Understanding Evolution: What is Natural Selection?

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“When it was introduced in the 1940s, penicillin was a miracle drug, especially effective at curing infections caused by the bacterium Staphylococcus aureus (‘staph’). In 1941, the drug could wipe out every strain of staph in the world. Now, seventy years later, more than 95% of staph strains are resistant to penicillin.”

— Dr. Jerry Coyne, ‘Why Evolution is True’

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In ‘Why Evolution is True’, Dr. Coyne used this example in the chapter entitled, “The Engine of Evolution.” The engine he’s referring to is none other than natural selection, and this little insight regarding the adaptability (evolution) of Staphylococcus aureus is excellent evidence for the theory of evolution by natural selection. It’s my go-to “proof,” if you will, when someone asks me to provide proof of evolution because (a) it’s simple and easy to understand, (b) it definitively shows that an organism can adapt to a new environment (in this case, a human body injected with penicillin), (c) it doesn’t require any discourse regarding fossils or the fossil record (which is probably the best evidence for evolution, but it’s very difficult to explain fossil evidence to someone who wants to “see” evolution if you don’t have fossils on hand!), and (d) bacteria are excellent for ‘showing’ evolution in action because they reproduce quickly, meaning that they can potentially evolve much faster than, say, a dog or a dolphin.

Let’s expand on point (d) for further clarification:

Bacteria can reproduce in as little as 20 minutes, so if you leave some bacteria alone for 24 hours, they will have gone through 72 generations. 72 generations in regards to a human generation (~25 years) is equivalent to ~1800 years. So, you can see that, in bacteria, you can get a good amount of change in a very short amount of time. In regards to the above example (Staphylococcus aureus and penicillin), the bacteria had 70 years to evolve and become resistant. That’s equivalent to, if I did my math correctly… ~74,000 human generations, which would be about 1.8 million years for us! To put that in perspective, our species, Homo sapiens, has only been around for about 200,000 years, and Homo erectus, a long extinct hominin of our genus, would have still been walking around that many years ago! And, 1.8 million years just so happens to coincide with the approximate distance you’d have to travel into the past to see the first hominids make their way out of Africa!

Now, I’d like to point out a statement made by a famous biologist, geneticist and Nobel Prize winner, Jacques Monod: “A curious aspect of the theory of evolution is that everybody thinks they understands it.”

I added that quote for an important reason, and now I’d like those who have little to no background in evolutionary theory to stop for a moment, take a breath, and forget everything you think you know about evolution — notable exceptions being what I wrote in the first two paragraphs! I say this because many people believe they know exactly what the phrase “evolution by natural selection” means. You may have heard people talk about it, or maybe it was being discussed on the news. For many, the words “random” and “chance” (or “random chance”) come to mind. Also, the phrase “survival of the fittest” may pop into your head along with the notion that natural selection is some type of force (dynamism is the word I hear too much of in this respect). Forget all of these things. None of these things are true. “Survival of the fittest” is technically *close* to the truth, but not a truth in and of itself. Now, let us “define” (describe) natural selection.

According to the book, “Why Evolution is True,” “The idea of natural selection is not hard to grasp. If individuals within a species differ genetically from one another, and some of those differences affect an individual’s ability to survive and reproduce in its environment, then in the next generation, the “good” genes that lead to higher survival and reproduction will have relatively more copies than the “not so good” genes. Over time, the population will gradually become more and more suited to its environment as helpful mutations arise and spread through the population, while deleterious ones are weeded out. Ultimately, this process produces organisms that are well adapted to their habitats and way of life.”

To show you how simple of a process this is, let’s take a look at a hypothetical example in nature (I say “hypothetical,” but it’s entirely plausible that something similar to this has or could have occurred).

Picture in your mind a stick insect. Now, imagine that this stick insect carries a gene mutation which makes it somewhat more “stick like” than another similar stick insect. That is to say, your imagined stick insect is better camouflaged than another stick insect. It follows, then, that the stick insect which is somewhat better camouflaged, that is better adapted to its environment, will have a better chance to survive and reproduce than the other stick insect. Ultimately, the better-camouflaged is less likely to be seen and thereby eaten by a predator such as a bird. When this stick insect reproduces, it’s likely to pass on this “good” mutated gene to its offspring. These offspring will then be better camouflaged (adapted) and therefore more likely to survive and reproduce. They’ll produce more offspring, who will produce more offspring, and so on and so forth. Over a long period of time, the stick insects with the original gene mutation will come to outnumber those without it due to being better adapted to their environment, i.e., in this example, they are less likely to be eaten by predators and therefore more likely to survive, allowing them to produce more offspring. These stick insects are then said to have been “naturally selected” as they are more adapted to their environment (they are “fitter”) than their predecessors, making them more likely to survive and reproduce. So, essentially, the phrase should be “survival of the ‘fitter’,” not “survival of the fittest.”

Now, the reader may have noticed that I’ve yet to define or describe evolution itself. I realize this, and I also realize that it’s quite unorthodox to begin a series on evolution by describing natural selection. But, it’s been my experience that most of the controversy and confusion surrounding evolution regards natural selection. In the future, we will go more in depth into evolutionary theory, but I hope this post has dispelled any misconceptions you may (or may not) have had regarding natural selection, and I sincerely hope that you’ve learned a thing or two that you can go and share with others!

