Evolution Explained

Evolution vs. Creationism – Misconceptions about Evolution Explained (ft. Rationality Rules)

There are many misconceptions about what evolution is and how it natural selection works. Today I had the pleasure of teaming up with Steve from the YouTube channel Rationality Rules to set straight these misunderstandings about evolution.

Scientific progress is extremely rapid. And I get that it’s not always easy to keep up. But while the Catholic church, Buddhists, most Hindus and Jews, as well as many protestant Christians and Muslims accept the evidence for evolution put forth by the scientific community, there are still millions of cognitive luddites lagging behind. And it’s largely due to a misunderstanding of what evolution is and how it works. So today I’ve teamed up with Steve from the YouTube channel Rationality Rules to dispel 9 of the most common misconceptions about evolution. When you’re done watching this video, make sure you head on over to his channel for part two where we’ll be providing you with 9 pieces of evidence for evolution. With any further ado, we give you, 9 misconceptions about evolution:

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Thomas Westbrook:

  1. Evolution is just a theory
    As a kid, I was taught in creationist textbooks that a theory falls somewhere between a hypothesis and a scientific law. This is wrong. For the scientific community, a law simply describes a consistently observed occurrence. A law will never explain why a particular phenomenon is true. A theory takes the laws, observes the evidence, and attempts to explain why. But there is never a point in time when a theory becomes a law. That’s why, no matter how much evidence we have, the germ theory of disease will also alway be “just a theory.” As will the theory of evolution and the theory of gravity. But these are hardly hunches as creationist would have you believe.
  2. If we evolved from monkeys, why are there still monkeys?
    This is wrong on several counts. First off, humans didn’t evolve from monkeys we evolved from a common ancestor which is, in fact, extinct. But, even if we did, think about how illogical that statement is. I mean if Protestants came from Catholics… I’ll let you fill in the blanks.
  3. Microevolution is real, but not macroevolution
    Sure, do you believe in water drops but not lakes or oceans? Keep adding up small, micro changes over a big enough time scale, and you get large macro changes.
  4. No new information can be added to DNA through natural processes
    Actually you can have new genetic content added to your genome through retroviral infection and through gene duplication. That new DNA then continues to duplicate and mutate.
  5. There are no beneficial mutations
    The reason doctors have to prescribe antibiotics, and when they do, they explicitly tell you to take the entire dose, is because some bacteria develop a resistance to the antibiotic. If you take only part of the dose, those bacteria are the ones most likely to survive. They will continue to reproduce and some of them will develop mutations making them even more resistant to the antibiotic until only the bacteria with the strongest resistance to the antibiotics remain. That may not a beneficial mutation to you, but it certainly is to the bacteria. Even among humans, though, there are countless beneficial genetic mutations. One such example leads to increased bone density (people with this mutation suffer fewer breaks and maintain bone health, even as they age). People with a mutation in the transcriptional repressor (hDEC2-P385R) require less sleep to function. Other positive mutations cause malaria resistance, abnormally high muscle mass, and adaptation to high-altitude, low-oxygen environments. These are all examples of positive mutations. And that’s just in humans.
  6. There are no transitional fossils
    Ignoring for a moment Archaeopteryx, Pliohippus, Tiktaalik, Vampyronassa, Pikaia, Haikouichthys, Cyclobatis, Amphistium, and thousands of other transitional fossils, it’s important to point out that every fossil is a transitional fossil. Everything on earth is connected and is still evolving. Now you’re not going to find a half duck half crocodile. Because crocodiles didn’t evolve from ducks, and even if they did, the changes would be so small and gradual, over millions of generations. You wouldn’t be able to point to the exact moment that one species became another. Fossilization is extremely rare, requiring a very specific set of circumstances, so scientists don’t expect to find every single species, but we do find enough fossils to give us a pretty clear picture of the puzzle even with a few pieces missing. Although creationists’ demands make it seem like they not only want a fossil for every single species, but they won’t be satisfied till we have a fossil for single generation! I guess you can’t please everyone.
  7. There was a “first human”
    There was no first human in the same way that there was no first Italian. As populations migrate, cultures evolve, languages morph, thousands members of a population drift away from their heritage and form a brand new culture. Drawing on that analogy to explain speciation, the change is extremely gradual. Populations evolve as a whole. It’s not linear from one person to the next. There was never a point in human history, when there weren’t thousands of humans evolving at once. And just as there wasn’t a single second when your body stopped being a child and instantly became an adult, there was never a single generation that represented a new species. You’re always the same species as your parents and your offspring, but at some point along the way, the species changes, and that change is extremely gradual. We’re talking hundreds of thousands of years minimum. Given that recorded human history is a few thousand years, think about just how massive that number is. Animals evolve, but not overnight. There was never a first human.To shed more light on how evolution actually works, I’m going to hand you over to Steve now. Take it away, man.
  8. Steve (Rationality Rules):

  9. Evolution Means Survival of the Fittest
    One of the most popular misconceptions about evolution is the meaning of the phrase “survival of the fittest”, and this is largely due to the word “fit” being so heavily associated with physical fitness. For example, Eric Hovind (god damn him) has asserted on numerous occasions that evolution “states that the strong survive at the expense of the weak”. However, in biology, ‘fitness’ doesn’t mean ‘physical fit’, it means ‘reproductive success’, and hence, the phrase ‘survival of the fittest’ more inelegantly means ‘survival of whomever successfully reproduces’. Evolution isn’t about strength… it’s about reproduction.
  10. Evolution is a Random Accident:
    Another incessant claim that creationists like to make is that “evolution is a random accident”, and it’s often phrased as a deliberate mockery, such as, “the chances of life randomly emerging is comparable to a tornado sweeping through a junkyard and assembling a Boeing 747 from the materials within!”Now this assertion is, like most creationist crap, either a perfect demonstration of their ignorance, a perfect demonstration of their lies. To explain it simply, evolution is a two-step process, and only the first step is random, and it’s conveniently called ‘random mutation’. When an organism reproduces, the offspring receives replicated DNA from its parents, but sometimes this process makes errors – and we call these errors ‘random mutations’.

    And this is where the second step comes into play – the non-random bit. Some mutations are disadvantageous, and consequently they reduce the host’s chance of surviving long enough to reproduce, which by extension reduces their chance of staying in the gene-pool; and conversely, some mutations are advantageous, and consequently they increase the host’s chance of surviving long enough to reproduce, which by extension increases the chance them staying in the gene-pool.

    Now this process is called ‘natural selection’, and it’s obviously non-random and non-conscious, and that’s why many creations do their utmost to misrepresent and deny it… it perfectly and awe-inspiringly explains exactly how complex and seemingly designed organisms can and have naturally evolved.

Thomas Westbrook:
Thanks Steve. Right on point, as always. And thank you guys for watching. But we’re only half done. Make sure you head over to Rationality Rules for part 2. I’ll put the link in the description. It’s a phenomenal channel. Steve puts a massive amount of time into routinely creating quality content, and I really enjoy his work. So while you’re over there, make sure you hit that subscribe button, and let him know I sent you.

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9 Misconceptions about Evolution (Ft. Rationality Rules)
9 Misconceptions about Evolution (Ft. Rationality Rules)

Creationists have many misconceptions about evolution. Steve from Rationality Rules teamed up with me to explain how evolution works. Here are just 9 misconceptions on evolution. Evolutionary biology and natural selection can be difficult to understand, but with a little explanation, anyone can grasp it.

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