg-laying to live birth was a result of changes in the expression of unmodified genes.  Epigenetics, not evolution.”

  I’ll grant it is a change in phenotype, but my opponent does not realize that Epigenetic Inheritance is a mechanism of evolution. So the fact that this phenotype is inheritable is still an example of evolution. 

“What I do deny is that the live-birthers would not be able to switch to egg-laying if transported into the environment of the egg-layers.”
  Perhaps my opponent could attempt to substantiate this conjecture in his closing. Please demonstrate what environment would cause Saiphos equalis to revert back to egg-laying.

CONCLUSION

  In conclusion, my opponent has not even touched his burden of proof. He has failed to understand the science and failed to demonstrate that his examples are comparable to human evolution. Evolution happens, and it accounts for Human evolution, all the way to the dawn of Eukaryota, which my opponent accepts when he says he "doesn't deny we evolved from microbes.". I have provided three solid examples, all of which my opponent has failed to refute, and the two examples he has provided do not support his case, and have been thoroughly refuted as arguments for his position.

Round 5
Pro
Thank you Sum1hugme for your response and convenient sectioning of our main points, which I shall likewise follow.  I hope you take this as recognition of your writing skills and not my own lack of originality.

THE BURDEN 

“my opponent must provide a better explanation than the mechanisms of Neo-Darwinism ... my opponent must present an alternative model ... If he accepts that we evolved from microbes, then he is accepting Neo-Darwinism as an explanation for that fact”
I reassert that this is not true and once again refer everyone to the debate description at the top of the page:

“this debate is not about what this factor is”
My acceptance of microbe-to-man evolution does not mean I have to accept Neo-Darwinism as the entire explanation for this evolution.  Otherwise this debate could not exist because it's literally defined as a debate about whether Neo-Darwinism can explain microbe-to-man evolution.  I regret that we have entered the realm of semantics, so let me once again refer to the debate description at the top of the page:

“In any case, this debate is not about what this factor is, only that it must exist for microbes to have evolved into humans, because mutation and natural selection are insufficient explanations.”
1. Beneficial mutations

“My opponent has made no attempt to define what he means by “beneficial” mutations.”
I apologize for my opponent's failure to notice that I posted this in the last round, defining what I meant:

“So explicitly defining the ladder as fitness for a particular environment erases any confusion caused by my opponent's fallacy.

Fitness in a specific environment is an objective measurement.  So the ladder concept is also objective.”
Beneficial mutations are those which increase fitness in the current environment.

“the fact that there is a high mutation rate observed necessarily entails that there would be a higher rate of “beneficial” mutations. A high mutational rate is all that has to be demonstrated.”
This is a logically unsound argument, since it is a fallacy to conclude that a high overall mutation rate “necessarily” entails a high beneficial mutation rate instead of just a high neutral or even harmful mutation rate.  Harmful mutations tend to cause extinction, not evolution, so you have to turn up the beneficial mutation rate as well.  When people die from exposure to lethal levels of radiation we say they were killed by harmful mutations, not killed by evolution.

2. Rapid Evolution in Microbes

“This study provided two examples that refute my opponent’s claim of low mutation rates.”
This is literally the previous point framed as if it's a new point.  If the paper referenced any concrete number relating to beneficial mutation rates, 2 rounds slipped past without either of us seeing such a citation.  Perhaps it is your trump card being saved for the last turn when I can no longer respond.

3. Evolution isn’t a Ladder

“a beneficial mutation in one environment is a step down the ladder in another environment. So, using a ladder analogy is not useful. My opponent’s definition enshrines this arbitrariness”
This is just a continuation of my opponent's attack on the distinction between harmful and beneficial mutations.  This position can be exposed as absurdity by observing how it requires that there be no way to label a mutation which causes one to sprout 7 heads and then instantly die as “harmful”.

4. Shifting the Burden of Proof

I don’t have to demonstrate they aren’t if my opponent’s positive claim that they are representative isn’t substantiated.
This is an interesting play; the far less mentally-taxing strategy of calling my numbers “unrepresentative” instead of calculating your own at any point during the past 4 rounds.

“The major uncounted variable is the absence of a predator, or any other species to compete with.  It is well known that competition is a huge driver of evolution.”
The trillions of microbes are competing with themselves, just like the first microbes ever to exist had to do.  Malaria in particular has to fight human white blood cells.  Even though you've waited until the last round where I cannot respond I invite you to at least try quantifying what effect these things would have on the numbers I calculated in the first round.  Even a ballpark estimate would do.

5. Single-Celled to Multi-Celled

 “this multicellularity is heritable. All of the new organisms' offspring are multicellular, not unicellular”
This is a fancy way of saying the cells tended to stay in clumps.  Of course after the daughter cells come into existence within the blob of jelly they will not tend to swim away as individuals, but drag others along with them once a portion does manage to break away.

“Organisms require organs, of which there were none”
  This is patently false. 