365 thoughts on “Understanding Evolution: What is Natural Selection?

    • Daniel Holm

      Whatever did not adapt, is not around anymore? If you remove adaptation, you have extinction. So if evolution = extinction, perhaps it is not adaptation, then…. or?

      It is a semantical problem?

      “Adaptation refers to both the current state of being adapted and to the dynamic evolutionary process that leads to the adaptation.”

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adaptation

      Reply
    • Oliver Rogers

      Not necessarily, there may be lifeforms that have existed in its current form for millions of years (though I’m surely no evolutionist) or perhaps hundreds of thousands of years (us) that haven’t changed or adapted, yet are not extinct.

      Reply
    • Daniel Holm

      “there may be lifeforms that have existed in its current form for millions of years…”

      They may also be created by Jehova. Do we have any evidence in support of either? :)

      Reply
    • Franklin Moses

      For an organism to adapt,it must develop and sustain some adaptive features. This is why the leaves and barks of trees on driedlands are different from those of their kind in rain forests. This happens in animals too,humans inclusive. How would you explain that if ya sayin adaptation isn’t evolution?

      Reply
    • Shawn Brady

      Kay DS, can you expand on that? You’re about midway up the triangle there, which is better than many. But ideally you’d even closer to the apex, aiming for the very tippy top :)

      Reply
    • Jon Lemerond

      Evolution is constant! You are different than your parents, your kids will be different than you. These are tiny changes, but they are changes that add up over time. There are no creatures that breed sexually which remain unchanged. Sometimes there is minimal environmental pressure for drastic changes an that can keep a species with a consistent morphology over a long period of time, but those creatures are still evolving, even if their appearance does not seem to have altered significantly over long periods of time.

      Reply
      • Khan

        So when I hear corporate scientists in public spaces talk about fish like sharks that are “the oldest on the planet and have remained the same over time” – help me understand that.

        Reply
    • rmthunter

      Adaptation is one of the processes involved in evolution so in a very real sense, adaptation is, indeed, evolution — or at least, part of it.

      Reply
    • Shawn Brady

      You’re still misunderstanding what evolution is. It seems that you are alluding to the artificial ad hoc differentiation between “microevolution” and “macroevolution”. There is no known limit to the processes that act in the short-term, such as developing the resistance to penicillin. These same processes work to produce “macroevolution”. The only difference is amount of time to act upon the genetic bases. Relatively small changes in genotype can produce relatively large changes in phenotype.

      Reply
    • Daniel Holm

      It sounds like people arguing that there is no Megaverse or Multiverse, based on the fact that there is UNI in Universe, which show us how there can be only one. Grown ups do this. Makes me giggle and cry simultaneously.

      Reply
    • From Quarks to Quasars

      Shawn is correct. See the article and sources about the time required for macroevolution.

      Macro and microevolution describe processes that are fundamentally identical, just on different time scales.

      And many scientists have documented how one species evolves into another; and internet search will yield many, many results.

      Reply
    • From Quarks to Quasars

      Daniel, that is a faulty comparison. As I said, macro and microevolution describe processes that are fundamentally identical, just on different time scales.

      The physics behind a multiverse is vastly different than the physics of a universe i.e., they involve different mathematics, forces etc.

      Reply
    • Daniel Holm

      Uhm, I was discussing human language and only human language, and how humans often think their specific words in a specific language, will bind reality into being something that fits the description. Not physics as such?

      You can’t tell me there is only one universe, based on the name being Universe and not Multiverse, and completely skip any evidence or logic beyond that? :)

      Reply
    • Daniel Holm

      “As I said, macro and microevolution describe processes that are fundamentally identical, just on different time scales.”

      That was my point, kind of. Better to describe a PROCESS, than to describe a WORD we have made up to describe a process we do not comprehend.

      If people get bogged down in Language instead of Evidence, which should work in all languages, it might not be good. Perhaps I underestimate the ability of humans to force reality into conforming with our ideas, by naming it things. Magic.

      Reply
    • Bob Leavitt

      oh I think we understand evolution is not a theory outside of religious circles where faith is a key component of truth rather than evidence ..which is fine as long as they stick to religion and don’t teach science based on it

      Reply
    • Dennis Vlaeminck

      Most of the time it’s a gradual change like skin color changing. Don’t expect any new limbs soon, unless you screw up your genetic code and who knows what you turn in to, usually something that isn’t beneficial at least…

      Reply
    • Daniel Holm

      Evolution seem obvious to me, after my MSc in veterinary medicine. Possibly because some kind of Science of Religion effect, which has led to irrational belief in empirical facts witnessed with my own eyes… due to reality being Holographic…? Hmm….

      Reply
    • Robert Castillo

      Robert Castillo Robert Castillo Natural selection? ever since man wants to fly but they can’t grow wings. Ostrich wanted too but its wings remains the same, skimos still hunts bear for their fur.
      If millions of years takes place for a chimpanzee to evolve into human, therefore “ALL” chimpanzee should have evolved into human and now why their still chimpanzee? where is the logic? where is the link?
      The fact that you can not present an authentic physical remains of your common ancestor, evolution remains an illusion

      Reply
    • Daniel Holm

      Oh my, Robert Castillo. That was some fun satire, or evidence of how Evolution is a gradual process, and some still need to reach Chimpanzee level, perhaps!?

