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Creationism Versus Science

"'[C]reationists versus evolutionists' [is] a familiar and predictable storyline" that ignores the fascinating details of this scientific debate

Summary of problems with claim:

The proper description would be "creationism versus science" because creationism--whether it be old-fashioned Young Earth creationism or its Intelligent Design descendant--is simply not science.

Malcolm Gordon

Malcolm Gordon disbelieves universal common ancestry, and another scientist, Michael Behe, accepts it

Summary of problems:

The claim is being presented as if it indicates the presence of some deep problem within standard evolutionary theory. There is no such problem. The extent of monophyly is a technical issue within evolutionary theory on which there is continuing work and debate.

Fossil Succession

Overview

This chapter promotes the view that different lineages of living things have independent histories and do not share common ancestry. This idea attacks the core tenet of evolutionary theory--that all living things are genealogically related. The refusal to accept common ancestry is the sine qua non (indispensable idea) of creationism in all of its various guises.

To try to undermine confidence in common ancestry, this chapter trots out some hackneyed creationist claims:

  1. transitional fossils are rare.

Natural Selection / Survival of the Fittest

The biological concept of "fitness" is critical to an understanding of natural selection and of evolution in general. While philosophers continue to argue about the best way to define "fitness," there are some generally accepted aspects of biological definitions of fitness.

First, it is a term applied to an allele or genotype, a particular form of the genome. Thus, it is a property not of a single individual, but of a collection of individuals who share certain heritable traits. Fitness then is the contribution of the average individual with that trait to the next generation.

Anatomical Homology

Nested patterns of shared similarities between species play an important role in testing evolutionary hypotheses. "Homology" is one term used to describe these patterns, but scientists prefer other, more clearly defined terms. Explore Evolution would have done well to accurately present the way scientists talk about this issue, instead of building two chapters around a misguided attack on a particular word with a meaning that dates to pre-evolutionary attempts at understanding the diversity of life.

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