Micro-evolution vs. Macro-evolution
My post on the positions various candidates took on evolution and evolutionary theory spawned are rather large number of comments. Several initial ones tried the old Creationist chestnut of, “Yeah, sure organisms change at a genetic level (micro-evolution), but macro-evolution (change at or above the species level), why that is just plain crazy talk.”1 This, of course, is just errant nonsense.
While biologists do draw a distinction between micro-evolution and macro-evolution it really is a distinction without much difference. Or to put it another way, the distinction is a rather artificial one imposed by biologists. The simple answer is that the process at work in macro-evolution is precisely the same one at work in micro-evolution. So to say I believe micro-evolution, but not macro-evolution may sound erudite to the uneducated, but to those who are familiar with the topic you sound like a boob. It is like saying I believe in molecules, but not in atoms, electrons, protons and neutrons.
So please, if you don’t like the idea of evolution and evolutionary theory makes you feel slightly ill, fine, but don’t use the argument about micro vs. macro evolution. Please. Simply say, “I just can’t bear the thought that I am a descendant from a primate that roamed the African plains.” I might disagree with you. I might think you are scientifically ignorant. But if you use the above argument I will know that you are scientifically ignorant.
Odds and Ends:
One commenter disliked by comparison of gravity, evolution and their respective theories. The problem is that there is huge amounts of evidence in favor of both theories. The thing with gravity though is that its very easy to observe in real time (drop a penny) and its implications are easy to understand (again, drop a penny and make some reasonable extrapolations). Evolution and evolutionary theory on the other hand do not have this same “immediateness” to it. You can’t easily see evolutionary process in real time…well you can, you just don’t know it. Sexual selection is one process and one example of that is male-to-male combat. So evolution is at a disadvantage when compared to say gravity and its theories.
Commenter Tlaloc wrote:
Saying “Evolution occurs, but, philosophically speaking, I believe God has a hand in it” is perfectly reasonable.
This is one of the things I like about posts on evolution. It is one of the instances where I and the more liberal commenters often agree. Politics and strange bed fellows and all that. And regarding the above, I agree with Tlaloc, it is perfectly reasonable as well.
Commenter Anderson wrote:
I dunno, Tlaloc. Saying God intervenes in a random process — that the Lucretian particles swerve this way rather than that b/c of the Nudge of God — may be a lot of things, but I’m not sure how “reasonable” it is.
Well you may not like it, but there is nothing that says it isn’t true…or that it is true. It is a position that is fairly well insulated from empirical verification…one that requires faith. And evolutionary processes are not random. Sure mutations might be random, but natural selection is anything but random. So evolutionary processes are not purely random processes. That is actually a fallacy many creationists fall into.
1While I put that in quotes, it isn’t a direct quote from anyone, but it does capture the gist of several comments.