      Everything that is alive today, have evolved on this planet for about as long, supposedly. Unless you believe in continuous Panspermia or something? I would assume that any exo-planetary seed that theoretically hit us now, would have a hard time finding a nieche for basic life to happen all over again, without being wiped out by Earthlings.

      What is your alternative? I can evolve bacteria in 24 hours in a petri-dish, a little bit (apply evolutionary pressure through external stressors and watch them struggle through generations to mutate past the obstacle). Even more so given more time. What is it you fail to comprehend? Have you tried going through the very extensive Wiki on Evolution? It is divided into Topics, even.

      Evolution is not driven by INTENT, it is driven by ENVIRONMENT. Your DNA is a map of past generations’ environmental interactions, not past wishes. Yes? :)

      Reply
    • Manan Sukarto

      Evolution also randoms. Not linear. sometimes they evolves not because they want to, or environment forces to. and not every species have benefit for they evolve.

      In nature, if species cant survive in current environment, they’ll die. If environment changing gradually they need to evolve if they want to stay.

      Reply
    • rmthunter

      Taxonomy is a human invention. It’s still staph until some taxonomist decides to change the name of the basis of characteristics that differ from the original staph — such as resistance to penicillin.

      Reply
  1. Jet Black

    Adaptation is not the gradual creation of a new species in response to living conditions. But really scientific how you guys oversimplify a complex process.

    Reply
    • Christine Martinez

      No offense, but I think your opinions would be better appreciated on a less realistic page. Perhaps a religious one? For those of us who enjoy science, you ruin the fun by not being logical and rational.

      Reply
    • Stephen Duran

      Einstein’s theory of relativity; shook the world of science; why? It proved that time is relative. It shattered the idea of uniformitarianism which states that time and existence as we know it has always been the same. Relativity proves that uniformitarianism (the main doctrine of Evolution) was never uniform to begin with. In other words, even if there was a “primordial soup” it never had the “millions and billions and trillions” of years which was first proposed. There were no millions of billions of cooking primordial soup. It never happened.

      Reply
    • Stephen Duran

      Evolution, the theory in its entirety, assumes that abiogenesis occurred in free floating acids. You know, what we were indoctrinated in school into believing -elements to chemicals to proteins to bacteria to fish to bananas to broccoli to apple trees to monkeys to people over millions and billions of years.

      Reply
    • Deborah Therese Freid II

      Those half-informed should not speak with the confidence of those armed with actual facts. You, sir, are oversimplifying the “theory.” Tell us all what facts you have to support your counter argument. Please.

      Reply
    • Robert Castillo

      Robert Castillo Natural selection? ever since man wants to fly but they can’t grow wings. Ostrich wanted too but its wings remains the same, skimos still hunts bear for their fur.
      If millions of years takes place for a chimpanzee to evolve into human, therefore “ALL” chimpanzee should have evolved into human and now why their still chimpanzee? where is the logic? where is the link?
      The fact that you can not present an authentic physical remains of your common ancestor, evolution remains an illusion

      Reply
  2. Armin Otto

    It is Evolution. The adaptation happened because some staphs survived, while many others were killed. That is natural selection. Then surviving staphs gave their properties to the next generation, making more staphs resistant. What is that if not evolution?

    Reply
  3. Matthew Levy

    “Why Evolution Is True” is among my favorite science books. I have read it many times. It really does a fantastic job of explaining the major independent lines of proof of evolution succinctly and in terms a non-scientist can understand. I highly recommend it to all, particularly to you, Patrick.

    Reply
  4. Cheryl Juarez

    I have a lot of conservative right friends from highschool. For every climate change meme I see, I see five more climate change denial memes. The arctic ice grew this winter, proves climate change is a hoax! I don’t much understand how such smart people can be so easily led in the wrong direction of common sense. But they are…. When I search google for irrefutable proof of the climate change I’m finding equal amounts of hoax proof. The world is a mess and this campaign to keep us confused and debating amongst ourselves is a huge problem!

    Reply
    • Lee Turner

      This is a problem in within most science. It is about how people receive and search for their information. If you look in general for what the internet say you will come across whatever is most vocal, in this case the posts of your friends. If you search for peer reviewed literature your search will lead you to an overwhelming in favor of climate change and evolution. The problem is that science papers are not in an easily digestible format and require a greater understanding within that field. You will get nowhere if you look for ‘irrefutable proof’, the basis of science is that nothing is 100% correct, even the fact that we are alive, or a table is solid is not completely conclusive. With such complex systems such as climate change or evolution it is not a simple yes or no, there are a whole range of factors throughout the idea; how great effect will it have, what are the possesses involved and how do they operate (lots of which are far from conclusive). It is this that people use to dispute a theory they don’t like, just because we don’t no everything about a subject they say it is not true. Whenever there is a major theory which disputes peoples style of living or in-bedded beliefs there is always going to be a resistance. You just have to consider who you want to believe, the scientific community or your uninformed friend
      (sorry about the rant and excuses the english)

      Reply
    • Robert Streander Jr

      Lee, you forgot to mention the factor about the fact that many of these “scientists” survive on government grants, which award these grants to scientists inclined to agree with what the government through it’s agenda wants the people to think. Remember the “fixing” of worldwide temperature averages by scientists so that it would reflect the global warmer crowd, and when they got caught, and could no longer get away with that, and the ensuing actual data having to be used, suddenly the earth was no longer “warmng”, but actually cooling, and the name changed to “climate change”. When you find that even the scientists lie for money, trust is gone and you are wasting your time debating it.

