Taking a couple of jabs at evolution

1) Evolutionst claim that we are cousins with apes. But we are very different than apes. For example, we have 100 Billion Neurons (all evolved, of course) yet chimps only have 6 Billion (and our common anscestor had even less than 6 Billion). So they respond by pointing to the fossil record which shows that there were many (more than twenty) humanoid species. (Let us ignore, for the moment, that Stephen J. Gould said that ALL of the fossils can be explained as being either human or ape, not proof of an intermediate species. For example, retarted humans have MUCH smaller brains.) According to evolutionists, we descend only from one of these twenty humanoid species. Ask the evolutionist where these species live today? He will respond that they all, somehow, became extinct. Are they looking for the truth or not? 2) Did you know, that a large blue whale has more cells than the number of seconds that have elapsed since the earth was formed? All evolution, of course. I would rather trust Sir Ernst B. Chain, a nobel-prize winning biochemist, who concluded that he would rather believe in fairy tales than evolution.
Atheist Answer: 

I note your expression "the evolutionist", singular but referring to all who accept evolution. It's an insidious grammatical variation which implies that since they are all alike, there is effectively only one to consider. Historical parallels include "the savage", "the Jew" and "the Hun". Consider the prejudices of the people who used those.

1) Here is what Gould meant. The division between human and ape is arbitrary, based on a consensus of zoologists. They drew a line in the progression and called everything after it "Homo". Just this side of that arbitrary line is what we would call a very apelike human. Just the far side is a species considered a very humanlike ape. Every species on the line can be considered a transitional species between those either side of it. (I'd like to know what your definition of "transitional species" is, by the way.)

We are immediately descended from only one of the humanoid species, in the same way that an individual can only have one set of parents. Though some of them like Neanderthal Man split off as our umpteenth cousins, many of the species found are our direct ancestors, and the ancestors of our immediate ancestor species.

The current estimate is that 90% of all species of anything which have ever lived are now extinct. It happens, especially when a species very like you but somehow better is suddenly sharing your resources. Through competition and natural selection, each species on the timeline is likely responsible for the extinction of the one before it, including Homo sapiens. The other apes survived by diversifying to the point where they weren't in competition with our ancestors anymore. For example, some came down from the trees and some didn't.

2) Blue whales are very big, and they grow quickly. Cells are very small, so if a big lifeform grows quickly, a lot of cells are created very quickly. If cells multiply and increase at a rate faster than one cell per second, then it is reasonable that something with more cells than seconds since the Earth's formation (1.5 * 10^17) could fully form in the time since the Earth's formation.

As it happens, the rate of increase of blue whale cells easily exceeds 100 million per second during childhood, which allows an individual blue whale to grow to adulthood in a matter of years. Is there an actual problem with this, or does it just strike you as amazing and therefore impossible without divine help?

Ernst Chain's objections to evolution (as told by the Institute for Creation Research) have been answered many times, though not necessarily here.
- He saw evolution as a chance process, which thanks to the mechanism of natural selection it is not.
- He doubted the efficacy of change through mutation, which has been repeatedly demonstrated, most recently by Richard Lenski's e.coli experiment.
- He contrasted "classical Darwinian ideas" with the function of genes, knowing that Darwin and his contemporaries had no idea what genes or DNA were. Post-genetic neo-Darwinian theory, which was available to Chain if he wished to study it, takes genetic function into account very well.
- He saw the development of mathematics, poetry and other exclusively human abilities as the result of a "divine spark", whereas evolutionary psychology has excellent explanations for their development.
- He wrote that evolutionary theory "does not allow the development of ethical guidelines for human behavior," assuming as many religious people do that anyone would want to use it for that purpose. There's enough secular empathy, convention and philosophy to do that already, without also trying to exploit a simple scientific explanation of a physical phenomenon, thankyou very much.

If there's no particular reason why Chain did not support evolution which stands up today, invoking him is simply a shallow appeal to authority. If that's all you're going for, fine, but it's an authority in the minority.


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I did not explain what I

I did not explain what I meant regarding whales. All I was saying was that a whale is a machine which has more parts than the number of seconds since the formation of the earth. This would require evolution to work very fast, adding one part per second. Random mutation and survival of the fittest cannot work that fast. (I admit that this is not an absolute proof)
Second, we only believe 90% of species are extinct in order to support the theory of evolution. Even if not, why would all of these highly intelligent beings be killed out. Should they not have survived in one corner of, for example, Africa?
Third, Chain was against the contemporary view of evolution (you make it sound like he never heard of natural selection).
I am not merely appealing to authority. I am showing that if even one respected scientist was against evolution then even the ones who do support it must be doing it without MUCH evidence.

Whales and Chain

Evolution works quite quickly, on a geological time scale. However it is not required to produce one part per second, because each individual whale cell is not unique. All the whale fat ("blubber") cells are identical, for example. Once a blueprint exists for a car, the factories create an army of identical cars very rapidly. Even for the next model, not much has to change.

There are only about 210 distinct cell types in humans, and a similar number in whales. Most of them developed very early on in our common ancestors. All the whale species needed was for one type of cell to go absolutely berserk in its self-replication, and it might have reached the bulk of its total cell count in only a few generations. As it happens, all of its labile (regularly dividing) cell types do this.

We think 90% of species are extinct not to support the theory of evolution, but as a direct implication of it. The fossil record has shown us the rate at which new species arise across the spectrum of life. We multiply this rate by the estimated time since the origin of life (~3.5 billion years) and arrive at a total about ten times as high as the total number of species known to be alive today. Therefore nine out of ten are missing, if not extinct.

The number of extinct species found as fossils doesn't quite make up the difference, but it's large enough to suggest that the rest are out there given that animals have a very small chance of being fossilised at all. If the number were actually a bit lower than 90%, it would be interesting but it wouldn't change much.

As I tried to explain, all of these highly intelligent beings would have been killed off by even more intelligent beings sharing their resources and disliking them intensely. Homo erectus, the immediate precursor of Homo sapiens which we discussed, was the first species to leave Africa. All the others had to fight for territory there. Homo erectus was the fittest, so it was the survivor. It co-existed with other species like the Neanderthals for tens of thousands of years, so it wasn't a quick process.

Outside of Africa, Homo erectus soon had to compete not only with us but with several brother species descended from it. Well before the advent of recorded history, however, all of the others had met us. It's not much of a stretch to imagine that we didn't get on. It's conceiveable that there are pockets of the old species still surviving, but it's unlikely given the extreme remoteness of the places we've found tribes of Homo sapiens. It seems that we got everywhere they did, and further.

At times it's as if Chain chose not to consider neo-Darwinian theory and its genetic component, even if he did study it. At least some of his criticism was directed specifically at "classical Darwinian ideas", which is like reviewing the '89 Toyota Camry at the launch of the 2008 model.

The point is that Chain had access to the same evidence as everyone else and, for the reasons I detailed earlier, his specific criticisms of it are misguided. The evidence he rejected is therefore valid until better criticism comes along.