Organism - An individual animal, plant, or single-celled life form.
I misspoke; the correct phrase should be: “Organisms require organs or organelles, of which there were none”

If one has a mass of creatures, each of which can live perfectly fine once removed from the blob, the most fundamental requirement to label this entire thing as a distinct organism is to be able to point at any two of its constituents and explain how they are performing different functions for the whole.  But in this case that cannot be done, because all we have is an amorphous glob of identical cells, all of whom reproduce individually.  There is no function or arrangement to be found anywhere in the jelly, and it is no more a new animal than a handful of bullfrog eggs.  At least in the case of the bullfrog eggs, there is some variation in the form of sexual dimorphism. 

6. Epigenetic Inheritance is Evolution

“I’ll grant it is a change in phenotype, but my opponent does not realize that Epigenetic Inheritance is a mechanism of evolution. So the fact that this phenotype is inheritable is still an example of evolution. ”
Epigenetics does not modify DNA so unless my DNA is identical to that of the microbe that got me sick the other day, it isn't the missing factor that's needed to explain how microbes evolved into people.

“What I do deny is that the live-birthers would not be able to switch to egg-laying if transported into the environment of the egg-layers.”
  Perhaps my opponent could attempt to substantiate this conjecture in his closing. Please demonstrate what environment would cause Saiphos equalis to revert back to egg-laying.
The same environment where the egg-layers are.  Is there even a different answer I could have given to that question?

CONCLUSION

I win.
Con
  Thank you for this debate. My apologies to the judges if I'm beating a dead horse here.

THE BURDEN

  My opponent has constantly attempted in this debate to shift his burden of proof onto me. Asserting that there is some "missing mechanism" of evolution without ever connecting his only supposed evidence to human evolution. He just asserts that his examples are relevant without ever substantiating the connection. Not to mention, it took like two rounds to even get the resolution stated clearly. 

  My opponent has not demonstrated that there is a missing mechanism in the Modern Synthesis.

1. Beneficial Mutations

"Beneficial mutations are those which increase fitness in the current environment"  
  Like I said, the fact that you have to define beneficial mutations according to the environment means that evolution isn't a ladder.

"...so you have to turn up the beneficial mutation rate as well. "
  You actually don't. It only takes one beneficial mutation to spread throughout a population rapidly. It doesn't take a high rate of beneficial mutations. 

"This is a logically unsound argument, since it is a fallacy to conclude that a high overall mutation rate “necessarily” entails a high beneficial mutation rate..."
  Higher overall mutation rate = higher beneficial mutation rate. That's just simple logic. If you have a bag with red and blue marbles and you don't know how many there are of each, increasing the number of marbles will necessarily increase the number of blue and red marbles, if their color is determined randomly.

2. Rapid Evolution in Microbes

  My opponent wanted a counter example to substantiate my contention that mutators are actually not very rare. I provided that counter example, and my opponent's hand waving dismissal does not even attempt to engage with this devastating evidence against his case

3. Evolution isn’t a Ladder

  Beneficial is determined by the environment, that makes a step up in a step down the ladder arbitrary to the environment. That means that the ladder concept is not useful for describing reality because not all mutations are going to act the same way in every environment. 

4. Single-celled to multi-celled

  One of the most egregious failures by my opponent in thisdebate has been to completely not understand this point.

"This is a fancy way of saying the cells tended to stay in clumps. Of course after the daughter cells come into existence within the blob of jelly they will not tend to swim away as individuals, but drag others along with them once a portion does manage to break away."
  This is just wrong and indicates that my opponent has not even checked my source. "...an external membrane is visible around both evolved multicellular colonies, indicating that they formed clonally via repeated cell division within the cluster, rather than via aggregation."

  Obviously they did not aggregate together as my opponents suggest, they formed clonally via cell division within a membrane not by clumping together.

"I misspoke; the correct phrase should be: “Organisms require organs or organelles, of which there were none”"
  The individual cells within the membrane are the organs of the animal. It is a distinct animal and fits the definition of organism.

5. Epigenetics

"...so unless my DNA is identical to that of the microbe that got me sick the other day, it isn't the missing factor that's needed to explain how microbes evolved into people." 
  My opponent has not demonstrated that there even is a missing mechanism, and when asked for something more than conjecture we only received conjectureBefore us here is a clear non sequitur. The conclusion doesn't follow from the premise.

  I requested that my opponent substantiate his claim that Saiphos equalis will revert back to egg laying if his environment is changed. My opponent responded with only conjecture and no evidence:

"The same environment where the egg-layers are. Is there even a different answer I could have given to that question"
  Yes, some evidence would have been a perfect answer.

CONCLUSION

  In conclusion, my opponent, from the beginning failed to state a clear resolution, has constantly attempted to shift the burden of proof, and has completely failed to refute my evidence and arguments against him.

VOTE CON!

I hope there aren't too many spelling errors here.