      Reply
    • Bobby McDaniel

      Actually, Robert, what they found was that the global average temperature rising created more extreme weather patterns… ie colder winters, hotter summers, extreme storms, etc… and though average global temperatures are rising, climate change made more sense to morons who don’t understand the difference between local weather patterns and global temperatures.

      Reply
      • Khan

        Much of the climate change you see is artificial – not caused by ordinary weather, and global warming, but by geoengineering. Geoengineering is an actual thing, and is used to manipulate weather patterns. The science, patents and information about how it works and is being used is readily available for you to review.

        But, most global warming enthusiasts want to cling to their religion of false data as provided by liars in the corporate science community who were exposed.

        The real reason is geoengineering.

        Reply
  5. Johnny Boye

    hahahaha…and its still staph hahahahha tougher staph tougher penicillins hahahahha..after trillions and trillions of laborotory events..not a single…anything ….has changed into a cat or dog hahahahha..nor anything else hahahahahha nor in a trillion years of evolutinuts history

    Reply
    • From Quarks to Quasars

      Oh dear. You think that scientists can preform lab experiments and transform bacteria into a cat or dog O. o You don’t need a lot of *experiments* for evolution to take place; you need a lot of *time.*

      You should definitely read the article that is attached to the post. The link is listed at the bottom :)

      Science on,
      Jolene

      Reply
    • Johnny Boye

      its called exageration..and so far nothing has changed into anything else anywhere at anytime in anyones lab..with the 100 million greatest scientists at the greatest labs and colleges do trillions and trillions of experiments annually..not ONE..not one amoeba jumped up and said merry CHRISTmas

      Reply
    • Bryant Baker

      Yes because a process thats suppose to take millions of years to produce truly new species is just gonna happen quickly because its in a lab experiment, besides if you really want to get picky about it the changed bacteria in labs ‘are’ different species or at least sub-species compared to what they were

      Reply
    • From Quarks to Quasars

      What Bryant said. It requires *TIME* not a lot of experiments. Thanks, Bryant.

      Johnny, but it did say, “May the Flying Spaghetti Monster Bless you with much spaghetti,” which was kind of neat.

      Science on,
      Jolene

      Reply
    • Stephen Duran

      Einstein’s theory of relativity; shook the world of science; why? It proved that time is relative to the mass, velocity and position of the observer. It shattered the idea of uniformitarianism which states that *TIME* and existence as we know it has alway been the same. Relativity proves that uniformitarianism (the main doctrine of Evolution) is NOT uniform…

      *TIME* is not passing at the same speed as before, what seemed like millions and billions and trillions of years of *TIME* to us was not really that long at all. In other words, even if there was a “primordial soup” it never had the*TIME* which was first proposed needed for “Abiogenesis”. There were no millions of billions of years of slow cooking primordial soup. It never happened.

      Reply
    • Randy Phillips

      Stephen, congratulations, you have demonstrated a lack of understanding of two basic accepted theories in two completely different areas of science. You are misinformed in biology AND physics.

      Relativity does not say that time used to flow at a different rate in the past, or even suggest that is possible. That still assumes a static background of time flowing at a specific rate. How you perceive mass and time varies with your relationship relative to the object being compared. On Earth, we observe with our senses a relatively stable relationship with other objects also on Earth. the changes due to velocities we can achieve here on the planet are measurable but miniscule and are not a significant factor in the observation of changes on Earth. Any changes in the flow of time would impact all objects and observers nearly identically and thus be unnoticed. So unless you are implying that all the quarks that make us up have been moving at significant fractions of c, relative to each other and every other quark on the planet and nearby space, relativity does NOT say that the measured elapsed time since past events didn’t really happen.

      Reply
  6. Bobby Hons

    They have used time in experiments with bacteria.

    Generations in its own right is considered time since evolution is based on natural selection.

    50 year controlled experiment and no evolutionary change.

    Micro and macro evolution haven’t been connected.

    Resistance isn’t proof of evolution.

    Only proof is that we can lose not gain.

    This was 3 years ago.

    Also I there was solid proof it would be on the front of every scientific journal.

    Were on the right track but evolution has a lot of holes.

    Reply
  7. Scott Halpern

    We do know Patrick.

    There are mountains of archeological, anatomical and genetic evidence supporting evolution.. 290,000 plus peer reviewed papers (many more than supporting the theory of gravity)

    Reply
  8. Bulama Abubakar

    Adaptation and evolution are two separate things,adaptation is the ability of an organism to survive unfavourable changes and conditions in its environment,while evolution is descent with modification of not only some cells but also entire organs,that may result in an entirely different organism,which may look totally different from its predecessors e.g. Man and Gorilla!There is no such striking difference or even nuance between the Staphylococcus aereus of 1940 and the one of 2014,what happened was that they‘ve developed resistance against the unfavourable condition in the environment which is Penicilin but their size neither increase nor reduce,their shape is still cocci and not rod or spiral.

    Reply
  9. Jarieth Ledemay A. Sanopao

    out of my curiousity, just a simple understanding of mine how can evolution be true (e.g apes to human) if until now apes still existing, they must evolve to be “human”, for many many years had past. ; if that is the case ????

    Reply
    • rmthunter

      The key concept is “common ancestor.” Apes didn’t “turn into” into humans — both modern apes and humans evolved from a common ancestor. In the case of humans and chimpanzees, if I remember correctly, the common ancestor existed about 8 million years ago — there were no chimpanzees then, just as there were no humans. There was a creature whose descendants became both over the next few million years.

      Reply
      • Khan

        So tell us more of this common ancestor. Has there been any proof of its existence – some shred that might give you that idea?

        Who came up with the 8-million years figure? Why not 7 million – hell why not 6? Maybe it was 10-million … or a billion? How was the rate of change determined as “over the next few million years” ?

        Hell maybe there was an ET intervention – oh right, no one in the universe is as smart as Earth scientists who are only tinkering children with their knowledge of genetics … Why do the Sumerian artifacts mention such an ET intervention … oh that was all just fairy tales …

        Reply
        • rmthunter

          There are a number of ancestral forms of various lineages in the fossil record — that is, forms that show traits exhibited by various species that are probably their descendants.

          Who came up with the figure? Geneticists. Geneticists are really clever people — they’ve managed to figure out the rates of change in genes using a mathematical model that takes into account the probability of mutations, the length of generations, the time it takes a given mutation to work its way into the general population, etc.

          Combine the two — genetics and the fossil record — and you get a good idea of what the common ancestors were like and when they existed. Throw in a dose of molecular biology and it gets even easier to figure out who’s related to who.

          Of course, one thing that might give you difficulty in this whole thing is that it requires logic and rational analysis of the evidence. Maybe you should stick with ET.

          Reply
          • Khan

            So you have some ideas that *seem* to make sense but you’re saying that in actuality you have no real proof?

            I can show more proof of ETs than you can for evolution. Even ancient man recognized this, it’s all over the world in ancient texts and monuments that specifically state it. Oh that’s right, ancient mankind was nothing but idiots. They could never touch what we have today in “modern science”.

            None of the archaeological evidence specifically points to a proof of evolution, except what we know about how species do seem to evolve over time, but like I say it does not seem to be a black or white consistency, very random and the supposed rates of change are still only theoretical, mathematic but not fully proven, even less so than what we have for evidence of ETs.

          • rmthunter

            Creationist: “You have a gap in the fossil record — where’s the missing link?”

            Scientist: “We’ve discovered a new fossil that fills in that gap.”

            Creationist: “See? Now you have two missing links!”

            Stick with the ETs. You seem to get more satisfaction from mysterious aliens than from science.

            Although I have to admit it’s been fun — I actually learned something about coelacanths. It’s called “research.” You should try it.

          • Khan

            I am not a creationist in the religious sense, but I don’t think it is a stretch to suppose that ETs could have been those attributed to as “God” or “gods”.

            I have no more proof of that than you do about a supposed “proto-hominid ancestor”.

            Seems plausible that maybe it was ET who created your proto-hominid ancestor. Why not?

            If we can catalog genomes and manipulate them – who’s to say Earthers are the only ones who could do so. Why would that seem so far fetched?

          • rmthunter

            “Seems plausible that maybe it was ET who created your proto-hominid ancestor. Why not?”

            But you are arguing for creationism.

          • Khan

            Creationism is a religious belief system based upon stories from The Bible. Creationism argues for instantaneous creation inside of specific time frames described in the bible – all done by deities or a deity.

            I think ancient man distorted the actions of higher beings, who may have been geneticists and scientists – who masqueraded as gods.

            I cannot argue for creationism in a religious context.

          • rmthunter

            Creationism is not purely Christian — there are Hindu and Muslim creationists as well.

            Your ascribing the creation of humanity and/or its ancestors to “higher beings.” That’s creationism.

  10. Almontasar Nage

    @Jarieth, your question has long been answered. You’d find it if you aren’t lazy to do some research. However, the problem is, you’re not asking for an answer, you think you’re refuting evolution by asking that question!

    Reply
    • From Quarks to Quasars

      Neeraj Mourani you have to understand first what a scientific theory is. It is not what you hear on an every day basis. Gravity is a thoery, Germs are still a theory, Helicentric Model (where the sun is at the center of the Solar System) is a theory and so on.

      Julio

      Reply
      • rmthunter

        Theories are the way science collects and organizes the evidence to form a coherent explanation of various phenomena. Please understand that science is not structured to “prove” anything. The way it works is that you try to disprove things (hypotheses). If you can’t, then you accept it as true for the time being, since there’s always the chance that more evidence will turn up that does disprove it.

        If you want answers carved in stone, stick to religion. The universe is constantly changing; science is just doing its best to keep up.

        Reply
    • Grey Fox

      Law: An observation that will always happen. The laws of physics tell us that two objects will exert an attractive force between them (assuming the constraints of our universe).

      Theory: The explanation of a law. Researching and experimenting the above phenomena would yield the Theory of Gravity.

      There is no hierarchy from Theory to Law.

      Reply
  11. Sylvia Foster

    I only see micro evolution is scientific and has actual evidence to back it up, but macro evolution to me is a pseudo science. There is not enough actual scientific evidence to back it up, we have no evidence to indicate that species evolve from one to another through random procesess, where is the evidence? I rather hear scientists say the truth and admit that they haven´t found the answers yet instead of accepting macro evolution as truth.

    Reply
    • Austin Daniel Byrnes

      Remove the words “micro” and “macro” and your comment becomes nothing but rambling.
      Don’t bother putting them back in because there is no scientific distinction between “micro” and “macro” evolution, those are made up terms used to create loaded questions.

      Reply
    • From Quarks to Quasars

      Sylvia Foster, macro evolution is not pseudoscience, we have a lot of eveidence showing it. Species did at one point have common ancestors just like cats and tigers at one point had a common ancestor and so did the wolf and dog. To understand this you also have to understand the concept of time. We (people/humans) cannot observe macroevolution within our timeframe because we do not live long enough to see it happen. It takes millions of years for this to occur. It is a rather complex thing to understand but the evidence is there for you to see, you just have to look more into it. You can check the link and resources we have provided, but keep in mind that you won’t be able to understand it all through one article or even in a day. But if you look into it and want to know the answers they are there for you. Another thing, is that genetics confirmed evolution to be true. It would have taken just one fossil within the human process for it to all be debunked yet it has not happened. Modern Biology is extremely dependant of evolution. Without evolution we would not be living as long as we live today, scientists wouldnt be able to predict the things that they do now within biology if it were not because of evolution. It’s all there, but its a matter of people looking into it.

      Julio

      Reply
    • Sylvia Foster

      Rambling? Are you serious? That is your best answer? lol!!!!!!! you have no evidence to support the evolution ofone species into another species, there is not sufficient envidence in the fossil records to support it. We have only found that species evolve within the same species, we don´t see animals, plants and bacteria turning into something else completely different. Oh and telling people who question scienntific theories as “rambling” is immature. Just like science asks people not to blindly believe everything they read, the same goes for science itself. I am just simply not convinced by the theory and that is perfectly ok. If science finds more overwhelming evidence that species evolve into other species through random processes I will gladly accept, but until now I am not convinced and I will not apologise for it. If you have something mature to answer back ok, if not and you or anyone else here start to bother me only becasue I question things you will be blocked, I have better things to do then deal with trolls.

      Reply
      • Thomas Fisher

        You aren’t questioning evolution, you are denying the evidence we have provided you, and you change the definition of evolution (as well as come up with nonscientific terms, like micro and macroevolution) to prove a point. That is called a logical fallacy. Evolution has more evidence supporting it than gravity. DNA alone proved common descent. The fossil record only adds icing to the cake. Not to mention we have SEEN speciation (one species becoming another) both in the wild and in laboratory conditions. The fact that you close your mind to the evidence is not the fault of science.

        It’s not like it matters too much, though. The good thing about evolution is, it’s true, regardless of what you believe.

        By the way, there is no such thing as an in-between species. I have no idea where you got that idea from. Every species if a full species in and of itself. There is no such thing, nor will there ever be, as an in-between species. It’s just like saying there is an in-between language. It doesn’t work like that. Languages, like organisms, change over time. A latin-speaking mother didn’t give berth to a spanish-speaking child. The language changed over time, and eventually became spanish, which is not mutually intelligible with latin or any other latin-derived language.

        Just look at the different between American and British English. There is quite a bit of change between these two different varieties of English. Eventually, they may become their own separate languages.

        The fact of the matter is, just because you don’t understand evolution, doesn’t make it false.

        Reply
    • Jon Lemerond

      Yes, from one species to another. From one group of animals into two different groups of animals that are incapable of breeding with each other anymore. That is what speciation means.

      Reply
      • Broadway_Baby

        I may be misunderstanding your point, but speciation doesn’t happen by a parent giving birth to a new species that can no longer breed with its siblings (ignoring the icky incest). Take, for example, the Herring Gull Dawkin’s cites in The Blind Watchmaker. These gulls circle the northern hemisphere, with minor variations from colony to colony not distinct enough to rule out breeding; but by the time you’ve circled the globe the differences in the gulls are enough to make breeding impossible with gulls further back the modification timeline. That’s a new species (and pretty damn good evidence of macro evolution happening in front of us to boot).

        Reply
    • Sylvia Foster

      @daltoin if you act rude to me one more time I will block you, no reason to act like a jackass with a complete stranger who has done nothing to you but have a different opinion.

      Reply
    • Sylvia Foster

      Ok then if the answer is time, then there must be an overwhelming amount of fossils demonstrating the smooth transitions from one species to another. Then there must be millions of fosils of inbetween species. Then the cambrian explosion wouldn´tbe considered a explosion, just a regular period. and please jon if you talk about speciation please back up with some links or a source, thank you.

      Reply
      • rmthunter

        Randy Phillips explained the problems with the fossil record — given the rarity of fossils to begin with, there’s no chance that there will be “millions” of fossils of transitional forms. Even with that, we have very clear records of some lineages — horses and hyenas, for example.

        Here’s ten pages of links on speciation for you to ignore: http://www.talkorigins.org/origins/search.html

        Reply
    • Jon Lemerond

      I will not be providing links. The reason for this that anytime I have done so in this situation the person I am sending the link to ignores the information and complains that the source is somehow unreliable, biased, or corrupt in some ridiculous way.
      Here is a list of things for you to look up at your leisure, that you will find many examples of in many locations throughout the internet:
      Ring species:
      Allopatric speciation – Greenish warblers, Ensatina salamanders, Galápagos finch
      Peripatric speciation – Hawthorn fly, Martinique’s anole, London Underground Mosquito
      That should get you going. Have fun.

      Reply
    • Randy Phillips

      Sylvia, do realize how rare fossil creation is? It is not as if every animal that ever died became a fossil. It isn’t even as if every species that ever existed left fossil evidence. Some animals lived in areas where conditions were more favorable to fossilization, others in areas where conditions were unfavorable. To expect perfect lines through the fossil record is not reasonable.
      Second, fossils are not the only evidence or even the strongest evidence of evolution, just the most well known to the lay person. (Let’s face it, dinosaurs are cool.) Watch some of the videos others have linked here, or read the article in the page-owner’s posts.
      Finally, even if every animal that ever lived had left a fossil, and we had exhumed and examined them all, you would be hard pressed to point to specific examples of such a transition. It is a long buildup of small changes, not giant leaps from bacteria to mammals (as someone suggested in a post above). More like looking at a high resolution color gradient and picking the exact shade where it stops being red and becomes orange or stops being indigo and becomes violet. We can see in the evidence, such as the genetic evidence, that we have a common ancestor with the other great apes, and further back all great apes share an ancestor with other primates, etc. back to the simplest single celled organisms. There are not “half-man/half-monkey” transitional species we could point to, and evolution does not predict that there would be. There are just the next fossil is more human-like or more modern-non-human-primate like. even if we had every individual of every species that ever lived, you would be hard pressed to point to a single individual and say “Humans started here” or “here is the first homo sapien”. Changes are just too small from individual to individual.

      Reply
    • rmthunter

      There’s tons of evidence (in the case of the fossil record, that’s literally the case). We’ve seen it in nature, we’ve watched it in the laboratory, we’ve created it ourselves (think about domestic animals and their wild predecessors).

      It might help if you drop the idea of “random processes.” The only really random part is meiosis, which is the process by which genes are replicated in reproduction, producing germ cells — in the case of animals, egg and sperm. After that, there are lots of completely non-random processes, known collectively as “environment,” which puts some pretty tight restrictions on what survives and what doesn’t.

      And which scientists have admitted that macro evolution isn’t “the truth”?

      Reply
  12. Jansen Tanu

    So people subscribe to this SCIENCE page for the laser and spaceship, but not natural selection? I smell irony…

    From my experience, people generally accept that oranges and limes share common ancestor, so do dogs and wolfs, and polar bears and grizzlies. But when you relate that to human and chimpanzee, you are branded as lunatics. It seems that the fact human are not created in super-duper-ultra dramatic way is hard too accept.

    Reply
  13. Thomas Alkærsig

    Sigh, the scientific illiteracy on this thread is absolutely astounding. The anti-evolution crowd has gotten so desperate to disprove evolution, that they’re actually trying to use other completely unrelated, and non-applicable, scientific theories to disprove it, it is rather sad to watch.

    Reply
  14. Paul Pogonoski

    Robert Castillo … Your logic is false. Humans evolved from a common relative of the apes. But not the same family. Because of this humans have traits apes don’t and vica versa. That’s one reason why apes don’t become humans. Another is the falsehood (which is a human trait) to consider apes on the lower evolutionary rung than humans. They are not.

    Reply
  15. rmthunter

    Very good explanation — the Staphylococcus example is wonderful. I’ll remember that one the next time I run into an anti-evolutionist (which I’ll admit doesn’t happen often — most of the people I know are rational).

    Reply
  16. Khan

    Perhaps there is *some* evolution … but it seems inconsistent to say a single rule applies to all living things, since some things have not evolved at all, while obviously some have.

    I think where people get hung up is the big supposition that man evolved from apes, then why are the apes still here? Shouldn’t that evolution be applied to their entire species? Obviously not. So evolution appears to be random and not consistent. Why are some species of fish still around from ancient times and did not evolve? Explain the inconsistencies.

    Reply
    • rmthunter

      The “inconsistencies” are largely imaginary.

      Humans did not evolve from apes — apes and humans have their own evolutionary histories. From their proto-hominid ancestor, humans branched off in a line that eventually became Homo sapiens (after running through a number of intermediate stages and side branches that dead ended), while the apes branched off several times and became orangutans, gorillas, and chimpanzees (with undoubtedly the same pattern of intermediate stages and side branches).

      As for those species of fish that haven’t evolved — they have. Take the coelacanths: the two species known today are identifiably coelacanths, but they are not exact matches for any coelacanth fossils — there have been noticeable changes in their morphology when living specimens are compared to the fossil record, although to the casual observer, they seem the same. The “living fossil” thing comes from the fact that the whole lineage was believed to have gone extinct over 60 million years ago. Apparently, it didn’t.

      Reply
      • Khan

        You said “humans branched off in a line that eventually became Homo sapiens (after running through a number of intermediate stages and side branches that dead ended), ”

        How was this determined? Who was the decider?

        You said “The “living fossil” thing comes from the fact that the whole lineage was believed to have gone extinct over 60 million years ago. Apparently, it didn’t.”

        Wouldn’t that be an inconsistency?

        So if “apparently it didn’t” can be applied in the living fossil explanation … then “apparently” can be applied to other inconsistencies as well.

        We could say “apparently” ETs were here and are here … We could say *ETs could have* been the reason “humans branched off in a line” … seems plausible … but without evidence it’s just as much a theory …

        I think this is the reason you have so much resistance to the theory of evolution, that while there are some plausible explanations, there is still a lot of holes in it.

        Reply
        • rmthunter

          What makes you think there was a “decider”? The evidence is there, and it’s very consistent. There are gaps in the fossil record, which have been very well filled in by genetics and molecular biology.

          “Apparently it didn’t.” Sorry — I hadn’t realized that irony was not in your repertoire. No, there’s no inconsistency at all. The lineage obviously did not go extinct. It’s just that we only recently found two living examples.

          There really are no holes in the theory of evolution. There is scientific controversy over some of the details in mechanisms, but the theory overall is solid.

          The “holes” are simply the fond wishes of people who would rather believe in ETs than evidence.

          Reply
          • Khan

            I’ll believe in your evidence when you can present it. Show me the proto-hominid ancestor(s).

          • solublefish

            Khaaaaaannnnnn –

            You won’t take a look at anything. Evolution opponents generally don’t.

            But it’s not a matter of evidence for you – you don’t want to believe because it runs counter to what you DO wish to believe.

            This same evidence that you won’t acknowledge is fueling medical advances that you have or probably will use in the future. If tangible products resulting from a theory don’t count as “evidence” for a theory’s accuracy, I’m not sure what will.

            But it doesn’t matter how much evidence you see. You can always move the goal posts and require more. You really should admit that you just don’t want to believe this.

          • Khan

            Actually went to that site that rmthunter posted. A lot of info there. Great info – will have to read up and see what’s there, although I don’t have a lot of time at this moment to digest all of it.

            As to not believing, you’re used to the majority of debaters on the net who won’t even consider an opposing viewpoint, and they won’t even go to check out the links. Some of what I scanned on the site rmthunter linked has some merit.

            Now, let’s see how much of an evolved human you are … can you be open minded and objective … go to the following site, review the material presented, including the witness testimony videos and then present an unemotional, intelligent response with something other than a dismissal or stock rebuttal:
            http://disclosureproject.org

          • Khan

            I’ll be waiting for your thoughtful review of the witness videos and materials presented.

  17. TheMatrixDNA

    The issue about bacteria and penicillin… are you really seeing evolution here? The bacteria is becoming adaptive to an environment where emerged a new element. But, the final result of bacteria’s way of life is causing infections, killing its host, destroying its habitat. When the entire population of bacteria finally gets it, they will be extinct. Pr do you think that they will get to be a new specie, in other environment, to say, elephants? It is not the same case of saying that human specie is evolving when getting resistance to polluters, but is destroying its habitat? Maybe human beings will become a new species at another habitable planet?
    Are you not seeing here a larger process, called “degeneration”? Which will be the final result of this history? Isn’t evolution of degeneration of those bacteria?

    You said that natural selection is not a force, not a dynamics. You used the word “process”. Since that the genetic mutation of stick insect occurred by error of transcription, there was no purpose in this event. After that, there were more off springs. Still, it is another event by itself, no purpose, and separated from the first event. Then, natural selection is a set of separated movements, Without any physical forces connecting these events. I think it is not a process, either, because process means at least to connected steps.

    But how natural selection produces evolution? You said, “survival of the fitter”. But… it is obvious that the fitter grows and dominates. Where are the dinosaurs that dominated the continents? The eagle that dominated the air? The wales that dominated the oceans? The lion that dominated the jungle? What I see them are few ones, going to extinction. So, natural selection is a trap?

    Why nature discarded the top of reptile evolution – the dinosaurs – and made U turn, going back to a smaller reptile – the cynodont – for transforming it into a mammal? Discarded the gorilla and went to a smaller hominid for transforming it into a human?

    Why natural selection did not work over the reptile when it choose to keep eggs inside instead doing what life did from cells to reptiles, putting eggs out? Why an animal of could blood, a machine for survival, that eats its own eggs and offspring, suddenly fell under love and invented the stupid and painful method of keeping eggs in, getting pregnancy, which turned it easy prey for predators? More difficulties for getting food? Where was natural selection at this time? Sleeping?

    My questions is not a critic to the natural process of evolution and natural selection. They are facts, I think. But, I prefer another theory about evolution, called “The Universal matrix/DNA of natural Systems and Life’s Cycle”. Its models explains far better what is evolution and natural selection, but is very more complex than neo-Darwinian theory.

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